Happy Fourth of July

For the Americans: Enjoy yourself, keep your pets from freaking out and try to get through the day with all or at least most of your fingers still on your body.

Everyone else: Uh, we Americans are gonna mostly be drunk and setting off fireworks for much of the day. You maybe want to stay out of our way until tomorrow. Thanks.

52 thoughts on “Happy Fourth of July

  1. Better yet, take your pets someplace where they cannot hear the fireworks. The seeming craziness they display (especially dogs) when they hear fireworks is often confused with fear. In truth the fireworks are causing them pain. Their sensitive ears are not meant to withstand very low frequency high volume assaults on their ear drums. Bringing them to fireworks displays is pure, if unintentional, abuse.

  2. We were visiting in a little town in your neck of the woods and saw our fireworks last night. The rest of you Americans, have fun and please consider having whoever’s handling the bang stay relatively sober.

  3. Happy 4th of July, Americans! This year, you’ve done good and deserve fireworks in all the colours of the rainbow – like the the flags you’ve been flying.

    Our Canteen, at work, tried to do an American theme, yesterday, and someone went around and handed out doughnuts, with American flags in them. We’re not in Americans, nor in America, but they decided to mark the day, but a day early because they’re closed today.

    As for myself, I’m celebrating my new ebook-reader by reading Mary Gentle because the paperbook versions of her books are so big and unwieldy that it distracts from the reading. I love my new ebook-reader.

  4. John, regarding the fireworks and the maintaining of digits: Preach LOUDER!
    Dear fellow readers,
    Please understand that fireworks in and of themselves do not frighten me. After a career as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army, I’m used to things that explode/go boom-boom. HOWEVER some of the stuff some of you idiot country(wo)men do with fireworks scares the $#!+ out of me. Ya’ll stop that! Read the directions. It may just save a finger or 12 and/or keep you from burning your (neighbor’s) domicile to the ground.
    Seriously, STOP THE STUPID. I love me some fireworks, but Roman Candles aren’t made for shooting at each other.

    Sincerely,
    Scott S.

    p.s On the other hand if you got some boom-booms you need help setting off… gimme a call! I love me the smell of lit fuse and set off fireworks in the evening.

  5. My only 4 July tradition

    Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind. That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!” We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate … our Independence Day!

  6. I’d like to ask my fellow west-coast folks to PLEASE consider not lighting any fireworks this year. Here in eastern Washington, we haven’t had any appreciable rain for months, temperatures have been over 100F for a couple of weeks now, and we’ve already got multiple wildfires currently raging. A wheat field just a few miles from my house burned last night. PLEASE go to one of the many fireworks displays being put on tonight and put away any fireworks you may have bought for your own use. This is a good year to leave these things to the pros.

  7. @STH

    Although I live on the east coast, I thoroughly second your plea. Please, for the sake of your friends and neighbors, if the conditions are against you, DON’T LIGHT THE FUSE! I’ve watched a range at Ft. Jackson get set alight from M-60 tracers in the middle of January. Seriously my fellow American Idiots (who OBI-FUCKIN’-SERIOUSLY DON’T FOLLOW OUR HOST J.S.) don’t light that fuse. Save the shit for a better time.

  8. My o-n-l doctor checked my hearing and asked if I’d been in the Forces, since I had a `rifleman’s notch’. I hadn’t; the best I could come-up-with was that I might have got too close to Chinese New Year celebrations that year….

  9. Regarding the problem of pets and fireworks … I learned yesterday from a co-worker that there is such a thing as a “thundervest” for dogs who are scared by loud noises. It’s a gentle compression vest that helps alleviate their anxiety (like swaddling a baby) and she says it works wonderfully on their shelter dog during thunderstorms. According to her, it can be bought at most large pet stores. It may be too late for this year, but perhaps for those with dogs who are scared by fireworks, it might be worth looking into …? I had never heard of it before!

  10. We were going to do fireworks for Canada day but the wind was coming straight at the house. We made do with sparklers and magic fire.

  11. Apparently people are worried about fireworks for a variety of environmental reasons, or are concerned for people that blow their hands off or whatever… but to save the hearing of PETS? REALLY? Can we worry about PEOPLE who might get scared and not pets?
    Pets are the ones who are watched out for, pets are our number-one concern and no one mentions soldiers or actual people.

    It’s really effed up that everyone seems to know about the painfully sensitive hearing capabilities of dogs, or where you can can go to buy “large-animal swaddling blankets”, when there are no helpful suggestions for actual people.

    This is what is wrong with this country. The environment, and pets, those are the big concerns.

