I have two children. Sophie, 15, is likes to draw. She sings along with the radio. She goes for miles-long bike rides around the Gettysburg battlefield. This year, she joined the tennis team at school.
Eli, 12, likes to watch cool shit on YouTube.
OK, that does Eli a disservice. Not only does he like to watch, he also tries to copy. A budding chemist, he often makes ooblix and slime—a pair of peculiar concoctions that can’t decide if they’re a solid or a liquid. He’s turned compact disks into plastic bubble makers. He watches chefs make unusual desserts and then, to everyone’s delight, he mimics them (deep-fried caramel/apple rings). And on occasion, he finds an engineering project he wants to try out.
Yesterday, it was a potato cannon.
Because I also like cool shit from the internet, I told Eli I’d help him build the cannon.
Gettysburg is a small town. Not large enough to support a big-box hardware store, so for those types of errands we need to drive thirty minutes away to Hanover, PA. Hanover is a marginally larger town with a massive shopping infrastructure. They have it all, and for my family, all means Lowes and TJ Maxx.
It was a nice day and no one had any plans, so we, as a family, decided to run over to Hanover for a bit of shopping.
Sophie was an easy sell. One of her favorite activities is riding in the car and singing along with the radio. Sometimes after dinner, she asks if we can just “go for a drive.” She has no destination in mind, she just likes riding in the car. As parents, we usually comply with this request, because when else can you get your fifteen year old to hang out with you for a half an hour.
Her other favorite activity is rummaging the racks at TJ Maxx.
Susan was in too. She bought a lamp at a yard sale yesterday with an unusual—but burned out—light-bulb, a trip to Lowes was necessary for a replacement bulb.
Eli and I just needed a bunch of PVC plumbing parts and a gas grill igniter to construct our cannon.
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When we returned home, Eli and I quickly assembled our cannon. All the building was straightforward, and I only shocked myself twice with the igniter.
To use the cannon, we cram a potato down the barrel. Instead of gunpowder, the combustible material is hairspray, and the igniter makes a spark to fire the gun.
No we have a loud and dangerous weapon to play with on weekends.
Below is a video of me shooting the cannon.