The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Jim Lee 

Solving life's problems one invention at a time


A friend and I were discussing Thomas Edison a few days ago. The conversation brought up the inventor’s reliance on tenacity and trial-and-error. He simply kept at something until he got the desired results.

As admirable as that was and as well as it worked out for him, I think there had to be an inciting inspiration in there somewhere. There has to be a reason to invent something and a particular result in mind at the start, whether it turns out that way or not.

Sure, Alexander Graham Bell came up with the telephone when he was trying to invent something else, but he did start off with an invention in mind.

The point of all this is that the old saying is right: Necessity is the mother of invention. And we all are inventors.

While none of us claims the status or genius of Edison or Bell, most (if not all) of us have invented things we needed in a pinch. We may have called it just making do, but it does amount to inventing something to fill a need.

Considering this concept made me think of some of the things I’ve dreamed up that you may find almost interesting.

Here’s one that is actually my wife Saundra’s brainstorm, but I like to take credit for it. She got tired of the dog stepping in his water dish, usually spilling it in the process. So she bought him one of those plastic kiddie pools. He can step in that all he wants, or even use it to cool off in hot weather. And it can be periodically dumped on dry spots in the yard and refilled so it doesn’t breed mosquitoes.

One time when I ran out of shaving lather and didn’t want to run out to the store before completing my daily ritual, I tried using shampoo. It worked fine, and it provided a shampoo scent that eliminated the need for aftershave stuff.

Have you ever thought of using a colander as a veggie steamer?

I think my most recent invention is a doozy. I can picture Edison flipping in his grave in envy.

I got tired of fixing baked potatoes the same old way. They bake around an hour in the regular oven, maybe not quite as long with a nail in them. The microwave is a lot faster, but the bottom gets all crusty and thick. I don’t have a mini-jackhammer to get through tater hide, so there must be a better way.

After some thinking (I resort to that sometimes), I poked four toothpicks in the potato like table legs. Saundra and our dinner guest laughed at me, but that was OK. I imagine people laughed at Bell, too.

Well, I put the potatoes on a plate and in the microwave. They looked like miniature alien coffee tables, but so what? No thick hide this time.

Useful ideas like this surround us. How about Tony Gennaro’s idea to hang clear plastic bags full of water in his outdoor patio to scare off flies? He says it’s the light refraction affecting their highly specialized vision. He’s the biologist, so who am I to argue? Besides, it works.

Got any cool inventions to share? Let me know. Given enough time, we can solve all of life’s challenges with our common sense and a few creative thoughts. It’s worth a try, right?

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail:

[email protected]


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