    Seriously, please be concerned for the military vets (VETERANS, not the animal doctors who you might want to check out your poor doggies EARS for gods sake) who get frigging scared when things go BOOM.

    I know no one cares and everyone wants to blow stuff up and will go ahead and do so anyway. But if you all could just get drunk and leave it at that, it would be awesome. For the military people. Screw the dogs and the environment.

  12. And here, ladies and gentlemen, we have yet another example of “how dare you talk about something important to YOU when there’s this other thing which *I* have decided is MUCH more important.”

    Note how Allie D. says “For the military people. Screw the dogs and the environment” as if one could only be concerned about one of the three. More importantly, as if dogs and the environment were not important to military people.

    There’s no point in explaining that not all cases of PTSD are triggered by loud bangs, or that veterans can explain the effect of loud noises on them, whereas most people are unaware that loud bangs are actually physically painful to dogs. That’s all been dismissed here, because Allie D. knows what’s important and will dictate what you’re allowed to discuss.

    Note also that Allie D. says “there are no helpful suggestions for actual people” and to demonstrate this, provides none. That’s what makes this a species of concern trolling.

    Of course, the rest of us know that we should a) be aware of the veterans in our lives and how they’re doing AND b) protect our pets AND c) be concerned about the strontium and copper compounds being scattered into the ground and water. So we have to walk past the bridge here and keep going.

  13. We’ve had fireworks here for DAYS. And we’ll have ’em again for 16 de Septiembre, Diwali, Christmas, and again for Chinese New Year. Basically, my neighborhood has a firework-appropriate holiday once a month. Not to mention various sportsball successes. Grass fires have so far not done much damage, knock on wood, but tonight will be busy.

    My tradition involves some small legal-type fireworks, big displays on TV, and the watching of “1776”, which is just a damn great movie as well as mostly historically-accurate. (Minus the musical numbers.) But boy, that last scene/shot is a goosebump-raiser. Watch it if you haven’t seen it — it’s rated G so get the whole family.

  14. On the one hand, I am kind of sad that the kids herebouts are not going to get to see cool fireworks like I did growing up in the humid Midwest, but on the other hand, California is pretty much a giant tinderbox right now, so, yeah, um, maybe don’t?

    Are there actually red-blooded GenXers here who are *not* going to observe the sacred holiday tradition of watching the relevant Schoolhouse Rock videos? Tsk.

  15. “Uh, we Americans are gonna mostly be drunk and setting off fireworks for much of the day.”

    So pretty much like every other day, except today it’s symbolic.

  16. Oh, and the concern over setting an entire state ablaze is also an “environmental” concern, and not worthy of attention. Because no veteran could possibly lose their house or life in an out-of-control wildfire.

  17. Xopher Halftongue:

    Could you direct me to a comment on this thread – something that was posted earlier than my original post – that, in my own inimitable words, “gives helpful suggestions for actual people”?

    I did miss Digital Athiest’s comment – for which I am sorry – and I am very glad I got the chance to scroll up and see that Scott enjoys the big booms, because today is his day!
    Your reaction to my post is such an a**hole response that I’ll suck it up and follow-up that I do have PTSD, and I am generally not scared by loud bangs, though I can become overwhelmed by a number of other things (low flying planes, for example), but the “booms” are way up there on the list of triggers that many people experience. I know how dreadful it can be to be thrown into a panic attack, &/or any other reactions to traumatic experiences. I hope people can enjoy their days without being triggered and thrown back into truly awful states of mind.

    Did you REALLY think I lack care for animals and the environment? It’s called overstatement. To make a point. For, like, effect. You know, “hyperbole”? Anyone? Bueller?
    Did anyone else think that I truly don’t care about these things? If so, please let me know – I am totally serious here! – because that means I need to work on my writing, and I will try to make sure that, in the future, my admittedly lame attempts at sarcasm do not come across as trolling or whatever.

    I was trying to take a serious issue and add my opinion, to the list of all kinds of different concerns, while also incorporating some levity. Perhaps that was a mistake.

    I DO hope people take care of their pets; I do not want there to be fires or droughts or other negative environmental effects; etc etc so on and so forth, and I would like to go back and highlight one of your points: “More importantly, as if dogs and the environment were not important to military people.” Boy am I glad you cleared that up for me, and explained to all who read this, that joining the military is not incompatible with animal care and environmental concerns. Really. Don’t worry! You can have pets and enlist. I promise. You learned that one HERE, folks, right here on John Scalzi’s blog, from this oXymoronic fellow.

    Mostly I think fireworks are kinda stupid. But that is my opinion, and for you and anyone else wanting to, including Digital Athiest! – hey, Scott, first, thanks for your service and your work, and – have at it. Enjoy! Take care but enjoy.

