September 30, 2003

Two thoughts about baseball

The Giants will take it all this year. If you don't agree, too damn bad.

The Orioles fired manager Mike Hargrove today after four losing seasons and are going to talk to Hall of Famer Eddie Murray about taking the job. I'd love to see Murray as manager, but it's not going to help. The Orioles will continue to suck as long as Peter Angelos is the owner.

Posted by Ted at 10:00 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Isn't this obvious?

Fairfax county Virginia is having some problems. There's some super-peeping tom running around that the police can't catch, and tonight on the news there was a report about a perv who hangs around the bus stops in the early morning and exposes himself to high-school girls.

We have a national registry for this kind of crap. We're not using it to it's full potential.

Peeping Tom, meet Joe Exposure. Problem solved.

Posted by Ted at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Busy, busy, busy

The first of the month is always the busiest day for me, and when it happens on a wednesday it just doubles the workload. Guess what tomorrow is? I also picked up a new end-of-the-month task, and I have to go into D.C. tomorrow for half a day, so things are going to be hectic in real time.

(Translation: if blogging sucks, blame anything and everything else.)

By the way, thank you for the long list of words for the next Google Junket. I really don't like to whine like that, but it works for Bill, so I figured I'd give it a try. Bill's not home right now, anyone care to take bets that's he lying in a gutter drunk with Collins?

Some out-of-the-way stuff for your reading pleasure:

King of Fools won this weeks New Blog Showcase. Excellent article.

Backstage writes about kitties and theater (theatre for you uppity types), which pleases Jennifer and Mookie.

Mookie also claims that my (alleged) jokes just come across as snotty. True? I don't think I have the charm to pull that off like Bill.

Casual Brain Rotting, courtesy of Random Nuclear Strikes.

Hold The Mayo - the truth served plain. Yum.

(aside: If Laughing Wolf ever invites you over for dinner, be fashionably late. He likes flava fava beans. [doh!])

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, The Ministry of Minor Perfidy. Where "evil isn't just our hobby, it's our job."

Enjoy your roasted stomach, infidel. Or maybe the pain is from laughing hysterically because Allah is in the house.

I'm a gardener. Much like Samwise to Frodo, I am to, uh... someone else. Ok, maybe not. But the point I'm trying to get to here (the looooong way around), is to go visit Starhawk. He posts beautiful pictures of cool growing things in his garden. He's also a WiFi wizard. What's WiFi?

Victor thanks everyone for remembering his birthday. He's made mention (repeatedly) that he's younger than I am, yet he can't remember telling anyone when his birthday was. Victor, when you're asking the doctor about Rogaine and Viagra, better check into the memory pills too.

Hmmm... that was testy, eh John?

Posted by Ted at 02:20 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

Commercial break

LeeAnn talks about a couple of commercials she's seen on TV, and it reminded me of my recent favorite.

The guy standing on the beach, putting notes in beer bottles and tossing them into the ocean. If you watch sports, you've probably seen it. Cracks me up every time.

"Nice to meet'cha!"

Posted by Ted at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Homeless, literally

Last night on the evening news, I watched a story about a homeless guy. It was presented as one of those "it could happen to you" scenarios where the successful professional is reduced to poverty. Implied was the fact that it was our economy at the root of his troubles.

Well, not quite. As the tale was told, it became apparent that someone was spinning this story as hard as they could. I'm going to tell you the story, without the editing and innuendo and camera work designed to elicit emotional response.

This homeless guy is a freelance writer. He's an older man, and a few years ago his business started to fall off. His solution at the time was to give up his apartment in Los Angeles (I want to say Laguna Beach, but I'm not positive), and spend the summer living at local camp grounds. His truck is full of camping equipment.

He's still not getting the amount of work he used to, so he's still living out of his truck. He has a cell phone. He uses public library computers to do his writing. He's not hungry, in fact in one shot they show a couple of cardboard boxes full of food in his truck. We're told that we should feel sorry for him because he doesn't have health care insurance, and that his ex-wife and kids don't want to see him because they're embarrassed about him being homeless.

This bugs me in so many ways. First of all, this man gave up his home voluntarily, he made a conscious decision to move out to reduce expenses. Second, he hasn't tried to get another job (as far as the story was told), he's just plugging away at the same job he had. Granted, the job market isn't the best, but an experienced writer can get work. While I admire his determination to work on his terms, don't paint him as some kind of victim when he doesn't succeed. Third, a lot of people don't have health care. I'm a lot more sympathetic to children or folks who were put out of work by factory closings than I am by him. How much does that cell phone cost every month? Add that to whatever he'd earn working part time at McDonalds and see if maybe that just wouldn't cover it, if it's that important to him. I don't think it is, I think we were supposed to think "universal health care would be a good thing" instead.

This guy isn't tragic. He's not a victim. He's made choices with consequences. Nothing was shown that would keep him from making changes in his life if he wanted to. We used to admire people like him because of their integrity, their refusal to change to meet society's standards. But in today's world, since he doesn't fit the "norm" as defined by whoever crafted this story, he's held up as an example of failure.

I intentionally used the word "crafted" about this story, because it was obviously slanted to lead viewers towards certain conclusions. I just hope it bothered more people than just me when they watched it.

Posted by Ted at 07:47 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

September 29, 2003

Rocket Jones' Great Random Google Junket

I got three words to work with. Three. Lousy. Words. You can do better than that. I mean, how hard is it to open the comments and type in a word. Any word.

Victor, Susie, and Pixy Misa are cool. They get links, you don't. Until you gimme a word.

Victor: Calendar.
Susie: Redundant.
Pixy Misa: Obstreperpous.

calendar + redundant
A live journal blog. Not the most exciting start.

Calendar + obstreperous
Legal stuff. A calendar of events at a seminar or something. Among the things you can learn are how to "Deal with obstreperous opposing counsel…". I watched Jaws the other night, and I think the correct method is to stuff a compressed air tank down his throat and start shooting with a rifle.

obstreperous + redundant
A list of unusual words beginning with the letter ‘O’. Now this is kinda cool if you like words. I do.

Wasn't that fun and exciting and stunted and short and abrupt? Yeah, I thought so too, so I threw in a couple more just for fun.

ambient + penumbra
"As is readily apparent, smooth penumbras require high oversampling."
Sounds like the Vulcan edition of the Joy of Sex.

Michigan voter information.

And just to prove that I'm not terminally bitter, here's one I found just because.

cheese + pizazz

"A premium quality no-fat cheese, Pizazz™ is less than one percent fat and cholesterol free while providing an excellent source of calcium and protein. This fat free pasteurized process cheese product is specially manufactured using a proprietary process that was developed by Century Foods. The flavor, aroma and texture is retained resulting in a healthier fat-free, cholesterol-free cheese that melts, stretches and tastes like full fat cheese. The perfect answer for today’s healthy diet aware cheese consumer.

Pizazz has a firm and uniform body that minimizes fines when shredded and reduces loss for precuts. Packaged in 20 pound exact weight box with liner for pre-cutters and shredders or coated box that improves rectangular shape and minimizes trim loss, shredded or diced in bag in box."

Comments demanded.

Posted by Ted at 11:37 AM | Comments (14)
Category: Google Junket

Xtreme Stoopid

Since when did teetering on the brink of Darwin Award immortality qualify as sport?

The other day I saw a picture in the paper in which a horse was jumping over a barracade. It was a nice photo, a head-on view that captured the grace and power of the horse as he completed his jump. Completely ruining the majesty of the picture was the idiot on roller blades behind the horse, hanging on to a towrope, midway through the same jump.


I’ve seen two events that epitomize the stupidity. I can’t even bring myself to call them sport. Yes, they both require skill and physical effort and possibly even talent, but so does rock climbing.

One event consists of two guys jumping out of an airplane. During the freefall period, one guy does all kinds of acrobatics with a boogie board strapped to his feet. He’s literally surfing the sky. The second member of the team has a video camera strapped to his head, and his job is to film the first guy. Their score is the combined totals of not only the acrobatics, but the quality of the camera work. How well in-frame did he stay? Interesting angles?

Calling this a sport is stretching it. To be truly extreme, forget the parachutes and let’s see how dedicated you are to your ‘sport’.

The second ‘sport’ is a classic example of piling on. Add complexity beyond all reason and common sense, for no reason other than to be more extreme. The first time I saw this event, they led in with a montage of guys on motorcycles, doing tricks and leg kicks and stuff while in mid-air after jumping off a ramp. Ok, this is a step up from Evel Knievel, whose daredevil stuff I don’t consider a sport either.

But we’re piling on, remember? This event is a winter sport. These fools are screaming down this chute on a motorcycle with spiked tires and up a ramp covered with ice! The landing area is ice too. And the simple leg kicks and such are so last year. These guys are pulling out all the stops and doing back flips on their motorcycles, and one dude brought the crowd to their feet by getting off his bike in mid-air and letting go of the handlebars. This guy actually flew alongside his bike for a couple of seconds before getting back on in time to land. On ice.

I mentioned talent. Apparently a complete lack of common sense qualifies.

In the last year, a major extreme skateboarder – supposedly a professional – died of massive injuries when he fell multiple stories from a hotel fire escape. He was riding the handrails down on his board.

Two world-class mountaineers died when they decided to be the first to ski down a mountain from the summit. The peak was mostly ice, and the last time one was seen he was on his back, sliding out of control. The other managed to accidentally snag the rope of a group of ascending climbers, and almost killed most of them as well as himself.

Even television commercials are appearing that make fun of the excesses of extreme sports. This after a long run of commercials showing us how cool it was to be extreme. I’m sick of the word ‘extreme’.

I'm looking for investors for my new NASCAR towed-luge league. Any adrenalin junkies out there? This could be the next big thing.

Update: Forget luge, check out Extreme Ironing, the "latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt."

Posted by Ted at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

September 28, 2003

Losing a limb

I was the first one home friday, so I went out to clean up the backyard. I had just finished raking leaves when Mookie got home from school, so I had her throw something into the oven for dinner. Meanwhile I was checking out the tomato plants. It's been a real disappointing year for tomatoes, but we've got several little ones started. This late into the season, what these guys need is plenty of sunlight. One thing our backyard doesn't have is plenty of sunlight.

I'd been putting it off, but I was on a roll so I decided to to take down a big limb in the maple tree to open up the yard to late afternoon light. There are only two problems. First, this limb was waaaay up there, and second, it hung over the fence into the neighbors yard. I could care less about the neighbors yard, but I did not want to drop this massive limb on the fence that I paid for.

Mookie was in her room which looks out over the back yard, so I moved under her window to holler up and noticed a humongous spider seemingly hanging in mid-air right outside her window. Perfect. [evil grin]

Rachael poked her head out the window when I yelled and I asked her to come down and give me a hand. As an afterthought I told her to look to her left and she almost decapitated herself pulling her head back inside. Down below I'm laughing like a madman.

Together we moved the bench swing out from underneath the limb. I pulled out my 'high limb cutter'. What this is is a chainsaw blade strung between two long pieces of rope. You toss the rope over the limb, use the ropes to position the blade to cut, and then pull back and forth on the ropes to saw through the limb. Simple and effective.

Wonder of wonders, I tossed the rope over the correct limb on the very first try. Mookie is impressed. Now I did have a plan in mind, I'm hoping to saw through the limb about 4 feet out from the trunk, and let it splinter off so that it pivots down and misses the fence when it falls. Later I can saw the rest of the limb off cleanly close to the trunk.

Worked like a champ. Sorta. The limb began to break, swung down and missed the fence, but it didn't break completely free. Next I grabbed my pole saw (one of the neatest tools ever invented by man) and started hacking smaller branches off of the limb. Once I've cleared a path for the ropes again (which are still around the limb), I moved into a better position for leverage - and out from underneath - and started to saw away again. In moments the limb fell.

Now up to this point, everything went as planned, which gave me a false sense of competence.

Next comes the classic 'uh oh' moment. The limb dropped vertically, hit the ground and started to fall directly towards me. I'm up against the fence, in between the compost bin and a pile of bricks, so there's nowhere for me to go. In the blink of an eye, the splintered end of the limb crashed to the ground in front of me. How close was it? Lets just say that I'm glad I wasn't aroused. Now it's Mookie's turn to laugh hysterically, and she claims it's cosmic payback for the Paooki prank.

Once my heart started again, we cut up the limb into manageable pieces and finished cleaning up. I don't even like tomatoes.

Posted by Ted at 07:39 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Boring Stories

Biography - Robert Goddard

I've been collecting links and making notes for an upcoming biography of Robert Goddard, the Father of American Rocketry.

Instead, you should read this, because Chris Winter has already done a magnificent job telling the story of this fascinating man and his accomplishments.

Thanks to Spacecraft for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinahhhhhh!

I posted this recipe back when I first started on blog*spot, and it never migrated to the new digs. Oldest daughter called yesterday and mentioned that she misses it, so I'm reposting it for her. Now that we're moving towards cooler weather, my thoughts turn to homemade soup. This is one of our favorites.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb chicken breast fillets (about 3)
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ cup diced onion
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup Masa Harina (corn flour)
1 cup enchilada sauce
16 oz Velveeta
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
3 cups water

1. Add oil to large pot on medium heat. Add chicken breasts and brown 4-5 minutes per side. Set chicken aside.
2. Add onions and saute until theystart to become translucent (~2 minutes). Add garlic and cook another minute. Add chicken broth.
3. Combine Masa Harina with 2 cups water and whisk. Add to pot.
4. Add remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese and spices. Bring to a boil.
5. Shred chicken to bite sized pieces and add to pot. Reduce heat, simmer 30-40 minutes until thick.

Top with shredded cheese, crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream, scallions, and/or pico de gallo.

I don't shred the chicken, I cut it up into bite-sized pieces before cooking it.
You'll find Masa Harina in the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store.
A box of Swansons Chicken Stock = 4 cups.
You can use canned enchilada sauce, but it's noticably better if you make your own. Easy to do too.

Enchilada Sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp minced onion
½ tsp dried oregano
2½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ cup salsa
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1½ cup water

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.
Add garlic and sauté for a minute.
Add everything but the water and mix well.
Add the water, bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes.

You can use the leftover sauce as a marinade. Add the juice of one lime or a splash of vinegar for tang.

Posted by Ted at 05:02 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Recipes

Happy Birthday Victor

Have a great one!

Posted by Ted at 01:44 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

September 27, 2003

Nigeria orbits first satellite

Nigeria, Great Britain, Turkey, and South Korea all shared a ride with two Russian military satellites. Photo here.

Posted by Ted at 07:54 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

Surreal quote of the day

From this story about deporting illegal aliens caught on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico.

The Mexican government has protested the U.S. practice of handcuffing migrants with a chain that wraps around their waists during the airplane ride.

"If they have to deport us, they shouldn't treat us like criminals," said Martin Romero, 38, a field worker from Durango. "It's humiliating. We're just working people."

No, you're breaking the law. That makes you a criminal. And what is this 'migrants' crap? More political correctness, because we wouldn't want to hurt the criminals feelings now, would we.

While one of the biggest complaints is the dislocation caused by the long-distance deportations, the Mexican government rejected a U.S. offer to deport undocumented migrants back to their hometowns, at the U.S. government's expense.

Mexican Assistant Foreign Secretary Enrique Berruga said a previous program that deported migrants home in the mid-1990s was abandoned because Mexicans objected to being flown home.

Probably because if we just dump them back across the border then they can hook up with the next smuggler and try again. And keep trying until they make it successfully.

Posted by Ted at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Space Technology blogs

Besides my little niche fanatasism about space, there are some fine people out there writing about space, science, and the technology thereof. They're also all smarter than me, which is why I try to compensate by using words like 'thereof' (twice now). They write about a variety of other topics too, so check them out and tell them Ted says hey.

Rocket Man writes from an insiders point of view, because he works for the aerospace industry. Geez, that sounds dull. He's not, I just need writing help.

Spacecraft is a new one to me. He sent a nice email of introduction and put a mention of Rocket Jones on his blog, which sent a nice bit of traffic my way. For everyone who followed the link from his site, you should come back here each and every day, because I'm going to talk him into having a test at the end of the semester, just about me. Thereof.

Rocket Forge. Good stuff.

Samizdata. I just found out about these guys. So far, so very good.

Terrestrial Musings has been on my links roster for awhile now. If you haven't already, you should.

Winds of Change posts some excellent stuff about the space program on occasion. Same deal people. The link has been there, take advantage!

Laughing Wolf. NASA. Cooking. A man after my own heart. Wait, that just sounds paranoid, doesn't it?

USS Clueless. Stephen Den Beste gets into a good meaty science post once in a while. Fun to read. I probably misspelled his name, which is why I'm not prominently displayed on his blogroll. That and his damnably ethical behavior, which gets in the way of a good blackmail scheme.

Now Jeff at doesn't write about space, but his blog name Alphecca is named after a star he found on the star chart hanging next to his desk. Good enough for me.

Everyone needs a little down time when you can relax and play and get silly. But you also need to exercise the mind on occasion, to work that brain and the thought processes by chewing through something not thoroughly familiar. Collectively, these guys are 'brain taffy'. Yes, that was another blatant attempt at Google hits.

Brain Taffy.

Posted by Ted at 10:20 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Space Program

September 26, 2003

New Lunar Mission

The European Space Agency is ready to launch it's first ever lunar mission this weekend. Carried aloft by an Ariane 5 rocket, the payload will be put into orbit around the moon, where it will map the surface.

The interesting thing about this probe is the use of a low-thrust ion engine. NASA's Deep Space 1 probe was the first to use ion propulsion.

Posted by Ted at 10:51 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Space Program

Size doesn't matter

Nic was surprised by the description of the Air Munuviana rocket. She was thinking model rocket, like you might find in a hobby shop, toy store or Wal-Mart. High power rocketry works on the same principles, it's just bigger. Here's a picture I posted before of one of our larger rockets.

Posted by Ted at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Robert Palmer

Dead of a heart attack at age 54. This sucks.

Posted by Ted at 09:45 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Short and sweet, you should check the following out:

Shooters Carnival, firearm information without the politics.

Sports Blog. The name says it all.

