No Problem, I can handle this. Image

No Problem, I can handle this.

Chad is a well-accomplished 36 y/o architect with his own practice that designs houses in the 30-50 000s sq. ft. range. He is well established in the Seattle market for designing homes that seem to melt into the dense pinewoods. He prides himself on the ability to design homes that surrender to the characteristics of the land, e.g., hillside, stream, etc. These  $multimillion structures are each one of a kind; There is little conformity to his house layouts. For example, the kitchen may be on the top floor next to the dining room to enjoy the view over the treetops. Similarly, the master bedroom may be on the bottom floor with access to the pool and terrace for a late night romp (as his wife, Barb, likes to say). Very often there are multiple angles in the structure to hug the hillside. However, whereas he has been able to creatively meet the challenges of nature's terrain in his designs, he has been humbled by one of nature's smallest mammals, the squirrel.

Chad had designed their new house to be constructed on Bainbridge Island, West of Seattle. Accordingly, he incorporated many unique features into its design given the rugged characteristics of the property. For example, the garage was not attached directly to the house, but instead above it with a covered pathway to the house. The steepness of the hill on the North side provided for the cantilevering of the living room over the forest and stream below with a thick glass floor with a spattering of small oriental rugs. The living room was accented by a wooden walkway outside of the glass walls and sliding doors.

Chad's humbling began a month after he and Barb moved into the new house. Barb stated that she desired a bird house/feeder (BHF) just outside of the living room on the walkway. "Not a problem, I can handle this." were the infamous words that he be repeated several times with decreasing confidence over the next several months. Being raised in the city, Chad had little experience with squirrels other than their playfulness at the parks. Therefore, he knew little of their perseverance to surmount obstacles in the search of food. Hence, he didn't know to include the squirrel's capabilities in his first design. He would soon have to come to terms with the challenges with which he was confronted.

Chad is a decent amateur carpenter with a full set of tools in the workshop attached to the garage, including a table saw, a radial arm saw, a router table, planer, and various hand tools. In the early years of his marriage to Barb, he had built a number of furniture pieces to fill their apartment as he completed his architectural studies. In the last 5 years, the combination of substantial income with so little personal time, provided him neither the time nor interest to build his own furniture. However, he thought the BHF would be a joyful experience to blend his carpentry and architectural skills. So! He started with several drawings, each of which he would pass by Barb for her approval. The first was that of a log cabin type structure based upon a picture he had found on the internet. Barb found that to be inappropriate given the uniqueness of their house. Chad reluctantly agreed. The next design was more complex as to angles, again as he had found on the internet, but with the addition of a landings around it on which birds could feed. Barb liked it, and Chad had to next design the means to hang the structure from the deck, while providing access to replenish with bird seed. That is when the challenges really began. 

At first he simply attached a pole to the roof from which the BHF was suspended; the squirrels discovered that quicker than the birds did. He then went to the Internet to seek solutions.  He found baffles that could be placed on the lanyard holding the BHF just above it. The baffle was delivered in 2 days, and he attached it that evening. However, given the width of his creation, he soon observed that the squirrels simply jumped onto the baffle and slid down to hand on the BHF's lowest level. So! He ordered a second baffle to be placed above the first. In 2 days it arrived, and then attached. To his amazement, it only took several attempts by the squirrel(s) to jump on the first, slide down to the second baffle, and then on again to the lowest level of the BHF. Clearly, he needed to use more creativity, more engineering in designing a squirrel-proof BHF. When he explained to Barb what was happening, he ended with "No problem, I can handle this."

