Sunday, December 25

Just a thought…

If my last name were Moss, would I have the nerve to name a daughter born on December 25 Mary Chris?

Probably not.

Mary Chris Moss to all my readers anyway.

Monday, December 19

Chainsaw carton gets extended life

The carton containing our new chainsaw was perfect for cutting into the shape of a rear door’s now-missing window. I cut it with my trusty Swiss Army knife and tucked about four inches of it down into the window channel and the rest of it into the guides along the sides and top. It will help keep us warm when we go to town tomorrow morning when the temperature will be 32°F (0°C) and we’ll be zipping along at the speed limit. 

Last night Karla came back from seeing a play (she loved it!) in the old gold rush town of Sonora, and after dropping off the neighbor who had invited her, approached one of our gates where there was a clot of our horses waiting, anxious to get through. The roadway at that particular gate is narrow, and Karla slowly eased by the horses, one of which must have swung her head the wrong way and smashed the glass. The horse wasn’t hurt.

We made an appointment at the glass-fixing place for 9:00 AM tomorrow. The car will also be going in for routine maintenance at the Toyota-fixing place just a couple of doors away, so we’re doing that two-birds-with-one-stone thing. Good for us. Oh yeah, just a few doors down the road is the horse-fixing feed store where we’ll stock up on horse feed. Add another bird to that stone!

But don’t feed any goodies to that head-swinging, glass-breaking horse. Not till she comes up with a couple of hundred bucks to atone for her crime.

Update: Today we took the car in. I mentioned to the glass-fixer that we were lucky to have only a side window broken, rather than the windshield. “If it had been the windshield, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t have a big enough piece of cardboard.” I’m not sure he got the joke.

Saturday, December 17

Biting the bullet

Bullets taste awful. I suggest that if you’re going to bite one, you contact it with only your teeth, not letting either tongue or lips touch it. Lead is harder than I thought. I bit down pretty good, but only left a little polished mark. Probably the same mark would have occurred on the brass part had I bitten it there.

Saturday morning we got a faxed quotation from a contractor we had interviewed, a bid on the foundation of the new house we want to put up a mile down the road from the old house. It came in several thousand dollars under the estimate we had gotten from the house plan designer, so we said “Yes.” We’ll give him a small payment to seal the deal. Karla and I committed to going ahead by ceremoniously biting the bullet shown above.

We’ll take our plans over to the County Planning Commission to start the permit process, which shouldn’t take too long since practically nobody is building houses around here these days (except our neighbor down the road who’s putting up a little 7,000-plus-square-foot bungalow). I’ll use our road grader to cut away all the grass growing on our house site so the workers can see their marks in the dirt to lay out the foundation and carport slab.

I have to pick a spot from which I’ll take pictures of the progress. But for now, a shot (pun intended) of the bullet with barely perceptible bite marks will have to do.

Thursday, December 15

We miss the Bentley

We had the chance to get some much-needed rain, but unfortunately the Bentley was in the shop getting the fly-potty stain removed from the leather-wrapped steering wheel. (Whoever let that fly in the car had better be on guard—I am ANGRY!)

Our usual “put the Bentley outside with the top down” method of getting it to rain wasn’t available and as a result the storm passed over us with nary a drop. The forecast for the next week is dry. The horses are eating acorns instead of grass. We might have to break the lock on the barn and start tossing out very expensive hay.

Can we borrow some of our readers’ Bentleys? Please?

Monday, December 5

Osprey spotted

This should interest our closest neighbors, who are avid birders.

Today we saw an Osprey. Actually we heard it first, a deep throbbing sound from the north. Karla and I were hiking up to what we call Dragon Hill when the whole valley seemed to be infused with a very loud wubba wubba sound, more felt than heard. There was a component of the sound that reminded me of turbojet engines. I had heard the same thing yesterday but never discovered the source. It was obviously an aircraft, so I scanned the sky and finally saw it—an airplane with two enormous propellers. The Osprey takes off as a twin-rotor helicopter, with wings. Once airborne, the two huge engines/rotors swivel forward on the wings and it becomes a regular airplane and goes twice as fast as a fast helicopter.

It’s an aircraft that uses a great idea, vertical takeoff with fast horizontal flight, and took nearly two decades to perfect. It has commercial potential. The last time I went from our foothill ranch to our high Sierra ranch by helicopter, it took a whole 40 minutes. In an Osprey, it would take only 15. That would make a daily commute much more practical.

I’ll have to present the idea to the board of directors.

Photo: US Navy, via Wikipedia

Saturday, December 3

The real origins of bedrock mortars

I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the holes in the rocks around here were a little too symmetrically perfect to have been made by people in ancient times using ancient methods. Recently I got reinforcement of my suspicion from NASA, of all places.

Local bedrock mortars, supposedly made by people

Where I live there are many outcrops of granite with holes in them. Local lore maintains that the holes were made by early inhabitants, and were used for grinding foodstuffs such as acorns into meal. That may be true in part, the meal-grinding part, but as for the making of the holes by people—well, that’s probably wrong.

Asteroid Vesta with abundant bedrock mortars, ready for oak trees and human inhabitants.

Here’s my theory. As the earth began cooling after its birth, granite was still hot enough that when hit by meteorites it could be dented instead of shattered. As NASA’s picture of the asteroid Vesta shows, meteorites make bowl-shaped dents in rock. Many of the dents look just like the holes in the granite around here.

Time passes, rock cools and hardens, humans arrive on the scene. On discovering these meteor-made holes, people decide to settle down where they don’t have to buy expensive imported mortars in order to grind acorns. The evidence proves my theory—where there were many bedrock mortars, there were large populations of both people and oak trees, all thanks to ancient meteor strikes. 

I should’ve been a college professor.
Image Credits: Top picture Tom Hurley. Bottom picture: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA

Friday, December 2

An interesting exception

When making an abbreviation from the initial letters of something, it is customary to not include the initials of the minor words, like of, the, and and so on. For example NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The “and” is left out. NAACP stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, leaving out for, the and of.

POTUS stands for President of the United States. If that abbreviation were to follow the rules of leaving out the minor words, it would be PUS.

And that might not be too flattering.