April 30, 2004

Ace of Aces

Anyone remember this wargame?

The Ace of Aces game system was a stroke of brilliance when it was first released by Gameshop Inc. in 1980. Designer Alfred Leonardi, a history teacher, crafted a totally new game mechanism which used illustrated "programmed" books to recreate aerial combat. For the first time, gamers could fight a dogfight using simultaneous movement without cumbersome log sheets, enormous rulebooks, and many hours of playing time. In fact, a game of Ace of Aces played by experienced players can move so quickly that it is virtually a "real time" simulation.

The original Ace of Aces "Handy Rotary Series" came with a pair of brown game books each slightly smaller than a paperback novel. Each book contained 223 illustrations depicting various views from the cockpit of the player's aircraft. The view on each page was oriented to show the location of the opponent's aircraft. For example, the "Allies" book showed a view of the opposing Fokker as seen from a Sopwith Camel cockpit. Conversely, the "Germans" book showed a view of the Camel as seen from the cockpit of a Fokker Dr. I triplane.

Click here to see a sample page from the German book.

One neat feature of the system is that you can fly multi-plane dogfights, as long as you have enough books (or bookmarks) for each player.

I've got the original "Powerhouse" edition (#5 on the link above) which pits a Fokker D-VII against a Spad XIII. It's an amazing game, easy enough for kids to play, yet still rich enough for aircraft buffs to get serious about.

Other editions featured different planes and even a balloon-busting version where you could shoot down the tethered balloons used by both sides to hold observers and artillery spotters.

Later, WWII editions titled Wingleader were released. These used a similar, but not identical, gaming system and let you fly either a P-51 Mustang or Focke-Wulf FW-190 in combat.

Jet Eagles takes the concept into the modern era, pitting an F15 Eagle against a Mig29 Fulcrum. Since modern jet combat is often fought with long range missiles and you may never see your opponent, the system goes through some more tweaking to make it work.

I also remember a variation of the system done by another company where the opposing sides were individuals instead of aircraft. One player might be an armored warrior with a spear, while the other might be a skeleton with sword and shield. I never actually played any of these, but they looked cool at the time.

Posted by Ted at 08:49 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Armadillo's in Space

Not quite yet it seems.

Posted by Ted at 11:36 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program

All right guys, fun is fun

About two weeks ago I mentioned my apparent talent for killing comment threads. Since then, it's gotten even worse than before.

If y'all are doing it on purpose, then knock it off. It ain't funny no more.

Posted by Ted at 06:40 AM | Comments (10)
Category: Square Pegs

Of course it's rocket science

Here is NASA's press release about their Student Launch Initiative program, which includes three of the teams from last year's Team America Rocketry Challenge.

The Student Launch Initiative is an education program designed to allow high school and college students to experience practical aerospace and engineering activities. Working in teams, students demonstrate proof-of-concept for their designs, develop Web sites dedicated to their work, learn how to budget — including how to present financial proposals to NASA engineers and community leaders — and gain problem-solving skills.

"It's important for NASA to fuel students' interest in careers in science and engineering," said Jim Pruitt, manager of the Education Programs Department at the Marshall Center . "This initiative gives students hands-on experience building and launching rockets — to inspire the next generation of space explorers, and help our nation prepare our young people for the challenges ahead."

At the launch, student teams will attempt to reach an altitude of one mile with their rockets, and college teams will attempt to send their rockets two-miles high. All rockets will carry a scientific payload. The teams will be evaluated on their rocket design, including propulsion, materials, payload and safety features. NASA volunteers also will look at the target altitude, formal reviews and Web site designs.

Here's a link to the Marshall Space Flight Center Education Programs page for the Student Launch Initiative. It contains several good links for related information.

Posted by Ted at 06:25 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Worth every penny

They finished up the work on our house Wednesday. I had predicted two full days worth to complete everything, and they spent all day Saturday, Tuesday afternoon and then Wednesday morning to finish up.

It looks gooooood.

