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23 October 2010

What is the worst idea you've ever come up with? [More:]

no seriously, I want to know.

Because today, when we were down at the pub with a few friends, the mister and some of our crazier cyclist chums came up with the idea of holding some form of Event, complete with liberal application of alcohol, in order to remove a very large hornet nest from the tree above our house. No, I am not kidding. Yes, they are serious. Some of these guys have doctorates, even.

Some of the ideas they came up with involved buckets of liquid nitrogen and/or white gas. and building a slide off the roof for safe egress.

I wish I was making this up. The mister is in the other room right now emailing some more of our buddies in order to make this event happen. I'd imagine it will be sort of like a very lame version of Burning Man. Except with more hornets.
You must fly me in as a consultant. I am cheap that way. For a consultant.

A male housemate and I spent an hour on my mattress trying to pierce our own/each other's belly buttons. It didn't work. Yes, we were under twenty five, yes, alcohol was involved, no, we had no idea what we were doing and no, it was not overtly sexual. It had something to do with the recent suicide of a mutual friend.

What else.

Remember the Mississippi floods in like, 1993-ish? My buddy K and I had an idea to road trip out to Iowa with a trunk full of sand bags and just sand bag the shit out of stuff. From the East Coast. I think we went to Graceland instead.
posted by rainbaby 23 October | 22:37
You must fly me in as a consultant. I am cheap that way

and Boulder is lovely this time of year as well. Also: microbrew.

See twelve-year-old me thinks it would be just fine to shoot the damn thing with a pellet gun until it falls out of the tree (hopefully) onto the opposite side of the roof, where it will drop into the backyard, then we'll just deal with it later or set it on fire after dark when they're all gone (or asleep, or whatever).

42-year-old me understands things like gravity, and physics, and swarming behaviour, and also city ordinances and nosy neighbours who are all about gun control and other left wing concerns. Pellet guns, y'see, are just fine and dandy for 1980 rural bumblefuck Ohio. Not so much for 2010 central Boulder, Colorado.

thread brought to you by the high specific gravity beers of Avery Brewing, the high altitude of the Front Range, and the letter H, which stands for Hornets. and HALP!
posted by lonefrontranger 23 October | 22:48
I had a friend in college who proposed a get-rich-quick scheme to me. It would go like this: we would fly to Chicago (his hometown) and buy a used dumptruck for in the neighborhood of 10,000 American dollars. We would drive it to Gautemala, where there was a critical shortage of utility vehicles, and sell the dumptruck for in the neighborhood of 30,000 American dollars, ensuring us a cool profit of 10K each. Along the way we would have adventures.

It seemed like a great idea to me, but my parents pointed out that if a dumptruck in Guatemala (or at any point along the way to Guatemala) was really that desirable, then we might just as easily get held up for it as to make it to our destination.

It was a dumb idea for me to run for treasurer on the college student government. I had no interest or inclination for finance, just didn't want the Tracy Flicks then running the government to have carte blanche.
posted by Miko 23 October | 23:08
Ah, lfr, let them do it, just take pictures and run damage control.

The BEST idea that never happened was me and my friend G sinking all our credit cards into film and camping equipment and going looking for bigfoot, and filming our adventures.

I not that all these ideas involve male/female pairings. . .
posted by rainbaby 24 October | 00:14
Note! Not not. Note.
posted by rainbaby 24 October | 00:14
A weak version of Burning Man, but with more hornets, sounds worth checking out, I say.
posted by serazin 24 October | 00:31
When I was about 19, and had a lotta hair, I had a hairbrush that needed cleaning. I'd seen my mom soak hairbrushes in a sink full of water, so I thought I'd soak my brush in a sink full of water. But I also thought, "Hey, Drano dissolves hair, so I'll add Drano to the sink full of water and it'll dissolve that hair right outta that brush!"

So I did, and it did. The Drano also dissolved the brush bristles, and I was left with a naked (but very clean) brush handle.
posted by BoringPostcards 24 October | 00:39
My most recent dumb idea is that while attending a conference for musical theatre and opera creators, I thought, "Hey, it sure would be nice to meet an attractive, available, straight man this weekend." Pffft. Musical theatre? Opera? Hate to stereotype, but...sigh.
posted by typewriter 24 October | 00:53
What, ever?

I'm totally going to aggressively proposition that insanely cute kid from Robotics club during our trip to Disney World, nothing bad can ever come of that.


