Thursday, September 03, 2009

More than just a wild ass

My kid - the older boy - called me up tonight and asked me for a synonym for catapult. Damned if the word 'onager' wasn't listed. I'm like, "What?" Now, I know that an onager is like a donkey - I think I learned that from my Grandpa, who brought it up God-knows-why. Maybe he owned one once or something. Anyway, here's the explanation from Wikipedia:
The onager was a post-classical Roman siege engine, which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine, similar to that of an onager (wild ass). It is a type of catapult that uses torsional pressure, generally from twisted rope, to store energy for the shot.

Twisted rope? Now I've gotta read the rest of the article.

Oh, I forgot to tell you why he asked.

He's a tree trimmer, you know, and he was removing a big maple today, cutting all the branches off and dropping them to the ground. When he cut off the last and biggest "lead" (think of a lead as a sub-trunk), a branch hit the ground funny and shattered, shooting a yard-long, five-inch thick, jagged log at a neighboring house. Luckily, she, the neighbor, had a big maple tree of her own that stopped the log before it sailed right through her picture window.

He said it all happened in slow-motion, but it didn't get a good description of his feelings. He went off on a tangent about what an SOB his father-in-law is.

He probably tells his father-in-law what an SOB his stepdad is. I know I can be an SOB. I don't know anything about the other guy but what my stepson tells me. I stepped into this situation with no clue of what I was getting into, thus modeling the lifestyle I obviously favored. The Older Boy has gone and done likewise.


T. F. Stern said...

The History Channel showed this type of weapon and even demonstrated it to show how the twisted rope held the energy, enough to launch a projectile that could pierce through a wooden wall.

The probligo said...

I think it is called a "Ballista" (lit. "thrower") that I have seen on tv using a car as a projectile.

Threw it (it was a yanktank ;) ) some 150m...

Al said...

Cool stuff, eh? PBS has a great show on trebuchets that's highly worth watching too.

Who's got the car one, Prob?

The probligo said...

Al, thanks for the trebuchet word. I knew I was missing something. Now I found that neurone again.

The car-thrower was on Mythbusters as I recall. On the other hand it may have been something my daughter dug up on video in her role as mediaeval martial arts participant.