    Best to ALL on this 4th of July weekend – “all” including but not limited to veterans, pet owners, pets themselves, people who may have PTSD for entirely different reasons, writers and artists of all types, veterinarians, and even you, dude. I hope you can relax and have a good evening.

    N.B.:
    If I have to choose between a person experiencing a great deal of psychic pain and the pain of a dog’s eardrums. well yes I do care more about the person than the dog. Sorry.

  18. Hello from charming Downtown Oakland! It’s been like downtown Baghdad for the last month. Any animal still alive and voluntarily here is deaf. Any veterans left in the area who suffer from PTSD, similarly. Whee!

    My brain is being a dick. It has a little graphic about two inches above my eyes on the inside of my skull. Every time I hear SCREAM! It adds another little line-art finger. As the evening wears on, I’ll try to actually make a distinction between avulsion, degloving and amputation. Hey, we all need a holiday!

    What’s terrifying to me – given my rather plummy British accent – is the number of people who’ve asked me last week if the UK celebrates the 4th of July, and look at me askance when I ask if they celebrate having their car nicked. That’s what we get for leaving a running country with it’s keys in the ignition.

    Happy Independence Day!

  19. STH, DigitalAtheist

    You have each hit upon the number one reason Australians in most states and territories are not allowed to privately own or set off fireworks unless they’re actual-factual, licensed fireworks experts (and the number one reason most public fireworks displays in this country are performed over water). Namely, bushfire risk.

    Here in Western Australia, the laws which specify who is (i.e. strictly licensed and strictly controlled professional pyrotechnicians under the supervision of the local fire brigade and emergency services staff) and who isn’t (i.e. everyone else) allowed to set off fireworks are part of the Bushfires Act of 1954.

  20. Well, there are signs at every entrance to the little town I live in that say that fireworks are illegal in the city limits.

    So, naturally, we have already had one fire truck go though the neighborhood, and I have heard quieter live-fire exercises.

    Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

  21. Oh, and Mark H-B? Just think, if it weren’t for the Fourth of July, your country would still be RESPONSIBLE for what goes on in this country. I think you guys dodged a bullet with that one, you should be celebrating even more than we are. :-)

  22. @Megpie, I understand their reasoning, and don’t blame them at all for those measures. When it comes to very dry climates, the last thing people need is yet another spark to kick off a fire.

    @Allie D. I do my best to be careful with fireworks, although as with all things of that manner, there is always the distinct possibility that one of them can be defective. Been there done that had the ringing ears for a bit.

    I hope all my fellow Americans have/had a safe 4th. :-)

  23. Kevin, I’m still contemplating declaring myself an invasion force come to overthrow the state and install a democratic system of governance ;)

  24. Allie D.:

    Did you REALLY think I lack care for animals and the environment?

    Yes. I really did. Perhaps it was the fact that you said “Screw the dogs and the environment” that made me think so. If you don’t want people to think you mean things, your options are a) don’t say them or b) say “I don’t mean that, but anyone have any helpful suggestions for veterans today?” (Actually, there’s another option, which is to develop control over your tone in writing so your sarcasm comes across.)

    Despite your attempts at sarcasm, it was YOU who implied that pets and the environment are not important to military people, not me. I was pointing out that that assumption was absurd (cue documentary about soldiers trying to get their K-9 partners sent home after deployments).

    Best to ALL on this 4th of July weekend – “all” including but not limited to veterans, pet owners, pets themselves, people who may have PTSD for entirely different reasons, writers and artists of all types, veterinarians, and even you, dude. I hope you can relax and have a good evening.

    Actually, you included me under “people who have PTSD for entirely different reasons.” My treatment for it is mostly successful, but I still a) don’t ever want to look out the window of a very tall building, b) note the escape routes from any place I enter, and c) never sit with my back to an unlocked door (the fact that the lock now matters was a big sign of progress for me).

    Annnnd I just had to get up to check that the door is locked. So thank you for that.

    If I have to choose between a person experiencing a great deal of psychic pain and the pain of a dog’s eardrums. well yes I do care more about the person than the dog.

    So do I. That wasn’t the point. Which is more important, Russia stomping Ukraine, or lead in the water at an elementary school? Ukraine, of course. Does that mean it’s stupid to discuss lead in the water until we’ve SOLVED Russia v. Ukraine?

    I’m sorry you have PTSD. I really am. I hope your neighbors were considerate and/or you were able to find some quiet space during the annual Attack of the Dipshit Rocketeers. I hope you get the treatment you need for your PTSD, as I do for all veterans.

    Lurkertype: Thank you. Again.

    Mythago: Just so. Thank you.

