Rockets, popsicles, and other birthday stories.

Photos from my 24th Birthday Party this weekend are up here. There are also a few movies up, linked from here.
We left Boston at 11 on Saturday morning, but ran into traffic on the pike. It took us at least 4 hours to make the usual 2.5 hour trip to Albany. However, when we arrived, there were cold beers and a hot barbeque waiting for us.
After eating and chilling by the fire pit, we went out on the circle to fire off the toy rocket Amanda had brought with her. Amanda works for Hasbro, and this is one of the toys she designed. It’s basically a water-and-air-powered bottle rocket with a huge inflatable balloon at one end. It goes pretty high, as you’ll see from the video, and we had a lot of fun pushing it to the limit of air pressure the tube could take. We actually burst the plastic tubing connecting the pump to the rocket launcher, and so ended up taking the pump apart, reconnecting the tube, and trying it all over again, with a bucket of water close at hand so we could pump it up more without the heat from the pump bursting the tube again. A bunch of the neighbors and their kids were watching the whole affair; a couple of the neighbor kids actually helped launch the thing a few times.
The centerpiece of the weekend occurred when we decided to launch the rocket over the house, which required us to disable the safety which prevents you from launching the rocket when it’s not vertical. Luckily, we had the designer with us, so this was not a problem. We did a horizontal launch, and the rocket successfully landed in the backyard — in a tree. The next two hours were spent extracting the thing from the tree, using tennis balls, fishing line, a little brain power, some bourbon, and Wally’s fabulous pitching arm. About par for the course for my group of friends, I’d say.
After our engineering adventures, we went back to the yard and had some dinner. Some of my friends from home stopped by, which was nice; my dad shared cigars with several of the guys; we moved from beer to bourbon. Mint juleps were the drink of the night. We played piano and guitar, sang; some people started a card game, some read; near the end of the evening, several of us were reminding ourselves of our purity scores and calculating our dot counts — an exercise which ended in drunken recollections of romantic entanglements and some entertaining words from Josh and Jocelyn.
By 4 a.m., we were beat, and so we set up the cots and mattresses and hit the hay. We were up too early the next morning, but the delicious eggs and coffee soothed our aching heads, if not Wally’s and my sunburns (acquired while riding sunblockless in the Corvair for four hours). The day consisted of more singing, more barbeque, some Ultimate, soccer, and badminton, and an inspired trip by Wally to the Thnikkaman, or rather, the ice cream truck. He came back with a dozen various popsicles, with an emphasis on patriotic colors, which we enjoyed after running around in the yard. Thanks, Thnikkaman (and Thnikkaman’s assistant)!
Before we left, we had another test flight of the rocket, this time with a football lodged in the nose instead of the balloon. This made for some great nose-down falls to earth, much to our delight and that of the neighbors.
We left around dinnertime, to much cooler weather and skies threatening rain. We were pretty beat when we arrived back in Boston.
Thanks to everyone who came, and to my folks for being such great hosts. It was a wonderful birthday.


4 thoughts on “Rockets, popsicles, and other birthday stories.

  1. Just a comment on syntax: Though prob. everyone reading this post reads “designer” as “engineer,” my artist friends at Hasbro would call foul. Here in the world of toys, a designer refers only to the people who do the industrial design, and never the engineer. And if something is “designed” it refers to the shape and colors, not the engineering.
    It is an amusing use of the word since my title is Product Design Engineer, and as anyone can tell you who has ever had me explain something to them through drawings, I am no artist.

  2. and yet
    honesty is the best policy
    and it’s own reward
    even though you were right in the first place

  3. what’s a URL? Shouldn’t that be ural–like ural come back again y’hear.
    Daddy Good Doctor sent me your blag (interesting misprint) address and I thought I’d check it out. He and your mom admire you and your friends so much that I had to see for myself what the cheering was all about. I now know.
    Happy Belated Birthday.
    Your southern cheering section,
    Marty and Donna

  4. Hey Marty & Donna! Nice to hear from you. =) I’m sorry I wasn’t able to be in good ol Smalbs for your recen visit to the folks, but it’s surely not the last opportunity for our paths to cross.
    Besides, from all accounts, you folks had a blast without me. 😉

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