2000 Notebook: Transition XXX
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4 September 2000
Let’s Make a Bomb!
Ask any boy: making bombs is fun and exciting.


Before we get to the fun bits, do heed the usual caveats. These instructions are intended for aesthetic and recreation purposes; be nice to everyone and everything. Don’t attempt this if you’re under twenty-one years old (except for the Azerbaijan Republic, where you need to be twenty-two years of age). And since bombs almost always make a huge mess, don’t detonate your bomb in a civilized location.

Here’s what you need:

30 grams of baking soda
120 milliliters of vinegar
60 milliliters of warm water
a plastic bag
a paper towel

Cut the paper towel down to a 125 millimeter square, then pour the baking soda into the middle. Fold the towel into an envelope with care, as if preparing a love letter. Put the wrapped baking soda into the plastic bag, add the liquids, seal the bag, then prepare to be amazed.

Kabooooom! Behold the awesome power of fizz!

Now popping a plastic bag might not sound that scary, but it might be. Commanders at the United States Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado blocked their underlings from accessing the above formula when it was published elsewhere. That’s truly true.

I’ve come up with a couple of explanations why the military censors blocked the young warriors’ access to recreational bombing. From what I understand about soldiering, one of the goals of military training is to transform young people into young killers. What if the young recruits decided to drop fizzy bombs on enemies? Perhaps with an indelible dye in the water to indicate who’s “dead” and who isn’t?

On the other hand, if the formula were increased to, say, a thousand kilograms of baking soda, four thousand liters of vinegar and two thousand liters of warm water, then what? I’m sure someone in the Pentagon has photographs of such experiment on file somewhere; I’d love to see them.

5 September 2000
Drinking to the Ozone Hole
Science confuses me, mostly because I don’t even try to understand it. I just love to float in a pleasantly confusing fog of facts and statistics.

I just learned that the North Pole is now, for the first time in fifty thousand years (or is that fifty million years?), covered in molten water, not ice. Since the North Pole is an integral part of the globe, and since it’s warmer there than it used to be, I can only assume that this is an example of that global warming thing.

It turns out it’s hotter there because there’s a hole in the ozone. Here’s the scary bit: it’s my fault. I drank the hole in the ozone, and perhaps you helped.

Actually, fermentation is the culprit. Every molecule of alcohol is accompanied by a molecule of carbon dioxide. Every time I drink a pint of beer, there’s another fifteen liters of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Quaff a magnum of wine, and there’s hundred liters of CO2 headed off to attack the ozone. (My sources don’t mention the name of the zone that replaced the ozone. Since CO2 destroys the ozone, perhaps the ozone hole should be renamed the “co2zone hole,” or simply “cozone hole.”

Why do science stories almost always have unhappy endings?

6 September 2000
The Artist’s Life, Explained
Rosemary just dropped by to visit my private laboratory, and commented on a few items. Specifically, she noted the three empty forty-ounce bottles of Rainier Ale, the open can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, the empty pasta pan from last night’s feast, four empty coffee cups, and a tall stack of unread periodicals.

Her comments were neither positive nor constructive, so I tried to explain to poor Rosemary the mechanics of an artist’s life.

“Take the empty forty-ounce bottles of Rainier Ale,” I said. “It wouldn’t make any sense to keep full ones in an unrefrigerated room, would it? It does, however, make perfect sense to keep the chipotle peppers handy, since they’re good with everything.”

“And what’s your excuse for the dirty dishes?” Rosemary asked.

“Inspiration,” I replied. “It’s important not to do anything without inspiration, and it’s been a day or two since I was inspired to do the washing up.”

“Inspiration’s mysterious,” I added, since she was apparently unfamiliar with that elusive state.

“So why do you have a big pile of old magazines and newspapers you’ll probably never read?” she inquired.

“It’s never too late to better yourself!,” I responded cheerfully.

“I just can’t understand how you can live like an animal,” Rosemary said shaking her head.

“I thought I explained things clearly,” I concluded. “Anyway, it’s better than living like a vegetable.”

And at that very moment, Rosemary and I both noticed a tiny island of mold in the sea of adobo sauce.

7 September 2000
Three Hundred More Ideas
I showed Andrea four different designs I thought she should consider for her new publication. She didn’t like any of them.

“Do you have any other ideas?” she asked.

“Of course,” I assured her. “I have at least three hundred more ideas; it’s just that I haven’t thought of them yet.”

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8 September 2000
Be Very Afraid
Be afraid; be very afraid. I just bought a Steinberger bass guitar, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Soon, I shall release horrific, terrible, and painful sounds into the world. Soon, my headache will be your headache.

You have been warned.

9 September 2000
Everyone Needs an Editor
I saw a huge fallen oak tree on Lucas Valley Road when Sharon and I were driving up to Petaluma today.

“Wow,” I exclaimed, “it’s a good thing that I don’t have my view camera with me, otherwise we’d need to stop for half an hour to make another f64 photograph.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’d pull off the road to let you make yet another cliché,” she said.

I appreciated her candor. Everyone needs an editor.

10 September 2000
Gary? Garry?
I saw a photograph by Garry Winogrand today, and wondered if I’d spelled his name correctly in previous notebook entries. (Years ago, a member of the so-called Friends of Photography had a major hissy fit when I misspelled “Duane Michals” as “Duane Michaels.” Ever since then, I’ve been more careful about spelling artists’ names.)

I checked my notebooks, and found I called him both Gary and Garry. I searched the Internet to verify the spelling, and found nine hundred and forty nine references to “Garry Winogrand.”

That, however, is not the end of the story. I also found four hundred and ninety-four pages that included the name, “Gary Winogrand.” Learned academics and prestigious publications both used different spellings. It’s impossible to figure out the correct spelling, seeing as how Winogrand died years ago.

As a result of the spelling stalemate, I have decided to leave both entries as I wrote them. Not only is this an equitable solution, it also requires absolutely no work on my part.

Gary or Garry? It’s your choice.

11 September 2000
A Very Brave Aesthetic Move
I heard about some Mexican musicians who change the name of their ensemble every time they release a new recording. One of the performers said they did so in order to continually reinvent themselves.

I think that has to be one of the bravest aesthetic strategies ever. I cannot imagine ever having the courage to present my new work without being known as the author of my previous pieces. If my new creation fails to satisfy (as is too often the case), it looks like someone whose previous efforts were somewhat successful just had a bad day. Or perhaps a lapse in judgment.

The musicians in question were talented as well as brave. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what any of their incarnations were called. Oh well, it’s better to be brave than functional.

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©2000 David Glenn Rinehart