July 25, 2003

A Good Day

My friend John is an educator. I call him that because the term 'teacher' seems inadequate in his case, although he's proud of that title too. I haven't known him all that long, but every time we talk he just amazes me with what he accomplishes.

Today I visited a school where he's set up a program called TEMS, for Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Science that runs over the summer for economically disadvantaged kids. Basically, these kids are exposed to as much career information as possible during the weeks of the program, including several field trips, a job-shadowing program, and many guest speakers. They also do lots of hands-on projects like robotics, environmental science, and marine studies.

There were (I think) four teachers and one 'administrator' for around 60 kids, so the personalized instruction is intense. The kids have to volunteer and be recommended by their teachers during the year, and come from several local schools around the district - free of charge. They're pretty proud of the program, and so is the school district, because the GPA's of these kids has increased significantly after taking part in it.

John invited me to help with the students doing a rocket launch. We (Rachael came along to help too) arrived bright and early (Rachael's prefix for that phrase is 'way too') and met all of the teachers. I could only stay until noon, because I had something to take care of at work that I couldn't let slide all weekend. Next thing I know, they'd completely rearranged the schedule around mine, and I'm being led into the cafeteria to talk to everyone about "A Career in Computers".

Huh? How'd that happen?

I quickly mentally dusted off an old presentation from my kids elementary school Career Day and talked for about 15 minutes, and then spent 15 minutes answering some very good questions. Afterwards, Rachael critiqued me by saying she'd seen worse. Wow, thanks sweetie.

Next came three rotating classroom sessions on rocketry. Same kids, just broken into thirds (the entire group, not individual children - ick). A quick few minutes talking about Newton and physics, Wallops Island and answering more questions. Mostly "how high can it go?"* and "can we launch a frog?"**.

We'd brought three rockets; one that deploys helicopter blades at apogee and rotors down, one biplane that ascends like a rocket and then glides back to earth, and a goofy little UFO type saucer. We picked these because they were least like what people think of when they hear the word 'rocket'.

Next came a short building session. Their rockets weren't ready to fly because the robotics projects took longer than expected. Rachael and I pitched in, helping the kids attach fins and showing them how to fold the parachutes and such. They're going to finish up their rockets next week and have their own day launching.

Finally, we went out and launched one of our three rockets in the school field. We had fun, everyone seemed suitably impressed, and then we did it all over again twice more with the other two groups of kids.

(Rachael's critique: I got better with each session. I assume that by the last one, I didn't suck.)

Some day, when I have totally and completely burned out in the computer field, I'd like to become a teacher. I've come to appreciate just how hard they work and how much more there is to it than just standing in front of a class and talking. No way do they get paid enough. Not even close.

Back to the day. Rachael and I said our goodbyes, grabbed some lunch, and headed to my workplace. I finished up the stuff in the "couldn't wait" pile and we headed home. I mowed the front yard while Rachael picked up in the back so we can have a fire tonight if we feel like it.

All in all, it was just a very cool day. And after everyone goes to bed tonight, I think I'll watch The Evil Dead.

* How high can it go? We brought low-flying models today because of the small field. Our highest flying rocket will reach a mile.

** Can we launch a frog? We don't, mainly because there's nothing we could learn from launching a frog in a rocket that we couldn't learn easier and better on the ground. I'm not a PETA-freak, but I don't believe in casual cruelty to animals either. And no, I don't consider killing them to eat them to be casual cruelty, I am definitely a carnivore.

Posted by Ted at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

July 01, 2003

What the heck is all this?

This is a post for folks visiting for the very first time. In it, I'll introduce myself, give you the nickel tour of what's all here, encourage you to look around and invite you to come back again. Fair warning though, this site is rated "R" for occasional language and mature (and some not so mature) humor.

If you got here by clicking the "Introduction" button, then you're reading this in another window. You can switch between here and the Rocket Jones main page to see examples of what I'll be explaining.

Rocket Jones isn't my name. One of my hobbies is building and flying rockets. It's what I love to do, so I'm usually "jonesing" for rockets. Catchy, eh?

Rocket Jones is a blog, which is an ugly word coined for "web log". It's kind of an online diary or journal or soapbox or therapist's couch or all of the above. You may have heard of them, you may have visited some before or even have your own. There are as many types of blogs as there are types of people. Personally, I don't focus on any one thing but there are certain subjects that interest me, so I post more often about them. I've been doing this for about a year and a half now, and have managed to put something up here almost every day during that span (whether it's been worth reading is a whole 'nother story).

