John Grindrod: A new use for encyclopedias


I think it may very well have been when the first wing nut or bolt dropped into the first Dutch Masters cigar box that repurposing really gained momentum, opening new avenues for folks.

I’ve certainly looked for ways to repurpose whenever possible. One of which I’m quite proud involves the Ziploc Baggie. The motivation to look for a new way to use a baggie was my habit of carelessly losing what for many is an anachronism, the rubber change purse that squeezes on both ends to expose the coins, often called because of its configuration a football change purse.

When I left the last one in a hotel room during one of my work-related overnighters, rather than searching the web to locate another to solve an issue I’ve had for years, not getting all the change out of my pants pockets and then later listening to the coins banging against the dryer’s drum, I wondered what could be repurposed to do the same job.

As for my Ziploc solution, I took a baggie, used scissors to cut about two inches below the zip channel, then about an inch and a half across and then back up to the top. I grabbed some black tape, sealed the two open sides and used enough black strips to cover all of the plastic, stopping just below the zipper so my new change purse would seal. I’m happy to say, it works like a charm, and I haven’t heard that annoying rattle of a couple quarters and a dime banging around in my dryer for so long, I almost forget what that sounds like.

Now, as far as my latest repurposing, well, I must admit, it never would have occurred to me that I would ever use something that for the past three decades has accomplished little more than fill book-shelf space in my family room.

As a matter of fact, that “something” is actually a number of items, 25 to be exact, and together they form what was once indispensable in all households with grade schoolers who’d been assigned such jobs as finding out what Bolivia’s gross national product is and why deciduous leaves turn those autumnal shades of gold and red. Together, those 25 items form a set of encyclopedias, in my home, The New Book of Knowledge, copyrighted in 1980.

I remember the books were quite helpful for my Shannon and Katie during their St. Charles pre-Internet times, which, for today’s youngsters who’ve never known a Google-less world, must seem like the Pleistocene Era.

Over the past three decades that the volumes have remained unopened, I’ve periodically thought that, perhaps, I’d grab an occasional volume, say the “B,” and broaden my knowledge base of Brazil or Alexander Graham Bell, but there always seemed to be better time-usage options.

Flash forward to this very year when I was told that a cancerous prostate probably wasn’t doing me much good and removing it was a pretty good idea, and that led me to a pelvic physical therapist named Nancy Siatkosky, who was going to help me navigate some post-surgical issues involving my biological functions. Shortly after the removal, the thirty-plus-year veteran of the Lima Memorial Health System Rehabilitation Team in our first session dove right into the topic of dealing with post-surgical constipation and ways to ensure better results in doing something to which we typically don’t give much thought, that is, until there are irregularity concerns.

Nancy mentioned a product called the Squatty Potty, a unit that’s positioned below the toilet and serves as a base for the feet that will raise the knees above the hips to promote a more effective result. I remember hearing about the product on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show some years ago but dismissed the idea, thinking at the time I really didn’t need any extra help.

Well, of course, times change. After leaving Nancy, I did a little Googling, watched the instructional video and read the product’s dimensions, 17.5 inches in length, 9.5 inches in width and 7.75 inches in height. Hmmm, I thought, with three very small bathrooms, I really didn’t have the floor space to house such a unit but I fully bought into the content of the video I saw.

So I took a stroll around the old castle with repurposing on my mind. It didn’t take long for my eyes to lock in on those encyclopedias. Perfect, I thought, since the correct number of volumes to reach the proper height was just three on a side, the six would fit easily under the sink in the cabinet and await their being pulled out each morning and properly positioned!

And, indeed things got a whole lot better. When I returned to Nancy for my next session and told her of my repurposing, she burst into laughter, applauded my creativity and told me she’d hoped the volumes selected were ABM on the left and PDQ on the right, as in, “A bowel movement pretty darn quick.” However, I told her the Q volume was far too skinny, and I needed balanced stacks.

While this whole experience with the prostate wasn’t fun, it did lead me to a highly skilled and energetic physical therapist named Nancy, and, for that, I’m quite thankful.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor, and the author of two books. Reach him at [email protected].

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