I'm sure everyone (or is it just me?) has had a moment of complete brain-lock where they do something so stupid, it defies justification. It has happened to me on at least one occassion, despite being a sober-minded person, and I know its happened to quite a few people I know.
I was inspired by Pole's fireworks story and since he didn't start this thread as I had suggested, I'm starting it myself and (if he will permit me) will cut-n-paste his story to it. But first, I'll tell my story:
We had a stand-up blender that was no longer working properly. I used it to make ice cream shakes. I was 14 or 15 at the time (so age was not an excuse). The blade mechanism was gummed up or something and didn't want to turn properly. I decided to dismantle the blender cup and place only the blade mechanism in the cradle on the gear that is supposed to turn the blade. I held the blades in place and turned the machine on.
I was thinking -- as near as I can figure -- that I could break up whatever was gumming the mechanism inside by spinning its bottom gear while keeping the blades still. I assumed that since it was supposed to turn freely forward, it should also turn freely backward. Obviously the blender wouldn't work if this were true, but that hadn't occurred to me yet.
Fortunately, there was nothing to keep the blade on the gears besides my hand, so the incident ended quickly. Blade and hand were instantly kicked upward by the force of the motor. I got a deep bruise on my forearm from hitting the bottom of the cabinetry and cuts on four of my fingers, some of them pretty deep. Fortunately, I do still have all 10 today.
A friend told me another brain-freeze story about a friend of his (used without permission). This friend (age 17) had bought this fire-suit that they use to do movie-stunts at a flea market or something. Because of its source, he wasn't sure if it really worked properly and wanted to test it before really using it.
The weirdest part of this story was that it was not just a one-man brainlock, but a 4 man brainlock. His school principal was there helping, as were 2 friends. That one kid would do this is one thing, but to have 4 people do it, one being a very-suable school principal is just mind-boggling.
They were going to make a fire on his arm to see if it properly repelled flame. They had a fire blanket to put the flames out when they were done, but no fire extinguisher. They took a towel and soaked it in kerosene. They duct-taped the towel to the kid's arm over the fire-suit, and lit it.
The suit is not flammable and does not conduct heat well, but it is still just a thin piece of material. The fire quickly got to be too hot. The kid's getting worried and starts screaming that it's burning. His friend shouts out (no kidding) "Run!" So the kid starts running with a flaming towel taped to his arm. The other friend grabs the blanket and chases after him. He catches up, tackles the kid, and puts out the flame with the blanket.
The kid now has burns on his arm, chest and face. One of the friends suggests they should take him to the hospital. The principal says, "can't you do it?" I'm not sure why he is still employed.
Now finally Pole's story (which I can erase at his behest):
When I was 19, I went to Stephen F. Austin State University, and in my first year, I lived in the "units." These were dorms that were converted from old army barracks, and they were essentially long buildings that were partitioned into rooms--two rows down the length of the building. Each room had a "suite mate" and the two suite mates shared a bathroom. The bathroom was in between the two front doors for the two rooms, so that if you walked in to the dorm through the front door, the bathroom door would either be immediately to your left or right depending on which room you walked into. On the other side of the front door, and cut into the middle of the front facing wall was a large window that had an A/C window unit stuck in the bottom. Each room had two desks and a set of bunk beds that you could arrange however you saw fit. My room, when you walked in, was the right-most of the two suite mates, and my desk was in the corner created by the front and right walls. It faced the right wall such that when I sat at my desk, I was almost in front of the window unit, and my back was to the bathroom door. This was in 1986 before the drinking age had changed from 19 to 21, and we were allowed to have alcohol in our dorms. I had a rather large collection of empty liquor bottles.