We had 9 brand new windows installed, and the frames and sills were completely covered with vinyl - no more painting. Ever. A new sliding-glass door to the backyard, all the soffits were redone with the same vinyl wrap, as were the fascia, roof rakes and some trimwork. We had a minor disagreement about exactly what we contracted for, but after talking to the salesman who originally took the order, they not only did everything that I thought we should be getting, but also did a couple of extra things at no charge. Now that's customer service.

Besides looking great, it'll be much more energy efficient and maybe best of all, I can probably now paint the entire outside of my house in about 3 hours.

Posted by Ted at 05:19 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Family matters

April 29, 2004

Liquid Body Armor


Army scientists are working on a liquid body armor for clothing that stays flexible during normal use but can harden to stop a projectile when hit suddenly.

But like most innovation, the military application is only the beginning.

Wetzel and Wagner are optimistic the liquid body armor will be useful to local police and prison guards and perhaps it could one day protect people in automobile and airplane crashes.
Posted by Ted at 04:54 PM | Comments (6)
Category: SciTech

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Lots of life happening right now, details coming when I know more myself. In the meantime, here's a quick tour of some of the interesting (to me) things I've seen lately in the neighborhood.

USS Clueless did a typically thorough analysis of the future of war in space. Taking the idea and running with it, Buckethead of The Ministry of Minor Perfidy posted a fascinating multi-part series on the concept as well (this link is for part three, which has links to the rest, including the Clueless posts - they're all worth reading). The comments are good reading too.

And if you don't read the original Clueless post mentioned above, then you won't understand why this from Ghost of a Flea about ancient Trireme warships ties in either.

Just because it's bloodthirsty warmongering stuff doesn't mean it can't be neato-keen. De Doc has a great post about UAV's equipped with precision-guided weapons and pattern recognition systems.

Got Wawa? They're just becoming common in our area, and they're pretty good. If you aren't familiar with them, they're a variation on the 7-11 convenience store model, and they're making a dent in 7-11's business. Kinda like WalMart whupping on KMart, who whupped on Sears, who whupped on Woolworths, and so on and so on. Anyways, Roberto of DynamoBuzz talks about Wawa and shares some interesting tidbits.

Shaggy and Scoobie Doo were stoners. Fred and Daphne were getting it on. Big surprises, eh? Although I have to admit I like the idea that Velma was a lesbian, and she wears glasses too. All that, plus more in-the-closet cartoon characters, courtesy of Dustbury.

While you're over there, check out Dustbury's thoughts on the demise of Oldsmobile. Growing up, the best family car we ever had was a '72 Olds Cutlass that would blow the doors off most 'hot rods' the teens of the day were driving. I for one am going to miss Oldsmobile.

Over at BlackFive there is an article posted called Taking Chance Home.

The following is Marine Lieutenant Colonel Strobl's account of escorting the remains of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps. It's a long and beautifully written and it deserves to be read in it's entirety. It's about Valor, Honor and Respect.

I read this and had tears running down my cheeks. Words fail.

Lightening up a bit. SilverBlue invites your questions. Ask away, because he says "bring it on!" and he ain't waffling about answering either.

Paul looks back at simpler times. Laugh-out-loud funny.

Another wonderfully funny post: how Moxie spent Earth Day. I especially loved the comments:

sample: You have made my day. I think I'll start up the Hummer and let it idle for earth day.

Thanks to Professor Hall over at Spacecraft for the pointer.

Rob of Left & Right shows off his ribbons and medals, and explains what each one means. I'll have to see about digging mine out, although I don't have the impressive combat ribbons he has.

You do read QandO, right? Jon and McQ are partisan as hell - against stupidity and dishonesty. Dems and Repubs alike get fact-checked and called out when needed.

Over at Travelling Shoes, we hear about something that makes me lower my voice to impersonate Boris Karloff doing the narrative of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (paraphrased: and he had an idea, a terrible wonderful awful idea). He's still blogspotted, so if the link doesn't work, scroll down to "Oily George". Classic.

