Archives for : June2019

Fireworks Facts

Photo by Yuiizaa September on Unsplash

Hope you have a happy Fourth of July. If you’re like me, you will probably see a ton of fireworks. There’s something fascinating about those splatters of light in the sky –something that tugs at the emotions and captures the imagination.

Everyone in my family has a favorite. A nephew especially enjoys the salutes. My aunt likes the ones that twinkle as they fall.

Ever wonder how these displays came about? Here’s what my research turned up:

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

1. Most people trace the invention of fireworks/gunpowder to an unfortunate Chinese alchemist who unintentionally heated sulfur and salt peter (potassium nitrate). It was an explosive discovery.

2. The Chinese call gunpowder “huo yao,” which means fire chemical.

3. Early fireworks gave off more bang than light. As they exploded, people saw only a brief golden light.

4. Apparently the Chinese made the first fireworks by shoving gunpowder into bamboo reeds. They exploded them during their New Year’s celebration in hopes of frightening away evil spirits.

5. It’s believed that Marco Polo introduced gunpowder to Europe.

6. Around 1830, Italians began to add trace amounts of metal into the gunpowder, which “colored the explosions.”

7. Copper, for example, creates blue tinted light.

8. Aluminum and magnesium make a golden light.

9. Not surprisingly, other metals make other effects. Zinc creates clouds of smoke and titanium causes sparks.

10. Although onlookers have always enjoyed fireworks, they continue to be dangerous. May 16, 1770, is the date of one of the biggest fireworks tragedies. A fireworks display celebrating the marriage of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette went awry and caused a stampede, which killed some 800 people. Not eight or eighty but 800!

11. Even in recent years, the danger element hasn’t disappeared. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that “fireworks devices were involved in an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in the U.S. hospital emergency departments during the calendar year 2002.”

12. Here’s an interesting statistic. Three times as many males are hurt in fireworks-related incidents than females, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

13. Although I enjoy watching fireworks, I don’t encourage people to set off their own. My suggestion: Consider attending fireworks displays put on by professionals in local parks or on lakefronts.

Correctly handled, fireworks can be a stunning way to celebrate special events. In the United States, we’ve used fireworks to celebrate Independence Day since 1776. 

That’s when John Adams declared, “The day (Independence Day) will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. … It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”

But I’d like to hear about your holiday. Are you planning to see the fireworks? Which ones impress you most?


Checking Out the Local Geese-13 Facts

Lately, I’ve had fun watching geese parade goslings around our local park. Perhaps you have some geese near you, and you might be interested in the facts I’ve gleaned about them.

  1. In 2015, the geese population in North America 2015 was between 4.2 and 5.6 million.
  2. Geese like to eat grass, but they’ll also wolf down seeds, berries, skunk cabbage, and eel grass.
  3. Believe it or not, but more than one site reported that geese really enjoy blueberries.
  4. Many experts believe Canadian Geese mate for life.
  5. After they hook up, they like to build nests on the ground in a slightly elated area that is near water.
  6. Many times, they make their nests on lawns. You might see them on golf courses. They prefer short grass heights because it gives them an unobstructed view so it’s easy for them to spot predators.
  7. Their nests are bowls of weeds, grass, and sticks that they line in down.
  8. Goose moms lay about 2-8 creamy white eggs.
  9. Mom incubates these eggs for 42-50 days, while Dad guards her.
  10. Hatchlings are born with their eyes open and covered in yellowish down.
  11. After only a day or two, they can toddle out of the nest.
  12. At about four weeks old, the gosling’s wing and tail feathers sprout. They’re black, but the gosling hasn’t lost the fluffy yellow down on his back.
  13. A baby goose won’t be about to fly until they are seven to nine weeks old. At which time, he’s lost his yellow feathers, and grown. He resembles his parents. Even though he looks like mom and dad, he will likely remain with them until he’s around a year old.

Do you like to watch geese? Or do you find them annoying? I know several of my neighbors do. They ask me not to feed them. Don’t worry. I don’t, but I will confess to photographing them. Here a few of my favorite shots.