For my friends in the United States, the Fourth of July is not just Independence Day; it is a day of barbecues, family gatherings, booze, and time off work. Like the other 50,000 bloggers out there, I am taking a few moments to reflect on the most important part of our celebration: fireworks.
What other time of year can the masses legally possess the equivalent to mini sticks of dynamite? One M-80 is equivalent to a 1/8 stick of dynamite. No wonder the M-80’s are now illegal in the United States. Just think about all the gun powder you can accumulate in that $500 bag of fireworks you put between your kids in the backseat. The laws state that without proper licensing, no firework can contain more than 50 milligrams of pyrotechnic composition per unit. Doesn’t seem like much until you look into the backseat at the massive pile of pyrotechnics you just purchased. I hope you don’t smoke in your car.
With the entire big bang fireworks that have been introduced over the recent years, there are some classic fireworks that bring back memories for most of us.
Firecrackers are a long time standard for the backyard celebration. The sound of firecrackers can be heard echoing through the neighborhood hours after the first fireworks tents are raised. Like most things, we are not content to just light and toss these little sound generators. Everyone has stories of creative things done with firecrackers. My sister is still a little pissed at me for the time I taped half a brick of firecrackers to her Barbie because I was tired of blowing up my own toys. As I grew older, we would try to see the quantity required to destroy bigger objects with limited success. If you wish to really get even with the neighbors, hang an aluminum trash can (don’t use the one that you cooked your turkey in last Thanksgiving, that is gross) from a low hanging branch and drop in a bundle of 5000 Blackcat Firecrackers. This is guaranteed to earn a few points on the annoyance scale.
When tossing firecrackers at your friends no longer holds your attention, escalate your teenage angst by launching the aerial counterpart to firecrackers: bottle rockets. Neighborhood wars have been waged as teenagers team up to launch their attacks. Keep in mind; bottle rockets have 2 stages of pain. The first stage is when you light the wick of the more expensive sort that has been coated in black powder. The green wick burns, shooting flaming sparks and pieces of wick onto the holder’s forearm. The key is to hold the bottle rocket until the optimum moment before launch. Nothing is worse than lighting your bottle rocket mid-battle and then throwing it too quickly. You will completely miss the intended recipient and instead, experience the second stage of pain: when the bottle rocket hits the ground right in front of you and ricochets back into your own leg.
Roman candles are to bottle rockets what a nuke is to a traditional ordinance. These fiery tubes shoot out colorful balls. Though they are meant to be aimed skyward, they have become a favorite in projectile battling. Though roman candles do not have the range of a traditional bottle rocket, it can be intimidating to have a fire ball flying towards you, despite the fact that it is a beautiful color of green.
Kids love how pretty the sparklers are and how they can write their names in bright light. Sparklers are a simple concept. Just light the end of the gunpowder-crusted metal stick, hand to a small child, and watch as they burst in tears as the hot embers scorch their delicate skin. If the sparks do not do the trick, the heat transfer through the metal stick should leave a scar (both mental and physical) for years to come.
When I think of pointless fireworks, snakes come to the forefront of my mind. The only purpose of the snakes is to leave a blackened char permanently tattooing the sidewalk or patio. With smoke that evokes the smell of hell and a curl of black ash, these little anti-climactic disks will cause even the most excitable child to fall in a state of boredom.
I have heard it said, if you regulate dangerous materials to make them idiot proof, a better idiot will come along. Just ask the nurse working the ER, the exhausted firefighter, and the smiling fireworks distributor; this is the time of year that the Darwin awards become so popular. If only fireworks could be the chlorine in our gene pool.
Until next time…
jerryb and christineb