And here's a random link I found while looking for Grinch references. Besides that, I also discovered that the singing (You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch) in the animated version was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, who received no on-screen credit for it. You might know Mr. Ravenscroft better for his other work, as the voice of Tony the Tiger.

Nic writes one of the scariest pieces I've read in a long time. Snakeheads and Bruce Boxleitner. *shudder*

And finally, to distract you from that nightmare, Victor links to this ebay auction. Thanks guy, I needed that laugh!

Go Sharks!

Posted by Ted at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

World War II Memorial Opens Today

The National World War II Memorial will assume its central place among Washington's defining landmarks today, opening to the public after nearly two decades of debate and anticipation.

The chain-link fences surrounding the $172 million project are to come down early this morning, and visitors will be allowed to enter the 7.4-acre site at 9:30 a.m. -- a month before the memorial is to be officially dedicated Memorial Day weekend.

You can read the rest here, and there are several hi-res renderings of the monument here. The memorial home page can be found here.

Posted by Ted at 06:22 AM | Comments (0)
Category: History

Steely-eye'd Missile Men

Well, steely-something anyway...

(in the extended entry - more or less safe for work)


Posted by Ted at 05:22 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Random Thought about hockey on TV

How many times during the playoffs do we have to miss a breakaway because some fan stands up right in front of the camera and blocks the view of the net?

Here's a suggestion: put one of those plywood characters - "you must be this tall..." - at the entrance to that seating section. Hell, make it a life-size cutout of Ottawa's Zdeno Charra (6'9") and don't let anyone taller than his stick sit in front of the cameras.

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

April 28, 2004

Great Commercial

Dairy Queen has been airing the best commercial I've seen in a long time. I can't find the actual vid online, but it's for their new Flamethrower Burger.

Super-bowl quality.

Posted by Ted at 11:38 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

One hundred channels and not a dang thing worth watching

Imagine having only one channel.

Posted by Ted at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

My evil twin would laugh and laugh

The facehugger from the movie Alien.

Eight legs, what a happy coincidence.

Imagine heaving one of these onto the ice at a hockey playoff game instead of an octopus. They wouldn't know what it was, and probably wouldn't want to touch it.

But we can do better...

It's a plushie, so it needs to be slicked up with some sort of slimy goo. I'm thinking a KY and Karo syrup mixture. Something that will drip disgustingly when it's picked up.

To keep it from looking waterlogged from the goo, spray it down real good beforehand with 3M's Scotchguard. The hell with the CFC's and the ozone man, we're doing a joke here!

I just thought of another little twist. Insert a small vibrator inside so it's throbbing a little bit. Just enough to feel wrong when it's picked up. Imagine the look on the guys face as he gingerly touches it, then realizes that it might still be alive.

See? That's not so hard. Now what else could we do with this little beastie?

Thanks to TexasBestGrok for the inspiration, via the Llama Butchers, and even farther back than that.

Posted by Ted at 06:34 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

VI@GRA for Cats

Because every... never mind.

Posted by Ted at 06:16 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

April 27, 2004

psst... I'm inside the phone

Hello Mr. Intelligence Agent. Welcome to my blog.

Posted by Ted at 07:24 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

The greatest hockey movie of all time*

No, not Love Story. I'm talking about Slap Shot!

For the 25th anniversary of the original, they made Slap Shot 2. I don't know whether this is a good thing or not, because to be honest I haven't seen it. To balance that out, the original was one of the first DVD's I ever purchased (right after Love Story).

And here's a quickie for you, the Hanson brothers official website. This is worth a stroll through all by itself!

*Welcome to "drive-by" postings, ala Rocket Jones. No time to really develop this one, so you get some links and a friendly swift kick in the butt to go follow them.

Posted by Ted at 12:02 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Cult Flicks

Air Force Blue (part 12)

With all the current hoopla over military medals, I thought I’d pass on a couple of quickie stories about awards and decorations. It involves a little tooting of my own horn, so just pretend I’m suitably modest.

