February 29, 2004

Movie Review worth reading, because it's somewhere else

Over at Who Tends the Fires, Ironbear reviews a Jackie Chan movie. It ain't pretty, but the review is fun and the comments are great!

Posted by Ted at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

Welcome back

Two Nervous Dogs has returned. I tried working in some sort of crotch-sniffing joke, but it wasn't working. Go read, she's funny!

Thanks to Tim at Backstage for the pointer.

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

February 28, 2004

A couple of Munuvian (and other) notes

Cherry posts a friday joke each week (as does Tiger). Always good for a chuckle, but this one really had me laughing. If I ever meet these guys, I'll buy them a tank of petrol.

Spring is in the air. Daffodils are starting to show, birds are singing, bees are buzzing, and Munuvians are meeting for beer, pizza and trivia. That's right, fellow Munuvians Tuning Spork and Stephen are taking your questions, which will be asked and answered in the First Annual Fairfield County Munuvian Blogger Trivia Invitational. A barbed-wire cage match was considered, but we're an amiable bunch in Munuviana.

Drop in and say hello to Sarah. Her husband was just deployed overseas for a year.

Also, brand new Munuvian Ilyka Damen hasn't quite moved in yet, but soon, very soon. I'm looking forward to it.

Munuviana. In some obscure and lost language that had to have meant "concentrated goodness".

Posted by Ted at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Mookie-free weekend

Mookie is at her best friend's house for the weekend, a couple of counties south of here. They're going to a Junior ROTC Military Ball, and she won't be home until Sunday. Not that that leaves us child-free, because oldest daughter Robyn made it home from Michigan yesterday afternoon.

We've raised a couple of chatterboxes. Sheesh.

I've been sitting here thinking about this house we live in. Fourteen years now. It's the only house Mookie remembers.

Tonight we signed the contract to have new windows and back door installed. I have no doubt that they'll pay for themselves in a year or two, but still, it's a lot of money. We heard from a neighbor that a house down the street sold for an obscene price, which I love to hear. The slumlord has been fixing up the house next door and supposedly he's selling too. Good deal, if it's true.

It's after midnight, the ladies are long in bed, and Freddy vs. Jason just finished on the DVD. No review coming for this one because I'm not a big gore fan. A friend lent it to me so I'm watching it. It's not a bad movie for the slasher genre, but it's not something I'd normally watch.

I also have the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre to watch this weekend (much more to my taste). Expect a review of this along with a comparison with the recent remake when it's released in the near future.

Posted by Ted at 12:43 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Family matters

February 27, 2004

Just lay off the pretzels, ok?

Three lightweight presidentially themed movies I enjoy, especially during this political season:


The American President

My Fellow Americans

Posted by Ted at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Cult Flicks

Sentenced to hang

The leader of the Japanese cult that used Sarin gas in an attack on the Tokyo subway system got the death penalty today. Appeals are expected to last another decade.

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

A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I Got A Gal In Kalamazoo

Oldest daughter is coming home from college for a week. Dad's doing a happy dance. Lansing might be closer, but that city never had a song nearly as fun written about it.

Posted by Ted at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Family matters

It's probably just me, matey. Arrrgh!

I finally got to watch the rest of Pirates of the Carribean last night. Good movie, but am I the only one who thought Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) sounded an awful lot like Arthur (Dudley Moore) in the movie?

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Cult Flicks

A little competition

It's a contest called Miniature City, and the idea is to photoshop an image to show what the world would be like if you were tiny.

Thanks to Cindy of Squipper and Al of Fulton Chain for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 05:25 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

February 26, 2004

I'll never gripe about screw-tops on wine ever again

The recipe for prison hootch, Pruno. I had tears in my eyes after reading this, it's that funny. If you do decide to try this, please let me know how it comes out.

Thanks to Blackfive for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs


That’s a tiny title for a subject as big as the universe. I have the pleasure of having several real artists as co-workers. I’m not talking about making-a-living-at-it artists, but each of them, in their own way, considers themselves an artist, and I agree with them. These are guys who work for a living. Some artists live for art, but like everyone else, most artists know that it’s kinda nice to have a roof over one’s head, and you do what needs doing to pay the rent. It makes for interesting conversations.

What got me to thinking about this subject is that a co-worker, Kyle, mentioned that the Hirschhorn Museum is having an event this weekend called 24 Hour Psycho. It’s kind of an odd one, and we got to discussing aspects of it. Briefly, an artist has stretched the Hitchcock classic into a full 24-hour event, apparently by viewing most of the movie in slow motion. There’s more to it of course (there’d better be), but that’s the gist of it. My attitude is that I’d love to be able to say I saw it, without actually inflicting myself with the performance, because it sounds deadly dull.

We’ve often talked about what constitutes art and what it means. I always figured I have a pedestrian “I know what I like” kind of taste, while feeling that I was somehow missing out on something because I had no formal education in it. More than once I’ve suggested that we go to the Smithsonian or other art museums as a group so I could pick their brains on what they saw compared to what I saw.

I’ve come to realize that formal training doesn't necessarily increase your appreciation. At best it gives you the ability to describe a work in esoteric terms, making one sound like a pretentious ass. At worst, you wind up with a superiority complex, which actually makes you a pretentious ass. Appreciation can be instinctive, but appreciation and understanding are two different things.

Many people’s exposure to art amounts to picking up a copy of Smithsonian magazine in a waiting room and glancing at the pictures in an article you don’t bother reading. Not a thing wrong with that, but sometimes in order to understand art you need context.

Say you’re wandering through a gallery, and there’s a warehouse pallet on the floor, with a couple of crates on top. Maybe one is opened, and the packing peanuts are scattered around on the floor.

Why in the world is there a velvet rope barricade around that?

The little exhibit sheet might give you a few words about it, but many people don’t bother to read it. The brass plaque next to it tells you even less. But if you knew that it’s saying something about, oh, shipping artworks, then it might start to make a little sense. The seemingly random elements take on meaning, maybe.

I’m impressed by art that needs no contextual clues to make sense. A beautiful piece of instrumental music, a painted landscape or a perfectly sculpted piece evokes an emotion. You don’t need to know what the composer thought, only what it makes you think about as you hear it. If you don’t recognize the subject of a sculpture, at the very least you’ll know in your own soul whether it is pleasing to you.

Context doesn’t have to be universal either. Willie Nelson has written hundreds of beautiful songs, few of which would appeal to someone who hates country music. That doesn’t diminish the beauty, it only limits the scope of admirers. Once again, there’s not a thing wrong with that. Taste is individual.

If you don’t get it, it’s not your fault. There might not be anything to get, or it might be so alien to your viewpoint that you’d never understand enough to get it. The percentage of art that actually means something beyond the moment of its creation is small enough that it approaches zero.

And that might be the true genius of classic art.

The Mona Lisa is priceless, because it matters still. A sonnet by Keats, a Vivaldi concerto, photos of Yosemite by Adams and the Taj Mahal transcend time and culture to remain meaningful to human hearts.

Within thirty years, Madonna will be lumped in with Neil Sedaka as moderately successful musical celebrities of their day. Enthusiasts and collectors will be able to spew volumes of information about them, but most folks will vaguely recognize their songs and some might even know who the performer is.

I’m kind of wandering all over the surface of the subject here, and I don’t exactly know how to end this. I’m not even sure I had a specific point to make, other than that everyone should take a little time out once in a while and indulge your spirit with a visit to an art gallery or museum, or to an event you might not normally attend. Don’t try too hard to judge or understand, just observe and absorb, letting your emotions ebb and flow as they will. It’s good for the soul.

Laughing Wolf posted a wonderful piece about a ballet he recently attended. I’m definitely not the ballet type, but after reading his remarks I think I’d like to see one, just for the experience. Who knows, I might actually like it.

Posted by Ted at 10:50 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Beautiful photography

Mostly images of the American Southwest, in black and white.

Posted by Ted at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Also suitable for small mouthy children

A t-shirt gift for the scientifically-inclined youngster of any age.

As a matter of fact, I am a Rocket Scientist.

Posted by Ted at 06:00 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Rocketry

February 25, 2004

darn dang damn

This site is certified 28% EVIL by the Gematriculator

At this rate, I don't even have to worry about going to heck.

Spotted this at California Yankee, who's only slightly less evil than sleeping dachshund puppies.

Posted by Ted at 11:47 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

Now that that's settled

We don't have to bother with that pesky election nonsense...

(in the extended entry)

Thanks to Daniel for the pointer.

George W Bush

Feeder Goldfish

Battle Rating

George W Bush was created by a scientific experiment gone wrong

Can your fishy beat George W Bush ?

John Kerry

Feeder Goldfish

Battle Rating

John Kerry was bought at Walmart

Can your fishy beat John Kerry ?

Posted by Ted at 08:17 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Indian Space Program accident update

(press release - link no longer works)

Indian Space Research Organisation
Bangalore, India

February 23, 2004

Accident at Sriharikota

An accident occurred at the Solid Propellant Rocket Booster (SPROB) Plant in Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota, at about 1600 hours[1030 UTC] today. This happened while a test propellant segment was being prepared for transportation after curing. The propellant in the segment caught fire and caused severe damage to the building, in which the operations were going on.

Three persons have escaped from the building with burns and they have been admitted to the hospital in Chennai. Operations are on to rescue the others.

Emergency action have been put on to approach the building and clear the debris and reach the people inside. A high-level Committee has been constituted to look into the matter. Chairman, ISRO, Shri G. Madhavan Nair, has rushed to Sriharikota to personally supervise the operations.

The current spirit in India concerning their space program is reminiscent of the US in the 60's. Tragedies must be avoided, but risks will be taken and despite setbacks the program will move forward.

Infrastructure can be rebuilt. Let's hope that they've learned some lessons in safety from this, so that those lives lost aren't just wasted.

Personal note: Hey BATFE, notice that this rocket propellant caught fire and burned? According to you, there should have been a massive ka-boom. Don't you hate it when real-life physics doesn't conform to your fantasy universe? Idiots.

Posted by Ted at 06:01 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

Obligatory "Why I blog" post

Hah, fooled you! Maybe someday, but not today.

I realize that starting a blog is like cutting your first record. You've got years of material stored up inside you, and you can pick and choose a personal 'best of' to get a rip roaring start. It's the second album that separates the Elvi from the My Sharona's (to completely mangle a metaphore or whatever the heck that is). Fortunately, I'm ancient and have a vast store of made up bull experiences and stories to draw from.

So remember, when you leave your comments, "Do you really want to hurt me?"

Thank you, thank you very much.

Posted by Ted at 05:24 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

February 24, 2004

If it makes you feel better

Sometimes in traffic, when some chucklehead really pisses me off, I take a deep breath and remember the words spoken by Lt. Miller (Tom Hanks) in Saving Private Ryan:

"Gentlemen, we can do this with a stickybomb."

Posted by Ted at 05:25 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Geek advertising

A t-shirt I designed a few years ago about model rocketry.

(in the extended entry)


Posted by Ted at 05:16 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

(insert humorous introduction here)

This is fun in a goofy sort of way (warning: bandwidth alert). Kudos to Silflay Hraka for the pointer.

