“I’m Afraid he’s going to be…an Engineer”

Don’t get the wrong idea…we don’t watch Dilbert…but when Marc was working with a bunch of engineers, this little clip made its rounds in the office so everyone could get a chuckle out of it:

Marc immediately thought of our son, Isaiah, who (except for the “utter social ineptitude”) has had “The Knack” since he was just a little kid. Back in Indiana, his favorite thing to do was post requests on Freecycle and see if he could score electronics or things with motors that he could fix. If they weren’t fixable, he’d take them apart and save anything he might use for a future project. He’s made some really neat stuff, including a motorized bicycle (using an old chainsaw motor), a homemade BB gun, and a small blender (though not suitable for much besides having fun). Not only that, he’s constantly fixing things around the house (yeah!!) in addition to being our on-call tech support guy. Here in Africa, he’s also become quite gifted at small engine repair and regularly fixes motorbikes.

The down-side of this great trait is that his corner of the boys’ bedroom usually look like this (and, yes, he made the desk himself):

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I’ve learned to close the door or just not look too often. Unless there’s a window of opportunity for room-cleaning, which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago he had a neat idea to make a portable sprayer, using a broken well pump that Marc let him have and some assorted parts he’d collected (see the blue bin in the photo above). He was thinking it would be useful for the garden, but I was thinking pressure washing, so he made two different nozzles. Here’s the finished product:

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Yesterday we harvested our beans and used Isaiah’s new invention to spray the weeds remaining in the field so we can re-plant in a couple weeks or so.

Today I was going about my least-favorite-task-of-the-week, beating and hand-scrubbing our area rug from the living room. (I regret that I ever complained about vacuuming. What I wouldn’t give to be able to vacuum this thing–I’d do it EVERY DAY!!) The easiest method for this is to roll up the carpet, carry it outside, and sling it over the kids’ swing set. After beating it with a broom handle and ripping a few holes in it, now I use some flexible hose instead. Then, I fill a basin with some laundry soap and water and dip my brush in it. Bit by bit, I scrub the whole carpet, continually dipping the brush into the cleaner as I go. It’s a messy and time-consuming process, usually taking me 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Isaiah asked if I could “pressure wash” the carpet using his new sprayer. My only reservation was that it would get so wet it might not dry before the afternoon rain. Then what? But I figured I’d give it a try. To my great surprise and joy, it worked wonderfully, though I did do a quick scrub with a brush on top of the spraying. Though it’s not perfectly dry yet, it seems it will be before the sun goes away. And, good news is, it cut my carpet-cleaning time in half!

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So if you have a budding engineer in your family, don’t despair. Let ‘em take stuff apart, overlook the mess,  put up with the single-minded focus that makes projects preferable to breakfast, keep encouraging the successes and sympathize with the inevitable failures, and enjoy the fruit of “The Knack” when you can.

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