Despite what the media is telling us, things are going pretty good in Iraq. There's a new effort being put together on the internet called Frontline Voices, which will let the troops actually there tell their stories. Watch for the link, I'll announce it when it officially kicks off.

Chief Wiggles is in Iraq, and an encounter he had with a young child inspired him to begin a toy drive. Read about it and please, if you can, help out.

Completely changing gears here, LeeAnn tells about what it's like to like on Sesame Diablo Street.

The Flea talks about an upcoming Alien vs. Predator movie. In my humble opinion, that's a much better premise than Freddie vs. Jason, but the one I'm really waiting for is Gumby & Pokey vs. Davey & Goliath.

I saw this exhchange over at Caught in the XFire.
Stevie: Stupid damn plastic ass-bitin' chicken-livered monkey-lipped brainless dickless sack 'o poop computer.
To which Pixy helpfully replied: Hey, that's the same model I've got!

Paul is sharing his wisdom on dating. There's pearls there among the laughs.

At Velociworld, we get the rundown on public washroom habits. Very funny stuff, and no, I’m not shaking his hand. He’s got a cool story about Goddard too. That always scores points with me.

Publicola is one of the good guys. I love this bit:

Of course it'd be cool if the producers of Cops & similar shows allowed me to just insert commentary over an episode or two for perspective. Instead of people seeing a police officer frisking a guy for everybody's safety that he/she stopped to ask some questions, you'd see the images along with a quick recitation of the 2nd, 4th & 5th amendments followed by an explanation of why the cop just threw some of the highest ideals of the framers out the window because that's what they taught him/her at the acedemy.

But my dream would be to feature the BATF. Then again a cursory glance would probably make people think they were watching a bad juxtaposition of F-Troop, Hogan's Heroes & 1984.

How can you not love this guy?

Those who don’t learn history are doomed to be California Republicans.

An emergency 911 call can be incredibly stressful. Or stupid, depending on who's making the call.

I keep telling you to go over to Random Nuclear Strikes. Do you listen to me? Now they've got froot-loop trolls entertaining them.

Stupidity of television programming? Surely you jest.

Kate warns of the dangers of rampant random altruism. Hey, it was faith-based. Does that make a difference?

She also offers up a site that will make you burn in hell if you visit. Really, don't go there. If you do, I'll save you a seat.

I saved the coolest for last. Megan points the way to a virtual apartment building, where you can design and add your own place. No excuses now for the virtually homeless, or something like that.

Posted by Ted at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

September 25, 2003

Unconventional thinking

Just for fun, I thought I'd share some of the more unusual rocket designs I've come up with. Each of these rockets has made successful flights. I just don't like to fly boring rockets.

First up is a tube-finned rocket, the Bad Medicine. Like the description says, the fins are lengths of tubing, which makes for a tough and very stable rocket. It adds more weight than you'd have with regular fins, so they're not as popular as standard designs. I prefer the cool factor though.

The Vampyre is one of the first rockets I ever designed from scratch. This one is a ring-fin. I'm still flying this little rocket, and she amazes people with the sheer speed and altitude she gets.

Still playing with the concept of asymetrical fins, I next designed the Starbow. This design flies acceptably, but it's not really a great flyer. The pictures suck too, this is pre-digital camera days.

Undoubtably the oddest design I've ever done, the Cinderella doesn't look anything like what most people think of as a rocket. She does, however, look like something you'd see in Earth orbit in a Chesley Bonestell painting. The picture shows the prototype, which worked so well I literally flew it to pieces (over 30 flights). She's now hanging from my workshop ceiling. A second model was built and finished with silver paint, but it didn't fly nearly as well. I've also partially constructed an upscaled version to fly on bigger motors.

Finally, the Barenaked Lady was a project that Rachael and I did together. Extremely lightweight despite six fins and her hefty size, she rocks on mid-power motors.

I just realized I don't have pictures posted of another odd-roc we did, named Invader Zim's Song of Doom. She used a funnel for drag stability instead of fins, and the nosecone was a green plastic easter egg with silver alien eyes made from duct tape. This one had problems from the outset. Not with the going up part, but with the coming down part. As in parachutes not wanting to work correctly. She finally destroyed herself by becoming a lawn dart, and we have the video tape to cringe over anytime we want to watch it. Embarrassing.

Posted by Ted at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Poetic Justice

U.S. District Judge Lee R. West's telephone has not stopped ringing since he sided with telemarketers seeking to block a popular national do-not-call list.

"They are just calling to tie up our lines," said Rick Wade, operations manager at the district clerk's office. "They just keep calling to harass us, like the telemarketers harass them, I guess."

Ya think?

Posted by Ted at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Galileo redux

Visit the USS Clueless (which is anything but), and find a wonderful explanation about why it was decided to crash the Galileo probe into Jupiter. Plenty of good links too. If you like science, space, physics, or mathematics, you'll enjoy the read.

Posted by Ted at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Insert favorite song title about 'time' here

Over at Coyote's Bark, Terry points out a cool little flash clock.

Which got me to wondering about what else might be out there in Google-land. Wanna see what I found?

Here's a neat variation of the digital clock we all hate in the morning.

I really really really like this one, in a manic where-is-my-ritalin sorta way.

This concept appeals to the art lover in me. (bandwidth alert) Click on the ‘clock’ icon at the top, then ‘set’ your time, the clock updates once a minute.

I'm not a chrono-snob, here's something for those who must measure elapsed time.

Now here are a couple of overlapping collections of wallpaper clocks, the flash ones are kinda interesting. This one is my favorite of the bunch.

Once again, just to prove that you can find damn near anything on the internet, here's an interesting little collection of BBC clocks and flash cards.

Right, that last one wasn't quite on-topic. Oh well.

Posted by Ted at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Ripple Fire

I was in a rotten mood driving in this morning, helped along by heavy traffic and people who don’t know how to drive in it. Add in the fact that I woke up not a multi-millionaire and actually having to work for a living, and the day was off to a less-than-spectacular start. So while I was in the ol’ stop-and-go, I was thinking about a few things.

Mac’s vs. PC’s. This reminds me of the whole democrat/republican debate, and my favorite quote about same. I’ll paraphrase:

Mac users think PC users are evil. PC users think Mac users are stupid.

I’ve got news for you Mac people, PC’s are better. The market says so. Like it or not, Bill Gates is a better businessman than clan Apple, and his products are more useful to computer users. If it wasn’t true, we’d talk about Microsoft in the same way we talk about Commodore and Atari and Tandy. So grow up, enjoy the things that Macs do well and quitcher bitching.

I couldn’t think of a religion that doesn’t have ‘spread the word’ as a basic foundation. This makes sense, because what good is a religion (or any other social movement for that matter) which doesn’t attempt to grow? It’s also depressing, because this also means a continuation of religious-based strife. If everybody believes they’re right, then the only solution is elimination of the other guy. As for religious tolerance, the only time it happens it when it’s forced upon them, and it’s seldom comfortable for either side.

SUV’s should be taxed like trucks. If you’re driving a 19-passenger land yacht, it’s a truck, not a car. If you’re driving a do-nothing SUV-wannabe, then you’re stupid and should be taxed for being an idiot (we’ll just call it a truck tax). What to do with the extra revenue? Research into battery technology, because like it or not, that’s where the next big energy breakthrough is gonna happen. Notice I’m not saying that SUV’s should be taken off the road. Free choice is still free choice, but 90% of the folks driving SUV’s don’t need them, which proves that they’re stupid, and should be taxed.

Hell, call it the SUV lottery. Most of ‘em will line up to buy extra tickets.

Update: I was reminded of the judge who put the hold on the Do-Not-Call list. We've instituted a new policy in our house. Listen politely to determine source of the call, because we're nice to police, fire department, and veterans organizations doing fundraising. Anyone else, we get loud and verbally abusive. Screw it, they called me, so they must want to hear me, right? Oh yeah, they're gonna hear it all right...

Posted by Ted at 08:25 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Rocket Jones' Great Random Google Junket

Boy howdy! ThiS epiSode iS eSpecially Spectacular becauSe of that letter that never StraightenS out - "S". Special thankS to thoSe who Suggested wordS.

Today's fuel:
Jennifer (from the hold queue) suggested splice.
We also had a leftover from Victor, with safety.
Pixy Misa chimed in with squamous.
Jennifer added in shapely, as in "You'll never know, loser boy".
Victor seems to be in a rut, volunteering stinky.
Nic anted up with strontium.

Good words all. Thanks for playing!

First off, I want to mention that the word 'squamous' rattled around deep within the dungeon of useless information inside my skull. I thought about it a little bit, and remembered - I hoped - how to spell 'squamish', which was the subject of an imaginary sport courtesy of Mad magazine. Google is your friend! Here's that article, now who's up for a game or two of 43-man Squamish? By the way, when this article came out in 1965, I was 6 years old, so I suspect that I caught it first in a later 'best of' edition of Mad. But it's not inconceivable that I was reading the magazine that young, because Mad was the one magazine that I made sure to read every month for years and years.

Oh yeah, Squamish is also a place in British Columbia, Canada, and an Indian tribe. I had no idea.

Back to the words at hand.

shapely + squamous
I was afraid of this combo, for good reason it turns out. Four out of the first five hits were plastic surgery or otherwise medically related, all discussing forms of cancer. No links folks. Feel free.

safety + splice
Wow, the Safety-Splice signpost system! Snaps off at the ground when hit by a car, I think. The site is a little light on hard information.

safety + shapely
There were quite a few artsy hits for this combo, but nothing with nudity. Dang. For those who insist on sleaze, ask Stevie about her underoo-buddy.

On the second site, Joe Muscle wants to sell you suppliments to build shapely legs.

squamous + stinky
The first hit is the rather imaginatively named “Sweaty Vagina Stories”, which turns out to be mundane porn. Not worth going to (I checked so you wouldn’t have to).

Next up is the Carnivorous Plant FAQ. Very similar in concept to the above porn site, I suppose. Not really, unless you’re a parent trying to scare the hell out of your pubescent young man. Convince him that everything his friends have told him is wrong, that helps.

splice + strontium
The poetic table of elements. Boron? Not Fermi. Ok, I'll stop now.

strontium + shapely
An article titled My Experiences In Reef-Keeping, from SeaScope magazine. Interesting for you aquarium buffs.

splice + stinky
What do a sinkhole, a park ranger, and a broken sewer pipe have in common? Add 'em all up, and you get news from legendary Tombstone, Arizona. Read all about it in the Tombstone Epitaph (which gets my vote for coolest newspaper name ever).

So there you have it. Suggest a word, any word, and we'll see where Google takes us. Sometimes it seems like the decorator is Dali, which is when it's most fun for me. Gotta run, the clock is melting.

Posted by Ted at 07:04 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Google Junket

September 24, 2003

Special Effects Rocket Motors

An ongoing debate among rocket hobbyists is the use of ‘effects’ motors. By adding carefully selected impurities to the chemical composition of a motor, you can create a variety of results. Common among these are smoky motors, sparky motors, and even exhaust flames of different colors. Such impurities can also produce sound variations like a crackling during the motor burn. In order to keep their product lines distinct, propellant formulations are closely held by commercial motor manufacturers (all of this applies to Ammonium Perchlorate motors and not the common model rocket motors available from Estes or Quest).

A high-efficiency propellant formula produces almost no smoke and very little visible flame. Most of the power of the motor goes to producing thrust and not the visible byproducts. That’s the bottom-line purpose of the rocket motor.

But what fun is that? A small but vocal group of rocketeers are devoted to pure power and maximum thrust for a given engine size. Anything less than the ideal have been dubbed ‘knob’ motors.

I am a knob. I love the knob motors. So what if I lose some power or efficiency, when my rocket takes off trailing a thick plume of smoke, or leaps into the sky atop a long tongue of neon green fire? That's what's fun for me, and I think the majority of rocketeers agree with me. Here's a description of some of the knob motors that I love to fly.

Aerotech makes motors in a variety of sizes and propellants, including Blue Thunder which has the most power, a thin blue flame, and almost no smoke, White Lightning with it’s orange flame and thick white smoke, Redline with an intense red flame and moderate smoke, and BlackJack which roars and produces thick black smoke. They also manufacture EconoJets, which are smoky, loud and crackly motors, but you pay for the effects at the cost of motor power. Their selection is probably the best all-around available.

Ellis Mountain makes the Thor’s Hammer line, which are super-aggressive motors with lots of thrust right from the get-go.

Animal Motor Works started a couple of years ago, and is slowly expanding their line. Their offerings include Green Gorilla, White Wolf, Blue Baboon, and Super Tiger. I’m looking forward to Skidmark Squirrel, which is a sparky motor. Imagine a fireworks sparkler about two feet long, two inches around, and going straight up at a couple hundred miles per hour. Definitely not for the dry season!

There are others, but these pretty much show the range available. Of course, the motor and rocket airframe have to be matched up carefully. A rocket that can handle the relatively gentle thrust of BlackJack propellant may shred into confetti under the kick of Thor’s Hammer. Likewise, you might need the big spike of thrust at the start of a Blue Thunder burn to get a heavy rocket off the pad and flying stably.

In my range box right now, I have an H-165 Redline, an H-128 White Lightning, a G-75 BlackJack, plus a handful of EconoJets and some smaller mid-power propellant reloads. I’ve also got a pair of reloads left for my nitrous-hybrid motor. With a rocket launch this Sunday, and BattlePark in Culpeper, Virginia the first weekend of November, I’m looking forward to being a knob.

Posted by Ted at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

Rocket Jones’ Great Random Google Junket

I let this slide during my life-threatening illness (it's called poetic license, give me a break), but it's back and even better than Virtual Jennifer: Skin or Other. Negotiations continue on version 2 of that game.

Words for this go-round:
Ostentatious by John at SilverBlue.
Flatulence also by John, going for the double play here.
Quagmire as suggested by Jennifer, she of History and Stuff.
Lucky from Victor, over at Publius & Co.
Jejune by our own Pixy Misa. My comments below on this one.
Proximity from Susie of Practical Penumbra. Obviously some sort of 'P' word fetish.

Ostentatious + Flatulence
An auspicious start - I misspelled flatulence (flatulance), and still got one hit. We’re supposed to trust this guy’s jargon dictionary even though he can’t spell the uppity word for fart? What the hell is 4/3 anyways?

Spelling the word correctly means that yours truly comes up as numbers one and two on the Google hit list. Thanks John, I think.

Interesting. Add quagmire and I’m still first and second, but in the fourth spot is a document titled “The 1000 Most Common SAT Words” (no link, it's a .pdf document).

Better yet, on the side of the google page is an ad for personal fart filters! Here’s my favorite bit:
Take Back Your Life Again! - No Need to Remain Trapped in Your Home!
Now you can go out in public without fear of embarrassment due to the odor of excessive intestinal gas - flatulence - caused by any reason or condition! Say Good-bye to excess gas odor -PERMANENTLY! Live Life Again!

Why not just do like the ladies, and keep a small dog around to blame?

Lucky + Quagmire
Bill Maher makes his first appearance on the Junket! Quagmire refers to the War on Drugs in a link to another article. The rest of this little rant is actually pretty funny. It’s very short, so screw it, I’ll quote the whole thing:

Three German siblings (Dyrk, David, and Astrid) are claiming that aviator Charles Lindbergh was their father and they want to take DNA tests to prove it. Their proof is that their mother talked about Lindbergh a lot and also received over 100 love letters from him. They also say they don’t want money; they just want “recognition”. So I guess in lieu of three fat checks from Lindy’s estate they’ll settle for the world knowing that their mother was a slut who banged foreigners and than an American icon was a philanderer. Thanks, people, for ruining our collective day over absolutely nothing.

Lucky + Flatulence
Hey, who would’ve guessed the virtual cornucopia of links this produced?

Whale flatulence, as reported on Electric Venom in the last couple of weeks. Do a search there if you must.

Mr. Goodbeer offers up the FartMatic 5000. Also check out the Whoopie Cushion costume advertised farther down the page.

The Flatulence Dictionary. Someone felt a need for this?

And finally (finally!), a real news story about farmers protesting a proposed flatulence tax. The idea is bad enough, but just thinking about wearing the meter gives me the willies.

Ok, enough with the fart jokes. Let’s move on…

Jejune + proximity
This combo nets us a blog entry about springtime. And for those of you who don’t know what the word ‘jejune’ means, I checked the dictionary for you (I didn't either). It means ‘devoid of substance or interest’, much like the Google Junket. By the way Pixy, that thinly veiled insult was pretty darned snotty. Now I’m glad I looked it up. I shall retaliate, or maybe I already did. I lose track sometimes.

I also found the word Jackassery in the Dictionary too! And it means exactly what it sounds like. You learn something every day. In modern usage, we’d say Asshattery.

I’ve still got Safety and Splice for the next Junket. How about a few more ‘S’ words to add to the mix?

Posted by Ted at 10:21 AM | Comments (7)
Category: Google Junket

Mother Nature

She's like a houseguest that just won't leave.

According to radio reports, almost 200,000 people still are without power in Virginia. Flooding continues, closing major commuter routes, and one of the mass transit lines is shut down because of an enormous 20 foot deep sinkhole.

The massive amount of rain we got night before last (about 2" for us, some areas got up to 6") caused a little flooding in my basement. We handled it easily, because it happens almost every time we get significant rain.

The morning commute has been a bear the last couple of days, but I'm counting my blessings because I didn't have to deal with the mess yesterday. They had to close a 6-lane drawbridge for emergency repairs, but that was north of me, and I live south. Whew!

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Posted by Ted at 07:58 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

A Poem

Spring has sprung,
Fall has fell,
It's the end of September,
And wetter than usual.

with apologies to Nipsy Russell.

Posted by Ted at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

September 23, 2003

I can't help myself

Nic posted her favorite joke. Hey Victor, how can you not love that? That's funny!

Since it's apparently going around, I'll toss in my contribution.

What's green and sits in your backyard?

Paddy O'Furniture.

Posted by Ted at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Zuppa Toscana

The Olive Garden restaraunt chain serves this wonderful sausage and potato soup. I don't know if this recipe is identical, but it's very very close.