Yahoo is trying their little game again, where they change the privacy policy and everyone is automatically opted-in to allow them to track your movement throughout the internet. Thanks to the guys at Anticipatory Retaliation for the heads up on this one, including the way to opt-out.

From The Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty:

You've heard of the Enigma cipher machine, yes? The Germans used it during WW2 for encoding and decoding messages.

If you've always wanted to play with an Enigma, the Enigma-E building kit might appeal.

The Enigma-E is a DIY Building Kit that enables you to build your own electronic variant of the famous Enigma coding machine that was used by the German army during WWII. It works just like a real Enigma and is compatible with an M3 and M4 Enigma as well as the standard Service Machines. A message encrypted on, say, a real Enigma M4 can be read on the Enigma-E and vice versa.

TL Hines has been posting a series he calls the "Darkhorse Dialogues", where he interviews the fringe presidential candidates. Lots of fun, and it makes you appreciate the solemn dignity of LaRouche and Nader.

Ooooo, look Susie. Firemen's equipment.

Over at JimiLove's place, he shares a beautiful piece titled The Tao of Two. Little Max already has wisdom beyond his years. Some samples:

No is temporary, but yes is forever

Caution is a byproduct of experience

If whining never worked no one would do it

You control your own mouth, and what goes in it

Everyone gets a kiss goodnight before bed

Pushing the elevator buttons does not make you a "big boy", knowing which ones to push does

Lynn asks two intriguing questions:

If you could have as a pet, any creature from science fiction what would you choose?

If you could own any device from science fiction what would you choose?

The device was easy for me, I still don't have a pet selected. How about you?

Over at Left & Right, Rob has been compiling and revising his list of Top Guitar Players. Lots of debate on this one, you should check it out.

Paul has been schizo ecclectic in his posting subjects lately, writing about everything from wallets and cell phones to an acoustic version of Disco Inferno. Visit Sanity's Edge, and thank him for not being Bill.

Ever write a newspaper about a goof they made? Say Uncle did, and they asked him to write an Op Ed piece about the assault weapons ban. Read all about it here. He cuts through the fear factor and misinformation to score some telling points. Good job.

I'll close with a blog I've just began to visit regularly. Scott talks about those scam artists at Classmates.com. I dealt with them last year, and they really are bottom-feeders.

Update: Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning bears a striking resemblance to Richard Simmons. Yeah, I'm ticked off after watching the Caps lose a third period lead and get blown out.

Posted by Ted at 04:59 AM | Comments (10)
Category: Links

February 23, 2004

Special Ops and so much more

Random Nuclear Strikes. The link goes to a special post about the First Special Forces Group (Airborne), but everything there is a good read.

Posted by Ted at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Accident at the Indian Space Agency

An explosion and fire at the Solid Propellant Fuel Plant. Undetermined numbers of fatalities and injuries reported.

Posted by Ted at 10:14 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

What Earth is obstructing the view of

Everyone is focused on Mars right now, but Fred at The Eternal Golden Braid points up some links about our other planetary neighbor - Venus. I highly recommend this interesting collection of images, exploration history and timelines.

Posted by Ted at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Flight Report (lack thereof)

Our rocket was scheduled to make her maiden flight this weekend, but high winds prevented it. I could've launched, but probably would not have gotten it back from the drift under parachute.

Posted by Ted at 07:24 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Build It


For our wonderful new work system, I'm having to learn more than the barest smattering of SQL I know. Any advice on some good books or website resources?

Posted by Ted at 07:11 AM | Comments (3)
Category: SciTech

Something I noticed

When you pull into the parking lot at work with the song "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" rocking at full volume, your co-workers all cheerfully greet you while trying to casually locate the nearest cover and concealment.

Posted by Ted at 06:04 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

February 22, 2004

For Susie and Jennifer

In a continuing effort to be fair and balanced, I've googled up a bunch of image links of firemen for Susie, Jennifer and other interested readers. Enjoy, and I hope it distracts you from life's wobbles for a little bit.

But first, a joke:

Why do policemen have bigger balls than firemen?
They sell more tickets.

Now these links will seem so much better in comparison. Some aren't really firemen, but I don't want to hear any complaints. Comprende?
A wrestler called "The Fireman"?

Y'know, while finding these I came across some old old photos of firemen, as far back as 1880's. That got me to thinking about a guy here in town who collects and restores old fire engines. I wonder if he's still around? Hmmmm... maybe something for a future post on Rocket Jones.

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



Descon stands for Design Contest, and it's an online rocketry event held three or four times a year. People from all over the world enter their original rocket designs, and folks vote for their favorites. Prizes are donated by various hobby businesses and are awarded. Sometimes there's a theme or specific requirements, sometimes it's a free for all.

Mookie won it once, when she was 10 years old. I believe she's still the only kid and only female to ever take first place. In the extended entry is a photo of her posing with her prize.


Mookie won a semi-scale kit of the British anti-radar missile ALARM, which we built together. This was taken just before its maiden flight, in 1999. She still flies it today.

Posted by Ted at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

February 21, 2004

Movie Review Time

Boy Howdy, do I have some off-the-wall fun for you this time around. Y'all know that I enjoy the lesser-known classics (translation: crappy movies), but some of what I watch falls more literally into the actual classic category. These movies are perfect examples.

The Gorilla (1939) – This is a true Hollywood production, and the quality shows. Featuring great sets, real actors, a plot and special effects, this early spoof of horror movies has plenty of slapstick comedy to go along with the thrills and chills. Bela Lugosi makes a fine butler, and the Ritz Brothers play a trio of private eyes hired to protect a millionaire targeted for murder. The high point of the movie is the funniest maid (Patsy Kelly) ever to steal a scene, but it’s pretty obvious why the Ritz Brothers never made it as big as Abbot and Costello or any of the other great comedy teams. Nevertheless, this zany movie is an ok way to escape for a little while. My favorite line: “Did you see that face? I’ll bet when snakes get drunk they see him.”

The Ape Man (1943) – More Bela Lugosi and more monkey business! In this film, he plays a mad doctor who ends up the victim of his own experiments. To recover, he must kill. Overall, the mood is darker than in The Gorilla, but this flick still has some humorous moments and a rich plot full of details and minor storylines. The ending has a twist that you’d never guess in a million years.

When The Ape Man was originally released, World War II was in full swing and there are frequent mentions of it. In fact, in one scene a female character makes fun of a guy for being a “4-F reject”, and he proudly let’s her know that in 30 days he goes into the Navy. She apologizes immediately.

Something else I noticed, in both movies, was that guns were common and unremarkable. Many of the characters (male and female) were armed, and casually pulling a pistol out for protection caused no great reaction from other characters. At the same time, the guns were always handled safely and nobody was trigger-happy, in fact they were never used at all in The Gorilla and not until the very end of The Ape Man – and it wasn’t a hail of gunfire either.

Both of these movies get two opposable thumbs up.

Posted by Ted at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Cult Flicks

I'm stealing their joke too!*

A new aphrodisiac pizza is being test-marketed. Called Pizzagra, it features a heart-shaped crust.

The Pizzagra toppings include:

* Tomato, garlic and basil base: Basil is a renowned stimulant, helping to boost sex drive, fertility and produce a general sense of well being for body and mind. Garlic traditionally stirs sexual desires and has been used for centuries to cure everything from the common cold to heart ailments.

* Artichoke: The French once believed women who ate artichokes were reputedly loose.

* Asparagus spears are rich in vitamin E, which is thought to stimulate the production of sex hormones.

* Red peppers are said to stimulate circulation.

* Onions: Egyptian priests were forbidden to eat onions, as it was once believed they stirred up passions.

* Ginger, which stimulates circulation and heightens sensitivity.

* Cardamom, which contains two androgens (hormones that increase sexual desire in men) and cineole, a compound known to stimulate the central nervous system.

* Chocolate spread: Chocolate is a popular aphrodisiac containing the chemical, phenlethamine, which is released naturally in the brain when humans fall in love.

* Banana slices: Bananas are rich in potassium and B vitamins, necessities for sex hormone production.

No mention is made if that's all on one pizza. Yuck.

Thanks to The Meatriarch for indirectly pointing the way to this story. His link to Naked News led me to watch their preview, which had the pizza story. A little google action and voila!

*Oh yeah, their joke: "I wonder if it has a self-rising crust?"

Posted by Ted at 02:00 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

All Hail Pixy Misa!

Mucho thanks and manly back-slapping hugs to Pixy. With his efforts, all the Munuvians are now hosted on a new and much faster server. This means that Rocket Jones will now rocket*.

*Speed-wise that is. Expect the drivel to continue as before.

Posted by Ted at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

February 20, 2004

Field Trip?

Eric of Off Wing Opinion is proposing a blog meet for the metro DC area, to be held, appropriately enough, at a Washington Capitals game.

I'm making tentative plans for this one. Anyone else?

Ross and/or Buckethead?

Who am I forgetting?

Posted by Ted at 08:42 AM | Comments (8)
Category: Links

Now to convince my wife that they're common and vulgar

Diamonds, that is. Terribly terribly not-precious anymore if these guys are right.

Thanks to Across the Atlantic for the pointer. Can you tell who the romantic is between the two of us?

Posted by Ted at 07:18 AM | Comments (1)
Category: SciTech

Says it all

When my wife was rid of her wheelchair and allowed to drive again, this is the custom license plate I put on her car (extended entry):


Thanks to the ACME License Plate Maker.

Posted by Ted at 05:05 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Boring Stories

Electricity is smoke

As promised, here's another bit about the mysterious workings of technology. Once again, I found this on the newsgroup Rec.Models.Rockets.

I have found most electronic devices are powered by smoke contained in small black chips.

In fact, once the smoke is released from one of these black chips, the electronic device will stop working.

Next lesson: Gravity doesn't suck.

Posted by Ted at 04:33 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

February 19, 2004

Too much time on your hands

Taking a cue from the flea ethereal, here's a list of countries that have appeared on my visitor logs:

United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Italy, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Estonia, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Finland, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Romania, Poland, Isreal, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Greece, Malaysia, China, Brazil, Iceland, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, India, Philippines, Portugal, Argentina, Slovenia, Nigeria, and the Russian Federation.

Welcome all, and thanks for visiting. And I know not all of them are countries, but they have their own internet country code suffix. And that, as my dad would say, is good enough for the girls I go with.

Posted by Ted at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

What? Where's the damn couch?

My "Big 30" Psychological Profile, because everyone knows you don't need years of education in order to disect my soul and tell all about me, just 155 questions.

(in the extended entry)

I saw this one over at DeMythology, and Glenn talks about a different one that he took.

