03 May 2007

Why some people should never become parents

"This little piggy went to market.'
"This little piggy stayed home."
"And this little piggy was used as a test animal in a baseline forensic entomology study. . .we'll not say what happened to him."

No toy has stimulated young adolescent minds like the model rocket. Gunpowder, I've always said, should never be sold legally to minors in the form of engines designed to propel miniature ICBM's to little boys.

(Former model rocketeer???)

Building model rockets was a hobby of mine. Truthfully, I would sit in my bedroom for days constructing the things until my parents forced me to eat. . .and to air out the glue and paint fumes. At first, I put the rockets together as the directions said.

Then. . .came the modifications.

One I built was called the 'mosquito.' It stood 3 inches tall and shot 300 ft in the air. This took every bit of 0.3 seconds . . . about the speed of a bullet.

Another nameless creation sped 100 ft in the air, spun around in mad circles, and exploded into a shower of sparks above a crowd of students and one teacher. They all cheered. Unfortunately, it was not designed to do this.

Another rocket was designed to do this. I surgically removed the propellant from one engine, and added it with the propellant from a second engine, and filled in the empty spaces with gunpowder (gotten from some shotgun shells and a certain friend who shall remain nameless lest his parents are internet-saavy blog readers.) This was designed to go up a thousand feet and explode in a blaze of glory, with the remnant falling gently to the ground in a parachute. Unfortunately, the nose cone was glued on and what could be described as a semi-harmless toy, evolved into a one-foot-long projectile weapon of least destruction. It landed 1/2 a mile from the elementary school, and for I know, is still embedded in the roof of a grouchy old man.

My greatest creation was the eight-foot-tall cardboard mock German V-2. It was so big, it couldn't fit through my bedroom door. It had to be lowered to the ground from my window.
The V-2 didn't actually get off the ground-just shook a little bit and made a small crater in the backyard. My parents often wondered at this large blackened area. When questioned, I merely shrugged and said it could have been a lightening strike.

The shoulder mounted rocket launcher: My mom took one look at this and asked what it was.

She shrieked.

I thought having a hand-made shoulder mounted rocket launcher would be neat to try. . .after all, don't kids in Afghanistan play with these things?

Alas, the greatest project never came to be. It was stopped dead in it's tracks at the hobby store. The parents dropped me off here to amuse me. They asked if I found anything I liked. I made a list. . .10 feet of plastic tubing, model airplane fuel, some large sheets of balsa wood, 2 or 3 metal pipes. . .the lights went off, bells chimed, and parental instincts kicked in.

"Building something, Jason?"
"Yeah. I designed a surface-to-air missile and just needed a few things."

My goal, see, was the Atlantic Ocean. . .400 miles away.

I'm surprised my parents aren't addicted to prescription drugs.


kludge said...


I was never a model rocket builder. Once I discovered thaty computers exsited everything else faded away. I have to say after reading this I have an unnatural craving to make a trip to the model shop.

I wonder what tips are avaliable online!

Jason said...

Just remember to start small, work in well-ventilated areas, and aim towards the Pacific.