  25. Mythago et al –
    very humbling to fail in such a spectacular manner. Thanks for the link

  26. And for those of you who think only Americans act like morons this time of year: the worst fireworks experience my wife and I ever had was Paris, Bastille Day (July 14), 1985. We made the mistake of going to the Arc de Triomphe area and found morons lighting off firecrackers, looking right at you, and tossing them at your feet.

    And smiling.

    So if you go to Paris next week, be careful out there.

  27. I’ve never done much with fireworks; I didn’t grow up with them, because Mom and her sisters didn’t grow up with them. And _that’s_ because when my maternal grandfather was a young man, he watched one of his friends amputate half his hand trying to get more boom out of then-legal ladyfingers. (The small firecracker, not the dessert.)

    We did sneak a box of fireworks into the city for the bicentennial, but that was a special occasion. My brother and I were supervised closely the whole time, and the hose was ready.

    My holiday tradition is getting together with friends for gaming — board games, tabletop role-playing, card games, you name it.

    I hope all of you finish this weekend with the same number of body parts you had at the beginning of it!

  28. “Kevin, I’m still contemplating declaring myself an invasion force come to overthrow the state and install a democratic system of governance ;)”

    I don’t know if we’re ready for that, Mark. And, the system we currently have is probably more fun.

  29. For me, this is going to be The Memorable Swims-With-Alligators Fourth. Otherwise known, maybe, as Darwin’s Orther Birthday.

  30. Reblogged this on Le journal d'une makroutgirl and commented:
    Allez il se fait tard et je n’ai pas eu trop le temps ce week-end de passer par là…alors juste ces quelques mots du blog de Whatever pour rappeler qu’hier c’était l’Independance Day. Au passage un petit bout de ma région y était représentée avec l’Hermione.

  31. You could try to invade, Mark, but, given the amount of fireworks around here, I’m not sure anyone would notice any extra artillery for a while. :)

  32. My brother in law is an ER doc – first exploded hand was Friday night. For some reason the hand surgeons take off July 4th, he’s not sure why. He reached the local hand guy, who said a general surgeon could do it, sent over the pictures, the hand surgeon was like, ok, I’ll be there.

    Be careful kids. And don’t set off mortars from your head or taunt alligators.

  33. My favorite bit of fireworks stupidity is the law here in Ohio that lets you buy otherwise-illegal fireworks as long as you sign a form acknowledging that you will be setting them off OUT of state.

  34. Fireworks season in my neighborhood starts at midnight on Lunar New Year and basically goes through the 4th of July, with a high point at Cinco de Mayo. I’ve threatened to get some and save them for Guy Fawkes’ Day, when no one will be expecting them.

  35. JB, I expect that’s part of the ongoing war against Michigan, where fireworks were banned for personal use until their asshole governor, Rick Snyder, legalized the fetish in 2011.

  36. DigitalAtheist writes:

    Although I live on the east coast, I thoroughly second your plea. Please, for the sake of your friends and neighbors, if the conditions are against you, DON’T LIGHT THE FUSE! I’ve watched a range at Ft. Jackson get set alight from M-60 tracers in the middle of January. Seriously my fellow American Idiots (who OBI-FUCKIN’-SERIOUSLY DON’T FOLLOW OUR HOST J.S.) don’t light that fuse. Save the shit for a better time.

    Good advice, but then comes the question of just what to do with them. They seem to be prone to malfunction if you save them for a whole year.

    Also, if your mortar-launched aerial firework doesn’t loft, don’t stick your head over the tube to diagnose the problem. I’ve watched this procedure before, and yes, my first though was to wonder how much alcohol had been involved.

    Layla Lawlor writes:

    Regarding the problem of pets and fireworks … I learned yesterday from a co-worker that there is such a thing as a “thundervest” for dogs who are scared by loud noises. It’s a gentle compression vest that helps alleviate their anxiety (like swaddling a baby) and she says it works wonderfully on their shelter dog during thunderstorms.

    I don’t remember trying this for the 4th. I f it’s true that the primary cause of canine agitation is the pain of the noise, then I wonder if it would do much. We have a dog who gets nervous well before a thunderstorm gets loud and the thunder shirt does help to some extent.

  37. Mike, did you use <blockquote> for the quotes in your last comment? That’s what I want to do in mine, but when I used <blockquote> they came out in that giant font.

  38. Yes I just used the usual blockquote tag, and the accompanying closing tag. Viewing the source, it looks like your quoted material includes an empty paragraph before the closing tag. It doesn’t seem like that should make a difference. I fiddled a bit with the preview mode to see if I could generate a version that produces big text, but I wasn’t successful.

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