Advanced Big 30 Personality Test Results
Sociability ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Gregariousness |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Assertiveness ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Activity Level ||||||||||||||| 50%
Excitement-Seeking ||||||||||||||| 42%
Enthusiasm |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Extroversion ||||||||||||||||||||| 61%
Trust ||||||||||||||| 50%
Morality |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Altruism ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Cooperation ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Modesty ||||||||||||||| 46%
Sympathy |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Friendliness |||||||||||||||||| 57%
Confidence ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Neatness |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Dutifulness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Achievement |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Self-Discipline |||||||||||| 38%
Cautiousness |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||||| 57%
Anxiety |||||||||||| 34%
Volatility ||||||||||||||| 46%
Depression ||| 10%
Self-Consciousness ||||||||| 30%
Impulsiveness ||||||||||||||| 42%
Vulnerability ||||||||| 26%
Emotional Stability ||||||||||||||||||||| 69%
Imagination |||||||||||||||||||||||| 78%
Artistic Interests |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Emotionality |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Adventurousness ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
Intellect ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Liberalism |||||||||||| 38%
Openmindedness ||||||||||||||||||||| 64%
Take Free Advanced Big 30 Personality Test
Posted by Ted at 11:53 AM | Comments (2)
Category: About Ted

Even NASA is going Atkins!

NASA has announced their new Atkins-friendly 'space food' tablet rations.




Posted by Ted at 05:53 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Probably not useful for Talk Show Hosts and/or Superheroes*

Tick Remover.

*or politicians for that matter.

Posted by Ted at 05:38 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

February 18, 2004

Images from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Nifty pictures, and not one joke about "Black Hole Rips Unlucky Star Apart". Too easy.

Posted by Ted at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program


The Washington Capitals sent Peter Bondra to the Ottawa Senators for a prospect and a second-round draft pick in 2005. The Sens are essentially renting Bondra for the rest of the season as he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The local hope is that Bondra can make a run for the Stanley Cup with the Senators, then be resigned during the off-season.

Whoever has Bondra on their fantasy hockey league team should prepare for a boost in his already good stats. Ottawa is a goal scoring juggernaut, and just got better.

Posted by Ted at 12:59 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

Air Force Blue (part 5)

Spoiler Alert – This includes the story of how I wound up on my back, being read my rights, with a police dog standing on my chest (#45 on my Cornucopia of Ted list).

After collectively graduating from our police "tech school" training, we were presented with our dark blue berets and given our orders for assignment. In the Air Force, you keep a form on file commonly referred to as your "dream sheet" which lists the top ten places you'd like to be assigned. Theoretically, when it comes time to send you to your next assignment, they start with your first choice and see if there’s an opening there for your specialty and rank, and if not they go to your second choice, and so on.

The main thing about my dream sheet was that California didn’t appear on it at all. I didn’t want to go back home, I wanted to see some of the world – well, some of the US anyway. I wasn’t ready for overseas yet.

I can guarantee you one thing though - Minot, North Dakota was not even remotely on my list of places to go. Maybe you’ve heard the standard joke: “Why not, Minot? Freezin’s the reason.” Uh huh, exactly.

Now the Air Force does something kinda cool at this point. In this room of brand new and entirely interchangeable newbies, you can trade assignments with someone instantly. Just find some sucker one else willing to do it, and it happens. Of course, nobody is going to trade for Minot, because the only people who want to go have already put it on their dream sheet, and you can bet that those people get their wish.

So I’m standing there with my orders, wondering where Minot is (and for that matter, where exactly is North Dakota?), when another guy comes up looking to trade. See, his girlfriend is going to Minot, and he’s going to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and he wanted to know if I would trade orders with him? Sure, what the heck. North Dakota is North Dakota. This turned out to be a huge decision, since I met my wife in Grand Forks, and the guy I traded with broke up with his girlfriend within a month.

Before traveling to the Great White North, I went home for leave, my first Christmas as a military man.

December 26th, 1977. Nice day in northern California, temperature in the 50’s, chilly enough to need a heavy windbreaker. At the airport Mom cried, Dad was proud, and Ted is off to live his life. I don’t remember much of the flight, but as we were descending into Grand Forks that night, the pilot mentioned that the ride was bumpy because of the blizzard just kicking up, and that we were lucky we hadn’t been diverted. I found out later that we were the last plane to land for almost three days.

In those days, Grand Forks International Airport earned it’s name from the thrice-weekly flights to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Hey, it was ‘International’, how small could it be? As the plane stopped, the stewardess stood at the front of the plane and told everyone that once the door was opened, we should all closely follow in single file to the terminal, because visibility was really bad and they didn’t want anyone getting lost in the blizzard. Huh? What about rolling the little accordian thingie up to the door and walking down the ramp into the terminal? Yeah, right.

We filed off, struggling with our carry-ons into the wind and blowing snow (and I’m in a windbreaker!), and my mind is running a mantra, “…what the hell did I get myself into?… what the hell did I get myself into?…”, over and over again. Out of the darkness loomed a one-story building – the terminal. We hustled inside and stood around shaking the snow out of our hair and stamping our shoes (sneakers in my case) and trying to warm up. An announcement was made that our luggage would be coming in at the baggage claim at Gate 2 (there were only two).

We all shuffled over to Gate 2, and suddenly a big garage-type door rolled up and the blizzard was inside with us. Through the blowing snow you could make out two guys frantically heaving suitcases and whatnot through the opening in the wall, trying to get done as quickly as possible. Then the door slammed down and shut and everyone started rooting through the pile to find their luggage.

“…what the hell did I get myself into?… what the hell did I get myself into?…”

Half in shock, I located my stuff (everything I owned), and dragged it over to a chair. Now I needed to find a ride to the base, but for this I was prepared. Hell, they even had a courtesy phone on the wall to call the base taxi. Five minutes later I slouched back in the chair, totally dejected and resigned to spending at least the night in the terminal. It was going to be a cold hungry stretch, because the vending machines were all empty, not that I had change anyways. Concessions? Yeah, right.

Some guy, who’s name I don’t remember but who shall always be my hero, walked up and asked if I needed a ride to the base. Seems the person he was there to pick up didn’t make it (connecting flight grounded), so if I needed a ride…

This guy went above and beyond, and I later realized he was more than a little crazy. See, Grand Forks International is located almost exactly halfway between the city of Grand Forks, and Grand Forks AFB. Ten miles in either direction on US Interstate 2. So this good Samaritan, in what was working up to be a whopper of a blizzard, gave me the grand tour of the city first (not that I could see anything at all, let alone make sense of it – I remember him showing me the college campus), before driving back twenty miles to the base.

I told him I was a cop, so he took me to the ‘cop barracks’ so I could get a room. I unloaded my stuff from his car and thanked him with all my heart (and never saw him again) and went into the barracks. It was now about 11pm.

I found the day room where a bunch of guys were playing pool and watching TV. One of them was the Dorm Chief, and when I talked to him and showed him my orders his response was “I ain’t got no room.”

At this point, Leavenworth wasn’t looking half bad. I argued with him for a few minutes, and finally one of the guys playing pool told the Chief to put me in with him, since he didn’t have a roommate. Done.

I walked up to the 3rd floor with my new roomie, dumped my crap in the corner and crawled into bed. It had been a long, bad day, and I needed some serious down time. Suicide was not considered, desertion was…

Dog-breath. In my face, panting hot like a bellows. Opening my eyes, I stayed otherwise still and looked into a mouth full of yellow teeth. The teeth were obviously attached to a dog, but why was a German Shepherd in my room? In North Dakota, I remembered. And why was the dog standing on my chest? I realized there were words being spoken:

“…if you refuse this right anything you say can and will be used against you…”

And at this point I noticed an Air Force policeman attached to the dog by a leash, and as he read me my rights, the dog stood over me, breathing into my face.

My new roomie (forever blessed as well, but I’m not giving his name here although I do remember it), called out from his rack across the room, “Any drugs you find in the room are mine, he just got here!”

Whatta pal.

The cops tore the room apart while searching it. No drugs were found. My roomie was busted for having a sugar dispenser he stole from the chow hall. Roomie was trying to get out of the Air Force, and it was not an amicable parting. The dog probably never alerted on the room door like they claimed, the cops were just hoping to get lucky and find some drugs on him. I just happened to be there, they had no idea who I was.

That was my first day in tropical Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Boring Stories

In the interest of fairness...

I've been informed that lately I've made several posts that are rather... insensitive to women. To achieve more fair and balanced blogging, I give you the following "stupid men jokes" (thanks to Brain Candy).

How do you get a man to stop biting his nails?
Make him wear shoes.

What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath and calling your name?
You didn't hold the pillow down long enough.

How can you tell when a man is well hung?
When you can just barely slip your finger in between his neck and the noose.

Why do only 10% of men make it to heaven?
Because if they all went, it would be Hell.

Why do female black widow spiders kill the males after mating?
To stop the snoring before it starts.

Why can't men get mad cow disease?
Because they're all pigs.

Posted by Ted at 05:14 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

February 17, 2004

A Day in the Life of a Martian Scientist

This link thanks to Doug Pratt of Pratt Hobbies. If you scroll down to the bottom, you'll see a picture of a young Dr. Rice, preparing to launch a model rocket. The photo caption reads:

Jim Rice at age nine, launching his lifelong dream of a career in rocket science.

And that's why I help introduce kids to the hobby.

Posted by Ted at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Old dogs and new tricks

We have two dogs, a two year old Toy Poodle named Trix and a ten year old Terrier named Sam. And although we've almost always had at least one dog (and had as many as three), because of being in the military, we’ve never had a dog long enough to get old before*. We’re getting into new territory for us when it comes to Sam.

If human grandpa gets old and cranky, you deal with it. Same with an old dog, to a point, because even though he’s part of the family, it’s still a pet. I understand people who spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on vet bills for an elderly or sick pet, but I wouldn’t do it myself. I think some people wait too long to put down a beloved pet, sometimes you just have to let go.

Sam is getting older. He’s still got a lot of play in him, and he gets around pretty good. He’s some years from the end, but he’s at the age where I’m beginning to think about it.

Lately, he’s taken to peeing on the floor in the house. He’ll go into the pantry and lift his leg against the garbage can, or downstairs in my workshop or the basement. Like a cranky old man, he doesn't take correction well, and it's getting worse. Why is he doing this? It might be the cold weather bothering his old bones, I don't know. He still goes out (we've got a doggie door to the backyard) during the day, so I'd almost think it was lazyness. Stubborn? I'd believe that before lazy.

Have you ever gone through this with a pet? How did you handle it?

*Rather than put our dogs into quarantine for some months overseas, we'd find him or her a good home before we moved. Hard to do, but better. We got Sam after I got out, and he was a couple years old when we got him.

Posted by Ted at 11:56 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Seriously


Q: What do the Japanese do when they have an erection?

A: They vote.

Posted by Ted at 10:34 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

I just want to be your Teddy Bear

The wisdom of Elvis, as it applies in Ted's Universe.

Update: Work-safe, except for conservative environments. Happy now?


Posted by Ted at 07:01 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

It's a conspiracy!

Last week Mookie tried to kill me in the shower. This morning Sam the dog tried to finish the job. I walked downstairs into the basement, and right at the foot of the stairs he left a puddle, invisible on the linoleum. There was nothing graceful about the crash this time, and luckily nothing beyond my dignity was bruised. Sam did have the decency to stand at the top of the steps and look mildly concerned, but I suspect he was worried I wouldn't be able to make the walk into the pantry for his morning treat.

All of this brings up a question for all you pet owners and animal lovers. I'll see if I can make sense of it and post it at lunch. I'll be interested to hear your opinions.

