Boston Marathon Explosions the Boogeyman Strikes

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As I sat down to write a blog post last night, I saw a “push” come up on my Facebook wall. It was from an old colleague who stated that he hoped his family in Boston were okay.

Curiosity piqued, I asked him what was going on and while waiting for a response I typed  “Boston events” in the search bar and got the news sightly ahead of his answer.

Someone or some group had exploded two devices at the Boston Marathon finishing line. Two people were killed, I found out from a friend who is from Boston that one of these was an eight year-old child, and at least 23 injured. The news went on to state that two more devices had been found and that there was a further explosion at the Kennedy Library.

I was shocked.

Although it was late and I was quite tired, I spent the next several hours watching live coverage of this obscenity and “tweeting” what I was learning. One of the things I learned was that at that time no one group had stepped forward to claim responsibility for placing  these bombs in the rubbish bins.

I also learned that the official line on the “devices” was not to call them bombs.

I was once again, shocked.

If something has been set up to explode, it is a bomb. I can only think that officials have decided that to call them bombs would scare people and dredge up some sort of “negative” connotation.

I’ve got news for the authorities, a bomb by any other name is a bomb.

The bitter irony in this is that while the bombs were exploding, President Obama was working on new gun laws to protect his constituents from acts of murder. While he was looking at stopping death within, death came (presumably) from without.

With the introduction of drones that spy on American citizens in the name of national security, the good guys were obviously looking in the wrong direction and the bad guys got in.

It is sad that the times we live in now include urban terror attacks from whatever group or source. These attacks are designed to keep people afraid. Afraid of public events, of walking down their own streets (Bostonian’s were told to stay inside after the explosions and Boston was put on “lock-down”) and afraid to trust “foreigners” let alone each other.

The group or people responsible  want all free countries to be placed under “house arrest” and to be too terrified to leave their homes. And through the diversionary news worthy events of killing sprees with guns and with the media shouting to the heavens about gun control, the folks responsible for the country’s security forgot to look at the ongoing issue of terrorism.

I might be wrong (and I have been wrong before) but I think that the security forces need to stop looking for “Boogeymen” under their own beds or backyards and remember to look at those “outside” the country they’ve been sworn to protect.

As the death toll rises to three and the injured numbers more than triple, I’m sure the people in yesterday’s Boston Marathon would agree.



Vinnie’s Bomb

My friend Vinnie had called me at home. He wanted me to see a dead buzzard he had shot from his bedroom window. This was a favourite pastime for Vinnie. Even though his parent’s house was in the city limits, he thought nothing of taking off his window screen and shooting at the “varments” that wandered into the back yard. Amazingly, no one ever complained about his shooting. I do not know if this was because he used a scoped rifle and had little chance of missing or if no one truly cared.On this particular day, it was late enough in the year for there to be a good bit of frost on the ground. When I got to Vinnie’s house the frost had mostly melted away. “You should have seen it first thing this morning,” Vinnie said, “It threw up when I shot it and the stuff was frozen on his head.” I said that I was sorry I hadn’t gotten there sooner so I could see this undeniably grotesque sight. *Yes, I do know that young teen boys can be disgusting at times*After looking at the dead bird in his back yard for a bit, Vinnie then mentioned in a very hushed tone that he had some professional explosive powder and some water-proof fuses. My jaw dropped down in total surprise. It seems that Vinnie had an uncle who was in the underwater demolition business. On his last visit he had given these items  to Vinnie with the idea of making a home made explosive. “You want to help me?” Vinnie asked. My answer was a resounding yes. Excitedly we both made our way to his dad’s garage.

While figuring out what we wanted to make with the blasting powder and how we were going make a casing for it, we decided to experiment a bit with the blasting powder. We took one of Vinnies .223 cartridges and filled it tightly with the powder, we then crimped the end of the shell around a two inch bit of fuse. Taking this miniature bomb out to his back garden, we made a hole  in the hard ground. After the hole was about six inches deep, we lit the fuse and dropped it into the hole. We scrambled quickly away  and waited.

A geyser of dirt and rock shot into the air accompanied by a most satisfying boom. Rushing back to the hole we checked to see how far down it had extended after the explosion. We found a bamboo fishing rod and shoved it in the hole. We never did get to the bottom and the rod was well over six feet in length. We were suitably impressed.

Vinnie then showed me an aerosol can that he had taken the top off of without blowing himself up. This he decided was going to be the explosive’s casing mould. He just needed some lead to melt and pour into the can. That was where I became useful. My dad was a house builder. One thing he had lots of was lead. In those days when the plumbers made a base for a shower stall, the base was lined with lead. They invariably left tons of “off-cuts” laying around the site that was anyone’s for the taking. Since lead was cheap, we used it to make fishing weights. My dad had a “shed-load” of the stuff.  I asked and got permission to use as much of it as we needed.

For weeks Vinnie and I melted lead and poured it into the can. This was a slow and boring process. When we finally got the whole can filled with lead, we then cut the can off to leave us with our bomb casing. This left us with a cylindrical object that was roughly three inches in diameter and seven inches long. There was no “hole” in the middle to put the powder in. But we knew just what to do.

