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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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one book nearly changed my life in a bad way
Dyes, Explosives and Foodstuffs.

A school textbook- yes, really. Myself and a couple of school friends thought we might be able to use our chemistry knowledge for the nefarious purposes of making flash-bang pyrotechnics and latterly, rockets. All worked well for a little while- film canisters made excellent pots for holding quantities of powder, mixed up from chemicals that we bought from various sources- magnesium and zinc powder and sodium nitrate from an academic laboratory supplier (posing as 'office junior' for a special effects company with the aid of a faked ID card (letraset back in those days!) and of course you can buy sulphur over the counter at boots (for some reason!). That just left the carbon- one bag of barbecue briquettes and a burned out coffee grinder later we had carbon powder a plenty.

Some of the 'flares' looked pretty impressive, even in daytime but they had a habit of going 'out' rather than 'up' so I later adapted a short length of towel rail (sturdy metal pipe with chrome plating) so that the burn could be longer and more directed. Hammer down one end in a sort of crimp and the result was great.

At that point one of my friends thought that we could make our own rockets by- well, just turning the thing the other way up before igniting the propellant. His plan was to use a length of aluminium tent pole and mix the basic black powder with zinc, and by heck his rockets would fly well.

I used magnesium powder instead (liked the bright sparks it created) but tried to go 'lightweight composite' and sawed a length of giant bamboo to make the body of my rocket. Unfortunately the propellant was too vigorous for this plant-derived casing and it promptly exploded.

Aw shit. But, hey, that was kinda cool.

I went back to the metal pipe idea and wondered if the 'fuel' would shoot a projectile out of the end? I had some aluminium capacitors at home that fitted the 'barrel' more or less so fixed the tube to a wooden handle to aim with, and drilled a small hole in the crimped end so I could ignite the mix with match heads.

First test firing worked well, a sooty 'phoom' and the capacitor flew good and true. I took it home, pleased, and reloaded. the next one went better than expected, in that instead of a sooty 'phoom' there was a very loud bang and a bright flash that temporarily dazzled me, so much so that it was difficult to run away shitting my pants in fright. But as soon as I realised I was OK the next stage of the plan came on.

I wasn't a fan of blowing myself up so back to the rockets idea. In an effort to increase the flame velocity I crimped down both ends and just left the small hole drilled in the end for ignition AND exhaust.

Let's just say I was glad not to be standing closeby when 'launch time' came along. Ignition? Set. Countdown (running away) 5-4-3- BLAM!!!!!

Me and my friends legged it as it was obvious the sound would be audible for 1/2 a mile away... unfortunately (perhaps fortunately?) someone called the police with a description of a gaggle of 16-year olds WITH A DOG (the clincher) had been seen running away from the explosion. We were rumbled, I had to 'fess up and was marched back to the scene by my dad to pick up the remains of the tube which had been blown apart like a comedy peeled banana.

The funny thing was, the police let me off with a caution because I admitted that I'd made the device from chemicals and engineering tools rather than just chucking fireworks about and they didn't want to put a blotch on my young life with a criminal record.

So stay in school kids, but don't blow things up.
(, Mon 19 May 2008, 19:05, closed)
I learned at a young age
that making explosives was surprisingly easy. Basically all you need is something combustible and an oxidising agent to make it combust more rapidly.

There are other types, usually compounds which are naturally unstable (azides and other highly nitrated materials are useful) and can be detonated by shock, but they're more complicated. However, simple explosives are well within the realm of schoolboy science.

There is an element of Darwinian selection at work when making one's own explosives of course, and fortunately I was sufficiently careful to ensure my own survival.
(, Mon 19 May 2008, 19:13, closed)
Excellent
A proper story for a change, and not a sodding book review.

*clicks*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 0:22, closed)
*click*
What Kaol said ^^

I think that reading should be beneficial. Since you're going to the effort of poring through the text, you should certainly gain some sort of benefit. Although it's not actually tangible, knowledge of explosives or even something shite like cake decorating for that matter is something you can take with you as a benefit of having read a book.

I've read plenty of fiction (usually on beach holidays, bored, before I found fishing) and gave it up for the sole reason that one is much the same as the other. Good authors can keep you amused with clever quips or witty lines but great authors are those who actually give you something to take with you.

Just my humble.....
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:05, closed)
Of course if you did it today you'd be looking at 5-10 as you
would clearly be a member of a terrorist cell.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:34, closed)
You as well, eh?
The number of things I blew up as a teenager as a result of over-enthusiastic text books and a garden centre that wouldn't stop selling us weedkiller.

We were caught as well - down the chalkpits, running around in combat jackets - and we blamed "bigger kids made us do it".
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 11:54, closed)
Did you
Get away with blaming the bigger "kids"?
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 12:34, closed)
@Kaol
Yes. Yes I did.

I weedkilled my garden this week, and noted to my sadness that it is now sold with fire suppressants.

What a terr'ists supposed to use these days?
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 13:28, closed)

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