Inventions born out of sheer laziness

By Glenda Price: FNM columnist

One of the ranch houses we lived in when I was a kid almost had electricity. It had a Delco light plant that was rigged so when you turned on a light the plant came on and generated electricity until you turned off the light.

Obviously, that taught all us kids to turn off lights when we didn’t really need them. Most of the lights were bare bulbs in the ceiling with a long string attached, so you pulled the string to turn it on or off.

My brother spent hours one day tying more string to the one hanging from the ceiling in his room to a spot by the pillow on his bed, where he pinned it to the sheet. That way he could turn his light on or off while lying in bed. He was so proud!

So I’ve decided that invention has two mothers — or maybe a mother and a father. Necessity is the one we hear about most often, but my brother’s handy-dandy light switch extension was a product of pure laziness. He just didn’t want to expend the energy getting out of and back into bed.

The necessity impetus is most always unexpected — like when the headstall part of your bridle breaks while you’re out in the pasture, alone. Probably you can get your cow pony stopped, but the bridle needs to be patched together somehow. So you look around. Yep, saddles have strings attached behind the cantle for tying on your slicker, or lunch or water bottle, and strings in front for ropes or whatever.

You untie your “always there” rope and use it to make a makeshift halter for the horse while you get out your trusty Leatherman (no self-respecting country person would be caught without that) and use its very dull knife blade to cut a saddle string off. I’m sure there are little gremlins who consider their job to be gleefully dulling pocket knives.

At last you’ve got the material to lace up the break in the headstall and you’ll be, as my brother said, “All proud.”

The wheel — ah yes, humankind’s most powerful invention. Archaeologists believe it was invented about 8,000 B.C. in Asia, although it could have been as long ago as 3,500 B.C.

Apparently, it resulted from stages of development: The first was rollers placed beneath heavy objects so they could be moved easier; the second stage was placing a sledge under the heavy load so it would be easier to drag; third, they put rollers under the sledge, moving the rollers forward as they went.

Eventually, the rollers were changed into wheels and an axle was added.