Wednesday, July 21, 2010


On the way home from work last night, I picked up a package at the Post Office.  It was from a friend (Franz M.) in Munich, Germany, and it was full of slide rules.  I haven't purchased any slide rules for many months, so for the first time in a long while I had the pleasure of opening up a box with some beautiful old instruments in it.

My favorite of the bunch is a circular “Columbus Calculator”. Mostly it is conventional in design, except that it's made of engraved metal (that is, the scales are engraved).  I'm pretty sure that the engraving is photolithographic, and it's very nicely done.  The face is plated (with brass, I think) and the plating has worn, exposing parts of the underlying metal – yet the scales are still perfectly readable and usable.  I've never seen another like it, nor can I find any reference to it online...

Morning Walk...

Another beautiful, cool, high desert morning in the chaparral.  I walked the dogs at around 3:30 am, under a clear, dark sky overhead.  As the season progresses, the Pleiades are now visible in the northeastern morning sky.  These are the harbinger of one of my favorite constellations, Orion, which will soon be visible in the eastern morning sky.  Jupiter was bright and clear in the southeast sky.  And in a broad band from the north to the southwest, the Milky Way cut its swath.  Beautiful.

The air was full of desert scents, and also, intermittently, the musky odor of some large mammal (I'm guessing a mountain lion, but I didn't see it).  All four of our dogs were quiet, noses down, scoping out the events of last evening.  They were happy to go back inside the house; I think they were nervous because of the animal smells...


Yesterday morning when I left for work, our house looked just like it has for the past ten years or so.  When I got home yesterday afternoon, things had changed a bit.  Roughly half our old roof had been stripped off, down to the wood.  An enormous (40 cubic yard) dumpster was parked in our driveway.  And a large amount of building materials were piled in front of our house.

While I was away at work, our roofing contractor showed up (on the promised day, at the promised time!), the dumpster showed up (as ordered), and the demolition crew went right to work.  That's very comforting for this homeowner who's just entered into another large contract (the last one didn't work out so well).  This time we did everything the way you're supposed to: we verified the license of the contractor, verified his bond and insurance, checked with the BBB and every other online source we could think of, and checked his references.  All good.  Fingers crossed!

There's something about the human brain (well, mine, at least) that is thrown out of kilter when there's a large change to your environment. This happened to me upon seeing our house when I came home – it just looked so wrong!