Fireworks for the 4th!

Snapped this photo Friday evening, at Oxford's annual 4th of July fireworks show. The show gets better every year; not bad for a small town pryotechnics display.

I was using my FinePix SL1000 on the 'fireworks' setting. This was my first time out with that camera and that setting. Partway through the show, I managed to change a setting with my nose, and never quite managed to undo what I did (it was dark, I foolishly neglected to bring a penlight, and the fireworks show waits for no man). So of the 212 pictures I took, I got seven images I liked.

Before the city moved the fireworks show to the baseball stadium, they held it at Avent Park. The park is tiny, but there's a big grassy hill upon which the crowd would throw down blankets and lie back to watch the show.

The usual procedure, in those days, was for the fireworks to be set out in rows of tubes. Each tube was anchored to a wide plank. A fleet-footed fireman would run down the plank, lighting fuses as he went, and the various rockets would launch themselves skyward, to the delight of the by-then moderately pickled crowd of townsfolk.

I was there when, after the final firework was lit, the mounting plank fell over, aiming the entire row of powerful fireworks directly into the crowd reclining on the hillside.

Pandemonium ensued. Explosions rang out. Trails of fire criss-crossed the park, each terminating in a deafening blast and blinding shower of sparks and secondary explosions. People ran, stumbling, gasping, tripping over kids and coolers and each other in a blind panicked charge toward safety.

It was the most amazing, awe-inspiring fireworks show I ever attended.

There were no injuries. People laughed and gathered their stuff and because this was a far simpler time, there were no lawsuits, no public outcries. Just a lot of laughing, some scuffs and bruises, and the fireworks moved out of the park after that.

I missed a couple of good shots this year because a bevy of half a dozen imbeciles chose the middle of a fireworks show in which to parade around talking. Seriously, who goes to a bleeding fireworks show and then ambles around in front of my camera while the show is in progress? Where was it the lot of you pea-brained pachyderms just had to go, in a herd, at that precise and specific moment?

And who puts their backs to the fireworks?

Next time out, in addition to my small flashlight, I'm going to put a Super Soaker water cannon in my toolkit. I'm going to fill it with blue dye, and I'm going to paint those suckers the moment they amble, cavort, gambol, sashay, or otherwise promenade or creep in front of my tripod. Take that, ambulatory arse-heads.

Thanks. I feel better now.

Markhat News

As by now even remote tribes deep in the Amazonian jungles know, the new Markhat book is out. It's gotten a number of five-star reviews on Amazon so far, which is always great to see. 

The book is also available from Kobo. I've been looking at their e-readers and marketplace, and I'm  impressed. Amazon should be too -- those are some nice e-readers, and the Kobo store supports every format imaginable, not just a single Kobo format. In fact, Kobo offers all the Markhat books!

The new Markhat title, The Darker Carnival,  is still out for consideration. I will of course let you know the nanosecond word is received. Unless the word is 'no,' in which case I will remain silent and motionless in the fetal position until next Arbor Day. Such is the way of my people.

The deep re-write of the new Mug and Meralda book continues.

Ghost Machine

Pictured below is the  prototype for my new ghost-hunting gadget. I don't have a name for it yet, and I won't go into the specifics because A) that would probably be boring and B) it doesn't work yet. 

Please excuse the state of the work-bench. It The surface is clean, believe it or not, but it endures all manner of abuse, chemical, thermal, and mechanical. Oh, and the plain black box in the middle (more or less) of the photo?

That's an amplifier with a gain of 3000. It's so sensitive I can plug a magnetic probe into it, and hear music played over my phone with the speakers turned off and no headphones inserted -- the amp can easily pick up the tiny electrical signals being pumped into the headphone port, from a distance. It's just a single part of the new gadget, but I'm really proud of it anyway.

I'm hoping to snatch truly faint EVPs out of the air with this rig. Right now, I'm a long way from that, but those coils were just to test the oscillators anyway. The real ones will be much larger.

Hey DARPA -- feel like funding some really out-of-the-box stuff?

Last Words

Okay, all this writing isn't going to do itself. Take care people!

See you all next week.