Being passive aggressive and snotty on a trip you didn't want to take is a great way to make everyone know exactly how you feel and will not result in any explosions or I'll will or you being called out fir basically being a fourteen yes old at all.
posted by The Whelk 24 October | 01:32
lfr, you can call your event Screaming Man.
posted by Senyar 24 October | 03:31
Heh, typewriter. A colleague of mine goes to sculpting class. He said I should join a class like that as a dating ground because of the majority of women taking part.
Of course the image that popped up in my head was from the move Ghost. "Ugh, no, I can't seem to get this clay right. Can you show me?" And then clay covered hand-to-hand touchy feeliness ensues. Plenty of space between my long arms. :-)
In reality I'm not sure I'd enjoy that scenario. And I'm afraid of being stuck in a class full women who are not my type.

I've acted on pretty bad ideas. Thankfully I've forgotten about most of those events. I want to let it stay that way.
posted by jouke 24 October | 06:39
Worst idea I ever actually did: my first college apartment was a horrible efficiency with a "mini kitchen". The sink was the size of a smallish bucket, and doing dishes was always a pain. Before leaving for Christmas break, I decided that instead of doing the dishes I'd put them in the tub with hot water and dish soap and let them soak. Over Christmas break.
posted by JoanArkham 24 October | 08:03
Heh, please tell me what happened!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 24 October | 08:07
So gross. There was a layer of...crust on the top of the water. All the pans were (of course) rusted through. I think I threw just about everything away, and the tub had a permanent ring on it.

Of course that's the same tub where I dyed my sheets purple and covered myself with Karo syrup "blood" for a student film so it's not like I was getting the deposit back. (Ah, art school...)
posted by JoanArkham 24 October | 08:23
Well, I'm not sure these are my worst ideas ever, but the most dangerous ones I can think of are:

When I was a kid, I went through a brief phase of literally playing with fire. No, not arson or anything horrible like that, just going out to the dirt patch in the back yard with various flammable chemicals and some matches, and burning small quantities of them at a time.

So one day I thought it would be neat if, instead of pouring a small amount of some solvent into a metal cup to burn, I could just drop a match into the nearly empty screw-top can. The result was a blue flame burning inside the can with a roaring, screaming noise.

So I thought, shit, I better put that out, and I screwed the cap back on the can to cut off the air supply. At which point the can instantly bulged out like a balloon from the pressure of the hot combustion gases. I thought it was going to burst and shower me with burning solvent, but fortunately it didn't.

I always kept the garden hose nearby for these experiments in case they got out of hand, so I hosed down the sealed solvent can hoping to cool it off before it popped. That worked, and the resulting vacuum inside caused it to collapse, like it was being crushed by the invisible hand of god.

That experience was educational enough that I decided to stop doing that kind of thing completely.

Somewhat later, a relative gave me his old car for free, so that I would have a way to get to the college I wanted to attend. Not a bad price for a first car, right? But it didn't run at all, so it had to be towed to my house for me to fix.

One part of the recommended troubleshooting procedure is to check for a decent spark from the ignition system. You do this by pulling off one of the spark plug wires, sticking a screwdriver in it, and holding the screwdriver about 1/4" away from some metal on the engine. You get someone to crank the engine and you see if the spark is strong enough to jump that little gap.

Which it was, so, genius that I am, I figured it would be useful to continue the test by slowly making the spark gap larger and seeing how big a gap the spark could jump. At a certain point, the circuit through the screwdriver handle and me became a better one than the spark gap, and I got zapped by about 70,000 volts. I felt like I had been hit by a truck and spent a few minutes throwing up.

Even more recently, I spent a day helping a friend demolish an old concrete block garage behind his house. We got to the point where we had removed the roof and were pondering how to take the walls down, since hammering each block out of the mortar was a really slow process.

We thought, why don't we just attach a couple of ropes to the top of one wall and pull it over from a safe distance. Then we can just pick up all the pieces.

So, we did that. The first thing we learned is that a concrete block wall falling over onto a concrete slab makes one hell of an impact. Neighbors thought a bomb had exploded.

The second thing we learned is that the rubble from such a demolition procedure goes a lot farther than you think it will. I still remember being backed up right against the other (still standing) wall and feeling lumps of concrete bounce off the toes of my safety boots. A couple of feet less room and we'd have been hit by a few tons of concrete.

Of course, that didn't stop us from bringing down the opposite wall the same way.
posted by FishBike 24 October | 09:02
I'd say going to college after high school, but that wasn't really my idea.

