Cannons to the left of me, cannons to the right … of my minivan

A story on CNN caught my attention this morning as I brushed my teeth. I started to laugh in between molars and a few rugged bicuspids until I caught myself as the short news brief was read.

It seems an errant cannonball fired during the filming of a Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” episode went on a wild ride through a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood. The show was taping at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department bomb disposal range, where 50 previous episodes were previously filmed, when the 6-inch projectile went “zing” off a hillside and then went “zang” through two stories of a suburban home before blasting through the windows of Toyota Sienna minivan parked in a driveway. Remarkably, no one was hurt which is even more remarkable since the shell flew through a neighborhood where children were coming home from school, and through an upstairs bedroom where a man, woman and child slept through it all before hitting the minivan in which a man and his 13-year-old son sat.

“Mythbusters” is a show in which the hosts use weird scientific experiments to debunk myths, often at the expense of some automobiles and crash-test dummies including one named “Buster.” Of course, in this case it was at the expense of a house and someone’s minivan. It can be a pretty funny show sometimes. But I couldn’t help but think, looking into the mirror with my bed-creased face, that this must have scared the crap out of folks especially once the adrenalin was no longer there to smooth the edges. I’m talking the almost victims’ edges, not my bed face.

I once did a story about some artillery shells raining down in the back yard of some folks who lived in the tiny community of King, Texas. Those 155mm projectiles had flown some seven or eight miles from Fort Hood, where they had been fired from a M-109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer engaged in training by an artillery battalion of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. Army officials said after the incident that an improper compass reading was fed into the big gun’s computer, causing the cannon shells to fly off course. The guns were firing 180 degrees off target.

“Uh, sorry Sarge, wrong way.”

Some pretty large holes were made in the ground near a couple of houses and the foundation of at least one home cracked as wells as glass from windows and a chandelier was shattered.  A lady who lived in a house near where one of the shells landed told me she was in the bathtub when the shells started coming down. Imagine that, sitting and enjoying a nice bath when artillery rounds started falling in your yard. Luckily, no people, pets or livestock — this was a ranching area — were hurt.

It was incredibly lucky for those folks who took the errant rounds both in Texas and California. It is the type of happening one might hope they can laugh about someday. Some might be even laughing all the way to the bank!