Steve is away this Fourth of July, so we asked Brian Donahue, head of the Red Gate product support team, and an American "exiled" in the UK, to reflect on what Independence Day means to him.
To me, Independence Day is all about making a ruckus. As a child, I had been continuously warned about the dangers of fire. Don't play with matches, don't leave the oven on, and whatever you do, don't mix together the bottles of stuff you find under the sink. Independence Day was the one day a year which provided a respite from the rule: in fact, playing with fire was strongly encouraged. We lit fireworks, barbeque grills, and finished the evening with a nice bonfire. If you could save up all of the BTUs generated per person on this one day, you could probably heat your house with them a few times over.
Even if you were unlucky enough to live in one of those counties in which using fireworks was against the law, there was usually an arsenal of pyrotechnics only a short distance away in the next county, under a circus big-top tent with a flashing neon sign or two on it. They would sell you bricks of firecrackers, a gross of bottle rockets, and some M-80 noisemakers containing almost as much explosive yield as a hand grenade. Subtlety is not what this particular holiday is about.
A clue about our obsession with fire and explosions can be found in the National Anthem, which doesn't even finish the first verse without joyfully recounting "rocket's red glare" and "bombs in the air". While we all admit that explosives can do untold damage, we also recognize that they "sure look purdy", especially when reflected in a placid, freshwater lake.
If you are out and about this weekend, I hope that you enjoy yourself and stay safe. Don't burn the steaks, keep your pets indoors, and most important of all, don't shoot your eye out!
Brian (Guest Editor)