During the pandemic, Dan McClarin spends a lot of his time puttering around in his workshop, inside his garage. Gary Herron photo.

Please don’t confuse Dan McClarin with Dr. Pimple Popper of TV fame; McClarin is the Post-Popper guy.
Posts as in fence posts and popping as in pulling them up, that is.
Although McClarin, 71, has led an interesting life — he’s working on an autobiography — it’s his practicality that keeps him challenged and thriving.
“He’s an inventor,” a neighbor says, walking down McClarin’s northwest Albuquerque neighborhood street and seeing a reporter leaving McClarin’s garage.
“I feel more ‘Rio Rancho’ than Albuquerque,” McClarin, a Meadowlark Senior Center member, confides.
His homemade sign, “Compost happens,” gives you an idea of his sense of humor.
Having patented four of his inventions, mainly for easing ranch and farm work, gives him credibility as an inventor.
His Post-Popper, described in a brochure as “a powerful, yet simple leverage tool for manually pulling posts and stakes of all kinds” — came to his mind when he was working for the U.S. Forest Service and needed something portable to extract fence posts, stumps, etc.
No problem, he thought, “I pulled out a pad and drew the Post-Popper.”
After obtaining a patent and getting the tool into production, “It’s paid me for 30 years — it bought the house and sent two girls through college,” he said.
En route to the Post-Popper’s success, McClarin’s inventiveness was featured in the Alamogordo Daily News story, which led to a story in The Associated Press and elsewhere, including short fame on a Paul Harvey newscast.
McClarin knows of a lot of people who think they have an invention and he hopes the best for them, but doesn’t want to see them taken by scammers.
So when he’s approached by would-be inventors, McClarin doesn’t even ask what their invention is; he just advises them to do their due diligence.
“I want to pay it forward. … I want to tell people what not to do,” he explained. “I don’t want to hear your idea; I want you to know this. … They want your money; they don’t want your invention.”
For example, he recalls someone dealing with inventors asking him about one of his products. Wary of a likely scam, McClarin merely detailed how he made spaghetti, and remembers being told what a great invention that was.
“Hold on, buddy — you weren’t listening to me,” he replied. “They are con men.”
The rest of the story
McClarin grew up in tiny La Luz, north of Alamogordo, in Otero County.
By the time he was in Chaparral Junior High in Alamogordo, he said, “I was placed in low-track classes because I have dyslexia, which I have learned to deal with,” he said. “I could’ve dropped out in ninth grade,” but was enjoying any and all shop classes and competing in wrestling.
Later, he discovered, college wasn’t for him. He joined the Army, where he won laurels for bravely disposing of something about to explode in Germany’s Black Forest, saving the lives of 24 of his comrades.
Back home, with two years of active duty and two of reserves under his belt, he “discovered” industrial technology at the University of New Mexico, after two “failed” starts at New Mexico State University.
Fast-forwarding, he says, “I finished up a wonderful 28-year career of teaching; I fell into it by accident, but I loved it.
“I moved up here, bought a nice house. I thought I retired. I got up to MSC, met a lot of people, participated in a lot of activities, helped out where I could — then they closed down (because of COVID).
“So there goes my social life; so I’m staying home, doing a lot of working on my ideas and writing (life experiences).”
He’s been advising superintendents of the need for career-technical pathways. But when McClarin started going off the curriculum as a teacher, he met resistance.
“At the middle school level, I told them what’s coming and what they can do and if you don’t have college, you can have a good career and make good money,” he recalled. “I got called on the carpet for doing that, because I was supposed to tell them, ‘You have to go to college.’
“I said, ‘No, Mr. Superintendent, I’m telling them to get ready for life, and there’s more ways than just years at college, because when an 18-year-old boy goes to college, like me, they’re not ready.
“I wasn’t ready. I bounced around for 10 years, got life experiences, found out what I was good at and what I wasn’t any good at, but all that came together when I was teaching and it comes together with my inventing,” he explained.
McClarin is happy to hear many school districts, including Rio Rancho Public Schools, are returning to those shop class days of old, because the military and college are merely two choices graduates can make.
America needs auto repair mechanics, roofers, plumbers, electricians, welders … the list goes on and on with good-paying jobs.
“I motivate; I’m a jump-starter,” he said. “I see what a kid’s personality is like; I get down to the kid’s level and explain to them, ‘You think I had it easy? I had it hard. But then I went to UNM and I got on the Dean’s List.”

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer