Invent Stuff!

Mark Frauenfelder’s introduction to UNBORED articulates the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos which infuses every single page of the book. Among other things, Mark says:

The things we create ourselves might not be as “good” as slick manufactured versions. But it doesn’t matter: the joy of creating stuff often surpasses the joy of consuming mass-produced stuff. The things I make — skateboards, cigar box guitars, whittled wooden spoons — don’t look as polished and perfect as their store-bought counterparts, but making them has several rewards: Every time I use my wooden spoon to stir pancake batter, and every time I play my cigar box guitar, I’m aware that I created that thing. I have a deeper connection to these unique creations than I do to any purchased item I own.

My family feels the same way — much as we may enjoy buying manufactured objects, we get a far bigger kick out of making and inventing our own stuff. For example, back in 2009, after my dentist warned that I needed to stop brushing so hard — because I was wearing away the enamel on my teeth — I decided that I needed a toothbrush that is difficult to grasp firmly. The idea being that if I can’t grasp the toothbrush firmly, I can’t brush my teeth too hard.

My son Max and I experimented with a few ideas before deciding to order a wooden toothbrush online. (There are lots for sale via Amazon, among other venues.) When the wooden toothbrush arrived, we drove some short nails through the handle — in every direction. The result wasn’t pretty — it’s actually pretty scary looking — but it does the job perfectly. It’s actually impossible to grip the handle of this toothbrush tightly.

We call it the Cruel Toothbrush. I’ve made two more, since then — one for a friend who’d just had gum surgery; and another for my dentist, who keeps it in his office and shows it to patients who are brushing too hard!

PS: Here’s another invention. You’ve heard of Pillow Pets? Well, this is a Pet Pillow. That is to say, it’s a pillowcase in which my kids and I cut leg-holes, so we could use our dog Pokey as a pillow…