Monthly Archives: May 2010

invention insight

I’ve been working maintenance-type stuff at camp this week (and will be next week) and have found some of the most mundane of hand tools to be the most interesting.

Take, for example, the paint roller.  Wow.  I mean, it’s not perfect, but it shaves hours off of the painting of a room.  It drinks up a lot of paint, but it covers a wall evenly (mostly).  You can’t get right up into corners, but you can attach it to a stick and reach way above your head.  I found out that Norman Breakey invented it.  Two thumbs up, sir.

Now consider the dust pan.  It was invented by T.E. McNeill in 1858, and it’s probably been about as ineffective ever since…I mean, you get the bulk of the dust in the pan, but there’s always dust which is swept under the pan.  This technology has seen many attempts for improvement (little plastic/rubberish strips, different materials, shapes, etc) in its existence, but it still doesn’t work all that well.  Enter the vacuum cleaner.  Ives McGaffey, inventor extraordinaire made that sucker (ha) in 1869.  Should have eliminated T.E.’s failure, but alas.

Today I joined the ranks of inventors trying to solve problems with limited means.  It’s probably been invented before, so don’t get excited about me spilling my big secret before a patent can be claimed, but we were painting a ridiculous cabin-shape (a great cabin, no doubt, just impossible to paint).  It’s got an angled ceiling which is probably the standard 8 or 10 feet at the front door side and a good 15 (?) feet at the back door side…out of the reach of our 12′ ladder which has a base of about 5 or 6 feet (?) and can’t get right up next to the wall.  I am afraid of heights and ladders anyway, so even my best attempts of courage and bravery were squashed when I realized that though I was high enough I was well out of arm’s reach of the tall corner.

I used my roller on a stick to no avail.  The yellow paint (which was really cute, albeit really not boy-ish for a boys-only cabin) in the corner was not going to blend in.  A bit of inspiration from a boss who stopped by to take a look got me off my ladder to tape a brush to the extension pole, and voila.  That meant a lot of time saved, as I was able to stand on the top bunks and finish the cutting for the rest of that wall.

So that’s what I have, y’all.  I would encourage you to type into your browser “Who Invented the _____” the next time you think of something seemingly small.  It’s pretty interesting.  And with that…I’m going to search for a recipe (but not its inventor…perhaps one of its perfect-ors).