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January 05, 2013

Pack Creek Ranch, San Juan County, Utah
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Weather report summary: Still
Still cold, still clear, with deep snow all around about, still.
Several nights with temperature down to ten below zero.
Winter, still.


Here’s a little kid.
Dressed to go out and play in the deep snow.
It’s a nice, clear, sunny day.
But the thermometer registers 5 below zero Fahrenheit.
So the kid is bundled up to the max.

Two pairs of wool socks.
Underpants plus heavy-weight long-john bottoms.
Turtle-neck heavy-weight long-john top.
Wool trousers and wool sweater.
Down vest.
Down parka.
Wind parka and wind pants.
Two wool caps.
Wool neck warmer.
Snow goggles with dark lenses.
Fleece-lined rubber-bottom mukluk-style arctic boots.
And two pairs of Norwegian wool mittens.

He’s ready for a trip to the North Pole or the dark side of the Moon.
If he falls down in the snow it will take a crane to set him upright again.
He doesn’t care.
With confidence of the ecstatic young he lurches out the door, into the snow.

Alas, he has forgotten to make a prophylactic trip to the bathroom before he was all zipped up . . .
When the urge hits him he will be way too far from the house . . .
But he’s just not going back.
He will make the mistake of thinking he can get through six zippers in time to locate his drainage system – without first taking off his two layers of wool gloves . . .
And he has forgotten how easy it is when, in haste, to get zippers stuck or popped open from the bottom, or how easy it is to entangle wooly mittens in a zipper . . .

Gideon Sundback – a name you don’t know but should (and now do.)
A Swedish-American electrical engineer.
The patent for the basic design for the zipper was issued to him in 1917.
And the rest is history – and part of your daily life.

Simply said, a zipper consists of two rows of protruding teeth which can be made to interdigitate by a Y-shaped channel that efficiently meshes or un-meshes the rows of teeth.
The zipper has proved universal in its use – being cheap to make and effective to use.
Its name is onomatopoetic – for the sound made when it operates – zip.

One of its major selling points is that it encourages self-reliance in young children or old adults – enabling them to dress themselves easier than with buttons.
Unless the zipper fails – jams or breaks . . .

There is another sound, not so onomatopoetic, associated with zippers.
This is the sound the small boy is making while standing far out in the snow with a bladder emergency, two jammed zippers, and both wool mittens tangled up in both zippers.
He has also just remembered that in his haste to dress he put his long-johns on backwards – with the fly to the stern . . .

Suddenly the child is calm.
He smiles, sheepishly.
Too late for heroic measures.
His legs and feet are suddenly warmer.
The crisis is over.
He tears his mittens loose from the jammed zippers.
And recklessly plunges on out into the snow, laughing.

The little boy is me.
Not a long time ago when I was young.
Me - in little boy mind.

I have lived long enough to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem.
Could be much worse, but it’s not.
This is not a gastric distress issue – just a pee overflow.
And I am old enough to remember how often this has happened before.
For me - for my children - and grandchildren.
It will probably happen again, as my plumbing control continues to age.

Zipper failure is a minor matter.
!#&?#@$%!!!!! won’t fix it, but patience will, later.
A personal plumbing access failure is easily overcome and rectified by washers and dryers and a change of clothes when you get around to it – as was the case at day’s end for me.

But the elegant day and the snow would not be there forever.
So I did not go back to the house, but on out into the day and the snow.
No problem.