Monday, March 7, 2011

Turbo shovel

On Saturday, my youngest announced that he needed to build a Turbo Shovel this weekend. Naturally, I assumed this would just involve Lego and imagination. But no, this was a real school project, which required a working prototype by Monday. There was even talk of a patent application.

I do not have the skill set for this kind of assignment.

My brother inherited every practical gene our family had to offer. He can build anything, fix anything, mend anything. He is amazing. In a post-apocalyptic world, he's the kind of guy you'd want to keep around. Me, you should just eat as soon as is decently possible.

Unfortunately, my brother resides in England, so was not on hand for prototype consultation. The future of the Turbo Shovel lay in my inept hands.

My son drew an incredibly detailed sketch of what he wanted to make. He sent me into the basement to find a shovel, a wooden pole, and some yarn. This I could do. Next, he asked me to make a metal hinge. This I could not do. I clearly should not be at the helm of a blowtorch.

We thought for a while.

"How about bending an old lightsaber?"
"No way."
"A Hot Wheels ramp?"
Icy glare.
"That is SO wrong."

After a lengthy exploration of the robot-bits box and the recycling bin, we made a surprisingly serviceable hinge from two toilet rolls and magic tape, which gave me new hope for my post-apocalypse survival.

My son then patiently told me how to attach the shovel and the pole to the hinge, and how to tie on the yarn. It was done. We welcomed the Turbo Shovel to the world.

Our young inventor picked it up, and demonstrated how he would dig it into the snow and pull the yarn -- and hey presto, snow would be effortlessly tossed up and over his shoulder.

I was amazed. Somehow, the practical gene had skipped a generation. Sure, it was made of yarn, toilet rolls, and magic tape, but the Turbo Shovel was a great idea.

I was glad to have been part of its genesis. I didn't have the skill set. But I did have good direction. Sometimes, that's all you need to get the job done.


  1. I'm inspired! This weekend my daughter and I are designing and building a leprechaun trap for St. Patrick's Day.

  2. That's fantastic! Sad to report that my kids don't believe that there are pixies, goblins and faeries in the garden. Sure enough, I've never seen one in Brooklyn, but I know they're there.

  3. Brilliant, but we want to see the pictures of it in use! Paul Day