Tag Archives: over-thinking

An ‘Engineering’ Solution

Last week I was swearing over a project when Hubby wandered by. I looked up with a sigh and said, “This is driving me nuts. I bust my ass to get it done, and think, ‘There, it’s finished.’ Then I find out I should have done it differently. So I fix it and think, ‘There, now it’s finished and it’s right.’ Then I find more and better information, so I fix it again…”

By then, Hubby was nodding sympathetically. “Yep, that’s engineering.”

I gaped at him for a moment. Then I smiled. With one simple phrase, he’d made a seemingly futile process feel like a worthwhile endeavor.

I admit it: I’m a wannabe engineer. My tendency to overanalyze and devise solutions usually emerges late at night when I should be sleeping. My half-dozing brain is certain it’s invented something brilliant, until I come to full alertness in the morning and think, “What the ever-loving f…?!?” Worse, I grew up on a farm, so I inherited the ‘farmer fix-it’ mentality: It doesn’t have to look good; it only has to work.

And that’s how I came to be sitting in our mudroom a couple of days ago, keeping an eye on a stream of water from a partially-extended retractable faucet I’d taped to a 10-foot piece of central-vacuum piping, which went out the door to rest on a length of aluminum channel propped on a short segment of wooden I-beam and stabilized by a small rock. A chair held the door mostly closed, while a blanket, old jacket, garden sprayer, and small rug kept the cold air at bay.

Unless you’re an engineer, your eyes probably glazed over just from reading the description; so I won’t launch into how the design evolved. I will, however, answer the question most likely to be asked by any sane person: “For the love of God, WHY?!?

Well, once a year we have to sanitize our water lines with a dose of bleach, but we’re not supposed to run bleach into our septic system because it kills the good bacteria. (Although it seems to me that ‘good’ is a relative term when referring to anything that results from rotting shit.)

Anyway, the bleach-laden water has to be piped outside. A hose would have been a good solution, but our mudroom faucet won’t accept a hose fitting. Hence the Rube Goldberg contraption.

Somewhat to my surprise, it worked fine and we got most of the bleach out of the lines, although the next morning’s shower smelled a lot like a public swimming pool. (The chlorine scent, not the funky ‘somewhere in this room a wet towel has been rolled in a ball and left in a locker until it grows polka-dots’ odour.)

So our water is safe for another year; and my hair is only a few shades lighter from the mental effort and residual bleach. So far, so good…

Anybody else have an inventive week?

Book 16 update: Just when I think ‘it’s done and it’s right’, I find something else to fix. (Engineering, grrr!) I’m still at the 50% mark, but the early chapters are whipped into shape now. (I think hope.)

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