Posted by Ted at 06:36 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Family matters

February 16, 2004

Dark Suckers

From Michael M-B on the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup:

What is a Dark Sucker?

Many years ago Thomas Edison was experimenting with a method to remove the darkness from a room. By applying a electric current to a wire in a vacuum, he noticed the darkness in the room had vanished. Where had the darkness gone. He noticed around the wire a area of extreme Non-Darkness. He surmised that in fact, the wire had absorbed all the darkness from the room and concentrated it about the wire. When he removed the current from the wire the darkness returned to the room. Hence the invention of the Dark sucker!

Nowdays we have many types of dark suckers. Even portable Dark Suckers called flashed darksuckers, which remove the dark from a concentrated area a short distance away.

With every brilliant theory, there are those who disagree. In the world of Dark Suckers, these heretics believe that darksuckers are in fact not sucking the dark away but emitting photons (or light). Now all of us in the scientific world know this is falacy. The easy way to prove it to these heretics is the Sun.

The Sun's gravity in fact sucks all of the dark from surrounding space. Therefore making it not dark ( very bloody not dark in fact). And the dark is sucked so violently that heat is generated in place of the removed dark. Even Einstein knew this.

So next time you walk into a dark room and turn the switch watch how fast the Dark is Sucked from the room!

Next Lesson: Electricty is smoke.

Posted by Ted at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech


I dreamt I met the Pillsbury Doughboy and went to poke his tummy. In a tragic case of mistaken identity, he turned out to be an albino midget sumo wrestler, and he kicked my ass.

Posted by Ted at 08:30 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

You will be missed

Oldsmobile, soon to be pinin' for the fjords.

The hottest car I've ever driven was a 1972 Olds Cutlass Supreme 4-door. Looked like a family car, left the line like a scalded cat and never looked back.

They knew how to name 'em too (in the extended entry).


Posted by Ted at 07:03 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

February 15, 2004

The red one and the yellow one refused to comment

Math Secrets of M&M's Revealed.

M&M sweets pack together more densely than perfect spheres when randomly jumbled in a container, scientists say.

Redefines the term "sugar orgy", eh?

Thanks to The Group Captain at Across the Atlantic for this.

Posted by Ted at 08:23 PM | Comments (4)
Category: SciTech


Yesterday's dinner turned out, uh, ok. The taste was good but bland instead of the delicate I was going for. The recipes are promising enough that I'm going to try it again, adjusting things here and there. Maybe at some point I'll post them.

There's a new category on Rocket Jones, called Cult Flicks. It will include the reviews of those odd little films I love so much, and related nonsense as well.

Speaking of related, West Virginia (sorry, cheap joke). I was in SunCoast video today, perusing selections for next weekend's triple-points extravaganza, and talked to the manager about special ordering some things. I recently purchased a DVD from them and found the company's website, which has all kinds of classic crappy movies that look right up my alley, but SunCoast doesn't carry them. Believe it or not, SunCoast will not order them for me. Rotten customer service, that.

On the plus side, I did spot a copy of Trinity Is Still My Name on the rack!

Finally, in a perverse twilight zone-ish reversal, wife Liz and I went to Sears today to pick out my Valentine's Day present. A new washing machine (ours conked out friday night). Oh joy. I've never done so before, but she's getting a new toaster for her birthday. That'll teach her, you betcha. Plus, I'll have weeks of great blogging for you to enjoy as I recover from my injuries.

Update: In the "When it rains it pours" category, my shop television just went bosoms-to-the-sky. I don't need much for TV, but this 13" replacement I snagged from the spare bedroom is for the birds. I mean, Christy Canyon looks flat! (link not work safe, scroll down a bit)

Posted by Ted at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Movie Review - Whoops Apocolypse (1982)

This was a six-episode series that ran in Great Britain, and was later made into a much inferior movie. If you do manage to snag a copy of this title, and it has Loretta Swit (HotLips of M*A*S*H fame) as the US President, then you've got the movie (bummer). You want the one with Barry Morse as American President Johnny Cyclops. I found my copy-of-a-copy version while stationed in Germany, and it's on my perpetual list of gotta-haves for when it finally (hopefully) is released on DVD.

Whoops Apocolypse is a brilliant satirical spoof of the world in the 80's.

Wow, that sounded so simple. If you are a fan of anime, and are familiar with the Excel Saga, then this is the live-action version of that concept. No idea is sacred, no institution unscathed, no tradition left untrampled.

Here's the synopsis from IMDB.COM:

A light-hearted look at the final week before doomsday. American President Johnny Cyclops is trying to run a re-election campaign while dealing with the Russians, a deposed Shah needing to be hidden, and a new weapon called a 'quark' bomb. Meanwhile, Lacrobat, the infamous terrorist, has stolen one of the quark bombs and is trying to get it into the Middle East. Stopping Lacrobat, getting the Shah to safety, placating the Russians and winning the election will require a brilliantly planned and perfectly executed strategy on the part of President Cyclops...

Like Airplane!, there is so much happening on so many levels that the mind boggles. You'll find yourself suddenly cracking up long after watching when a joke finally clicks inside your head.

Imagine the newly-elected conservative Prime Minister of England, sitting in quiet satisfaction with his closest ministers, basking in their victory. He decides to reveal a secret to his friends and colleagues, now that they're in power. The Prime Minister has a plan to save vast amounts of money by completely eliminating the military. When his ministers question the wisdom of leaving the country undefended, he reveals his secret. He is, underneath the clever disguise, actually Superman, and he will provide all defense of the homeland.

Watching the ministers trying to grasp the fact that their leader is a complete loon is priceless. Especially when the Prime Minister wants to announce to the world that he is Superman, thus deterring any and all enemies from ever again committing agression against the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, international terrorist Lacrobat (John Cleese!) has stolen one of the new 'quark' bombs, and is making his way across Europe with it. It's not a little bomb either, so some of the camoflauge he uses have to be seen to be believed.

This one is mucho rare and hard to find, but if you ever get the chance...

Posted by Ted at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Cult Flicks

Build It - the finished rocket

We've had a nice stretch of weather, which allowed me to get outside to paint our rocket. You can do painting like this in the winter, but the secret is to bring the rocket into a warm place immediately after the final coat.

The picture, and the rest of this post is in the extended entry.

What is all this about? "Build It" 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. You can find the rest of the series here.


I used Rustoleum sandable primer, and Krylon gloss white, gloss banner red and gloss regal blue, all in spray cans. Step one was applying four light coats of primer, sanding with 320 grit sandpaper between coats. Then I let it sit for several days.

Next up, an all-over coat of blue, applied in 4-5 light coats, followed by one fairly heavy 'finish' coat. I let the rocket sit in the sun for about ten minutes between coats. The nice thing about Krylon is you can recoat anytime.

If I were going to be masking this rocket off to paint different colors, then I would have let it sit for several days for the blue paint to fully dry. Instead, I decided to 'fade' the colors together.

Starting at the top, I sprayed several coats of white over the blue, making sure I never went as far down as the joint where the nose cone meets the body tube. I concentrated more paint towards the top of the rocket to completely cover the tip of the nose. The nice thing about this 'fade' technique is that you can just do it by eye and stop when it looks good to you.

I also did a light fade of white in a band near the top of the fins so that the red and blue would contrast better and to brighten up the red a little.

Once that had dried a few minutes, I sprayed the red in the same manner as the white. Concentrate the color more towards the ends of the fins and bottom of the rocket to create the 'fade' into blue. I was careful to not completely cover the white band.

The best tool for painting a rocket like this is a 5/8" dowel about 18" long. Slide it up into the motor mount and you have a wand to hold and manipulate the positioning of the rocket while you spray.

Several hours later (I got impatient, you should wait a day or two), I cut out the decal and put it on the side of the rocket. I didn't use the fin decals. I normally don't like the newer self-adhesive kind, but this worked ok. I also thought about cutting out the "FAT BOY" letters to write something like "OY BATF", but it's been done before, so I stuck with the original.

So that's it! We now have a completed rocket. Maiden flight will be next weekend. Saturday we have a club launch in The Plains, Virginia, at Great Meadows Equestrian Center, and on Sunday is the first Culpeper launch of the year. A Launch Report will be posted, and as always everyone is invited to attend. Email me for more information or leave it in the comments.

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

February 14, 2004

Plans for the day

Wife Liz and daughter Rachael are at work today, leaving me alone, which is always a dangerous thing.

I've been thinking about a special dinner for tonight, and slowly gathering ingredients. Being a complete idiot the intrepid culinary adventurer that I am, I'm going to guess-and-by-golly conjure up a complete inedible nightmare masterpiece from scratch. No practice, no rehearsal, no test versions first no common sense.

I was wavering between Mexican and Italian, because the dishes I have in mind could actually be prepared either way. I finally decided on Italian because Liz prefers that.

If this works, recipes will be posted sometime soon. If it doesn't, I'll never mention it again, and today may become one of those memories that women love to bring up when sharing stories about the dumbass men in their lives.

Posted by Ted at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Recipes

Cow Superheroes

I just saw a Chick-fil-a ad for their new Cow Superhero calendar, and I want one. Google doesn't find any online yet, so no link.

Posted by Ted at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Romantic Visions (from the guy's point of view)

In the extended entry (work safe).


Posted by Ted at 07:56 AM | Comments (7)
Category: Square Pegs

Windows source code

I can see why Microsoft is upset. Take a look at this!!! Even non-technical types should look it over, it's not as complicated as you'd think.

Posted by Ted at 07:39 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

February 13, 2004

Since I won't stop and ask directions, I'd better have a good mind map

Found this over at Coyote's Bark.

Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 53%
Visual : 46%
Left : 52%
Right : 47%

Ted, your hemispheric dominance is equally divided between left and right brain, while you show a moderate preference for auditory versus visual learning, signs of a balanced and flexible person.

Your balance gives you the enviable capacity to be verbal and literate while retaining a certain "flair" and individuality. You are logical and compliant but only to a degree. You are organized without being compulsive, goal-directed without being driven, and a "thinking" individual without being excessively so.

The one problem you might have is that your learning might not be as efficient as you would like. At times you will work from the specific to the general, while at other times you'll work from the general to the specific. Sometimes you will be logical in your approach while at other times random. Since you cannot always control the choice, you may experience frustrations not normally felt by persons with a more defined and directed learning style.

You may also minimally experience conflicts associated with auditory processing. You will be systematic and sequential in your processing of information, you will most often focus on a single dimension of the problem or material, and you will be more reflective, i.e., "taking the data in" as opposed to "devouring" it.

Overall, you should feel content with your life and yourself. You are, perhaps, a little too critical of yourself - and of others - while maintaining an "openness" which is redeeming. Indecisiveness is a problem and your creativity is not in keeping with your potential. Being a pragmatist, you downplay this aspect of yourself and focus on the more immediate, the more obvious and the more functional.

I was nodding right along with this up until the indecisiveness bit at the end. I'm decisive when it counts, but I don't feel the need to make every decision in every situation. Easygoing is not the same as indecisive. As for creative, well, I think I am. Wanna see a booger snowman? Talk about creative!

Posted by Ted at 10:16 PM | Comments (2)
Category: About Ted

A quote for St. Valentine's Day

Josh: "All I'm saying is, if you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop to get a beer."

