2014

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Bits and Tidbits about Sparklers

A sparkler is a form of firework that you can normally hold safely in your hands. Unlike firecrackers, it is not meant to explode. Unlike roman candles, it does not discharge stars or comet shells. Instead, it burns slowly and steadily while emitting a brilliant, sometimes colored, shower of sparks. In the United States, it is customary to celebrate the Fourth of July with sparklers along with other fireworks display. Sparklers fall under the “1.4G” in the federal U.S. Fireworks Classification, meaning they are consumer fireworks that you can ordinarily buy from any retail outlet without any special permit. However, some states may impose additional restrictions. In fact, in Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, all kinds of consumer fireworks are not allowed. In Colorado, consumer fireworks that are not explicitly permitted by the state’s law are deemed prohibited. Fortunately, sparklers are among those explicitly permitted by the state, along with fountains, ground spinners, glow worms, trick noisemakers and other novelty items. How are sparklers made? Typically, a sparkler consists of a wire or stick that has been dipped into a slurry or batter of pyrotechnic chemicals, including aluminum, magnesium, iron or zinc dust, potassium chloride, charcoal, and a solution of dextrin and boric acid with water. Other ingredients may be added to produce special effects. For instance, if barium nitrate is added, you will have green sparks. If strontium nitrate is used instead, you will have red sparks. If ferrotitanium is mixed, you will have golden sparks. The chemicals however have to be exactly proportioned according to formula. Otherwise, there is risk that they may explode. Once dried, when one end of the chemically-coated wire or stick is ignited, it will slowly burn until it reaches the un-coated part. If made according to exact specifications, the un-coated end of the wire or stick should be safe to hold while the sparkler is in the process of burning. History of sparklers Most historians generally credit the Chinese for having invented gunpowder and fireworks around 2,000 years ago. However, it was the Germans who were actually responsible for making the first sparklers in recorded history according to Dennis Manochio Sr., the curator of the Fourth of July Americana & Fireworks Museum in Saratoga, California, and the historian of the American Pyrotechnic Association. According to Manochio’s account, around the 1850s, the Germans learned to dip wire into a paste of gunpowder and iron dust to make wunderkerzen, literally meaning “sparklers.” In 1894, they introduced aluminum into the formula [...]

By |2019-03-15T02:10:33+00:00June 30th, 2014|4th July, Holidays, Sparklers|1 Comment

Competitive Eater Crazy Legs Conti

Major League Eating sponsors competitive eating contests around the world. In the following interview we talk about them. They run about 80 contests a year. This is primarily an interview with Crazy Legs Conti a competitive eater and several time champion.   Crazy Legs Conti uses Zen to prepare for contests. Zen is "a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition."    

Fireworks and Safety for the 4th of July

Fireworks are part of the July 4th celebrations. They are synonymous to the nation’s birthday as backyard barbecues, parades down the main street, and apple pie. They are relatively safe if only people use their common sense. There are also some easy to follow rules that make handling fireworks in County fairgrounds safer. But even with the rules, it seems like people ignore the rules. Each year people are brought to the emergency room due to fireworks-related injuries around the July 4th celebrations. People should remember that fireworks are dangerous and can cause serious burns. If you are tasked to set up fireworks at the county fairgrounds, there are some things that you must do first. One of the first things you need to do is to make sure you have already appointed a firing team. It should be composed of no more than three people with one person serving as the leader of the group. Members of the firing team must have experience of lighting fireworks and have knowledge of safety regulations.   Organizing the Fireworks Display You must ensure that the firing site can accommodate all the fireworks you intend to fire. There must be ample spacing in order to avoid accidental firing of fireworks. Don’t forget to read the instructions on all the fireworks. Each item behaves differently and might be required to be set up and installed in several ways. Make sure that the right side is facing the audience, especially the fan style cakes. There are some types that are required to be buried in soft earth or attached to wooden stakes buried in the ground. These are candles, fountains, and cakes. If they are attached to wooden stakes, they should be attached with strong cloth tape to ensure that the firework stays behind the stake and doesn’t fall over or face the crowd. The fireworks must be angled away from the crowd. If the weather is not too nice, you can use plastic bags to keep fireworks dry. Some fountains have a cone shape and make them hard to be attached to anything. You can place the fountain on a flat surface and avoid placing it on the grass that could make the firework unstable and tip over. Rockets should be launched from tubes. You can make a DIY project using plumbing pipe. Just make sure that the stick of the rocket can freely liftoff form the pipe. It must not get stuck in the pipe. If the rocket has a [...]