The first medal I ever received was for marksmanship. It was entirely expected since I was Security Police, and we practiced a lot. After qualifying ‘expert’ for the M16 rifle, I got the little doohickey for shooting ‘expert’ with the .38 pistol (standard SP sidearm of the day). The doohickey are called devices and you get them to indicate subsequent awards. For instance, when you get the Good Conduct medal you wear the plain ribbon, and after that each time you get it again you add a little bronze leaf to the ribbon. Back to the story, about 10 years later I got an ‘awards review’ printout listing all my known information, and looking it over I noticed that my marksman device wasn’t listed. I dug out my ancient range card showing the expert box was checked for both and took it in. The personnel people were kind of amazed that I had kept that card for that long. I never threw anything away in the military, and it saved my butt more than once.

Ok, so that one lived up to the category 'boring stories'. In the Air Force at the time, you got the Good Conduct medal every three years, assuming you didn’t totally screw up. Believe me, you had to really try not to get the GC, because it was pretty much automatic. My first tour was... eventful. So when it was announced that I was getting the Good Conduct medal I was surprised and pleased. The shift commander came down the line, handing out the little medal cases and shaking hands, and when I got mine I opened it up and burst out laughing. The medallion part of my medal was broken. The shift commander said he’d replace it, but there was no way I was giving it up. It was mine and it was perfect, almost custom made.

When we were transferred to Germany, I had been a computer programmer for five years. The very last project I’d been involved in before getting orders was a high-pressure, high-profile job that we’d busted our collective asses to accomplish. One guy had been hospitalized for exhaustion, and it was touch-and-go as to whether any of our marriages were going to survive. No exaggeration there, the hours and schedule had been that crazy for almost an entire year.

So at my new assignment, my first Commander’s Call (a monthly briefing), all the new people get introduced to the unit. When they got around to the awards and recognition portion of the brief, the usual letters of appreciation and commendation were read and handed out. Unexpectedly, the Colonel called me up and started to read a ‘thank you’ note to me for all the hard work our team had done on the last project. That was from the Captain who was our project leader. Next was a letter from the Colonel who commanded my last unit. After that were three letters from Generals, one was the Commander of Communications Command and two were from Generals in the Pentagon. The final letter was from an Undersecretary of Defense. These were totally unexpected and just those simple letters meant so much to me. It was kind of funny too, because everyone was looking at me like I was some kind of freak. They didn’t know me from Adam, and I received all these letters of appreciation from insanely high level people.

A couple of years later a friend of ours (Dave) was going to get a Good Conduct medal. The commander at this time would hold a little ceremony in his office, and they’d have a photographer and the recipient could invite a few friends and family. Being in Germany, we were the closest to family Dave had and my wife Liz and I were happy to be there for him.

We drove over to the commander’s office, and my wife was uncomfortable because it was hot and muggy and she was very pregnant. The commander ushered us all in and we lined the walls of his office, with Dave front and center and Liz and then I next to him. The ceremony began and as the Colonel was speaking it dawned on me that he thought Liz was Dave’s wife! This amused me no end, and when the Colonel said “and we’re so glad to share this proud moment with Mrs. M---“, I almost laughed out loud.

Dave hadn’t caught on before that, but when he realized what the Colonel had just said he blurted out “Sir, that isn’t my wife.” The Colonel stammered in confusion for a moment, and then I helpfully announced “But we thought it was important for the baby to see his daddy get a medal.”

Things went to hell in a hurry. The commander managed to make it through the rest of his presentation. Afterwards he apologized repeatedly to Liz and Dave and I, and we all just laughed it off as an honest mistake. I did get called in to my supervisor’s office later for an official ass-chewing for my smart-mouth comment.

About a month later, after Mookie was born, the Colonel’s wife stopped by the house to welcome the new baby. She told Liz about her husband’s reaction when he got home after the ceremony. The Colonel was so embarrassed by that little mix-up, and they had a good laugh together. He was definitely one of the better commanders I’d served under.

Posted by Ted at 07:41 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Boring Stories

April 26, 2004

This just creeps me out

But I'm still going to go back this evening and check out the archives.

Human Descent, a photoshop gallery.

Thanks to Lynn for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 12:45 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

An inflatable toy that I can get excited about!

