Monday, October 13, 2003

The Handyman' s Secret Weapon

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

"Duct tape is like the force: It has a dark side and a light side and it holds the universe together."

I saw that quote the other day and thought of two things: Your recent post on duality, and my Grandpa Art.

My Dad's father passed away in 1988, but not before a lifetime of devotion to the wonders of silver tape. Grandpa Art had grown up on a farm and spent the first part of his adulthood in agriculture before becoming a high school science teacher in his 40s. Perhaps it was the combination of practical repair experience gained on the farm and a scientist's appreciation of innovation that drew him to duct tape.

Some of the uses we remember fondly: Winterproofing windows, repairing plumbing, reinforcing the swingset, replacing grips on tennis rackets, fixing ladder rungs (!), and, of course, sealing ductwork.

That repair job is probably 30 years old (note the discoloration and wear -- but it still holds a 200-pound man).

Duct tape was invented in World War II by the Johnson & Johnson Co. to better seal ammunition boxes for shipping. It was Army green and was called "duck tape" first, because of the cotton duck that was used to make it and because water ran off its back. It acquired the "duct tape" name and its metallic silver color when postwar homeowners discovered its usefulness.

It used to be a generational thing (my other grandpa has been known to use duct tape to wrap Christmas presents), but duct tape is back in vogue, particularly after certain pronouncements from the Department of Homeland Security. A duct tape chic page is located here.

So, Rene and readers, have you or any of your relatives found other practical, creative or bizarre applications for duct tape?

p.s. I'm pondering a response to your "best tax" question; my position on that has changed over time.


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