1 cups sweet sausage links (12 links)
3-4 slices bacon, cut up into small pieces
cup diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 medium potatoes
4 cups chicken stock (1 box of Swanson stock = 4 cups)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
red pepper flakes to taste for heat
2 cups Kale leaves, sliced into thin strips
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place sausages onto a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes or until done. Cut into half lengthwise and slice at an angle into " slices.

Cook bacon and onion together until onions are almost clear. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 minute.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise then cut into " thick slices.

Add Chicken stock, bouillon, pepper and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Add sausage, kale and cream. Return to boil, then simmer 5 minutes.

Posted by Ted at 08:35 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Recipes

My Y2K Story

Airplanes falling from the sky, microwaves working at half-power, medical machines going haywire, all civilization crumbles. All because of an event given a catchy little name (that’s what we demand in today’s world). “Year Two Thousand” just doesn’t ring in the ears like “Y2K”. A high-tech abbreviation to describe the real-life situation caused by another (necessary) high-tech abbreviation years before.

For the most part, Y2K was a letdown. Unheralded hundreds of thousands of people worked untold millions of hours to make it so. I was one of those folks, but my Y2K wasn’t quite the non-event that most of us had.

I am a mainframe programmer. I started out by punching IBM cards and stacking them together into ‘program decks’. No, I’m not that old, it’s just that the military is always a little behind the times. Proven technology is preferred over cutting-edge stuff that might not work when you most need it. Thinking about it just now, that punch card technology was still heavily used just 20 years ago.

In 1994, I was working as a civilian consultant to the U.S. Government. My partner and I (we were a two person contract) were discussing the upcoming ‘2000 situation’ and what we would need to worry about to prevent problems with our systems. This was even before the phrase “Y2K” was coined.

One day, we mentioned it to our client (the big boss) and she told us not to worry about it, because our systems were going to be replaced long before 2000. Part of what we get paid for is to anticipate problems and devise possible solutions to things that might not even happen. Knowing that replacing computer systems is a complex job, we weren’t nearly as confident as she was that it would happen before 2000, so we quietly did some preliminary analysis and wrote up some specs and notes.

Two years later, I’m sitting in my office and we get the official word that we have to convert our systems to be ‘Y2K compliant’. By now, the other guy has left for another project, and the staff consists of me, myself, and I.

I won’t go into a lot of detail, but I lived and breathed Y2K for the next four and a half years. Our systems contain over 2,000 separate programs and our data files maintain almost 10,000,000 (yep, million) records, and it’s all real-time. We – the government folks I worked with and I – busted our asses and got it done ahead of time and under budget.

So I was feeling pretty good about things.

My wife and I didn’t have any plans for December 31, 1999. We were just going to relax at home and have a quiet evening. Sometime after dinner, I mentioned to my wife that it felt like I’d just had a shot of Novocain and that my jaw felt funny. Within an hour, the numbness spread to the whole right side of my face and, after talking to the HMO duty-nurse, we were on the way to the emergency room.

They did a CAT scan, which told us that I hadn’t had a stroke (and that thought had never crossed my mind before that). In fact, the doctor came into the room and announced that ‘they looked at his entire head and didn’t find anything’, which cracked my wife up.

By now the entire right side of my face was paralyzed; can’t blink, can’t move my lips, nothing. The doctor tells me that I’ve got Bell’s Palsy. It’s an inflamation of the cranio-facial nerve (the third, in my case), and they don’t know what causes it. What happens is that the nerve runs through this little tiny tunnel in your skull, and when it gets inflamed, it pinches itself against the bone and gets damaged. They gave me steroids, which medical logic says will help, but they admitted that they almost never do. The nerve grows back ever so gradually, over the course of months.

Other than that, they just taught me some things I needed to be aware of. For instance, because I couldn’t blink my right eye anymore, I had to tape it shut before I went to bed so that it wouldn’t dry out. I had drops I had to put in my eye to keep it moist during the day. I figured out early on that I wasn’t the world’s best dinner partner, because food kept falling out of that side of my mouth. I drooled too. It was actually kind of funny, but I’d never laugh at anyone else who had it.

Probably the worst part was my sense of taste. It’s rare, but y’all know I’m special, so it was inevitable I guess. I completely lost the taste of sweet. Eating a cookie was like eating cardboard. Ranch dressing tasted like rancid buttermilk (to this day I can’t stand it). Think about your favorite foods, and imagine no sweetness at all in the flavor. Not fun.

My recovery was about 85% complete in the next year. Most people can’t even tell, but I can. I still slur the occasional word, and my right eye droops when I get tired. My sense of taste returned, thank God.

We were checking out of the ER that New Years Eve of Y2K, just about an hour before midnight. It suddenly struck me - I did all that work getting my computer systems ready to go, and it turned out that half my face was non-compliant. I told my wife that and laughed like a madman. She threatened to make me walk home.

Posted by Ted at 07:32 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Boring Stories

It could be a long season

I'm not a fair-weather fan, but last night my beloved Oakland Raiders looked like an old team a year past their prime. They're going to win some games, and possibly even make the playoffs, but it's going to be a roller-coaster ride this year.

Posted by Ted at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

September 22, 2003

Book tour

If you've seen the movie October Sky, or read the book Rocket Boys upon which the movie was based, then you've already met Homer Hickam. Homer was one of the original Rocket Boys, and he wrote the book as well as several more since. You may also remember that Homer Hickam went on to become an aerospace engineer with NASA, and helped design the Space Shuttle.

Homer Hickam will shortly be beginning a tour to promote his seventh book. Details and schedule can be found here. If you haven't read any of his stuff, I highly recommend it. He's also been very supportive of educational programs including the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

I posted this on the old blogspot site once, but it's one of my favorite pictures, so here it is again. Mookie and Homer Hickam, taken at the Team America Rocket Challenge 2003 Finals.


Picture taken by Brian Pratt.

Posted by Ted at 07:40 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

Safe and sound

John and crew have reported in. All's well in the land of SilverBlue, meaning nobody was hurt. They had a much rougher time of it than we did, that's for sure.

Posted by Ted at 11:13 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Good morning everyone! Let's jump right into it, eh?

I’ve been misspelling Kelley’s name now for a while, and she’s been kind enough not to have someone come by and break my kneecaps. Visit her at Suburban Blight, because she’s nice and her Cul-de-sac rocks.

Meanwhile, Kevin at Wizbang! survived Isabel while posting away despite losing power. That's dedication. In addition to that, he's always available to help people like me with technical problems. Check out the new in-line trackback ping-o-rama bling-bling at the end of my posts (those are my words, I'm sure Kevin would know the technical terms). Thanks Susie and Jen for pointing me at this.

Kevin also points to the story of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Honorable men like this are why we are free.

Post-Isabel pictures from Victor and Nic.

What do Wesley Clark and the Magic 8-ball have in common? Rattle their liquid-filled domes, and a random answer pops out. Read all about it at Jockularocracy.

Daniel expands upon the concept of moral relativism, and gets my vote for his entry in the New Blog Showcase. According to that concept, just because the other entrants exist, doesn't mean they're worth a crap, or something like that. I just skimmed the article, because it's full of big words.

Not Quite Tea and Crumpets shows another example of political correctness gone wild. No wonder our education system is all N’d up.

Rocket Man talks about ‘A Formidable Military Force’. Take his little quiz. You’ll learn something. I guarantee it. In case I'm not clear about this, I think this is a must-read. Why must I hint?

This guy is snotty and vicious, which is everything I like in recreational reading.

Megan, meet Tim. Tim, Megan. Two very good bloggers who happen to be devout Christians. Which reminds me of a t-shirt I saw once that said: "Be a Christian. Take a lion to lunch." Hey, I laughed.

Glenn over at Hi. I’m Black! is considering selling t-shirts. Pretty funny stuff, and make sure you read the comments. Unfortunately, when I tried to order one, he said I could never be considered an honorary black. That's why I used 'bling-bling' up above, I'm trying to build my street cred.

Harvey comes awful close to causing me to become curt with him by using a picture of my dog in his war of lies and propaganda. Note that my dog is an innocent bystander. Also note that it takes some doing to make me get curt. Unless you’re Mookie, in which case I can go from zero to “you’re grounded” in seconds.

Sanity’s Edge pointed out this endearing little screed. Thanks Paul! The last line is a classic. "...there's a reason why there are hundreds of statues of Charles Darwin and none of River Phoenix."

I forgot to thank Pixy Misa for his technical expertise. He keeps things running smoothly around Munuviana.

Finally, a quick tour of the weird. Mookie presents us with viking kitties. That's right, she wants to take us to a Gay Bar. This cracks me up every time.

Over at The Cheese Stands Alone, LeeAnn always seems to find the sublime. From the mildly odd to the entertainingly depressed, you owe it to your analyst to go visit.

Stevie, I reminded Mookie to get with you about your PC sounds. If she hasn’t contacted you yet, get ornery with her. I recommend grounding her, it does wonders for her cooperation and attitude.

Speaking of. FREE MOOKIE! Like Susie says, consistancy is for wimps.

Wow. I just realized that I used the following in a single post: moral relativism, Darwin, magic 8-ball, devout Christian, bling-bling, formidable military force, and street cred. Google is gonna turn up some interesting hits in the weeks to come.

Posted by Ted at 07:35 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Links

September 21, 2003

Too funny

I missed this one when it originally happened, but a friend pointed it out.

California Governor Gray Davis on his vision for the state: "My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," he said.

Another friend noted that Gray Davis is so boring that bringing out Al Gore was intended to "spice up" his campaign!

Posted by Ted at 05:48 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Politics

Dog Rules

1. Dogs are never permitted in the house. The dog stays outside in a specially built wooden compartment named, for a very good reason, the dog house.

2. Okay, the dog can enter the house, but only for short visits or if his own house is under renovation.

3. Okay, the dog can stay in the house on a permanent basis, provided his dog house can be sold in a yard sale to a rookie dog owner.

4. Inside the house, the dog is not allowed to run free and is confined to a comfortable but secure metal cage.

5. Okay, the cage becomes part of a two-for-one deal along with the dog house in the yard sale, and the dog can go wherever the heck he pleases.

6. The dog is never allowed on the furniture.

7. Okay, the dog can get on the old furniture but not the new furniture.

8. Okay, the dog can get up on the new furniture until it looks like the old furniture and then we'll sell the whole darn works and buy new furniture... upon which the dog will most definitely not be allowed.

9. The dog never sleeps on the bed. Period.

10. Okay, the dog can sleep at the foot of the bed.

11. Okay, the dog can sleep alongside you, but he's not allowed under the covers.

12. Okay, the dog can sleep under the covers, but not with his head on a pillow.

13. Okay, the dog can sleep alongside you under the covers with his head on the pillow, but if he snores he's got to leave the room.

14. Okay, the dog can sleep and snore and have nightmares in bed, but he's not to come in and sleep on the couch in the TV room, where I'm now sleeping. That's just not fair.

15. The dog never gets listed on the census questionnaire as "primary resident", even if it's true.

Posted by Ted at 05:16 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Chinese Space Shot

I mentioned in passing that the Chinese would be making their first attempt at manned space flight, probably around the first of October. As the Brazilians learned earlier this year, accidents can happen at any time and quickly turn triumph into tragedy. The Chinese have learned this lesson as well. Then again, like any totalitarian society, what's a few peons killed when you have an opportunity to steal technology?

Posted by Ted at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Commercial aircraft countermeasures

The Bush administration plans to spend about $100 million to develop an anti-missile system for commercial planes, more than originally discussed, reflecting concern that terrorists might try to use shoulder-fired rockets to shoot down an aircraft.

They're talking about things like Stingers and vintage Soviet SA-7's. Of course, this will be difficult and take time, which is one reason why certain members of congress are facilitating the crackdown on dangerous terrorists like Cub Scouts and others who fly hobby rockets and RC cars and planes. These politicians aren't interested in solving the problem, they're interested in appearing to be solving the problem.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has sponsored a bill to equip the 6,800 planes in the U.S. commercial fleet with some form of anti-missile device at an estimated cost of $10 billion. He said the Bush administration was still moving too slowly.

They must be taking care of us, because they're spending so much money. We're just not smart enough to appreciate it.

Posted by Ted at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

September 20, 2003

Thanks for the effort

A neighbor called this evening, letting us know that some friend of hers had called and said our water wasn't safe after the storm. It was during dinner, so my wife said she'd look for some info on the internet and let her know what was up.

Turns out that certain areas of our county get their water from Fairfax county, where they lost power at the water treatment plants. The notice warning us about the potential for unsafe water was buried on the county website. They tried real hard to spread the word. (sarcasm:off)

We're ok, because the morning of the storm we filled the dogs water with fresh, and we stockpiled quite a bit of water for drinking and cooking. Since it was there, that's what we've been using instead of tapwater. No real reason, just because.

If my neighbors turn into zombies from drinking mutant water, do I have to actually let them enter the house before I shoot them in the head?

Posted by Ted at 11:21 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Quality time

Mookie got grounded today. The details aren't important, suffice it to say that she did a half-assed job on one of her chores, and it caused some problems.

She tends to get moody in these situations, but the wife and I make it a point to get on her case about accepting the consequences and moving on. After dinner we went out back and threw a log into the firepit. The swing is still soaking wet from Isabel so we pulled up chairs and just sat and talked for a couple of hours. School, friends, world events, religion, favorite books, the conversation took some very interesting turns. It was a nice evening.

Posted by Ted at 11:14 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Boring Stories

Diminishing Returns

In Norway, they've harnessed the power of the tides to turn an underwater 'windmill' and generate electricity. So far, so good. The only problem is, the generating plant cost $11 million and will supply the needs of 30 homes.

Doesn't seem nearly worth it now, does it?

Posted by Ted at 10:07 PM | Comments (1)
Category: SciTech

Cleaning up

Taking a break... Mookie and mom went to work today, so I'm handling the cleanup by myself. It's not that bad. I just finished raking the backyard of all the sticks and leaves, and then swept the patio and walks. Now all that's left is putting things back where they belong, like flower pots and bird feeders. Found quite a few frogs, and managed to steer two into the raised flower bed before the dogs discovered them. It's fun watching the dogs find little creatures, because they've never hurt one yet, but man do they act fierce. And once the beastie gets away through the fence, then they come over for lovin' since I owe them my life. Funny as hell.

Seriously though, Sam our oldest dog (Skye terrier), will place himself between anything like that and my wife, and will not let it pass. He's getting up there in age, but acts like a youngster again when it comes to protecting the wife. He's a damn good dog.

We may have a casualty from the storm. Last night I went to run a load of laundry, and I think I may have damaged the water pump on the washer. For some reason, our water pressure in the neighborhood was low, and I'm guessing that the water pump had to work extra hard trying to do it's job. Now the washer is dripping water (into the tub) which isn't a good sign. The washer we have now is probably five or six years old, but the one before that was 'the washer that would not die', so we were terribly spoiled. I'll be annoyed, but not surprised if we have to get a new one in the near future.

Working outside for an hour, and I'm bushed. This last week took more out of me than I realized. Oh well. Back to it! Get these plants out and watered before Mr. Sun reaches their spot.

Posted by Ted at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Never say that

Everyone has 'hot' words that just make them cringe when used. I'm not talking about racially charged words or swear words. Just the everyday words that really bug them.

For example, I used to go bananas when my kids said they hated someone. For me, 'hate' isn't a word a child should be using against someone else. It was kind of hammered home one day when a group of kids, including mine, came up and announced that (talking about another kid) "they hated that idiot". Two parents immediated got involved, me and another dad, but while I was talking to mine about 'hating', he was chewing his kids out for the word 'idiot'. He couldn't stand the word. Drove him up a wall.

Later we were talking and I mentioned it. He thought I was kind of naive for the 'hate' thing and I tried to explain it wasn't just the word itself, it was the word applied to someone else for no reason other than you're mad at them at that moment. I asked him how he managed without the word idiot since there were so many of them around, and he cracked me up when he said the word asshole was a pretty decent substitute.

What makes you cringe when a child speaks? What words set you off no matter who says them?

Posted by Ted at 08:41 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Square Pegs

September 19, 2003

Happy Birthday

Not just another Munuvian, but the King Munuvian himself, celebrates his birthday on the 20th.

Happy Birthday Pixy Misa, and thanks for everything you've done. Here's hoping you have a great day!

A special tagline just for you:

There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who know binary, and those who don't.

Posted by Ted at 08:03 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Modern day pirates

(warning: full-on snark post follows)

Frnak Ethel wrote: "Since piracy really ended centuries ago, my main concern when encountering pirates would be how to get back to my own time."

I know it was a joke about pirates. He needed to say it as the setup to the punch line. But it struck me totally wrong, mainly in that Rush Limbaugh ‘any statement I pull out of my butt instantly becomes a fact’ kinda way.

Pirates are not just from hundreds of years ago. Not only does piracy still happen, but today’s pirates are infinitely more ruthless and bloodthirsty than our romantic image of them. Usually, a meeting with a modern pirate happens only once, because they automatically kill the crews of the ships they hijack. On rare occasions the passengers or crew (judged worth the trouble) may be sold to other groups interested in ransoming hostages. It’s an ongoing problem, and it’s serious in parts of the world.

Posted by Ted at 04:25 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Time for a little levity

I've told you before, and I'll tell you again: Go read the flea!

An Oxford museum has paid 240,000 pounds for a Renaissance plate which shows a male head made up entirely of phalluses.

The head is framed by a garland carrying the inscription: "Ogni homo me guarda come fosse una testa de cazi" (Every man looks at me as if I were a dickhead).

Archeology means intelligent ladies in khaki and glasses. Mmmmmmm. And no, I'm not talking about Lara Croft. Try the History or Discovery channels once in a while.

Meanwhile, over at Bad State of Gruntledness, Matt points the way to my new number 1 on the Christmas List. Hockey Lego!!! Matt and Victor, I'm in a (free) Fantasy Hockey League and last time I checked they need more teams... interested?

More later. Gotta go get ready for the dentist. Boy, that's a phrase I never thought I'd say so cheerfully.

Posted by Ted at 11:08 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

After-Action Report

Here’s a wrapup of our little corner of Isabellaville.

