The Improv
Tom Spooner

This month's oddball tip:
Can Bread: Out camping and want to make some bread, or just don't want to fire up the oven at home? Get a two pound coffee can and a pot big enough to hold it. Grease and flour the can, half fill the can with bread dough (your recipe), and cover with aluminum foil (or even the top of the can previously cut off when you opened it). Place the can in the pot, already partially filled with water and brought to a boil, and cover the pot with the lid tipped to vent steam. There should not be enough water to float the can. If your pot isn't deep enough for the whole can, just cover it with aluminum foil. Simmer for about an hour and a half. You'll probably need to tweak the time.

You'll end up with a neat little round loaf just right for round slices of supermarket lunch meat.


Rating = Average
General Comments = My son, 15 (soon to be 16 in March), was arrested yesterday at his high school for making a non-working model of a Flash Bang. He assembled a 4.30oz plastic spice container with screw on lid fille it with some sort of paper on both ends with @2000 matches (matchbook paper matches) in between. Myson has his room in the basement and was working on this at bedtime he placed it in his nearby jacket pocket away from our kitten who plays with things in the night. He went to school the next day unaware that it was there from the night before. He's great for takinmg cologne to school to impress this young lady he like, so he dismissed the object in the vest pocket as cologne. Third hour is right before his lunch hour so he goes to his locker to get his jacket so he can hang out with the guys at lunch, he goes to his classs where he puts his jacket across a desk when his friend notices it sticking up over the pocket and asks him what it is. Here starts the real problem, he now remebers placing it there the night before. He tells his friend that he forgort about putting it there up away from the kitten, it's a non working model of a Flash Bang, for his English current events paper, Non-Leathal Weapons, he's going to integrate it into his paper by taking a digital picture of it. Some stundent over hears this and one thing leads to another, to my son being arrested. Charge, Possession of an Explosive Device. He's being held in Juvenile Detention Center, not allowed to be released into my custody. The hearing Monday will be to determine whether he can come home. He's been suspended from school for five days, there is talk about investigating other charges? and the probation officer that has been assigned to him says this serious, he could be expelled from school and be placed in a Juvenile Corrections...taken away from his family...My son's story about the English paper was confirmed by the arresting officer, who is regularly at the school. His techer says yes, he's doing this paper I know that it's about Non-Leathal Weapons, yes I encourage pictures, although models are not necessary. I spoke with probation officer numerous times upon hearing that it was part of his English paper project she said she was going to contact her superior to talk him about the extenuating circumastances...30-40 minutes later she informs me that she's been speaking with her supervisor all this time and after speaking with his school counselor and some people who know my son that he will not be released to me...he's a danger to society...he's a risk...I hear these vague insinuations, and ask for concrete reasons to this assessment. She says that someone who knows him says that he talks about anarchy. I say, the music group, your holding my son because he talks about a music group?! She also states that she is deeply distubed that he would choose the Non-Leathal Weapons as a topic and that he would try to build one (her words, not mine or my son's). So this leads into me asking if she's opened up a newspaper, turned on the TV...seen the news...It's not like you don't hear about North Korea, Iraq, Osama Bin Laden...suicide bombers...911...yes, where kinds of disturbing news is all of this. I say I cannot believe that his adult teacher was allowing my son to write a paper on this deeply disturbing topic, maybe he should be arrested as well. This whole nightmare started about 3:00 pm when I found out. This is after 4:00pm. By 4:30 pm I had an appointment with a Lawyer. Hired him by 5:00 pm. I saw my son yesterday after the lawyer, I felt so inadequate to protect him, what rights soes he have? What has this witch hunt proved? I feel like this is a trip back in time where we are in the MacAthurian days, being accused made you a communist. I know that Columbine happened. A terrible tragedy beyond words or measure. I feel that there needs to be safeguards in the school system when it comes to these matters, then investigate the matter thoroughly. I feel the system has failed my son. My son is worried, he had plans for his future, in March he wants to register with the Young Marines then after he graduates, enlist in the Marines, just like his brother. I pray to God that my son has this bright future. They say freedom isn't free, but our country fights for freedom, so must I fight for my son's freedom. Why I am I telling you all of this, because I know how it feel s to stand accussed, because I want just one person who knows what a darn Flash Bang IS to hear his story. No one on this end is considering his non-working, no fuse, not proberly built "explosive device/Flash Bang" to be what it is. Instead they are referring to it as if all he needed to do was ignite it and great harm would ensue. Nor do they understand that an actual Flash Bang, a non-leathal weapon, is basically harmless. I am now in search of other articles, like yours that give an understanding of what a real working Flash Bang is, so I can use it in my son's defense. Thank you for having clear information that can assist me in this search.

Tina Campbell

Tina, Tina, where to start...?

