Wednesday, January 21, 2009


On this day of change and hope and celebration we wish for you and yours peace and prosperity and a chicken in every lap.

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

Barack Hussein Obama
January 20, 2009
Inauguration Day

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Medieval Weapon Fun

This post has nothing to do with chickens, not yet anyway.
So my brother, the fabulous Uncle Reed, sends an email that says, "I think Henry would like this" and includes a clickable link to a Craigslist post. A guy is giving away his trebuchet (I'll save you the googling - a medieval catapult type seige weapon) that he built to take to Burning Man. I see Reed's point. I write a quickie two sentence email essentially-- "we're interested, if it's still available let me know." Dude writes back, "Lots of interest in the treb, I'll get back to you." Now see, I should know better. Having spent the last year and a half getting rid of things on Craigslist it always makes me feel good if I know a little something about the landing place of the object. When we took out a large hanging cabinet with glass doors that my mother kept her fun-to-look-at-dishes in I decided to give it away for free - I had no idea I would get diludged with interest. I wrote back to them all asking them to tell me their plans -only one guy took the time to write back. He had a collection of antique cameras and the cabinet would hang above his restored player piano - mom would have loved that. I thought Uncle Reed would make the better pitch. Here's what he wrote:

Dear xxx,
My sister Heidi wrote you about the treb. I sent her the link on Craig's
List, and she contacted you. We both thought it would be fun for her son,
(my nephew), Henry.
I'm sure you received lots of interest in the posting. If you haven't
already made a decision about who should receive it, here's my hope, and
plea, why you might allow us to have this wonderful device.
First, Henry is a very smart, and eccentric, 7 year old with a wonderful
imagination. For Halloween one year he dressed up as "Half cactus, half
toast." He gave no explanation for this costume, other than that he
thought it was funny. And it was. His day to day dress is usually
He loves music, experimentation, and play. He would love to fling things,
both for fun and science. Mostly fun.
His family is also artistic, funny, and slightly out of the mainstream.
His father is a professional artist, and his mother (my sister)is a
massage therapist with a specialty in infants and mothers.
They have recently raised three chickens, and have a chicken run in their
backyard. The chickens, when not in the run, are free range in the back.
They are more like pets that lay eggs rather than livestock. My sister is
trying to get the more of the neighborhood involved in what she calls the
"Suburban Chicken Movement."
As for me, the uncle, one of my favorite books is "Harry and I Build a
Siege Weapon" the story of a couple of artists who build a catapult to
fling things into the waters off the Marin Headlands (with approval, of
course.) I would love to be able to visit my sister, her husband, and my
delightful nephew, one of the most unique 7 year olds I've ever known, and
play with the treb.
We promise not to fling chickens.

Trebby writes back:
You make a convincing case... try to call early tomorrow, Sat. (after 9am, no
earlier) and I'll see what I can do.

After a round of phone calls and a drive to Sunnyvale and back we spent the better part of Sunday flinging water balloons with our very own trebuchet.

There's another thing. Our next door neighbors have a trebuchet too, built for a science project. Perhaps, I am part of the Suburban Trebuchet Movement.
Wanna come play seige?