Apr 16, 2010

The Dryer's Not Broken

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April 5 was Qing Ming, the day for remembering the dead. I would like to dedicate this post to a memory of my father, Daniel Ng, physicist.I was talking with Mom one weekend when she said abruptly, "I've got to go and pull clothes out of the washer and hang them up so that they will be dry by tomorrow." My mother is very much a career woman and has always lectured me on the importance of buying clothes that can be machine washed and dried ("It's just not worth hassling over ironing or dry cleaning"). I was confused. "Mom, did you cave in and buy high maintenance clothes?" "No," she replied, a tinge of irritation creeping in. "The dryer is broken." "Why don't you have Dad look at it? I'm sure it would be a great puzzle for him." There is a running theme in the family to give Dad "puzzles" to keep him in good humor and occupied during family social situations (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas). "(grumble) Talk to your dad," she said and put him on the phone. "Hello, Yvonne?" Dad's voice come through in a cheery sort of way. "Hey, Dad, Mom says the dryer is broken." Dad immediately responded, "The dryer's not broken." I was stumped. Mom is pretty astute in knowing whether something is working or not. Dad continued, "The dryer's not broken. I know exactly what is wrong with it." Ah, I rephrased the question: "Dad, is there heat coming out of the dryer?" "Well, no." After encouraging Dad to move into phase 2 of the solution process quickly, I hung up the phone and pulled Troy, then my boyfriend, over and relayed the story to him. I watched his reaction to see if I fell in love with my father (so to speak). To my relief, he laughed, and said "What a scientist your father is! He figured out why, and the actual implementation was 'left as an exercise for the student...'. Don't worry, I'm an engineer. I would fix the dryer. I need to see things work and I like my clothes warm and dry."

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