Monday, May 13, 2013

Captain's Log, Day 107: "Mission Improbable"

          It started like any normal evening...dinner, random games, threat of violence from the parental unit unappreciative of food fights...but then Nemesis and I went downstairs to look for something to do, and I stumbled across the 30 small mirrors that I had left over from a school project (long story) and had a brilliant idea.
          Not that Nemesis could recognize brilliance if it walked up and kicked him in the rear, of course.
          "You want to do what with your laser?"
          I sighed. "Make a laser obstacle course!"
          Nemesis frowned. "How?"
          I held up my giant, 1-watt laser. (For those who don't know the capabilities of such, it is powerful enough to burn through most objects on the "full power" setting, leading to some interesting incidents with both my clothes and my hand; my clothes, because I forgot that it was on, and my hand because 30 seconds after I received the laser, I doubted its capabilities and tried it out on myself. Let me to be the first to announce that yes, it works perfectly.) "We use this and the mirrors to bounce the laser beam back and forth across the area at the base of the stairs and have the beam terminate in a light sensor--uhh, you still have that electronics kit, right? I destroyed my light sensor last summer."
          Nemesis nodded, warming up to the idea. "Then we try to get through the laser maze..."
          "And if one of us breaks any of the laser beams, an alarm goes off!" I added happily. "It will be like breaking into a bank!"
          Nemesis started humming the "Mission Impossible" theme music, then paused. "Doesn't that laser burn stuff, though?"
          I rolled my eyes. "Despite the amusement factor inherent in having you run around with your pants on fire, I promise that I'll leave the laser on low power." I thought for a moment. "Besides, on high power I would probably burn out the sensor."
          "Excellent! Now, to work," Nemesis announced, sounding spookily like Megamind.
          I started taping mirrors to the walls, floor and ceiling at various angles while Nemesis began working on the light sensor apparatus, wiring it up to an alarm while following schematics from a book. Things went smoothly for about the first five minutes, at which point Nemesis discovered a problem. "Uhh, Radar?"
          "Kinda busy here, what?" I grunted, trying to hold up a mirror while simultaneously cutting tape, trying to reach for a piece of cardboard and wishing I had more hands. Like, six of them.
          "This circuit board design only turns the alarm on when light hits it," Nemesis announced.
          Down went the tape, cardboard, and myself. "Well, that could be annoying," I agreed, scurrying over to the circuit board and studying it. "Oh, wait, it's not that bad--we just move the speaker hookup to the other terminal on the relay and we're set."
          "Oh...well, but if we do that, the speaker will just click," Nemesis pointed out, studying the manual. "This circuit was designed to turn on a light when it gets dark--running a constant circuit through a speaker just makes a click when it turns on and off. We'll need to add this sound unit in somewhere, but I don't know how to--"
          I snatched the unit and plugged it in, using guesswork to determine where everything went. Immediately, a loud wailing split the air. "Hey, nice," I yelled.
          "It shouldn't be on, though," Nemesis yelled back. "What if we moved this terminal over here?"
          "That might work--wait a sec!" I grabbed Nemesis's small laser pointer and shone it at the light sensor. The wailing cut off abruptly. "It works! See?"
          "Ahh yes," Nemesis agreed happily. "Now what's left?"
          "Hand me tape," I ordered, throwing the roll at him. "I don't have enough hands."
          A few minutes of taping and calibration later ("WHO KNEW MIRRORS WERE THIS FINICKY??" I freaked out at one point), Nemesis and I flipped off all the basement lights and prepared to test our genius...and Dad wandered down. "What's this?" he asked, in the same tone reserved for little kids experiencing eggplant Parmesan for the first time. (Yuck.)
          "It's a laser obstacle course," I explained. "You have to get through without breaking any of the beams or else--"
          Dad walked straight through it. The alarm flipped out. WAAA WA WAAAA WAAAAAA!!!!
          "Right. That," I finished.
          "Hey, nice," Dad nodded. "Light sensor?"
          "Yeah, wanna try?" I offered.
          "Your loss." I started to make my way through the maze (with Nemesis humming "Mission Impossible" in the background), but forgot about a low-level laser beam and broke it with my foot. The alarm startled me so much that I sat down on the beam, which didn't help much with the overall noise level.
          "Couldn't break into the vault?" Nemesis inquired teasingly.
          "Shut up," I informed him. "Like you'll do any better."
          He didn't, ending up headbutting one of the higher beams. I hummed "Mission Impossible" for him, joined at this point by all the female members of the family who had wandered down to find out what the air-raid siren was about. Quill and Squirrel were eager to try, but I insisted that I have one more go at it first. This time, I made it through.
          Squirrel went next, duplicating my first attempt by sitting on a laser beam. Quill went second, did some sort of fancy dance as she lost her balance, and fell through most of the beams. Nemesis almost made it, but forgot about his left knee and dragged it through a beam. Anyone not currently attempting the course offered helpful (or not-so-helpful) advice about what to do or hummed "Indiana Jones" or "Mission Impossible" theme music. Mom even got into the act, taking her own turn through the course. She broke three beams, but we let her finish anyway; it was entirely possible that having four kids and a husband yell directions and hum theme music might be a little distracting and counter-productive. I demonstrated the "easy" way to get through--I locked a laser pointer on, aimed it at the light sensor, and just walked though the maze, to which Nemesis cried "Cheater!" and threw cardboard at my head.
          Eventually, everyone made it through the maze (except for Dad, who was adamant in his refusal to try--he preferred the spectator's position). Nemesis and I were ordered to remove the tape and mirrors from the walls without damaging the paint, under pain of death. We got to work with a will, discussing and laughing over attempts made. and joking about protecting our rooms with this technology. Then...
          "Hey Radar!"
          "We should do this again! Like, make it go across the whole basement this time, and around the pool table, and then try to play pool!"
          "Good gravy, Nemesis, why don't we just play Nerf Wars in the maze then?"
          "That's another great idea!!"
          "Well, I was kidding, but now that I think about it..."

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