Monday, August 10, 2009

Lessons Learned from Dad: Snow Removal

Welcome to the Dog Days of August!

Man it's hot. Hot and dry. I don't know why its called the "dog days" of August, because even the dogs don't like it, but maybe it is because everyone just wants to lay low out of the way until things cool off. School starts for the boys tomorrow and that means the kids will be filing into school like a funeral procession and the parents will be doing cartwheels on the lawns.

On the home front the biggest piece of news is that Alex got baptized. It's official, and he has taken it really seriously. While there he did tell me that he remembered to wear white underwear so people wouldn't see batman through his baptismal suit. Good thinking, buddy. It was a wonderful experience for everyone there and I know he felt the spirit strongly. Parker was a great mentor for him, showing him where to go and how to stand and talked to him a lot about his own baptism. I didn't know Parker remembered that much about his.

Well, I suppose I should get to the title of today's Lesson from Dad. Before I do this though, I have to say that probably the biggest lesson I've learned from my dad is that he loves me and is always there for me when and if I need him. Not too many people can say that. I know a lot of people who actually go out of their way to avoid their parents. That's hard for me to understand. It is so painfully obvious that life's greatest happiness comes from family and while there is a lot of humorous things I remember I also remember a lot of joy and fun. So with that in mind let's learn about snow removal.

There are times when a father’s lack of knowledge in exactly how to get something done results in some interesting improvisation. Some of those improvised techniques actually become really useful inventions. Like bifocals. Ben Franklin had poor vision and needed glasses to read. He got tired of constantly taking off his seeing glasses and putting on his reading glasses, then putting the other pair back on, so he decided to figure out a way to make his glasses let him see both near and far. He had two pairs of spectacles cut in half and put half of each lens in a single frame. Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb and the phonograph. My father falls into that noble category of men who changed their world with their ideas. Ideas like the snow-remover. As a child I grew up in Northern Utah and during the winter we saw lots of snow. And often the snow would pile up so high on the roofs of houses that some roofs caved in. Every year my dad would get the ladder and hike up on top of the house with his shovel or sno-blower and go to work.

Well one year he got the idea that it might be easier if he didn’t have to get on the roof to get the snow off, So he disappeared for a few hours into the workshop. The “Workshop” was a pack rats dream. There were cabinets full of wire of every color and size. The smell they produced was magical. There were a hundred little drawers containing everything from ancient transistors to knobs for stereo equipment. There was a great workbench littered with bits of solder, tools, wood, and knick knacks that spanned several decades. And in one corner there was (and still is) a large locker that contains a homemade intercom system. He created an intercom system for our house before America really knew what they were. And he built it from stuff he had laying around! Stuff like a dial-up phone switchboard. (I wasn't kidding about the pack=rat thing.) Anyway, perplexed about the amount of snow on the house he entered the workshop and came out a couple hours later carrying what looked like a 15ft long PVC pipe attached to a 4ft wide washer blade on one end. He then grabbed about 10ft of visqueen, attached it to the back of the wiper blade and grabbed us kids to come out and watch his new invention. Actually I think this might have been the day when he learned that it is best to be alone when you are experimenting.
“Ok kids, I think this is going to work great. You just stick the end of the pole into the snow and the snow slides harmlessly off the back of the visqueen like this!” It all happened so fast. One moment he was jabbing a well-aimed pole into the snow and the next he was gone. Buried, just like that. The good news is that the thing worked really well.

Stay tuned for more Lessons from Dad!