While I was there, though, I did some dumb shit, like catching a ride to a party by jumping up onto the rear bumper of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer. After the first light, it never stopped. When I jumped off I tried to pedal my feet in the air so that I'd hit the ground running. That didn't work, and after I smacked the pavement I got a close-up of the front right wheel of the car behind us as it swerved out of our lane to avoid me, a foot or so from my head.

Good thing Jack Daniels gives you rubber bones.
posted by Hugh Janus 24 October | 09:09
I have a great bee suit. . if you can wait a few days, I can probably send it to you. . .it would make this a lot safer. I have been swarmed in this suit a few times and nothing has stung me.
posted by danf 24 October | 10:13
These guys are actually planning this operation, using the sort of twisted logic that makes a weird kind of sense.

The first really hard freeze is scheduled for this week, and it's supposed to be pretty cold right up through the weekend. The guys are thinking the nest will be dormant/torpid enough to do this relatively "safely" especially if it's cold as it's predicted to be next Saturday, so we're "shooting" (heh) for then.

I plan to shoot video, when I'm not running away screaming, that is.

FishBike, for the record, I grew up on a farm with six or seven pyromaniacal friends. There was no end of shit we burned / blew up, and we had an endless supply of dangerous volatile chemicals at our fingertips. When we were teenagers, our mania evolved into a penchant for throwing spent aerosol cans into the "firepit", which is where we burned our trash. Remember, this was bumblefuck rural Ohio, in the 80s, and nobody cared about things like safety or environmental toxicity. Much. Well, that is, until my insane friend Jason threw in an ENTIRE 20 oz can of "tire black" (which uses ether as a propellant), and subsequently enveloped the firepit, the surrounding trees, and very nearly ourselves, in a 40 foot tall mushroom cloud of flame and black roiling smoke.

The county volunteer fire department actually showed up, which means it was impressive enough to have been seen five miles away.

Up until that point, we had considered ourselves safety-conscious by building a "bunker" out of old shipping pallets. Which were entirely comprised of splinters, nails and DANGER. Aforementioned "bunker" sort of collapsed on top of us in the blast, fortunately it was rickety and light enough that we weren't (seriously) crushed, merely scraped and bruised and sooty.

very, very sooty.

The firepit was subsequently "closed for business" by our parents until such time as we demonstrated we could use restraint, which was a considerable period, like maybe six months? And, for the next five or six years (until long after I moved out) the entire area remained a blackened, fifteen-foot wide SCUD crater where nothing really grew. It had all these squiggly little solidified glass puddles stuck to the bottom of it, too.

Up until now, I think that was quite possibly the worst idea ever. Now, faced with hornets, I'm not quite so certain.

The nest is on the very tip of a long branch, hanging over our roof. It's a one-story ranch home with an easily accessible, flattish roof that's not too dangerous to walk on, so there's less danger of death by falling than there would be up on a taller house with a steeper roof. however, the roof is too slopey for a ladder, and the nest is about 15 feet above the roof.

danf, I maybe calling you about that bee suit.
posted by lonefrontranger 24 October | 14:18
Oh I have a million bad ideas. I come up with them all the time. The current one is that my friend and I, now that we are middle aged ladies and above suspicion, should
a) get our hair cut in soccer mom bobs
b) change our wardrobes into soccer mom duds
c) buy an old soccer mom minivan and put some Republican soccer mom bumper stickers on it
d) drive it to Mexico
e) fill it up with as much weed as humanly possible
f) drive it back to the States a la Cheech & Chong
g) PROFIT!!!!!11!!!

Nobody will take me up on this idea, which is probably a good thing. I am, however, going to change the pitch on the porch roof any day now by sawing 4" out of each support. I am. I swear. It will fix the leak! Also, I'm going to go out to the woods and find a blacksnake to put in the garage to kill the mice. What could possibly go wrong?

Worst ideas I ever actually went through with - if we don't discuss my marriages - were probably in childhood. Turns out that I cannot, after all, shoot an arrow over my house but I can shoot it through my parents' bedroom window just fine. Barbie faces melt if you use nail polish remover on them. Cats don't like dress up. Refusing to open your mouth at the dentists' will get you into a ton of trouble. Also, dragging an old truck tire out of the marsh and rolling it down the street while curled up inside is not, go figure, as much fun as one would think. And then there was college and dragging the burning mattress down four flights of stairs at three in the morning - that one got me evicted but hell, it wouldn't go out and what else are you supposed to do? I could go on; it is perhaps a little alarming.
posted by mygothlaundry 24 October | 14:18
Age 9ish: Made a peanut butter + liverwurst sandwich. It was every bit as shitty as it sounds.

