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Mild-Mannered Reporter

Want more fireworks? Microwave a ball of tinfoil

Hate to be the one to break this to you, Jethro, but the Fourth of July is over.

Enough with the fireworks already!

If you really want to see something pop and explode, wad up a ball of tinfoil and throw it in the microwave for a minute or two.

Be sure to press your nose right up to the window. You won't want to miss what happens next.

(Sarcasm alert. I don't really recommend putting tinfoil in a microwave. Serious injuries may result. I wouldn't wish such a fate on my worst enemies. I'd advise them to stick a wet fork in the nearest light socket instead.)

I hate private fireworks.

Professional fireworks are great. Keith Aldrich and the fireworks crew at Western Days, bless 'em all. I love those shows.

I look forward to them with great anticipation and girlish squealing.

But private fireworks? They're of the Devil. I know that sounds extreme.

This is usually the point where I inject a mitigating note to convince readers I am a fair and reasonable person. I might say something about how private fireworks are fine if used in moderation.

Nah. I hate them. They ought to be banned. Like asbestos and carob.

Every year, some kid inevitably gets hurt and ends up forfeiting a body part. If even one kid has to go through middle school with a prosthetic nose, the price is too high.

Plus, fireworks scare pets and small children. My 7-year-old wakes up screaming almost every night, convinced the neighbors are out to "liberate" his bedroom. They certainly liberate his bladder.

I sympathize with him. I don't like going to sleep in a war zone either. If I wanted to listen to sounds of violence and destruction every night, I'd move to the Holy Lands.

I realize fireworks are fun. Something deep inside the American psyche likes to see things explode. Of course, something deep inside the American psyche also likes to see Hondas crushed by monster trucks.

Some impulses are best left unfed.

However, realizing my pull with the Legislature is limited (moon the speaker of the house once and you're marked for life), I know legal fireworks in Oregon are here to stay.

Therefore, I offer a sober and reasonable compromise.

Confine fireworks to the Fourth of July. Anyone found using them after 12:01 a.m. July 5 to have a lit sparkler shoved up his nasal cavity.

I was originally going to say "shot on sight," but like I said, I want to be sober and reasonable here.

There ought to be a way to ration fireworks. Some of my neighbors have enough explosive devices to arm a small nation and/or street gang. Saddam Hussein would love just five minutes in their garages.

If private fireworks can't be banned outright, they out to be rationed. We rationed gasoline during World War II. Maybe we could use a similar system.

Serious pyromaniacs could get an "A" card, provided they showed a note from their psychiatrist.

Something needs to be done. People should be able to buy enough for the Fourth of July but not enough to start ringing in the Lenten season.

I have no answers.

Simple, direct communication with one's neighbors seems an obvious recourse. However, I must confess that people who get giddy about the prospect of stockpiling large quantities of explosive devices intimidate me.

The ones who see nothing unneighborly with setting off bottle rockets at 3 a.m. really concern me. I question their ability to communicate verbally.

I imagine they communicate only with their own kind -- and even then only through a series of grunts and chest beatings.

No, diplomacy is not the answer.

Perhaps I should do what our leaders do when their neighbors have a disturbing amount of explosives. Start an arms race. Close the Bottle Rocket Gap. Attack at noon when they're all asleep.

Or maybe I should just get ear plugs.

I give up.

I'm just a grumpy old man and this is one battle in my continuing war against fun that I'm just not going to win.

Still, I maintain my inalienable right to grump.

I love the Fourth of July. I love it because 99.9 percent of all the human beings who have ever lived on this planet never had to the right to think and to speak.

We do.

We do because 227 years ago a bunch of incredibly brilliant people came up with the radical idea that human beings have the right to think, speak, worship, write and govern for themselves.

Do we really think about that when we set off private fireworks July 17? Probably not. We probably just sit on the sidewalk saying, "Dang! Lookit that! That blowed up real nice!"

I suppose that could be considered our right as Americans. Somehow, I think the founders hoped we would use freedom to do a little bit more.

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