December 31, 2003

Our Rocket

I haven't forgotten our rocket that we're building. In fact, it's sitting right beside my monitor, looking phallic and making me feel slightly inadaquate for not moving along to the next construction step. I promise we'll get to it in the next day or so. In the meantime:

Wal-Mart is having their after-holiday sales, and I noticed they have an Estes rocket starter set called the 'Stars & Stripes' for $17.00. The kids got this one for me last year for Christmas and it's one heckuva deal. The rocket is a little easier to build than the Fat Boy we're currently doing (and the Fat Boy is not at all difficult). Plus you get a couple of motors, the launch pad and rod, and the launch controller to ignite the rocket motors. All you'll need besides this starter set is some glue and AA batteries.

If you're building along, or thinking about it, now is the time to look for a pack of rocket motors. Each rocket kit will give a list of recommended motors, to start out I'd recommend 'B' motors. For the Fat Boy, get B4-4's or B6-4's if possible, they come in 3-packs and the igniters are included. Look here for an explanation of rocket motors and their designations.

Check back in the next couple of days for the next bit as we attach the fins to our rocket.

Posted by Ted at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Build It

Happy New Year

Be safe tonight, and here's hoping that everyone has their dreams come true in 2004.

Posted by Ted at 07:55 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Funniest thing I've heard all year

It's only a rumor that the Beagle 2 has failed because the electronics were done by Lucas.

If you don't understand why that is falling-down funny, you can do one of three things.

1. Ask a Brit.
2. Ask someone who owns a British car.
3. Ponder this joke:

Q: Why do the British enjoy warm beer?
A: Lucas makes refrigerators.

Posted by Ted at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

A quickie for y'all on the last day of the year.

Over at Classical Values, Eric posts an interesting bit about the big neighborhood bombing last month in Saudi Arabia. I really like his analysis on various issues, so if you don't read him regularly you should give it a try.

If you're wondering about Mad Cow, please Please PLEASE go read Phillip Coons, Kevin, or Wind Rider at Silent running (great articles and links here and here). Here's the money quote folks:

"[emphasis added] Nevertheless, in the United Kingdom, the current risk of acquiring vCJD from eating beef and beef products appears to be extremely small, perhaps about one case per 10 billion servings."

And that's the same United Kingdom that destroyed whole herds of potentially infected cattle. We've had one freaking case.

All right, let's lighten up a little bit. Denita (Who Tends the Fires) talks about a new computer game that she's gotten hooked on. I'm not much of a game player, but this one sounds twisted enough to be something I could get into.

Flags. Who likes flags? We fly the American flag in front of our house each and every day of the year. This Ted (of the Red variety, who goes by the name of Edward - go figure) goes one better and flies historic flags as well. And he posted this great piece about some history of the confederate flag (with context) that's got plenty of cool information and links.

He also got the Revolutionary war era Culpeper Militia flag for Christmas. Which I think is cool because I fly rockets a couple times a year in the Culpeper area.

The Flea also posts about flags, this time a link to an index of fictional flags. Ever wonder what the House Atreides flag looked like? How about various banners from LotR? This is a pretty neat link.

Wince and Nod points out an interesting article from Crichton about science and what it entails within the fabric of society. He also links to Jerry Pournelle, who often has interesting things to say.

The comic strip Pearls Before Swine. If you ignore every other link in here, you should read this one. Thanks to Nic for pointing this one out to me.

Hey, SilverBlue makes the big time! Mookie gets a mention too (says proud papa). G'Day Mate!

Rocket Man talks about Mars and the not-so-spectacular success rate we've had exploring it (by 'we' I mean all of earth, no nationalistic bias here). On second thought, we're talking about sending probes to another planet!!! Imagine the finesse needed just to get something into orbit that far away. We'll keep trying and keep getting better at it. It's what we do.

I had this great joke all set up involving any ladies reading this and a t-shirt I found online that says "I'd love a good spanking", but the danged link won't work! On to plan B...

The Commissar has a detailed map of Munuviana posted (the big - and less interesting because we're not in it - map is here). Yours truly can be found holding fast at the southern border. Ted Sputnik, I like that.

Oh yeah, stop by and say hello to a couple of new Munuvians, Civilization Calls and Semi-Intelligent Thoughts. Also, it's not brand new, but you should check out the group blog Consent of the Governed. Good stuff there.

Posted by Ted at 06:50 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

December 30, 2003

Maps of ancient places

I did a post about various maps some time ago, and today ran across the Interactive Ancient Mediterranean Project while looking for a modern map of the mediterranean region.

The project is based at the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

"The IAM is an on-line atlas of the ancient Mediterranean world designed to serve the needs and interests of students and teachers in high school, community college and university courses in classics, ancient history, geography, archaeology and related fields."

And don't forget history nuts like myself! This page is full of links and contains a search engine. It looks to be a growing resource too, with new content being added regularly, including downloadable maps and articles about new discoveries in the region.

This is also affiliated with the Perseus Digital Library project, whose stated mission is to bring reference material related to the humanities to as wide an audience as possible.

I'm going to have some fun digging through this one.

Posted by Ted at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)
Category: History

Late Christmas Present

We heard from our son last night, first time since October. He called from Italy, and they're scheduled to start heading for home in the next few weeks. Still no definite word about when they'll arrive, but they're all doing ok.

He was surprised that I knew as much as I did about the USS Hartford, because they didn't know it had been reported so widely, and he filled me in on some details about what happened to cause the accident. It wasn't really an accident, it was stupidity. Like most accidents.

He also said that they weren't held over because of the Hartford, but they were out 'doing their mission'. I think in April we'll be heading up to Connecticut to see him. And get another crack at the submarine museum in Groton.

Posted by Ted at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Military

The Life of a Computer Programmer

For many years I had the following framed and hanging on the wall by my desk at work. Since I almost always work one-man projects, it served to amuse the occasional user who wandered in while simultaneously explaining my somewhat eccentric work habits.

Every programmer has some experience with bodily abuse. Sooner or later, all of us do things to ourselves we wouldn't admit to Mom. Most of the time we say we're provoked by circumstances: whether it's the representative from your client's company -- a not pleasant man who looks a lot like Herman Munster, breathing heavily on your neck -- or some towering, unstoppable endorphin rush that threatens to rip your medulla out of its socket if you don't code up that monstro algorithm RIGHT NOW and forget about your wedding. We generally attribute our protracted binges to some external force.

This attitude bespeaks a hideous wrong-headedness among programmers. We seem to get some masochistic pleasure out of responding to pressure by sitting in front of our machines until our fingernails are too long to type. Our eyes get varicose veins. We run fingers through our hair until we get split ends. We drool. Why?

Because, the deluded among us would answer, we have to. Some specter is chaining us to our chairs, making strangers of our families, removing us from the throb of humanity. It's not a pretty job, we sigh nobly, but someone has to do it. This is, as my sister used to say, pompous fudge-cakes.

We do it because we like it.

I never knew where that came from, I don't even remember where I got it from. Continuing my one-man quest to convince humanity that 'Google is your friend', I managed to find the truth. And in a Paul Harvey-ish twist, it turns out that there's a 'rest of the story' too.

The author (or someone who claims to know who the original author is) not only states the above but goes further and codifies his philosophy of Metabolic Fascism.

Go ahead and read the post at the link, it's short. The following snippets especially resonate with me:

There is no better way to accumulate a comprehensive, detailed knowledge of one's body than by abusing it regularly.


One pays much more attention to an engine about to explode than to one that is idling, and a metabolic fascist knows his body to a degree of detail that, among other humans, only long-distance runners and new mothers achieve.

Yes, I've been there and done that. I suspect Pixy has as well. Programming is for the young and strong and stupid. As you get older, you either move into teaching or theory or burn out and fade away.

Posted by Ted at 06:42 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

December 29, 2003

Looky here

Yepper, it's time for another lame Rocket Jones contest! Once again, everyone has the chance to wax poetic in their peculiar particular fashion, and since there's no prize, everybody wins!

So go into the extended entry, put on your thinking caps, and caption the photo. Yes, I ripped the idea off from Kevin at Wizbang!, who got it from someone else, who got it from... you know how it goes. I'm not a bible-readin' man, otherwise we could be sitting here begattin' for quite awhile.

And just in case this isn't enough fun in your dreadfully hum-drum life, go help Mr. Helpful rig an online poll. Do it for the children his kid. Do it for Rock'n'Roll!

I just reread this... can you tell I only got a couple hours of sleep last night? Sorry, I get goofy when I'm tired. (Shut up Mookie, comments from the rest of the peanut gallery will be tolerated).


Caption this picture! Leave yours in the comments.

Posted by Ted at 08:54 AM | Comments (13)
Category: Square Pegs

The best kind of survey

Yep, the kind that's already been done and all you have to do is read the fascinating results. Plus it manages to combine two of my addictions - rockets and old crappy movies.

Courtesy of The Astounding B Monster! (an all-around fun place to visit), here's a pundit's guide to the top rocket jocks in movie history.

For an added bonus, check out this nifty look at SciFi's Coolest Conveyances. Notable is the invasion by the undersea Mu-vians, still pissed off at us dirtsiders after all this time.

Posted by Ted at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Cult Flicks

Nog update

It's monday, the 29th of December, and the carton of eggnog in the refrigerator at work is now officially over a year past its expiration date.

I ain't touching it, not even to throw it out.

Posted by Ted at 06:29 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

December 28, 2003


A photograph of one of our dogs, in the extended entry. Just because.


Because protecting the family is so exhausting...

Posted by Ted at 08:05 PM | Comments (1)
Category: About Ted

Style vs Substance

What follows are some personal thoughts about blog design. My opinions carry no weight except what you give them, and it doesn't mean anything if you agree or disagree.

If I mention someone by name, no personal insult is intended, neither is any perceived sucking up.

I've been working with computers for a long time. I've sat down and punched many a deck of the old IBM cards (do not fold, spindle, or mutilate). Most of my experience has been on the big monstrous mainframe computers, which are no longer all that big or monstrous. They just seem that way compared to the PC's of today.

People today are spoiled by PC's. They are incredibly flexible and powerful. My users can't understand why I can't change fonts in the middle of printed output from our mainframe. They can't grasp the complete and total control you've gained thanks to Apple and Microsoft. And they don't understand how little of that flexibility has migrated upwards to the big boys.

I remember the days when monitors were green letters on a black background, or amber letters on black. It was a huge day when we got monitors and software that allowed us eight whole colors! Geeks doing the happy dance, not a pretty thing to see.

But that giant leap for pocket-protector-kind also hammered home a lesson we'd all learned without realizing it. We instantly became color-crazed, highlighting and underscoring and color coding, and our screens looked like something out of an acid-trip flashback. They were so loud and garish that the information on them was lost in the background. It took us a while to figure that out.

I used to train new programmers, and one of the things I would do is give them the specs to a new screen and function to do - their first ever using color. This was actual work that would be incorporated into our systems, but never anything that we needed in a hurry. Inevitably, what came back would sear your brain and make you want to claw out your eyeballs. And I would go over the nightmare with them, showing them where color worked, and where it didn't, and what to do and what not to do.

The most important thing is the information, not the way it's presented.

That sentence above is the point I've been meandering towards. Take a look at the blogs by Rachel Lucas or Bill Whittle or Instapundit, and what you might not immediately notice is their crisp clean style. Their blog designs manage to be distinctive and attractive without getting in the way of the content. And that is what we should all be striving for.

That doesn't mean your blog design has to be sterile. Check out Candy Universe for an outstanding example of balancing an eye-catching design with easy readability. Remember, these are personal opinions, I know some folks don't like light text on a dark background. I'm talking about the whole here, not details.

On the other end of the spectrum (opinion alert!) are Madfish Willie's Cyber Saloon and Snooze Button Dreams and Tiger: Raggin' and Rantin', to name three I'm most familiar with. Each has different things that make their designs less than successful to me.

Madfish Willie takes every toy, gimcrack and script trick he can find and incorporates it into his blog design. He's a fountain of good information, but I find that the content of his site gets lost in the bells and whistles. I can't even load his blog from work (at lunchtime) because the firewall times out waiting for all the doodads to load. To me, it's too much.

Snooze Button Dreams is approaching that point as well, but seems to be more low-key about it. He knows way more about this stuff than I do, but it seems like he's constantly trying to tweak his latest script so that it works for everyone regardless of browser or version. His blog is rapidly approaching the point where it won't load in a reasonable time either.

Tiger's design is... just... too much of everything. I can't really pin down any one or two things, but there's just so much happening text-wise that it's difficult to read. Once I'd learned his format it became easier to focus on his posts, but someone visiting your blog shouldn't have to learn how to work around the design to get to the good stuff.

I still read these blogs every day, but when you're trying to entice folks to plan a return visit it just makes sense to make it as easy as possible for the visitor. Don't let the content get lost in the design of your blog.

Update: To clarify my thoughts about Snooze Button Dreams, Jim has stayed very close to a standard template with a simple design. The problems I'm having with his site (and I admit I don't understand the 'why' of it) is in the numerous scripts that he runs in the background (Java?). Check out his blogroll for instance, you click on one category to expand it. Very nifty, but it has to reload each time I access his site, and the firewall is fussing about it. My solution is to wait until I get home to check out his site, I do the same for Madfish Willie's. I really like his proposed designs, especially this one.

Posted by Ted at 12:56 PM | Comments (28)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Ted's Diet Plan

Euphemistically, I'm big boned, hefty, cuddly, a teddy bear, healthy, a big guy, and circumferentially overachieving. I'm in shape, because round is a shape. I have the body of a god - Buddha. I'm currently on a diet. Actually, I'm on two diets, because one alone just wasn't giving me enough to eat. I'm well on my way to a career as a professional sumo wrestler. I'm thinking my sumo name would be Yomama - catchy, eh?

Realistically, I need to lose weight. I've needed to lose weight practically my entire life. Partly because I have the metabolism of a rock, and partly because I have a mostly desk-bound job and I love to eat. So it's not at all a mystery why I'm in the shape I'm in.

I'm not terribly unhealthy. My blood pressure is fine, so's my cholesterol. It doesn't kill me to climb a flight of stairs, and I don't think twice if I have to walk a mile or more to fetch a rocket.

Nobody knows more about diet and nutrition than a fat man in the military. You practically earn a degree on it as Uncle Sam counsels you and educates you. So I've seen a diet or two or twenty. Atkins is only the latest craze.

Low-fat. High-acid. Low-carb. Whatever. Here's my plan. It's called low-swallow. I'm going to quit eating so damn much. And I'm going to work up a sweat more often. Simple plan, now all I have to do is stick to it. And like anything else, now that I've announced it in my little corner of the universe, y'all can encourage me and make fun of me when I stumble. Go ahead, we're jolly you know.

Posted by Ted at 09:27 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Seriously

December 27, 2003

Santa's goodies

The big red round dude was good to me this Christmas. In the 'things I need' category was a new pocketwatch, since mine went kaput earlier this month. I also scored the books Seabiscuit and Footfall, some cooking goodies, and DVD's including October Sky (the only remotely rocket-related gift), John Wayne's The Cowboys, and a cool little four-pack of crappy horror movies that include such schlock classics as Psychomania, Blood Tide, Horror Express - The Enigma, and my favorite: The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave.

Posted by Ted at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

December 26, 2003

The Great Random Google Junket

Welcome to yet another special edition Google Junket, this one suggested by the lovely LeeAnn of The Cheese Stands Alone. Her suggestion was simplicity itself, "flying monkeys". So that's what I did, and here's what the search engine dragged in:

Simian Fi! First up is Flying Monkeys 2003, a blogspot site. has moved.

Now here we have a dataglyph of "Flying Monkey 6". I didn't dig further, so I have no idea what the heck they're talking about. Flying monkeys shouldn't be such a deep subject.

Hand carved and hand painted, these Flying Monkeys Spirit-Chasers are hung to scare the living hell out of to protect sleeping children.