Age 12ish: While sitting in the treehouse I was framing, I thought it'd be a great idea to kick the last little chunk of the 2x4 I was sawing instead of sawing through it. A few seconds later I was on the ground, & the only thing saving me from chopping off my boob with the saw I was holding was the front clasp on my bra.

Age 14ish: taking cookies to the crew building the house down the block.

college-ish age: going swimming at night while completely stoned & drunk. I thought it would be like flying, but less oxygen.

Other than that, lots of stupid things not necessarily premeditated. Like asking for a ride a few miles down the road from two guys I'd never seen. I was ready to leave the concert & my car was at my friends' hotel. Cabs do not come to an outdoor amphitheatre around here.

I'd like to see the video of the hornet nest removal lfr!
posted by chewatadistance 24 October | 14:48
Re:hornet's nest video.

Use a tripod, set it up, focus, and let it run. Then you can watch from a safe distance, say a couple of states over.

Stupid things I've done: Too many to enumerate, so I'll hit the high points:

Riding a bicycle down the hill near my house in high school, thinking it would be neat to run over the end of that little fallen branch sitting by the sidewalk; not considering what happens when said branch flips up and into the spokes of my front wheel.

Deciding one night in Thailand in 1975 to head back to the compound while just a little too drunked up; hopping on a likely looking layo-layo truck, and then realizing that all the other occupants were wearing black pajamas and carrying AK-47's. Awkward.

Deciding one day while scudrunning in a rented airplane to "just fuck it" and climb through the clouds to on top without an IFR clearance. In the middle of the approach for Louisville's Standiford Field.
Popped out on top 1/4 mile from a Allegheny DC-9 landing there.

posted by pjern 24 October | 15:09
pregnancy thong.
posted by lysdexic 24 October | 17:31
Well, it seems like every idea I come up with is worse than the last, but here's one from the not-too-distant past:

We have a ride-on mower that has a small trailer and the kids used to love being taken for rides up and down the street in it (the 'used to' part is important). I thought it would be fun to scare them a bit by swerving backwards and forwards across the road, which they loved. Until. Of course, this trailer was never intended to carry six kids and the resultant high centre of gravity had the inevitable consequence (I see that now) of the trailer tipping over and dumping all the kids on the road. One of my daughters was unlucky enough to be on the bottom of the pile and the combination of landing on the road face-first and the other five kids landing on top of her resulted in a trip to the emergency room for stitches to her chin. All of the other kids but one (my son, who was lucky enough to land on top of the others) had various grazes, bruises and minor cuts. The owners of the three kids not belonging to me were not impressed with me, the Mrs even less so. As proof that stupidity is hereditary, the kids still sometimes ask me to take them for a ride in the trailer.

I do still sometimes fold all the seats up in our car and pile all the kids in the back, then bounce them around by driving up and down the steep banks around our place, despite the vague understanding that this may one day end in a similar outcome. Some people never learn.
posted by dg 24 October | 17:42
Heh, dg, a sculptor friend of mine had a big party out after he'd finished building a house way out in the country near Aberdeen, Maryland. The house was amazing, deep in the woods and there were all these great, strange art pieces everywhere. Anyway, the backhoe was still there from the construction so he proceeded to give the kids rides in the toothed chomping mouth thingie at the end of the neck - I don't know what you call it, the scoop maybe? He was moving the neck up and down and back and forth, bouncing them all around. I was standing there watching my daughter and all these other kids shrieking with laughter and this other friend comes up next to me and says, "I can see the headline now: cult children killed in ritualistic weekend."
posted by mygothlaundry 24 October | 19:45
After a hard freeze, the nest should be sorta dormant. But yeah, let me know.
posted by danf 24 October | 22:11
mgl, it's called the bucket. The sort of bucket that is usually on a backhoe is generally called a 'four-in-one bucket' if it's the kind that can open and close. I guess your friend makes me look like a responsible parent - that's unbelievably dangerous. I bet the kids loved it, though and nobody died, so it's all good ;-)
posted by dg 24 October | 22:25
lfr, maybe they need to call this guy.
posted by lysdexic 25 October | 10:18
Wow. I'm so glad y'all survived, because this thread is full of awesome.
posted by theora55 25 October | 13:00
mygothlaundry - shitty weed in Mexico, not worth the risk
posted by Meatbomb 25 October | 14:56
Eels- Baby Loves Me || Embarrassingly clueless. Hope me.