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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Things That Go "Bang"

This is Steven Petrick posting.

First, yes if you are reading this it was backdated to fill the gap. Funny things happened on Thursday leading to changes in schedule and my intent to get this done before Simone left for the day was sabotaged when Simone did not come in. The office cleared early, and I was well on the way home before I realized I had not done a blog.

Friday rolled around, and while I knew I had missed a blog, the approaching storms led to the office being evacuated and the blog again being forgotten.

The above having been said in fair confession, blogs are always difficult for me to do. I dislike repeating myself (although obviously I have now done this several times in noting this difficulty . . . sign) and my life is otherwise so dull there is little to talk about. (This despite Jean often commenting that my life compared to hers has been full of excitement and adventure.)

Recently on the board someone mentioned the idea that it would be difficult to get comfortable baby sitting a nuclear device despite all of the safeguards and fail safes. I could not help the observation that baby sitting anything that might go bang is a case of "you may as well be comfortable." While I did not observe it in the topic, the fact is that there are pretty much only two places to be when a nuclear device goes off: Close enough that you do not feel a thing (i.e., baby sitting it), or far enough away that you can look up and say "what was that?"

I have, at various points in my service, baby sat with lesser devices. Whether 81mm or 107mm mortar shells, or simple fragmentation grenades, and various levels of ordnance in between (to include demolition charges and claymore mines). It does not bother me to have a grenade (or grenades) snugly fastened to my LBE/LCE.

There are,  however, cases where things that go "bang" make me very, very nervous.

The euphemistic name for these are "dud rounds."

The odds are very high that a given shell (whether fired by a 60mm mortar, 40mm grenade launcher, or 16" naval rifle) that has impacted without detonating will not detonate subsequently. But, unlike an unused munition, the odds that it might go off on its own in response to even the most mild stimulus are comparatively very high. The odds that a particular dud that has been laying around for decades will suddenly go off in reaction to relatively mild stimulus are even higher due to age having caused the chemicals to degrade and become even more sensitive to "shock" than when they were originally manufactured.

So while things might go "bang," it literally does not (or more appropriately, did not) bother me to ride around in a vehicle loaded with explosives that were properly stowed, and it would not bother me to ride around in a vehicle with a nuclear device that was properly stowed (albeit in that case I would be taking someone else's word on the matter).