Michael Mealing of RocketForge blogged from the Space Access '04 conference, held in Phoenix, Arizona (Helen, tell 'em I said to remove their head comma ass). Among the many interesting things announced - like a second commercial launch license granted to a private company - was this little bit that really caught my imagination.

John Powell of JP Aerospace is giving an update on what JP Aerospace has been up to and is finally talking about their total vision for balloon based aerospace. It's basically three 'vehicles'. A 'launcher' that gets you to 100K feet, a 'station' that is huge that permanently sits at 100K feet, and an orbital (yes, orbital!) balloon that is almost 6000 feet long and can attain orbit using lift from the upper atmosphere. Its an amazing amount of work that is generating short term ROI now.

He's also got pictures from the JP Aerospace handout to see just what these guys are doing. The link leads to a page of photos from the conference, scroll down about halfway to see them (look for the blue book with "ATO - Airship to Orbit" on the cover).

I assume the return on investment (ROI) is the licensing fees for some cutting-edge balloon technology they've developed. This is so cool! Balloons to orbit!!!

Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites aren't the only ones getting close to making space a commercially viable business, they're just the best known to the average person.

Posted by Ted at 06:35 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program

More NHL History

Probably the most underappreciated player in the history of hockey was Detroit's Alex Delvecchio. In 24 seasons he played 1,529 games, scored 456 goals and 825 points, yet was selected for the NHL all-star game only one time, and that on the second team. Why was this stellar performer overlooked by so many for so long? Because his line-mate was Gordie Howe.

The finals of the 1950-1951 season were memorable because all five games were decided in overtime. The Toronto Maple Leafs won it all when rising star Bill Barilko lifted a shot past Gerry McNeil of the Montreal Canadiens for the winning goal. During the ensuing off-season, Barilko disappeared while on a fishing trip to a remote area of Northern Ontario. It was 11 years before the wreckage of the airplane and his body were found and 11 years before the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup again.

The playoffs of the 1951-1952 season introduced a weird hockey tradition. Two Detroit brothers came up with the symbolism of the octopus. Eight arms for eight wins needed to take home the Stanley Cup. In the first period of the fourth game of the finals against Montreal, the brothers heaved their deceased mollusc onto the ice. The idea caught on, and even though the today's modern playoff format makes the number eight meaningless, fans all over the country continue to throw octopi onto the ice during playoff games.

Stan Mikita was the first Czech player to make it into the NHL, joining the Chicago Blackhawks at the end of the 1958-1959 season. During his early career he was a scrapper and routinely racked up 100+ penalty minutes a season. After his seventh season, his young daughter asked him why he spent so much time in the penalty box, and he resolved to play a cleaner game from then on. Cutting back on his penalty minutes didn't hurt his game at all, and he won the league MVP and Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship two years in a row. In 22 seasons he led the league in scoring four times. Later in his career he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss a quarter of the season, after which he designed a helmet which proved to be very popular. Having a star of his caliber wear a helmet took a lot of pressure off of other players during a time when almost no one wore them and wearing one caused some to question your toughness.

Posted by Ted at 05:37 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

April 25, 2004

I found my dream job

I'm just not sure who to send my resume to.

(in the extended entry)


Posted by Ted at 07:38 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

April 24, 2004

Movie Review: First Spaceship on Venus

This one is a treat, despite some flaws. Remember that bit in Shrek where he's talking about layers? You know, like an onion, there are many layers because it's not something simple? Fine, like a parfait then. The point is that there's a lot worthwhile in this movie, even if you're not a fan of the genre.

First Spaceship on Venus was made in East Germany in 1959. Rather than overt preaching about the joys of Communist living, the message here was much more subtle and pervasive. Almost every aspect of the movie was colored by the society which created the film and the society it was targeted towards. There's an grim earnestness here, where everyone is expected to pull their weight for the common good of all Earth (even those poor misguided Americans). Of course, the crew is gloriously diverse, containing both males and females and of every race. One scene that troubled me happened near the end, where some crew members were lost. There was no effort to rescue them, and even though they were hailed as heroes they weren't sacrificed. They were just left behind by circumstance when the ship returned to Earth, and little was wasted on regret. To my mind, that perfectly pointed up the socialist attitude of individual expendability.