My wife was supposed to go in to work today at noon, and we expected the worst part of the trip to be getting out of our neighborhood to the main roads. She works for an optometrist in Manassas (~20 miles away), and the doctor called this morning to report that she had no power. Don’t bother coming in unless she calls. Good deal.

I called my dentist to check on the situation there (very local). No problemo, see you at noon. Woot!

The extent of our problems around the house was two upstairs windows directly facing the wind were accumulating some water inside the window sill. I carried two sopping wet towels downstairs this morning. That’s it, except for some raking and sweeping outside.

Normally, an inch of rain here causes some basement flooding. What happens is that the rain soaks into the ground and runs downhill to the creek which is behind our houses. There’s a thick layer of clay a couple of feet down which keeps the rain from deep soaking so the water winds up flowing under and around our row of townhouses. When it gets to where the water can’t drain fast enough, it comes up into our basement between the slab and the foundation. We’ve lived in this house now for almost 15 years and I cannot prevent the flooding, but I can minimize it and control where it happens. I’ve got it to where any water we get soaks a small corner of my workshop. I can keep up with it with towels and a wet vac, no problem. All the important stuff is already up off the floor.

So we got way more than an inch, and I expected to be in bad shape, flood-wise. Instead, we got not a drop. What I think happened this time is that the rain fell so fast that it didn’t have time to soak in very much, and most of it drained as surface runoff, for which we’re very well prepared. Whew!

Update (this section):
We just heard from my sister-in-law. Her mother-in-law (my brother-in-laws mom) has a beautiful piece of property in Baltimore harbor, surrounded on three sides by water. It’s the core of their whole extended family, because everyone picnics there and keeps their boats there and fishes from there, etc. They’ve flooded before, you kinda expect it living that close to the water. But this time, everything is pretty much destroyed or under water. It's just wiped clean. Nobody was hurt, but they lost every last bit of everything they owned. No flood insurance either, because living where they did, they couldn't afford the premiums, and the coverage was exteremely limited.

So yeah, I’m counting my blessings this morning, because this storm was absolutely zip for me personally, but I know that it could’ve been much much worse.

Much of old-town Alexandria is underwater, but cleanup is already going on as waters recede. Of course, the worst of the flooding happens tomorrow and Monday when all that rain from the west comes down the rivers towards the bay.

Anyone hearing anything at all from John, Tink and crew, or WindRider, Bill, and the rest of the Virginia Beach gang? It sounds like Kevin and Victor and Nic are doing fine. Think good thoughts folks, it ain’t over for everyone.

Posted by Ted at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

All over but the shoutin'

We - personally - dodged a major bullet with this one.

No more major trees down in the immediate vicinity.

We lost electricity for a short time early this morning. NOVEC rocks!

To the north, Fairfax county lost power to it's water treatment plants, so folks have to boil their tap water before using. I think people are going door-to-door to pass the word because they still have widespread power outtages.

Update: Loudon county is also having water problems, as is the city of Alexandria. Now they're telling folks to drink bottled water, because natural gas has been turned off in areas around the counties.

Flooding is still our biggest worry, but we're sitting up pretty high that I'm not too concerned. Our basement stayed dry. Wonder of wonders. I estimate somewhere around 6" of rain fell. It's true people, prepare for the worst, and it won't happen to you.

More later. Gonna go take a walk.

Posted by Ted at 07:45 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

September 18, 2003

Just because I want them dead doesn't mean I don't like them

I had mentioned over at Serenity's that she needed a Spider Frame. It's really a neat little idea, and a perfect point of interest in the garden. Easy to make too.

While you're at it, try some of these other variations for your garden residents. A butterfly house can be very cool. There are simple plans here to build your own.

And if you really want to keep the mosquitos down, how about one of these? The bathouse shown at the link looks to be more elaborate than is really necessary, but the extras look functional.

Just to be conventional, here's a simple birdhouse plan. The key to a successful birdhouse is the size of the opening and the interior space. Ours followed this basic plan, with just a few variations.

First, our lid was solid instead of hinged, and provided an overhang on both sides as well as the front. Under the eaves were small ventilation holes.

Second, on our house, the bottom was screwed on with small drywall screws. They're self-tapping, and removing the bottom allows you to clean out the old nest during the late winter or early spring. It's a good idea to cut a couple of drainage holes in the bottom too.

Third, and this was the most fun for us, was we cut two windows in the sides of the birdhouse. What I mean is, most of the two opposite sides were made of clear plexiglass, so that you could see what was going on inside the house. The birds don't mind. You can get scrap plexiglass cheap at the hardware store.

Here's another simple birdhouse plan. You can use plain pine board, not redwood or cedar, but stain the outside to protect it. Never use pressure treated wood.

Our birdhouse lasted five or six years, and all we really did was clean it out every spring and hit the outside with a coat of redwood stain every few years. We had birds every year.

In the springtime, if we give the dogs a haircut, we'll take the trimmings out back and put them on the ground. The local birds will find the hair and incorporate it into their nests as padding. Little scraps of cloth and yarn work well too.

Posted by Ted at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links


Federal Government closed tomorrow.

First fatality reported. A car in Anne Arundel county was swept away by floodwaters.

I took a walk around the neighborhood and things are looking ok. We're about two hours from the eye band, and between the smaller rain bands. It's windy, but mostly dry for the moment. Lots of little branches down, but no more big ones that I could see.

Posted by Ted at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

How big would the trap be?!?!?!

A rodent the size of a buffalo? Researchers say they have found fossils for a 1,545-pound giant that thrived millions of years ago in a swampy South American forest.

"Imagine a weird guinea pig, but huge, with a long tail for balancing on its hind legs and continuously growing teeth," according to scientists.

There's a book I remember reading several years ago that I got from the library, called The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution, by Dougal Dixon. Full of colorful drawings and imaginative text, the basic premise was the question 'What would the animal kingdom be like if dinosaurs hadn't died out?'. Very fun and interesting to read, especially if you read it to an inquisitive child.

Update: Daniel scooped me on this one by over two hours. That's what I get for napping this afternoon.

Posted by Ted at 05:45 PM | Comments (4)
Category: SciTech

I wonder why

By now, we've all seen the hurricane coverage, and I got to wondering about those two red and black flags they keep using as the background graphic. Read all about it here.

I love international standards. But if it were "Ted's Universe", the flag symbol for Hurricane would the the 'T' and 'F' flags.

Tango Foxtrot.

Update: The news has just reported a possible Coast Guard rescue attempt in the Outer Banks. Apparently, three people in a car are stranded on an island ordered evacuated a couple of days ago. Instead of a rescue, why not let nature winnow the herd by a few idiots.

Also, despite Metro announcing that they would suspend service at 11am this morning (which prompted the Federal Government to close for the day), there are still oblivious fools who didn't get the word. One old man stranded downtown smiled at the camera and said he'd walk home after work. "About an hour," he said. In a hurricane. Is it mean to think that it'd be fun to attach a GPS tracker to him and watch his hike on screen? I wonder which direction he lives in, the wind could shorten his trip to 20 minutes.

Posted by Ted at 12:09 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Uh oh

Eleven AM, and the news just announced almost a quarter million people without electricity in Virginia already... Isabel isn't quite ashore in North Carolina yet.

Mookie just let me know the school district is closed tomorrow. She's been a trooper helping out around here. To show how much I appreciated her help, I told her that her older brother and sister were adopted. She liked that a lot.

Posted by Ted at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

A couple of quickies

For the science inclined among us:

After eight years orbiting Jupiter, NASA's Galileo space probe will end its long mission on Sunday by plunging through the Jovian cloud tops and smashing into the giant planet -- collecting data as it goes.

I don't think our successes get nearly enough press. Pioneer, Galileo, Voyager, Hubble, and many more. Great programs all, but people don't remember them. This satellite lasted 6 years longer than expected. More from the article:

The end doesn't sound pretty.

"The spacecraft will reach the outermost layers of Jupiter's atmosphere, which is very dense," Lopes said. "There will be a lot of friction. (Galileo) will begin to burn and crush and disintegrate and then it will just vaporize and become part of Jupiter."

Unless of course, it hits something living in that thick soup of an atmosphere. Yeah, I read too much science fiction. However it happens, my thanks to the team of engineers and scientists who concieved, designed, managed and controlled this spectacular endevour.

It just struck me... nah, I need to think this one out a little (making a note)... this might become a separate post later.

Also on the home front:

New Apollo-Style Capsules Could Replace Shuttles

Some of the preliminary designs I've seen (artist renditions) make it look kinda like the old Soviet Soyuz craft, with pieces strung together like beads. Except whereas Soyuz was circular, Apollo is wedge shaped. Interesting ideas, there'll be more about this coming out, no doubt.

Betcha we hear something interesting come October 1st. The Chinese space program is modeled on the Soviet, so announcing a flight prior to it's actual success is somewhat rare. It's easier to deny a failure if nobody knows ahead of time that you're trying. Of course, they still hedge a little bit:

"As far as I know, all the preparatory work for the launching of Shenzhou V is going very smoothly," Science and Technology Minister Xu Guanhua told a news conference.

The Chinese have had four consecutive successful test flights with their booster and Shenzhou spacecraft, so this should be same-same, except that this time they'll have taikonauts aboard. The Shenzhou craft is an updated and improved version of the Soviet Soyuz.

Hey, I think we could use a little Space Race to spur things. Let's see (talking off the top of my head here), Russia couldn't afford to go it alone, but I'm not sure they would want to partner up with Uncle Sam. They might feel it less humiliating for them to team with China. In the other corner would be the U.S., Japan, Canada, Great Britain... Would Brazil join? Maybe. France? I'd expect them to say no, just to be French, and continue to concentrate on their little niche.

Update: Over at Scientific American Online (my favorite print magazine), they have a nice article about China's space program.

Posted by Ted at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

Fluff is as fluff does

I usually don't pay much attention to the entertainment world, but this one struck a nerve.

Spike Lee, whose movies often have a political edge, says Americans need to think more about important issues and lay off the fluff.

Like suing because you think your first name is a trademark?

Fucking idiot.

Posted by Ted at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

September 17, 2003

Just a couple of things

Before I try to get to sleep.

I saw Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring today for the first time. I've been holding off because I wanted to see them all at one time. Damn, it was goooood.

I also saw Fast and the Furious this week for the first time. A lot better than I expected.

The federal government in Washington DC announced it would be closed tomorrow. This kinda sucks because my policy is that if I take a day off, it's my leave. If Uncle Sam takes a day, I charge them 8 hours regular time (like for blizzards, etc). I've already let everyone know that I was taking the rest of this week off sick, dammit.

My wife has to work until noon tomorrow. Dammit.

We have a parking spot right in front of our townhouse that we usually use. My new neighbor is a nitwit, and has been bitching about us monopolizing that space. Tonight it was open so he gleefully pulled in and made a big deal about getting 'our' space. When it rains hard tomorrow, that space will flood, probably high enough to flood the inside of his POS. Dumbass. I made sure there are fresh batteries in the cameras, because I want to take pictures of him trying to save his raft.


Posted by Ted at 10:55 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

I Love The History Channel

I was just watching a show about British warships. It wasn't about any specific thing, mostly general information and contrast between the old 'sail' navy and todays modern version. Among the interesting stuff I learned:

Admiral Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar was the HMS Victory. Her main foresail from that battle was discovered in a forgotten sail locker 150 years later. It had 90 cannonball holes in it.

One of the most effective battle maneuvers was called crossing the ‘T’, where your ship would pass directly in front or behind the enemy. This allowed you to rake him, firing your guns down the length of his deck without him being able to respond. The HMS Victory raked a French ship at Trafalgar, and with one shot of a carronade (a type of anti-personnel cannon), put 25 enemy cannon out of commision and killed or wounded 300 sailors.

When a new captain took command of a ship, one of his first tasks was to have the ship’s carpenter build him a box that was hung as the captain’s hammock. It would be decorated with drapes and tapestries made by his wife or mistress. If the captain died, they’d nail on a lid and bury him at sea in it.

The British threw their dead overboard during battle to keep the decks clear. The French took theirs below and buried them amid the ballast after the battle, because a Catholic French widow could not remarry without proof of her husbands’ death. Imagine the smell.

The best of the furniture aboard would be bagged in canvas and put aboard the ships boats before battle. The boats would then be towed along behind the ship. The Portuguese, French and British navies had a gentleman’s agreement not to target each others furniture.

Jennifer posted a list of naval punishments, most being lashings with the whip. In the British navy, the person wielding the cat-o-nine-tails was required to clean the whip between each stroke because blood and flayed flesh would cause the tails to clump together, reducing the effectiveness of the lash.

Posted by Ted at 12:31 PM | Comments (5)
Category: History

A great idea

Let's hope the implementation lives up to the potential.

(from Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup)

Imagine if you will, someone looking up the name of a senator opposed
to improving the lot of hobby rocketry. This person would write
letters - not to the senator, but to the entities funding the senator.
This person would tell said entities how unhappy they were with the
senator's position. This person would tell said entity that they would
be boycotted until they a) quit funding the senator or b) got the
senator to change his or her mind.

So what? One person writing letters doesn't accomplish much.

But imagine what would happen if everyone here started writing

If you thought the senators were amazed at how many letters we
generated, imagine what the corporations would think!

Posted by Ted at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Politics

Yet another reason to hate politicians

Get a load of this.

I've bitched about this before, both here and on my old blogspot site, about how the Homeland Security Act has gotten way out of control, aided by some rather stupid members of congress.

I'll excerpt the part that's making my blood boil, you can read the whole report here.

Briefly, Senate bill S.724 was introduced by Senator Enzi in order to provide relief to hobbyists that were inadverdantly impacted by the Safe Explosives Act passed after 9/11. The key point being that the rocket fuel we use doesn't explode by any definition.

Excerpts are in italics.

As we head into the final months of the first session of the 108th Congress, the substitute Enzi bill, S. 724, is stalled in the U.S. Senate due to holds placed by Sens. Schumer (D-NY) and Lautenburg (D-NJ).

NAR/TRA met this week with the Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel to
Senator Lautenburg. While the meeting was cordial, it was clear that
there is little, if any, likelihood of persuading Sen. Lautenburg to
remove his hold. His concerns are not necessarily with APCP being used
to make a bomb, or with a terrorist actually delivering a payload with
an amateur rocket, but with the potential "mayhem" that such a person
could cause by misusing an amateur rocket or rocket propellant. A
specific example given was a person launching two or three large amateur
rockets in close proximity to Newark International Airport during a busy
flight schedule, the theory being that such an act would cause
widespread panic. Arguments about the low probability of such an event,
its actual impact, the fact that such an act is already illegal, etc.,
were not persuasive. We were told that the mere potential for such an
act warrants "heavy regulation regardless of the burden imposed" on
[emphasis mine]

The low-probability potential for an already illegal act is enough to cause these two to take away your freedoms. According to these guys, if the government doesn't specifically allow it, you can't.

Several calls to Sen. Schumer's office have not produced a return call or meeting, but we have nonetheless gone to the Senator's office to provide them with a direct rebuttal to the ATF "views" letter sent to Sen. Hatch in June.

And the other 'servant of the people' won't even talk about the issue. Hobby rocketry is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but they've already begun to make moves against RC airplanes and cars as well. It's the baby steps people, that'll get you every time.

Posted by Ted at 08:49 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Rocketry


I just wrote a long vitriolic rant about being sick and hating things in general, then deleted it before posting because I just needed to vent. Instead, here's the short version.

Today I'm going to see the dentist again to ask about getting my antibiotics changed. I think whatever infection I have is resistant to Amoxicillin (sp?), because the swelling isn't going down. If anything it's getting worse. I'm starting to have pain in my ear now, which makes me not want to drive in case my inner-ear is affected. It's starting to really annoy me. In addition, I have to have my wife call my client to explain why I'm not coming into work again, and my home office to let them know what's going on. My voice has gotten worse every day; I now sound like a cross between Elmer Fudd and a stuttering Sri Lankan schoolteacher trying to take class attendance. Damn near unintelligable. Oh yeah, Isabel is coming straight towards us again.

Wow. I just rewrote that rant... whattayaknow.

Update (to the update): I talked to my dentist - she answers her own phone! - and she immediately agreed to change my antibiotic and called it in to the pharmacy. My wife will be picking it up before noon. I admit it ladies, we guys would be lost without y'all sometimes. And as soon as I feel better, I'll deny ever saying such a silly thing.

Posted by Ted at 07:00 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Boring Stories

Yahoo Messenger

I just realized that I have Yahoo Messenger loaded on my PC - I don't think I've used it in a couple of years. If you want to IM me, look for:


What else would it be, eh? The '77' is the year I graduated high school, for all you curious whippersnappers.

Anyways, it'll be on from now on if you want to talk. Entertaining hate messages, amusing trolls, and obscene messages gladly welcomed.

Posted by Ted at 02:16 AM | Comments (3)
Category: SciTech

September 16, 2003

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

I can't talk much, but I can type.

Over at Ambient Irony, Pixy Misa talks about his nephew’s second birthday and how kids today soak up technology without even trying. He has some interesting insights.

Susie discovers yet another odd characteristic she shares with Instapundit. As much as she tries to hide it, I think there’s an attraction there. Worst kept secret in the world there, Susie.

Jennifer treats everyone to a historical briefing on herself. I can relate to the whole spider thing, but she’s, well... you know, from Wisconsin. Doesn’t that mean you have to wear frozen wedges of cheese on your head and sit in snowstorms to watch football? That goes beyond eccentric and into the scary.

Tuning Spork of Blather Review has a bit of a keyboard problem, which he manages to relate in the modern version of pidgin english. Meanwhile, Stevie seems to be having other-than-keyboard troubles.

Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.Cherry relates several funny stories about people having a stupid tough time.

Victor and his girlfriend went to see the stage production of one of his favorite movies. He also makes it clear that he’s not a Steve Spurrier fan. He also had several rat birthdays this month. Our cup runneth over.

Mookie is doing a poll to select her new header graphic. She’s a nut for the Geico gecko (I have no idea why), and one of her fashion statements is a pair of these huge nuts – as in ‘nuts and bolts’ that she wears on a chain around her neck. She is so much her own person.

It’s ‘sit by the phone day’ over at Chez Cheese.