Some of the things that interest me are rockets and space related stuff, cooking and cult cinema. Looking through my archives, you'll find all this and more. I also tell stories about my family or from my days in the Air Force and occasionally bare my soul or vent when I need to.

Now a little bit about how Rocket Jones is set up. Many blogs have the same basic components and work about the same way. The main column is where the daily posts are, and over on the right hand side is the (ta-da!) sidebar. There are links to related information in almost every post, and if you click them they'll usually open up in a new window. Every post has a category too, like "history", "boring stories", etc., if you click on the category you'll get a page with all of the posts in that category. At the bottom is a little blip that says "Houston, we have a comment", and if you click that link a small window pops up and you can leave a comment or read what others before you have written. Sometimes the comments are the best part of a post. I encourage you to leave comments because everyone likes feedback and interaction.

Trackbacks are where someplace on the internet has linked to that specific post. It's a nice way to find related or follow-up information.

Oh, and to entice you to come back, the picture up at the very top changes every once in a while too, just to keep things fresh.

On to the sidebar. Do you have a junk drawer in your kitchen? A place where everything that doesn't really belong anywhere else winds up? That's what I use the sidebar for. Almost everything on the sidebar is a link. Even the graphics are usually clickable.

We'll do a quick rundown of the more static stuff, because the contents of the sidebar changes from time to time.

Near the top is a search field and button. It works just like Yahoo or Google or any other search engine, but only searches this site. Just below that is a link to the PDA version of Rocket Jones. You can find out more about that here and here.

Below that is a list of the last 10 articles that were posted. If a title catches your eye you can click it and go directly to that post.

Next is a little section called You Are What You Is (any Frank Zappa fans out there?) The first link leads to the "About Ted" category, which has various personal information, including the ubiquitous 100 Things About Me post. The section also has my Rocket Jones email address and a rotating tagline (and the tagline archive).

Poor Organizational Skills is my heading for the category archives. The categories are pretty broad and general and completely arbitrary. I try to be consistent, but I don't obsess. If, for instance, you wanted to see all the recipes I've posted, click on the "Recipe" category link.

I'm going to go off on a little tangent here while I talk about the next section: Munuvians. Blogging in general is more than a little narcissist, everyone likes to have their views heard. But it's also about community, about belonging to a group. Bloggers build a circle of friends, often people that they'll never meet face to face. Good times and bad are shared, support is lent when needed, as is the sympathetic ear. The sense of belonging is very real.

Rocket Jones is hosted on the mu.nu domain. That domain is owned and administered by an Australian chap who goes by the enigmatic name of Pixy Misa. All of us here, the Munuvians, were invited to homestead by Pixy. We are American and Canadian, English and Australian, as well as expats living in Hong Kong, London, Germany and Toronto. It really is a diverse group. My daughter Rachael (aka Mookie) is a Munuvian, although she's on haitus until the demands of high school stop kicking her butt.

Back to the sidebar and that section titled Munuvians. That's us, all those links are the blogs of the Munuvians, listed in the order that they joined the community. At the top is that NASA style symbol, click that and you'll get to our group blog - Munuviana - where we hash out general interest topics and post stuff we think everyone might want to know about.

Naming your blog has been likened to teenagers naming their garage bands. As you scan down the list, you'll find that a pretty apt comparison.

Next on down the sidebar are a few sections that link to nifty places about rocketry (Yay!), and then the Rocket Jones monthly archives.

After the archives are several graphic banners, many are links to places or categories that are especially important to me. After that are some admin type things and hit counters that you can ignore (Rocket Jones averages about 200 page hits a day, which is small potatoes). The calendar is just another way of navigating the site. On days that the site is updated, the date turns red (most every day). If you click on the date, that day's posts will be displayed.

Another quick detour. The Shark logo is for my beloved San Jose Sharks hockey team. Ever know a Redskins fan who bet a Dallas Cowboys fan about the game, and the loser had to wear the winner's hat or shirt for a day? Last year I set up the blogging equivalent, called the Hockey Whoopass Jamboree. Everyone who plays puts his team's logo on their page, and if they lose to someone else they have to put the other logo up for 24 hours. This year the idea really took off, but we've had to use the minor league AHL teams because of the NHL lockout. You saw the Jamboree logo and link up at the top of the sidebar.

