Monday, September 08, 2008

Adolescent Male Ingenuity and Knowledge Transfer

Kim and I were visiting Ben and Heather in Santa Monica this weekend and I got to see their newborn boy for the first time. While we were there the subject of kids and trouble came up and I explained that they have a boy-child and the likelihood of people coming to their front door and telling them outrageous, shocking things that their child had just done is absolutely, positively certain.

The kind of backyard/basement/garage technology, knowledge transfer that happens among prepubescent and adolescent boys is phenomenal and somewhat frightening. I watched my older brother and his friends, and hence learned to do things like:

1. Construct tennis ball cannons using simply a tennis ball can, a tennis ball and some lighter fluid. This kid's version is a little bit more elaborate with the PVC barrel but you get the point. The fact that he uses a syringe to measure out the lighter fluid cracks me up. we just squirted a bunch in the can's hole and all over the ball so that the launched ball would be a flaming projectile.

2. We also made hot air balloons using 2 balsa wood sticks and light, cheap trash bags. We would put a piece of tinfoil with a dollop of sterno where the sticks crossed and light that as the hot air balloon's fuel source. One of these landed on a neighbor's roof and burned a hole through the shingles. He was not pleased.

The things we did with the black powder my father used to reload shotgun shells is just fucking scary and I can't share that.

This would actually make for fascinating blog, collected stories of prepubescent technological mayhem. "The Dangerous Book for Boys" is pedestrian and cute. The things kids figure out, do and share with each other would blow your mind.


Bob Ichter said...
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Bob Ichter said...

Right on,

As a child I spent weeks constructing a scale model of the USS Constitution that had 4 or 5 decks and like a mile of rigging. Inside each deck I placed prescription bottles of gasoline and firecrackers. the day I finished the model, I lit the fuses and ran about 50 feet was not far enough...a six inch section of one of the masts blew into my chest [ it only went about a half inch in, luckily ]
I also once found a friend's father's gun and bullets...I think it was a .38 , I took a bullet and placed it on top of a bb gun that i was balancing vertically...and fired the bb gun. Not so smart. The bullet, without being in the barrel of a gun, just exploded [ right next to my head ] again luck was on my side, and none of the shrapnel hit me, but I was deaf in one ear for more than a day

Thomas Sherman said...

Nicely done. I really do think there is a book or a documentary here somewhere on the subject of adolescent mayhem.