Thursday, February 4, 2021

Sex With Plywood

Prologue Part One

Outside Chicago, in a wide open grassy meadow, stands a mysterious place called Fermilab. There isn't much to see at ground level, but buried deep underground lies a vast physics laboratory. In simple terms, scientists send small bits of matter - protons and neutrons - racing around a track called a particle accelerator until they reach mind-boggling rates of speed. Sometimes, the plan is to study the beams that the particles create at such high speeds; other times, the goal is to crash the bits into one another and see what happens. How cool is that.

Though I've never visited Fermilab - named for legendary Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi - and know precious little about the actual science that goes on there, I drove past the campus many times during my Chicago life, and still daydream about its fascinating mission.
^ After

Prologue Part Two

Once I read this sentence in a business article:

"The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the bastard, ugly child that results." - James Altucher

Now I hear those words have been published in a book and it's a good thing because I think they are mad genius. 

And now those words pop into my brain whenever I find myself putting together two seemingly disconnected ideas and discovering that I may indeed be on to something.  

^ Before

Okay, now the actual story. 

A few months ago, in my living room, I improvised a bar care out of an IKEA Kallas - which was a bit of a bastard child in itself - and found that though I was mostly pleased with the outcome, I still had a bit of troubleshooting to do.

For starters, the cold air intake vent for the furnace lives right behind this cabinet. As I'd styled it before, the cubbies were mostly full and the ugly metal grate was gracefully hidden from view. But with the low profile of the mugs and glasses, the vent cover made for quite an eyesore.  

On top of that, that cold air return, whose job it is to suck in air from all over the house, was causing every particle of dust suspended in said air to rush through those very Kallax compartments and deposit their unending loads of minuscule debris all over the glasses. 


Meanwhile, out in my garage, I've lately been sorting through a fairly impressive heap of lumber scraps, accumulated over the years and taking up some valuable real estate out there. Though I'm more than happy to ditch any leftovers that I can always turn around and buy back at Home Depot on any given Saturday, I'm a bit hesitant to part with some decades-old specimens that would be very hard to replace.

They are not making plywood like they used to, I'm sorry to say.

But on the other hand, I'm not running a building supply warehouse over here, so if I really care about these old relics, I should put them to good use, right?


As you may be guessing, these two conundrums raced around inside the particle accelerator that is my brain until they collided in a fiery explosion of kinetic energy, resulting in the following idea:

Use the vintage plywood as a backing for the open shelves.

Oh sure. When I say it now, it seems so obvious, right? 

But I doubt that even Enrico Fermi himself could have predicted this lovely outcome.

And I find myself grateful to the great minds of 



lumber fabrication, 

and, of course, nuclear physics 

for helping me solve my problems. 

* * * * *

More stories about the random ideas that fuse themselves together in my head:

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