Sunday, July 8, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 82: The Inventors We Were

          It's definitely a complicated task to build an elevator.
          Armed with youthful optimism (and some rope), my brother Nemesis and I decided to improve our treehouse with a platform that would allow us to raise ourselves into the treehouse with a minimum of effort. We already had a pulley installed that let us raise buckets of large rocks and a large wooden "deck gun" for our "battles", so we figured the same principle should hold true for an elevator.
          --Side note: I know what most people would be thinking at this point, so allow me to reassure everyone that the rocks were NOT used for throwing at others. We have a creek running next to the treehouse, and our treehouse was sometimes used as a bomber (when it wasn't pressed into service as a submarine or a spaceship--see Captain's Log, Day 74: Imaginations Running Wild). Since a bomber operating over the ocean needed bombs to drop on unsuspecting submarines, we used large rocks to create the necessary depth-charge splash, so as not to put too much of a strain on our already over-active imaginations.--
          But I digress.
          Nemesis and I had not yet taken any advanced physics classes; as yet, we were unaware of how exactly pulleys worked. It appeared to me that if you ran a rope through a pulley, it would magically reduce how much force was needed, to the point that I would be able to hoist my kiester up into the treehouse at warp speed (something that was much needed, as we were attacked by aliens every other day, and it's hard to climb a wildly swinging rope ladder while simultaneously trying to shoot at invaders). 
          The first step, of course, was to build a platform. Originally, I had wanted to build a complete box (with sliding doors) for our elevator, but after realizing how heavy the base was, that idea was scrapped. Nemesis and I lugged the platform down into the woods, attached the rope to it, climbed up into the treehouse, ran the rope through the pulley, and hoisted it up to the trapdoor.
          "Since this was my idea, I think I should try it first," I announced to Nemesis.
          Nemesis looked annoyed, as if he had been on the verge of calling dibs. "Fine, but I get to go second." He handed me the rope. I took it and stepped jauntily out onto the platform.
          Once Nemesis had finished laughing and I had recovered my wind and cataloged my bruises (15-foot falls were the norm for me in those days, as I persisted in climbing every tree I could find, including the dead and rotten ones), I suggested an alternative course of action, one that (to me) seemed safer. Now that the rope was already attached to the pulley, I would start at the ground and pull myself up. I sat on the platform and gave a mighty heave on the rope.
          "You know, Nemesis, this platform might be too heavy," I finally gasped out, throwing in the figurative towel before I ruptured something. (Or maybe afterwards; it was hard to tell sometimes.)
          "Darn. Guess we can't use the elevator then," Nemesis complained, disappointed.
          "Or maybe we can," I mused, thinking hard. "Let's just get a swing off the swingset and use that as a seat instead!"
          Once the swing was obtained and properly attached, I sat down in it and began heaving. I made some progress, but it was incredibly hard work. Nemesis helped in his own way by yelling encouragement. I had almost made it to the top when my sweaty hands slipped.
          I picked myself up out of the crater the successive falls had punched into the ground and dusted myself off, admiring the rope burns. "You know, Nemesis," I remarked casually, "this treehouse doesn't need an elevator. What it needs is a zipline across the creek to the other bank."
          "Let's build it later," Nemesis suggested, peering across the forest. "I think I see aliens coming!"
          About a week later, my sister Quill and I built the zipline across the creek. My fall was broken by the plethora of rocks strewn about the creekbed. That was about the time I decided to leave the major modifications alone for the time being and focus on non-lethal projects.
          "Hey Nemesis! Wanna help me mount this rocket launcher?"

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