Flying Monkey Arts. Primitive.

There's no place like home, especially if home included acid trips. To relive those fond times without potential felony charges, try this Flying Monkey costume from the Wizard of Oz.

Here's one for you, Flying Monkey Beer. "Even animal lovers enjoy pounding them."

Flying Monkey textiles promises to enhance your life with unique woven products.

The Webtender gives us the Flying Monkey shooter, made with Kahlua, Banana liqueur and Bailey's Irish Cream. Slam several of these and see your very own flying monkeys.

Finally, if you're bored with your doorbell, these Flying Monkey doorbell surrounds will make munchkins and witches alike think twice before interupting your moment.

All right, that's the first page. On page two I'll mention a geocaching site for Flying Monkey Mesa in Utah. There are plenty of other links left over for you to explore on your own.

Posted by Ted at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Google Junket


Mookie brought home a nasty cold from school last week, and within days Liz caught it from her. Yesterday evening I started feeling lousy, and now I'm in the middle of it too.

She's grounded.

Posted by Ted at 05:37 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

The Beagle has landed

Early Christmas morning, the Beagle 2 spacecraft landed on the surface of Mars at the end of a 250 million mile (400 million km), six-month trek to the Red Planet. Launched with the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter on 2 June 2003, the Beagle 2 was named to commemorate Charles Darwin's five-year voyage around the world in HMS Beagle (1831-36). Its main objective is to search for signs of life -- past or present -- on the Red Planet.

Although the first attempt to use NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter to communicate with the lander three hours after touchdown was unsuccessful, scientists and engineers are still awaiting the best Christmas present possible -- the first faint signal to tell them that Beagle 2 has become only the fourth spacecraft to make a successful landing on Mars.

And what exactly was the signal they were waiting for? Well, believe it or not, it was a cell phone ring tone.

The lack of immediate communication wasn’t totally unexpected, but the continued failure to make contact is starting to become worrisome.

"This is a bit disappointing, but it's not the end of the world," said Professor Colin Pillinger, lead scientist for the Beagle 2 project.

"We still have 14 contacts with Odyssey programmed into our computer and we also have the opportunity to communicate through Mars Express after 4 January."

There are several possible explanations for the failure of Odyssey to pick up Beagle 2's signal. Perhaps the most likely is that Beagle 2 landed off course, in an area where communication with Mars Odyssey was difficult, if not impossible. Another possibility is that the lander's antenna was not pointing in the direction of the orbiter during its brief passage over the landing site. If the onboard computer had suffered a glitch and reset Beagle 2's clock, the two spacecraft could be hailing each other at the wrong times.

The Beagle 2 lander entered the thin Martian atmosphere at 2:47 GMT Christmas day. Travelling at a speed of more than 12,500 mph (20,000 km per hour), the probe was protected from external temperatures that soared to 1,700 C by a heat shield made of cork-like material.

As friction with the thin upper atmosphere slowed its descent, onboard accelerometers were used to monitor the spacecraft's progress. At an altitude of about 4.5 miles (7.1 km), Beagle's software was to order the firing of a mortar to deploy a pilot parachute, followed one minute later by deployment of the 33 ft (10 m) diameter main parachute and separation of the heat shield.

At a few hundred metres above the surface, a radar altimeter was to trigger the inflation of three gas-filled bags. Cocooned inside this protective cushion, Beagle 2 was expected to hit the rust-red surface at a speed of about 38 mph (60 km/h). As soon as the bags made contact with the surface, the main parachute was to be released so that the lander could bounce away unhindered. Like a giant beach ball, the gas bag assembly was expected to bounce along the surface for several minutes before coming to rest at 2:54 GMT.

Finally, a system of laces holding the three gas-bags onto the lander was to be cut, allowing them to roll away and drop Beagle 2 about 3 ft (1 m) onto the surface. The whole descent sequence from the top of the atmosphere to impact was to take less than seven minutes.

Beagle 2 was targeted to land within an ellipse, 30 km long and 5 km wide, on Isidis Planitia, a large lowland basin near the Martian equator. However, the exact location of the landing site depended on factors such as the angle of descent and wind speed.

The landing site was chosen for its low elevation, since a greater depth of atmosphere would assist the parachute in braking the lander's descent. Its equatorial location also means that temperatures are warmer, minimising the amount of insulation (and hence mass) needed to protect the lander from the cold Martian night. The relatively flat site was also thought to be neither too dusty nor too rocky to threaten a safe landing (but rocky enough to be interesting for the experiments).

For further details on Mars Express and Beagle 2 see the following websites, check out these websites:

Beagle 2 lander homepage
Mars Express overview
Christmas on Mars: be there with ESA
PPARC News Updates
ESA's Mars page
Europe goes to Mars

Posted by Ted at 01:08 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

December 25, 2003

Jingle... uh...

Merry Christmas or your holiday of choice. Here's hoping you have a great day, a wonderful New Year, and a prosperous 2004 to us all!

You've seen the BK guy ("ding, fries are done"), the Eat'nPark Christmas tree commercial, and by now you've seen "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" (the Champagne Room remix). Here's a tacky and tasteless holiday carol in flash format that might be new to you.

Or maybe you're dreaming of a White Trash Christmas...

Posted by Ted at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

December 24, 2003


I just wanted everyone to know that I took the time to compile an extensive list of online friends that I wanted to send e-cards to for the holidays. Then, like most guys, I gave the list to my wife to take care of for me and forgot all about it.

So did she, so if you didn't get a card from us, blame her.

Posted by Ted at 10:42 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Toss a little prayer in for all these guys too

Don't forget all the military folks in your prayers, because you don't need someone shooting at you to make it a dangerous job. Last month the submarine USS Hartford had an accident while conducting training off the coast of Italy. Nobody was hurt, and the boat returned to the US under her own power. Damage turned out to be more extensive than initially thought.

I prattle on now and then about the Navy submarine fleet because it interests me, and because my son is serving on the Hartford's sister ship USS Philadelphia, also somewhere in the Mediteranian at this time.

Thanks to Phillip for this pointer.

Posted by Ted at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Military

Even Santa puts up with the government

Because of recent events, Santa now has to go through a more thorough FAA "Flight Safety and Emergency Certification" inspection. On the appointed day, he greets the inspector, and they chat about the new rules and regulations imposed.

Just like they do every year, the FAA inspector looks over Santa's maintenance records, then they go out and do a walk-around of the sleigh. He checks for loose runners, makes sure the reins aren't dry-rotted, asks more questions about what to do during this or that emergency situation, and just generally being more thorough than the normal annual inspection.

Finally, it's time for the check ride, and Santa gets in the sleigh. He's a little alarmed when the FAA inspector climbs aboard with his clipboard and a rifle. Santa immediately inquires about the weapon.

"Well," says the FAA inspector, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but you're going to suffer an engine failure during take off."

Posted by Ted at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs


Happy Holidays! ** (see Footnote 1 in the extended entry)

** Footnote 1
Please accept, with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an
environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive,
gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised within
the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, with
respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or
their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all....and a
fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated
recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2002, but not
without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose
contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that
America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA"
in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age,
physical ability, religious faith, or choice of computer platform of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you are accepting these terms. This greeting is
subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no
alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to
actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void
where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.
This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of
good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of subsequent
holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement
of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

The wishee further agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the wisher, along with
its heirs, assigns, officers, directors, shareholders.

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Audience participation night - NHL style

The New York Islanders held a promotion where anyone dressed as Santa Claus got free admission to the hockey game last night against their crosstown rival New York Rangers.

Between periods, the Santas were ushered on to the ice, at which point two of them opened up their suits to display NY Ranger sweaters underneath. In a display of old fashioned hockey tradition, both Santas were jumped by the rest, knocked down and stripped of the offending uniforms.

The fight lasted nearly nine minutes, and several normally-dressed fans joined in from the stands. Geez, I love hockey!

Posted by Ted at 05:16 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

December 23, 2003

iPod information update

I had originally asked for any and all information about iPod's here, and got lots and lots of great answers in the comments. Then Dawn stopped me dead with this link and the quicktime video viewable from that page. If this is true, then the iPod isn't necessarily such a great deal anymore. Anyone know if what they say in the video is the real deal?

Update: Once again Dawn comes through! Look here for step-by-step instructions - with pictures - on how to replace your own iPod battery. Batteries run around $60.00 from the same company. That doesn't sound like an unreasonable price.

Posted by Ted at 11:41 AM | Comments (7)
Category: SciTech

Christmas Trees

Why a Christmas Tree Is Better Than a Woman

1. A Christmas tree doesn't care how many other Christmas trees you have had in the past.
2. Christmas trees don't get mad if you use exotic electrical devices.
3. A Christmas tree doesn't care if you have an artificial one in the closet.
4. You can feel a Christmas tree before you take it home.
5. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you look up underneath it.
6. When you are done with a Christmas tree, you can throw it on the curb and have it hauled away.
7. A Christmas tree doesn't get jealous around other Christmas trees.
8. A Christmas tree doesn't care if you watch football all day.
9. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you tie it up and throw it in the back of your pickup truck.

Why A Christmas Tree Is Better Than A Man

1. A Christmas tree is always erect.
2. Even small ones give satisfaction.
3. A Christmas tree stays up for 12 days and nights.
4. A Christmas tree always looks good - even with the lights on.
5. A Christmas tree is always happy with its size.
6. A Christmas tree has cute balls.
7. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you break one of its balls.
8. You can throw a Christmas tree out when it's past its 'sell by' date.
9. You don't have to put up with a Christmas tree all year.

Posted by Ted at 08:06 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

The Year Santa Started World War III

This is a song I wrote in 1979 or ’80. I was in the Air Force, stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota with the Strategic Air Command (SAC). It definitely reflects my life and mindset at the time, considering where I was and what I was doing. It’s a little dated now that the Soviet Union is no more, but I think it still works. I wish I could post the music with it (and you should be glad I don’t know how to post audio). Anyway, the various snippets of Christmas carols are mostly sung to their original melodies and rhythms, and the background is a simple glockenspiel line or finger-picked guitar.

The Year Santa Started World War III

Deck the halls with jingle bells, jingle bells, and lots of Christmas cheer,
I remember all the fuss at Christmas time that year.

Our spies had found the Russians out,
Discovered quite a trick,
On Christmas eve a missile dressed as Santa Claus would hit.
Washington would be aglow,
With more than Christmas cheer,
Wouldn’t need no Christmas lights, the next ten thousand years.

Ho Ho Ho, Fa La La La Laaaaaa,
And a silent night,
We’ll intercept that phony Santa and blast it out of sight.

Christmas eve had rolled around,
And everything was set,
Our missiles were all poised to strike at Rudolph the Red Threat.
We tracked it on our radar,
And let our missile fly,
It hit and as we watched in awe it lit up half the sky.

Wise men ‘round the world agree,
That on that holy night,
We intercepted something and we blew it out of sight.

Radar screens began to light up,
All across the land,
It soon was plain to everyone that doomsday was at hand.
Kids still talk about it,
As the yule that never was,
America had shown it’s might and nuked poor Santa Claus.

Dashing through the snow,
Up on the rooftop reindeer pause,
With Uncle Sam as Mr. Scrooge we nuked poor Santa Claus.

A lesson quite apparent,
No need to dig down deep,
Just need one to wage a war, need two to wage a peace.
“Do You See What I See”
is a motto for all men,
God intended Christmas as a time to start again.

Ho Ho Ho, Fa La La La Laaaaaa,
Children’s Christmas dreams,
First Noel reminds that nothing’s as bad as it seems.

Partridges and pear trees,
Holly decks the halls,
Peace on earth to everyone, and God bless one and all.
Peace on earth to everyone, and God bless one and all.

Posted by Ted at 07:10 AM | Comments (1)
Category: About Ted

December 22, 2003

Oooo, a rocket question!

I know, it's *yawn* to most of you. :) But it's not often I get to act like Horschack.

Victor left a comment on my post about the upcoming Bowling Ball Loft contest. He was referencing part of the rules:

I took a look at the rules, and this intrigued me: Use a launch rail, tube or tower. Rods are prohibited due to past bad experience.

And he asked:

Can you explain the difference between the four launch pad configurations (apologies if my terminology is not correct) and what kind of bad experience they may have had with a launch rod? (I realize that might be speculation on your part.)

No speculation needed, I know exactly why they don't allow the use of launch rods in this situation. First a little background:

An unguided rocket (like we fly) has to be moving at a certain speed for the fins to have a stabilizing effect. Usually it’s around 40mph, although a lot of different factors can make a difference one way or another. Since hobby rockets are launched very nearly vertical, we use different ways of making sure that the rocket stays pointed straight up until it’s moving fast enough for the fins to take over.

All of these assume that the launch pad itself is stable. Good wide legs, low center of gravity, anchored to the ground or hefty construction; all of these combine to ensure that the launch pad won’t tip or tilt when the thrust of the motor kicks it. Attached to the launch pad itself will be the rod, rail, tube or tower.

The oldest method is the launch rod. Most commonly used for the smallest model rockets (1/8” x 36” long), it doesn’t scale up well but is still used - up to 1” diameter rods around 12 feet long. The problem is that when more power and weight are used, the rod tends to ‘whip’ which can fling a rocket off vertical. Not a biggie with a nine ounce model rocket, but it can be very dangerous with a nine pound rocket. A ‘launch lug’ is used, which is just a length of tubing glued to the rocket that slides loosely over the rail. On smaller rockets, the lug looks like a short piece of soda straw.

The launch rail is quickly becoming the standard method of launching bigger rockets. Made of extruded aluminum, the extra mass and shape of the rail makes for a much stiffer guide, which ensures that the rocket stays vertical as it launches. Instead of lugs, ‘rail buttons’ are used, which slide into the channel of the rail to provide the guidance. There's a picture of a typical rail in the extended entry.

A launch tower is primarily used in altitude contest launches. Instead of a lug or buttons attached to the rocket, the tower provides the guidance for a rocket by using three rods or rails spaced around the rocket body (between the fins). In its simplest form, a launch tower can be three parallel rods sticking up out of a coffee can full of cement. The main advantage is that since the rocket doesn’t have lugs or buttons, there is significantly less drag, which makes for higher altitudes. The main disadvantage is that a tower is only good for one diameter of rocket, unless some way of adjusting the guide rods is included, which adds to the complexity and cost. This elegant design here – by another Ted – allows for the three most common diameters of model rockets.

A launch tube is similar to the tower, except that the guidance is provided by the walls of the tube against the tips of the fins. Unlike a gun barrel, there is no back pressure assisting the liftoff. There are ways to use the ‘cannon’ method of launching as well, but it’s difficult enough that it’s not usually worth the effort and extremely rare to see it done.

Professional rockets use a variety of these methods, usually for the same reasons we do. The Super Loki Dart sounding rocket (this picture is of a scale model) is launched from an 12’ long tower (picture here along with some specs) that is spiraled like a gun barrel to provide spin and extra stability. The Loki reaches Mach 5 in a little less than a second, so staying straight is critical or the rocket will break into pieces.

Personally, I use launch rods up to about ¼” diameter – on anything up to about 2 pound rockets. I have rail buttons mounted on our larger rockets, and a lot of our rockets are rigged to use either, just in case a rail isn’t available. Given a choice, I’ll use the rail any time, because I’ve seen some scary flights caused by rod whip.

In this picture, a hex nut is shown (red arrows) as part of the mounting process. Ignore that and notice the shape of the rail and how the rail buttons will fit into any of the other slots.


Posted by Ted at 03:16 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Rocketry

The Internet Video Archive

If you've got the bandwidth and a high-speed connection, you could probably spend quite a while here.

Posted by Ted at 06:58 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

More retro coolness

Hey Daniel, if you thought the Atari classic joystick full of games was cool, check out this one: the Intellivision 25!

My neighbor had an Intellivision, and I always wanted one. Way beyond our newlywed budget at the time, they had some nifty games that were more strategy-oriented than the (still fun) Atari shoot-em-ups.

