July 06, 2004

"McHale & Kern Wandmakers"

We spent the 4th of July with Larry and Jennifer McHale, people we don't get to see too often (our fault). It's great to hang out with them for many reasons.

First, they are really cool people that we have a great deal in common with. Larry and I are both computer geeks, both professionally and in a gaming capacity. Likewise, Melissa and Jennifer are a good deal alike, yet confident enough in themselves not to sweat the differences. (As opposed to trying to clone the other, as The Princess of MeMeMe attempted.)

They also have a 3-year old girl named Sydney, so not only does Matthew have a playmate, but Larry & Jennifer share the "Toddler Parent Sympatico" with us. Their house is child-proofed, they they understand that toddlers occasionally have tantrums, and don't call 911 to report us for child cruelty if we let Matthew "cry it out" in the crib for a few minutes.

Lastly, there's their son, Kalin. He's 15, but he's not like any 15 year-old I know. When my wife and I (read: "Adults") come to visit, he doesn't hide in his room or play video games. He listens to, and even participates in, all of our conversations. Given, this group of adults usually discusses things like Harry Potter or movies, which are interesting to most ages. But even so, it's impressive. There are times when we're reminded that he's just 15, but overall, he's more mature than some college grads I've met.

Unlike me, Larry is gifted with carpentry skills. He has a garage full of tools that would make Tim Allen grunt in approval. My wife's affinity for Harry Potter being public knowledge, I asked him if he could make her a wand. "Actually, I don't have a turning lathe," he replied. I shrugged and we went inside to eat.

After dinner, he called me out to the garage again. "I don't have a turning lathe, but let's see what we can do," he said, his eyes gleaming. We were like McGuyver in that garage. Starting from a square rod of oak, we used no less than six power tools for purposes that they definitely were not intended for. But after an hour, we had ourselves a wand.

We stained it, put a coat of lacquer on it and it was beautiful. It was a bit rough around the edges, not exactly round in places, but I think that's what gives it character. It makes the piece unique, and Melissa was floored.

Larry and I loved it so much, we're thinking about making some more wands to sell, possibly taking prototypes to Dragon*Con this fall for some market testing. Maybe nothing will come of it, but it was an incredible moment of inspiration and creativity.

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