Let me preface this by saying that I’m not greatly interested in any lectures on danger, public safety, or that sort of thing. I’ve considered those issues and, like any other guy with explosives, chosen to ignore them. Besides, my son and his buddies will, inevitably, perform these experiments themselves one day and I’d rather be with him so that I know that he’s not being even dumber than me.

We test-fired the spudzooka last night before the rains came again; this time with some nice fresh taters from Reasor’s. With a proper projectile, those things make a very impressive BANG! The projectiles also make a very nice splat against the backyard fence. Here, in the Westbrook Backyard of Science, we observe the utmost in safety (and secrecy) but perhaps not the utmost in common sense. By that I mean that we chose to fire right outside the bedroom window where Mel was attempting a nap. If there is anything worse than firing homemade cannons in the back yard, it would be doing so while the wife is attempting to sleep and doing so outside her window. She trusts me to keep the kid’s safety well in mind but being jerked into wakefulness by the sound of an explosion is not to be taken lightly. I’ll just leave it at that.

Sadly, there are no photos yet. Test firings are complicated by the fact that the lady across the street keeps on of those “I’m-just-about-ready-to-call-the-police” looks on her face. She looks like that all the time but I feel she might just cross the line as far as the spudzooka is concerned. I am looking for a new test range. Her son, on the other hand, is all for further firings. Things are further complicated by the continued rains which, it seems, will never end.

In her defense, she came out right after a test firing in which we were using a wad of newspaper as a projectile (we were out of potatoes).  The newspaper absorbed some of the propellant and as it went out of the barrel with a FOOMP, it caught fire and so we had a cool flaming comet arcing its way from me to the middle of the street.  Even ran out and stomped out the fire. 

I’m thinking that if I tweak this thing right, I can put something into orbit. I’ll keep you posted.

Later…on the Thanksgiving holiday in Eldorado, AR…..

Ah, what a nice holiday…lots of food, family, football, and firing slugs of raw potato into the trees with explosions. I don’t think I could have improved on it if I had been given the chance.

Evan and I perfected our technique to the point that we could accurately hit average-sized trees or point it up and launch one out of sight. All without burning our hair off. Evan was asked to write a page or two on what he did during the Thanksgiving holiday and to make sure and put lots of detail in it. Well, the teacher was given a darned good treatise on spudzooka construction. I’m sure she doesn’t really appreciate it. (But it beats all the other unoriginal drivel; like turkey at grandmas, etc.)

I’ve been trying to think of a way to bring it to school as a demo (or to a scout pack meeting) but I’m sure the principle would have a cow (or two). I’d better drop that idea.

This reminds me of something Dave Barry wrote called “the guy test”. One of the questions was:

2. As you grow older, what lost quality of your youthful life do you miss the most?

  1. Innocence.
  2. Idealism.
  3. Cherry bombs.

(Rumor has it, you can get them over in Missouri…I’ll let you know.)