I'll post a review of it in the near future. :D

Posted by Ted at 06:24 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

December 21, 2003

Is this true?

According to Sports Illustrated, for the first time since 1954 no football teams from New York or California will make the playoffs.

Obviously the republicans control the NFL, vindictive bastards.

Posted by Ted at 11:17 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

Rocket contest

From the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup (my notes and clarifications are in italics):

Arizona High Power Rocketry Association (AHPRA) will be once again holding the bowling ball loft at LDRS (annual high power rocket launch featured in the Discovery Channel programs).

For LDRS 23 the Bowling Ball Loft class will be I-Lite (on the small end of the scale for 'I' sized motors). This was chosen to best suit the field size and waiver restrictions at the New York site (yes, safety matters to us).

Rockets will be launched for maximum altitude with a payload of one eight
pound bowling ball using an I motor from the approved list

In addition to the regular cornucopia of prizes AHPRA gets from vendors
there is the potential to win up to $1000 (One Thousand Dollars US) cash if
you set the new I Lite record during the contest

Look here for more information.

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

After Link Love like this, I need a cigarette

Over at JimiLove, Inc., yours truly has been nominated, nay, crowned "nicest guy on the internet".

I'm feeling pretty darned good about it. Since it was totally unexpected, I don't have any words prepared, so I'll plagiarize paraphrase some from a movie.

If this were Ted's Universe, I'd require stiffer sentencing for repeat offenders. And world peace.

Thank you.

Posted by Ted at 10:24 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Links

Not a Bee Gee to be found

Over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy, Johno points out what may very well be the best week in the history of rock and roll.

Check out the Billboard Chart for December 20, 1969:

No. 1, "Abbey Road," the Beatles
No. 2, "Led Zeppelin II," Led Zeppelin
No. 3, "Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas," Tom Jones
No. 4, "Green River," Creedence Clearwater Revival
No. 5, "Let It Bleed," the Rolling Stones
No. 6, "Santana," Santana
No. 7, "Puzzle People," the Temptations
No. 8, "Blood Sweat & Tears," Blood Sweat & Tears
No. 9, "Crosby, Stills & Nash," Crosby, Stills & Nash
No. 10, "Easy Rider" soundtrack (featuring the Byrds, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf)

Right there, you have the soundtrack to one kick ass roadtrip.

Posted by Ted at 08:39 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Nothing profound, just a couple of thoughts about women

Guys, you should go with your wife when she has to visit her gynocologist. It's fun to sit in the waiting room and without doing a thing, make every female there uncomfortable as hell. Kind of an implied 'I know what you're here for' thing. Plus, you get to catch up on your chicks magazine reading.


My wife was outraged the other evening when I told my daughters that they should do more phone sex. Things calmed down after I outlined "Dad's Definition of Phone Sex":

phone rings, daughter picks up: hello?

boy on other end of line: hey, wanna chill?

daughter: SCREW YOU!

after which daughter immediately slams phone down.

Us dads don't get enough credit for thinking outside the box.


If you're drowning in estrogen around the house, get a male dog. Nothing is more 'guy' than a puppy humping everything in sight or licking himself in the middle of the floor. Never ever let a women talk you into getting him fixed.


A while back Nic said this in my comments:

"Your love for and commitment to your family comes through in every post."

That's a very sweet thing to say, and I thank you for it. I think it also explains why I have such a hard time meeting women on the side.

Posted by Ted at 08:04 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

December 20, 2003

OSHA and Santa

Nic pointed this one out. Too funny!

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

December 19, 2003

Just the facts please

Ok, iPod's and MP3 players... what's the story?

I've tried to get answers to a few basic questions, and have had no luck so far, so I'm coming to the smartest people I know - folks who read my blog.

Suppose I buy one of these beasties and spend a buck a song to fill it up with music. That's a significant chunk of change on top of the initial price.

Is there a way to back up the music? I mean, if someone steals the iPod or it gets destroyed somehow (flying monkeys), am I out the hardware and the songs I've already paid for?

How much music does it actually hold? Assuming a mythical 3 minute rock'n'roll song, about how big is it? How many of these would fit in a 64MB memory? See what I'm getting at? I mean, what good is one of these if it only stores 20 songs at a time, I might as well keep my DiscMan.

Any upgrades available and doable by the average user? Better headphones, more memory, etc?

Batteries. What do they use, how long do they last, yadda yadda yadda.

What else do I need to know? I know these are very vague questions, but that's the kind of information I need. Don't tell me it holds up to 300 songs, because I know it will only hold 1 song, but it will be very very long. Getting the straight word on this kind of stuff drives me crazy, like used-car salesmen and military recruiters, you're only going to hear the good stuff.

Posted by Ted at 12:17 PM | Comments (11)
Category: SciTech

Photographic History

Sometimes I'm just awed by what you can find on the internet. This is a perfect example:

On June 15, 1878, a clear and sunny day in Palo Alto, California, amid a gathering of art and sports journalists, Eadweard Muybridge photographed the first successful serial images of fast motion.

The subject of these photographs was the trotting horse, Abe Edgington, harnessed to a sulky. The horse was owned by railroad builder and former governor, Leland Stanford. Proven was Stanford's theory that during a horse's running stride, there is a moment of suspension where no hooves are touching the ground.

What had begun as a topic of unresolvable debate among artists and horse enthusiasts now launched a new era in photography.

Take some time to look through the index and galleries too, and enjoy the history replaying before your eyes.

Link thanks to Fleshbot (not work safe).

Posted by Ted at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)
Category: History

One of those little excursions

Mookie borrowed a t-shirt from her best friend last weekend (they often trade clothes) which said "How Not To Get Caught". Underneath are three 'international' style pictograms, you know the ones with the little stick figures. The first says "Act dumb", next is "Deny you did it", and then finally "Blame the flying monkeys". Cute.

But I wondered what kind of hits one would get if we Googled "How Not To Get Caught".

Number 2 on the list is How not to get caught in the unethical fish trap via the BBC. From the article: "Eating seafood can be a minefield for the ethical consumer. Where, how and when a fish is caught dictates its environmental impact - and this information is seldom available on shop labels or menus."

Next up - number 6 or so - is a site titled "Grow securely - how not to get caught". Welcome to the UK Cannabis Internet Activists (UKCIA), which is some sort of marijuana advocacy organization. They have a forum listed on their main page, and ask you to tell them what you think. I'm reminded of an old 'Shoe' comic, where Skyler asks Uncle Shoe if dope is bad for you. He says "Yes. It causes your body to be thrown into jail."

This next one looks like some sort of historical link: How not to get caught making fake credit card calls. Chock full of 60's-style anti-establishment lingo and rhetoric. Amusing.

How not to get caught wanking. Crude and juvenile. Lots of pop-ups too, including one featuring a picture of Einstein. Do you think Albert wanked in the shower? The unified theory of wanking?

Moving on...

The very first thing on page 2 is How not to get caught on the World Wide Web. Since you're reading this, I'll assume it's too late.

Dark Tipper Kevin Rose On How Not To Get Caught Downloading Music, Proof Planet X Exists, Camwhore Face-Off.

Here we get tips on How not to get caught speeding (hopefully). I especially like the "(hopefully)" part. Here's a helpful tip: "Memorize the headlight patterns of the common cop cars in your area." Uh huh.

Boy Howdy! At you can order books on how to deal with Escorts. They adveritse: "MORE F**K FOR THE BUCK! BUY NOW and you'll also get a copy of my FREE article, "How Not to Get Caught With the Girl You Bought," full of extremely valuable information on guaranteeing that your escort experience remains discreet."

Simply titled How Not To Get Caught, our next stop contains this wisdom:
"Martyrs have their place in every movement, and they can be quite effective symbols; however, substance wins over symbolism every time, and you can't do anything substantial if you are sitting behind bars. The Confederate guerrilla is, by the nature of his activities, the free-est of free men. The only way that he can maintain that freedom of action is not to get caught, and the only way not to get caught is not to be identified."

Digging a little further, this guy is waiting for the Confederacy to rise again. Literally.

There are tons and tons of links to go through. How not to get caught when shoplifting, having affairs, stealing cable TV and other assorted naughtyness.

Google is your friend.

Posted by Ted at 08:41 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

More pretty pictures

NASA unveiled the first views from its space infrared telescope, a super-cooled orbiting observatory that can look through obscuring dust to capture images never before seen.

The newest member of NASA's family of orbiting telescopes, this telescope is named in honor of the famed astronomer Lyman Spitzer Jr. Spitzer, a Princeton University astronomer, proposed in 1946, long before the first orbital rocket, that the nation put telescopes into space, above the obscuring effects of the atmosphere.

Spitzer was a leader in efforts to persuade Congress to pay for a fleet of orbiting telescopes. He also played a major role in the 1990 launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. He died in 1997.

Spitzer is considered one of the most significant astronomers of the 20th century.

The telescope completes NASA's original plan to orbit telescopes to study segments of the electromagnetic spectrum, the visible and invisible radiation that fills the universe, which is partially or completely blocked by the Earth's atmosphere.

The Hubble, launched in 1990, gathers images in visible, ultraviolet and near-infrared waves. The Compton, launched in 1991, studied gamma rays, a high energy form of radiation. Its mission ended in 1999. The Chandra Observatory, launched in 1999, studies X-ray radiation from supernovas and black holes.

Posted by Ted at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

December 18, 2003

Odds and ends

Please notice the St. Louis Blues logo up in the corner. The Blues beat my beloved San Jose Sharks last night, so in accordance with the rules of our inter-Munuvian Hockey Whoopass Jamboree, I'll be displaying the logo of Heather's favorite team for the next day or so.

Look for the next installment of the Build It series this weekend. We'll be attaching the fins to the rocket and starting the recovery system.

Oh yeah, I got two pretty good wishes in the comments, but that's all? C'mon people.

Posted by Ted at 10:27 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Malcom J

I'm even stealing Kevin's title for this one. Michael Jackson is joining Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

Jehovah's Witnesses all over the world are thanking God. Jacko was starting to give them a bad name.

Posted by Ted at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Sometimes you just gotta

While reading SilverBlue, I found this pointer to Bill, who posted the most disgusting bit of alleged humor I've seen in a long time. Of course I laughed like a maniac the whole time.

And oddly enough, it was the second 'tampon related' discussion I'd been involved in today. It must be preordained or something, so here is my contribution to the string (pun intended).

Q: How can you tell when a blonde is having a bad day?

A: There's a tampon behind her ear and she can't find her pencil.

Posted by Ted at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Ripple Fire*

I’m one of those folks who listens to Christmas music on the radio. I found the local easy listening station, which has become the self-proclaimed “home for Christmas”, and that’s what plays on the way to work. I love singing along too. But I have a tip for musicians everywhere: there’s not a thing wrong with slow and solemn songs, but for God’s sake don’t turn an upbeat song into a dirge trying to make it ‘your own’.

Country Music Christmas songs fall into two categories: Trailer Trash Tunes and Treacly Tearjerkers. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and Who Put the Dick on the Snowman are perfect examples of the first sort, and this years apparent winner in the sickly-sweet division is I Want To Buy Those Shoes for Mommy. You see, she’s going to meet Jesus tonight and she has to look good, so dad sent the kid out to get her new shoes. Barf.

Burger King has once again backed a loser, this time the Cat in the Hat movie. BK commercials in general are obnoxious, and adding the Cat into the mix just makes it worse. Tip time (I’m on a roll today): Next time you have an idea for an advertising campaign, throw it in the trash and do the exact opposite. My consulting fee for that wisdom is ½ of 1% of your advertising budget for next year. If that’s a problem, just dock Herb’s salary.

Lyndon LaRouche is running for president – again. The ad I heard this morning was a pip, even for him. This isn’t a perfect quote, because I’m probably off by a word or two, but the money words are exact: “If the Democratic Party excludes me, they. Will. Be. Destroyed. If the Democratic Party doesn’t include me this time, they are dead meat.” Wow, all the features of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, except the compassion and conservatism.

In the military, I had to get a flue shot every year, and every year I’d get sick for a few days from the ‘live-virus’ vaccine. I haven’t had one since I got out over ten years ago, and I’ve had my butt kicked by the flu twice in that time.

The way it was explained to me, the makers of the vaccine take the two or three most common strains from the previous year and combine them into the next years vaccine, making an educated guess about what’s coming along next and hoping that the current strains will be close enough to the previous ones to provide some measure of immunity. It’s a crap shoot - possible to win, possible to lose badly.

So this year, flu season comes along early and kills some kids. Not to seem unfeeling, but the flu kills about a hundred kids a year, not to mention thousands of older folks. Maybe it was a slow news day or something, but the media has blown this so out of proportion that people are panicking. Now there are hours-long lines waiting to get one of the last hundred doses of vaccine at the local clinic, and then folks get pissed because their baby didn’t get a shot. Why the hell didn’t you get the kid vaccinated when it became available months ago? Shut the hell up. And it’s not the government’s fault. The vaccine companies made enough to cover normal demand (thousands of doses get thrown away unused each year), so don’t blame them either. Just shut up.

Meanwhile the talking heads on the news show video clips of lines outside of clinics and horrifically sick kids while they whisper in voice-over “don’t panic”. You too, shut up. Mr. Green, your services are needed here.

Hmmmm… need to lighten up and end this…

Since my wife doesn’t read my blog (and the girls know death awaits if they open their big mouths), I’d like to publicly thank Daniel for pointing out this! I got one for Liz for Christmas (, and it looks like it’s going to be fun.

Kickin' it old school, indeed.

* ‘Ripple Fire’ is a mode whereas multiple military rockets are launched at a (usually ground) target in rapid sequence. It’s similar to machine-gun fire, but with big booms at the receiving end.
I use the title for disjointed snippets and thoughts too short for their own posts.

Posted by Ted at 08:03 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Wildest dreams

I heard this on the radio this morning, and it sounds like fun. They called it "Put on your Greedy Caps".

For Christmas, you can have anything you want. Anything.

Among the DJ's on the morning show, their wishes were:
- The deed to Augusta.
- The same amount of money as Bill Gates.
- Heidi Klum.
- (my new hero wanted) his face painted on every water tower in America.

What is your wish? Leave it in the comments.

Posted by Ted at 07:04 AM | Comments (9)
Category: Square Pegs


Not what you think, unless you know me, then you already knew it couldn't be that.

What Would Jesus Drive?

Found via EnSight, which I found through a link at Carol's Chaotic Collection of Curiosities (which, by the way, features a regular roundup of Spam-related articles and links).

Posted by Ted at 05:30 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

December 17, 2003

Just in case you didn't know...

Go visit Google for a clue about what today is.

Posted by Ted at 11:32 AM | Comments (4)
Category: SciTech

X-Prize Team Updates

Major thanks to Mark Oakley, who pointed out this link to new summaries of the X-Prize contenders, their 2003 accomplishments and their future plans (.pdf file).

You really should read about what happens when the civilian world decides to reach for the stars without government help. Over twenty teams from Canada, the UK, Argentina, Israel, Romania, Russia and the US are vying for top honors.

I've written a little bit about the X-Prize before, but you can find better information about it over at Rocket Man, including interviews with some of the teams.

Posted by Ted at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Lots going on.

300,000 Dots. Please read it and scroll down too, and remember exactly why capturing Saddam Hussein was a historic moment to the Iraqi people. Thanks to the guys at Random Nuclear Strikes for this link.

Freaking News has an excellent photoshop Saddam contest running. Thanks to Shell of Across the Atlantic for pointing it out.

Annika brings us a little history of the 4th Infantry Division, who mounted Operation Red Dawn.

Over at Blackfive, Matt requests help responding to an email he received. This comment cracked me up:

It could also have something to do with their accents. In America, women who speak english with a french accent are considered to be sexy and men who speak english with a french accent are considered to be gay.” – digrafid AKA the grungy guide

Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. Being gay I mean, not being French. (I know, you saw that coming a mile away)

Dawn posts a link to a television commercial that can only be described as ‘sweet’. And sometimes that’s just what you need.

