’17 A To Z Challenge – R

Challenge2017

The word ‘Roundhouse’ has two, very different but connected meanings, so, for the letter

letter-r

I’m going to tell you about them.

Roundhouse Slang. A punch in which the arm is typically brought straight out to the side or rear of the body and in which the fist describes an exaggerated circular motion.

This is a type of punch that is usually not thrown until a jab or a hook has stunned an opponent, and his defenses are (slightly) open, because it opens the defense of the fighter who is throwing it. The large circular motion is necessary to accumulate speed and striking power.

At the height of his career, I saw Bruce Lee demonstrate, what he called ‘A One Inch Punch.’ He stood before a sparring partner, tightly clenched his fist and held it 1 inch from his opponent’s chest.  He then wound up his ‘punching muscles’ while holding back, like a dragster revving the engine, but standing on the brakes.

When he had achieved maximum dynamic tension, he suddenly extended his arm, and the victim went stumbling backward. But that was not a punch! That was a push, a powerful push, but a push.  Even a dragster cannot achieve its top speed in its own length.  A punch requires time and distance to amass its total potential

Roundhouse II

a building for the servicing and repair of locomotives, built around a turntable in the form of some part of a circle.

My home town was the end of a railroad line. Another spur on the other side of the peninsula extended all the way to the northern tip.  Train engines can push backward, as well as pull forward, but pulling is more efficient.  Normally, at rails’ ends, and any other place where locomotives have to turn around, roundhouses are used to give them a 180° spin.

My town though, grew up because it was a Great Lakes Port. Besides the river docks, a long stone pier was built out to the offshore island, offering storm protection.  The railroad was used to carry freight from Lake Huron, to Toronto and Lake Ontario, before the building of the Welland Canal, to get past Niagara Falls – grain to flour mills, lumber to the factories, iron ore to the steel mills.

As the railroad came north into town, a spur line branched off, and ran west, out to the end of the dock. The spur line branched back, and joined the main line ending at the station, forming a giant Y, with an empty triangle inside it.  The engines and cars which needed to be reversed, were merely backed up, and run forward around the Y.

We never needed an expensive and maintenance-intensive roundhouse. We did have a big railway building that was large enough to house a couple of locomotives, and cars which needed repair, out of the weather.  We called it ‘the roundhouse,’ but no engines ever got dizzy on a roundabout.

Now, the trains are all long gone, the tracks ripped up, the right-of-way is a hiking trail, and all that’s left are my fond memories. That feels like a roundhouse punch.   😦  😯

March Madness

I know it’s April! I’ll get to that.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana

Of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, a wrinkled sack of aches and pains wasn’t on my list.

I can’t brain today. I have a bad case of the dumb.

It’s finally Spring here in Southern Ontario. I know this, not because the robins are back. I’ve heard them for almost a month, but actually saw one on March 31. Not because the little kids have their skateboards and bicycles out, and the bigger kids, me excluded, finally have their motorcycles out, but because, on March 31, as I saw my first robin, I was on my way to the supermarket two blocks away – and they have their Garden Center set up in the parking lot.

And just to show how pissed Mother Nature can be when you don’t get her a nice enough card for Earth Day….  After a week of 60s and even 70s F temperatures, last night she put a big cloud over my total Lunar eclipse, and dumped an inch of snow on my driveway and deck.

The Ode to CWC6161 post, which I published last August 10th, was found by her younger sister, who left a lovely comment on April 11th, thanking me for my friendship and concern for Candice, as well as the tribute I posted. While not a happy thought, she provided closure, and confirmation of The Kindly Hermudgeon’s death. As a sad irony, she died on September 21, 2012, my 68th birthday. The sister must have informed friends/family. By the end of day, I had had 4 views of that post.

The grandson phoned to ask for a ride the other day. On Saturday, May 10, he and his fiancée have a chance to enroll in a one-day Introduction to Falconry seminar. This will be a full day, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Not being a driver, he thought it was near Hamilton, ON, an hour drive. Actually, my research shows that it is just off the main highway, about halfway there – only a half-hour drive, so I won’t have to get up quite as early.

Falconry??!….WOW. They may never use what they learn, but still, a very interesting day. It’s way out in the country. I may catch up on my sleep in the car, and might have to drive somewhere to score a lunch, but I just couldn’t deny them this opportunity.

At the recent Detroit gun/knife show, one of the exhibitors had an old, original movie poster as part of his decoration. From the days when the western was king, this 1951 movie was titled “Snake River Desperadoes.” It was populated with never-really-made-it, C-list actors.

The only name I might expect even my older readers to recognize and remember, was Smiley Burnette, who went on to fame and fortune as the engineer of the train that pulled into Hooterville, on the Petticoat Junction TV show.

The name on the poster that caught my eye, was Tommy Ivo. Tommy was a showboating, California drag racer in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He helped form the sport as it was becoming organized and sanctioned. I thought that his nickname, “TV Tommy” had been because his fame got drag racing televised.

Research shows, however, that he was a teen actor, as taken with racing as he was by the silver screen and the new boob-tube. He used some of his acting income to hire expert mechanics to build engines and bodies, which he and his youthful reflexes piloted.

He was a showman, and a forward thinking racer. Understanding the Power to Weight Ratio idea, he was one of the first to install two smaller engines in one car, while others were striving for bigger power-plants. He first placed them one behind the other, and then in subsequent vehicles, learned how to synchronize them side by side.

Despite the death of James Dean, most studios didn’t have forbidden-pastimes contract clauses. His employers didn’t seem to realize what dangerous ways he was spending his off time. Finally, just as he was 20, they caught on. That was the year he produced the aptly-named “Showboat” race car.

Taking the power to weight thing to the max, he built a 4-engine, 4-drive wheel dragster, with big drag slick tires on all four corners. Sadly, the initial thrust of acceleration torqued the front two off the pavement just enough to lose traction and spin the front tires uselessly. Instead of getting added traction and speed, all he got was a crowd-pleasing cloud of smoke, and slow times.

The studios ordered him not to race anymore. The racing body were afraid that his crazy contraption would injure him or someone else, and refused to let him compete in it, and only allowed single-car, display runs. His racing year ended when a small-block, Pontiac-engined, single-motor dragster defeated him for the top prize.

Its top speed was 179 MPH. The same scientists who mathematically “proved” that the bumblebee can’t fly, insisted that the theoretical top speed in the quarter mile was 177 MPH, and dismissed it as an optical illusion, or equipment failure. When it happened again and again, they learned about “directional friction.”

Tommy did a few more resoundingly forgettable movies and TV shows. Unlike many, he wisely invested his income, and used the dividends to become a racing developer and sponsor, helping to make drag racing into the profitable spectator sport it is.

Oh yeah, why March Madness in April?? Because it’s a great title. Because I’m fractured and forgetful, and because, as usual, I’m late and behind on things. “Scuse me, I gotta go have a talk with the Easter Bunny about some more of those Easter Creme eggs.