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Steve Nahn | USLHC | USA

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The art of scrounging

HAH! My father has made a major discovery, which basically made my day on several levels. First, if I ever get to name something I think I’ll call it the “Charlie Busom” in honor of his faux paus. Second, he is mentally allergic to computers, so the fact that he managed to put a comment on my blog is nothing short of a miracle.

Finally, if you’ve seen the garage, you know you can find anything in there. This is because, after raising 8 children (4 boys, 4 girls, I’m the 7th, and the answer to the religious question is yes) you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Add to that the fact that for all his life he has fixed engines on cars, boats and mopeds, completed fairly big interior and exterior home improvement projects (mostly on his offspring’s houses these days, as Mom doesn’t let him mess with “her house” too much…), and you get the picture. It was always somewhat disconcerting to see your Dad, an ophthalmologist whose livelihood depends on his ability to do surgery on people’s eyes, with oil stained, bloody fingers, knuckles, arms, etc from incidental nicks and scratches incurred doing whatever project he was working on. He looked more like a hired handyman than the head of the household – but of course, with 8 kids who needs hired help? His workshop was quite a masterpiece of disorganization. For 25+ years, there was a sign taped to the boiler in his workshop which read:

Note: This room may not be much, but it is mine. I cannot fix your toys if you lose my tools. -Dad

and it in fact worked – it was neigh impossible for anyone other than Dad to find things in the workshop, but he knew where everything was.

I think probably I owe some fraction of my experimental prowess to this situation, for it was in my Dad’s workshop where I learned the art of scrounging. Bizarre as it may sound, this is a unsung skill of experimental science – the ability to enter a lab and find/construct what you need to solve some design issue or prototype a potential solution for feasibility. You have something you want to build, and you are looking for which tools you might be able to use to do it – maybe you cannot find exactly what you need, so you experiment with what might work, or maybe change your approach to solve your problem in a different way based on what you can do with what you have. I don’t really think this is something that I consciously pursued, but it basically just happened to me as I grew up helping my Dad with projects, or scrounging around in his workshop on my own…from tinkering in the garage with the building blocks for a go-kart to tinkering in the lab with the building blocks of nature is not as far a stretch as it may seem.

So, Dad, if you indeed found the “Higgs Busom” in the garage, how about a swap? I’ve got a nice 24″ crescent wrench…
Swap for the Higgs

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