Tuesday, April 26, 2022


During WWII, a friend of my father, Lovell Lawrence, Jr. was called in as a consultant to solve a problem with de-icing on the B-25 bomber. Mechanical engineers wanted to solve the problem mechanically, Electrical engineers wanted to solve the problem electrically, and hydraulic engineers wanted to solve the problem hydraulically. And so the problem engineers faced was one easy for Lovell Lawrence to solve. It required asking engineers of various kinds to step out of their disciplines to work together.

Lovell Lawrence, known to my Dad and friends as "Bunny"settled things by telling the various engineers which portion of the project was theirs to do. Portions of it needed to be solved electrically, portions mechanically and portions hydraulically. Bunny who had dropped out of college, his own thinking being far advanced of his professors in various disciplines, later became president of Reaction Motors, Inc., won the Goddard award for rocket engineering, and was head of the Lunar Landing project for Chrysler.

Bunny's story is one of knowing how to think outside the box. I met Bunny and his wife when I was a very small child and they were visiting my parents in Memphis, TN. Today I was reminded of Bunny's story by a letter to the editor written to our local paper by our local librarian, April Griffith. Her letter concerns an essay written by the head of our local Electric Coop that supplies electricity throughout many parts of rural Arkansas. Rob Boaz was insisting that subsidies be restored to fossil fuels like coal and gas and that subsidies be removed from various forms of renewable energy. In other words, you can be an engineer in a narrow subset of ideas and be the CEO of a billion dollar organization and still be dumb as a post when it comes to a more holistic view of reality. The saddest thing is that there are numerous folks in Arkansas that could be influenced to agree with him, while Mr. Boaz needs to get out more.

Bunny, when he was visiting my folks in Memphis, offered my dad a job in the fledgling Reaction Motors, Inc. and I'll note that my own life would have been far different if he had taken it.

Today in the woodshop my students made their own rulers using the widths of their own thumbs to lay out the "inch" marks. With an interest in helping them understand measuring at a deeper level, we then laid out half inch and quarter inch marks, each being found half-way between the previous marks. The point of course, was to go from the concrete into the  abstract and what could be more concrete than the use of our own thumbs.

Make, fix and create...

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