Ok, almost done. Next is a list of non-Munuvian blogs that I visit more or less regularly. The first group are space and science related, then a long list of general places, a short list of comedy and fun sites, a group of serious analytical blogs, some blogging tools and utilities places, and finally a list of blogs that concentrate on sports. Once again, where they are grouped in the list is pretty much arbitrary, and they're more or less alphabetized. Some are places I visit often, some I almost never visit but we share reciprocal links. Like a lot of people, the link list (aka "blogroll") is probably used more by myself than anyone else. It's a convenient place to gather all my favorite places.

Links and page hits are two ways that many bloggers measure themselves. I tend not to worry about either, since I'd probably keep doing this even if nobody stopped by (translation: I talk to myself when nobody's around).

Hang in there, we're almost done! This next bit is a java applet that I found somewhere listing all the visitors to Rocket Jones in the last 24 hours. Finally, at the very bottom of my sidebar are two "Google Bombs". You can read the bit there and figure out what that's all about.

So that's it. Lots to see, lots to read, lots of places to explore and visit. I hope you find something interesting here and that you'll come back again. Leave a comment, feedback is always welcomed. Thanks.

Posted by Ted at 07:04 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Introduction

I Ain't What I'm Not

Hi. I'm just a guy in his early 40's, with a wonderful wife of 22+ years and 3 kids. My son (the oldest) is in the US Navy, serving on an attack sub. Daughter one is going to college out of state. Our youngest daughter is still in high school.

I was born and raised in Northern California, before it became the 'Silicon Valley'. My wife is from Baltimore. We met in North Dakota. We waited a year to get married so she could go back and finish high school.

I joined the US Air Force out of high school, and never went back to California. We now live in Virginia, which is where I was when I got out of the Air Force after 13 years. I work as a computer consultant.

My dream is to get away from this area and become a teacher. Maybe when the last kid is done with high school.

I'm registered Republican, but I vote for whoever I damn well want, for my own reasons.

I don't drink often, but when I do I prefer Dewers White Label scotch. Rum is medicinal, not a libation. Tequila is for getting drunk (pass the lime, hold the salt).

Hobbies: Rocketry, reading, gardening and landscaping, cooking, woodworking, and playing the guitar poorly.

Favorite author: No contest: Robert Heinlein. Harold Coyle is good too, as is H.P. Lovecraft, Orson Scott Card, and I could just go on and on....

(anything history too)

Music: I tend towards hard rock, but pretty much anything including Big Band, classical, jazz, R&B, country, etc. I like a lot of what's on today.

Posted by Ted at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: About Ted

Memorable Taglines

If you have a good one, send it to me!

There's no such thing as a sucking chest wound. All chest wounds suck.

"I'm not part of the problem. I'm a Republican." - G.W. Bush

(thanks to Kin for the above)

Smile! It's the second best thing you can do with your face.

No, get that cat off the key(*&(^@~~~ATHo NO CARRIER

Man made beer; God made Pot. Who you gonna trust?

(thanks to SilverBlue for the above)

beus tagline. This is a Mobeus tagline. This is a Mo

665 - the neighbor of the Beast.

(thanks to Mookieriffic for the above)

Support your local medical examiner. Die strangely.

If an infinite number of rednecks fire an infinite number of shotguns at an infinite number of highway signs then eventually they will reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare in braille.

Skillful diplomacy is romance, clumsy diplomacy is rape.

Diplomacy is saying 'nice doggie' while you look around for a rock.

Diplomacy is telling someone to 'go to hell' in such a way that they're looking forward to the trip.

If you liked the California energy crisis, you'll love Kyoto. -- B.F. Skinner

Windows is a 32-bit extension to a 16-bit graphical shell for an 8-bit operating system originally coded for a 4-bit microprocessor by a 2-bit company that can't stand 1 bit of competition.

Fotomat burns down... no film at 11.

Smokey the Bear says: Strip mining prevents forest fires.

To do is to be. (Descartes)
To be is to do. (Voltaire)
Do be do be do. (Sinatra)

AAAAA: American Association Against Acronym Abuse

Dead: electroencephalographically challenged.

Skill: the plural of luck.

