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Grandma, Rebar and Archimedes

July 14, 2017


Fixing a problem is intensely satisfying, a feeling of power, intelligence and pure joy. Recently, I tackled a stubbornly immovable rebar stuck in the ground with about a foot poking up, threatening to trip and impale unsuspecting grandchildren and absentminded grandmas. The rebar had been in the ground for about 18 years, forgotten because we placed an umbrella stand and table over it.

The table was in the wrong place. The yard lacked feng shui, so I determined to shift the furniture into a more pleasing arrangement. That was when I rediscovered the rebar. No problem, I thought, just remove it. As I spent a hot afternoon digging and tugging, I remembered why that table sat out of sync and unused for so long. Frustration growing, I grabbed the hose. I could soak the darn thing loose. Soon the muddy hole around the rebar was almost two feet deep. I could turn the smooth metal a full 360 degrees and wiggle it back and forth, but it would not give even a fraction of an inch upwards. I finally left the rebar soaking, still believing that my iron will would beat that iron rod tomorrow.

Having to leave the problem unsolved rankled, but as usual I found wisdom in living with a problem for a while, letting my body rest, giving my mind a chance to work.

Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Eureka! I had a plan, with one problem. What would grip the smooth rebar tight enough to allow a lever to push straight up? Rummaging in the storage building unearthed a pipe cutter. I clamped it tight, just biting into the metal, found a long pole and placed a wood block fulcrum. Wedging the pole under the pipe cutter and over the fulcrum, I pushed down on the other end, and the rebar came out of the ground with minimal effort. Surprise! Education is valuable in everyday life.

As I age, the choice of brain or brawn doesn’t work as often. Problems take both, but I usually choose brawn first. My brain-fleas are jumping fast, and I latch onto the first one I can catch. Then I determine to make it work by shear brute force. I hate to give up. Once I tire enough to let my mind and body relax, the griddle cools, and more viable options have a chance to surface.


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