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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Toothpicks, glue and prison reform

Think of the worst thing you could possibly have to do.  Shovel dog doo-doo?  Squirt dog doo-doo with a hose because it is a cowpie?  Do a 1,000 piece puzzle?  No, worse, worse, and worse.

Go deep.  Dig.  I mean something along the lines of waterboarding.  What could be worse than this?

Let me tell you exactly what is worse than this.

Having to make a toothpick bridge with Elmers glue for a child's project.

So apparently I got an email about a month ago informing me that my offspring ought to be just chugging right along on their toothpick bridge project (a what?!), so I said, great.  That sounds horrible.  I'm glad I don't have to do it!

I received a follow-up email that said hopefully the said offspring is near completed with said project (last night - since it's due in 2 days).   Panic begins as I ask offspring what the deal is and how it's coming along.  Panic increases towards hyperventilation as offspring procures a ziplock bag of 2 boxes of 750 flat toothpicks and a bottle of Elmers.  There is nothing done.  There are no plans.  

This is where you make the choice.  The choice to allow your child to fall flat on their face and fail (especially since this offspring couldn't fine motor their way out of a paper bag) or where you veer off into Neverneverland as you hear phrases come out of your mouth that you have a vague recollection of hearing before somewhere in your childhood in the form of something sounding like the voice of your mother/father.  This is where arm-flailing becomes a sport and sighing it's cheerleading companion, where mumbling and raking your hands through your hair is no longer dramatic, but seems the only way you could survive such a horrid ordeal.  This is where you picture the teacher laughing as they assigned this sick torture and your blood begins to surge into your temples because all you want to do is put up your freakin Christmas tree and instead you have to deal with glue and toothpicks.  But you are a teacher, too, and no assignment will ever be willingly overlooked, so it's time to jump in, both feet.

This is the point at which I decide there must be an easier way.  There must be weird sickos out there who like this sort of torture (architects, engineers, etc.), and who are they and how can I bribe them to do this for me?  Let's go easiest first: ebay.  Does anyone have these things for sale?  Crap!  Why not?!!!  

Let me just tell you - if you are one of those weird sickos, PUT THOSE THINGS ON EBAY!!  YOU COULD BE A BAZILLIONAIRE!!!  Just give me a cut for thinking of a business for you, 10% will be just fine, thank you.

Secondly, my next thought brought me to this: I live not very far from a world-class university with a fantastic engineering program, perhaps I could get one of those smart (and yet, crazy) people to do this for me.  They are in college, thus, they are poor!  I could pay them with food, laundry washing and money.  But I don't know any of them.  I did go on their college of engineering website in hopes they might just randomly list some really A+ students who didn't have a life on a Sunday night (unless you count Warcraft as a fun thing to do with your time).  This also fell through.

So, I am not an engineer.  I am more of the Spanish/English teacher type, actually, and that  has pretty much nothing to do with engineering.  I obviously did what I figured was the best plan on bridgemaking: line up a whole bunch of toothpicks in a row and pour 1/3 of the bottle of glue on top of it.  My first plan was to just dump the entire box of 750 in a plastic bin and empty the glue entirely on top of it and use a hairdryer to make it dry quickly, but my hubby said no, I could not do that.  I am pretty sure that is the fastest way to build a bridge, though, and surely that must count for something.

I had a kickin' row going on and my hubby and I were convinced by all these pictures on the internet that we had to make it go "upward" too, not just be a flat bottom thing. So we made triangles (that's what the cool people did) and glued them together and attached them to the bottom bridge thingie with things that look like piles of kindling wood in a huge lump.  I am pretty sure this is the best way to do it.  However, we still felt that this was a little embarassing and disasterous and getting more drastic every second we tried a new idea on it, so I did the only logical thing:

Text my brother and father (both engineers/retired) with this message, "engineering emergency 911 - this is supposed to be a bridge" and a picture of the fantastic thing we made.   

They were not able to help, probably because they were too busy cracking up.

I would like to say to the teacher, "Do you hate me and my life?"  No, no, better: "Why do you hate me and my family?"  

I got to thinking about all of this torture and punishment and thought about how such a hideous idea could be put to good use.  Aha!  Prison reform!  In order to stop the common problem of inmates being released only to be sent back to prison after a very short while, we approach them with this: you come back to jail any time soon, you have to make a freakin toothpick bridge using those and just Elmer's glue and it has to hold your weight or you can't leave.  No TV, no movies, no nothin' - just you and your sticky fingers and the toothpicks that you will soon poke into your eyeballs out of sheer frustration and horror.  No talking, no free time, no internet and no, you can't decorate your Christmas tree until you're finished.  Wanna come back and start your project?  I didn't think so.  Now stop being a criminal, OR ELSE!

Seriously, ya'll should'a voted me for president.  Obviously.

UPDATE!  So I was working on this post last night and today was the bridge competition.  I got to go into the class while the torture, er, I mean, bridge weight testing was going on.  I walked into a classroom filled with things that were stinkin' replicas of DNA spirals and the most complicated and amazingly artistic bridges I've ever seen.  It would have been devastatingly sinful to break these things!  Then, it was our turn.  I kept my eyes low as everyone nearly gasped in horror at the sight of it.  They weighed the bridge first and weighed more than twice as much as the next heaviest bridge.  That might have been because everyone else was using airy, creative and mathematical maneuvers and I was using the technique called stack the toothpicks and pour on 70% of the glue in the entire bottle.  

She put the pencil through with some yarn hanging down and looked at it dubiously.  I cringed.  She hung a water bottle on it.  I thought, "Here we go, kiss it goodbye, child!"  And it stood.  She added another.  And another.  And another.  And another.  The paperclip was breaking from holding the water bottles.  She hung a bag in a container of marbles from it.  She traded out the water bottles and got a gallon jug of water.  It still was fine!  At this point, the hilarity of this entire situation was bathing over me and I would have flown my husband to the location to experience it because it was so insane.  She re-hung the individual water bottles on it and it stood.  There were cheers.    I stared in utter disbelief.  Then she ran out of weights.  Our stupid and hideous monster withstood all of the weights.

She told my offspring that they ought to bring it home.  This horrendous and grotesque creation won an award!  (We disqualified because the offspring forgot to tell us it had to have "legs".)  Yes, the others looked like ballerinas while ours looked like a fat, squatty, obese tank, but it worked.

Poetic justice for the English teacher.  Win.  And yes, the keyboard is still mightier than the toothpick bridge.  Er, sword.  Or that was a pen.  Oh, never mind.

Peace, love and use more glue,
Ms. Daisy

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