Now over at Curmudgeonly & Skeptical, Rodger mentions a History Channel program, Time Machine: Nazi Guerrillas. I saw that show too, and if you get a chance I highly recommend it.

Norbi is running several caption contests with real actual genuine prizes! He also uses the word ‘chucklehead’ which kind of pisses me off because I was planning on bringing back that oldie myself in a post later this week. So now, it becomes a tribute instead of a trendsetter.

Once again, the flea links to virtual coolness. This time, it’s animated engines. I was reminded of this book and a similar one that give plans on how to craft working mechanical engines of wood. While searching for that one, I came across this book which shows how to make working wooden locks. I'm not patient enough to produce that kind of intricacy in wood, but I can appreciate the beauty of the pieces.

Filed under “WTF? Keep an eye on this…”, both Marc of The Idiot Villager (he isn’t) and someone else who’s link I’ve misplaced (and I’m embarrassed about that), look into the fact that MoveOn.Org, is going international. Yep. The Democratic party – well, not officially – are now inviting foreign citizens to donate money to MoveOn who will then distribute it ‘legally’ to Democratic candidates in order to defeat President Bush.

Update: Random Nuclear Strikes notes the same item and links to Drudge. Also, try a little bagpipe Christmas music.

FanBall. Go try it, it’s addictive as hell. Thanks to Jockularocracy for the pointer.

More ‘whoa, neat!’ stuff, this time via Jimi Love. Warning, the cool link does not allow you to ‘back’ out and return.

How can you not love someone who titles a post “Kucinich, you maggot infested, disease ridden whoreson.” Thanks to Kin – who’s TDY in Italy at the moment – for the link to Gee, ya THINK!?.

Ah, feeling the love. I read The Meatriarch every day, and when I finally post a comment he’s all over me like I was wearing a pork chop suit.

Mark of Not Quite Tea and Crumpets reappears. Not much new yet, but it’s nice to know that everything is ok and that his fine blog wasn’t abandoned.

Over at Sanity’s Edge, Paul posts two hysterically funny stories. (making a note about my ‘answering the phone’ story…)

Serenity posted an awesome link to 'The best of the Hubble'. Awesome is too lightweight a word for these pictures.

And so ends this edition. Not because I ran out of great things to link to – heck, I only got to the beginning of the S’s – but because lunch is over and it’s time to get back to work.

Happy Holidays my friends, however you may celebrate.

Posted by Ted at 07:33 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

Good Eats

Yes, I am a fan. I like Alton Brown. Thanks to Josh for the link to the Alton Brown fan page. Be sure to check out the satire of Alton Brown on Iron Chef! (look on the left side of the page for the link)

If nothing else, watch because he's got his own drinking game.

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist this:

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
"Make me one with everything."

Posted by Ted at 06:06 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

December 16, 2003

Dear Santa...

I want one of these...

It didn't take long, and just in time for the holidays, the "Captured Saddam," action figure, presumably fresh out of an imaginary spider-hole, has been rushed to store shelves.

"We still mold and hand paint each and every action figure right here in the Good Old USA," says Check out their page, it's pretty in-your-face funny.

Among their offerings are a couple of Saddam dolls, two Uday versions (I like the DOA doll), and of course everyone's favorite: Baghdad Bob. For European customers, the company features a Tony Blair "Talking British Ally" model, Gerhard Schroeder in camouflage, and French President Jacque Chirac, whom it calls "le Worm" in a flouncy French maid's outfit.

Well, maybe that last one isn't for the Euro market.

Posted by Ted at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

This might be the only reason I'd buy a lottery ticket

Two Americans have ponied up $20 million each to become the latest space tourists, and will ride a Russian rocket into orbit.

Posted by Ted at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program


While European consortium Airbus concentrates on a behemoth passenger carrier (the A380 - seating up to 800*, due in 2006), Boeing takes a different path and announced their new 7E7 Dreamliner. By using more advanced composites than metal, the new jet will be lighter and 20% more fuel efficient. Also included are passenger-friendly features such as wider aisles and seats as well as larger windows, and it will carry up to 250 people over 8,000 miles non-stop.

Even though the first planes won't fly until 2008, Boeing will begin taking orders now. They project sales of 2000-3000 aircraft over 20 years.

* According to Airbus, the baseline capacity of the A380 is 555 passengers. I assume the larger numbers are 'cattle car' seating, where everyone flies coach.

Posted by Ted at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

High Power Rocket

In the extended entry is a picture of me holding my semi-scale model of a Phoenix air-to-air missile.

I won this kit in an online raffle, and she flies great on 'H' motors. She'll handle 'I' and 'J' motors as well, but I haven't tried them yet. Thanks to all the fins, once the motor stops burning and she's coasting upwards, you can hear her whistling. It sounds pretty cool.

THOY Phoenix kit

Posted by Ted at 09:47 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Rocketry

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinahhhh!

If you set out home-baked goodies for the holidays, or give them as gifts, these cookies are a great variation of the old classic.

Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp (scant) ground cloves
½ tsp salt

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
3. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, stir into the sugar mixture.
4. Stir in the oats and raisins.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
6. Bake 10-12 minutes until light and golden. They will be soft and chewy if you don't overbake them. Let cool for a minute before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely.

Makes 3 dozen.

Posted by Ted at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Recipes

Ho Ho Oh!

I wonder if OSHA has guidelines for this?

ho ho oh.jpg

Posted by Ted at 06:58 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Rockets and Boy Scouts

Michael's Craft Stores are promoting, in conjunction with Estes Industries, a "Space Exploration Rocket Days". This event, held at Michael's stores throughout the country from April 17, 2004 through May 1st, 2004, will provide Scouts the opportunity to complete Requirement 3 of the Space Exploration merit badge except for the two rocket launches. Estes Industries will provide a model rocket to be built to each Boy Scout registering for the event. Michael's will provide an opportunity for scouts to build their rocket at the store. Scoutmasters can bring troop members to participate and a certificate will be presented, upon completion of building the rocket, and the certificate can be presented to the merit badge counselor.

This is a Boy Scout event and does require registration prior to participation. REGISTER NOW! Call or visit your local Michael's store between January 2 and March 5, 2004 to register your troop.

To find the nearest Michael's store, call 800-642-4235 or visit

Note: Registration doesn't start until January 2nd, despite the "Register Now" in the advertisement. If you know a scoutmaster or scout, pass the word along. As for the requirement of launching the rockets they build, contact your local rocket club, easily located at the National Association of Rocketry.

Posted by Ted at 06:50 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Rocketry

December 15, 2003


Over at Transterrestrial Musings, Rand Simberg wonders...

Six Weeks More War, Or Is It Over?

When they pulled Saddam out of his hole, did he see his shadow?

Posted by Ted at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Missing the good ol' days

Back before it got so crowded.

Santa plane wing anim.gif

Posted by Ted at 06:02 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Hu's on First

Playwright Jim Sherman wrote this after Hu Jintao was named chief of the Communist Party in China.

(We take you now to the Oval Office.)

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?
Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.
George: Great. Lay it on me.
Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.
George: That's what I want to know.
Condi: That's what I'm telling you.
George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
Condi: Yes.
George: I mean the fellow's name.
Condi: Hu.
George: The guy in China.
Condi: Hu.
George: The new leader of China.
Condi: Hu.
George: The Chinaman!
Condi: Hu is leading China.
George: Now whaddya' asking me for?
Condi: I'm telling you Hu is leading China.
George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?
Condi: That's the man's name.
George: That's who's name?
Condi: Yes.
George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle East.
Condi: That's correct.
George: Then who is in China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir is in China?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Then who is?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
Condi: Kofi?
George: No, thanks.
Condi: You want Kofi?
George: No.
Condi: You don't want Kofi.
George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
Condi: Kofi?
George: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condi: And call who?
George: Who is the guy at the U.N?
Condi: Hu is the guy in China.
George: Will you stay out of China?!
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
Condi: Kofi.
George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.
(Condi picks up the phone.)
Condi: Rice, here.
George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we should send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you get Chinese food in the Middle East?

Posted by Ted at 05:17 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

December 14, 2003

Paging Oliver Stone

Kevin wants everyone to make up their own wild conspiracy story about Saddam's capture and link to his post here.

Just think, this is your chance to profoundly influence moonbat thinking. So get busy, get creative, and get digging!

It's obvious that the Russians handed over Saddam to the US as part of the deal to cover Halliburton's overcharging for gas by allowing the Russians to build their pipeline instead of the Turks.

Posted by Ted at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Now that's what I call accumulation

Not work safe, not kid safe, but funny and cute.
Download and click to run it. And don't worry, nothing installs.

Download Snowman (400kb)


Posted by Ted at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs


Beats standing out in the freezing rain any day.

I knew something bothered me while watching the Two Towers. Thanks to Johno of The Ministry, I now know that it was the quirky editing. Here's the original, with all scenes restored as it was meant to be seen.

And since we're feeling middle-earthish, enjoy some Gollum rap. Thanks to Sekimori, via Tiger, for the pointer to this one.

LeeAnn posted this one, and I suspect that I'm the last person on the internet to have seen it, but in the interest of linking all things silly: Virtual Bubble Wrap.

Oh yeah, new tagline over on the right. And nobody even noticed. Just like a guy.

Posted by Ted at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

YES !!!!!!!

Saddam Hussein captured.

Posted by Ted at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Military

December 13, 2003

Season tickets will be impossible to get

Today our hometown Dale City Cowboys won the Pop Warner Midget Division I Super Bowl - 2003.

Get some, 'Boys!

Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

When I do stuff like this it's called goofing off

For those who have ever wondered why the sky was a lurid red in "The Scream" -- Edvard Munch's painting of modern angst -- astronomers have an answer.

Posted by Ted at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

In touch with my inner self

At least they admit it's a useless test (click on the pig).

Thanks to Pixy and Susie, today's intrepid Lewis & Clark of quiz-takers everywhere.

Posted by Ted at 07:56 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Or you could just stick a fork in the outlet

A page dedicated to Christmas Lights.

I'm all for showing the Christmas spirit, but those people who go all out to decorate every inch of their house, inside and out, for Christmas kinda creep me out.

Posted by Ted at 07:43 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

December 12, 2003

DIY Cruise Missile

I'm kind of surprised that this hasn't generated more buzz than it has. Surprised and relieved, actually.

A New Zealand man who built a cruise missile in his garage claims the New Zealand government forced him to shut down his project after coming under pressure from the United States.

Bruce Simpson says he built the missile using parts bought off the internet to show how easily it could be done.

There was some concern from the hobby rocketry community that this would reflect badly on us, especially because common sense isn’t particularly common right now within the Department of Homeland Security or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

So let’s set it straight right up front. A cruise missile isn’t a rocket, it’s not even really a missile, it’s an unmanned airplane. It flies like an airplane using a jet engine, and the onboard guidance system steers it to its target exactly like you steer an airplane. A cruise missile is nothing more than a faster one-shot version of the Predator or Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) now in use. The primary purpose is attack, unlike UAV’s where the first job is surveillance.

In WWII, Germany developed a ‘glide bomb’ that was forerunner to modern cruise missiles. It lacked only its own propulsion, being dropped from a carrier aircraft at high altitude and gliding to the target.

Bruce Simpson (the developer in question) has since posted to the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup to discuss his work. He makes this claim:

You'll note that tthe project deliberately avoided any use of rocket engines -- even for the launch process. This was done deliberately because I didn't want any fallout on the model rocket community. I was fully aware that even if I'd used a sold rocket booster for launching, there was a very real risk that the knee-jerk reaction of politicians would have been to simply ban the sale and unlicensed production of all rocket engines.

Likewise, although I could have gone out and purchased three or four turbojet engines designed for model airplane use, i deliberately avoided the same reasons.

I didn't want any fallout from this project to affect legitimate users of similar technology.

Googling his name as author on all newsgroups, I found that he’s also been actively debating his project on UK.Current-Events.Terrorism, Alt.Religion.Islam, Rec.Crafts.Metalworking, NZ.Politics, NZ.General, and Sci.Space.Tech, among others.

So what exactly did he build? There are more details here, some fairly troubling. The government of New Zealand admitted that he broke no laws, and even told him that it was ok to license his jet engine design to an Iranian aerospace company when he was approached with an offer. In his words:

However, out of curiosity I contacted relevent arm of the NZ government to ask what would be involved if someone wished to accept such a deal. I fully expected to be told that technology exports to Iran were prohibited -- particularly since the USA has classified that country as a sponsor of terrorism and has very strict bans on such technology transfers.

I was gobsmacked when the government came back to me and said there would be no problem with selling jet engine technology to Iran. I even asked again -- empahsizing that this technology had military application. They went away and came back with the same answer - it doesn't matter if it does have military application.

Once I'd picked my jaw up off the floor, I immediately contacted the NZ Secret Service (the SIS) and told them what had happened, handed over copies of the correspondence and queried that surely the government had gotten it wrong.

To my surprise, they didn't say it would be illegal either -- but they did suggest that such a transaction would not be recommended.

He goes on to say:

Even more incredible -- to this day, the advice given me in respect to such exports has not been rescinded. As far as I know, I could still sell military technology to Iran and not be in breach of the law.

It wasn’t until the United States publicly stated that his project was ‘unhelpful’ that the New Zealand government put the screws to Mr. Simpson. It appears that since NZ had already stated that no laws had been broken, they needed to find some other way to end his work. They then used the tried-and-true method of tax prosecution.

After reviewing his site and reading his various posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that the man is what he claims to be, an ordinary guy with an extraordinary plan to demonstrate the difficulties that we face trying to protect ourselves from modern weapons in the hands of terrorists. Obviously not dumb, I think he may have surprised some officials by actually succeeding where they saw no chance at all. ‘Too smart for his own good’ is a phrase that comes to mind.

He leaves this website as the means of contacting him.

Posted by Ted at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Jockularocracy. Cursor fun.

Ghost of a flea. Visual Thesaurus. Very very cool.

Pensieri found an odd site. It's an online collection of stewardess uniforms.

Jon took a candidate quiz to see who he's most in tune with. He posted his results with comments. My favorite line:
I'd move to Chicago so I could vote against him twice.

Heather of Angelweave points out this hilarious bit of internet humor. Bandwidth alert, and drink warning too. I'm soooooo there.

Brian Noggle creates a nifty new swear word, but lost me during the explanation when he used the phrase: "That's a twofer you don't get with an unvoiced labiodental fricative." I had to look it up, because to my admittedly gutter-dwelling mind, it sounds like performing non-reciprocated oral sex while staying at her folk's place for the holidays. Thanks again to Heather, for that mental image. Ever been to a space station?

Over at Spacecraft, Chris Hall posts a picture that proves us rocket nuts people are everywhere. If you want to see something slightly twilight-zonish, visit Huntsville, Alabama. Every other business there is named Rocket-this or Astro-that.

Ben Dover, because good advice is timeless.

Learn about rocketry.

I've mentioned him before: Ray Dunakin builds rockets that take aerial photographs. He sells beautiful 8x10 prints, mounted and matted, for $15.00 + shipping. Worth considering if you're looking for something different to give as Christmas gifts.

For those who are sick of holiday music, you must Must MUST go here and listen. Actually, everyone should go, because this is falling-down-holding-your-side-it-hurts funny. Work safe, and don't forget to click the 'offended?' link at the end. Major kudos to Shell of Across the Atlantic for pointing this one out.

Terry has been visiting China, has a camera, and knows how to use it. Wow.

The Meatriarch posted a great bit about Hollywood fighting vs. Real Life fighting.

If you look up the word despair in the dictionary, you'll find that they mention being a Cleveland sports fan.

Mr. Helpful casts and scripts his version of A Christmas Carol.

Lynn points out this cheerful virtual snowglobe, and helpfully reminds you to turn the sound up so you can hear the screams as you rock their little universe.

