Stupid is as Stupid does: Test Case Number 2 - Third Party Devices
Device Tested: Flash's "Enhanced" Power Landmover
The Culprits: Ash and Smoke
Location: The local skating rink
Laws Broken: Discharge, possession, mayhem, disturbing the peace.
I leave it with you, the readers, to exercise judgment in what you do, especially
if you ever decide to follow up on any of this stuff and try it yourselves.
One occasional member until this little incident, we'll call him Flash,
knew little about the delicate balance involved with making some thing
nice go up in smoke and making something huge instantly vaporize and
having a lot to explain to the official looking people in the uniforms.
As crazy as it sounds, we usually tried to show a bit of caution when testing things out. We appreciated the danger involved with our actions and it was generally accepted as par for the course. Flash was a zealous idiot bent on self destruction. I mean he was mesmerized by things blowing up, so much so that he was banned from participating in the group and here's why:
Flash approached us one day with a device he called an "enhanced"
power landmover, apparently a modified design of our original landmover.
Fair enough, we'd give him a chance to test it. Well at the last minute
he jammed on us with an excuse like " death in the family" or
something leaving it in our hands to detonate his contraption. We were
... a bit surprised when we saw it.
Flash handed us a heavy brick sized bundle of duct tape with a sparkler
sticking out of one end and said "Here. Give it a try. Catch ya
later." Ya right. We asked a few questions and found the device
to be a shampoo bottle filled to the top with our special mix and bound
at length with duct tape. We marveled at the design. We liked to pay
attention to detail but this thing was awesome. It was wrapped with
a lot of care and concern. It was loved and nurtured and perfected at
length, and if there was a first prize for aesthetics, this guy was
taking home the blue ribbon. The enhanced power landmover was truly
a work of artistic genius.
Based on previous experience and a general sense of personal safety,
one might expect that we would put off testing such a recklessly large
design. Your expectations would be incorrect. No sooner had Flash left,
we where headed for the local skating rink.
The rink was a great place to test for a few good reasons: it was
almost entirely non-combustable concrete. It opened into a huge field
opposite the local elementary school. It had thick brick walls which
made it hard for people inside to hear what was going on outside. It
also had a lot of good directions to run in and no fences or nearby
obstructions. As most of you are aware, concrete and brick are extremely
difficult to start on fire and that's always a bonus.
This particular afternoon, someone had moved a large dumpster to the rear of the building which made for some perfect cover during the actual test run. We placed the device itself near the building and ran about twenty meters away and hid behind the dumpster while the sparkler burned down slowly. Mmmmmmmmm fear.
The sparkler burned and burned eventually reaching the pile of duct tape encapsulating the device. Nothing happened. We waited and waited and waited, but nothing happened.
It is at this time that I would like to reiterate how important rule number two is. I don't think I can possibly overstate how important a little bit of patience can be in a situation just like this one. I mean we can all waste and hour in front of the television set watching a rerun sitcom we've laughed at before, but when it comes to a potentially life-threatening situation, no one has three minutes to sit and wait for the best.
After about two and a half minutes of waiting we both decided that
it was safe to examine the failed device and see what might have caused
the malfunction. We had begun to formulate possibilities when we stepped
out from behind our protective dumpster. We where engrossed in discussion
of fuse physics as we began walking towards the device. We where postulating
some possible solutions when we where interrupted by the device violently
shaking and tipping over... bottom towards us.
At this point I'd like to say that Flash is a shit for brains. I mean I never say bad things about anyone, but this guy was an intellectual zero. In the basic design of devices, the one thing I can safely say I took away with me is the nugget of physics I'll share with you now: A device is only as strong as its weakest link. Not a real hard concept to wrap your mind around is it? Well it had apparently eluded Flash. What Flash had neglected to do while wrapping his "Enhanced" landmover, was take into consideration the amount of power he was dealing with and how it would most likely be released. What he had done is wrap the entire bottle in parallel strips of overlapping tape. Cute, except he saved the stem for last and covered it with about 1/10th the amount of tape used to cover everything else, making it the weak point of the design by a factor of about 100. Actually 103.6 is what I think Fire eventually calculated out.
Realizing far too late our error in judgment we bolted for the protection
of our garbage bin shield seeking refuge from the blast. I'm sure I
screamed. I don't remember what, but I'm sure it was loud and I remember
Smoke screaming loudly too, although I don't remember quite what. Then
I remember a silver streak flying past between the two of us at extremely
low altitude and subsonic speed, striking the dumpster and instantly
compressing our once 9 inch long device into a 2 inch long smoldering
A post-mortem revealed a few interesting and related facts:
1) Flash was a shit for brains.
2) The fuse had been damaged while being inserted into the stem of the shampoo
bottle. It had cracked and splintered slightly slowing its burn time
3) The rapid gaseous release caused the bottle to tip, coincidentally, base towards us, the worst possible way at the time.
4) Once completely ignited, the pressure of the contents increased
exponentially well past the critical duct-tape pressure threshold point
obliterating the weak-ass seal around the neck of the bottle. As a result
Flash's extreme lapse in judgment turned a large, controlled, omni-directional
explosive release of gas pressure into a large, unidirectional, subsonic
rocket of death and dismemberment. But I'm not bitter.
As a result of our little experiment, Flash was blacklisted forever.
To my knowledge he will never participate in another fire related event
in the history of mankind. I don't even think he's allowed to smoke.
Smoke and I gained a whole new respect for rule
number two and the directional explosives which we tested later