It was finals week for my second semester, and if there was one thing I hated to do, it was study. I knew I had to though, so I was at my desk. Instead of studying though, I was going through the drawers and kind of cleaning things out. Guess what I found? Some old fireworks. Real old. I found a full ten-pack of "colorful birds." Colorful birds went the way of bottle rockets. They've been outlawed in Texas because of how dangerous they are. They are shaped just like a 55 gallon drum (barrel), but obviously, much smaller--each one just slightly smaller than...say...a stack of 20 dimes. They have a fuse that enters the barrel at the very bottom of one of the sides, and it's usually taped to the side of the little barrel. You light them, and I believe they are supposed to spin around on the ground as they shoot out green or red fire. Unfortunately, or if you're like Beavis, Butthead, or myself, fortunately, they aren't always predictible. Sometimes they just fly off in some random direction shooting this hot flame like a little ball of napalm. A buddy of mine and myself used to put them in bottles and watch them fly around inside, and when I discoverd them in my desk, I decided I'd give that a try again. Right there at my desk. In my dorm room.
Now, for those of you who don't know. gunpowder, or whatever you want to call the ingredients in dynamite and fireworks, will sweat nitroglycerin when it gets old. Nitroglycerin is much more volitile than gunpowder; it's less stable, and much more concentrated.
So, while sitting at my desk, I pulled out a lighter, lit one of these things and dropped it in an old rum bottle. To pile stupidity on top of stupidity, I screwed the cap on immediately afterwards--ostensibly to keep the smoke in the bottle. The thing went off and flew around inside the bottle. Afterwards, I went outside and shook the smoke out of the bottle. That was fun, so I decided I'd do it again. I lit another and dropped it in. Nothing. Dud. So I light another and droped it in. Another dud. So I tried another one. This one was different. The fuse went REAL fast. I can't remember if I got the lid on the bottle or not, but luckily, my hands were in position--they protected my face. Remember, there were two "duds" in the bottle. I don't know if nitroglycerin has fumes or not--I've always wondered. Anyway, this last one blew up. No....that's not quite accurate. The bottle friggen exploded! It blew me up and over my chair and against the open bathroom door on the other side of the room. Strangely, the window above the A/C (right next to my desk) didn't even crack, but apparantly the force of the blast must have been directed towards the bathroom (were I went flying). There was a small window in the bathroom above the sink that faced outside to the sidewalk--which was about four feet wide. Beyond the sidewalk was a small strip of grass about two feet wide. Beyond that was the parking long and my car was parked there in front of the the bathroom window. It was a '77 buick Le Sabre, and it had to be 17 feet long. The force of the blast blew that bathroom window past the sidewalk, past the strip of grass, and all the way past the back of my car.
Oh yeah....and the room caught on fire. I was pretty much dazed and confused, but I was able to get out of the room. It was kind of funny. My next door neighbor was more wild than myself, and he happened to be home. He came in immediately with his fire extinguisher and put the fire out pretty quick--and then proceeded to empty out his extinguisher for good measure. There was a lot of people around for a while, but then the university police showed up and they dispersed pretty quick. My roommate came back a little later, and he just shook his head. None of his stuff had fire damage...and there really wasn't much smoke damage, but there was this fine yellow dust from the fire extinguishers on everything. The police told me that the city police would be paying me a visit the next day. I was still a little confused, but I had another friend who would help me. We spent the next ten hours pulling everything out of that room. I washed all of my clothes and my roomates clothes and our bedding. The rooms were really made of painted cinder blocks, so we just pulled in a water hose and hosed the place down. We found some paint and painted the walls and the ceiling, and then we put everthing back. It was three in the morning before we quit and I finally took a shower. I could kill myself for not keeping the shirt I was wearing. It was peppered with little holes. I stopped counting the cuts I had after a couple dozen. Some of them were a little bad; I still have some scars on my hands and neck. I'm so damn lucky to have not lost my sight. We never found a piece of that bottle bigger than a dime.
The next day when the police came, the room looked pretty good. It smelled like fresh paint, but all I had to pay for was the window and the cost to refill two fire extinguishers. And a small fine. I got lucky. Every resident assistent and the head resident in my dorm just happened to be in my frat. They said nice things about me (all lies) and the judge was very lenient. I still love fireworks.
Rockets Draft Obligations Summary