Wednesday, July 12, 1995

Nick Okrant and I had to leave today. He was leaving by bus in Washington. I was leaving by Amtrak in Baltimore. Fergie has to drive us…and my train leaves 17 minutes after his bus. What does one do? Take the Metro! We drive Nick to the Metro and then we rode to Baltimore’s Penn Station.
(I’d have taken the train to/from DC if I had known that it’s closer to College Park, MD than Baltimore is.)
I didn’t have any breakfast (Fergie only had moldy English muffins…one was literally growing blue hair!) I was starving. My first priority upon arriving at the station, however, was to find some grub. I decided to wait since I needed to buy a ticket…and I didn’t see any food places in sight.
With ticket in hand, I turned to find the welcoming glow of a Veryfine juice machine! $1? Sure! I’m starved. I flattened out a George Washington and slid it into the machine. Bang! Instant Cranberry juice!
On the opposite side, a machine with some tasty treats! Mmmm. Too bad it wouldn’t take my wrinkled dollar. Instead I had to settle for a small bag of pretzels with what little change I had.
The train shortly arrived. Not too crowded…and there’s that electrical outlet for my laptop again! Neat-o!
A few short hours later, I stepped onto the platform in New Jersey to see a curly blonde individual looking confused. I walked up to Tim Lewis and said, “Hi. You hungry? Train food sucks.”
From there, we rode through the countryside of New Jersey…complete with mile markers every 1/10th of a mile. (Go figure.)
Eventually (after ATM #2 on my trip…#1 was before I left…back in Saugus, MA), we found ourselves at a Japanese restaurant.
Mmmm…fried dumplings and sesame beef! My fav!
$20 later, we headed out to the Lewis homestead (taking the LONG route.)
He (almost) immediately showed my his Apple IIgs and some antique software. Then we eventually moved on to bigger and better things. I showed him a program I’ve been testing called “Merc”. (It’s now called Escape Velocity…watch for its release in about a month or so!) After watching some ships explode on his Mac Centris 610, we decided to make some REAL explosions.
We headed into the basement and grabbed some model rocket engines and some tubes (as well as some other supplies). We made neat little model rockets…and then filled them with WD-40, matches & magnesium, or paint thinner. We grabbed the launch pad and headed out.
After setting up in the driveway (and going through several bad igniters), we launched the rockets against the black of night. All three flew (somewhat). None exploded. So we decided to just burn them.
After making an “H” out of the three of them, we lit one. It caught and then the second one became engulfed in flames shortly later. They hadn’t burned too much when I said, “Think I should throw in my lighter?”
“If you want,” Tim replied.
I threw it right in the center of the fire and took a step back.
Tim reminded me, “You might want to stand back, butane is highly explosive.”
As if on cue, within one second of his statement, the lighter melted just enough to release some butane into the fire. Instantly, the lighter (and the rockets) became the source of a large fireball that lit the entire yard…just six feet away from us.
The blast blew the rockets into tiny pieces. What was once charred tubes, instantly became ashes scattered about. The lighter shot about 15 feet away.
After we recovered from the shock, we examined the lighter. It had not been damaged except for the small hole in the bottom. So we threw it into what was left of the fire. We left it burning for about 15 minutes.
After picking up, we went inside and went to bed…we had a train to catch the next day!

July 12, 1995

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