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
-- James D. Nicoll

What did you do to the cat? It looks half-dead. -- Schroedinger's wife

Imagine standing at a street corner and spitting on people to get their attention, then trying to sell them something. Spamming is a better marketing method than that only in that you get punched less often. -- Esa A. Peuha

"Crash programs fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby in a month." -- Wernher von Braun

"I regret to say that we of the F.B.I. are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce." -- J. Edgar Hoover

I felt sorry for myself because I had no woman, until I met a man with no hands.

There is only one war, and it's not the rich against the poor, the blacks against the whites, the Federation against the Borg, or the Democrats versus the Republicans. It's those of us who aren't complete idiots against those of us who are.

Global warming? Yeah, it's our fault. McDonald's, sure. Only country to use nuclear weapons in warfare? Yep, and glad to do it. But the Canadians are responsible for William Shatner. -- Mark "Kamikaze" Hughes

"I just purchased a shiny new Leatherman Wave.[...] It's likely that random objects in the house will spend the next few days being plied, screwdriven, and scissed. When you have a Leatherman, everything looks Leathermanipulable." -- Nathan McCoy

The courthouse has a memorial park with a small 9/11 memorial - fifteen hundred miles away from Ground Zero, there’s a monument. Don’t ever underestimate how personally we took that day. -- James Lileks

Build a man a fire, and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire, and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?' -- Robin Williams

I Aim for the Stars – book by Werner Von Braun
But sometimes I hit London – Mort Sahl's suggested sub-title

The National Security Agency is hiring computer scientists and mathematicians for ongoing projects in communications research. If you are interested and would like a brochure, just pick up your phone and call anybody.

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher. -- Flannery O'Connor

Skill: the plural of luck.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. -- Hyman G. Rickover

Concorde: Breakfast in London, Lunch in New York, Luggage in Bombay.

I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.

Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in heels.

"Magic Marker" - First rung on the ladder of the occult. -- J. Martin

Why do bankruptcy lawyers expect to be paid?

Would you, could you, with a goat? -- Dr. Suess

Real Programmers confuse Christmas and Halloween because OCT 31 = DEC 25

"I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid." -- Col. Gaddafi, in phone call to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

"Remember, when it comes to commercial TV, the program is not the product. YOU are the product, and the advertiser is the customer." -- Mark W. Schumann

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it." -- George Bernard Shaw.

In the beginning there was nothing... which exploded.

Sleep: a poor substitute for caffeine.

"Debugging? Klingons do not debug. Our software does not coddle the weak." -- K'Bersk

Thanks to Dawn P for this next one:

That which doesn't kill you can probably stand up in court as mitigating circumstances.

If whining never worked no one would do it. -- Max Love

Heck's Angels: Born to be Mild.

God is dead (Nietzsche).
Nietzsche is dead (God).

User: A technical term used by computer professionals. See Idiot.

To succeed in the world, it is not enough to be stupid.
You must also be well-mannered. -- Voltaire

Ptolemy invented a universe and it lasted two thousand years. Newton invented a universe and it lasted two hundred years. Now Dr. Einstein has invented a new universe and no one knows how long this one is going to last.
-- George Bernard Shaw (1930)

"I'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet." -- Hollowhat

The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

Now that food has replaced sex in my life, I can't even get into my own pants.

Deja Moo: the feeling that you've heard this bull before.

The secret to immortality is to live a life worth remembering. -- Bruce Lee

Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

"The federal government has taken too much tax money from the people, too much authority from the states, and too much liberty with the Constitution." -- Ronald Reagan

Keep the pointy end up and the flamey end down.

"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools." -- Herbert Spencer

A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.

In the 60s people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

"The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in." -- Robert Heinlein

The poor desire riches. The rich desire heaven. The wise seek tranquility.

"In the universe, space travel may be the normal birth pangs of an otherwise dying race. A test. Some races pass, some fail." -- Robert Heinlein

"God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December." -- J. M. Barrie

"We must remember that 'good' and 'evil' are terms so wide as to take in the whole scheme of creation" -- Bram Stoker

"And what about Zombies? You never hear from Zombies! That's the trouble with Zombies, they're unreliable! I say if you're going to go for the Angel bullshit you might as well go for the Zombie package as well." -- George Carlin

The Galloping Gourmet isn't a zombie, just really really English.

My friends think I'm mentally ill, but that's ok, because I'm really enjoying the symptoms.

Posted by Ted at 09:06 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Tagline Archive
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