Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh, to be 11 again

I spent the weekend in Houston. Soulmate and I flew down there on Friday as I mentioned in my previous blog, and surprised the heck out of my brother to celebrate his 50th birthday a little early. We went to Mark's, a really swank restaurant, on Saturday night. It was by far the best meal I've had at least since we ate at Boulevard in view of the Bay bridge in San Francisco in November.

Despite a highbrow meal on Saturday night, I spent most of the weekend thinking like an 11-year-old. Kyle, my gymnast nephew, has discovered YouTube in a big way. We spent much of the weekend watching funny videos, Cirque du Soleil excerpts, and how-to videos that mostly dealt with exploding containers of various sorts. The rest of the time we spent imitating Cirque du Soleil excerpts and actually exploding containers of various sorts.

In an effort to be entirely forthright, I must admit that I actually only watched and filmed the proceedings while my two nephews did the participating. In my last post I promised some contortionism, so here is Kyle imitating an act from the Cirque du Soleil "Kooza" show:

Did I mention that Kyle might not be your average, run-of-the-mill 11 year old?

However, like most 11 year-old boys, he is quite interested in making things blow up. I filmed two experiments involving baking soda and vinegar in a water bottle:

This first video illustrates the importance of having the projectile thrown away from the cameraman instead of toward him. As you can plainly see, a portion of the water bottle whistles passed my right ear only a couple feet away.

This second video illustrates the importance of watching out for traffic before arming your projectile. Notice that we shake the bottle and then realize the car's coming. This extra time allows the pressure to build to a much greater extent inside the container, resulting in an big explosion that propels the shredded bottle above the street light before it flutters back to the street.

In a much tamer experiment, we shoved some Mentos into a 2 liter bottle of diet Coke and watched as a 10 foot fountain of Coke foam shot out of the bottle. A little bit anti-climactic if you ask me.

Just before we left for the airport, my nephews managed to secure a bottle of "The Works" toilet bowl cleaner, which can be mixed with small balls of tinfoil in a sealed water bottle to make a really excellent explosion. Unfortunately, we had to leave before I could get a video of this wondrous project. Be careful with this one though, because if you approach the container after it has been armed and it explodes in your face, you can get serious acid burns.

On Sunday afternoon, before we left for the airport, we had my mom over from the nursing home for an early birthday celebration for her. On the first day of spring she turns 39 again. Happy Birthday, you spring chick you.


rainmaker2112 said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry..perhaps I'll do both. Laugh at the amazing nephew and cry out in pain as my back, neck, and other assundry items attached to my spine ache just watching the contortions.

BTW, we have to get the recipe for the projectiles, since the cousins are amped to do the same here. My worry is that they'll create a launch vehicle and use 4lbs of baking soda and two gallons of vinegar. They figure it might be a free way to get to Houston to see the cousins..

Kevin said...

Owe...that looks painful. I used to be able to do a backbend but not like that. :(