Saint Patrick’s Day History

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated every March 17th to commemorate the death anniversary of Saint Patrick, and more recently, to celebrate all things Irish. On that day, parades and festivals are held, people pack the pubs, and green is everywhere. As with the shamrock - the tree-leaf clover symbol of Ireland which, it is said, Saint Patrick used in his teachings about the Holy Trinity. But who is Saint Patrick? He is the patron saint of Ireland. However, he is not Irish. He was born in Rome-occupied Britain around A.D. 390 to a wealthy, landed family of prominent Christians. His father was a deacon. When he was sixteen, Saint Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders. He was brought to Ireland where he was made to work as a slave. For more than six years, he was tasked with the duty of tending sheep in the mountainous parts of the countryside where there were no other people. While there, it is said that he heard a disembodied voice directing him to escape and telling him how. Following instructions from the voice, he walked about 200 miles to the coast where he somehow managed to get passage on a pirate ship back to Britain. Though already back in the safety of his native land, Saint Patrick did not return to the comfortable lifestyle that was his during his early years. Instead, he opted to become a priest. He trained for more than 15 years to become a missionary. Compelled by an angel that appeared to him in a vision, he decided to return to Ireland to spread Christianity. As Saint Patrick was already familiar with the language, culture and ancient customs of the Irish, he was able to use the existing beliefs and terminology of the ethnic population to illustrate and better explain the teachings of the Christian church. For instance, to make the veneration of the cross easier for them, he incorporated a sun, a powerful Druid symbol, into the traditional Christian cross to create what is now known as the Celtic cross. Saint Patrick’s second time around in Ireland was almost just as harsh as when he was first brought there as a slave by the raiders. He was incessantly harassed by the Irish royalty as well as robbed and beaten by the local thugs. Nonetheless, he persevered. For thirty years, he continued to evangelize. He baptized thousands and built churches, monasteries and schools. He died on March 17, 461 A.D., and was immediately canonized as a [...]

By |2017-07-02T22:20:55+00:00March 4th, 2014|2014, Holidays, St. Patrick's Day|0 Comments

New Year traditions to bring good luck to your home

For most of us, the New Year means hope for a new beginning, another chance to make a positive difference not only in our own lives but also to those around us. It signifies another opportunity for us to become a better, healthier, more beautiful, and more successful version of who we currently are. Typically, we’d make a list, literally or figuratively, of our New Year’s resolutions. Typically too, we’d invoke or evoke good luck to come our way to help us bring to completion what we resolve to do and/or be in the coming 12 months. Superstitious or not, we cling to certain traditional practices for inviting good luck into our homes and into our lives on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. If they work, that’s well and good. If not, there’s no harm done in having tried. Of course, the actual practices for invoking or evoking or summoning good fortune varies depending on which cultural milieu you came from. If your roots are Latin American, chances are you’d be wearing bright red or yellow underpants on your way to welcoming the New Year. If you’re from Italy or Portugal, you’d probably be eating 12 grapes from a bunch at the stroke of midnight. If you’re from the Philippines, you’d likely be in polka dots and munching on as many assorted round fruits as possible as you clink away at the coins which fill up your pockets. Among people belonging to a common nationality or culture, there are certain beliefs they usually share that doing certain things on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day will somehow affect how the coming days and months ahead will turn out eventually. Most like the Chinese employ public ceremonial dancing and fireworks displays to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. The Dutch set their Christmas trees on fire and build bonfires on the street as they light fireworks and parade about and around the town. Panamanians on the other hand prefer to burn effigies of their politicians and other well-known personalities. The Scots hold parades of men who swing fireballs attached to poles around and over their heads. The Danes throw plates and glasses against the doors of their friends and relatives while Colombians walk around their neighborhoods carrying empty suitcases. And South Africans throw old appliances and other heavy things out their windows, just as the Japanese visit their temples to hear the bells chime 108 times. For many Americans, well, their New Year’s Day [...]

By |2017-07-03T18:06:27+00:00December 27th, 2013|2013|0 Comments

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