Jail babes. Another option for that special nitwit on your list. Thanks to Say Uncle for the link.

More gift-giving goodies, courtesy of Jay at Sophont.

Gee, Ya Think?! points out this page full of Christmas Hamster-dancing.


Posted by Ted at 08:13 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

December 11, 2003

New Air & Space Museum Annex Opens

Located west of Washington DC near Dulles International Airport, exhibits include the Enola Gay, the Enterprise space shuttle, the Concorde, an SR-71 Blackbird, Amelia Earhart's flight suit and various rockets, missiles, satellites, fighters and jetliners.

The annex is named for Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, a Hungarian immigrant who made a fortune in aircraft leasing. Udvar-Hazy pledged $60 million for the project in 1999, which was the Smithsonian's largest-ever individual donation at the time.

The original Air and Space Museum, which will remain open, is the most visited museum in the world, averaging 9 million guests a year. Both are free, though parking at the new facility costs $12.

I can't wait!

Posted by Ted at 07:41 PM | Comments (1)
Category: SciTech


Last one of these for awhile, I promise.

Today Liz went to see her doctor. He removed her staples (14 of 'em, 11" incision), disconnected the plumbing, and - best of all - gave us the results of all the biopsies. Everything was benign. No cancer. Happy doesn't begin to describe me right now.

Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (6)
Category: Seriously

Suggested Christmas gifts

For kids whose parents you really hate, here's a list of truly evil presents. This list was compiled will careful thought and malice over many years. Also, because toys come and go, not all of these are available any more, but are always worth picking up as a 'just because mommy or daddy pissed me off gift' if you find one in a yard sale.

1. Without a doubt, the best gift to give is the legendary Ant Farm. It comes with a coupon that you mail in and they send you the live ants. Of course the parents aren't going to do that, so save them the time and trouble (and a stamp!) and send it in for them ahead of time. You want to give little Johnny or Jenny a working farm, chock full of crawly little critters.

2. The classics are always simple things. And what could be simpler than Finger Paints? They're a whole mess of fun! Be sure to include a pad of big sheets of paper, and then sit down with the kids and use up 90% of the paper right there getting 'em hooked. This forces mommy and daddy to get more paper or - even better - run out and have the little Picassos decorating the house. If mommy and daddy take 'em away, be sure to ask the kids how they like them so the guilt trip can begin.

3. Related to Finger Paints is another classic, the Spin Art set. So perfectly designed that almost no mess is made under adult supervision, the trick here is to let kids be kids, and they'll manage it all on their own. A nice little mini-spin art kit makes a wonderful pocket stuffer too!

4. Every kid wants an Airbrush. Just not one this crappy! The cheaper the better because it makes a bigger mess. You could also include a custom hot rod magazine, and point out that all the bitchin' flames and pinstriping was done with the same type of equipment. Couldn't mom's minivan use a touch of cool?

5. Suntan Barbie, aka Malibu Barbie. When first introduced, the 'tan' was a thin rubberized spray-on coating which was so sticky that it made it almost impossible to dress and undress the doll. If you do manage to find one of these evil classics, make sure you get the little angel plenty of extra outfits to put on and take off. Mommy and daddy will love you for it.

6. The Fisher-Price Corn Popper has been driving parents up the wall since 1957. There's something to be said about tradition.

7. Barney Bongo's. These are truly inspired by Satan. Each time the kid hits a bongo, it plays the next note of the Barney song! In approximately three days, mommy and daddy will want to put a contract out on you. "They hate you. You're no friend. Ba-by sings that song again..."

8. If you know the kid is a slob, and mommy and daddy are too, then you can't go wrong with Jacks. A good set is ten metal caltrops, perfect for perforating bare feet, and a rubber ball or two to slip on. Cheap too, so go ahead and double up on the fun. Like they say: give until it hurts.

9. When people call it a thoughtful gift, they usually mean it in a good way. What a crock. If the tyke is a little older, then think inexpensive color printer. While you're being congratulated for giving an educational present, just remember that the average color cartridge prints about twelve pages and costs forty bucks. Mom and dad will need a second mortgage to keep up with junior's four-color jones, especially if you also throw in a CD label maker.


Posted by Ted at 08:33 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

Crafty Crafty Crafty

Cross stitch with an attitude.

Thanks to the flea for this pointer.

Posted by Ted at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

December 10, 2003

Build It - 4

This is a series where we build a model rocket step-by-step. You can find the rest of the series here.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too.

This time we're going to put together the motor mount. It's a simple process. If you're building the Fat Boy, then the motor mount consists of the motor tube, two cardboard centering rings, a metal engine hook, and the black engine holder ring. Every model rocket has this setup, with minor variations. I'll talk about that after assembly.

Test fit the centering rings on the motor tube first. I had to widen the inner holes a little bit by reaming it out with a pair of scissors. The rings should slide on easily, don't force it.

Mark the motor tube (it's not quite 3" long) according to the instructions. Carefully push the tip of your x-acto knife into the tube at the proper mark to make a small slit. The slit only has to be wide enough to accept the width of the motor hook.

Push the "L" shaped end of the motor hook into that slit, so that the motor hook lays flat along the length of the tube. Then slide the black engine holder ring onto the tube and over the motor hook. Don't glue anything yet.

Now slide the rings onto the tube. If one ring has a notch in the inner cutout, then that notch fits over the squiggly end of the motor hook. The idea here is to allow you to lift the overhanging end of the motor hook out of the way to insert and remove the rocket motors.

I recommend putting a couple of wraps of masking tape around the motor tube and hook right where the hook goes into that slit you cut. It's not strictly necessary, but it's simple insurance to prevent a potential problem later.

Now it all looks like this. Nothing is glued yet, but we're ready to go.


Put a bead of glue all the way around the place where the motor tube goes through the centering ring. If you're using the gelled stuff that won't run, do both sides of both rings all at once, otherwise just set the motor mount on end and do the 'top' surfaces. When dry, flip it over and do the other sides.

You don't need a ton of glue here, but use enough to completely circle the tube. Use your finger to lightly smooth it into the corner of the joint and then straighten out the centering ring again if needed.

Set it aside to dry.

Here's how this whole assembly works. The rocket motor goes into the motor tube and rests against the hook (the one through the slit). When the motor ignites it pushes against that hook, which is secured to the motor tube, which is glued to the centering rings, which will be glued to the airframe. Simply put, the motor takes off, and everything else goes along for the ride. That's the reason for the wraps of masking tape I recommended earlier - to keep the hook end in place. If the hook slips out of the slot, then the motor will just thrust straight up through the rocket and blast off by itself, knocking the nosecone out of the way on it's way through. Entertaining, but not in any way a successful flight.

Some kits use a 'thrust ring' to prevent this instead of, or in addition to the motor hook. It's just a cardboard ring that is glued inside the motor tube where the hook enters, to give the motor something substantial to push against.

The other end of the motor hook (the squiggly bit), has an important function as well. Besides letting you move the hook out of the way to extract an expended motor, it also keeps the motor in place when the ejection charge goes off, which deploys the parachute.

Newton's third law states that for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The ejection charge of a model rocket motor fires forward (towards the nose, which means that the body of the motor is forced backwards. Without the motor hook in the way, the motor would eject out the back of the rocket and the nosecone would stay in place (meaning no chute). Lawn dart.

If your rocket doesn't have a motor hook, then you can do a couple of things. First off is what they call friction fit. This is simple and wonderfully effective. Use pieces of masking tape (I use enough for about a half-wrap) around the end of the motor case closest to the nozzle end, until the motor is a very snug fit in the motor mount. The idea is to make it easier for the nosecone to come off than it is to expel the motor, 'path of least resistance' style. Another method that I've used is to put the motor into place, and then use a couple wraps of masking tape around the motor and motor mount tube. You can also do both, but that's usually overkill.

Next up will be the shock cord mount, and putting the motor mount into the body tube. Maybe a little bit about the chute too.

Posted by Ted at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Build It


Jennifer has posted my answers to a whole heap o' nosy damn questions. I ran the questions through the gender-determiner, and discovered that all of them were written by females! Boy howdy, that made me feel good.

Next, a quick stop at the syntax/rhetoric-analyzer, and I found out that all those females were really just two. I still felt ok about it.

A little further digging and parsing, and all I can say is: Thanks Mookie. Thanks also to Bill, because your style gives you away every time you whiny little bitch.

Heh. I still feel good. :p

(For the humor-impaired - or those that think I am - that was a joke. Thanks for all the questions. Seriously.)

Posted by Ted at 08:55 AM | Comments (3)
Category: About Ted

Great Random Google Junket

Here's the promised second half of the Munuvian Christmas Great Random Google Junket. You can find the first one here. Once again, the basic rule is adding the word Santa to the blog name or related word and running it through Google to see what we come up with.

Santa + Bunny
Right off the bat we find something for the kids, or the kid inside you. A Santa Bunny coloring page, and an online jigsaw puzzle!

Santa + Phoenix
True, he's got pizazz, and he's got panache. But mostly he's got that Phoenix rising from the flames on his banner, so that's what I used. Daniel certainly has better taste than the folks at Phoenix Productions, who put on a show called Sing Along Santa, where “Santa’s looking for some styling new duds as he suits up for his annual sleigh ride.” Uh huh.

And since that bit serious reindeer butt, let’s try ‘pizazz’ instead. First up comes a page (.pdf file format) showing how the electronics do-it-yourselfer can add dimming and sequencing effects to christmas light decorations. As opposed to going to the store and just buying 'em I guess.

Santa + Green
The great thing about Christmas is that it is a time to forget about the stresses and worries of the rest of your life, and spend a little time on something joyful like decorating with your new Button Beard Santa - Green Pants”. From Home Interiors, which is a racket along the lines of Tupperware and Amway.

Santa + Xfire, Crossfire, and Daun all got total crap results not worth mentioning. Sorry dear.

Santa + Weave
Santa basket plans. There were a few other basket-weaving sites on the list too. Kinda cool for you crafty types. Guys like baskets too, but we call 'em creels.

Santa + Anger
This combination would seem like a natural, eh? Au contraire. About the best we could do was Sex-crazed Santa Anger, where they talk about Disney being upset about the movie Bad Santa. Going with ‘management’ instead just brings up a lot of hits for cities in California and local government.

Jumping around the list of Munuvians here just a tiny bit, we'll next do:

Santa + Stranger
First up from is another review about Bad Santa, but this time the reviewer loves it for being mean and bitter. So let's try...

Santa + Everyday
And we find out that Every Day is Christmas for Santa Dan.

Santa + Snooze
Way traditional (and nice) Santa wallpaper for your computer. Warning, may be too cute for some grouchy bastards.

Santa + Apathetic
A modern and politically correct version of The Night Before Christmas, and here’s the lyrics to the Vandals holiday hit, I Don’t Believe In Santa Clause. More for me!

Santa + Simon
The stunning Santa Simon doll. Oops, I meant it’s a stunning Santa doll by Simon and Halbig.

Santa + Nap
Another jigsaw puzzle, this time the old-fashioned manual kind.

Santa + Madfish
Could we truly match these two in the world of Google? Of course! Not very interestingly unfortunately, but we did get a hit. In this forum, Madfish lets everyone know that NORAD tracks Santa. I'll let you in on a secret, NORAD and Santa have a little deal going. As long as Santa leaves his IFF transponder turned on over US airspace, NORAD promises not to blow Santa out of the sky with an AMRAAM up the ol' chimney. KnowwhatImean?


Posted by Ted at 07:12 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Google Junket

December 09, 2003

Uh oh moment

A few months ago, we had one of our periodic weekend 'disaster recovery' exercises. Our part is simple, we just make sure that our system works like normal even though it's connected to a backup mainframe in another state. I'm the primary point of contact, so on friday afternoon I reminded everyone about it one last time and went home for the weekend.

On sunday morning the phone rings and my wife answered it. She handed the phone to me and said "It's your boss".

"Oh Shit! I'm supposed to be at work!!!" Telling my wife to let 'em know that I'm on the way, I jumped up and started getting ready as quickly as I could. I was already a half-hour late.

I blasted out the front door in record time, and as I ran down the front walk towards my truck, my daughters stood on the porch and hollered "Run Forrest run! Run Forrest run!"

Posted by Ted at 07:17 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories


Sorry guys, I'm talking about the atoll where the US tested atomic and hydrogen bombs. The official webpage for the Bikini Atoll is here, and you can read about the history of the original population, events before and after the series of tests, and the current studies on the area.

Particularly humbling is the photo of the site of the largest weapon test conducted by the US, and the circular area of the island that was vaporized by the blast.

Among the earlier tests were a subset collectively known as Operation Crossroads. From the US Navy Historical Archives:

“Operation Crossroads was an atmospheric nuclear weapon test series conducted in the summer of 1946 at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The series consisted of two detonations, a low altitude test and a shallow water test. The devices, each with a yield of 21 kilotons, were named shots ABLE and BAKER. A planned third test, a deep underwater detonation, was canceled after the second test.

The series was intended to study the effects of nuclear weapons on warships, equipment, and material. These tests would provide important information on the survivability of warships in the event of nuclear war.”

”In contrast to all later atmospheric nuclear tests, a large media contingent was present for the two Crossroads detonations. They were allowed to cover the test atomic bomb explosions "with sufficient thoroughness to satisfy the public as to the fairness and general results of the experiment."” In all, 131 newspaper, magazine, and radio correspondents from the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, and Britain covered the detonations, turning these experiments into major media events. In addition, three artists also recorded the project.”

The artist's works can be seen here in all their majestic horror.

The warships involved in the tests became known as the Ghost Fleet. You can find some underwater photography here, available as fine art prints, and a book with more history and photographs of the sunken remains can be found at Amazon.

In the extended entry is a picture of the 'other' bikini, just to lighten it up a little bit.


Oh puh-leeze. Like you didn't see that coming.

Posted by Ted at 10:15 AM | Comments (1)
Category: History

The new Battlestar Galactica

I didn't much care for the original, and I didn't watch the remake last night on the Sci-Fi channel. But a friend pointed out this page with a BG game, if you like shoot-em-ups.

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

Turning the tables

Hello {insert name of nitwit here},

We are conducting a survey, among those who utilize email, usenet groups, and other online systems in an attempt to make money through multi-level marketing schemes, sales of "get rich quick" publications, etc.

Please take a few moments to complete the following multiple-choice survey. Your help is genuinely appreciated, and will greatly assist our project.

1. Are you aware that you're a complete and utter idiot?

_ No, I honestly had no clue.
_ Yes, I admit it - I'm a completely clueless wanker.

2. Do you really think you're the first clueless twit who thinks they've discovered a way to make money by spamming about a REVOLUTIONARY NEW CONCEPT IN INTERNET MARKETING?

_ Gosh - yes, I really thought it was something no one had thought of before.
_ No, I realize others have tried before, but in my pathetic stupidity I truly believed that I could make money where no one else had succeeded before.

3. Are you supremely confident in your ability to avoid the life-long designation as a "pathetic loser", now that you've joined the ranks of half-witted, mentally defective drool-tards who conduct this sort of activity over the internet?

_ Yes, I truly believe I'm different from all the other retards like me.
_ No, I see what you mean - I now realize that I'm destined to be known forever as the blathering, drooling, defective pants-wetter that I am.

Thanks for taking a few moments to complete our survey. Please forward to 5 people on your mailing list, and request that they each forward it on to 5 others each, etc. etc.

(c)2003, everyone on the internet. Distribute freely without charge.

Thanks to BB on the rockets newsgroup for this one!

Posted by Ted at 06:48 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Cowgirl Pinups

Another specialized niche in the genre of pinup art. Yipee Ki-ay!

For another obscure bit of pinup history, check out my earlier post on Art Frahm.

Posted by Ted at 06:09 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

December 08, 2003

Near-enough normal

Oldest daughter Robyn made it home for Christmas with no problems. She's working day #1 at her old job right now, making as much money as possible to pad her savings account before she heads back to school. She'll be working six days a week the entire time she's home, including (I think) both Christmas and New Years for holiday pay.