The little one is getting ready for hurricane Isabel. So are we. For some reason, this one is beginning to scare me. Might have something to do with it being my first hurricane. My wife went through Agnes back in the 70’s (she was a little kid), but I’m a west coast boy and I grew up with earthquakes that last a few minutes, not storms the size of Colorado.

Fellow Munuvian Daniel had a good weekend for his fantasy football team. He’s also featured in this weeks New Blog Showcase over on The Truth Laid Bear. Link to his entry, because he makes some great points in his article. Or link to him because, like myself, people will say “Wow, Ted must be smart to read such intelligent stuff”. Just make sure you hide the comic books when they’re around.

Mr. Green has a life.

Alphecca is one blog that I try to read every day. Jeff has interesting things to say, and he’s a helluva writer. He’s also part of a group of firearm enthusiasts who’ve started the Shooters Carnival. If you don’t already, you should stop by Alphecca and catch up with Jeff. Also, check out the Carnival, regardless of your personal position regarding guns. Without educating yourself about the subject, how can you have an informed opinion, eh?

Wanna get controversial? Dean Esmay, Average White Guy and Tasberry all take a look at aspects of racism, each in their own style.

Starhawk over at Freedom Lives has done a redesign of his site. I like it a lot!

A is a hockey fan. Enjoy Owen Nolan, he’s fun to have on your team.

I’ve mentioned this before, when grieving families decide to go for the bucks. Publicola shows the perfect example, where the family admits that they’d get nothing from the killers – who are in prison – so they go after the gun store where the guns were stolen from and two burglar alarm companies.

Paul is having staff problems. Is there a fact-checker in the house? Experience preferred. I'd suggest introducing yourself to his wife at the earliest opportunity to avoid embarrassment in case anyone is miked.

Serenity has completed her trek to Houston. Safe and sound. Read her trip report, it reminds me of a few cross-country drives I made when I was young and foolish.

The guys at Silent Running talk about a danger that we can’t detect and can’t defend against, coming at us from the stars themselves. A cosmic fart of the ‘silent but deadly’ variety.

John has summed up this summer nicely with this cartoon. My backyard has stayed wet enough to grow moss on the stepping stones.

I’ve seen references to this (thanks Kelly among others), and haven’t paid it much mind. But with Isabel looming large, it’s beginning to seem like a damn fine time to cut loose and get a little silly before we have to get very serious. I’ll be on the widows-walk with me spyglass. Aye, there the beastie be!

Tiger redecorated. I know that everyone sees these pages a little differently depending on browser version and stuff, so take this for what it’s worth (absolutely nothing). I don’t like the new format, and apparently I'm alone in that opinion. On my machine, it’s just hard to read. I’ll give it a try at work over lunch, that might make all the difference in the world.

Al reminds us that it’s National POW/MIA Awareness Week. For more information, I’d suggest contacting your local American Legion or VFW post.

Oh yeah, I changed the name of my “Links Roster” category to “All the cool people and places”. Mainly because that way it’s almost at the top of my category list, and easier to find. Since I use that list more than my blogroll to get around, I’ll point you to a few blogs that I’ve been enjoying recently:

Terra Taco makes me think. Always a good thing. Rocketman also makes me think. Still a good thing. And he’s moved too (note to self: update his link). And these guys make me hungry. Never a bad thing. Enjoy.

Posted by Ted at 10:57 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Links

National Archives News

I saw a story on the news this morning about the reopening of the National Archives exhibit of the US Constitution, Declaration of Independance and Bill of Rights in Washington DC. They’re doing a ‘citizens poll’ to select the 10 most important documents in American History. Read about it, and vote online, here. Now I’m annoyed, because I can’t find a link to it online, even from the news channel I saw the story on.

While googling for the 'poll' site mentioned above, I ran across this one at Liberty Story. I haven’t dug deeply into it yet, but it appears to be something worth spending time on. As an aside, I had the chance to view the original Magna Carta in Boston several years ago. It amazes me that simple ink and paper can become so awe-inspiring.

And here's another online archive site worth looking into, if you're into history.

Posted by Ted at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

This can only be good news

Oops, I fogot. It's a quagmire.

Posted by Ted at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Military

September 15, 2003

Rocket Jones’ Great Random Google Junket

Ok, for reasons I talked about below, I didn't do the Junket last night. I do need more suggestions folks, so keep it up. The comments are down below, just leave a word, any word. And we'll see what back alley we wind up in, eh?

Tonight's words:
Snorkle - from LeeAnn
Ricochet - from Tuning Spork
Nyquil - from Jennifer
and a special request from Victor for

1. Snorkle + ricochet - I’m not going to post any links for this combo, because the first several were all about ATV’s. Go figure.

2. Nyquil + ricochet - brought up two uninteresting sites, the first is a message board where we read "Tanks Ushiro. I tink I will ricochet back to bed now and hug my Nyquil..", and a site where we can learn all about a singer/songwriter from Taos, New Mexico, who’s written songs titled Nyquil Blues and Ricochet. Mike, you've just been Rocket Jonesed. Do you think I'd be pushy if I asked for a percentage of future gross?

3. nyquil + snorkle - this is a natural, eh? Only one travel hit, and we learn "They use mint liqueur and it tastes like Nyquil!"

Which brings us to 4. Stevespurriercantcoachhiswayoutofapeepeesoakedpaperbag - which against all reason brought up zero hits. Being the persistant type, I slightly edited the search criteria to "Steve Spurrier coach paper bag" and whattayaknow... 258 hits.

This is typical: "Can Steve Spurrier coach his way out of a wet paper bag, or is it back to the NCAA for him?" I saw similar sentiments on more than one online betting site. Looks like he’s not convincing people that he can coach in the NFL.

So there you have it. Leave a word. Be amazed and amused. Besides, it keeps me off the porn sites.

Posted by Ted at 08:43 PM | Comments (10)
Category: Google Junket

Air Shows

Fellow Munuvian Stevie went to an airshow yesterday and had a great time.

We've recently been hearing about the annual Oshkosh Airshow up in Wisconsin. Some rocket buddies of mine live up in that area and get to see it every year. It sounds great. My favorites are the biplane originally built in 1937 and modified to fly with a Lear-jet engine slung underneath, and the grand finale - the Wall of Fire. Basically, they simulate a bomb drop by overflying warbirds. The wall is ¼ mile long and reaches the height of a three story building. Neat (if you like smoke and fire – and I do)!

Not all the Airshow news was good though:

Thunderbird Jet crashes at Idaho Airshow

The amazing part of that story is that the pilot stood up and waved to the crowd, because you can't imagine how violent an airplane ejection can be. If nothing else, today he feels like the entire NFL used him for tackle dummy practice.

I saw the video of the crash, and he did a fine job keeping the aircraft under control. Something you may have noticed is that the crash happened parallel to the crowd.

I believe that it's a requirement of U.S. airshows (at least) that the aircraft do not fly over the crowd. It's been that way since the Flugtag Airshow disaster in 1988. Three Italian aircraft clipped each other during their performance and one crashed into the watching spectators. We were stationed at Ramstein AB at the time, and some of my people were on the ground near where the plane impacted. My kids and I weren't there, because we had watched the practice the day before, and went to a carnival instead. My son's teacher was severely burned, and we had neighbors who were killed. My kids had nightmares for years about that, and to this day we haven't gone to another airshow.

Airshows are cool, but the danger is there, and when things go wrong they can go spectacularly wrong in a hurry.

Posted by Ted at 07:58 PM | Comments (16)
Category: Flugtag '88 Flugtag '88

New Blog Showcase

Daniel has an entry in the latest showcase, and it's a good one! Well, until the thin air of Mile High gets to him at the end.

Posted by Ted at 07:11 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Hola Amigos y Amigas

Yep, I've not been posting like I normally do. You may remember that on friday last I mentioned coming down with a cold, and the sinus pressure being so bad that my teeth hurt. Well, it wasn't sinus pressure. I went to the dentist this morning on an emergency basis, it turns out that I've got a cracked molar and it got infected. The whole side of my face is swollen. So I've been prowling around like a grouchy bear, sleeping 20 minutes at a time and eating nothing but the occasional bowl of soup. This morning the dentist couldn't even extract the broken tooth because the swelling is so severe, so I'm on antibiotics and hopefully (Isabel willing) I can have it taken out friday afternoon.

On the plus side, my wife has taken very good care of me during all of this, and this new dentist I went to today is a real cutie. My old dentist sold his practice and moved to Florida - rat bastard.

On the down side, according to all the weather reports, when you see the projected path of Isabel, the 'most likely' line passes right over my area. It's still a few days out, but we've already started doing a few little things like making sure all the flashlights have batteries and filling the BBQ propane tank.

So that's what's been happening in my world. I'm back and getting better, but don't ask me about it in person, because I'm still a day or two away from actually being able to speak. I've been told though that it's real entertaining watching me try.

Posted by Ted at 06:58 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

September 14, 2003

Homosexual Agenda

We've all heard about it, now we can finally see it for ourselves, laid out in black and white. From a column in the San Francisco Chronicle, via IndecisionGirl.

Homosexual Agenda
6 a.m. Gym.
8 a.m. Breakfast (oatmeal and egg whites).
9 a.m. Hair appointment.
10 a.m. Shopping (preferably at Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom).
11 a.m. Brunch.
2 p.m. Assume complete control of the federal, state and local governments.
Destroy Christian marriage. Replace all school counselors in grades K-12
with militant recruiters for the homosexual lifestyle. Bulldoze all houses
of worship or redecorate them as discos. Secure total control of the
Internet and all mass media. Be utterly fabulous!
2:30 p.m. Get 40 winks of beauty rest to prevent facial wrinkles from the
stress of world conquest; aromatherapy.
4 p.m. Cocktails.
6 p.m. Light dinner (soup, salad [arugula with balsamic vinegar dressing],
8 p.m. Theater.
10:30 p.m. Cocktails in a charming neighborhood bistro.
Midnight. Bed (du jour).

There it is. Decide for yourself.

Posted by Ted at 11:21 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Science for the sake of science

Here are some interesting experiments that you may have thought of, but never bothered to do.

Strawberry Pop Tarts. Incendiary devices. Why not both in one handy foil pouch?

The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project. They even post the results of their tests in haiku.

From this page: "Ordinary grapes, when properly prepared and microwaved, spark impressively in an extremely entertaining manner."
Isn’t that what life is all about?

Funny things to do with your microwave. Kids, don’t do this without parental supervision and permission. Mookie, the answer is no.

More stupid microwave games. And you thought the only fun stuff in the kitchen was in the knife drawer.

Posted by Ted at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)
Category: SciTech

Happy birthday Jennifer

Have a wonderful day, Jen!

Posted by Ted at 07:53 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

September 13, 2003

Rocket Jones' Great Random Google Junket

Without further ado:

Today's words were ashtray (suggested by Starhawk), dartboard (suggested by Gebiv - no URL), pimp (suggested by Mookie), and staplegun (suggested by Tuning Spork). Staple gun - according to Google - is two words, so that's what I used. Here we go.

1. Ashtray + dartboard + staple gun
Two entries of note (actually, there were only two), a list of money-making ideas, and a bunch of polls. Mmmmm, haggis!

Pimp didn't lend itself well to multiple word searches, so I did it one at a time with the other words.

2. pimp + ashtray
Phat Pimp Clothing. And other assorted useless things for sale.

3. pimp + dartboard
Pimp & Ho dart team. There's something very fruedian going on here.

4. pimp + staple gun
A short story titled Massage Parlor Murder. I just skimmed it, but I don't think it's porn. That doesn't mean it's any good. Then again, it doesn't mean it's not.

And finally, a little teaser from part of tomorrow's list:

5. Snorkel + Nyquil
Check out IndecisionGirl. It's a pretty fun read, but it looks like she's lost interest in her blog.

There ya go. Suggest words, get links up the wazoo. Don't suggest words, and get a lynx up the wazoo.

Posted by Ted at 09:07 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Google Junket

Get thee away temptress!

I always wanted to write that. Speaking that would be another matter, because if the situation ever did come up, I'd cave in nothing flat and give in to temptation. Just something for my lovely lady visitors to mentally file away.

While I'm waiting in vain, here's a handful of eye candy. Some are educational, one is for two people to play with. Some of these use Java or Flash, so if they don’t work for you, oh well. Many of these are tiny little things and should load quickly. Have fun.

This is one of my all-time favorite sites on the web. I know Serentity is a science nut, so she'll especially enjoy this.

Balls. A hypnotic little time-waster.

More cool graphics stuff to watch.

Tres cool! Roll over the squares with your mouse and watch the fun.

Enjoy this little charmer.

Try this interactive guide to distances in the solar system and feel really really small. Use the scroll bar on the side of the screen to truly appreciate this one.

Tanks for the memories. I know, I know. Pretend it's me in the other one and take revenge for the rotten pun.

Nifty little kaleidoscope.

And lastly, I don’t care what you think, this one is kinda creeps me out.

Posted by Ted at 03:36 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Summer Cold

Ok, I got it from my wife, who got it from Mookie. As Rachel Lucas would say, Mookie is double-plus ungood. She'd also say that Mookie is no longer my precioussssss. I'm ornery, so I say Mookie is out of the will. This basically means that she won't have to pick up her share of the funeral expenses, because I plan to die broke but happy. I'm well on my way to achieving my goal.

Between the weather front sitting over the top of the area, and my stuffed up head, the sinus pressure is making my teeth hurt, and every time I blow my nose it feels like my eyeballs are going to pop out of my skull. If that happens, I promise pictures.

Don't forget to leave your word entries for the Google game. Susie has suggested a great name, but it's not final yet, so everything will be considered.

Update: despite the vicious attack on my character by Susie, I've linked her now and can only apologize for forgetting to do so in my medicine-fogged state.

Posted by Ted at 09:16 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Square Pegs

Secret Agent Man

"They've given you a number, and taken away your name."

Sorry. Old song, recently redone I think. They're everywhere nowadays, but what the heck are they saying? It's like some super secret code or something.

More than you've ever wanted to know about UPC's and barcodes. Well, maybe not. Gotta run, my shoe is ringing.

Posted by Ted at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

September 12, 2003

Game Results

This worked out pretty good people! I got three quick entries from Victor, Jennifer and StMack, and then Tuning Spork chipped in with a fourth.

If you have no idea what this game is about, check the rules here. You'll notice that I changed things a little bit to work better.

Today's words:

Victor: coelacanth (google insisted it was spelled this way Victor)
Jennifer: amaretto
StMack: elastic
Tuning Spork: camera

1. Coelacanth + amaretto
Only one site was found for this combo, and it asked a bunch of weird questions. My favorite is “What are looser than normal in a double-jointed person?

I’d guess morals, but that’s just me being hopeful.

2. Coelacanth + elastic
From the first site hit:
Tokyo, January 19, 2001 -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), has started production of the world's first, radio-controlled lifelike robotic fish to be made available on the market, dubbed "Mitsubishi Animatronics." The animatronic device is in the likeness of a coelacanth, an ancient fish called a "living fossil." MHI is creating the lifelike creature in the hopes of marketing it and similar animatronic system to amusement parks and aquariums.

When Chucky Cheese gets stale, you just trot out the prehistoric fish robot. Be still my heart.

3. elastic + amaretto
Wow. An online bartender guide comes up first on the list, with a recipe for a drink called the:

Purple Elastic Thunder Fuck

4. coelacanth + camera + elastic
This one is... uh... interesting. Very avant-garde. Interesting. Uh... yeah.

5. camera + elastic + amaretto
This combo brings up a promotional marketing site. Besides corporate-logo’d frisbees and paper clip holders, you can get see-thru cameras, ball on an elastic string (a popular seller I’m sure), and the dreaded non-alcoholic amaretto-flavored truffles.

There you have it. Pretty good I think, so keep the words coming! Now, about the title, I've come up with a few names, but they're pretty uninspired I think. Let's hear your suggestions.

'Googling Gone Wild'
'Rorshach was a piker'
'Buckaroo Bill's Barnacle Bondage Roundup' [sorry - wrong game]
'Under Google's Basement Steps'

Posted by Ted at 10:29 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Google Junket

New game

Time for a little group participation game, inspired by reading about wierdness other bloggers find in their search engine stats.

Here's the rules:

In the comments, post a word. Any word. The first thing that comes to mind. Don't even look at what other words folks have suggested first, just let it be random.

At the end of the day, I'll put all the words together into a search string and post the results - maybe the first three pages it hits.

Keep it reasonably clean.

Wow, first the Virtual Jennifer Map and now this. How come I'm not rich yet? Oh yeah, we need a snazzy name for this game!

Posted by Ted at 06:07 PM | Comments (9)
Category: Google Junket

Blogs go corporate

The Washington Post has an interesting article about blogs.

One theory tossed around at the New Media Society event Tuesday night was that e-mail marketing is dead and business blogs are rising up as the replacement. While the medium may not be in its grave yet, powerful spam filters that block out corporate e-mails have certainly limited its effectiveness. But some proponents of blogging say the new business-development tool can succeed in ways e-mail never could.

"I don't think e-mail is dead. I don't think it's any more difficult than it was two years ago; I just don't think it was ever that effective."

Spam is spam. At least if you blog spam, I can avoid it. The article is full of good information, you should go check it out.

Posted by Ted at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Ripple Fire

Mookie rearranged the kitchen drawers a while back, and her 'system' reminds me of Radar's on M*A*S*H - "That goes under 'D' for 'doesn't explode'". We have one drawer with spatula's and other wide scrapey things. Like the pizza cutter. And the bread knife. After using it, I have to admit that her system works rather well.

File this one under ‘Delusional’. I heard someone on the radio actually say that Washington Redskin running backs Ledell Betts and Trung Canidate would be the next "Csonka and Kiick". That idiot needs therapy or a urinalysis test, pronto.

In the ‘Globalization Bastards’ department, Krispy Kreme donuts has announced plans to open outlets in Wal-Mart stores. It’s typical of big business to ignore the harm that their practices cause to children. I mean, what are those annoying little kids going to do now for fundraisers?

