Sunday, July 10, 2011

A great big hug of hurt...


Or what not to do on your J4 vacation.

I've been busy since NeoCon. I had a furniture showroom project (for the event) which was completed just in time, and the party was outta' control. Close on the heels of that was Spring Fling (an industry benefit party that's held here every year). Put on by one of the bigger developers in the city, everyone gets all fancy and hangs out on the riverfront for the evening. Most go from fancy to sloppy in a few short hours : ) The beginning of Summer is such an inhibition obliterating time in Chicago. I guess it's all the Winter angst making 'em crack.

Spring Fling crowd in the “shadow” of the Marina Towers

Chicago River at dusk

Most recently I’ve returned from the annual family J4 celebration tan, relaxed and uninjured. This celebration takes place on the family farm. The farm consists of 15 acres partitioned into three pastures and a yard. It contains three barns, a large residence, and a pool-house with a pool. All of which is surrounded on three sides by an Army Corp of Engineer’s lake. It’s like a resort and it’s pretty freakin’ sweet!

Fishin’ pond

Engineer’s lake


My use of the word “uninjured” is important as I’m responsible for the pyrotechnics (yes we have our own homegrown fireworks display). It’s a pretty impressive show for being designed using strictly consumer grade fireworks. While I’m no crazy pyro, I have been “playing with fire” for eight years now. I’ve never been the fireworks.

Nice mortar shot

Fan shaped fountain with mortar charges

Finale of mortar charges

A couple of years ago my Uncle asked me to burn the pile of yard debris (by yard debris I mean fallen trees and branches) that normally serves as our celebratory bonfire. That year was a doozy for storms which resulted in a pile that was too large to "safely" serve as the S'more fabrication area. (Pfft! Come on it's just 30 feet across, and 12 feet high).

The only way to get a wet pile that large to catch fire is to use lighter fluid (by lighter fluid I mean diesel fuel, which is less explosive than gasoline). So I go out to the barn. Get the diesel fuel, pour two cups on five locations radially around the pile. Clear the area of flammable materials. Ignite a ball of newspaper, and throw it on the pile...

Turns out what I thought was diesel was actually gasoline because the freakin' fireball that came off the pile surrounded me giving me a great big hug of hurt. It’s fortunate that I shave my head, and was wearing natural fibers, because the inferno removed the hair from my exposed arms and legs. So intense, and fast, was the ignition that the "backdraft" through the pile blew out all but two of the five locations I’d doused with fuel. Yes, a mushroom cloud climbed into the air, and many relatives came out of the house to see what had caused it only to find me, hosing the ashes of singed hair off of myself. The worst thing I suffered was that, and imagining how bad it could've been.