Liz came home from the hospital yesterday. Her doctor, her nurses, and Liz agreed that it would be a better thing than spending another day there. She'd gotten a new roomie, and from my observations, I think the lady was terminal. She was loud and (understandably) ornery, constantly demanding pain meds - which she got - and more often than not there was a nurse there to deal with her. Sometimes there were two or three. Lots of noisy machines were hooked up to her. She was being fed through an IV, but she bitched so much that they finally gave in and brought her a tray too. I overheard a doctor say basically that it didn't matter anyway.

I felt bad for her, but that's not a good environment for others to try to get well in, so they sent Liz home.

She's doing great. Slept soundly last night, and the dogs have gotten the idea that they are not allowed up in her lap. I'm at her beck and call, which would be funnier if I were a girl... 'beck and call girl'... shut up, I'm tired too, and I slept on the floor again. That's one of those character-building things my parents used to lie to me about.

Once again, thanks to all who sent well wishes and prayers. We appreciate them more than we can say. Now, I've got some half-completed interview questions to take care of.

Posted by Ted at 12:48 PM | Comments (9)
Category: Seriously

A Galaxy of Links

More than 2200 links about telescopes, observatories, the solar system, societies, deep-sky, space agencies, space missions, rockets, space stations, astronauts, launch facilities, aerospace companies... and much more.

Posted by Ted at 11:46 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

Weblog Awards 2003

Kevin at Wizbang has created and is hosting the Weblog Awards. There are many categories and this gives you a chance to heap some recognition on your favorite blogs.

Thanks to Susie, I found out that some misguided soul nominated Rocket Jones in the most likely to get the chair Best Marauding Marsupial category. Thanks!

Posted by Ted at 06:50 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Build It - 3

This is a series where we build a model rocket step-by-step. You can find the rest of the series here.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments or email me.

This is my rocket so far, after sanding the nosecone seams smooth and filling the spiral grooves on the body tube. Total sanding time was maybe 20 minutes. If you did those steps, you'll notice that the tube is a little fuzzy. Don't worry about that, because we'll smooth it out when we spray primer. I also had to spend a few minutes sanding the tabs on the fins so that they would slide easily into the slots. Nothing is glued together yet.


You may have noticed that the fin tabs have a small slice trimmed out at the bottom. This shallow notch fits over the black ring of the motor mount. This particular rocket boasts a nice bit of engineering because everything fits together and reinforces itself, making for robust construction. In fact, although we'll be flying this bird stock on B and C motors, I've seen the same kit strengthened and modified to fly on I motors (128 times more powerful)!

I said I'd be building the motor mount this time around, but I'll save that for the next one. Instead, I'd like to talk about what actually happens during the flight, and some of the basic aerodynamics involved.

Model rockets are set up on a 'launch rod', which ensures that the rocket stays straight until the rocket is moving fast enough for the fins to keep it stable. A good way to picture how the fins work is to compare it to a weathervane, and how it always points into the wind. When a rocket is moving through the air, its flight through the air provides the 'wind' that the fins work with.

Everyone has stuck their hand outside a car window at speed and felt the rush of air. When you keep your hand flat to the ground, the air moves smoothly past it, but if you try to cup your hand against the wind, then the wind pushes against it. The fins work in the exact same way, and it's this push that causes the rocket to stay straight.

The main effect of this is that the straighter the flight, the less drag the rocket has to overcome and the higher it will go. I'll go into other aspects of this as we go.

Posted by Ted at 06:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Build It

December 07, 2003

Kung Pow Chicken

Did you hear about the new Chinese/German restaraunt?

The food's great, but an hour after you eat, you're hungry for power.

Posted by Ted at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Privatizing Space

Yet another company making the move into space without help from NASA. I guess a good way to get noticed is to tow your rocket booster through downtown Washington DC and park it near the National Air & Space Museum. You can find more info about SpaceX Corporation at their official web site.

Posted by Ted at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Lady Penelope

What guy wouldn't love a woman who was rich, classy, dabbled in espionage, and owned a pink six-wheeled limosine? Ah yes, Parker, go get the car...

Follow the link in that article to see the movie trailer for the new Thunderbirds movie, due out next summer. International Rescue rides again. Woo-hoo!

Thunderbirds was one of a series of sci-fi adventures produced by Gerry Anderson and the BBC during the 1960's that used puppets and the technique called Supermarionation. Similar shows included Fireball XL-5, Stingray, SuperCar and Captain Scarlet.

This is a neat page showing several of the various vehicles modeled and rendered. It includes several of the rocket ships from these shows in formats compatible with Microsoft Flight Simulator.

And if anyone was wondering (Bueller? Bueller?), I've seen flying rocket models of Thunderbirds 1, 2, and 3 (4 was a submarine, 5 the space station).

Posted by Ted at 07:01 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Cult Flicks

December 06, 2003

Chinese Space Program site

Pure propaganda, but interesting.

Posted by Ted at 09:44 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

You have been eaten by a grue

A long time ago, in Dragon magazine, there was an article about role playing games that left a huge impression on me. In it, the author talked about a team of adventurers who were exploring a dungeon (what else), and at one point they were confronted by a Balrog.

I just realized how simple LOTR has made this explanation for me, because now you all know what a Balrog is, and just how formidable it can be.

Anyways, the author tells how the Dungeon Master controlling the game built the scenario up with words, and each player had to envision the action in their heads, and at the end they barely managed to defeat the demon by the flukiest once-in-a-thousand longshot magic spell.

He went on to tell about another game played later, this time using little lead miniature men and monsters and graph paper maps and such. At the climactic point of the adventure, the Dungeon Master ominously announced "Your path is blocked by a Balrog". Then he placed a two-inch tall painted figure on the map.

And that Balrog didn't seem nearly the obstacle that the first one was, and the team beat it. They had won the game, but that first group had had an adventure!

Some of you may remember Zork, the classic text adventure by Infocom. If you remember it well, you understood the title of this post right away. For those that don't, Zork was the best known of text adventure games, where all information was presented to you in story format, and you interacted by typing in words and short phrases as commands. For instance:

"You are on a forest path."


"You see a house."


"It's a small one-story house painted yellow. There is a window on this side."



...and so on. The idea was to figure out what was going on, and then complete the objective (not always obvious), usually by poking around and exploring things and solving problems. Some of these problems were devilishly tricky! In one early game (not Zork) the scenario was that you were on a submerged submarine, working inside an airlock, when a traitor among the crew used poison gas to kill everyone. It was just you and the traitor (or traitors), and you were stuck in an airlock. First step was figuring out how to get to an oxygen mask. Then it got really tough.

The key to all of these games was that you had to use your imagination to build on the vivid descriptions of the landscape and action, just like in a book. Much different from the graphic-intensive games of today. And in my mind, this was a strength, because more thought and creativity went into the story itself, and not the glitz and glamour of the graphics and user interface.

One interesting review of these games, written by someone too young to play them when they originally came out, was that because they were text based (and old), they were small, which made them perfect to play on a Palm or other PDA. Hmmmm... now there's a thought!

I'll be digging around a little bit and I'll post updates as I find out more. I owned a lot of Infocom adventures in various formats for various machines, and I'd like to find compatable copies again. They're that good.

Posted by Ted at 08:57 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs


Wow, I had no idea that Mookie got an email yesterday. For those who were wondering, mom and I discussed this with her a couple of weeks ago, and we had no problem with it. The only restrictions we put on it (besides the usual 'parent' ones), was that she had to arrange for her own rides back and forth because I would be busy, and that it depended on the weather.

With me spending all day at the hospital, there wasn't much difference between Mookie staying home or going to her friend's house. She doesn't like hospitals (who does?), and there just wasn't any point to her hanging around the house. I tried to get her to channel her anxiety into cleaning, but she wasn't fooled by that little ploy (and I noticed that she did do some yesterday before she left, probably a little stress-reduction on her part).

To whoever sent the email - or to those that thought the same thing - this wasn't a case of Mookie being selfish and unfeeling. I understand appearances, but this time you're wrong.

Posted by Ted at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Seriously

December 05, 2003

Jes' Ducky

Thanks to all for the prayers and good wishes! Liz came through her surgery in good shape. Right now she's pretty well doped to the gills on morphine, and she's got the 'happy button' that she can press when she needs an extra jolt. We expect she'll be coming home on monday.

Posted by Ted at 10:41 PM | Comments (7)
Category: Seriously


Ok, if you’ve read the first few of these, then you know what its all about. This is the personal stuff, the things I need to vent about or get off my chest or even just reminisce about in an attempt to de-stress myself. It’s inside the extended entry, read it or not, it’s up to you.

Liz goes in for surgery this morning. I’ve been asked what the surgery is for, and it’s primary goal is a complete hysterectomy. They’re taking it all, and because of previous tests and biopsies and operations, they’ve decided to do it the old fashioned way, right through the bikini line. Major invasive, but they want to take a good look around inside with the ol' Mark I eyeballs. Liz has had numerous tests and such done, and damn near every one of them came back negative for cancer, but abnormal. After years of trying various things, it's come to this, which is what Liz suggested lord knows how long ago.

So if you feel so inclined, cross your fingers or say a quick prayer or think good thoughts for Liz. Thanks.

What follows is the story of our wedding day. I’m sure everyone had some adventure leading up to their special day, so this might not seem like much, but maybe you’ll smile a little here and there. It's probably my happiest memory, which is what I want and need right now.

There were actually bets being made about whether or not I’d even show up for my own wedding.

To all outside appearances, we weren’t starting out on the most solid ground. Liz and I had met a year earlier while she was visiting her brother for the summer. We’d known each other for about a month when I asked her to marry me, and soon after she went back to Baltimore to finish high school. We traded letters almost every day, and a weekly phone call, plus I took the train out for a week in January to meet her parents, but everyone was pretty sure we were headed for a short and troubled marriage.

During my visit in January, we had done the Catholic pre-wedding counseling. Our priest was very cool about my schedule, and we did what normally took weeks in two afternoon sessions. Other than that, Liz had to do all the wedding planning by herself. She’d write and tell me about the invitations or flowers or where the reception would be, and I’d just smile and nod. The only thing I asked for was a plain gold band for my wedding ring. Nothing fancy, nice and simple for me.

I also was sending her almost every penny of every paycheck. Talk about trust, eh?

Now the reason for her doing all the planning wasn’t just the distance involved. I was in the process of becoming a Computer Programmer for Uncle Sam. We had scheduled the wedding around my schooling and change of posting. The plan was for me to leave tropical Grand Forks, North Dakota and proceed to Biloxi, Mississippi for 11 intense weeks of training. Following that, I’d make a quick stop in Montgomery, Alabama – our new home – to drop off my possessions on my way to Dundalk, Maryland to get married. Then it was right back to Gunter Air Force Station in Montgomery without delay, do not honeymoon, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Wonder of wonders, that part of the plan went off without a hitch.

I got to Baltimore tired and burnt out from classes. There was about a week to go before the wedding, and all there was for me to do was smile and nod over last minute things, meet the various family arriving daily, and party.

And it was a party. Pop made sure there was a keg in the backyard at all times, and we all partook often (near continuous in my case). Liz asked me to promise that I wouldn’t be drunk at the ceremony, which seemed reasonable, and I was glad to do so.

About the only worry anyone had was about my best man. Paul was supposed to be there, but the last word I’d gotten was that he was driving his clunker from Minnesota. Driving was plan B, he originally was going to hitchhike. Everyone else was fretting, but I knew he’d get there.

My parents and brother flew in from California. Everyone was getting along great, especially my brother and Liz’s maid of honor Denise who hit it off, uh, very well. Nights were spent drinking and playing poker.

One night (or it might’ve been early one morning), I was sitting in the back yard with Liz and the next door neighbor, and we were determined to finish the keg so a fresh one could be procured in the morning. Beer doing what it does to me, I had gotten tired of going into the house every half hour to relieve myself, so I went behind the conveniently located shed and did my thing.

When I finished, I stuck my hand down my pants and left my finger sticking out of my zipper. Staggering back out from behind the shed, I told Liz that this was what she had to look forward to in a few short days. Suddenly, from the darkened back porch, Liz’s mom’s voice said “Ted, I think you’ve had enough for the night”.

And I replied “Mom, I think you need to get a white robe so we can see you lurking in the shadows like a bat.”

To this day I don’t know why that woman loves me. We finished the keg, but I promised to be more quiet.

Paul still hadn’t shown up, and now I was getting questions every few hours. I had no way to contact him, but I still wasn’t worried. He’d make it.

During this week my brother and I were sleeping in a camper trailer parked in the driveway. I don’t remember any other arrangements, but Liz’s sister lived in an apartment down the same street, and some folks may have been sleeping there too.

A couple of days before the wedding, I got woke up in the middle of the night by a voice saying “You ain’t Ted” and the sound of my brothers head bouncing off of the bedframe where he was sleeping. Paul had arrived.

I swear to God this part is true. Paul finally made it to Baltimore, bringing along his wife Val and oldest daughter Amy (about age 4 at the time I’d guess). I expected him to call when he got to town for directions to Liz’s house. What actually happened was that he took the first exit after the Francis Scott Key bridge (coming in from the south for some damned reason), stayed straight through two lights and headed into a residential area, then spotted my parked yellow Charger way the hell down a side street. With all the cars around, he figured he’d found the wedding party. He went into the camper trailer, picked my brothers head up by the hair to see if it was me, dropped it when he saw it wasn’t, and that’s when I woke up.

I was ecstatic, Liz was happy for me. Nobody else was thrilled. Paul had gotten out of the Air Force a while back and had grown a full beard and let his hair grow long. He brought a suit for the ceremony, but other than that it was jeans and a ripped up shirt and bare feet. My mom asked me if I was going to have Paul shave and get a haircut for the wedding. Liz’s mom asked the same thing. I was adamant, he was there and that was the important thing, so leave him the hell alone. Not that it bothered Paul in the least. Val charmed everyone, and Amy became the ‘flower girl’ in our ceremony.

At the dress rehearsal, Liz and Denise (maid of honor), and myself and Paul were standing in a group with the priest, when Father Wojokowski said to Paul “This is the time when you give the ring to the groom.” Paul reaches into his pocket and pulls out a joint, mutters “wrong pocket” and gives me the ring from his other hand. I almost fell over laughing, Liz and Denise were trying hard to keep straight faces, and I don’t think anyone else ever knew what had happened.

That night, my dad had to come get Paul and I from Liz’s sister’s place because we were drunk as skunks, rolling down the slope of her front yard over and over and over.

Wedding day. I found out later that Liz had a couple of quick shots to calm her nerves. I was alcohol-free for the entire time up until the reception. Hey, I’d made a promise. Paul and I had gotten dressed at the sister’s apartment; I was in my dress blues, and Paul in his brown three-piece suit (including shoes). We posed for a few pictures and then headed for the church.

When we got there, there was a problem. All of the flowers (bouquets and boutonnieres) were at Vee's apartment (a soon-to-be-ex sister-in-law), and she wasn’t around. I don’t know who had the bright idea to trust her, because she was far from reliable.

Not to worry, because I'm a guy with tools and my best friend. Telling everyone that we’d be back before the ceremony (and nothing more), Paul and I jumped in my car and headed over to rescue flowers. Vee lived in a bad neighborhood, and dressed as we were, we stood out like a sore thumb. After knocking on her door, it was obvious that she wasn’t home, so there was only one thing to do.

Returning to my car, we grabbed the tire iron and a couple of big screwdrivers and headed back to Vee’s apartment. As we removed her front door from it’s hinges (and not being gentle about it), her neighbors came out into the hallway to see what the hell was going on. I assured them that it was official government business and that they should go back inside their own apartments. What did they know? A guy in full dress military uniform and another in a nice suit were breaking into a place, it probably happened every day in that building.

