Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How I Became a Mad Scientist- Episode 13

Previous Episode.  First Episode.

“Oh, you mean like the hovering chair that the guys up at Perry Central made? With the leaf blowers?  That would be really loud. And too slow to be any good.  You’re right. It’s not worth the effort.”  The leaf-blower chair had levitated, which was pretty cool, but you couldn’t steer it and it moved really slowly.  I knew Frank must have something much cooler in mind.

“Leaf blowers? Of course not!” Frank rolled his eyes. “I meant something like a mag-lev train. But….”

“But there’s no way you could do it without a real lab,” I cut in.  “And it’s probably impossible.  I get it, you’re just daydreaming because you’re afraid of falling down again. It’s OK. We can go inside and do something easier.”

Frank’s face turned red. “I am not afraid of falling,” he growled. “It’s just that these sidewalks are too uneven.  A hoverboard would give me a smooth ride, as long as I had a big sheet of aluminum to ride it over.”

I grinned. “If you come up with the hoverboard, I think I can make your aluminum sheet,” I said. 
“But we’d have to let a couple of other guys in on the project.” My friend Joe’s dad worked for the Streets Department. They collected tons of cans every week for recycling. But we could probably borrow them for a while, as long as they went back to the recycling plant in the end.

“I don’t know,” Frank said. “What if they told someone? I’m pretty sure hoverboards would violate my probation.”

 “Joe will keep quiet,” I said. “You can trust him, especially when skateboards are involved.”

Frank nodded. I could tell he really wanted to make his board. “How about we work together on the hoverboard, and once we have it working on a small scale, we can bring Joe into it,” he said. 

“Sure, but we’ll need to give Joe at least a week’s notice.” It would be better if we had a working hoverboard before we brought Joe in anyway. He’d be less likely to blab if he knew that his chance to ride depended on his silence. “So, what do we need to get started?” I asked.

“Well, we’re basically going to be creating a small-scale mag-lev train,” Frank said. “So the first thing we need is electro-magnets,” Frank said.  “So, we’ll need 16 pieces of iron, copper wire, and a pretty strong battery. Something rechargeable too.  Like the battery out of your lawnmower, maybe.”

I felt a little tingle of suspicion. Frank seemed awfully well prepared for my questions. Was I manipulating him into building a hover board, or was he manipulating me into helping him build a hover board? I shrugged. It didn’t really matter. No matter who was manipulating who, the end result would be awesome.

“Where can I get the iron and the copper wire?” I asked. 

“You could try the scrapyard for the iron,” Frank said. “And Radio Shack for the copper wire.”  I nodded. The lawnmower battery shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It had been hot and dry recently, and I hadn’t had to mow in over a week. As long as it didn’t rain, my mom would never miss the battery. 

“We can build it in the garage,” I volunteered. “Mom will assume we’re fixing the lawnmower or something.” She never looked too closely at the garage. As long as I took the trash and recycling out on time, she’d never notice a thing.

 Other than the battery, the things Frank needed to build a hoverboard should be pretty easy to get.  I figured within a few days, we’d be performing tricks that made the Silver Surfer look like an amateur.  I was wrong.

Frank came over the next afternoon to see how I’d done at gathering materials. As usual, he couldn’t be involved. If he even stood in the Radio Shack parking lot, his probation officer would haul him into court and send him off to Juvie.

“Look,” I said, proudly showing him my collection. “We’re ready to go!” 

“Not so fast,” Frank said. “First, we’re going to have to turn these lumps of iron into electromagnets.”


Anna said...

I didn't catch any typos this time, just the inconsistent spacing between sentences. You said that was a blogger thing, right?

Deirdre Mundy said...

It seems to be. I type in word and paste things over -- and Word fixes all the spacing to make it consistent. When you paste into Blogger, weird things happen sometimes.

Anna said...

Word fixes your spacing? Like if you type one space between one sentence and two spaces between the next sentence, it will adjust one or the other? i haven't seen that before. (I mostly work in the Mac program, Pages, which doesn't do that, that I know of.)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Yeah, you set it to either 1 or 2 spaces, and it autocorrects to your preference. So I've gotten pretty lazy. :)

Anna said...

Yeah, I'd get lazy too. That's super nice. I should look up the commands for that; my copyediting/proofreading clients could benefit from it.

I wonder if somehow, when you copy and paste, Word's adjustments aren't transferring over. That'd be pretty weird though; I have no idea how it could happen, technically speaking. Blogger could just be being weird. If you don't mind satisfying a random person's curiosity (which you obviously don't have to!), the next time you write a chapter, you could put one space between the first two sentences, two spaces between the second and third, let Word auto-correct it, and when you post it, I'll be able to see if Blogger's spacing has anything to do with your original spacing or not.