Donna: "If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights."

-- West Wing --

Posted by Ted at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

In further Valentine's Day news...

From the inestimable Pixy:

This one is for Susie, Cherry, Jennifer, Mookie, LeeAnn, Roxette, Stevie, Heather, Helen, Linda, Annika and Sarah:

Throw Rocks At Boys

I wholeheartedly agree ladies, thank you for making this a nicer and more interesting year. I'd also like to add to that list:

Shell, Candy, Carol, Dawn, Min, Margi, Dana, Anna, Lynn, Serenity, Nic, Kelley, Tas, Tink, Dawn, and Denita.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

I considered sending individual ecards to everyone, but I'm just not that thoughtful. Ask my wife. Although this year I did get her a very nice gold bracelet. She showed it to me last night. I have impeccable taste.

Posted by Ted at 08:00 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Links

Notice the complete lack of charges pressed

Edmonton Oilers goalie Ty Conklin looked over and saw teammate Mike Bishai trading punches with Serge Aubin from the Atlanta Thrashers' bench.

He wanted to watch, but with Thrashers netminder Pasi Nurminen ready to go, Conklin had his own business to take care of.

Conklin and Nurminen brawled at center ice to cap a wild brawl late in Edmonton's 5-1 victory the Thrashers on Wednesday night.

The melee resulted in 12 fighting majors, 10 game misconducts and two minors for 164 penalty minutes.

"It looked like a pretty normal game going into the third period, and then a number of bizarre circumstances created what ended up being great entertainment," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.

Lifted from Off Wing Opinion, who I found thanks to Nic.

And since we're reading a little hockey, check out the Meatriarch's ideas on changes to the current rules. Makes sense to me, except for the last one. But then, nobody will ever mistake me for a little guy.

Posted by Ted at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Another anti-Valentine's day site

Black Hearts Party. Gifts for that 'special' one on your list and much much more.

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

It takes a certain mad genius

...and Bunsen has it.

Here he presents a 10-question quiz where each answer is either Courtney Love or Westminster Dog Show Entrant.

This reminds me of an old David Letterman Top Ten list , something about "Favorite Body Parts or Van Pattens". The number one answer was "Dick".

Posted by Ted at 05:49 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

February 12, 2004

Dog as deadly force

US military working dogs are of two types (that I know of). There are drug-detection dogs and bomb-detection dogs. Both kinds can do duty as a guard dog, but basically it's taking advantage of their keen senses, the training for the guard role is limited since they focus on their primary function. After the Vietnam conflict, so-called 'sentry' dogs were phased out because they were ultra-agressive and somewhat unpredictable. Military dogs aren't pets, they're tools bred and trained to do a specific job, and turning one loose against someone is considered using 'deadly force'.

I don't know much about police dog training. I suspect that police dogs are taught more in the way of apprehension techniques and keeping a perpetrator at bay and under control.

A while back The Meatriarch did a fine two-part series (here and here) on canine breeds who fit the bill if you need serious protection and are prepared to spend the time and effort in order to be a responsible owner to one. Everyone should read these, for informational purposes if nothing else, because the average person does not equate dogs with overwhelming deadly force.

Posted by Ted at 08:37 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

Yeah, I own a poodle, what of it?

Poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs, and here's the lowdown on why poodle haircuts are so weird, courtesy of Slate, via J-Walk Blog.

An unshorn poodle's thick coat could weigh it down in the water. With the bottom half of its body shaved, the animal was more buoyant and could swim more freely. The long mane and hair around the chest were left intact to keep the poodle's vital organs warm in the cold water, and owners also kept the hair around the joints to protect them from cold and injury and to help prevent rheumatism.

Shaving the hair around the face left the poodle's mouth and eyes free so it could fulfill its retrieving responsibilities, and tying the hair on a poodle's head into a "top knot" also kept hair out of its eyes. Owners eventually tied these knots with brightly colored ribbons to help them identify their dogs from afar.

See? Manly reasons all.

Posted by Ted at 11:26 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Links

Team America Rocket Challenge 2004

Yesterday afternoon after work I met with the team of high school students that I'm mentoring for this year. Five city kids - three boys and two girls - who are going to design, build and fly a complex rocket with the hopes of earning scholarship money.

This is a bright and motivated group. They've already settled on their design and will be building two versions, one with balsa fins, and a second with fiberglass fins. Construction started last night, and we also went over some rocketry basics, simple aerodynamics, and I gave a quick demo on the flight simulation software they'll be using.

The quickie version of the task they're trying to accomplish is that they have to build and fly a two-stage rocket that will fly as close as possible to 1,250 feet in altitude (measured by an electronic altimeter carried onboard), and get it back. The payload they have to carry aloft is two fresh eggs, and they have to bring them back to earth unbroken.

They're competing with almost one thousand other teams from all around the US for scholarship money. The contest is sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and NASA is heavily involved.

Some of the coolest perks from last years contest was for teachers to attend NASA educational workshops, and the top ten teams were given the opportunity to design science experiments that were carried aloft in NASA research rockets. Teams also got to meet shuttle astronauts and Homer Hickam, former NASA engineer and author of Rocket Boys (October Skies). Other guests attending the finals included Senator Enzi from Wyoming (a rocketeer and space proponent), as well as the honchos from NASA and Boeing.

For more information and details, please check out the rocketry links over on the right hand column, my Rocketry category, or this post.

Posted by Ted at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Blogger Meet

Last evening I had the pleasure of meeting the ultra-fuschia Dawn of Caterwauling. I expect that now she'll comment that her suit was 'dusty rose' or some other girl color - they do that to make us guys look stupid - but it doesn't matter, it looked good.

We shared wonderful conversation over mexican food, and then she treated me to my first ever Starbucks. I'm such a peasant, I ordered a coffee.

Good times. I tell you, blogging is the best thing this ol' internet stalker ever got into.

Posted by Ted at 07:08 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler


Ladies, when you use your potions in the shower or bath, please Please PLEASE rinse the tub out completely when you're done.

Guys are easy, I have soap, and I have yellow shampoo to wash my hair. Once in a while, for a change Liz gets me the blue shampoo. Simple, eh?

The ladies seem to need fourteen bottles and jars of every shape and color and scent, which is ok. Really, as long as you rinse the tub.

This morning, I turn on the water, step into the shower, and immediately careen the length of the tub like Sonja Henie on crack until I crash into the far wall. The judges loved the originality, but deducted style points for the cursing.

You're going to kill us with crap like this! And if you're trying for that, we don't want to know. For myself, I'm going to stop at Home Depot on the way home and pick up the biggest damn sheets of wet-sand paper I can find, and epoxy them to the floor of the tub.

And WD-40 the toilet seats.

Posted by Ted at 05:43 AM | Comments (8)
Category: Family matters

February 11, 2004

Airshow related - Flugtag 88

Back in September I wrote a little bit about the Flugtag airshow disaster at Ramstein AB, Germany, and since then I've had the privilege of giving my personal thanks to two of the men who were on the scene and helping out under overwhelming circumstances.

Please follow that link and check out the comments. Regular people doing extraordinary things because it's what needs to be done.

About the Google Bait from yesterday: I get the occasional hit from someone searching on 'Flugtag', which is how those two gentlemen found Rocket Jones, so by putting up a couple organization designations and places from my Air Force days, maybe someone I knew back when will stumble across the site and say hi.

Posted by Ted at 07:10 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Flugtag '88 Military

Movie Review - Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. It pokes fun at everyone and everything, managing to slip from parody to parody without totally falling over the stupid-cliff. In fact, in places it's downright erudite.

The beginning of this movie is reminiscent of the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Well, not really, but work with me here. The story moves right along, where the feminist anthropologist Dr. Hunt (Playboy playmate-of-the-year Shannon Tweed, playing the part almost straight) is coerced by the US Military to enter the dreaded Avocado Jungle of California to search for the mythical Piranha tribe and the missing feminist Dr. Kurtz (Adrienne Barbeau).

Cutie Karen Mistal as sidekick Bunny provides airhead relief, and Bill Maher plays the guide.

I don't want to give any spoilers, because I really do recommend this movie. Like Starship Troopers Earth vs. Soup, ignore the title and be prepared to enjoy this movie more than you thought you would.

Sample dialog:

Dr. Hunt: "Dr Kurtz. I'm unfamiliar with the academic guidelines at Radcliffe, but I would think that any major university would consider warring on the United States and eating prisoners of war a serious breach of ethics."

Dr. Kurtz: "Always the cautious scholar, eh Dr. Hunt?"

Go on, take a chance. Run out right now and rent this movie. You'll thank me, and if you don't like it, well, then there's just something wrong with you.

Posted by Ted at 05:09 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Cult Flicks

February 10, 2004

If I do this early enough then I'm not a follower, I'm a leader

Over at Who Tends the Fires, Denita asks the embarrassing question: what's on your desk?

I cleaned straightened my desk last weekend, so it's not nearly as bad as it was. All the boring details are in the extended entry.

And now it's your turn.

PC, monitor, keyboard and mouse
mouse pad
monitor stand
webcam* sitting on an old old can of Mt. Dew
phone & phone book
magic marker
several 3.5" diskettes
empty bottle of Rolaides
bottle of glasses lens cleaner
pump bottle of Gold Bond body lotion
several paperclips and binder clips of various sizes
pile of balsa scraps, small cardboard tubes and toothpicks
retired model rocket and stand
McDonald's bobblehead moose toy
salvaged hard drive platter used as a coaster
TV remote
DVD remote
VCR remote
PC speakers and headphones
surge suppressor
CD tower (full)
couple of pens
nail clippers
post-it pad
six AA batteries
digital camera, USB cable and extra memory disks
bottle of Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue
glue stick
stack of assorted papers to file
paperback book Mookie lent me a couple of months ago
parts for three semi-completed rockets (one of them is 4' tall)
dust rag for monitor screen

*I've used the webcam maybe a dozen times, mostly to talk to a good friend's granddaughter. We make goofy faces at each other.

Posted by Ted at 08:30 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Anyone but...

A lot of people talk about voting for "anyone but President Bush."

These are the same people who raise hell about America supporting despots around the world. In some of those cases, it was "anyone but [insert bad choice]."

Sauce for the goose folks.

Posted by Ted at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Politics

Google Bait

Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.
321 SPS
D Flight
321 SPG
321 Bomb Wing
Ramstein AB, Germany
Flugtag Airshow Disaster

... I'll explain later (probably tomorrow)

Posted by Ted at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Movie Review - Destination Moon (1950)

First words spoken from the surface of the moon:

"By the grace of God, and in the name of the United States of America, I take possesion of this planet on behalf of and for the benefit of all mankind."

Impressive movie, and prescient in a lot of ways considering it was made years before space travel was even seriously considered possible. The special effects are surprisingly good for the day, and the Bonestell lunar dioramas are spectacular. Minor nitpick: keep the remote handy, because the DVD soundtrack changes from barely audible dialog to blaring music repeatedly. A little more balance would've been nice.

This would make a great rainy-day double feature with When Worlds Collide. Heck, throw in The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Angry Red Planet and make it a marathon.