Once we were inside, the flowers were quickly located. They were sitting on the kitchen table, and to this day I have no idea where Vee was. All I know is that she didn’t make the wedding, and the next time I saw her was years later when I served her with a subpoena (another story). I grabbed the flowers and Paul leaned the door back sorta in the doorway.

The ceremony is a blur to me. I know the maid of honor sang Time in a Bottle (“sounds like a drinking song” remarked my father-in-law). I remember the priest saying “Congratulations, you’re married”. I also remember him saying he couldn’t come to the reception because he had a six-pack in the freezer back at the residence. People threw rice or birdseed or leadshot or some damn thing as we came out of the church. Liz and I sat in the back, Paul drove and Denise rode shotgun in my highly decorated car on the way to the reception.

My favorite picture is of Liz’s grandmother dancing with Paul.

Liz and I finally left the reception (good food, good liquor, good music, lots of fun like a reception should be), and headed to our ‘honeymoon’. What it really was was one night at the Holiday Inn, because we had to be on the road back to Alabama the next day. After consummating the marriage (gee, that didn’t take long), we decided to keep the party going a while longer. While Liz filled the bathtub with ice and called everyone to come over, I ran to the liquor store for a few cases of beer and that was how we ended the day. Newlywed and surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Posted by Ted at 07:51 AM | Comments (9)
Category: Seriously

A list for no particular reason

Musical instruments I wish I could play:

1. Bagpipes
2. Steel Drum
3. Steel Guitar
4. Xylophone
5. Fiddle (not violin, I mean fiddle!)

Didja know that for a little more than a hundred dollars ($US - I keep forgetting Munuviana is international), you can get a chanter, which is what pipers practice with?

Och, and if that don't blow a warm breeze up yer kilts mon, I dinna ken what woot!

Posted by Ted at 06:54 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs


At work, there's a carton of egg nog in the refrigerator. That's normal, the holiday season is upon us.

The expiration date on the carton is December 28th. It's way in the back where it stays coldest.

Due to the massive turnover of the last year, I may be the last person left in the section who knows that it's December 28, 2002.

I have dark fantasies.

Posted by Ted at 06:19 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

December 04, 2003

First snow

When I left work today, there was the lightest flurries whirling around. By eight o'clock, we had huge fluffy Dr. Suessian flakes falling outside. It looks like about 2" so far, and we're projected for up to 5". The big storm is supposed to kick in tomorrow evening, when the nor'easter gets going down in the Carolinas. I love a pretty snowfall.

Posted by Ted at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinahhhh!

Last night, I made a pot of this soup that is similar to the Pasta e Fagioli served at Olive Garden. We had it as the beginning course, followed up with a lasagna and crescent rolls (brushed with butter and garlic powder - we didn't have breadsticks), but it's hearty enough to have as the main meal with some crusty bread. Yum!

Pasta e Fagioli

1 lb ground beef
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 16 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 16 oz can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 16 oz can great northern beans (with liquid)
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
2 12 oz cans V-8 juice (less for thicker soup)
1 Tbsp vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
3/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb Ditalini pasta (I found it in my regular grocery store, it looks like button macaroni)

1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.
2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.
4. About 50 minutes into the simmer time, cook the pasta in 1½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook pasta for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain.
5. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more and then serve.

Posted by Ted at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Recipes

I'm still not going to stop and ask directions

Kudos to fellow Munuvian Simon for the link to the Blogosphere map of Munuviana (aka Munuvia)!!! Tres cool. I suspect that if Simon had anything to do with it, our inclusion involved the promise of crocodile-skin boots and/or HK hookers in rugby shirts. He seems like a guy who can solve multiple problems with one fell swoop.

Update: Pixy has informed me that Susie is the one who led the coup. All hail the Mater Cartographica!

Posted by Ted at 09:38 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Great Random Google Junket

This is part 1 of a special all-Munuvian Christmas edition Google Junket. This time, the rules were simple, I took the name (blog or screen) of said Munuvian, added Santa, and voila! Merry magic.

Pixy + Santa
It’s Santa/Pixy with his bag! How do you say Ho Ho Ho in Norwegian?

Penumbra + Santa
And we find an article about the starry skies above Santa Monica, describing an eclipse that happened in January, 2000.

Hey, for a punked out angel, we can do better than three year old astronomy, eh? How about some music by Dmitri Metheny, who offers the jazz albums Penumbra and Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag.

Spork + Santa
Check out Sporks R Us (current president of the minimalist chapter of the Chamber of Commerce) and read a report about a man in a Santa suit robbing a drug store.

Michigan + Santa
I’ll bypass the Michigan Santa who killed his own son, and go with that holiday staple: Santa dressed in University of Michigan colors. We also have the Glockenspiel at Santa Claus House.

Cherry + Santa
An animated carolling Christmas card. Santa's got a cherry-red nose... probably all that Christmas spirit.

Publius + Santa
I didn't have high hopes for this one, but what do I know? We find this page about Santa Suzanna, the resting place of five saints, including Saint Felicity of Rome, a widow who appeared before the magistrate Publius with her seven children.

Jennifer + Santa
After wading through the inevitable J-Lo crap (anyone want to see a photoshopped naked J-Lo sitting in Santa's lap?), I finally came to this page. Since it was about the first thing that didn't absolutely suck, here ya go: The pinup art of Jennifer Janesko. This piece is called ‘Santa Baby’. It's not cheap guys (and I'm leaving that out there as a straight line for you - Merry Christmas).

Mookie + Santa
Oooo looky! It's The Big Dump Truck. Interesting quote: “Mookie told me he was going to sit on Santa's lap and tell him he wanted some spaghetti.” This was from last Christmas, and he sounds like a cute kid. Certainly better behaved than my Mookie. I can say things like that, because this time of year your kids have to be nice to you. Try it and see! Now the day after Christmas is a whole 'nother matter...

Cheese + Santa
Cheese Ball Santa. That just about sums up 90% of fat seasonal hires, doesn’t it?

That rounds up this edition. Second half as I get a chance in the next few days.


Posted by Ted at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Google Junket

I needed this to worry about too

Oldest daughter Robyn is coming home this weekend from college for Christmas break, sharing a ride with three other young ladies who also live in this general area. Naturally, they’re driving right into the teeth of what has the potential to become the first nor’easter of the season. At best it’ll be messy, especially as they come through the mountains in Pennsylvania.

I don’t have a lot of gray in my hair. We came to an agreement long ago, my hair and I: rather than go gray, it just falls out.

Posted by Ted at 07:27 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

December 03, 2003

Wanted: Perspective

Kim DuToit is stirring it up again, but this time I don't understand the argument.

Frank Sinatra vs Harry Connick Jr.

Style vs substance.

I like apples and I like oranges.

Posted by Ted at 06:14 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

BestOfMe Symphony

Jim at Snooze Button Dreams has a neat new gig going on. Follow this link for full details, but here's a brief:

This post compilation meme is structured like the Carnival of the Vanities but concentrates on the best posts from the history of weblogs. Post submission criteria are very simple. The post must be at least 2 months old and the submitter must think it is a very good post. How easy is that?

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

December 02, 2003

Air Force Blue (part 4)

Parts one, two, and three.

Last time, I talked about the serious side of Camp Bullis, Texas, which is where Air Force Security Policemen get sent to be trained in Air Base Ground Defense. They tried to keep you as busy as possible because there wasn’t a whole lot to do with the inevitable spare time. This go-round I’ll tell you about the trouble we got into fun we had.

The days and weeks spent at Camp Bullis ran together, so the bits and pieces recounted here are in some vague chronological order. The time frame is autumn, just when it starts getting really cold at night, especially in the Texas foothills around San Antonio. This all happened in the late 70’s, so if I get details wrong it’s not in exaggeration, it’s just fuzzy memory.

There were twelve of us assigned to the tent. I won’t use names, partly because I don’t remember them all, and partly because someone may contemplate running for public office some day. We were an eclectic mix of big and small, white and ethnic, country and city, rich and poor, even an honest-to-God Devil worshipper for our devout Christians to interact with. Among us, we had one thing in common, our surnames all fell in the range of starting with ‘P’ to starting with ‘S’, which is how we came together as a squad. Three ‘fire teams’ of four, and it was drilled into our heads constantly that your squad is your family. You can mentally insert your favorite dysfunctional family here, we sure as hell weren’t the Waltons.

Camp Bullis itself wasn’t small. Besides the huge acreage that we played Army in, the base camp proper consisted of five or six dirt ‘streets’ of tents laid out in parallel rows. At the head was the chow tent which was more like a huge circus canopy, and the classroom building which was a permanent structure. Up the hill to the left was a tiny Base Exchange store, the ‘BX’. As small as it was (the average 7-11 is bigger), it sold all the essentials like uniform parts and beer and long underwear and beer and snack foods and beer. At the other end of the rows of tents was the aforementioned latrine, with seating for plenty, and showers. Each ‘street’ of tents were populated by a class going through the course, a class graduated every week. The course was five weeks long, and the sixth row was for officers. The officers were a mix of brand new ‘butterbars’ (second looies) who were getting their first taste of combat command, and more experienced officers headed overseas who needed refresher training. There were also more senior sergeants in each class (same refresher training – same reason) who were grouped together in a tent or two at one end of your ‘street’.

The tents themselves were fairly big, holding six sets of bunkbeds (three to each side), associated gear for twelve, along with two card tables and folding chairs, and a kerosene stove in the middle. There was a wooden floor underfoot, and a real wooden door at either end of the tent. Add in the electric lighting and it still wasn’t home, but it wasn’t bad.

We settled in that first week, getting to know each other. Things looked like they were going to go smoothly for us, because we didn’t have any obvious assholes in the group. One neighboring tent had already collectively beat the shit out of one of their bunkies because he’d sneak around and try to catch the guys jerking off at night. I couldn’t see the point myself (beating off, not sneaking around), because I was too damn tired and I shared a room with eleven other guys. Live and let live, and don’t rattle the bunk enough to wake me up dammit.

We also met our – I don’t remember his exact title – primary instructor. He was a short skinny guy who was the military equivalent of a yappy little dog. He was constantly in your face, trying to prove how intimidating he was and failing miserably. We nicknamed him “Billy Badass”.

An aside: Being tiny does not automatically render you non-frightening. I spent one memorable (miserable? It was both.) day paying for the sin of laughing out loud while being chewed out by a Technical Instructor in basic training. This little cannonball of a Mexican sergeant, wearing his Smokey-the-Bear hat stood toe to toe with me and screamed at me about the shine on my shoes. Since I was supposed to be staring straight ahead, all I could see of him was the emblem on the front of his hat, the brim at about my lip level hid his face. He yelled at my throat. That wasn’t was got me though, it was when he said this (it helps a lot if you say it out loud):

Your choos! What’s wrong wit chore choos! Dey look like chit! How come your choos look like chit? I want to see a chine on your choos! I want your choos to chine like mee-ors! Do you hear me? Chine like mee-ors!”

I couldn’t help it. That was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard, and to this day I can’t help but laugh when I think about it. What happened afterwards was not funny, nor fun. Damn, that sonuvabitch was mean! If you were paying taxes back then, you were getting your money’s worth out of him.

Back to Camp Bullis. By day, we’d bust our asses doing training. After chow, we’d take care of personal business and play Spades until lights out. There was always a game going on (this is where I learned the game), and if you weren’t writing letters or visiting with friends in another tent, you were either playing or bullshitting with the guys that were.

On weekends, we’d make a run to the BX for beer. Usually three or four of us would go and we’d haul cases of it back to the tent. We weren’t alone either, there were plenty of other squads doing the same thing. Then we’d drink beer and play Spades.

On the Friday leading into our third weekend, things started going to hell. We’d gotten real close as a squad, and we were all comfortable joking and messing with each other. After a long day working, we quickly got cleaned up and fed, and the beer run was accomplished. Much drinking was being done, and cards played. When it started to get chilly, it was time to light the stove.

The guy closest to the stove said “uh oh”, which got everyone’s attention. We looked at him, and he was examining the stove. Now these looked like smallish pot-bellied stoves, made out of rusty-colored iron (I’m guessing), and you slid a circular lid on a pivot at the top to light it. At the base was a small valve that you used to turn the flow of kerosene on and off. Someone had forgotten to shut off the kerosene flow this morning when they put out the stove. There was about a two-inch deep lake of fuel in the bottom of this thing.

Only one thing to do. We cut cards, and the loser had to light the stove (you dropped a match into it from the top). The rest of us collected up the beer and stood outside the door to watch.

FWOOF! Well, that was anti-climactic. He closed the lid and we returned to beer and cards. Maybe a half hour later, we started to sweat, because that damn thing was throwing off some heat! We moved the table a little farther away and kept on playing and drinking. By now, we’re all about half lit anyways.

Suddenly the door flies open and the ‘Officer of the Day’ is standing there, wide eyed and hyper as hell. He’s actually just another troop like us, but he gets to wear an ‘OD’ armband and white helmet. His main job is to run for help if the shit really hits the fan. He points to our stove and his lips are moving, but no words come out. It’s glowing that dull cherry red that’s almost subliminal. No wonder we were hot.

He finally points up and then back at the stove, and after a few repetitions we think we’ve got him figured out. We stumble outside in a group and sure enough, the spark arrestor at the top of our stove pipe is shooting flames out of it. No doubt about it, we have to put it out.

OD has a fire extinguisher that he’d brought along, so we cut cards again. Loser plays fireman, the rest of us gather the beer and stand in the street to watch and see what happens. The lid gets slid aside (wire coat hanger tool we’d had) and our friend sticks the nozzle into the hatch and pulls the trigger.

There’s a huge hiss and that’s about it. The fire is out, and it stinks to high heaven as the foam evaporates from the heat. We opened both doors to air the tent out, and wandered around talking to friends (we were celebrities!) for a while.

An hour later we’re back into the cards and beer. It’s still cold outside, so after checking the stove again (about ½” left in the bottom) we once again cut cards. Being conscientious young men, we grabbed the beer and stepped outside. Another FWOOF! and it’s back to the game.

It wasn’t too much longer before the OD was back, this time with a real instructor who read us the riot act. By this time, the last of the excess kerosene was burnt off and the stove became nothing more than a heater again. The flames stopped coming out of the chimney, and it wasn’t hot enough to use as a crematoria.

Later that night, we all gathered around and watched as an officer tent burnt half to the ground. Great merriment was had as we realized that even drunk we weren’t as dumb as they were sober.

So ended Friday, and our weekend was just beginning.

Posted by Ted at 01:06 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories

Rules for Technology

"There's a set of rules that anything that was in the world when you were born is normal and natural. Anything invented between when you were 15 and 35 is new and revolutionary and exciting, and you'll probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're 35 is against the natural order of things."

-- Douglas Adams

I saw this in The Salmon of Doubt (recommended by fellow Munuvian Daniel too), and found on the net at the lovingly constructed farewell page by the UCLA Astrobiology Society (which is entirely apropos when you think about it).

Posted by Ted at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

I'm going to wander all over the place with this edition, including a couple few old friends, as well as some folks who I'd guess aren't already on your radar screen.

Starting off with some naughty stuff, check out Book Whores, reviewers of 'Cruel and Unusual Books'. Plenty of links to their listed favorites, and categorized into such as Bodice Rippers and Absinthe & Opium. I discovered them courtesy of Yummy Wakame, a beautifully designed site that I found via ErosBlog.

Her byline reads "Porn, Politics, and Punditry". Blogslut works in the Internet Porn industry. I'm looking forward to reading more of her insights about the industry, because so far it's pretty interesting stuff. It's not all porn related, but it's not kid-safe either.

This is just fowl, and yes I spelled it that way intentionally. Do you remember the joke about the difference between kinky and perverted? The story at the link is perverted. Hey, I laughed as I read it.

Ok, let's move away from the adult section...

Rocket Man has a great review of missions to Mars, including several that he's worked on himself. Thanks to Professor Hall for pointing this out.

