Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Do you still do magic tricks?" - Sally Sitwell, Arrested Development


An electromagnet made out of 40’ of copper wire, some steel, and a car battery charger. Why would I make this on a Sunday night on a whim? I’m the Dad, that’s why.

I went to The Boy’s regular Cub Scout meeting, as I generally do, since it makes up for the Scout meetings I missed as a kid. I’m so ready to get my Bear badge.

I think Scouting is, well, super, but The Boy is enthusiastic to the point of being a fascist. The Boy gets concerned that some sort of Scout Police will put him in Scout Jail for not having the proper socks. Me? I tell him that “official” uniform for seven-year-olds has some leeway. He is not so sure, and I’m thinking the bulk of his bad dreams involve being kicked out of Scouting for having the wrong socks.

This particular meeting the Den Leaders had decided to do an activity involving magic tricks. They had downloaded pages from a Scouting resource page on teh Intrawebs and had tucked them away for the meeting. Immediately prior to the meeting, the Den Leaders read through the magic tricks that the Scouts were to learn, which involved taking the integral of cos(sec(tan(x))) dx/dy from -1 to 480 and adding their age, taking the logarithm, and dividing by six and discovering that they had the proof for Fermat’s last theorem. That’s magic.

The Den Leaders decided that might not work with seven-year-olds. I timidly noted, “ummm, I know some magic tricks . . .” There was little response – I worried that I had overstepped my “observer” parent bounds.

Finally, the meeting ended up at the point where it was time for the magic tricks. The Den Leader said, “Need anything?”

Gulp. I was on. “Two (wink), er, one paper towel.”

He came back with two paper towels. The Cubs were a rowdy, unruly group of sweat and noise. I began to slowly shred a paper towel while stuffing the bits from one hand into the other. Noise continued. I hadn’t died this bad on stage since I did a Howard Cosell imitation during third grade at the talent show.

I kept to my guns, and gradually put all the shredded paper into my left hand. With a flourish I “accidently” dropped a wad of paper out of the hand full of shredded paper. One of the Cubs unwadded it, showing it to be an intact paper towel.

Okay, I’ve never been used to being the object of adoration, much less abject worship. Suddenly the Cubs were fully in my grasp. I fell back on the “disembodied” thumb trick. They ate it up. Something nice about being seven, when you believe that a buddy’s Dad might, just might have the ability to take ripped paper towels and make them whole again.

On the way home, The Boy asked if I had to cut my thumb off to make it come apart like he’d seen. “What? No. It was a trick. My thumb’s fine.” At a stop light I showed him how I did the trick. I’m not sure that he believes me yet that I can’t mend anything broken through sheer mindpower alone and dismember my own limbs at a whim. As a parent, it probably is a potent weapon if your children think that Dad’s hands might detach from his body and strangle them on any given night. Keeps ‘em on their toes.

Which, really, isn’t so bad. At seven, it’s not too bad a thing to believe that your parents are capable of really amazing things, rather than them being the really big fourteen year olds with cars and mortgages that they are.

Tonight, though, The Boy came up to me and demanded I make him a magnet for his “Super Compass 34000” and wouldn’t leave until I decided to try it.

I learned that if you took some steel and exposed it to periodic induction you could make not only an electromagnet but also a permanent one. I tried an old DC power supply, but being impatient I took my (car) battery charger that kicks out 2 amps and hooked it up. Not only does it make a really strong electromagnet that can pull your fillings out at 3 feet, it makes a very hot electromagnet.

A permanent magnet? Not so much, yet. If I can’t make it work with another bit of effort, I think I’ll just tell The Boy that it’s because he’s wearing the wrong socks. If he gives me any static, I’ll just send my disembodied thumb to take care of him.

Because I can do that, you know.
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Blogger Jenny, the Bloggess said...


You had me at the Arrested Development quote.

7:13 AM  
Blogger John said...


6:05 PM  
Anonymous David Blane said...

Hello, I'am George. Visit my website, if you want to learn Magic Tricks Revealed. All tricks are video explained, so you can learn very easy. Thank you and have a great day.

12:47 AM  

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