Two enthusiastic spacesuited thumbs up.

Posted by Ted at 06:06 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

Be unpredictable

For Valentine's Day, don't give your loved one just any old plushy, give a Santa Cthulhu, because nothing says eternal love like a fictional ancient god. Cupid? What a wuss.

Now maybe you want to keep the kids busy while you get 'thanked' for your thoughtfulness. What better way than to stick with the theme? Your little shoggoths can entertain themselves with a Cthulhu hand puppet. They'll have hours of fun reenacting The Doom That Came To Sarnath and The Dunwhich Horror. For extra fun, check eBay for out-of-print copies of Lovecraft audiobooks that they can listen to. And if they hear strange noises coming from your bedroom, it just adds to the atmosphere, eh?

"It's ok honey, mommy's fine. She's just being eaten by an Old One."

Posted by Ted at 05:03 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Links

February 09, 2004

These ain't Elvis plates

Sideshow Collectibles, because everyone should have Leatherface in their living room.

Posted by Ted at 09:41 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Like I threatened promised

Oooo goody, a movie review! Well, it's a DVD review, because besides the two movies here, there are some extraordinary extras included on the disk. Besides lots of gratuitous boobage. And by boobage, I'm talking gratuitous! This go-round, I'm talking about a double-feature from the shlock 'nudist camp' genre of the mid-60's.

In The Beast that Killed Women, the setting is a nudist camp for no discernable reason other than it gives the opportunity to show lots and lots of topless women. The concept here is to keep trotting out the boobs, in hopes that you'll never notice weaknesses in the movie, like plot, acting, dialog, acting, directing, continuity, believability... you get the idea.

How bad is it? Solidly in the "so bad it's good" category, long stretches focus on a tree or steps in the background while naked women repeatedly walk by, "enjoying nature" as nudists do. Mostly, people stand around until joined by someone else, at which point they improvise a conversation that tries to advance the story. But hey, as long as they're naked, eh? Actually, it's fun picking the movie apart, because silliness abounds.

The beast is a guy in a really tacky gorilla suit, and the total body count by the end of the movie is one. Yep, one lousy dead girl, and she was dressed. But most every other girl is naked. Did I mention the gratuitous boobs?

The second movie on the DVD is The Monster of Camp Sunshine. Rats play an important role in this movie, since one of the characters works in the lab at the hospital and is very sympathetic towards her little friends. This flick uses the pretext of warning about the dangers of runaway science to quickly move the story from the hospital lab to - you guessed it - a nudist colony. But first, the nurse accidentally drips an unknown chemical on a cage full of rats, and "their killer instinct is unleashed!" The rats jump at the nurse, causing her to fall out of the window, where she manages to hang on long enough for a doctor to come to her rescue. She's so upset that her roomate decides that they should visit the camp to cheer her up. Oh yeah, her roomie is a nude model. Big surprise, that.

Back to the plot, and from here on out just assume that any actual story is sporadically interjected between lengthy stretches of naked women and men (sorry ladies, it's butts-only on the guys). The doctor in charge of the lab figures out what happened and in a stroke of genius decides that the best way to dispose of the killer chemicals is to put them into a jar and throw them into the bay! But fate has different plans, and the jar is found the next day, upstream at the camp (we know it's upstream because they helpfully tell us so).

The stream running through the nudist camp becomes contaminated with the contents of the jar (in the most hilariously contrived and convoluted set of circumstances possible), and the simpleton camp gardener takes a drink from the stream, which "unleashes his killer instinct!" This time, they just say the hell with all restraint and go for it. The army is called in, and we're treated to stock war footage from the Civil War to World War II. I laughed out loud as a troop of US Cavalry from the old west rode by, followed by clips of troops coming ashore on D-Day. While the doctor buries the softball-sized remains of the gardener (all that was left, and he was actually kicking dirt over it with his shoe), the rest of the characters decided that it was too nice a day to be sad. So they get naked. Once again it's so bad it's fun (zero body count this time, though one girl did get her arm cut by an axe).

One of the funniest lines in the movie is where the nurse explains her love for the nudist movement. She says "I spend all day at the hospital around sick bodies. The nudist camp is my chance to be surrounded by healthy bodies." Of course, as she says this she's puffing on a cigarette, as does most everyone throughout the movie.

Like with the first movie, great fun can be had watching for the assorted silliness, especially the contortions the actors go through so as not to show anything frontal below the waist. Warning: Zither alert!

Now on to the DVD itself, which is a gem. It's put out by Something Weird Video, and besides the two (crappy but nudity filled) movies, you get all kinds of extra goodies, and this is where it shines. Three different sets of drive-in intermission features chock full of those snack bar teasers, local business commercials, and more. Notable is Ed McMahon in a Budweiser commercial, and a reminder to sign the petition in the lobby against "pay TV" and that evil "cable TV".

That's not all. There's also a gallery of trash movie posters accompanied by remastered original radio spots. These are cool as hell.

But there's more! The original theatrical trailer for The Beast that Killed Women is included, as are the trailers for the nudie flicks Eves on Skis, Goldilocks and the Three Bares, Nudes on Tiger Reef, Nudist Life, and Pussycats Paradise. Be still my heart.

And there are 'short subject' features dating as far back as the 1920's about nudists, done up in semi-documentary style. It's interesting to see what each era considered racy for the day, although each contains nudity. I especially enjoyed the variety of music used.

Finally, there's "Let's Go to the Drive-In!" - an interactive selection on the DVD that allows the uninterrupted playback of hours of content, just like being at the movies. Nifty neat-o keen.

Boobs and drive-in atmosphere. It doesn't get much better than that. Pass the popcorn, because this one was a pleasant surprise.

Posted by Ted at 06:18 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Cult Flicks

February 08, 2004

Squirrels and the bird feeder

I'm seriously tempted to buy one of these.

We keep a stocked bird feeder in our back yard, and there's nothing more relaxing than sitting quietly on the swing and watching the birds come and go. We bought a book on birds of the mid-Atlantic states so we could identify our little friends, and we now recognize almost two dozen regular visitors.

Of course, the squirrels and I match wits constantly, and I often win. They destroyed one feeder by gnawing through the line holding it up in the tree, so I replaced it with another hung with plastic-coated braided wire. That was fun to watch, because they chewed through the plastic, then figured out it hurt to bite the wire.

When I moved the feeder to a pole away from the tree, they learned to make dive-bomber leaps from overhanging branches, grabbing at the feeder as they hurtled by. With practice, they've improved their accuracy and success rate, but it has to hurt when they miss.

Up to now, common practice has been to hang on to the feeder and rake the seed to the ground below, searching for the occasional sunflower seed like a kid going for the peanuts in a box of cracker-jacks.

But now, one of them has accidentally stumbled upon the secret of the new feeder, and they've learned how to hit the jackpot at will.

I hate being bested by a rodent. I don't even have the blessings of the Dalai Lama going for me.

Posted by Ted at 07:36 AM | Comments (9)
Category: Boring Stories

So I walked into Suncoast Video yesterday...

... serious mistake.

I'm now the proud owner of the science fiction classic Destination Moon, directed by George Pal, based on a story by Robert Heinlein, with moon sets and backgrounds designed by Chesley Bonestell.

In the cult classic category, I got Cannibal Women in the Avacado Jungle of Death, starring Bill Maher (yep, that Bill Maher), Adrienne Barbeau and Shannon Tweed.

Next up is a straight horror double feature of Fade to Black and Hell Night.

Finally, a 'drive-in' double feature from the rare nudist camp horror genre, The Beast that Killed Women and The Monster of Camp Sunshine. I'd never seen those last two available outside of specialty catalogs, so I just had to pick them up.

Reviews coming. I know you can't wait.

Posted by Ted at 06:24 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Cult Flicks

February 07, 2004

Anti-Valentine's Day

Ever notice that the cost of roses goes up in the week before Valentine's Day? In our years of wedded bliss, I've mostly ignored Valentine's Day (beyond a simple card), although every few years I'll get Liz candy or flowers, and a couple of times I got her a gift every day for the week leading up to it (balloons, stuffed animal, jewelry, etc). I don't want to become predictable and have her get bored with me, at least that's what I tell her. Truth is, I can't be bothered to care about a lame made-up holiday.*

Now this site nails it: Be My Anti-Valentine. Send one of their cards any ol' time, just because.

Thanks to Squipper for that link! Also, for those less romantically-challenged than I (or if you're in the doghouse, you unfeeling bastard), and you're looking for unique jewelry ideas, try here.

*For those who think that statement might be useful as blackmail fodder, think again. Liz knows my feelings about it, and it frustrates the bejeebers outta her.

Posted by Ted at 11:33 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Links

If this were Ted's Universe

Traffic lights would look like this.


Posted by Ted at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Amphibious Cars

At work my friend Kyle and I were in one of those wonderful conversations that hop from subject to subject, and eventually we got to talking about amphibious cars. Kudos to Kyle for finding that link.

Apparently, the idea is making a comeback. British company Gibbs is now offering the Aquada, which will do an impressive 100mph on land and 30mph in the water.

Or you can just go the do-it-yourselfer route.

Posted by Ted at 10:25 AM | Comments (3)
Category: SciTech

February 06, 2004

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinaahhhh!!! - Guest/Celebrity edition

Mix a pinch of genius with a dash of twisted, and you get The Amateur Gourmet's recipe for Janet Jackson's Breast Cupcakes.


Posted by Ted at 10:40 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Recipes

Taking airline security to new heights

Woman's chastity belt set off airport security alarm.

Posted by Ted at 06:20 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Credit where credit is due

Yesterday when I got home from work, there was one of those dreaded brown-and-yellow tags on the front door informing me that UPS had been there but no one was home to sign for the package. The form said they'd be back again and when, of course nobody would be home for that scheduled time either.

About an hour later, the doorbell rang. It was the UPS guy. He said he'd been making a pickup nearby, so he thought he'd try to deliver to our house again since he was in the neighborhood. That was a nice piece of customer service!

Posted by Ted at 10:34 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Spending less on getting to space doesn't have to be a newfangled idea

Check out this article over at Rocket Man's blog. The guest poster, Kelly Starks, worked on several NASA projects and puts together a virtual orbital system that's inexpensive and uses off-the-shelf parts.

Posted by Ted at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program

Thank you, thank you very much

To be a Phipps is to love cheese, it's just something that runs in the family. So this was no surprise.

Thanks to LeeAnn (who else?) for pointing this one out.

Posted by Ted at 07:40 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Feel free to steal this idea

I was wondering what it would be like to have a theme party where everyone had to dress up like one of the "Real Men of Genius" in those Bud beer commercials. Imagine a room full of "Mr. Tiny Thong Bikini Wearer" and "Mr. Really Bad Toupee Wearer" guys.

If you do this, please take plenty of pictures let me know how it turns out.

Thanks to Victor for the inspiration (translation: blame him). Also, fellow Munuvian Tuning Spork has posted a wonderful parody here (can you parody a parody? why does the word 'parody' look funny?). Oh well, back to the Sporkster, the man is a genius, a real man of genius.

Posted by Ted at 06:32 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

Mama said motorcycles are dangerous!