You may have heard that the Japanese lost a rocket that carryied a couple of spy satellites last week when their home-built rocket failed. Rand Simberg talks about the possible shortcomings to the way the Japanese are approaching space (hint: way too NASA-like). He also talks about the Chinese and their long-term goals. Read the comments too, there's some intriguing debate going on.

And just in case you don't read Rand because you think it's all tech-related (as if that's a bad thing), check out his razor-sharp parody of Al Gore.

Congratulations to Kurt of Jockularocracy for being invited to join the Bear Flag League. These folks are smart California bloggers, and restore my faith in my home state. You probably already read some of them. California also has the coolest state flag. No arguments will be entertained. If you disagree, you're wrong.

Terry of The Coyote's Bark is travelling in Asia, and posting some amazing pictures. He also managed to catch Simon's soiree of Hong Kong bloggers.

Ten Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette. I hate the damn things. Occasionally, my wife will insist that I take hers, but I seldom turn it on and it just sits in the glove compartment. I don't have one of my own, and can barely work one. In fact, Liz is going to give me the instruction book for hers this week so I can check her voice mail since everyone will be calling to find out how she is. Link thanks to DynamoBuzz, a Jersey blogger who scores bonus points for the (intentional?) Zappa-esque reference. And just because the whole point here is linkage, check out Backstage, a charter member of the Axis of Evil Naughty Classic.

Fake Lincoln quotes being used by anti-war protesters. Thanks to Paul of Sanity's Edge for that link. By the way, he also linked my Cornucopia of Ted post and even said it was interesting. Best money I ever spent. Thanks Paul!

Alright, this site is funny. Maybe you already knew about Bunsen, but it's new to me. In fact, I'll excerpt a little bit here, but you can read the rest.

Michael Jackson Song Titles That Will Conveniently Double as His Prison Bitch Name

-- "Billie Jean" [Thriller]
-- "Dirty Diana" [Bad]
-- "Girlfriend" [Off the Wall]
-- "The Girl is Mine" [Thriller]
-- "PYT" (Pretty Young Thing) [Thriller]
-- "Liberian Girl" [Bad]
-- "Albino Man Barbie" [Dangerous B-side]
-- "Sexy Sexy Nose Hole Jackie" [Japanese Import]

Justice is Coming. And his name is not Ryan Leaf. A San Diego Chargers blog, for the masochistic among us. LeeAnn, the Chargers and Padres are the price you pay for living in paradise.

"I got my first boner in church." Finally, like the last kid picked when choosing sides, our honorary right-fielder (someone has to be it) is LasagnaFarm. Amusing stuff, even moreso since almost none of it applied to me. Except maybe that boner line. Is there a statute of limitations on sin?

Posted by Ted at 09:18 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

December 01, 2003

A Cornucopia of Ted

aka 100 Things no particular order...

1. I was a Boy Scout.
2. I was an alterboy too.
3. I was a Security Policeman in the Air Force.
4. I’ve touched a nuclear bomb.
5. I hotwired and stole a car in high school. That was intentional, but wrapping it around a tree wasn’t.
6. I played trombone in school. My yearbook has a picture of me in a shirt that says “Trombone Players Do It In Seven Positions”.
7. I bought my first guitar when I got orders to North Dakota. I figured I’d need something to do during the winter. I taught myself.
8. I played rhythm guitar in an Air Force band.
9. I’m right handed, but can shoot equally well with either hand.
10. I completed enough classes for majors in Computer Science, Psychology, Law Enforcement, and Military Science, but I never graduated from college.
11. A retired Marine once told me that I was the most unmilitary person he’d ever met. I guess almost thirteen years in the Air Force didn’t help much.
12. I’ve been described as cynical and revengeful.
13. My wife never once got up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. That was my time with the kids. I’m not exaggerating – not once.
14. I lost a football bet with my wife and had to do the laundry for 5 years.
15. I fervently believe it’s unAmerican not to cheat at Monopoly. My wife won’t play anymore if I'm in the game.
16. The first time I met my wife, I was too trashed to stand up.
17. I played several sports in high school, but my best sport was tennis.
18. My tennis coach was a nationally ranked checkers player.
19. I had my 18th birthday in basic training.
20. I’m very intelligent, but intellectually lazy.
21. I’ve got a phobia about math. I can do complex algorithms for computers all day long, but call it math and I go brain-dead.
22. The last time I visited my best friend, we repo’d cars for a couple of days just for fun.
23. I’ve sold cartoons to the Marriott Corporation, and been published in Air Force newspapers.
24. I slept on the living room floor for five years.
25. My hobbies are music, reading, art, woodworking, cooking, gardening, and rocketry. I’ll have projects going on in several of these at any time.
26. My last woodworking project was a wall vanity and mirror. There wasn’t a single screw or nail used.
27. When I got out of the Air Force, my commander presented me with a flag that had flown over the Capitol building. His other gift to me was clearing my record so as to be allowed to reenlist if I so desired (I had had a run-in with a by-the-book idiot at my previous assignment, which ruined my desire to finish my military career).
28. I love terrible jokes and childish riddles.
29. I was born in Fresno, California in September, 1959. Even though all I did was sleep, eat, cry and poop my way through the last three months of the decade, my kids take great glee is pointing out that I was alive in the 50’s.
30. I grew up in San Jose, California when it was still rural. Way before it became the ‘silicon valley’.
31. Both my parents retired from Hewlett-Packard.
32. I saved my money and bought my first car in North Dakota. It was a yellow ’74 Dodge Charger.
33. I had to ask what the plug hanging out of the grille was for.
34. My childhood mainly consisted of running the streets and fields around the neighborhood with my friends. For money in the summer, we cut apricots for drying, picked cherries, and sold cold soda to the migrant farm workers.
35. The property next to our neighborhood was a minimum security State Mental Institution. The ‘loonies’ grew their own crops to sell at a roadside stand. We made fun of them, they made fun of us.
36. I don’t kiss-and-tell. Ever.
37. Except for our time spent in Germany, I’ve always owned at least one dog.
38. I was a Tupperware salesman-of-the-month once.
39. I’ve written radio commercial jingles.
40. I’ve worked part-time as a bartender. Debutante balls in Alabama is the definition of ‘old money’.
41. Another regular bartending gig was for the Air War College special functions. At one called ‘A Gathering of Eagles’, I met the highest ranking surviving Japanese ace from WWII, two German aces, and three US Medal of Honor winners. It was a humbling and awe-inspiring evening.
42. I used to DJ.
43. I have one younger brother. Haven’t spoken to him in years, although I don’t hate him anymore.
44. I’m artistic and creative.
45. I’ve had my rights read to me several times. Once on my back with a police dog standing on my chest.
46. I’ve seen the Flying Elvis’. Took the kids with too. Where else but America, eh?
47. On our first date, I took my wife to see the Blues Brothers. She thought I was weird because I watched the movie.
48. After the movie, we bought wine and I played guitar and sang to her under the stars until dawn.
49. Boy, was her brother pissed at me. She was living with him for the summer.
50. After we got engaged, my wife had to go back home to attend her senior year of high school.
51. My wife is from Baltimore, I’m from San Jose, we met in North Dakota. Go figure.
52. The first words I ever spoke to my sister-in-law were ‘Listen bitch-‘. At that point my wife took the phone away from me.
53. The first time I met my father-in-law, he took me to a strip club to see how I would react. I invited a biker to sit with us for a beer. My father-in-law was president of a steelworkers union.
54. My mother-in-law loves me. She thinks I’m weird as hell, but she loves me.
55. I punched a doctor once. I’ve been thrown out of doctor’s offices twice.
56. Once I helped kidnap a bride coming down the steps of a church. We grabbed her, threw her in our car, and spent the afternoon driving from bar to bar and avoiding the groom. We dropped her back off at the church that evening, drunk off her ass. (Yes, one of us knew her)
57. I almost killed someone with my M16 on two occasions. Both justified. Both times, the safety was off, my finger was squeezing the trigger, but something came between me and the target so I didn’t shoot. Another time, I was very close to shooting someone with a grenade launcher.
58. I’ve worked an eight hour shift outdoors in 40 below zero windchill.
59. After five winters in North Dakota as a Security Policeman, I cross-trained into Computer Programming.
60. I ran payroll for the Department of Education from my house. Did their drug testing program too.
61. I’m pretty non-confrontational, to the point where I surprise my wife when I get in someone’s face. I’m not a pushover, I just pick my battles and try to see both sides of a disagreement.
62. I’ve gotten a lot more diplomatic as I’ve gotten older.
63. As a kid, spaghetti-o’s was my favorite food.
64. I built our first living room set; two end tables, a coffee table, and a hide-a-bed sofa.
65. I used to play war games. I’ve only played D&D once or twice, but I did play a similar game (The Fantasy Trip by Steve Jackson.) Played Car Wars too.
66. I once legally purchased a handgun in Minnesota using an Alabama permit when my permanent address was in North Dakota.
67. My favorite pizza is onion and green pepper.
68. Except for shrimp and scallops, I hate most seafood. I can eat food like fish & chips or McDonalds Filet-o-fish sandwiches, but that’s because I like tarter sauce, not the fish.
69. Mexican food is my favorite. I grew up eating it.
70. Soups are way up on that list too.
71. There is a Phipps township in South Dakota named after an ancestor on my Dad’s side. There was also a Commodore Phipps in the British Royal Navy way back too. It’s rumored that he helped kick ass against the Spanish Armada, but I have absolutely no evidence either way.
72. My dad was born in Minnesota, my mom in Iowa. I have relatives all over the country, including Washington, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
73. My Dad says my ethnicity is Heinz-57. I’ve got a bit of English, Scottish, German and a dollop of Indian blood. My wife is German and Scandinavian.
74. I was shot at twice in the Air Force. Both times, the correct response was to take cover and let them run out of ammunition, which I did. Once I did ask if I could call in an air strike. My request was denied. I was kidding, but my commander wasn’t sure.
75. As a policeman, I was pulled over on-duty for ‘disturbing the peace’ by another cop – for playing with the PA system.
76. I’ve always believed that if you surround yourself with interesting people, you’ll never be bored.
77. When I was born, I looked like Alfred Hitchcock.
78. Nothing is sexier than a woman wearing glasses.
79. I prefer brunettes or redheads. My wife is a blonde.
80. My kids could sing In-a-gadda-da-vida before they were old enough for school. I taught them that to freak out babysitters.
81. I used to teach my niece a bad habit every time I saw her. Once it was to blow a raspberry, and another time to wink and say ‘Hey sailor, got a nickel?’
82. I didn’t start smoking until after I got married. I quit four years ago.
83. We always have alcohol in the house, but I almost never drink.
84. I’ve seen a ghost.
85. I write decent erotica.
86. When I die, I want my body disposed of as cheaply as possible. Burial, cremation, soylent green, whatever. Don’t spend money on something I no longer care about. I told my wife that she should throw a great party instead.
87. I’ve had a Top Secret clearance for 25 years. The last time I had it renewed, the reviewer asked if I ever did an illegal substance, and I told him that I didn’t inhale.
88. I once had to get a NATO Cosmic Top Secret clearance. I still have no idea why.
89. My best friend (that I'm not married to) is married to a woman from Kenya, before that he was married to a lady from the Ukraine, and before that a Minnesotan.
90. One of my best friends in the military went home and became a tribal shaman.
91. I’m afraid of heights, but I love roller coasters.
92. Having kids was the single most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.
93. My dream is to leave the computer field and teach junior high (middle) school. Right now, the money is just too good where I'm at.
94. My wife loves to travel, I’m a homebody.
95. I’ll forget things if I don’t put them on a list. I’m compulsive about it.
96. Snakes don’t bother me. Neither do rodents (except for the startle factor), but spiders freak me out. It’s a shame too, because they’re fascinating creatures.
97. I love scary movies and old horror. Modern day slasher flicks do nothing for me, I want to be scared. I also love terrible movies. Stuff like Flesh Gordon or Nice Girls Don’t Explode. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is another great one, so is Amazon Women in the Avacado Jungle of Death. Kathleen Kinmont is a goddess.
98. Cary Grant is my favorite actor.
99. My wife knows me so well that she can point out women that she knows I'll find especially attractive.
100. I’m a terrible procrastinator. In fact, this list has been three-quarters done for months.

Posted by Ted at 08:39 AM | Comments (14)
Category: About Ted

Build It - 2

This is a series of posts where we’re building a basic model rocket online. Each post shows part of the process step by step, including pictures and passing along tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. To learn more about what model rocketry is about, see this Q&A.

The main part of the post is in the extended entry so you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to, but I hope you follow along because when we get done you’ll have built and flown your first model rocket. Questions asked from before are answered too.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments or email me.

The instructions for most model rocket kits are wonderful. Estes has been doing this for years, and their experience shows. Let me stress one point right up front: always, Always, ALWAYS follow their suggestions for glues to use. You can sometimes use an alternate (I have almost 20 different kinds of adhesives for various situations), but their recommended glue will give you the strongest bond.

Looking at the parts

Almost everything that needs assembly tells you to lay out the parts and make sure you have everything, and also to read through the directions first to understand things. This is a simple kit, so do it if you’d like, but it won’t be a problem if you don’t. For more complicated kits, I do recommend doing it.

Lets look at the various parts, most of which are obvious. The biggest tube with the slots cut in one end is the body tube. In a simple rocket like this, it’s main purpose is to hold all of the important bits in their correct places. The nose cone is straightforward, as are the fins. The parachute is the plastic sheet with the strings attached. So much for the obvious bits.

The tiniest tube (it looks like a drinking straw) is the launch lug and it’s used to steady the rocket on the launch rod. The length of elastic is the shock cord, remember I recommended replacing it with a longer piece bought at the store. The two cardboard disks, the medium sized tube and black ring will be put together with that little metal strip and become the motor mount.


Using your x-acto knife, carefully cut the fins out of the balsa sheet. They’re die cut, and held in by just a few short bits of wood. If you want to, you can gently sand the fins (with the grain) with the fine sandpaper before freeing them. Make the same kinds of cuts to remove the smaller middle circles from the cardboard disks. Finally, you may need to open the inside of the squared-off loop at the bottom of the nose cone (see the picture). Do all of these carefully, and watch for the sharp knife.


Make sure the fins fit the slots in the body tube. Sand them lightly if needed to ensure a smooth fit.

The following steps are completely optional.

Using the sandpaper, sand the seam on the plastic nose cone until it disappears. This isn’t a quick process, but it does make for a much nicer looking end result.

Lightly sand the entire body tube until you’ve scuffed the shine off. Don’t sand too much, the purpose here is to remove the glassine layer, which will make for a stronger bond between the glue and the paper tube underneath.

Take some of the Fill’n’Finish and thin it with water until it’s about the consistency of pancake batter. Slather it on the body tube (I use my finger) and work it into the spiral groove. You won’t need much, and most of what you use will be sanded away. Let it dry – it’s fairly quick – and then lightly sand. The Fill’n’Finish sands easily, and when you get done there should be no spiral groove left. Repeat if you need to.

Use the same thinned Fill’n’Finish to fill the grain of the balsa fins. Keep the coats very very light, and sand between coats when dry. When you do the fins, do both sides at once, because the balsa will warp slightly and this will help even it out. The warp will straighten out when both sides are dry.

The reason for all this filling and sanding is because the smoother the surface, the less drag which makes for a higher flying rocket. I don’t do it for every rocket, but I do take the time for most of them. The paint job looks much nicer on the smooth finished surface too.

Questions Answered

What is a ‘fishing swivel’? Also known as snap swivels, they’re used to prevent the fishing line from twisting. They have a small loop on one end and a large loop on the other end that opens like an old fashioned safety pin. Here’s a (crappy) picture of a few, and like I said, you’ll only need one, and it’s optional. Also in the picture you can see the package of sewing elastic, the glue and Fill’n’Finish, and an x-acto knife.


Next time, we’ll build the motor mount and attach the fins.

Posted by Ted at 05:18 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Build It
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