Enough negative monetary analysis and deep thoughts on crappy markets. I just want to wish my US readers a happy holiday. For those of you who are outside the country, who wonder why 300m people stuff themselves with dry turkey and canned gravy, well, the hell with you.


I’ll be cooking this year. I’m going a bit over the top. I’m going to fry a turkey. This is half curiosity and half death wish. I’m told the bird will taste great; but it’s dangerous as hell.


Every Thanksgiving a hundred or so houses burn down because of fried turkeys. It’s not as if people don’t understand the risks, there are plenty of warnings.




A few years back, down in Tennessee, this happened to a friend. It was the usual combination of errors that were at fault. Too much alcohol (not in the turkey), cooking oil that was allowed to get too hot and a bird that was not quite defrosted. A dangerous combination.


A second or so after the bird was dropped in the fat, there was an explosion of flames.



The initial thinking was that somehow the fire would burn down a bit and, just maybe, some brave soul could get near enough to turn off the gas that was stoking the flames. No luck with that, the fire roared on.


There was a fair crowd at this Thanksgiving, so when the fire started, people came closer to see the action. That proved to be a mistake. The fire intensified. The oil was boiling out in every direction, bringing flame with it. The nearby container of propane was now covered in flames.


In a bit of bad luck, the fire burned through the gas line. The rupture sent high-pressure propane shooting out of the severed hose. This immediately ignited, causing the gas line to shoot a blowtorch of flame 25 feet long. That changed the thinking of the onlookers, but things really broke down when some guy screamed:


Run! The tank is going to blow!


So now everyone is running for cover. One lady grabs her fat ten-year old and heads for safety. She makes it maybe 20 feet before she trips on a lawn sprinkler and goes down hard, kid and all. The boy was fine; she broke two ribs and was crying for help. The twin girls were screaming their heads off in unison; one older lady actually peed in her pants. Two guys ran for a hose, but another two stopped them, (the worst thing you could do was to put water on an oil fire). There was a screaming match about that.


The good news was that the main house was hundreds of feet away, and not really in danger. The bad news was that there was a tobacco-drying barn about twenty feet from the inferno, and the flames from the gas tank were blowing twenty-five feet. So the barn caught fire. The structure was old, had a cedar shake roof and wood walls that were dry as tinder. Once it was lit, there was no way to stop it.


There was no tobacco in the barn, but there were two vehicles. An ancient Chevy S10 pickup that had 300k miles, and two Jerry cans of fuel in the bed. The other vehicle was a brand new Volvo SUV that just happened to have twenty-two gallons of high-octane fuel in the tank.


The Chevy blew first, the Volvo went a minute or two later. The fireball must have been forty-feet high.


The boys at the Fire Department were eating turkey (and no doubt, drinking) so they were late in arriving. They hosed the main house, and let the barn burn to the ground. All in, the damages were north of a hundred grand. The “Friends” at Allstate were none to pleased with the results.


Later that day, the twins found what was left of the turkey that caused all the fuss. It looked like a burnt football. The kids played soccer with it until it broke apart.


Anyway, have a good holiday.