This funny story was posted to the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup. There was no attribution. Enjoy.

I never dreamed slowly cruising through a residential neighborhood could be so incredibly dangerous! Studies have shown that motorcycling requires more decisions per second, and more sheer data processing than nearly any other common activity or sport. The reactions and accurate decision making abilities needed have been likened to the reactions of fighter pilots! The consequences of bad decisions or poor situational awareness are pretty much the same for both groups too.

Occasionally, as a rider I have caught myself starting to make bad or late decisions while riding. In flight training, my instructors called this being "behind the power curve". It is a mark of experience that when this begins to happen, the rider recognizes the situation, and more importantly, does something about it. A short break, a meal, or even a gas stop can set things right again as it gives the brain a chance to catch up.

Good, accurate, and timely decisions are essential when riding a motorcycle.at least if you want to remain among the living. In short, the brain needs to keep up with the machine.

I had been banging around the roads of east Texas and as I headed back into Dallas, found myself in very heavy, high-speed traffic on the freeways. Normally, this is not a problem, I commute in these conditions daily, but suddenly I was nearly run down by a cage that decided it needed my lane more than I did. This is not normally a big deal either, as it happens around here often, but usually I can accurately predict which drivers are not paying attention and avoid them before we are even close. This one I missed seeing until it was nearly too late, and as I took evasive action I nearly broadsided another car that I was not even aware was there!

Two bad decisions and insufficient situational awareness, all within seconds. I was behind the power curve. Time to get off the freeway.

I hit the next exit, and as I was in an area I knew pretty well, headed through a few big residential neighborhoods as a new route home. As I turned onto the nearly empty streets I opened the visor on my full-face helmet to help get some air. I figured some slow riding through the quiet surface streets would give me time to relax, think, and regain that "edge" so frequently required when riding. Little did I suspect.

As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of me. It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road when it encountered the car. I really was not going very fast, but there was no time to brake or avoid it-it was that close.

I hate to run over animals.and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact.

Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels can take care of themselves!

Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing the oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes. His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for "Banzai!" or maybe "Die you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!" as the leap was spectacular and he flew over the windshield and impacted me squarely in the chest.

Instantly he set upon me. If I did not know better I would have sworn he brought twenty of his little buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of activity. As I was dressed only in a light t-shirt, summer riding gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This furry little tornado was doing some damage!

Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather gloves puttering maybe 25mph down a quiet residential street.and in the fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing.

I grabbed for him with my left hand and managed to snag his tail. With all my strength I flung the evil rodent off the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb as I recoiled from the throw.

That should have done it. The matter should have ended right there. It really should have. The squirrel could have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards and gone on about his business, and I could have headed home. No one would have been the wiser.

But this was no ordinary squirrel.
This was not even an ordinary pissed-off squirrel.
This was an evil attack squirrel of death!

Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his little hands, and with the force of the throw swung around and with a resounding thump and an amazing impact he landed square on my back and resumed his rather anti-social and extremely distracting activities. He also managed to take my left glove with him!

The situation was not improved. Not improved at all. His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach him. I was startled to say the least. The combination of the force of the throw, only having one hand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars, and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle of a Valkyrie can only have one result. Torque. This is what the Valkyrie is made for, and she is very, very good at it. The engine roared as the front wheel left the pavement. The squirrel screamed in anger. The Valkyrie screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in, well, I just plain screamed.

Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a slightly squirrel torn t-shirt, and only one leather glove roaring at maybe 70mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet residential street on one wheel and with a demonic squirrel on his back. The man and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder.

With the sudden acceleration I was forced to put my other hand back on the handlebars and try to get control of the bike. This was leaving the mutant squirrel to his own devices, but I really did not want to crash into somebody's tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not yet figured out how to release the throttle, my brain was just simply overloaded. I did manage to mash the back brake, but it had little affect against the massive power of the big cruiser.

About this time the squirrel decided that I was not paying sufficient attention to this very serious battle (maybe he is a Scottish attack squirrel of death), and he came around my neck and got IN my full-face helmet with me. As the faceplate closed partway and he began hissing in my face I am quite sure my screaming changed tone and intensity. It seemed to have little affect on the squirrel however.

The rpm's on The Dragon maxed out (I was not concerned about shifting at the moment) and her front end started to drop.

Now picture the large man on the huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a very ragged torn t-shirt, and wearing one leather glove, roaring at probably 80mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy squirrel's tail sticking out his mostly closed full-face helmet. By now the screams are probably getting a little hoarse.

Finally I got the upper hand.I managed to grab his tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung him to the left as hard as I could. This time it worked. Sort of. Spectacularly sort of, so to speak.

Picture the scene. You are a cop. You and your partner have pulled off on a quiet residential street and parked with your windows down to do some paperwork.

Suddenly a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a torn t-shirt flapping in the breeze, and wearing one leather glove, moving at probably 80mph on one wheel, and screaming bloody murder roars by and with all his strength throws a live squirrel grenade directly into your police car.

I heard screams. They weren't mine...

I managed to get the big motorcycle under directional control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I then used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign at a busy cross street.

I would have returned to fess up (and to get my glove back). I really would have. Really. But for two things. First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about me at the moment. One of them was on his back in the front yard of the house they had been parked in front of and was rapidly crabbing backwards away from the patrol car. The other was standing in the street and was training a riot shotgun on the police cruiser.

So the cops were not interested in me. They often insist to "let the professionals handle it" anyway. That was one thing. The other? Well, I swear I could see the squirrel, standing in the back window of the patrol car among shredded and flying pieces of foam and upholstery, and shaking his little fist at me. I think he was shooting me the finger.

That is one dangerous squirrel.

And now he has a patrol car.

I took a deep breath, turned on my turn-signal, made an easy right turn, and sedately left the neighborhood.

As for my easy and slow drive home? Screw it. Faced with a choice of 80mph cars and inattentive drivers, or the evil, demonic, attack squirrel of death...I'll take my chances with the freeway. Every time.

And I'll buy myself a new pair of gloves.

Posted by Ted at 05:47 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

February 05, 2004

Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinaahhhhh!!!

I love pork, but when it's plain it's a little bland. I experimented with some ingredients we had in the fridge and came up with this one.

Pork Chops with Creamy Horseradish Sauce

4 chops, whatever thickness you like
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup half & half
1 stalk celery, sliced into thin crescents
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/8 cup minced horseradish*
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

*instead of mayonaise and horseradish, you can substitute prepared horseradish spread for sandwiches. Adjust the amount of horseradish to your taste.

Preheat (medium) frying pan with oil
Salt and pepper the chops, put into pan and cook until done, turning once halfway through
Remove chops to serving plate

Turn heat to medium low and add half & half
Deglace the pan (scrape up all the tasty oinky bits stuck to the bottom) with a spatula
Add the celery and pepper, mix well and cook for a minute
Add the mayonaise and horseradish, mix well and cook for a minute
Spoon sauce over chops

Maybe not to everyone's taste, but for me (horseradish lover), Yum!

Posted by Ted at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Recipes


Photos from World War I.

Many amazing images arranged in various categories. Among them are pictures of the village of Esnes, before and after the war. Also, a dog wearing a gas mask, and a Belgian machine gun company and their dog-carts on the march.

Posted by Ted at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)
Category: History

Theatrical Review

(Ha! Now I’m a theatre critic, eh?)

Last night I attended the Cardinal District Theatre Festival. This is what Mookie has been so swamped with lately, on top of regular schoolwork and the spring production of Midsummer’s Night Dream.

The festival is a competition where various schools put on one-act plays before judges and audience. They get constructive criticism from theatrically-trained people, which helps them put on better shows in the future. Each play must run less than 35 minutes or be disqualified. The top two schools from each district move on to regionals, and from there on to state-level competition.

If you care, the rest is in the extended entry.

Last night featured performances from four schools in our local school district, and was hosted at Mookie’s school. A nice home-field advantage, but not as much as you might think because of the minimalist nature of one-acts.

I’m going to review each play, mainly because I think it’s important to support the arts in schools, and I expect one or two friends of Mookie may drop by. If you haven’t been to a local production (even if you don’t have a kid going), then you’re really missing out on something special. I’ll save the “proud papa” crap for the end, where I’ll brag on Mookie, etc.

One nice thing about all of these were that they’re not the usual stuff you see in high school level productions. I think yet another version of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” or “Our Town” might make me ready for work at the post office. The most memorable show I was involved with in my high school days (yeah, when dinosaurs ruled the earth), was when we did Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. No local school had ever attempted an operetta, and it was a huge hit (I was in the orchestra in case nobody wondered). Of course, we were blessed with enough good voices that year to pull it off, but I think too many programs play it safe and stay with the tried and true plays that have been done to death.

Here are the plays presented last night, in order of perfomance:

Final Dress Rehearsal – Hylton Senior High School

This was the most conventional of the four productions, and also the weakest. It had some funny moments, but all in all the acting was pretty poor. Timing and tempo were uneven, I'm guessing that they needed more rehearsal time. Mookie mentioned that instead of having lighting cues, their director handed a script to the lighting techs and showed them where different things were supposed to happen. Overall, not up to normal high school standards.

The Complete History of America, Abridged, Part 1 – Gar-Field Senior High School

Choreographed insanity. This was a half hour of action and dialogue delivered machine-gun style. Original and inventive staging, and when they say ‘complete’, they mean complete, going back to the first inhabitants of North America making their way across the Bering land bridge (“sometime around the birth of Bob Dole”). Columbus is mentioned, but Amerigo Vesuspici gets teased about his habit of naming everyplace he’d been after himself. The bit about the American Revolution hilariously points out our ongoing problem with literacy, and delivers one of the more over-the-top lines: “The Minute Men were better lovers than you might expect.” Nothing is sacred (“But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?”) and the pace is frantic and nonstop. Unlike movie trailers, I haven’t even begun to describe the great lines and action, so if you get a chance to see this one, do yourself a favor and take it! Ok, enough gushing about the play itself, let’s get critical. Like most productions, there’s always one or two actors who just don’t have that ‘stage’ voice and you have trouble hearing them. Because of the speed things are happening, a couple of times lines were read so quickly that they became unintelligible. On the plus side, there were several lines read en masse (a cast of nineteen!) and they were dead on the mark together. In fact, their timing was incredibly good – Mookie told me later that it was the best they’d ever done – and you never were sure where the next line would come from. There were no supporting actors here, they were a true ensemble cast. They also neatly managed the difficult and sometimes subtle choreography needed, there were usually two or more things happening at once on stage. By far, the best high school production I’ve ever seen (not being biased here, really!)

