Milo Yield: Guessing what a historian brought for show-and-tell
March 1, 2016
Will miracles never cease? Here I am writing this column on Jan. 29, the day before my 73rd birthday, and it's 65 degrees and sunny outdoors — and tomorrow is to be just like today. Usually, the week of my birthday — by the way, ol' Nevah and I have the same birthday — is the coldest week of the winter.
This week's weather is an outlier to the norm and I'm glad of it because next Monday and Tuesday we have a 70-80 percent chance of freezing rain and snow. It least it will be in February and that much closer to spring's fishing, gardening and cow pasture pool weather.
Last week, the email announcement for the menu at our Old Boar's Breakfast Club wuz addressed jokingly to "Members of the Saffordville Hearing Aid Society." I told the sender that now I know what it's like to be discriminated against for a physical impairment. We had a good laugh over that.
Also at breakfast this week, the resident historian in the group, ol' Fin D. Relicks, brought a clearly old device for show and tell and asked us to guess what it wuz used for back in the horse and buggy days.
The device wuz made of steel, about a foot long and probably weighted at least two pounds. The handle end wuz round, thick iron with a small hole drilled into one side.
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To the handle, a steel wedge was tightly welded or forged, but the wedge part was cut through and hollowed out back toward the handle. It looked all the world like a strange wood-splitting wedge, but I guessed it wuz something used on the railroad.
Turns out, I should have stuck to my first assumption because it wuz a wedge for splitting logs — but an exotic wedge that would have been fun to watch in use, provided you could have found safe cover.
The wedge was unique in that the power for splitting logs was not a sledge hammer, but black powder. Here's how it worked. Black powder was poured into the hole in the wedge-end and trickled down into the hollow handle. Then the device wuz carefully tapped into the end of the log, driving the wedge into the wood up to the handle.
Then the operator carefully fitted a fuse into the drilled hole in the handle, lit it and ran for cover. When the fuse ignited the black powder, a powerful explosion drove hot gas out of the hollow handle and through the hole in the wedge-end — resulting in a log split end to end.
Fin said that his grandfather told him that on occasion the explosion would blow back on the wedge and not through the log and when that happened, you'd better be well away from the log and tucked away behind safe cover. The flying wedge wuz as potentially destructive as a cannon ball.
I could see how the "Explo-Wedge" (my name for it) would have saved a lot of sawing with a buck saw and hammering away at the log with a sledge and regular wedges. It also had to be much faster.
But, I'll bet that not every old-timer was comfortable is using the "Explo-Wedge."
I mentioned that I like to play cow pasture pool. And for those few agriculturists who are as crazy as me, this story is for you.
A golfer walks into the pro shop at the local course and asks the golf pro if he sells ball markers.
The golf pro says that he does and the price is $1.
The golfer gives the pro a buck.
The pro opens the cash register, puts the dollar in and then hands the player a dime to use as a ball marker.
Turns out, it is an economic model used almost exclusively by the current government administration.
My good buddy, ol' Canby Handy, had a heart procedure not too long ago and is supposed to do weekly home therapy. Weight lifting, gradually increasing the weight session by session, is part of the therapy.
So, here's what ol' Canby does for his weight-lifting therapy:
He stands on a comfortable surface, where he has plenty of room at each side. Then with a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, he extends his arms straight out from his sides and holds them there as long as he can. He tries to reach a full minute, and then he relaxes.
Then each session he finds that he can hold this position for just a bit longer.
After a couple of weeks, he wuz able to move up to 10-lb potato bags, then 50-lb potato bags, and finally he's gotten up to 100-lb potato bags.
He tells me that at his next therapy session, he's gonna start putting one potato in each bag and see how that goes.
All right, my weekly words of wisdom is on a touchy subject. I'll try to phrase it as delicately as possible. The Great Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu said (and I'm paraphrasing a tad): "It is only when a man sees a mosquito landing on his most tender and sensitive masculine parts that he comes to realize that he can solve problems without using violence."
Enuf drivel for the week. Have a good 'un. ❖