Our weekend weather forcast has completely gone to hell thanks to the remnants of tropical storm Henri. With a name like that, are we surprised by how this turned out? He just kept hanging around doing nothing much at all. Then, ignored and irrelevant, he decides to screw things up for everyone. Someone at the National Weather Service should lose their job over this, because if they'd have just named it Hank, he'd have shown up, done his thing, and been outta here.

Here’s something else that’s been bothering me. Why do anarchists have a logo? Doesn't that kinda go against the premise?

Someone who finds commonality between unrelated concepts is called a 'synergist', right? For instance, puppies are full of energy, and we buy energy drinks, so Glenn is a synergist for recognizing the potential of combining the two.

Likewise, I am a synergist for combining the idea of the World Mind Map with Bill's demand for cheesecake from Jennifer.

I feel so smart. Unless that's not the right term, in which case you can just mentally replace every 'synergist' with the correct word in what I wrote above. Then you can feel smart.

And if you really want to feel smart, read about this guy. Unless you already will.

How to Shower Like a Woman

1. Take off clothing and place it in sectioned laundry hamper according to lights and darks.
2. Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown. If you see husband along the way,cover up any exposed areas.
3. Look at your womanly physique in the mirror - make mental note to do more sit-ups.
4. Get in the shower. Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah, and pumice stone.
5. Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.
6. Wash your hair again to make sure it's clean.
7. Condition your hair with grapefruit mint conditioner enhanced with natural avocado oil. Leave on hair for 15 minutes.
8. Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.
9. Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.
10. Rinse conditioner off hair.
11. Shave armpits and legs
12. Turn off shower
13. Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower. Spray mold spots with Tilex.
14. Get out of shower. Dry with towel the size of a small country. Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.
15. Check entire body for zits, tweeze hairs.
16. Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.
17. If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.

How To Shower Like a Man

1. Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.
2. Walk naked to the bathroom. If you see wife along the way, shake wiener at her making the 'woo-woo' sound.
3. Look at your manly physique in the mirror. Admire the size of your wiener and scratch your ass.
4. Get in the shower.
5. Wash your face
6. Wash your armpits
7. Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.
8. Make fart noises (real or artificial) and laugh at how loud they sound in the shower.
9. Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.
10. Wash your butt, leaving those coarse butt hairs stuck on the soap.
11. Shampoo your hair.
12. Make a Shampoo Mohawk.
13. Pee.
14. Rinse off and get out of shower.
15. Partially dry off. Fail to notice water on floor because curtain was hanging out of tub the whole time.
16. Admire wiener size in mirror again.
17. Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.
18. Return to bedroom with towel around your waist. If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake wiener at her and make the 'woo-woo' sound again.
19. Throw wet towel on floor

There you have it. Guys take more steps to take a shower. It is therefore the superior method.

“Men are pigs. Too bad we own everything.” – Tim Allen

Update: Oldest daughter Robyn loves all things Tinkerbell. Hey sweetie, go check out Flitting Here & There - the adventures of one called 'Tink'. (hint to the guys: undo the top couple buttons of your shirt first.)

Posted by Ted at 12:26 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

Home to roost

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

America took a lot of heat for unilaterally deciding not to join in with the Kyoto accords. This was a more honest position than many countries took, because some signatories had no intention of compliance. Others counted on accounting tricks and the closing of already-obsolete factories to achieve their goals.

Others are finding out what the true cost of compliance is (see note below). The choice is clear. Should they continue to implement the policies despite the negative impact, or decide that the burden is just too onerous? If they do decide to scrap Kyoto, a new set of choices presents itself, none of which look very appealing. Will they have the courage to break cleanly from Kyoto, or will they try to let it wither away quietly? Either way, I don't think the environmentalists nor the EU will let anyone back out without raising a stink.

I'm glad we said 'no' right up front. Lumps taken. Moving on.

Thanks to Random Nuclear Strikes for the pointer.

Note: Live from Brussels is on blog*spot, so if the link doesn't work, scroll down to "I Love It When That Happens..."

Posted by Ted at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Politics

September 11, 2003

A different kind of countdown

This insignia was officially adopted by the United States Air Force and was displayed on at least one aircraft from each squadron until September 11, 2002 in honor of the American Spirit.

View image

Posted by Ted at 11:56 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

McScrew You Osama

I had lunch at McDonalds today. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Posted by Ted at 06:23 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Reason for optimism

Yesterday a video tape featuring Osama Bin Laden was released and displayed by the Aljazeera network. I’m sure this is causing much teeth gnashing and wailing among certain quarters, as well as joy and smugness in others. The timing of this tape was carefully planned, yet once again these terrorists have misplayed their cards.

I, for one, am glad for the reminder. I remember that Bin Laden has been in hiding for most of the last two years, to the point where his being seen on video is remarkable. I’m reminded that he’s been reduced to leaflets and occasional internet postings attributed to him. His voice heard on infrequent audio tapes is newsworthy.

I’m reminded that he stood arrogantly in his fortress Afghanistan and mocked the United States and her people, and now the regime that harbored him is no more. The people of that country are rebuilding themselves while struggling to distance themselves from the madness of his radical Islam.

I’m reminded that terrorist networks and financial dealings all over the world have been heavily interdicted. Muslim countries have realized the danger as bombs destroyed their fantasy that the terrorists were strictly anti-western. The terrorists are anti-everything except themselves.

I’m reminded that a disinterested American populace has come together and drawn strength from each other. That strength and resolve has been used to topple yet another despot. And when American soldiers marched into that country, the people there cheered and celebrated their freedom.

I honor the memory of those murdered on 9/11/01 in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and that field in Pennsylvania. I honor the memory of those murdered in Bali, and those killed arresting the terrorists in Pakistan, and those killed by other bombs and attacks all over the world. I honor our soldiers, and those of our many allies.

I also celebrate the courage and strength of those who lived through that day, who directly assisted or indirectly helped in whatever way they could. I honor the policemen, firemen, rescue workers and ambulance drivers, the doctors and nurses, heroes all regardless of nationality or language spoken, that pitch in to right the wrongs inflicted by terrorism wherever it happens.

To those who think we should get over it, I suggest that you should think about the message intended by this latest Bin Laden tape. They hope to intimidate America with their bluster, but the desperation of their situation comes through despite their threatening words. Since that day two years ago, they’ve scurried into the dark corners of the world, afraid to openly show themselves for fear of eradication. They talk the talk, but Uncle Sam and his Allies have walked the walk.

This tape was to remind us that we’re supposed to be scared.

I’m reminded that we’re not done winning this war yet.

Posted by Ted at 12:08 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Countdown to 9/11


If you're not interested in (mostly) American symbols of patriotism and remembrance of this day, then please scroll past this message. For those who are still reading, below is a collection of 31 different images relating to 9/11, celebrating 'western' values and the American spirit. There are at least a couple that could be described as international in nature.

If you'd like to put one of these on your blog or website, go for it. In fact, I encourage it*. Tell your friends too.

The images are in the extended entry, click it to see them.

* I'm the collector only, none of these images are mine. Some are copyrighted, and should be used unaltered except for size.

Flags and Allies 1

Flags and Allies 2

One Nation


Citizen Medal

Flag and WTC

Home of the Brave

Flags of those who died

Christian & flag

Small flag button

God Bless America

Hug a Veteran

I Am An American

Black square version of the image on the right

reversed version of the image on the right

Lady Liberty

Love U.S.A. Flag

Paper dolls

Patriotic M&M's

WTC inside Pentagon


Proud American

Remember WTC



Spirit of America

U.S.A. Heart


Texas style

We are all one

Never forget

Posted by Ted at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Pentagon Memorial

Only because it was so much more immediate in my life, I'm tending to focus more on the Pentagon today.

Here is a site about the proposed Pentagon Memorial. I was especially moved by the description of the memorial. Damn, they did a fine job with the design.

Thanks to Dean Esmay for the link.

Posted by Ted at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Rising to the challenge

America has been challenged once again, this time by terrorism. Our response this time, like every time before, is to rise up and meet the challenge. Like Japan after Pearl Harbor and the Soviet Union during the Space Race, the terrorists are being met with a national determination not expected when they threw down the gauntlet.

Since rockets are what gets me going, I’m going to describe in some detail what we as a nation accomplished when we went to the moon. This is going to concentrate on the actual hardware, to give you an idea of the complexity and ingenuity involved. Links to reference sources are located at the end.

The American culmination of the race to the moon was the Saturn V rocket (pronounced ‘Saturn Five’). Standing over 363 feet tall with its Apollo payload, fully loaded she weighed 6.1 million pounds.

The first stage of this rocket was 33 feet in diameter, and powered by five F-1 engines, which were the largest liquid-fueled rocket engine ever designed.

Excerpted from the Saturn V News Reference:

At the end of countdown, the five F-1 engines in the first stage ignite, producing 7.5 million pounds of thrust. The holddown arms release the vehicle, and three astronauts begin their ride to the moon. Turbopumps, working together with the strength of 30 diesel locomotives, force 15 tons of fuel per second into the engines.

Ok, now we’ve got ‘liftoff’. The roar is deafening, and spectators six miles away feel the rumble of the earth beneath their feet.

The first start separates from the second stage at an altitude of about 205,000 feet (38 miles in 2½ minutes). It then ascends to a peak altitude near 366,000 feet before beginning its descent. While falling the stage assumes a semistable engines down position and impacts into the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 350 miles down range of Cape Kennedy.

Think about that last part for a second. The first stage separates from the rest of the rocket, and coasts upwards another 150,000 feet before it slows down enough to start falling. The U.S. Navy ensured that there was no shipping in the ‘impact’ areas.

The F-1 engine was the key. None have come close to the F-1 for its sheer size and volume of thrust. The design originated in the 1950's, with an Air Force study. When NASA was formed, it brought along the design program and the Saturn rocket family was destined to use it. The F-1 burned refined kerosene mixed with liquid oxygen. By contrast, the equivalent Soviet ‘moonshot’ rocket design – the N1 – had a first stage that used 30 separate engines. Balancing the thrust of this many engines proved impossible, and the N1 was launched just four times; each one was a disaster ending in abrupt and catastrophic failure.

On to the second stage, again excerpted from the Saturn V News Reference:

For the lunar mission, the second stage takes over from the Saturn V's first stage at an altitude of approximately 200,000 feet (38 miles) and boosts its payload of the third stage and Apollo spacecraft to approximately 606,000 feet (114.5 miles in 8½ minutes). Speed of the stage increases from 6,000 miles per hour to 15,300 miles per hour. Propulsion is provided by five J-2 engines.

The beginning of second stage boost is a two-step process. When all the F-1 engines of the first stage have cut off, the first stage separates. Eight ullage rocket motors located around the bottom of the second stage then fire for approximately 4 seconds to give positive acceleration to the stage prior to ignition of the five J-2 engines. About 30 seconds after the first stage separation, the part of the second stage structure on which the ullage rockets are located (the aft interstage) is separated by firing explosive charges. This second separation is a precise maneuver: the 18-foot-high interstage must slip past the engines without touching them. With the stage traveling at great speed, the interstage must clear the engines by only a little more than 3 feet.

A precise maneuver performed at more than 6,000 miles per hour. "Ullage" is an old brewers term meaning the air space above beer in a vat. To restart the J-2 engine, the propellants must be at the "bottom" of the tanks, with the gas above them. If they aren't in this position, the fuel pumps would "cavitate" or suck up gas and the start would fail. ‘Gas’ in this case is meant literally, because the J-2 used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel.

The 81-foot 7-inch second stage is basically a container for its 942,000 pounds of propellant with engines attached at the bottom. Special lightweight insulation had to be developed to keep its cryogenic propellants from warming and thus turning to gas and becoming totally useless as propellant. The insulation that helps maintain a difference of about 500 degrees between outside (70 to 80-degree normal Florida temperature) and inside (-423-degree F of liquid hydrogen) is only about 1-1/2 inches thick around the hydrogen tank.

The second stage burns for about 6 minutes, generating 1 million pounds of thrust and pushing its payload into space. At the end of boost, all J-2 engines cut off at once, the stages separate, and the single J-2 engine on the third stage begins firing to take it and the Apollo spacecraft into a parking earth orbit.

The third stage of the Saturn V was the first stage ready for flight testing because it evolved from the second stage of the Saturn Ib. It was enlarged, lengthened, and equipped with the J-2 engine for use on the Saturn V. This single J-2 developed 225,000 pounds of thrust.

The third stage fired for not quite 3 minutes to reach orbit before shutting down. At this point, the spacecraft is going 17,500 miles per hour. The astronauts orbited earth up to three times while checking all systems for the upcoming trip to the moon. When ready, the J-2 was restarted for another 5.2 minutes to send Apollo on its way, reaching a speed of 24,500 miles per hour. The trajectory was one which would carry the astronauts around the moon without further thrust and then return to earth for re-entry.

Once underway, the astronauts turned their spacecraft around and docked with the lunar landing module enclosed within the third stage. After extracting the lunar module the third stage was abandoned, which completed the work of the Saturn V.

There were a total of 13 Saturn V’s launched in various configurations. Three examples still exist and are on display at the Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center and the Alabama Space and Rocket Center. Of these three, only the JSC vehicle is made up entirely of former flight-ready (although mismatched) components.

When President Kennedy challenged America to go to the moon, we did it in less than eight years. We didn’t start from scratch, but the engineering obstacles we overcame were immense, and the achievement magnificent.

The Apollo Saturn Reference Page
Information about the Soviet N1
Apollo Saturn News Reference

Posted by Ted at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

September 10, 2003

A different kind of countdown

I see this image almost every day. One of the managers has this posted in full color, blown up to about 2'x3' size. You can't miss it, and everyone walking down this long hallway sees it.

View image

John has posted another image on his site, which was what I had originally planned for today. He did a much better job, by posting a link to the story behind the image. Check it out, it's beautiful.

Posted by Ted at 11:52 PM | Comments (9)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Integrating Ideas

Ever have one of those moments where it all comes together?

Bill has a longstanding demand that Jen send him pictures of her chest.

Meanwhile, Daniel points out an interesting project "where people vote on whether a pixel of a map of the world will be land or water". It's called the Mind World Map. Pretty cool, eh?

My new project is the Virtual Jennifer Map. I'll need everyone to vote, pixel at a time, on whether that bit of Jen is skin or clothed. I'm really excited about this, so I hope to see some real enthusiasm from you too.

Update: Comment from Jennifer: "Seriously, though, when do we start?"

You heard the lady. Pixel 0,0. Skin or Other?

Posted by Ted at 06:24 PM | Comments (11)
Category: Square Pegs

Ripple Fire*

"Are you headed to junior high schools to round up the usual suspects?" -- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to RIAA President Cary Sherman during a Senate Judiciary hearing.

Gas prices have dropped nine cents in two days around here.

My wife is in the throes of a full-blown summer cold and she’s miserable. Mookie is fighting hard but if it takes her down too, she’ll go down swinging. My standard reaction in situations like this is to consume enough OJ to make Anita Bryant consider adoption. Family kissing has been suspended, but hugs are still freely and frequently exchanged.

A co-worker passed away last month, and they’re just now getting around to replacing him. It makes me wonder if they thought he was on vacation.

Do you like my modified NASA ‘meatball’ logo? Mookie helped me do that using her Paint Shop Pro expertise. She smirked and mentioned senility, so I thanked her, then told her to shut up and go clean her room. If she keeps it up, she’s kissing mom.

I heard about the “9/11 Digital Archive” this morning on the way to work. This is a worthy effort and worth looking at. Thanks to WTOP news radio for the tip.

Starhawk of Freedom Lives has been posting a series of pictures from the site of the World Trade Center. I hope you’ve been keeping up with them. If not, it’s my fault because I’ve been remiss in not linking to them more.

Stevie (aka Daun) of Caught in the Xfire has a hat for me! And she’s becoming a Munuvian. Yes sweetie, I am glad to see you, and yes, that is a turkey baster in my pocket.

My Links Roster page is a mess. Consider it a bastion of anarchy in my otherwise orderly corner of the ‘sphere. But the links (mostly probably) do work, and as Johnny Cochran would say “If the links are fine, you must not whine!” Anyways, over there are new places to go and people to see, including Terra Taco, Black Five – the Paratrooper of Love, Tasberry Diary, Dues Ex Culina, Laughing Wolf, Q & O, Coyote's Bark, Classical Values, and Jocularocracy. The blogroll in the right column is evolving and shrinking slowly, use the Links Roster to see what kind of stuff I really read when you’re not looking.

* ‘Ripple Fire’ is a mode whereas multiple military rockets are launched at a target in rapid sequence. It’s similar to machine-gun fire, but with big booms at the receiving end.

Posted by Ted at 09:07 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Square Pegs

September 09, 2003

A different kind of countdown

Notice that we haven't heard this particular statement lately?

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Posted by Ted at 11:57 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

It beats bingo

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, I present to you not one, but two opportunities to meet the nicest group of technology geeks and cowboy-biker hobbyists ever to count backwards to zero.

Right around the corner, on September 20-21, in Muncie, Indiana, the Rocketeers of Central Indiana (ROCI) will be hosting a high-power rocket launch. The field is the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) International Aeromodeling Center located just outside of town, and I've flown there before, it's beautiful. See the ROCI site for details. If you live in the area, stop in and check out something different.

Slightly farther out there on the calendar, as well as several hundred miles eastward, the fall BattlePark 2003 Launch is scheduled for the weekend of November 1-2. Located in Culpeper, Virginia, this is one of the premier events in the east, with rocketeers attending from all over the eastern U.S. and Canada. I'll be there both days, and Mookie usually makes at least one if not both. This launch features some of the most interesting projects and flights around. As usual, spectators are free, kids fly their rockets for free, and you'll never meet a friendlier group of people. Come on out, walk around, talk to folks, ask questions, and be prepared to say 'wow'. Oh yeah, they've already obtained an FAA waiver for flights to 15,000 feet.

You are invited and welcome.

The extended entry is just me bragging about my project from last years BattlePark launch.

She was a smallish rocket about 2 1/2 feet long, constructed out of balsa, cardboard and Elmer's wood glue. I wanted to push the limits of the materials, so I loaded it with a big honkin' motor* and it flew to over half a mile straight up at almost 300 miles per hour. It was a neck-snapper! After I recovered the first flight, I put in an even bigger motor* and did it again! Perfection. Got it back again too.

