Monday, July 25, 2011

When Rocks Fly

Were you aware that a "rock" is classified as a "boulder" when said rock is simply too large for a person to move?   In other words, all boulders are rocks, but only some rocks are boulders.  (Are you getting that creepy feeling like you're taking a university logic class yet??)  I didn't know this.  I know it now.  And I know it because George the Elder and I bought a boulder.  Of course we did.

We went to a local stone quarry a couple of weekends ago to buy a bunch of smallish landscaping rocks to cover up all the dirt that still surrounds the front of the CMR.   Since the whole kitandkaboodle of landscaping is going to be Phase 27.5 of the CMR expected to occur sometime in the second millennium - we needed a little somethin somethin between now and then.  See the dirt just kicks up and gets my newly painted house all groady.  Can't have that happening for the next 7 thousand light years.  So, we head down to this cool quarry to pick out some rocks.  We bought a couple of tons of them.  Literally.  Two. tons. of. rocks.  Turns out that rocks are pretty heavy.  And while we were strolling around the stone yard, we decided to buy - - well, the boulder.  A 1.5 ton boulder to be exact.  Most people buy gum or mints as impulse buys.  Us?  A bronze boulder.

We had it all delivered.  Wasn't that nice of them?  We could have rented our own couple o'ton dump truck -  but we took (what we thought then) was the easy way out.  "Please come and put everything where it belongs."   The morning of the delivery I was so excited.  No more dirt around the CMR!!  Cool boulder in the front too.!! But, alas.  So goes the best laid plans. The boulder and the rocks could only be put on the driveway.  Dang it.

Now moving two tons of little rocks is not a particularly unsolvable problem.  This is why we have sons and husbands.  To solve these problems.  They take buckets full of little rocks garnered from the big crate of rocks and spread them around.  Lots and lots of buckets full.  About 100 trips of buckets full to be exact. Are they happy to do this?  No.  But do they do it?  Yes.  But a big bronze boulder?  That would required some heavier lifting.

We briefly considered the logistics of hiring manual laborers to do the deed.  I mean - -a whole scad of not-so-big Cambodians built a lot of temples in Siem Reap with much larger stones than these and a tremendously long distance to move them.  The same could be said for the pyramids.  I mean - - amazing right?  Big stones, moved long distances, placed strategically way up high!  Yet, without minions of workers - generations full of minions - we realized we needed to take a different tact.  SF frowns on toys with happy meals.  Disposable generations of manual laborers?  I don't think so.

So, we went all machine age on the problem and we hired a crane.  Who knew you could do this?  You simply get on Yelp.  Search for crane operators.  Rule out the ones that only do sky scrapers and -- you get three bids.  Neato.  Keeno.  We chose the cheapest one.  We also chose the one that didn't feel the need to pay the city of SF $600 for a street operating permit.  Getting my rock moved AND not paying the city?  Marvelous!

In the end moving the boulder cost roughly the same amount as the boulder itself.  Go figure.  Yet, we love our little boulder bench.  I hope we love it.  It's never going anywhere ever again.

Bronze boulder and .25 tons of the stones left on the driveway

GIANT crane arrived for hoisting.

Crazy nice crane operator "Sean" dons his hard hat and we're off to the races!
And, no.  I did not partake of his erection services.  Thank you.

First we pick up boulder from drive way.  I am the assistant.
I get to place the hoists on the rock.
I do not get a hard hat.  I am disappointed.

Boulder is put on the back of the crane bed for a short trip around to
the front of the CMR!

"X" marks the spot for the Boulder.
Excellent markage by my very own tennis shoe.
We are professionals!

With large crane now repositioned - we heft that bad johnny up.
I am standing ready to give the hand signals - oh
except I am taking pictures too!

Boulder coming towards me!  It seems much bigger in person when a
1.5 boulder is moving towards your head.  I put the phone
away at this point and start waving my arms.

After much hand signalling the boulder is finally mostly where we want it.
Actually, it's definitely where we want it since it cannot
ever be moved from here :).  Ever.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Out of my League

Yesterday I headed down to that hallowed hall of learning named "Stanford."  Really nice place.  I went there to drop off Henry who will be immersed in all things "physics" with many other like minded middle schoolers.  We used to call those "like-minded" kids "Nerds."  Now, most of us call them our bosses (heh heh heh).  But, I digress.

I, myself, learned a few things about Standford yesterday during my short visit there.  I learned that Stanford has the largest contiguous university campus in the world.  They also have the second largest video library - - surpassed only by Netflix.  I learned that our tour guide, a rising sophomore, had a great deal of information to impart regarding his personal engineering academic pursuits, the hours a college freshman keeps, his hometown (DC), what "not-to-do" with regards to sticking around campus at Thanksgiving (a real yawn-fest), what dorm he will be staying in next year, the age of most of the woman in his future dorm (seniors!  Out of his league!) and his fervent hope that he, and his 12 other fellow sophomores, will "rule the place" as the year progresses. All of these little tidbits were divulged as we passed by a number of important and large Stanford edifices for which I have no additional knowledge of post-tour than I did pre-tour.  But, I will die knowing that you should NEVER, NEVER EVER, take a 10:00 a.m. class (the earliest class offered at this revered institution of knowledge) because that's just BRUTAL.   Excellent advice for the large crowd of middle-schoolers who were the intended audience.

I was also reminded that Henry (and his ilk) are the smart ones.  We parents are simply the ones that fill out the paperwork.  Having filled out this paperwork does not make you the smart one.  It may possibly indicate that you are organized and have excellent skills in ensuring that your child's name and address are correctly spelled and that his test scores are adequately attached to the application.  This should not be confused with smart.  Smart is when I asked Henry's new roommate whether he liked Physics or not and he blithely replied, "I LOVE physics.  I am a huge fan of Michio Kaku, especially his work on Hyperspace and Parallel Worlds."  Was this kid 12 or just really short with good skin?   Henry nodded sagely and retored, "I like him TOO!"  My mouth just hung slightly agape.  Them = smart.  Me = Who the hell is Michio Kaku??? 

I will miss our budding physics PHD canidate while he is gone.  But he's gonna have a bang-up time swimming around in the super endowed gene pool of science for the next couple of weeks.  Me suspects that he will return home full of mind boggling factoids about atoms and Einstein and Quantum field theory.  All good.  Unless you are me and will be forced to smile and nod as if I have one teensy bit of understanding as to what in Kaku's hell he is talking about.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


"Moving" means things other than packing and unpacking, finding new digs, and starting a new routine - -new grocery stores, new schools, new jobs, new restaurants.  It also means that you have to leave old friends and try to make some new ones.  This part - - well, this part can be hard.  Especially when those friendships don't thrive given the distance.

What I've come to realize is that sometimes the friends that are the "best" while you're in a place, living a certain piece of your life - turn out to have a shelf life.  And, amazingly, sometimes the friends that you never expected to endure are those that stand the test of time.  The former are a bitter pill, the later are a real gift.

I've recently had to come to terms with recognizing that a "best-ie" friendship isn't going to make the long haul.  I keep wondering what happened.  I wonder if it's something specific that I did.  Is it that I didn't call often enough?  Is it that our "new" non-expat like isn't a spectacular match to a continuing expat life?  Is it that my newly chosen profession of "mom" doesn't suit?  I dunno.  But, whatever it is - - the friendship seems to have run its course.  Sad.  Who'd've thunk it?  Not me.  But there it is.  And I think at this point stretching out the post-mortem will serve little good.

Has this ever happened to you?  You expect a friendship to grow old with you, but for no known reason (at least to you) the friendship peters out?  Fizzzzzzzzle.

I will mourn this one and miss her.