Balloons without water

Posted in Educationon Jul 22, 2011

I read an article today about how a big water balloon fight at BYU was cancelled:

Norm Finlinson, executive director for Student Academic and Advisement Services (SAAS), said attempts were made to have a water balloon fight this year, but it was impossible to get everything together.

“We had fully intended to do it this year, but things didn’t work out,” Finlinson said.

I understand that things don’t always work out, but I read a little further into the article and I think I understand why things didn’t work out:

This year, SAAS wanted the engineering department on campus to have students create various machines which would fill up the balloons. Last year volunteers spent weeks filling more than 120,000 balloons.

I’ve seen too many activities at BYU and also at church that fail because the plan was to have someone else do the critical and complicated part.  I can imagine in this case a student activities committee was discussing how to organize the filling of a 1/8th of a million balloons, and realized that getting volunteers to fill balloons for weeks wasn’t the best idea.  Someone problem expressed a wish for machine to automagically fill up balloons, with of course the engineers on campus being the only ones smart enough to come up with such a machine.

I imagine the destruction of their wishful thinking like this:

  1. The engineers decided that they would rather build human powered drills to make water wells in Africa
  2. The engineers were confused why they should spend weeks to build devices for a social event that they wouldn’t even attend.
  3. The engineers, studying as much as possible, were trying to set the curve on the next exam with a 70%.
  4. The engineers thought that it was a good idea to take a 5 credit hour class during spring term.
  5. Every time the engineers started working the plans for a water balloon filling machine, a cute girl in the apartment complex would come over and beg them to fix all the spyware and viruses on their laptop.
  6. Really though, the engineers probably didn’t really ever want to build a water balloon filler; they didn’t volunteer for such a task, and just because they might be the most capable on campus doesn’t mean they have the time or motivation to help with every available project.
I think I might be coming off a little sour, so let me skip to the conclusion:  It is probably best to have a plan B when you are asking busy people to volunteer lots of time.

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