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Potpourri

Walkin'

Pearl, our 9-year-old Labradoodle, got stair privileges recently and is very much the happy camper as she can once again sleep at the foot of our bed. She’s recovering from knee surgery, and the last liberty– running off leash– is still a month away.
The chickens survived another week of the great scaly leg mite infestation. Officials from S.E.T.I. (Search for Extra Terrestrial Life) read about Sabra’s extraordinary measures to contain and eradicate the microscopic critters. If aliens ever land here, she’s now on the short list of cleaners to call.
While Sabra was killing micro-organisms, Mom and Dad trapped seven mice in their home.
They suspected they had an infestation but they weren’t sure. Dad’s vision is very poor, so he never was positive what those blurry things were scurrying around. Mom’s osteoporosis keeps her hunched over and she rarely sees much more than her own feet.
A couple years ago, Mom picked up a 5-pound bag of rice. Normally she wouldn’t buy such a huge amount, but she had a coupon. Anyhow, she took a couple big scoops out– a two-year’s supply– and put the rest in its bag in their bedroom closet. Two years later, she went for more rice to discover that it was empty and surrounded by droppings.
I got around to picking up a portrait Jeff Allen painted of me a couple years ago. Jeff is quite the Renaissance man. Besides a master brewer, he’s a skilled stained glass artist and a painter in oils. During a two-hour sitting, he was able to capture my innate old school manliness and new age sensitivity. Even more impressive, he managed to make my subtle skin tone balance with my blaze orange hat.
I first met Jeff when he came to a city council meeting to see if a microbrewery would be welcomed in Solon. I nearly jumped over the table to shake his hand. He and his partners did open Stone City Brewing, and for a few bright years it was a little Camelot. Many new friends became old friends over a quaff, and even a few marriages were made. A few probably ended, but we won’t go there.
Over the years, he’s helped me with several odd projects, including brewing my own beer, building a medieval siege weapon and marching in my mostly-imprecise lawn chair marching band.
He also helped me shoot the miniature cannon the first time. Another friend, Ted Lewis, loaned me the artillery piece. It was about three feet long and had a maw that would just fit a C cell battery. Over a beer, I mentioned to Jeff I wasn’t sure how much gunpowder I should use and he offered that he had some expertise in the matter.
So, I invited him over for the test firing one evening. The event took place on the small deck on the roof of my apartment in downtown Solon. There, I had a discarded wooden electrical spool that doubled as a table. The knob on one end of the cannon fit neatly into the hole on the spool and the business end pointed straight up.
My plan, devised after several more beers, was to give it a light charge so it would send the Duracell a few hundred feet straight up and then straight down where it would be caught by me with a fishing net. Jeff brought a scale and carefully measured the weight of the projectile. Next he scratched some pretty hefty calculations onto a sheet of paper while mumbling about vectors and energy quotients before announcing, “I got it.” From there he poured about a half of cup of powder into his hand and then into the cannon.
The explosion nearly knocked us off our chairs, and the energy drove the war engine down through both sides of the wooden spool plus the decking board. Luckily, it stopped just short of going through the roof, under which my daughters were sleeping. The report rattled windows all over town and out into the country. Phones lit up at the county’s emergency call center and my ears rang for two days.
We never determined where or even if the battery landed. Maybe the folks at SETI are studying it?
One last note: mark March 4 on your calendar. I’m planning a blow-out party to celebrate the reopening of baseball season for the World Champion Chicago Cubs. I hope to serve roast goat and maybe even black cat, if Sabra will let me use spray paint on ours.
Here kitty kitty...