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The Home Team / The next big thing: Extenda-Pole

Published 7:57 am, Saturday, January 11, 2014
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Five of us set out from the Mid-Mountain Lodge for the last run of the day. It was mostly easy cruising -- past the Ursa chairlift, past the slopeside condos -- finishing up with a long, flat runout to the Sun Bowl base lodge, our destination. Four of us -- myself, my youngest son Robby, plus Mason and Adele -- arrived within seconds of each other, shed our skis and began to thaw. Forty-five minutes later, Adrian tromped in, aggravated and half-dead from exhaustion.

Adrian is a snowboarder.

No, this is not a skiing vs. riding thing. I happen to ski. Oodles of my winter-sports-loving friends snowboard. Skiing is great. Riding is great.

But there's one hitch to snowboarding, and no snowboarder will deny it: It's almost impossible to keep moving along the flats. You've seen these riders: They try to jump their boards, end around end. They slide on their butts, pushing off with their hands. They grab onto a ski buddy's pole, and hitch a ride. Or they just cash it in, carry their board and trudge.

Which is why Adrian arrived at the base lodge when the rest of us were about ready for a beer and a sauna.

But I have a solution: a retractable ski pole! It would work just like a switchblade knife: Press the button when you're on a runout, and vroom! The pole extends to full-length, and the snowboarder can push off and cruise along the flats just like a skier. Hit some downhill? Just hit the button again and the pole retracts back into its compact, 6-inch sheath, which the rider can easily stow in his/her parka or backpack. All my snowboarding friends readily confirm that my switch-pole invention would be a godsend.

Trouble is, being a "creative," I don't have the wherewithal to get my Extenda-Pole done. No engineering expertise. No marketing savvy. No clue how to get investors. I need help.

Same deal with my brilliant Velcro-Nap idea. For some reason, I've never been able to keep my napkin on my lap. Whether at home or in a restaurant, at some point during every meal you'll see me groping under the table for my elusive napkin. My middle son Greg tells me he has the same problem, so maybe it's hereditary.

The answer, to me, is obvious: A Velcro strip on your pants, just below the belt loops. And a matching strip on the accompanying Velcro-Nap napkins. But again, the problems of production and distribution . . .

When I was telling Robby about Extenda-Pole, it reminded him of a concept he'd been working on: customized faucets for your sink. They'd work like radio station pre-sets or seat-position selections in your car. One faucet you'd set on very warm, for shaving; another you'd choose lukewarm, for washing up and on a third you could pick cold for brushing your teeth. Each faucet could be customized according to usage and hot-cold preference.

Of course, Robby would back-burner Smart-Temp in a heartbeat if he could find someone to manufacture his dream invention: Aqua-Vision -- a TV you could watch in the shower, with no steaming or fogging of the screen and no danger of electrocution. Robby is now a junior in college, but he's been pushing this idea since he was 8.

If you feel you can help Herman & Sons with our inventions, please contact me. But don't even think about trying to steal our ideas. I may be weak on the technical and marketing sides, but I did go to law school for two months.

Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, can be followed on his blog "Beagle Man" on the Westport News website -- http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ . Hank can be followed on Twitter @BeagleManHank and reached by email at DoubleH50@gmail.com.