Saturday, June 6, 2009

Never give up, never surrender

Today was our Cub Scout pack's bottle rocket derby. We were to bring our own 20 oz soda bottle and they provided the rest of the materials and instructions how to build your rocket.

First, I overslept this morning. Not sure why I slept through my alarm, but luckily I woke up in time to jump in and out of the shower and scarf down some breakfast. Then ES didn't want to go to the rocket derby. Sometimes he really drives me nuts. My wonderful wife is much more patient and kind than I am, and she convinced him that he would have fun and that he should go. Of course, then we couldn't find the pieces and parts to his cub scout uniform and took a while to finally get out the door.

As it turns out, this was actually a district event, not just our pack. Come to find out, our pack couldn't turn in our registration, get our materials, and start building until ALL the scouts from our pack were present. So the bad news was that our pack members were sitting there waiting for us as we pulled up in the parking lot late (sorry guys!). The good news was we weren't the last to arrive, so we still waited a bit after we got there. It turned out alright though because it gave me time to put sun screen on me and ES.

The kits were pretty cool. Very simple with very easy to follow instructions. MUCH better than the bird houses we tried a while back.

Kids from our pack building their rockets.

ES with completed rocket #1.

The pre-launch line-up.

ES and his friend J load highly volatile
aych-too-oh rocket fuel in their rockets.

ES waits in the foreground while J prepares for launch.

Here I have an interruption in my photographic coverage of the launch activities. We put ES's rocket on the launcher, and the water rocket fuel just came pouring out around the mouth of the bottle. Now, they told us in advance that Pepsi bottles work the best, and I honestly was going to buy a Pepsi bottle, but the one place I stopped only had Coke products. So we bought a Sprite, but it didn't work.

The rocket derby launch area staff were very helpful and really tried to get it to work. They tried a couple of quick and easy fixes at the launch site and tried both launch pads, but they couldn't get it to work. So ES and I headed back to the rocket construction area to cut the first bottle out of the rocket and put in a new bottle from the stock of spare bottles the organizers of the event brought along.

We went back to the launch area with rocket #2 (annotated as such by ES on the side of the rocket). Fueled up, set up on the launch pad, aaaaaand...

Yyyyyyeah, that was rocket #2 catastrophically exploding on the launch pad. Bottle #2 failed the hydrostatic test and blew off the nose cone and the structural support out of the middle of the rocket.

Failed bottle #2

Back to the construction area we went. I was getting really frustrated at this point. I mean, first the battle with ES just to get him to put his uniform on and get in the car to COME to the event, and now his first two rockets failed. Oh, and this hasn't happened to ANYBODY else in the pack. EVERYBODY else's rockets are shooting sky-high and getting lots of "oooooh" and "aaaaahhh" from the audience.

Kudos to ES though. I was very impressed with his attitude at this point. He refused to give up and swore he would continue building until he got a rocket to work.

Brain science... er... rocket surgery... er...

This time around, some much more delicate surgery was required to disassemble the rocket. We had to replace the white mailing-tube plastic cap thing that goes in the middle of the rocket. The plastic cap is what the bottle pushes against to make the rocket fly, and when bottle #2 blew up, it blew the plastic cap up out of the nose cone. In order to replace it, I had to delicately cut around the front of our stabilizer fins to keep from damaging them.

After we got the rocket back together, ES updated the model number.

Gassing up one last time.

Successful Launch at Last!

Post-Event Group Photo

Overall, it was fun, and ES told me it was his favorite part of the day when we said his bedtime prayers.

We got in the car to leave, and I noticed this odd warning light on the dashboard...

I got out of the car, walked around to do a visual inspection, and discovered this...

Yeah, I wasn't planning on spending my afternoon getting that fixed. Then again, I suppose we never plan on spending time doing things like emergent car repairs, do we? Stuff happens.

Many thanks to my wonderful wife who came and picked up ES and took him to get some lunch since he was moaning about how he was starving. Many thanks also to our friends W&L for stopping by to offer moral support and encouragement.

Waited in line for like 30 minutes at Costco and never got to speak to any of the employees. My wife called the Toyota dealership, and they said to bring it on over. Two thumbs up for the Leesburg Toyota people - they saw me right away and fixed it for $12.

Today was one of those days were a whole bunch of little things went wrong that all seemed to add up to a pretty frustrating bad day. It was one of those days I needed to consciously take a step back and count my blessings. It's a beautiful sunny weekend, and I'm at home and spending time with my family. Things could certainly be much worse.


Anonymous said...

Watching that launch was pretty cool...kudos to the big kid for persevering! Sometimes the biggest rewards come out of the biggest frustrations!

Glad the tire got fixed swiftly and cheaply. May you have a less eventful week. :)

The Silver Fox said...

I love the cub scout stories...

Oz said...

I want to make some kind of joke about wanting to have done an "h" pressure test on that rocket, but I'm too lazy.