Future is, um, bright in hands of youth like this

There's a whole new year before us.

I, for one, am utterly convinced that this will be the year when America rebounds from her slump. We will rediscover our boundless enthusiasm. American ingenuity will once again be a byword for all that is best about us.

Our children have the wherewithal and the persistence to make this nation great again. I am sure of that now. My own son, Erik, recently made the case for his entire generation.

Recently, we two took a break from housecleaning. We were making a cup of tea. I chose Assam; Erik had decided on White Pomegranate.

Erik was dunking his tea bag when a Certain Look appeared in his eyes.

"I have an idea," he announced. "I am going to invent an automatic tea steeper."

"Erik," I responded desperately, "It's just one more thing to store. Just one more thing to find space for. The tea will steep on its own. Can't you just let things be?"

"But I have a reason."

"I don't care!" I exclaimed. "I have just spent weeks divesting this house of extraneous stuff. If you invent something new to store in the household, you will be putting a straitjacket on me and bringing me to an emergency room in order to avoid my doing harm to myself or loved ones. No more stuff! Please!"

"But it would be a hit in Germany."

Erik and I have lived in Germany. My husband is German. Germans love gadgets, like tap water carbonators.

Really. I do not lie.

I admitted that Erik's invention would be a great hit in Germany. I resigned myself.

"Draw it out," I suggested.

Erik headed to the kitchen table. He spent five minutes hunched over paper. At one point, he jumped up to grab an eraser. Then he went back to scribbling furiously.

"Come here, Mom. Let me show you this."


"For science," Erik said firmly. "This basically works like a pendulum. This tripod stand sits over the cup and supports a hinge, offset to one side of the cup. The hinge supports a balance beam, which has two counterweights. The center of mass, of course, hangs below the hinge, and very slightly offset to compensate for the additional mass of the bag, which hangs off to one side of the lever. When the pendulum is set in motion, the bag will then move up and down, repeatedly dunking it in the tea. This has the advantage that this moves the water through the tea bag, allowing more of the tea molecules to be liberated."

He really talks this way, without paragraph breaks.

I asked him, "Is it collapsible?"

"Yes, but I haven't worked out the details."

"If it's not collapsible, I don't want it," I answer.

Erik went back to the drawing.

Later, he announced sadly that he did not think his idea would work after all.

"The water will act as a harmonic damper," he explained, "preventing the pendulum from oscillating for any length of time."

I looked him in the eyes and nodded very gravely.

"I could make it electronic, but I'd prefer to be as ecofriendly as possible. But perhaps, instead of moving the tea bags in the cup, you could move the cup around the bags! All you would need is a good spring, possibly a counterweight somewhere. ..."

"Is it collapsible?" I asked.

"I'm working on that," he answered firmly.

Folks, the future is in our children's hands. And it's a bright one.

Happy New Year!