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Friday, April 22, 2016

Inventing

In elementary school, I was in the gifted kids program. Once a week I was shuttled off to the high-school where we did incredibly more interesting studies than we did at our normal schools.

Usually we would study something in history in the morning (middle ages, Greek mythology), do something language related around lunch (poetry, French), and something science related in the afternoon. (weather studies, engineering). 

The lesson plans were usually written out to last about 6 weeks before moving onto a new subject and typically at the end of the 6 weeks you had some sort of presentation to give. 

Well there was one time where we had to come up with an invention. 

Being the selfish video-game addict I was, I would get incredibly irritated anytime my mom vacuumed the living room and I was watching TV or playing a game. Not only do you have the noise from the vacuum, but with older CRT TVs you would get all the static fuzz on the image.

So my idea was some sort of vacuum muffler or insulation. Something to kill the noise and interference. 

Now, I'm an idea man. I've never embraced math or science. I tend to blame having really boring math teachers never gripping me in the studies. I remember really enjoying balancing equations, but that's about the end of my math love. 

Now, I also loved building LEGOs. So I had a sort of engineering / problem solving mind, but without the math background this never really matured. 

So... my idea, incredibly solid. My implementation... meh... maybe not as much.

I remember the two teachers telling me it would be hard, but as long as I tried, even if the invention failed, I would get a passing grade. 

We had to call places and ask them if that product existed as part of this. I called Sears and asked their home appliance department if they ever heard of a vacuum muffler. They sounded really confused for a moment and then said, "No, I don't think so, but if you figure it out, we would be really interested in that."

And then I ignored the project for the next four weeks until I had that panic grip me because I was never going to get this done.

So, idea man happened again. I figured I could use recycled materials and get a bonus for being environmentally friendly. (I also did not want to go to stores and figure out what material I would actually use for this.)

So how did I solve the problem? I cut (probably my mom actually) several gallon milk jugs in half, taped them together, and then spray painted this monstrosity red. Once the paint dried, I glued a ton of cotton you use to stuff pillows with to the inside.

Success bullet points:

  • It fit nicely over our vacuum.
  • There was a mild noise reduction to what I considered to be acceptable levels. 
Failure bullet points:
  • The vacuum got really hot since I essentially put a blanket over it.
  • Spray paint does not stick to milk jugs, so the red paint chips went everywhere in the classroom and on my hand.
  • Static was still an issue.
  • I lied, the sound reduction was not at an acceptable level.
So basically, if you need an idea or a brainstorming session, I'm your guy. If you need me to build something for you... you should really just call literally anyone else.

I did get a passing C+ since I did build something and it was a good idea, but my teachers knew this was a last minute and half baked idea.

And to be fair, the inventions that did work were really dumb rip-offs of things that actually exist. Come on Brandon, there are already utility belts you can wear that stores your tools. Don't be dumb. Just look at every handyman in the world. 

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