Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Playing in Palo Alto

When I was little I loved to see magic shows. Until I was about 31 I thought the magician was doing real magic, and not just using sleight of hand or other tricks to fool my mind.

I had a similar experience yesterday. We are near San Francisco visiting our friends Rick and Diane. Jim has a job interview, and I love Rick and Diane enough to sit through 12 hours of driving to spend 12 hours of quality time with Jim to get to see them. Once, Rick fixed my microwave by taking out the thermostat, and throwing it on the floor. The thermostat had gotten stuck (perhaps because I cooked rice in the microwave for 45 minutes without any water!), and Rick “unstuck” it. He always does things that I could do myself if only I knew whether to throw it on the floor, drown it in vinegar or put duct tape on it. I guess that’s where years of engineering education come in. (And to think at UCSB we used to laugh at those nerds, carrying their piles of books!) Rick is even more brilliant than most engineers. He’s more practical, and certainly funnier.

My camera broke days before I left for Turkey, and last night Rick worked on it. First, he takes out two pairs of inexpensive reading glasses and put both on. At the same time. Then, Diane hands him a pair of old wire-rimmed glassed to which he has glued an eye loupe (a magnifying lens). It is quintessential Rick and we about die laughing. It’s genius! It’s not very attractive, but it is hilariously funny, and extremely practical. (And did I tell you about the time he needed light under the house while fixing pipes, so he strung Christmas lights in the crawl space?) In about five minutes he has fixed my camera. One of the pins in the memory card slot looked different than the others, so he bent it. With a PAPER CLIP! Now that’s REAL magic.

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