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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Great Kitchen Fire of 1998

Today is the anniversary of the "Great Kitchen Fire" of 1998.  It was a tragedy that could have been avoided, probably should have been avoided. But, we were young, and Life Explained was just getting started.

We were still working in that old building, with the entrance in the alley, past the stack of rotting wooden pallets, but before the reeking, rusting dumpster, by the Greyhound station. We had just purchased a used oven, and microwave from one of those resale shops that pop up during times of economic prosperity.  People were feeling wealthy, and rushing headlong in a frenzy to buy new things. There is always a market for working, used stuff.

We had formed our company in response to all of the wealth that was just floating around during that time. Figuring that the easiest way to get our hands on some of that dough was to make a few amazing discoveries, and devices that would improve life for everyone.  Everyone who had a few bucks to spare.  Oh, sure, we were going to do our part to help the poor, the needy, the wretched refuse, and all that, after we made some real coin.

The New Improved Karaoke57,  with rhythm maker.
Of course, then the bottom fell out of the economy in the new millennium, and we were forced to take whatever work we could get, even if it meant working on government contracts, and Department of Defense projects.  We still feel a little dirty. This would be a good time to apologize to people all over the world.  When the NSA contracted with us to build a new line of airplanes we had no idea what they intended.  You just can't trust anybody.

But, that is a little off topic.  We were so busy those days.  Things were getting a little tense, and people were snapping at each other over minute details.  We were just starting to make a little money, and everybody in the whole place thought it should happen faster, and was sure they were working harder than everyone else.

Of course, the constant smell of fresh donuts from the bakery down the street didn't help. Most of us would sneak off several times a day for a glazed, or a chocolate frosted cake with sprinkles. A few extra pounds and clothes that were just a bit too small only made things worse.

One day, Bob, from Product Research bought in some aroma therapy candles.  It was vanilla, which was supposed to provide feelings of tranquility, and harmony.  We discussed it, and decided it was a good idea.  We would listen to CD of ocean sounds, burn the candle and relax.

It was a very busy time, though.  We decided to accelerate the process by lighting the candle and putting it in the microwave. What happened was a thing of beauty, a terrifying, mesmerizing spectacle.  For about 5 minutes we could not take our eyes off of the little window.  When it burst into flames we had no problem looking the other way, though, and running like the wind towards the only exit, in the alley.  Flames chased us out the door, and consumed the pallets, and the dumpster.  The Greyhound station was only saved by a fortuitous rain storm that almost drowned two hipsters traveling across the country, who were standing in the parking lot sharing a cigarette and a bottle of wine.

There was no explanation of why such a torrential storm happened so suddenly, on such a nice night, and ended so quickly.  We think it had something to do with the super heated paraffin, microwave radiation, and the wave length of ocean sounds.  But, we are not going to try to reproduce the phenomena until we are ready for a new laboratory.