Creative Problem Solving

Posted in Written by Our Readers on March, 15 2006 12:10 PM

Well, they say that Dungeons and Dragons is supposed to be about creative problem solving as a group. That was the case last night, although it had nothing to do with the game.

We were about half-way through the game when Kris notices that in her china cabinet across the room one piece of carnival glass has fallen forward from the shelf and is leaning against the door. Now most pieces of this glass in her collection are valued between $ 20 and $ 75, but not this one, it is one of the very first pieces of this type of glass ever made, very rare, and had been personally given to her by her Great Grandmother. It is valued at around $ 1,700.

So we begin brainstroming about how to get it out. It is leaning forward off of the top shelf which has about two-and-a-half inches of open space between the shelf glass and the door, with four shelves each a foot below the next and a glass mirror on the bottom of the cabinet. Opening the door will cause it to fall and crash down below, breaking itself and other pieces.

So we move everything away. We notice a thin crack on the top between the door and cabinet, deep enough to get an unbent coat hanger through to try to coax it back. Only Tim is tall enough to maneuver it, and he makes the mistake of pushing the hanger in the wrong way, so instead of pushing the cup back he stands it up, and it comes falling down to the next shelf. But instead of hitting the shelf it goes straight down a foot, the upper lip catching the shelf and lodging between the shelf and door.

Up until now one option had been to lean the whole cabinet back, letting everything shift to the end and opening the door. That is no longer an option, because now it would fall no matter how the door is opened.

We pull out tools and John removes the upper moulding from the cabinet to see if the top can come off. It can't, 100-year-old furniture was well made. We eventually settle on the fact that we're going to have to open the door quickly and try to catch in mid-fall. John plays baseball and softball and comments about wishing he had his glove.

We fill the floor up with blankets and sleeping bags. The risk is still it hitting the bottom of the cabinet, so we consider tilting the entire cabinet forward. This works to some extent, but causes another glass cup to shift and at one point we almost drop the entire cabinet when Guy who is holding the bottom lets go without telling the rest of us to try something else.

The brain trust then debates tipping back instead to open the bottom door enough to slip material and sheets inside on the mirror bottom, so that if it does hit there we will have padding. We do that, this other shift causing a different cup to fall down a level and a ceramic figurine (not an antique) to fall over and have the figurine's hand break off.

The valuable cup remains lodged on the door, as we are pushing the top of the door in as we open the bottom to get in the padding. We then stand it level again and shift the cabinet forward as far as we can without other pieces shifting. On the unified count of three the door is rapidly pulled open and John swings his hand in and under and makes the catch!

This had taken close to 90 minutes and it is now time for the game to end. I make my brother swear to secrecy about this, as my mother would have kittens if she knew we took off the moulding to her mother's cabinet. We plan out the strategy for John to bring the appropriate tools next week to carefully and properly put the moulding back while Guy examines and determines what he need to bring to repair and repaint the figurine's hand. It takes Kris a good half-hour to calm down from the orderal. But overall, we had a 99% success rate for the operation.

Who said geeks have no practical skills?

With many thanks to SilverMoon for allowing me to repeat his story here.

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