I've been on vacation.
If you're very lucky, you know a place that feels like it's the calm in the center of the universe. For me, Little River Lake, in White Rock, Nova Scotia is just such a place. We've spent time there every summer for about 20 years.
The highlight this year, beyond seeing friends and family again, was fireworks. The key to this was the discovery of Fireworks F/X, a few
miles km down the road. Every summer I search for fireworks. And I've usually been able to find small, single shot units at the local hardware store. And for quite a few years, the locals have told me that I need to go to Grand Pre for the good stuff.
I stole this description of Grand Pre from a tourist site:
Adjacent to the town of Wolfville is Grand Pre, or "Great Meadow", stretches east from the Acadian dykes which excluded the tides of the Minas Basin. Grand Pre National Historic Park marks the site of the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, and it has become a symbol of the preservation of the Acadian People.
For over three hundred years, the village of Grand Pre has provided a home for immigrant farmers and artisans. The first Acadian settlers traveled east from Champlain's original settlement in Annapolis Royal in 1680. This group of industrious farmers engineered the complex system of dykes along the shores of the Minas Basin and nurtured what would become the agricultural heartlands of Nova Scotia.
Today, Grand Pre is the home of a growing number of artisans as well as a National Park and a variety of tourist facilities.
Not the first place I expected to find a great selection of the "good stuff". Besides, I could never get more information than "it's in Grand Pre".
But this year Bob gave me a web site and a phone number. Soon, I had directions: "Turn right at the intersection and look for the sign." The place looks like a farm. And the folks there seem like typically friendly and helpful Nova Scotians, but their sentences are peppered with words like aerials, shock tubes, batteries, bomblettes, fountains, cones, strobes, firing system and cakes. And they have the good stuff.
And the more good stuff you buy, the cheaper it gets, so you can load up.
So here was the plan. First, find a suitable rock in the center of the lake. In the daytime, take a big tub full of dirt and leave it there. Shuttle a cardboard box full of explosives, a "BernzOMatic ignition system", a fire extinguisher, a few flashlights and a camera and tripod to the rock.
At dusk, head back out ...
and wait for darkness.
Doug1 was in charge of ignition.
Doug2 was in charge of fire safety. In particular, he was responsible for ensuring that any burning pieces of space junk didn't fall into our rubber boat or cardboard box of fireworks.
Here he is, keeping a close watch on the boat and box of fireworks.
It took us a couple of tries to really get the logistics right. On the first night, we didn't even start until dark. That was the first mistake we corrected. Then we changed rocks from a small round one to a medium sized flat one. We also figured out a way to secure the boat line to a medium sized flat rock. Finally, after firing the first set of fireworks, we debated the need to soak the spent carcasses in water prior to loading them into the gasoline powered rubber boat. We debated this over a beer, on the far side of rock. When we turned around to leave, the pile of junk had spontaneously burst into a nice, but slightly smelly campfire. Clearly this was just another example of a scenario with watercraft, the darkness of night and explosives, made safer by beer.
The view up close is different, but very good.
In most of these photos, it looks reasonably bright on the rock. That's a result of the fact that I was using a combination of time exposures and a flash in the same image. It was pitch dark. In the photo below, the camera self timer tripped the flash just as Doug was putting some distance between himself and the fuse he had just lit. A second later we heard Doug hit the rock and mumble something about a blinding light (paraphrasing from Doug's exact words). Fortunately, Doug, the Maglight and the torch were not damaged.
I'm still struggling to understand how we could have made that scenario safer with beer.
We did pull off a few synchronized ignitions (a cake and a roman candle) with no injuries.
It was a blast.
As always, the hard part is saying goodbye. Thanks again folks for making us welcome.
I'm back to work now, and we're wrapping up V2 of the .NET Compact Framework and planning some cool new stuff for V3. Our backwards compatibility, stability and performance are all looking very good. I think you'll like it.
There is still great opportunity on the team for experienced and passionate systems levels people, with expertise in operating systems, compilers, graphics and/or networking.
Check out the video:
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.
You can be fairly sure Microsoft is not advocating that you take any safety guidance from me.