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Apples and Trees

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

    From, the meaning of this well-known phrase is that children take after their parents.
    The first recorded use in the USA was by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1839. 
    Versions of this proverb can also be found earlier in works written in German and Russian; with some sources saying the expression originates in Asia.

In our family, as the reader will know if you have read any previous blogs by Howard Hamilton, there are engineers in his family stretching back before the term “engineer” was used much. Howard’s brother, dad, three uncles, a grandfather and various cousins are all civil engineers.  Quite the engineering pedigree!  
So, Howard is a civil engineer, and I am an electrical engineer, but none of our three kids are engineers.  Though we have a physical therapist, a horticulturist and a Master of Health/law school student, these apples didn’t really fall far from the tree.  This can be seen by a photo, explanation and resulting text chain posted to our group family text last month, initiated by our youngest, Rick:
Rick (law student) - The engineers in this chat will either be proud or disappointed. My monitor wasn’t high enough so I used some textbooks as a stand. But the monitor is really front weighted and I was worry about it falling if i bumped it slightly. So to counter balance, I used a 1kg weight tied to a shoe string. It’s a lot more stable now. 


Aileen (Physical Therapist) - Only a hamilton 😂👍🏻
Sean (Horticulturist)- Only a Hamilton would have a 1kg weight just hanging around
Rick - I’m expecting dad or Chris (Aileen’s boyfriend, a Construction Engineer from Iowa State) to go “well actually you should have done....” 
Rick - To be clear, mom could also correct me too I just think she’d be impressed because she was proud when I started tying my shoes.... in like 3rd grade. 

Aileen - Also, good job of being aware of proper work place ergonomics 

Engineering notes regarding this conversation:
1.    The ergonomics discussion continued for several days – engineers will dissect an issue until it is dead!

2.    The Mom card trumps the Engineer Card.

3.    Howard would have annotated the photograph with arrows and comments describing the forces at work and how they balance, but I will leave it to the reader to believe that the set-up works.

4.    The counter-weight solution and discussion are clear proof of engineering blood running in those kid veins.

5.    Why Rick has a 1 kg weight sitting around to use may be the subject of another blog – and again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which includes grandparents of a frugal (on both sides!), “saving” nature.

And speaking of Howard, he was not to be outdone on the computer set-up front – he sent this picture of his own computer workstation design that prevents a sore back/shoulder/neck or general ache of the day:

Not quite as spontaneous a set-up, but well-engineered and quite effective!  Loyal readers of Howard’s blog series on the House in the Woods may recognize this awesome structure is made from extra woodwork pieces from the house.
In the broader definition of engineering, “the action of working artfully to bring something about”, Howard and I are both:

  •   regularly surprised and amazed at how three children from the same parents can be so different;


  •   regularly surprised and amazed at how those same three children can be so similar when the number of possible DNA combinations are so numerous!

God is an engineer beyond our wildest reckonings!

Continuing the apple conversation, daughter Sean just texted this week another “engineering” photo and explanation:
Sean - I took the arms off my old glasses so I’ll be able to see while skiing
Glasses comfortably under goggles – good idea!


For oldest child Aileen, we go back a bit further for an example of her engineering prowess – how long does it take a child playing with blocks or Legos to realize that the foundation design is key to the height of the tower?  I’m guessing these two photos are around age 2.


And finally, an example of Rick’s first contemplation of building tools – hopefully he made sure his computer screen was level before he added the counter-weight!

Let’s hope the apples continue to stay close to the trees – they are a blessing!



Kristen R. Hamilton is the Chairman/CEO of Hamilton Consulting Engineers, Inc.