December 29th 2016
Today it took me a solid two hours to hang a picture frame on a wall. Alice and I were putting our Christmas presents away, and finding new places for everything. One of the presents we got was a picture frame that we can… never mind that bit’s neither important or interesting.
Alice told me that my job was to hang that picture frame on the wall above the bed while she sorted through the rest of the stuff. I took this as a challenge to my masculinity. I had to prove myself capable of performing the (traditionally) manly tasks of banging a nail into the wall and putting a picture up. I mean, Alice loves any excuse to use a hammer, but she challenged me with it to test me.
I don’t think I did very well.
To begin with, I approached the task at hand with an appropriate amount of testosterone and just started banging a nail into the wall as hard as I could. But the nail would bend. I tried again, with the same result. I figured out that the wall had concrete reinforcement behind the plaster, and when the nail hit it, it would bend.
So I had to find another way.
Instead of a nail I used a hook, which had three shorter stabby-things that went into the wall, and the hook held the picture up.
The picture didn’t have a loop on the back on which to hook it, though. It’s one that you’re supposed to hang by tying a string from each edge, and using the string to hold it up.
So I tied the string to either end, and attached it to the wall. But because the string was too flexible, it let gravity pull it down and the hook was visible above the picture. And that wasn’t ideal.
I tore the string off and tried again, but I tried to make the string more taut this time, so that it would stay straight and not allow the hook to be visible.
I tried again, with less string, tighter knots, and it was more taut.
Still didn’t work.
Sheer testosterone wouldn’t work for me, so I applied a bit of logic.
My way of solving problems has never been to hammer at something repeatedly until it works. If it doesn’t work how you expect it to work, then you find a new way of doing it.
I allowed my brain to recall some basic physics that I once learnt in a classroom, somewhere, sometime.
As tight as I kept the string, it was stretching because of the weight of the frame, and expanding to hold it. This was what made the hook visible above the frame.
But, if instead of using one tight string, you double up and loop the string back on top of itself, then you’re halving the weight applied to each string.
So now, instead of being held up by one string, the frame was held up by two, and this meant that the tension in the string was lower, because the weight was shared. The word is tensile strength or something. I think. Probably.
This meant that the string didn’t stretch as much, and when I hung the picture on the hook, the hook wasn’t visible above the frame.
And that’s me. That’s how I do things. I’m useless with a hammer. I can barely work a screwdriver. I am not a manly man’s man. But if you give me a problem to solve then I will solve it, even if – at first – I do not know how.
Until tomorrow, problem solved.