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Journal of No. 118

March 12th, 2004

Riddle @ 04:39 pm

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What is it that goes WhoooOOOOMP, rattles the windows, sets off car alarms and makes smoke rise into the air?

Answer: a car blowing up in our parking lot.

For a horrible five seconds, I thought the answer was that al Qaeda had gotten to LAX, but it looks like it was probably a loose fuel line. Someone in one of the other offices was starting her car, pumping gas onto the engine until it dribbled onto the spark plug. And WhooooOOOOOMP, the engine was on fire and black smoke was pouring off it. There was a mini-whoomp as the flames got to some other tasty morsel inside the engine. I spent about ten seconds staring at the fire extinguisher in the hallway, before deciding that the car was already a loss, and I didn't want to add myself to the loss column. Glenn had dialed 911, and the firemen got here in five minutes or so. By that time, the front tires and the interior were partially on fire. They hosed it down, sawed open the hood and drenched it some more.
Show's over; nothing to see. Move along.
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Date:March 13th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)

Do you ever watch the show, "Mythbusters"? The only episode I've seen included them testing the urban legend about cell phones blowing up cars in gas stations. Turn out that no, cell phones can't blow up cars, but getting back into the car while the gas is pumping, then getting out and taking out the nozzle without first grounding yourself can generate a spark that can start a fire.

The guys were so adorably disappointed when their first few experiments failed to produce an explosion. Finally, they got something to blow up, so they were happy.
Date:March 13th, 2004 07:57 pm (UTC)
When my sister was working at a local mall, she got the following page over the store intercom:

"[License plate number], your car is on fire."

No explanation for how it managed to spontaneously combust, but it was quite impressive.

Journal of No. 118