(Disclaimer regarding this blog post title: by "foolproof" I mean the dictionary definition of impervious to human incompetence. Given British Petroleum's past misdeeds involving the Gulf oil well disaster, they are arguably capable of superhuman incompetence.)
This morning, as I was sipping my first cup of coffee, my freshly caffeinated brain came up with one of those brilliant ideas that pass so frequently through my cranium -- and which, sadly, often (if not always) fail to receive the acclaim from others that they so obviously (to me) richly deserve.
I'd learned that BP was moving on to yet another attempted fix, after the "top kill" approach had failed, as had previous efforts to close off the flow of oil and gas from the deepwater well.
In a flash, an intuitive vision popped into my mind. It was so obvious! So clear! Why had all those BP engineers and scientists failed to see what I was contemplating?
Before I describe my genius solution, I should relate my qualifications for coming up with a foolproof oil spill-stopping plan that has eluded the highly trained and educated experts in the hire of BP.
After moving into my first post-college apartment, I made bookcases out of bricks and boards. That taught me a lot. I learned that heavy square things lie flat on a carpet, and that two squarish rectangular things fit together nicely.
Recently I've been honing my mechanical aptitude by playing Finger Physics regularly on my iPhone. I'm up to level 8. I've relearned my previous lesson: If you want to win by stacking geometric shapes in a stable fashion until they reach a line, squarish things fit well on top of each other.
So it's freaking obvious, BP.
All you need to do is make a big solid block of the heaviest thing in the world (since I missed taking chemistry in high school or college, I'll call this substance "Heavynarium" and let the not-so-whiz kids at BP fill in the details).
Then you lower it on a big strong chain from one of your ships, guiding it with your fancy robots, until it is directly over the oil leak. Release the chain, the Heavynarium sinks like the stone that it is, and bingo, problem solved.
(BP, contact me via my email address in a link above and I'll tell you where to send my check; since the spill is going to cost you well over a billion dollars, I'm thinking a 1% Genius Solution fee sounds about right. I think that's $10 million; assume you guys have a calculator to check my math.)
Now, I'm sure the technocrats who are wedded to complex solutions are going to nitpick my plan apart. They'll say, "But what about the five-story blowout preventer that's sitting over the well?"
No big deal.
The block of Heavynarium should crush it into almost nothing. However, I guess BP could push the blowout preventer out of the way with one of the Navy's largest submarines that's been equipped with a bulldozer blade on the front.
(Tip to BP: film the submarine ramming the blowout preventer, put the clip on You Tube with some heavy metal music accompaniment, and you'll be a long way toward getting back in the good graces of America's youth.)
Another likely objection from the boo-birds: what if oil keeps on leaking from around the edges of the Heavynarium block? Answer: put another block on top of the first one. All BP engineers need to do is play the first level of Finger Physics and they'll see how this is done.
Super-fast setting cement also could be used to plug edges. This was used by the guys who installed our new locking mailbox. BP, I can find out what they used and tell you after I get my $10 million.
Now, it's possible that I'm not the first person to come up with this brilliant solution. I consciously avoided Googling "put big heavy block over oil spill" until now -- since I didn't want my foolproof idea to be diluted with someone else's foolish alternative.
Wise decision. Because Google informs me that this guy has been hawking his big concrete block notion to stop the oil spill. Well, I spent a few seconds scrolling down his web page and wasn't impressed.
He's got diagrams and instructions for where to put the block on the blowout preventer and how it should be shaped. Way too complicated.
I say make the block square, out of Heavynarium, and dump the freaking thing right on top of the well after all the pipes and stuff are pushed out of the way by the bulldozer submarine.
(I am, though, willing to give the other guy $10,000 from my $10 million commission just to avoid any hurt feelings.)