You need to have a serious, completely open talk with your son. A spice bottle filled with 2,000 pyrotechnic matchheads is not a "non-working model of a Flash Bang." I doubt that a jar of that type will hold pressure enough to explode, but it's possible. But loaded with live matchheads, it is at the very least an incendiary device. A live incendiary device.

If your son had loaded an inert substance like sand into that jar, I'd say that that it was an non-operational mock-up. But he loaded it up for real. He constructed a real, live "destructive device." The fact that the initiation device wasn't attached at the time doesn't change that. Whatever he and I may think of the law, what he did is a crime in the US. Bringing it to school, even accidentally, is another crime.

If your son really thinks he constructed an inert dummy grenade, he's not bright enough to be left unsupervised. I suspect that, more likely, he's simply trying to BS everyone including his parents. But even in an ideal world where such a grenade is legal, "forgetting" that he happened to have a bomb in his pocket is stupidly careless.

Think of this in terms of a gun: Without a license, building a gun in the US is illegal. It's still a gun even when it "isn't loaded." Taking a gun to school is illegal in the US. Forgetting you even have a gun in your pocket is dangerously careless.

Another point is that flash-bangs are not "non-lethal." They are explosives; they can hurt and kill. The idea of a flash-bang is that it's merely less likely to be lethal.

If the facts are just as you reported them, please don't let your son read my articles. I think he'd kill himself through carelessness.

Blow Guns and Darts:

Rating = Poor
General Comments = TELL how to make tranquizers

You rated an article about making blow guns and darts "poor" because it wasn't about something else completely? Let me quote myself: "I'm no chemist or doctor. I can't tell you..." I know a little about many subjects. But chemistry and dosages of tranquilizers isn't an area of expertise for me, which is why the article wasn't about that.

Out of curiosity... If you find an article about tranquilizers, are you going to complain that it wasn't about making blow guns?

Rating = Good
General Comments = Interesting although copper pipe with metal mesh tapped onto one end (to stop dart going in mouth) is a good blow gun. By the way you should use plastic thumb tacks for darts :)

I'm not quite visualizing that: If you have the mouthpiece screened off, how will you insert the dart into the breech? Or would you "muzzle load" your blow gun?

As for tacks... Gave it a try. It does work, up to a few feet. But at ten feet, the tack tumbled too much to hit point first. And having so little mass, it shed velocity very quickly, and probably wouldn't have stuck in the cardboard target even if it had hit point first. Tacks are suitable for annoying classmates and co-workers across the room, but aren't going to hack it for plugging varmints.

Rating = Excellent
General Comments = you guys should send me the info on the tranqilizer a poison dart i would really like to know i have my own dart gun that i bought but send me more info my e-mail is

I'm a-thinkin' you didn't read the part about me not knowing anything about tranquilizers and poisons. I lack the resources and inclination to study this. Besides, there aren't enough cats and dogs in my neighborhood to do exhaustive research.

OTOH, there are the dang tree-rats...

Improvised Claymores:

Rating = Average
General Comments = I had a theory on how to make a field expedient claymore once...never tried to put it into practice's the idea... Take a heavy duty cast Iron skillet, drill a hole in the back side, run wire into the hole, close the hole up with candle wax to keep moisture out, tape your ignition wire to the bottom of the pan and wire it so it will spark when given current, fill an appropriate amount of propellent, add a layer of candle wax to ensure waterproofing, fill with projectiles, cover over with tape or other suitable outer covering, emplace (preferably with a good backstop), run your wire, and plug the wires into your firing device...a light switch would make a wonderful command detonator. CDU

A skillet ought to work. Try just running the wires over the rim of the skillet, avoiding the need to drill cast iron.

Also, as described, your "propellent" isn't contained, so you wouldn't be able to use a low order explosive like gunpowder. You'll need a high explosive, or use a Mark II Spooner Internet Pipe Bomb.

A Delayed Reaction:

timers rating = poor
general comments = Unfortunately these days even just smoking a ciggy will cause you to leave DNA through your saliva or even epithelials.

In high school (almost 30 years ago) I used to use birthday candles and a small piece of that grey clay we used in art class that never dried out.

I would break the candle about 1/2 inch from the bottom and wtist it to make enough room to wrap the fuse of the firecracker around the wick. I then would stick the candle into the clay, light it, shove it behind the commode, and go back to class. About 2 minutes later (depending on the size of the candle) the firecracker would go off, and I am safely back in class (it COULDN'T have been me...)!

If you sat down, brushed against something, sneezed, or pretty much anything else, you already left DNA behind. And it isn't much of an issue unless you're already in someone's DNA database or get yourself caught through some other route. Like fingerprints, DNA just gets matched to a known example; it doesn't magically lead the goons to you. Unlike fingerprints, our current level of genetic expertise doesn't allow the absolutely positive IDs that television would have you expect.

The candle is a good idea for some applications. You'll need privacy to set it up and light, and it isn't appropriate for outdoor use since the flame is too easily blown out. Unless you're using those trick candles, I suppose.

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