Perhaps it was the bourbon that evening after dinner, but he thought of the 'SLINKY' toy (a flexible helical spring) he had as a child, and he had an idea. He did some research as to the average weight of grey squirrels common to Seattle. He found that they could range from 1/2 pound to well over 10 pounds. Hence, he ordered several different silky-type coils that he found on the Internet as deterrents to squirrels for evading BHFs. Once received, he attached the one that stretched the most with the least weight attached. He then removed the 2 useless baffles and hung the BHF from the coil attached to the overhang support arm. His thought was that when the squirrel used the coil to reach the BHF, that the coil (with its inherent elasticity) would then extend quickly followed by iterations of retracting and extending thereby alarming the squirrel that would then jump to the deck. He also set up a motion-activated camera to his siding to record what may occur. Every evening, bourbon in hand, he would review any movies that were captured from the day before. For a week, his design was working, and he shared the comical videos with Barb. And then it happened. Chad was enjoying his second bourbon for the evening and remembered to check his video for the day before. After so many successful days, Barb was no longer interested in Chad's BHF pursuits. Suddenly, she heard him yell out "DARN IT!" She ran to his office where he was reviewing the video of the previous 24 hours. When she entered the office Chad stated "I can't believe it. The squirrels teamed up and hit the coil at the same time with enough weight for it to extend, but without any significant recoil given their total weight. Hence, they just hung on and then down to the BHF." Her response was immediate and compassionate "I am so sorry Darling." His response was as expected, "Not a problem, I can handle this."

The next morning Chad was off to the next challenge. He thought of a disc platform that could spin when the squirrel landed on it. This disc would be on a cam pivot point to accelerate the tangential, kinetic spiral energy that would not permit the squirrel to hang onto a frictionless surface. His concept required a means to 'reload' the kinetic energy for the next squirrel attempt. Within several minutes, he conceived the solution, i.e., there would be a rather weak spring under the spiraling baffle, that would not greatly restrict the spiraling, but sufficient to return the disc to its 'primed' position. (copyright@2022 Ron Lindsey).

Again, the new design was working well, that is until the 'Poncho and Cisco' duo showed up. At first, the two would jump nearly at the same time, which only enhanced the tangential energy of their departure from the disc. Apparently, 'Poncho' (distinguished by his sparse tail) became increasingly weary of the disc, and he would hold back just a moment for the disc to reach its spinning limit, hence providing him no tangential energy. That hesitation proved to be a successful tactic for him that the two would then continue taking turns over the next several days as to which squirrel jumped first permitting only the other to reap the harvest of the BHF.

Chad was totally frustrated with his inability to standup to the perseverance of the squirrels. At dinner that night, he was to say to Barb for the last time "No Problem, I can handle this."  Barb reached across the dinner table to take his hands in hers and simply said "Of course Darling." Nothing more was said. The next morning, Chad awaken early and went to his workshop with a container of fresh coffee and several cinnamon rolls his wife had made the night before. He did not reappear until dinner. In his hand he held an elongated sheet of Scotch-taped papers that he spread across the table. "My goodness Chad, what is this?" as she viewed the document left to right. With pride, he said boldly "Love, this is not only the FINAL solution as to dealing with the Bird Feeder/House, BUT also a new business for us." What you see here is a Modularized Squirrel Challenge System. Having been a student of Roman Architecture, as well the history of Julius Caesar, he stated simply  "What I have displayed on this elongated document is a "Divide and Conquer" solution as reportedly originated by Julius Caesar. The name that I am giving this system is 'NUTS'. (copyright@2022 Ron Lindsey). "I am still confused my Husband" as she continued to pour Bourbon into his glass of ice. "Barb!, this is sensational. I have started the design of a set of modular squirrel physical deterrents that can be attached in seemingly endless ways for squirrels to take on to reach the endpoint of the BHP. The elongated document in front of you shows only a few of the ingenious ways squirrels will have to work their way through to reach the BHP. For example, there are several tubes, spirals, and false doors that a squirrel will have to conquer.  Because each challenge is modular, the owner can change the configuration to continuously test the squirrel as to 'relearning' the path to the BHP. This approach provides a win/win/win for humans/squirrels/and birds alike as significant amount of time is spent by the squirrels in reaching their goals." He paused to let her absorb the avalanche of information he just provided. "This is going to be a new, and additional business for us that I want to pursue. In case you are wondering about my architecture, that will always be first.  Are you with me on this Barb?" "Of course my Husband.  As you say 'No problem. WE can handle this.'".









Sign Up To Be Informed of New Posts