Vinnie got out his dad’s heavy duty drill and fastened a one and a half inch drill bit to it. We then took turns drilling out a hole. This was also a long and boring task. We were about halfway through when a female friend from school dropped by. She wandered out to the garage and asked us what we were doing. We explained about the bomb and having to drill the hole. We also moaned a bit about the amount of time it was taking.

Looking at the half drilled cylinder she said, “Since you guys melted the lead to make it, why didn’t you put something in the middle and pour the lead around it so you didn’t have to drill one?” We both reacted the same way. “Huh! What do you know?” “That never would have worked!” She gave us both a disdainful look, tossed her red hair from her face and left. It was only after she left that we both had a face palm moment. Now why didn’t we think of that?

We finally finished the bomb and tried to set up a time for it to be set off. Vinnie’s dad had some land beyond the city limits and we both agreed that would be the best place to blow it up. All that was left to do was organise a time to get together. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come up with a time that was mutually beneficial. Plus, while we were building the thing, my family had decided to move.

Although we only moved a few towns away,  I did not get a chance to hunt down my friend for a couple of years. I finally bumped into him while visiting my grandparents. The first thing I asked about, of course, was the bomb. “Oh yeah! Dad and me took it out to the farm. We dug a hole, put about a mile of fuse on it, planted it, then we lit it and ran like hell!”How big was the hole after the blast I asked. “HUGE!” Vinnie said with a grin. ” It left a crater about six feet across and about four feet deepIt was also so loud, I think they heard it in town!”

I think back to those days and wonder how in the world did we not blow ourselves up! I also marvel at the simplicity and naivety of the both of us. We never at any point thought that this was too dangerous a pastime.  We also never realized that what we were doing might just be illegal. When anyone complains to me about today’s youth and how they spend too much time playing video games, I always think back on my childhood activities.

Sure video games can be time consuming and expensive, but at least they aren’t making bombs.

Lake Wedington or The Tale of the Dead Fish

When I was old enough to drive on my own, summers were spent with various friends at Lake Wedington. I cannot remember ever laughing so hard at any other spot. So many memories and so much laughter. Once, a friend and I rented a canoe. I’ll call this friend Vinnie, as I do not know his whereabouts to ask permission to use his real name.
Vinnie was one of the funniest guys I have ever known. He had a knack at spontaneous humour that has never been matched by anyone else I have been friends with. Vinnie also had a knack of having funny things happen to him. Not because he was stupid (he was not, that spontaneous wit was the result of being incredibly smart) but, because he liked to try different things. Whether it was shooting buzzards from his bedroom window, or making a bomb to explode on his parents property, Vinnie was up for anything.
So Vinnie and I rented a canoe at Lake Wedington. Our aim was to do a sort of Deliverance trip, without the inbred dangerous yokels. We were going to traverse the many creeks that fed into the lake. Whereas this plan had seemed brilliant when we were discussing it, we had failed to plan for the narrowness of the creeks. We had also failed to take into consideration the lack of sufficient water in the creeks. And the wasps. These angry creatures immediately dive bombed the canoe the second we stopped because the creek had run out of water. This made navigation of the creeks almost “too dangerous” to continue. After almost being stung repeatedly while turning the canoe around, we gave up.

We decided instead to explore the lake’s shores. Of course while we did this we splashed one another with oar backlash and and generally tried our best to over-turn the canoe. While we were engaged in this horseplay, one of us spotted the fish.

The fish was huge. It must have been a carp, my memory is a bit hazy on this detail. I do remember it was about twenty-four inches long. It was also at least eight to ten inches high and about three inches wide. Like I said it was a monster fish. It was also just floating on top of the water. *this should have warned us immediately, but we chose not to think about what would cause a dead fish to float*

“Wow!” Vinnie was super impressed by the size of it, “That sucker is huge!” I agreed and we sat looking at it for at least ten minutes before one of us had, what we thought, was a brilliant idea. I cannot for the life of me remember whose idea it was. But the gist of it was this: We would get the fish into the canoe and row ashore. Once ashore we would tell all and sundry that we had caught it with our bare hands. Of course it never entered our juvenile heads that folks might just not be interested in this fact.

I was in the front of the canoe and closest to the fish. I put my oar under the fish and lifted it straight up and over my shoulder to land in the middle of the canoe. This is precisely what it did, hitting one of the canoe’s struts as it came down. As it hit the strut, it exploded. The fish suddenly turned into a green watery mess of fish guts, maggots and the foulest stench imaginable. Vinnie “feaked-out,” and leaning over the side of the canoe he began helplessly dry heaving into the lake.

After what seemed like ages (it seemed a lot longer due to the overpowering smell this mess made) He straightened up and in a strangled voice said, “Oh my God! If you had flung that fish back any further it would have landed on me!” He stopped and thought for a moment and then said, “And if you hadn’t thrown it far enough it would have landed on yourhead!” That was my cue to lean over the edge of the canoe and dry heave for a spell.

Of course the entire time these histrionics were occuring the stench seemed to build. We then started power rowing to the shore. We headed for the stall where we had rented it. Reaching the shore, we jumped out of the vessel and threw our life-vests and oars at the vendor. We ran all the way to the car.  We drove back to our respective homes with all the windows open. We also avoided going to the lake for about two weeks for fear that the vendor would remember the state of the canoe we had turned in

Of course having Vinnie as a friend meant that the next time we got together we would be doing something exciting. The next time we met it was to make a bomb.

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