The Names of 10 Fireworks Effects

iStock
iStock

To me, their names always were, "The Ones That Do That Shooty Thing," "The Ones That Scream" and "The Ones That Kind of Sparkle Out." Very technical. If you're like me, here's a mini-lesson—try to spot them at whatever fireworks display you attend this Fourth of July.

1. PEONY

This one is apparently the most common, so your chances of spotting it in the skies this weekend are pretty good. It's "a spherical break of colored stars."

2. CHRYSANTHEMUM

This is a variation of the Peony—the difference is that the stars leave a visible trail of sparks. To me, this looks like a fiber optic ball or those balls that you put your hand on to attract the current at science museums and the like.

3. WILLOW

I love this one! It's a lot like the Peony and its variations (the Chrysanthemum and the Dahlia), but it leaves trails of silver or gold stars that produce a weeping willow-ish outline.

4. HORSETAIL

It's a compact little burst that falls down, well, like a horsetail. You might also hear this one referred to as a Waterfall Shell.

5. FISH

The shell bursts and then you see little squiggles of light squirming away from the main burst. The effect looks like fish swimming away. Or sperm. Whatever.

6. SPIDER

This one is fast-burning and bursts very hard, which makes the stars shoot out straight and flat. Basically, they look like lots of spider legs.

7. PALM

This one produces an effect that looks like a palm tree when it bursts (go figure). Some even have a thick tail that looks like a trunk.

8. CROSSETTE

Take lots of tic-tac-toe boards and cross them over each other haphazardly. That's kind of what the crossette looks like. It's usually accompanied by a loud crackling noise.

9. Kamuro

Named after a Japanese hairstyle, this one has a dense burst that leaves a glittery trail.

10. RINGS

I like these because they can be arranged to look like atoms, which is very mental_floss-y. But typically you see rings within rings, like the ones in the picture.

This post originally appeared in 2009.

Ralphie's House From A Christmas Story Is Available to Rent

Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

From Chinese restaurant Christmas dinners to receiving embarrassing gifts from an aunt, many viewers can relate to Ralphie Parker's holiday experience in 1983's A Christmas Story. Now fans of the beloved film—which is celebrating its 35th anniversary—can live it firsthand: As WLWT5 reports, the Parker house from A Christmas Story is available to rent on a nightly basis.

Located in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, the iconic childhood home of the movie's narrator is open to the public year-round. During the day, guests can take a guided tour of the house where Ralphie almost shot his eye out. The interior is decorated to match the movie's 1940s setting, complete with a leg lamp in the living room window.

At night, the building's private third floor is available for guests to rent out. The loft, which includes a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom, can accommodate six people at a time. Rates start at $395 per night, though the price varies depending on the time of year.

Whether you're spending the night at Ralphie's or just visiting for a tour, your trip also includes admission to the Christmas Story Museum across the street. There you'll find original memorabilia from the film, including Randy's snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields's classroom, and the Parker family's car.

To book your stay, head over to the house and museum's website.

Interior of home from A Christmas Story.
A Christmas Story House & Museum

[h/t WLWT5]

10 Holiday-Related Phobias and How to Avoid Them

iStock.com/mphillips007
iStock.com/mphillips007

Let's face it: The holiday season can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Here are some phobias you can expect to encounter and how to avoid them.

1. Chionophobia

The fear of snow. May be experienced while driving through a blizzard, after an icy snowball hits you in the eye, or upon realizing that you consumed flakes of a yellow variety. Best relieved by: Staying in.

2. Doronophobia

The fear of receiving—and opening—presents. (It should not be confused with dromophobia, the fear of crossing streets.) May be experienced when you get a gift from a sworn enemy or when opening a present from an in-law who still thinks your favorite color, for some inexplicable reason, is “neon.” Best relieved by: Staying in.

3. Nomophobia

The fear of being unable to use your cell phone. May be experienced during nasty winter storms, on remote ski slopes, and during political dinner conversations with your extended family from which there is no escape. Best relieved by: Staying in.

4. Dendrophobia

The fear of trees. May be experienced when your spouse or parent insists that he or she knows how to assemble the Christmas tree stand, despite not knowing how to even work a screwdriver. Best relieved by: Staying in.

5. Cryophobia

The fear of the cold. May be experienced if you spend most of your time in New England, the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Rockies, the Sierras, Alaska, Canada, an igloo, a high-end mall, or a Siberian gulag. Best relieved by: Staying in.

6. Auroraphobia

Fear of the Northern Lights. May be experienced if you’re a member of the Scandinavian Sámi people—who reportedly consider it a bad omen—or if grand and awe-inspiring celestial events such as solar eclipses, meteor showers, and comets overwhelm you to the point that you feel small and insignificant, thusly causing you to spiral into an existential funk that eventually compels you to accept that existence may be a mere distraction-filled parade-march toward a deep and endless oblivion. Best relieved by: Staying in.

7. Pedophobia

The fear of children. May be experienced on the plane bound for a family gathering, at the family gathering itself, and as you wait in a mile-long line leading to the mall Santa. Best relieved by: Staying in.

8. Decidophobia

The fear of making decisions. May be experienced while attempting to buy gifts for picky people, whenever you encounter a sloppy winter road that diverges in a yellow wood, and while mulling the decision to eat a tweflth gingerbread cookie. Best relieved by: Staying in.

9. Ipovlopsychophobia

The fear of having your picture taken. May be experienced if your entire family hasn't been together in years, if you thought today was a good day to wear that unflattering sweater, or if the nosiest member of your family just received a selfie-stick for the holidays and keeps insisting that you “come over here and check this out.” Best relieved by: Staying in.

10. Cleithrophobia

The fear of being trapped. May be experienced if you live in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Erie, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and anywhere else regularly visited by debilitating piles of lake effect snow. Best relieved by: Getting out.

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