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Friday, January 9, 2009

It all will fall, fall right into place.

Yesterday at work I mixed some powdered metamucil for a patient. She refused it. But when I went to throw it away all the powder had sunk to the bottom and solidified.

I had an instant flashback to a magic trick my Dad bought at a magic shop in Florida. He used to collect magic tricks, and I eagerly would accompany him to buy the latest and greatest pocket illusions. He had purchased this one on the sly as a surprise, but just couldn't wait until we got back to the hotel to show us, so he opened it up right in the restaurant. As I slid my color changing scarves through my hands over and over, practicing how to conceal the slipknot in my small palm, he poured some water into a coffee mug. Then he turned it upside down. And nothing came out. The water had disappeared. I was enthralled. The secret, of course, was that a "magic powder," had been added to the mug. The powder was really some type of super absorbent polymer which created a gel that would stay in the mug*.
My dad would share his secrets with me because I was, obviously, another magician. And Mom and Brian are family. So he showed us the gel in the mug. It was gross and ten year old me was delighted, though not for the first time, by how science could be used for entertainment**. But then we had a problem. What to do with the gel? After looking around theatrically a few times Dad shook the mug hard, into a potted plant by our table. Instead of breaking apart and blending in nicely, like he'd hoped, the gel stayed in the shape of the mug and just sat there on the soil in plain view. My mother feigned embarrassment but she laughed until she cried. My brother and I dared each other to pick it up. My Dad commanded sternly that none of us look at it lest we draw attention to it, but he was the worst of all. When our waitress came by he casually remarked how much he "loved the plants here." I do not remember the rest of the evening, but I remember that we didn't stop laughing until long after we left the restaurant that night. For the next few months one of us would occasionally bring up the gel, wondering who found it, what they thought of it, and we'd lose it all over again.
*this is apparently also how disposable diapers work.
** i fell in love with science because of my Dad.

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