* first flight on an EconoJet F23-7 Fast Black Jack, second flight on an EconoJet G38-7 Fast Black Jack - if that means anything to you or if you care.

Posted by Ted at 09:01 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Rocketry

New Twenties

The redesigned twenty dollar bills will be coming into wide circulation in October this year. Here's a neat interactive demonstration of the features of this new bill.

What, no free samples?

Posted by Ted at 01:29 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

A True Hero

You must check this out over at Silent Running. Make sure you follow the links too.

Posted by Ted at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Google is your friend

In Kelly’s Cul-de-sac this week is a little gem about a little known feature of Google. I mentioned it to Mookie, and she told me about a nifty Google mirror site she’d heard about.

Google also changes their logo for special holidays and birthdays. M.C. Escher, Alfred Hitchcock, and Salvador Dali are among those who get special treatment.

This got me to wondering what other stupid Google tricks were out there. You’ve probably heard of most of these by now, because they’re not new and have been going around awhile.

For instance, type in “weapons of mass destruction” (with quotes) and hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button.

Try it again, this time for “French military victories” (with quotes). Snicker

For the terminally optimistic, try “who will be president in 2004” and hit the 'Lucky' button.

These guys tried a few things with the image search feature of google. (Warning: mature – but funny – content).

On the ‘not stupid’ end of the tricks spectrum, check out some of the neat stuff listed here.

And it was mentioned on at least one site above, but were you paying attention? Go to google and type in “answer to life the universe and everything” (no quotes this time).

I'll say it again. Google is your friend.

Posted by Ted at 08:51 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Links

Not Munu-News

Happy Birthday, Bill!!!

Go on over to his place and say nice things. He has to be out of town and work on his birthday.

Update: Paul over at Sanity's Edge is inviting one and all to tell their favorite Bill stories. Read, laugh, and reminisce with us.

Posted by Ted at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

September 08, 2003

A different kind of countdown

Enjoy a little bit of American 'technology with style'.

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Posted by Ted at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Thanks to my family and friends

It's been a very good day, and I'd like to say thank you for all of the special wishes and good things sent my way.

My blog-friends, you've all become very special to me in a very short time, and the only way I could feel more affection for you would be if you provided sexual favors and/or cash (to be negotiated separately from each of you).

On the family front, I heard from both kids who have already fled the nest, had a very good dinner waiting for me tonight, and after my favorite cake (spice w/ vanilla frosting, decorated with skulls & crossbones in black icing - I've been told that that's very cool), I was presented with a Sears gift card, DVD's of Animal House and Monty Python's Meaning of Life. Then my wife topped it all off by letting me know that she had made a substantial contribution to Ted's Big Honkin' Rocket Motor Fund. As Mookie would say: Woot!

Posted by Ted at 09:28 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Family matters

Collectable History

Over on eBay, a nice assortment of aerospace related Zippo lighters.

Posted by Ted at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Do you like crosswords?

I like rockets. What a coincidence! Have fun.

Posted by Ted at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinahhhhhhh...

Wonderful cheesecake recipes are popping up like mushrooms after a good rain. I can't compete with them (my wife won't let me post her super-secret killer cheesecake recipe), so I'll post something a little bit different. This is a great desert for chilly fall evenings, or as a treat after a day outside raking leaves.

Baked Apple Dumplings

Choose a crisp baking apple, such as pippin or Granny Smith.

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
1 cup milk

6 medium baking apples, pared and cored

a little granulated sugar to sprinkle


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Mix together sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter, or blend rapidly with fingertips until dough resembles oatmeal.
4. Stir in milk. Mix to a smooth dough.
5. Turn dough onto floured board. Divide into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion until large enough to wrap around one apple. Make sure it’s not too thick. Dust lightly with plain sugar.
6. Place each apple in center of individual dough, but do not wrap. Sprinkle reserved sugar mixture into the core of each apple.
7. Bring dough over each apple. Wet edges of dough to seal.
8. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in 350° F. oven until apples are tender and the dough is crispy, about 1/2 hour.

Serve plain, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. You can also drizzle caramel syrup over it all or with crushed peppermint candy over the ice cream.

Serves: 4 to 6

Posted by Ted at 10:50 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Recipes

Just a suggestion

A California drivers license should no longer be considered valid ID outside of the state.

Posted by Ted at 10:08 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

Rocketing around the Blogosphere

Not Quite Tea and Crumpets had the scoop on this story. A perfect example of what happens when firearms are used by law-abiding citizens.

Wind Rider over at Silent Running talks about the difference between journalism and 'professional' journalism. Hint: the sarcasm quotes are because he's talking about the BBC.

John gets asked that question that no man can ever answer correctly.

Tiger redecorates and talks about Texas football. Living in the DC metro area, the Redskins play the Cowboys twice a year, and I hate don't care for either team. I used to say that when those teams played each other, I was rooting for a sniper in the stands. Thanks Malvo for ruining a good joke.

Fixing the State Department. Interesting reading by Steven Den Beste over at USS Clueless, who is anything but.

Choices. What matters vs. what should matter. Read all about it and think, courtesy of Winds of Change.

This guy always has something interesting to read.

Men of Iron, Horses of Steel. These guys have become a daily read.

Laughing Wolf gives a concise brief on the Presidents remarks last night.

I don't agree with a lot of what she says, but she's an interesting read, and her school football team is named the Rockets, so she gets a mention.

Robert touches on many subjects and is always a good read. He's about as calm a rant as you can imagine, while still putting it out there for you.

If you're looking for some of these folks over on the right in my links section, they're not all there. If you check under "Poor Organization Skills" you'll see a category called Links Roster, and they're all there, plus many more. The format is still weirded out, because I rode the short bus to html school.

When you hear about Munuviana and Munuvians, do you hear the roar of the surf shooshing up over white sand beaches, while beautiful women in grass skirts and not much else bring you cold beer and cater to your every whim? Welcome to reality. Susie, Jennifer, Cherry and LeeAnn are liberated women, so we can go get our own damn beer, I'm sure. And Mookie is underage, so don't go there. I also have no desire to see the guys in grass skirts, although I'm sure Collins would enjoy it, as long as he got to wear panty hose like his hero.

Tuning Spork (a Munuvian) has written a great piece of satire (oops, now he's written two!). Funny stuff.

Ever heard of Burning Man? Coyote went. See his pictures, then google on it to learn more. Thanks to Annika for the pointer.

He's been described as an "eclectic cultural cuisinart", and the flea is where I go for something extraordinary. Enjoy.

Over at The Meatriarchy, "A" comes out squarely for the Instapundit camp.

Posted by Ted at 01:17 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Links

September 07, 2003

A different kind of countdown

Look familiar?

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Posted by Ted at 11:10 PM | Comments (6)
Category: Countdown to 9/11



Visit her place and tell her 'happy birthday'.

Posted by Ted at 10:30 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

You saw it here first

Takeo Spikes will be the NFL defensive player of the year. Now that he's in Buffalo in the middle of a real defense he won't have to do everything himself, which frees him up to be truly dominating.

This will also be Jerry Porter's breakout season. You can't ignore Rice and Brown, and this will be Porter's year to shine.

Yo Glenn, do you agree? For all you sports fans, you should be checking out Sports Blog if you don't already.

PS. During the singing of the National Anthem at the Oakland Raiders game, they had a bald eagle flying around the field. I saw a special about this particular bird. They found him as a youngster, and he's been trained to fly from one handler way up in the stands to another handler on the field. He's a showoff too, doing long lazy soaring circles as he flys and really getting the crowd pumped up. It's a beautiful thing to see.

Posted by Ted at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Liberty Bell 7

Gus Grissom was the astronaut for the second manned suborbital flight in the Mercury series, and his capsule was named the Liberty Bell 7.

The flight was fully successful, but upon splashdown the capsule hatch prematurely opened and the capsule sank into the sea.*

The Liberty Bell 7 was finally found and recovered in 1999. The Discovery Channel did several shows on it, and it has been touring the country. It is scheduled to be reutrned 'home' and back on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere before the end of the year.

* Forget that crap from The Right Stuff, Gus Grissom was fully exonerated later by NASA after tests proved his claim that the hatch could indeed 'just blew'. (yeah, I know the quote doesn't quite fit right... deal)

Posted by Ted at 10:59 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Space Program

Auto Repair

A blonde pushes her BMW into a gas station. She tells the mechanic it died. After he works on it for a few minutes, it is idling smoothly.

She says, "What's the story?"

He replies, "Just crap in the carburetor."

She asks, "How often do I have to do that ?

Posted by Ted at 08:04 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

September 06, 2003

A different kind of countdown

Possibly my favorite, and certainly one of the more widely known.

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Posted by Ted at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Life Lessons

My aunt passed away yesterday. She battled leukemia for several years, visited with her brothers and sisters within the last month or so, was surrounded by her family, was at peace with the world and ready to go. The only thing she didn’t manage was her very last goal, which was to make it to her next birthday. She and I shared our birthdays. She would have been 87 on Monday.

I just spent a few hours alone out in the backyard. I built a fire and just sat there our swing, thinking and watching the flames.

The last time I had done that was with my best friend Paul. We’re closer than brothers; he was best man at my wedding, and we’re godfather to each other’s sons. And yet as alike as we are, we’ve led two totally different lives. I got married and settled down, while he just kept running full speed at life. We’ve talked about it, and we’re both a little jealous of the other sometimes. Paul has seen the Taj Mahal, and slept under the Eiffel Tower, and spent time living in the Ukraine and the Philippines. His first wife was killed in an auto accident, and I was the first person he called. His son, my godson, was killed in another car wreck. He found out by being paged at an airport in Japan as he was making a connecting flight.

Despite it all, he’s still happy. He’s satisfied with his life, even after all the pain he’s endured. He has a wonderful wife and daughter, who calls me Uncle Ted. I love them all, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him.

Part of the reason I went out and built a fire was because after reading this idiot, I needed to calm down and regain my composure. To Stump, all I can say is that you are an asshole with no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t act and believe exactly like yourself. You think that the value of life is measured by how long it lasts, and I’m telling you that you are so very wrong. Even after reading that vile piece of hateful garbage you wrote, I hope that you live a long life anyway, since that is apparently all you treasure. If there is one thing that Paul has taught me, it’s that life is too short and too uncertain to hold grudges, especially against a fool like yourself.

Posted by Ted at 10:05 PM | Comments (6)
Category: Boring Stories

Young and impressionable

“Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“That’s how Jean Luc Picard would order it,” the little yuppie thing gushed.


“Oh,” and I turned back to the counter to pay for my tea.

In that {pause} I’d considered and rejected many responses, including the devastating ‘who?’, which would have gone right over her head, and worse, would have invited her to explain who Jean Luc Picard is. I didn’t think I could've handled it right then, especially carrying a piping hot cup of shut-the-hell-up that I just paid for.

With the wisdom of whatever race is wisest in the universe of Captain Kirk meets Jason and Freddie, she let it go, probably feeling pity for one misguided soul who didn’t share her obvious passion for The Next Generation.

I’ve watched every episode of the original Star Trek, and love them all. Hell, for a while there it was like M*A*S*H; on so many channels that you could usually decide which episode to watch at that moment. I also have a guilty secret – I love reading the Star Trek paperbacks. Sometimes it’s just comforting to pick up a book and not have to work too hard at reading it, because you know what each character is going to do in any given situation.

I’ve seen at least a few episodes of every variation of Star Trek since then, and none ever held my interest like the original series did. Deep Space Nine had promise, but didn’t pan out. I had high hopes for Voyager, but after an episode where they come across an entire planet of supreme hedonists, instead of getting naked and giving her all to save her crew, Captain Janeway feeds their leader pecan pie and turns him down. Pecan freakin’ pie!!! C’mon.

And that points up the reason why no one will ever be as cool as Captain Kirk. He taught an impressionable generation of young men that you can accomplish anything in this universe if you are smart, brave, and horny.

He wasn’t tall. He wasn’t built like Atlas. He wasn’t even that great at following orders. But he solved any situation with his head, with his heart, and with the occasional full spread of photon torpedoes. And he proved that there was plenty of galaxy-class tail out there, just waiting for a human who was smart, brave, and horny.

Look at the main protagonist of The Next Generation: Q. Huh? Ooooo, in one episode he shows up and ruins a wedding between his mother and some other guy. Again, huh? What kind of stupidity is that? When Kirk had to take Spock back to his planet for a wedding, it was because Spock had to get laid or die. How cool is that?

Jean Luc Picard is Colin Powell. He wants to talk everything over. He needs his ‘councilor’ to tell him how he feels. Kirk is the 82nd Airborne Division. He drops on you like a ton of bricks, kicks your ass with massive firepower, and you can bet that none of your women are safe when he’s around.

I still drink Earl Grey tea. Been drinking it for years. I like to think that somewhere, somehow, Gene Roddenberry was standing in line behind me when I ordered a cup. He took my simple preference and added that genius that was his and came up with “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot.” Then he completely ruined it by giving the line to that patina-pated uber-wussy Picard.

I drank it first, dammit.

Posted by Ted at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Boring Stories

September 05, 2003

A different kind of countdown

There's always a silver lining. It's just hard to see sometimes for the size of the dark cloud.

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Posted by Ted at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Animated Atlas

This is a cool little site showing the growth of the U.S.A. It takes about 10 minutes, and it's worth the time. Enjoy!

Posted by Ted at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Bill the Birthday Boy

Jennifer is celebrating like it’s 1974, with lots of fun facts and historical stuff, because her birthday is coming up.

Bill of Bloviating Inanities just recently had a birthday, so I thought I’d borrow Jen’s concept and do the same thing for him. Instead of a walker or Grecian Formula for Men or Geritol, I present to you, my friend:

The Story of Bill

Born in the mists of antiquity, no one is really sure exactly when he arrived. Probably sometime after the Big Bang, since Bill has a strange fascination with Stephen Hawking.

(By the way, the authorities have asked that you do not contact Professor Hawking with questions from or about Bill. Something about a restraining order.)

There is a persistant rumor that he was found and raised by a circus family, but they vehemently deny it (don’t bother asking either; another restraining order).

This is believed to be the earliest home movie with little Billy in them.

There are no existing pictures of Bill actually attending school, which lends credence to the claim that he’s unteachable. An extensive check of school records turns up no direct references, but anecdotal evidence doesn’t rule out his attendance either.

Once past school age, Bill met the lady of his dreams, and after weeks of begging sweeping her off of her feet, she agreed to go out on a date with him. The rest, as they say, was magic.

But the good times soon passed. Unlike this Bill, our Bill has done nothing of note beyond being mentioned in numerous police blotters. But it wasn’t for lack of effort!

He's tried his hand at various artistic pursuits, including writing, sculpture, architecture, and even fashion design. To be honest, the world just doesn’t get Bill.

Still, he toils on, misunderstood and defiantly disgusting. Part of his charm problem seems to be that he suffers an abnormal number of odd medical problems (too many to link, just go through his archives).

It's not that easy bein' green.
- - Kermit the Frog, referring to Bill’s gouty toe

Here’s what Bill has to say about himself:
“People hate me because I am a multifaceted, talented, wealthy, internationally famous genius.”

Oh wait. That was Jerry Lewis. Sorry, I get them confused.

Posted by Ted at 12:21 PM | Comments (7)
Category: Square Pegs

Shredded, crumbled, sliced and chunked

Welcome to the newest Munuvian, LeeAnn of The Cheese Stands Alone. You'll find her link with my fellow Munuvians under 'Link Roster' over on the right. This is just a guess, but I think she's probably solidly in the camp of The Axis of Evil Naughty.

LeeAnn, when you blogroll moi, you'll need a new category. I suggest 'mouldy bleu'.

And since I mentioned it, the Link Roster is in serious disarray. I'm working on it, ok?

Also on the right, there is a new tagline up, and whattayaknow? Another new category called (ta-dahhhh) 'Tagline Archive'. Boy howdy, things are getting so much easier as I get away from Blog*spot and Geocities.

I'm still slowly but surely moving most of my archived stuff over to Mu.Nu. Emphasis on the 'slowly'.

All the cool people have birthdays in September. You don't? Well, we know why.

Posted by Ted at 09:59 AM | Comments (10)
Category: Square Pegs

US Navy History

The naming of ships after living persons is a recent habit of the U.S. Navy. So far, there have been 6 instances. These are listed in order of commission date.

Carl Vinson (CVN70)
The Carl Vinson is an aircraft carrier. The man Carl Vinson's service in the House of Representatives exceeds that of anyone elected to the Congress of the United States since it first convened in 1798. During his unparalleled tenure of fifty plus years, he also completed a record breaking twenty-nine years as Chairman of the House Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committee. In that position, Congressman Vinson forged and moved through Congress the landmark Vinson-Trammel Act which provided authority for the eventual construction of ninety-two major warships, the birth of the two ocean Navy. From Capitol Hill, he also guided the establishment of a separate air academy and the launching of the Navy's first nuclear powered submarine.

Arleigh Burke (DDG51)
The Burke class of guided missile AEGIS destroyers are the first U.S. Navy ships designed to incorporate stealth technology. They are named for Arleigh Albert Burke, the grandson of a Swedish immigrant, who was born on a farm in Colorado on 19 October 1901. Deciding early that farming fitted neither his talents nor desires, he sought and received a congressional appointment to the US Naval Academy. He entered the Naval Academy in June 1919 and graduated on 7 June 1923. His first assignment was aboard the USS Arizona, after which he held many posts and commands, becoming a specialist in destroyer tactics. He continued to rise through the ranks until appointed Chief of Naval Operations on 17 August 1955, a post he held until 25 July 1961, when he retired. He remains the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Hyman G. Rickover (SSN709)
I've already covered him here.

Ronald Reagan (CVN76)
Fortieth President of the United States. Slayer of Soviet Unions and chopper of wood. Advocate of a strong military and strong America.

Bob Hope (T-AKR300)
This is a “Roll on – Roll off” cargo supply ship, where shipping containers are loaded via truck instead of by cranes. Named for the famous comedian who made countless morale-raising visits to American military personnel.

Jimmy Carter (SSN23)
Thirty-ninth President of the United States. Served as an officer in the US Navy for seven years, including tours of submarine duty. This submarine is still under construction.

