Friday, September 14, 2012

Necessity is the Brother of Invention

A parent can't be too careful these days.

Last night, I overheard Genius in his room, talking on his phone. "I'm just trying to keep you from doing something stupid." That set off an alarm bell in my noggin.

"Who are you talking to, and what are they going to do that's stupid?"

"Nothing, Mom." He chuckled.

"No, really. What's going on?"

"It's nothing you need to worry about."

"Does it involve anything illegal?"


"Does it involve self-harm?"


"Is it romance-related?"


"Okay, then. But you have to understand that many parents wish they had one chance for a do-over, over something just like this. I only want what's best for you. To keep you safe."

"I know, Mom. It's nothing."

Taking a cue from his light-hearted responses, rather than his usual surly responses, I truly believed it was nothing. An hour later, he told me he was going to the BARn to use the band saw to sever the end of a wooden speaker box. Since I envisioned him severing several fingers while unsupervised, I forbade that project. He finally relented, and declared that he would use the Dremel tool saw blade instead. I agreed, though it was probably more dangerous. But in my mind, the Dremel tool is a friendly little grinding and polishing fellow who would never harm my Genius. Then he gave me his shopping list for today's grocery excursion:

*Lay's Flamin' Hot Potato Chips
*black balloons, matte finish, not shiny
*white balloons, matte finish, not shiny
*Solo cups
*a thermometer that can be immersed in water

What do you think? Nobody that I know is having a 50th birthday. Hick and I are not going anywhere, so there will be no Risky Business party. As far as I know, Flamin' Lay's do not raise the water temperature when dissolved. So what's going on?

NOW IS THE TIME TO MENTALLY FILE AWAY YOUR GUESS. Because the answer will appear below. See how close you can get to the inner workings of the mind of Genius. What would you do with these items? Here's a hint: all but one are part of the project. Along with the wooden speaker.

I'm no good with these things. The best inventions I ever made when I was a kid were a toy camera out of a box for a bar of soap, and tin can stilts (which were a raving success until the openings made in the sides by a pointy can-opener sawed through my twine).

HERE'S THE ANSWER. The Flamin' Hot chips are a red herring. That's what he likes to snack on through the week. Part of the Solo cup is jammed into an opening hacked into the wooden speaker. Part of a balloon is stretched over the opening in the Solo cup. A drop of water is applied to the top of the balloon rubber. The speaker is hooked up to music. The water bounces as the speaker vibrates. The thermometer is to check the temperature of the water bath that will develop the film for pictures taken of the jumping water.

It's not like he was trying to do anything stupid.


  1. I think you should quit your teaching job--Monday at the very latest--and devote yourself to being The Genius' manager. He is obviously destined for greatness...

    (Would he ever consent to you posting one of his pictures from this project?)

    1. Genius loves to be the center of attention. I don't know where he gets that. Must be from Hick.

      He says he will let me post a couple of photos, because they are crap. In other words, while he's refining the process, he doesn't care if I post his crappy pictures for people to steal. He says, "I won't even put a watermark on them. They are crap." Let's make sure we are clear here. The pictures are crap. But he will allow me to show the world. Or at least a handful of people.

      I think I should wait until at least Wednesday to quit my teaching job. I don't know if I can survive on ten percent of crap.

  2. On behalf of national security I feel compelled to ask if Genius has ever asked you for something called plutonium.

    1. Stephen,
      I am fairly certain that Genius meets his plutonium needs by shopping on eBay. And thank you so much for most likely bumping my blog to the top of a watch list. Conspiratorially speaking, of course.

  3. Replies
    1. Linda,
      If Genius reads this comment, I'm sure he will concur. He's like Hick with gadgets. They're the kind of folks you'd want around after the apocalypse. If you don't have what you need, they'll cobble it together from cast-off appliances.