Showing posts from August, 2015

Warning: You May Die

1. "Let me ask you something," the man on the stool said. "You understand that putting a drill bit through your hand would really suck, right?" The boy giggled and nodded affirmatively. "I trust you to know things like that," he said, running a hand through his salt and pepper mohawk. "I know you're smart. I'm going to train you on other important things you need to know, but other than that, I'm just here to make sure you don't die. My main job as president of this company is to make sure people don't die." He swiveled around to face the rest of us. The seat looked like a shiny red bottle cap. "Any more questions?" We had just completed a tour of the Geek Group, a Grand Rapids maker space with rooms full of wires, bolts, volts, and giant robots. There is a vehicle hoist for changing your oil, and a tesla coil. There's a machine shop, a woodworking shop, an electronics lab, and a high voltage lab. If yo

Sitting With The Secret Service

originally posted July 13, 2011 Seeing former first lady Rosalynn Carter at Betty Ford's funeral in the news this week reminded me that I've been near the woman myself. Here's the story. Where we lived in the late 90s was a morning's drive from Plains, Georgia, the setting for a small, unassuming rural church with avocado green carpeting, where Jimmy Carter taught Sunday School. I summoned a friend to accompany me there one Sunday morning with the sole task of this: securing an autograph on a photo of Carter riding through my Pennsylvania hometown. My father, who collects presidential memorabilia, took the photo and had proudly displayed it in the decades since. He was the person who had alerted me to my proximity to Jimmy's church; he was sure the genial former president would sit down with me and swap stories. The church was not hard to find; the tour buses occupied more space than the building itself. Janet and I were ushered into what turned out to be an ov

The Tooth Fairy: bitter, caustic, ready to retire

August, 2015.  A boy, 11 years old, walks into a room wearing pajamas and rubbing his eyes. His mother ruffles his blond bedhead. MOM:  Did the Tooth Fairy leave money under your pillow? BOY:  Yeah, and a note. She was kind of cranky. I have been given access to the files of The Tooth Fairy, who made multiple visits to the Scheer house over the past six years and has unofficially announced her retirement. She regularly left notes alongside the monetary reward, yet has never been spotted; it is my hope that these found artifacts will shed light on her true identity. Let's begin with the very first letter. The content appears to indicate she had forgotten to leave money the night before, which leaves us to wonder if this was a regular occurrence necessitating, finally, written communication to express an apology. Here we see, then, the first and perhaps only evidence of vulnerability, as well as  the first appearance of "Little Jimmy." There is no "Jimmy&quo