Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We All Make Sacrifices for Freedom

In my case, it's my sweater.

We bought us up a pile of fireworks and went to light 'em this evening, with J's sister who lives across the street. Now, I'm from Oregon and as I said in last year's 4th of July post, Oregon fireworks just suck. I just can't even believe what is legal in Washington. It's unreal.

So for 28 bucks we got a pile of little odds and ends, your Ground Bloom Flowers, your Roman Candles, some Busy Bees, a few Strobes, a couple of those ones that shoot a zillion little rounds in the air -- plus a mortar with 6 rounds. J's sister spent a similar amount and got two of the mortars, with seven rounds apiece. You place the mortar in the supplied cardboard tube, light the long, long fuse, and wait. Ostensibly, a flaming ball shoots some 50+ feet in the air (by my admittedly crappy estimate) and then explodes into a shower of colored sparks, with or without crackles, whistling, what have you. These things only cost about six bucks a set, so each flaming ball sets you back only a dollar! This is why I love America. And China.

Okay, so it turns out that there's a right way to place the round in the mortar. And thus a wrong way. And J's sister S. and her husband had a little miscommunication about that, and a round was placed in the mortar upside down, and kaboom! The thing just blew all apart. The explosion happened as it would have in the air, but on the ground instead, and one of the long, flaming fingers of doom shot right at me and landed on my sweater. I could not get out of that lawn chair fast enough, but I managed to get it off me before it did more than leave a smallish mark on my favorite sweater. Hopefully most of the damage will wash out, but it's a casual sweater so I don't care all that much that it's got a bit of a blemish. It'll make for an interesting story anyway, i.e. "Did you know there's a little hole in your sweater?" "Funny you should mention that, it's an amusing story..." We all laughed about it for some time after, in that "Oh my God it could have been so much worse, but since nobody was hurt, wasn't that funny?!" way.

Later when our own pile was spent I tagged along with S. and son T. to the neighbor's. We live on a loop and there are a couple of families who really go all out with the pyrotechnics. This one set of neighbors pooled their funds to the tune of about 400 dollars and got many, many flaming shooting exploding crackling things. I only stayed 15 or 20 minutes but they set off probably a dozen rounds much larger than ours in that time.

This is one of those things where I'm kind of amazed at what we are allowed to do, along with pumping our own gas. Seriously, the potential for great bodily harm is so huge. My own step-nephew was injured with fireworks a number of years ago; of course, he was emptying a bunch of Whistling Petes of their gunpowder so as to make something highly illegal and destructive, so maybe he's not such a good example. (He was just engaging in some good old fashioned "let's blow shit up" teen behavior and not plotting anyone any harm, in case you're thinking he needs treatment or something. He suffers from a slightly underdeveloped Common Sense gland, maybe, but he's pretty normal otherwise.)

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