Posted by Ted at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Military

Stinging revelation

Kate at Electric Venom reports that Sting comes clean about his claims of 8-hour sessions of tantric sex.

"I think I mentioned to Bob I could make love for eight hours. What I didn't say was that this included four hours of begging and then dinner and a movie."

And you ladies claim we don't spend enough time on foreplay.

Posted by Ted at 07:26 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs


Johnny Depp was quoted in a Stern magazine interview as making some despicable remarks about America. Many people have already taken him to task for the things he said.

Now he's released a statement about the quotes, claiming that they were taken out of context. His statement says all the right things.

"I am an American. I love my country and have great hopes for it," Depp said in a statement released by his Los Angeles-based publicist. "It is for this reason that I speak candidly and sometimes critically about it. I have benefited greatly from the freedom that exists in my country and for this I am eternally grateful."


Explaining his comments a day later, Depp he had been using a metaphor that was taken "radically out of context," adding, "There was no anti-American sentiment."

"What I was saying was that, compared to Europe, America is a very young country and we are still growing as a nation," he said. "My deepest apologies to those who were offended, affected, or hurt by this insanely twisted deformation of my words and intent."

In this case, I'm tending to give him the benefit of the doubt. I understand that he's said some stupid things in the past (understatement), but in this case, it seems that everyone is willing to believe that the German media reported his remarks accurately. I can easily believe that they did a little selective reporting and editing to make this look exactly the way they wanted.

Posted by Ted at 07:17 AM | Comments (10)
Category: Square Pegs

September 04, 2003

A different kind of countdown

A whisper among the multitudes.

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Posted by Ted at 11:36 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Countdown to 9/11


If I could only listen to one kind of music for the rest of my life, I'd have to seriously consider Big Band.

My wife and I have 'our song'. It's You Make Me So Very Happy by Blood, Sweat & Tears. I also want And When I Die by the same group played at my funeral. Not the crappy shortened version they play on the radio, but the original version. Bruce Lee had that song played at his funeral too, but that has nothing to do with me.

I like Blood, Sweat & Tears (obviously), but they're not in my favorite 10 groups, maybe not the top 20.

With all the animal posts I've made lately, I've considered changing the name of this blog to 'Channeling Jane Goodall'. That would also annoy monkey-boy, and I'm petty enough to enjoy it.

Names are important to me, although I'm terrible about remembering them. I always make an effort to pronounce them correctly, which can be a real bear with some foreign names. I worked with a Chinese lady once, and everyone called her 'Sue' as an approximation of her real name. I tried real hard to correctly say her name, but always worried that I was really calling her 'suitcase tractor' or something.

She taught me some elementary Chinese writing. I taught her to swear in English.

The politically correct would call my wife 'vertically challenged'. They would call me 'circumferentially overachieving'.

Tip for guys: If you get sent to the store to pick up feminine pads for your lady, rather than standing there bewildered at the vast selection, just get the package with the most words on it. 'Super-maxi overnight extended-wear with wings' should be your starting point. They now put picture codes on the packages, but you'll feel like an idiot asking the clerk for the ones with the sunflower. Count words, it works.

The Phoenix Coyotes unveiled a new logo and color scheme. I like it a lot. I liked their old one too, but this one is simpler and better. I think sports logos have gotten better in recent years. The San Jose Sharks logo is inspired and the logo for the Minnesota Wild is just too cool. You can go overboard with logo modifications and color changes, and the Atlanta Falcons are the perfect example of that. It seems like they've changed things up 4 or 5 times in 10 years.

I've gotten speeding tickets in three countries.

'A' claims I've taken umbrage to the use of an initial instead of his whole name, but I hadn't considered the Canadian connection. It makes sense, no umbrage taken. I think he just wanted to show off his vocabulary. If you want further examples of that bad habit, read everything I've ever written.

Tim has changed his name from The Michigander to Stranger in a Strange Land. If I were 'A', I'd hunt down Tim and give him a Great White North whooping for calling my land strange.

Closer to home, Victor is making fun of Yuppie Scum. This despite the fact that he went to an organic grocery store to buy dandelion greens for his guinea pigs (which are rodents by the way, but I won't go there). Once, while watching a family pile out of an SUV, a friend cracked me up by referring to the children as 'yuppie larva'. I still use that term.

To be honest, I don't really care what happens in California -- this is all just some sideshow the rest of us can view with amusement. -- Jeff at Alphecca

I admit that I've looked at the California election in the exact same way, but Annika makes some points in this excellent post about why we should care and pay attention. She's changed my mind.

She also reminds us that California has the worlds 5th largest economy. But did you know that North Dakota has the worlds 3rd largest nuclear force?

My desk at work in inside a cage. Honest. It might impress you if I said what else was inside the cage, but I can't tell you. So just be impressed.

Tiger and Stevie have both had computer problems, while SilverBlue has had computer user problems, which can be much worse.

In other work-related news, they've been installing a new 'disintegrator' in the building. This is like a super-shredder that eats metal like paper, and it's a huge hulking thing about 20 feet tall with a conveyor belt that leads up into its maw. Ominous looking. Every time I look at it, I think of 'The Mangler' from Stephen King's Night Shift.

Wake up, I'm done.

Posted by Ted at 08:01 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

All God’s Creatures

A few days ago I wrote about finding some newborn residents in the space under my backyard shed. I did say that it was going to bother me, and it has.

In an effort to score some cosmic karma points, I’ll tell you about some other encounters I’ve had with local fauna.

About three years ago we had a bat get into the house somehow. It finally flew into our bedroom, and I closed the door on it while sending the girls into the basement to fetch badminton racquets. No, I wasn’t planning to half-volley the terrified (and terrifying) little beastie into a wall, I wanted something I could catch it with. Armed with racquets, we entered the room and proceeded to poke around behind curtains and furniture trying to find his hiding place. Oldest daughter indicated that she’d spotted him by screaming at the top of her lungs in a most helpful way (Karen Kinmont eat your heart out), and eventually the bat landed on the carpet. At this point I placed the racquet gently over the top of the bat, and then with even more care I slipped the other racquet under him, sandwiching him between the two sets of strings. This gave us a chance to take a close look at our visitor, before taking him outside and releasing him. I hope he lived a long and happy life, eating his weight in insects each night.

Now the rest of these stories need some background. We live in a townhouse, and for several years the house next door has been owned by what can only be called a slumlord. The backyard was overgrown with weeds and trash, and the single mom who rented it was nice enough, but never went into the backyard, nor did she allow her kids back there (wisely I might add). With her permission, twice a year I would toss a few rat-baits over the fence into her yard to keep the rodent population down. She wouldn’t do it, and her landlord certainly wouldn’t do it. Even so, we’d spot an occasional mouse coming through the fence between our yards, usually to snack on birdseed at the base of our feeder. My response was more rat-bait.

Last fall, I was in the downstairs and heard some rustling sounds in the room. We had had a problem earlier in the year where squirrels discovered our birdseed stash and decided to help themselves. To prevent that, the birdseed is now kept in a plastic bin with a locking lid. I figured that the squirrels were back, looking for a meal. I never saw any evidence of unwanted guests, but kept hearing that rustling sound on occasion over the next day or two. One day one of our dogs was downstairs and started ‘hunting’. That was it, we were going to get rid of the visitor. I placed the girls – once again armed with racquets – at the foot of the stairs leading up to the main floor, and in the doorway to the rest of the basement. Next I opened wide the back door (walk-out basement). I started moving furniture, and looking through boxes until I found it. It was a rat who had decided to nest in a box of sewing fabric that my wife had. The side of the cardboard box was chewed through, and this rat was turning it into a comfy little home. Not a cute little field mouse from the meadow behind the house, but a rat. It immediately made a beeline for the door and ran out and under the fence next door. Obviously it had come through the doggie door, and had no fear of our dogs. The only thing I could think of to do was to close the doggie door off and toss more rat-bait over the fence.

For the next couple of evenings, I’d look out the back door glass and this little bastard would be sniffing at the door, looking for a way back inside. He’d run off when he saw me, and I just didn’t know what else to do. I was waiting for him to die from eating the rat-bait, because it can take several days. I don’t know if he ever did or not, but we’ve not had that problem this year, and the doggie door is open again.

One huge improvement was our new neighbors. They have kids, and wanted to reclaim the backyard. Early this spring they started hauling the crap and junk out of their yard. I pulled on my gloves and pitched in, because it could only help the situation. At one point, we were moving a pile of lumber, and I stopped everyone to point out a copperhead snake we’d uncovered. Mom was freaking out, and the boys thought it was cool (they didn’t know it was poisonous). I went to my place and got a bucket and a hockey stick. The snake was pretty groggy from the coolness of the season, so I pushed it into the bucket with no problems and we took it down to the creek to release it.

They’ve really kept their backyard nice since then, especially when I told mom that the snakes loved the tall grass in the yards. Another time I had to go over there because they’d found a common garden snake under a wheelbarrow, and her son was trying to kill it with an axe. I was afraid the kid was going to kill himself swinging that stupid thing, so once again I grabbed my trusty bucket and hockey stick. It was full summer, and this snake was active and pissed off. He was striking at my hockey stick, doing his damndest to bite and refusing to get into the bucket. I eventually managed to steer him towards the gate, and he slithered off into the meadow.

I’ve also rescued a bird or two in distress. We keep a feeder full of seed year round, and have a couple of birdbaths full of fresh water. Several years ago, I had to remove the tree limb where our birdhouse hung. The birdhouse was pretty cool, because the kids and I built it using two sides of clear plexiglass and you could watch what was happening inside (the birds are ok with this). After an unfortunate incident where I waited too long to clean out the previous years’ nest and accidentally destroyed two newly laid eggs inside, the birdhouse was ever after referred to as the “birdhouse of doom”. The girls really know how to rub it in.

So basically I have a clear conscience about those newborn rodents, because I have a pretty good record when it comes to the animals I share this neighborhood with. Yes, what I did bothered me, but it was the right thing to do, if not the quickest way. I couldn’t bring myself to end it quickly, preferring the cowards way of ‘letting nature take its course’.

Posted by Ted at 07:27 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories

September 03, 2003

A different kind of countdown


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Posted by Ted at 11:55 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Could you lie to get out of it?

Country music lends itself to ‘storytelling’ songs, and today I heard one that verged on sickly-sweet. In it a child asked daddy about heaven, and one line in particular stood out. It went something like:

“Do you think they need another angel to help them pour the rain?”

Ick. I can’t help but think that rain-detail would be the heavenly equivalent of jury-duty.

Posted by Ted at 08:15 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Guilty Pleasure

The Bravo network recently started showing the series West Wing from the beginning, and we decided to watch it. We never saw it while it originally ran, and I only had the vaguest sense of what it was all about. So thanks to PVR (the satellite version of TIVO), we’ve been taping the episodes and watching when we get a chance.

I’m enjoying the show so far. It’s well made and acted, with interesting stories and likable characters. There is definitely a liberal bias here, but it’s still entertaining. Of course, reality is mostly right out the window, and we’ve had to pause the show a few times when I went off when something particularly stupid was said (the show is about a Democrat administration), but even so they good-naturedly poke fun at them too. In one episode, a senior-staffer and his secretary have this exhange about budget surpluses and tax-breaks (not exact quotes, but close):

Secretary: “I want my money back.”
Staffer: “It’s not your money, it’s our money.”
Secretary: “What do you mean, ‘your money’?”
Staffer: “It’s in our bank account, just sitting there for us to use.”
Secretary: “So give it back and let me use it.”
Staffer: “We don’t trust you.”
Secretary: “What?”
Staffer: “If we give it back, you’ll just waste it on yourself.”
Secretary: “It’s my money. I want it.”
Staffer: “Sorry. We can’t do that.”
Secretary: “Why not?
Staffer: “We’re Democrats.”

Each episode also has at least one moment where the music swells in the backround and someone – usually the President, but not always – says something poignant and inspirational. Hey, it's television.

As written, I hate the administration policies, but I could definitely respect the President himself. The show isn’t about showing both sides of the issue-du-jour, but they occasionally bring up interesting points of view and very rarely an intelligent opposing opinion. I’ve noticed that they love to serve up as the ‘primary’ opposition argument something that can be scathingly and completely discredited in one dramatic speech. There isn’t much time for nuance, so it’s a little like Barry Bonds playing T-ball.

You can imagine the ‘guns are evil’ factoids and distortions they trot out almost every episode, and the characters are painfully earnest. You feel that the characters passionately believe in what was just said. I laugh and gleefully point out the stupidity.

My favorite part is at the start of each commercial break when they do a segment called “True Tales of the Oval Office”, and talk about some little trivia tidbit or quote about one of the Presidents. Nifty.

I’m definitely enjoying the series. It’s good entertainment, as long as one doesn’t mistake it for reality.

Posted by Ted at 08:36 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

September 02, 2003

A different kind of countdown

We've proved the point, it's always better to give than to receive.

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(click here to see what this is all about)

Posted by Ted at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Monday Miscellania

Oops, that was supposed to be 'Rocketing Around the Blogosphere', wasn't it. Oh well, I spent time figuring out how to spell 'miscellania', so it stays (is that even a real word?).

Go visit SportsBlog. Kevin of Wizbang! will appreciate it (he’s one of the founders), and yours truly will be writing incisive and biting commentary on the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Raiders, and San Jose Sharks. Assuming, of course, that the sources I steal from are incisive and biting.

The Dodgers suck.

Speaking of the Dodgers, I’m sure that Annika will be visiting Chavez Ravine at some point. I hope that she wears her black and orange proudly, or at the very least, doesn’t go wearing Dodger blue (there are limits to acclimating to an environment, ya know). Anyways, I found this helpful and humorous guide to behavior at the ballpark. I’m sure it applies to some degree to most every stadium.

Tiger points to an excellent (and entertaining) usage of massive amounts of bandwidth. Mookie will like it, it’s got stick people in it! Also Susie gets a little crazy with slogans and battle cries! Scroll through to see them all, although my personal favorite has her clutching a thorned whip as she shouts:

"I'm going to spank you in such an unsafe manner, you will wake up from the Matrix!!!"

I bet Susie doesn’t have many problems with noisy kids in the theater.

Serenity points to a brilliant yet disturbing series of little movies (another bandwidth-intensive link folks).

Over at The Meatriarchy, ‘A’ gives a mouth-watering review of BBQ ribs he sampled at a weekend rib-fest. Makes me wanna fire up the grill. Oh, and 'A', there's no way I'm going to believe that's your real name, so you might as well give up the charade.

Star Trek. Jerry Springer. Combine them and you get 'Wild Sex Partners From Outer Space'. Courtesy of Mr. Helpful, who promises this next installment of his Shatner Chronicles tomorrow morning.

Kate has the Snark Hunt up this week, and I’m in it. See me at my worst, in a totally roundabout way: go to her site, scroll down to the Snark Hunt, find where she links my entry, then click it to get right back here (well, actually it’s down below a ways, which you would’ve known had you actually read it the first time). See? Pure unadulterated snark.


Mookie and I had a moment yesterday. I’m surprised occasionally by something she does, not because it’s smart or dumb or good or bad, but because it’s part of her character that I don’t see very often.

She’s always said she hates earthworms (and squirmy things in general, what a girl), and my attitude has always been ‘pick the stupid thing up and throw it in the garden’. Which she does with great reluctance.

Yesterday we went out back to clean straighten up in between waves of thunderstorms. I was turning my compost pile and mentioned that there were a lot of earthworms in it, which is a very good thing. Rachael did her gag routine.

Since the work went quickly, I decided that we’d go ahead and relevel the shed. I put it in this spring, and despite some care the base settled unevenly, making the doors hard to open and close. It’s one of those plastic types that you snap together, not too big, but you need at least two people to move it.

We emptied the shed (garden tools, lawn mower, shovels and rakes, potting soil and such, etc.), and started to move it. As I shifted it, something ran out from underneath it and out the back gate. My split-second glimpse left the impression of a white shape moving fast. I thought it was a lizard, although the white color confused me. It was too small to be a rat, and too thin to be a mouse I think. So Mookie and I get this shed moved out of the way enough to relevel the brick base and there are... babies... uncovered.

Maybe 2” long, pink and hairless, not more than a day or two old, their eyes were not even open yet. They squirmed and kicked a little, but were too young to do much more. Definitely rodent, but unidentifiable as rat or mouse or vole or anything else. Rachael didn’t want anything to do with them, so I gently scooped them into a shovel and took them back to the creek* behind the house where I left them in the underbrush.

They’re dead by now, I’m sure. Snake or cat or exposure or neglect, because ‘momma’ was not coming back, that was certain. I feel a little weird about it, because I do believe that life is precious, but like they say, ‘nature is a mother’ and they weren’t looking at a long life anyways (especially in my backyard). Everyone reading this should realize that in the grand scheme of things, each of us is a big winner in the cosmic-lotto powerball game.

Two things: first, I’ll have to pour a solid concrete pad under the shed to keep the local fauna from nesting underneath. Maybe next weekend.

Secondly, this is going to bother me for a while.

*Creek is pronounced ‘crick’ as any native northern Californian knows. Don’t argue with me, because you’re wrong.

Update: Here are a couple more places to go and people to see, just because they're cool and/or interesting.

(bandwidth warning) Watch a sketch being done right in front of your eyes. Cool (said that already, didn't I)

50 Things al Qaeda Hates about America.

And some stuff you might not have known about the history of our Social Security system. (He's a real rocket scientist too)

Posted by Ted at 08:53 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Links

September 01, 2003

A different kind of countdown

Not since WWII had America focused so intently on a single goal.

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Posted by Ted at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Countdown to 9/11

Dear Santa

I want to ride on this for my Christmas present.

In other news, there is no truth to the rumor that France has developed a 'smart' military ID containing a microchip and voice synthesizer that will allow troops to surrender in fifteen different languages at the touch of a button.

Posted by Ted at 03:07 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Military

I can't decide on a title

Help me choose:

1. Pearls before swine


2. Straight from the horses ass mouth

Either way, Aljazeera has it's own website in english. Oh joy.

Posted by Ted at 01:31 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Politics
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