Graceland – Woodbridge Senior High School

Woodbridge changed things up with this one-act. This drama has a cast consisting of just three actors, one of which is a radio announcer who’s not heard after the first minute of the play. The story is about two women who both want to be first to enter Graceland when it opens to the public for the first time. The set was defined by the actresses, a folding chair, pillow and small brown paper bag. Very good performances, although one of the leads suffered, once again, from a lack of projection in her voice. I liked this one a lot.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged – Forest Park Senior High School

This is another inspired comedy from the folks who wrote The Complete History of America, Abridged, Part 1. More energy, more innovative choreography and staging, more laugh-out-loud bits including Hamlet in fast forward and reverse!. During a scene where a ‘wedding orgy’ was to take place, an actor walks across the stage holding up a sign that says “This is a high school play, use your imagination.” The total set consisted of three or four swords, a king’s crown and a laurel wreath placed strategically onstage. Very nicely done, although they didn’t have the precision of timing that Gar-Field displayed during the group lines, which resulted in some muddy and unintelligible dialog. They also relied heavily on three main actors, with the rest of the company mere bit players. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it stood out in contrast to the Gar-Field ensemble. Wonderful costumes. Overall, I ranked this the third best of the night.

Gar-Field was judged as first place (Yay!) and Forest Park was awarded second and will move on to regionals. I don’t know the details of the judging criteria, so I don’t know what aspects scored or how it was weighted. Two things I can think of that might have sunk Woodbridge was the small size of their cast, and possibly the fact that one character repeatedly used the line “What the hell are you talking about?” The first time was kind of surprising considering the milieu, but after the first four or five times it just got annoying.

The kids were bouncing off the walls waiting for the judge’s decision. Mookie couldn’t sit still, and it was comical watching the entire crew sitting together sharing a nervous hand holding clench.

[proud papa mode on]
Rachael (aka Mookie) was given major billing as one of two Stage Managers for the entire evening. She also spent quite a bit of time setting up the lighting and is being groomed for her directorial debut as a senior (she’s a sophomore now). Next year, she’ll be in charge of the entire Stage Crew, this year she’s head of the construction gang and responsible for building the props and sets. She also had a speaking line last night (from the audience) and got cast billing too.
[proud papa mode off]

It was almost 11pm before we got home, and I know the kids were too hyper to go right to bed. I feel sorry for the teachers that have to deal with them today.

Posted by Ted at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories

Hint: keep the flamey end down

Another 'rocket' out there in the ecosystem: The Rocketsled to Hell.

Posted by Ted at 08:02 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links


In wartime, Q-boats (aka "mystery ships") were ships that carried hidden guns and crew. Designed to look harmless, their purpose was to lure submarines and aircraft in close before unmasking their true nature and blasting away at the bad guys.

Our county does something similar with vehicles. Occasionally, they'll obtain a car or truck - drug dealer or drag racer confiscation* - and the county will turn it into an unmarked police car. Their latest is a silver Cadillac Escalade SUV with tinted windows, and there isn't a flashing light or extra antenna to be seen - until it's too late.

So if you're ever driving through Prince William County in Virginia, and you see a purple Corvette waiting to make a right turn at an intersection, slow down or you'll have a not-so-good story to tell later.

*In this area, getting busted street racing is automatic grounds for not only losing your license, but your vehicle too.

Posted by Ted at 07:09 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

February 04, 2004

Something I noticed

I put that little referrer's routine down at the bottom of my right hand column a while back. Today, according to Extreme Counter, a porn site about "Free Teen Movie Galleries" referred to Rocket Jones twice. I wonder if they're not targeting blogs with that routine, just to get a free mention. It's spam, but I wouldn't know what kind to call it.

No link to them, it's down at the bottom of the right column if you're interested. I haven't visited them, so I don't know what's at the other end. Caveat emptor.*

*did I spell that right?

Posted by Ted at 12:07 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

In God We Trust, all others bring data

One of our fellow rocketeers is the Laboratory Director and Chief Metallurgist at the Chamberlain/Scranton Army Ammunition Plant. As time allows, he's running a series of tests on common hobby rocketry materials and construction techniques. Test descriptions and results can be found here. Even if you aren't into the technical aspects of it, some of the equipment and methodology is interesting.

Posted by Ted at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Dealing with a bully at school

Michele is going through it. Paul is too. Some kid at school is picking on your kid, and how do you handle it if the teacher/principal/school system won't?

My solution was simple, although it took a long time before I finally implemented it. I tried the reasonable parent approach, talking to the various authority figures involved and giving the system time to work.

It didn't work.

One afternoon I got a call from the principal. She was a nice lady and we got along well enough, although in this matter she'd been ineffective. I'll never forget her first words:

"You can't teach your child that!"

I knew exactly what I she was talking about. She was upset. My son had informed his 3rd grade teacher that his new policy was "massive retaliation". When the startled teacher asked what he meant, TJ gave her the whole littany that I'd drilled into his head over the weekend.

"The next time (bully) picks on me, I'm going to hurt him. I will kick him in the groin. I will hit him with a book, or I will hit him with a chair. I will hit him with anything I can find. And I will keep hitting him until a teacher pulls me off of him."

The teacher was horrified and immediately called the principal. TJ repeated it to her, and that's when she called me. I also let her know that it applied to my daughters as well. If any of my children witnessed a sib having trouble, they were to immediately jump in with "massive retaliation". The crap was going to stop, once and for all. I figured once or twice would be all it took. It worked even better than that, because the school staff decided to do what should have happend in the first place, namely deal with the bully instead of blaming the victim.

Interestingly enough, a year later my son did get into a fight with a different kid that cut into line ahead of him. The kid outweighed my son by 30 lbs, but was so surprised when TJ fought back that it never happened again. They all thought my son was crazy.

Posted by Ted at 07:33 AM | Comments (12)
Category: Boring Stories

February 03, 2004


Over at Velociworld, Kim talks about a Monkey Division bazooka toy he found on eBay.

That got me to reminiscing in his comments about my first really memorable Christmas gun (we were big on toy guns, deal with it).

Which led to me googling for information about this: The Secret Sam Attache Case. Man, I remember when toys were cool.

Posted by Ted at 02:46 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Leaving Comments

I find myself deleting a lot of half-finished comments on other people's blogs. Or considering a response, only to censor myself for being too nitpicky, ornery or trite. I still try to comment everywhere I visit at least once in a while, if nothing else to show that I've been there and reading.

Do you do that?

Posted by Ted at 02:15 PM | Comments (12)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

No one asked, but...

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake cooked up a stunt that went awry in the Superbowl Halftime Show, and the world got a look at her breast. B.F.D.

This really points up two things. First, these two are typical of today's "entertainers" who's singing abilities can't stand on their own, so they have to slut it up or do something shocking in order to stand out. Next time, try hiring talent for the show instead of flash.

Second, why in world did these two nitwits (and behind the scenes handlers) try to deny it in the first place? I'd ground my kids in a heartbeat if they lied to me about some stupid stunt they pulled. Janet and Justin should be held to the same basic standard. You screwed up, you admit it.

Ya know, if there's one thing that baseball does better than football, it's maintain its dignity. The baseball All-Star game means something, and the World Series is handled with class and celebrates the game. Football is going down the path towards WWF-dom. Lowest-common-denominator marketing. It's not the sizzle you should be pushing, it's the steak.

Jeez, I hate the Super Bowl.

Posted by Ted at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Happy Birthday

Gaston Julia

Google good. Fractals pretty. Math bad.

Posted by Ted at 09:17 AM | Comments (3)
Category: SciTech

Build It (quickie update)

I know there hasn't been an update in a while (find previous posts here). I've been dodging weather, trying to get the rocket primed and painted. It's not ready to go yet, but getting there. The plan is to make the maiden flight on the 21st of February, at the NOVAAR club launch.

Sometime in the next week or so, I'll try to get a post up about the stuff you need to launch a model rocket safely and inexpensively.

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

Killing time

Got to work an hour and a half early this morning to beat the morning rush hour. Freezing rain is making its way into the area, and it's going to be hell on earth trying to drive real soon now.

So what does one do when you're here before the systems are up? Well, there are status reports, filing and organizing, and that pile o' crap in your "do when really bored" pile.

And quizzes. (in the extended entry).

Thanks to Pixy and annika for this one. I think.

What's my sexual appeal


What's your sexual appeal?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Ted at 06:36 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

February 02, 2004

One of those universal solutions

Cats. Love 'em or hate 'em (or a little of both), this seems to be an idea who's time has come.

In the extended entry.


Posted by Ted at 01:32 PM | Comments (9)
Category: Square Pegs

Worth a thousand words

The Washington Post now has photos from it's vast archives available for purchase. Very cool.

Posted by Ted at 09:29 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

Nog Watch '04

For those unaware of the story, the brief version is that the refrigerator at work has a carton of eggnog with an expiration date of December 28, 2002. Previous Nog Watch posts are here and here.

We had an interesting and entertaining development during January. An unknown person posted a note on the fridge door complaining about food being left for extended periods of time. On the note was a prominent arrow pointing to two plastic containers full of mold sitting on top of the refrigerator. One heap of mold looked vaguely triangular, leading me to believe that it may have once been pizza. They sat there for a week until disgust moved someone to actually transport the containers to the dumpster. It's probably a good thing that I didn't think to take pictures until it was too late.

The egg nog remains in place.

Posted by Ted at 08:15 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Football Officiating - PSA

Sports Illustrated (Feb 2, 2004 issue) has an interesting two-page spread showing the positioning and responsibilities of each member of the officiating crew at an NFL football game. This is perfect for explaining to those learning the game just what it is those guys in the zebra shirts do.

You should get a copy to read their excellent complete descriptions, but here I'm going to briefly touch on each and some of their lesser-known duties and roles.

Referee: Final authority of the crew, he's responsible for all calls concerning the quarterbacks and kickers. To become the 'head', he must best other officials in mock gladiatorial combat using whistles and weighted flags.

Field Judge: Key in determining pass interference and whether ball carrier crosses the goal line. An obscure rule requires this official to have webbed toes.

Line Judge: Responsible for calling offsides and false starts, as well as whether illegal players are downfield before ball is kicked. A rather unglamorous position among the crew, his chief perk is that he gets the locker with best view of the cheerleaders at Philadelphia's Veterans stadium.

Back Judge: Concentrates on action involving tight end. Monitors 25- and 40- second play clocks for delay of game calls. Because of prominent position on field of play, during the last contract negotiations the Back Judge was almost required to wear advertising gimmick of home stadium sponsor. This idea was dropped when Enron wanted official to wear a giant chrome screw protruding from back of pants.

Umpire: Responsible for keeping emotional players separated, holding calls along the line and interference calls on short passes. The toughest of the officials, these are the guys who consistently get run over during the game. By tradition they automatically get 'shotgun' to and from game.

Head Linesman: He calls encroachment, offsides and false starts, marks the spot of a ballcarrier's forward progress and oversees the chain crew. Also responsible for holding and evenly distributing tips and bribes among crew. Must write thank you notes.

Side Judge: Same general duties as Field Judge, minus requirement for webbed toes. This is the only official specifically mentioned in the Mayflower Compact of 1620.

Posted by Ted at 06:30 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

February 01, 2004

Sunday morning at 6:32

I'm awake, and I'm one unhappy camper.

We have an appraiser coming to look at the house and this bozo gave us the choice of 7:30 or 8:00 AM this morning. No other options.

There will be no pleasantries exchanged, that's for sure.

Update: At 9:00 I put a note on the door:

You are over an hour late for our appointment. We have plans for the day and it's no longer a good time for us. Have your secretary call us to set up a mutually convenient time.

Then I went back to bed.

Posted by Ted at 06:36 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs
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