Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

"So I guess a rocket is standard picnicking equipment in Japan, isn't it?" - Tom Servo, MST3K


Row upon row of trophies for the Space Derby. Do you want one as much as I The Boy does?

It’s 1957, and in October the Soviet Union (the Bad Guys, for those who slept through freshman history) launches Sputnik atop kerosene-oxygen stored kinetic energy. As the rocket slips the surly bounds of Earth for the heavens, America quakes in anticipation of Soviet attack.

It’s 2007, and in October Cub Scout Pack 8675309 launches a whole heiney-load of balsa wood rockets horizontally along fishing line atop a blast of propeller wash and rubber-band-stored kinetic energy. As the rockets slip the surly bounds of the Launching Point for the other side, Houston, Texas quakes in anticipation of who will win the Cub Scout Pack’s massive trophy for first place in the Space Derby.

The Boy (and The Mrs. and I, to some tiny extent) had built the rocket the previous week. I had looked on the box and had guessed that the rocket on the box was just a quick bit of assembly of various parts. It sat on my computer unopened for nearly a month after the first pack meeting. I guessed that completion would take thirty minutes, tops. Oops. I seem to have miscalculated. The level of effort required to complete the kit was not unlike the level of effort required by the Soviets to get Sputnik up in the air, since the kit was two bricks of balsa wood, and about 115 other parts. I think the Soviets only advantage on us was their entire military-industrial complex.

Oops. The Wilders don’t have a military-industrial complex. We do have some chainsaws, though.

I looked at the parts and determined that it would take an adult with an engineering degree about 35 hours (including time back and forth from the fridge to get more beer) for assembly. Essentially, knives were forbidden in the construction of the U.S.S. Ghost Hunter, so all of the balsa had to be shaped with sand paper. I helped The Boy with some of the tougher sanding, and in drawing straight lines on the rocket body so he could install the fins.

The fins that he finally cut out were as jaggety as the Dow-Jones Industrial Average after the Fed spent a week in Vegas with a batch of hookers, but The Boy seemed happy as we slapped the fins into the hull. The Mrs. helped with painting, and finally, the greatest rubber-band-powered balsa wood rocket in the history of the Wilder house was complete.

The Mrs. and I showed up right at the start of the Space Derby. The Boy’s rocket had been signed in the night before. The Mrs. had signed up to help out with various Pack activities. This was one of them. The Mrs. asked what in particular they needed help with, and they said, “Umm, whatever.” Despite our thoughts that sleeping in with a hangover would be “help” they thought that we actually had to do something. Ugh.

This led The Mrs. and I winding about a bazillion winds rubber bands on Saturday. The idea was that each rocket got four races against the competition. Four races times a bazillion rockets? Four bazillion windings. The track had room for four rockets at a time, so we wound up rubber bands (85 times per rocket, times four races times a bazillion rockets, equaling something like 380 bazillion rocket windings) to get the race ready.

The Mrs. and I worked as a rubber band winding team, getting (often) two rockets ready in the time that it took four other people to do one each. Proud? Yes. The Mrs. and I work well together to get stuff done. That’s what I like about The Mrs. Along with the fact that The Mrs. showers on a regular basis. Definitely a plus, that.

The majority of the Cub Scouts were wrestling, playing, running, and goofing around like boys should.

The Boy’s rocket was sleek, ready, and took second place in his Den. In my mind, this was the first trophy that The Boy had ever won, since the soccer teams gave out a trophy just for participating, which in my mind is like getting an Olympic® medal for walking across the lawn without getting dog poop on your shoes or falling down on your face when you come to the intersection of the sidewalk and the lawn. To extrapolate the logic, if you made a movie, you would get an Oscar® if you made a movie, even if you were Paris Hilton.

That’s just wrong.

The Boy continued playing in the nearby playground while the other Dens raced rockets.

The Boy finally face-planted hard enough off the playground equipment to come to his rubber-band-winding-parents complaining of the wood chips embedded in his retina. I rubbed some dirt in his eye, and told him to go back and play. He did. An hour later, another Cub Scout swung a seventy-pound steel door on his left big toe when he had to go pee (crinkling up the whole toenail part of the toe and causing copious amounts of blood to flow, in addition to the requisite leg crossing from the whole needing-to-pee thing) and The Mrs. and I decided to forego the rest of the rubber band winding and take The Boy to first aid.

Good. A boy should feel some pain now and then. Especially The Boy. It’s good for his soul.

Now, stop your whining and get to making your Pinewood Derby car. Soviet children don’t cry that way.
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Blogger Lynn said...

Oh wow! Rockets!
Sounds like fun!

This was our Thanksgiving weekend here. See in metric the Canadian pioneers traveled faster to the New World and got a leg-up on you all!

Our table talk got to the helpin with projects when the boys were little conversation. Thus the lincoln log home with family made pitch was discussed. At least the boy didn't tell you the night before....

7:30 PM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

If you went through all that for the rocket, you may want to just watch the pine wood derby.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I reading this right?:

The Mrs. and I worked as a rubber band winding team, getting (often) two rockets ready in the time that it took four other people to do one each.

So basically, two of you did 2 rockets "often" averaging 1 each, and 4 other people also did 1 each? And on the infrequent times that you didn't get 2 done, you each averaged less than 1? Maybe you should have taken tips from the other 4... Congrats on the second place win! You deserve a share of the trophy for the winding.

11:18 AM  
Blogger John said...

'twas great fun! Heh heh - I knew a MONTH before. And did nothing.
(will know better next year)

duck hunter,
Nah, we're gluttons for helping. Especially with Cub Scouts. . . .

You have exposed a great deal of my unintentional obfuscation. To wind the rockets you needed two people, thus, they other two teams (of two) did one rocket per team, whereas The Mrs. and I were producing two per team.

I won't say it's because we're better than the other parents (we weren't) it's merely because we're so darn competitive. That and I would wrestle with them and steal the other rockets.

7:49 PM  

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