This movie is based on a story by Stanislaw Lem, who's novel Solaris has been made into a movie twice - first in Russia, and then again a year or two ago by Hollywood (starring George Clooney). I've read some Lem, and don't much care for him. I'm wondering now if it's because of our differing viewpoints about the world we grew up in. His fiction is wildly imaginative, but there always seemed to be an alieness about his writing that had nothing to do with the story he was telling.

But despite (or maybe because of) this, First Spaceship on Venus presents an intriguing story. More cerebral than action-oriented, much of the plot is advanced via dialogue, and since it was filmed in the earliest days of space exploration, they get a lot of the science wrong, sometimes with unintentionally funny results.

The spaceship is one of the most beautiful creations ever conceived for the big screen. It also has one of the dumbest names - the Cosmostrator.

The special effects are outstanding for the most part, especially the surface of Venus. The dubbing and editing are horrible. Supposedly my copy was "fully restored and enhanced from a digital master", which just tells me that the original must've been in really bad shape. The picture isn't bad, but it's not all that great either.

Bottom line: this one is well worth watching. In fact, I'll go ahead and call this one a must-see.

Posted by Ted at 07:59 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

This reminds me, I need to mow the lawn

Buried in the jungles of Guatemala, excavations at Mayan ruins continue to surprise archeologists with unsuspected data.

A team of U.S. and Guatemalan archeologists says it has discovered important Mayan monuments covered with texts from the ceremonial ball court at the Cancuen palace in northern Guatemala.

Cancuen, one of the largest Mayan palaces found so far, was built between 765 and 790 A.D. by King Taj Chan Ahk. It is located along the banks of the Passion River, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the Guatemalan capital.

They've been exploring those ruins for over 100 years.

Posted by Ted at 01:05 AM | Comments (1)
Category: SciTech

April 23, 2004

Long day done

Tomorrow the contractors come to install new windows in our house. After managing a little ladder mishap last night that wrenched my back I'm moving at half speed. So I took today off from work because everything around the house was going to take longer to do.

We got all the curtains down and washed, and all the hardware for curtains, blinds, shades, etc removed. Furniture moved and access to every window cleared. The last thing I have to do tonight is to put a couple of CAT-5 connectors on the new cabling we ran last weekend, and a few last-second things in the morning.

A little while ago they stopped by and dropped off some materials for tomorrow. I've been wanting to do this for several years, but damn it's expensive. I know it'll automatically raise the value of the house at least as much as they cost, not to mention the improved efficiency of new windows compared to the original almost 40 year old ones. I was talking to a couple of neighbors about it, and apparently we got a decent price too.

Hockey's on. Then I need a hot shower, some kick-ass pain drugs, and some sleep. Enjoy your weekend.

Posted by Ted at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Fallen Hero

Excerpted from here.

Pat Tillman, who walked away from his professional football career to join the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

Tillman played four seasons with the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6 million deal from Arizona.

His brother, Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians' organization, also joined the Rangers and served in the Middle East.

My condolences to the Tillman family, and my gratitude for their sons' service and sacrifice.

Update: Eric has a much more comprehensive post about this, including links to many background stories.

Posted by Ted at 11:47 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Military

6 Again

From my wife, who got it from her sister.

A man asked his wife what she'd like for her birthday. "I'd love to be six again," she replied. On the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms and then took her off to the local theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park: the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, and the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster, everything there was. Five hours later she staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. Right away, they journeyed to a McDonald's where her loving husband ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a refreshing chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie to see the latest blockbuster, a hot-dog, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M's. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his precious wife with a big smile and lovingly asked. "Well, dear, what was it like being six again?" Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.

"You idiot, I meant my dress size!"

The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he's gonna get it wrong.

Posted by Ted at 10:03 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Senior Moment

My wife was surprised to hear me use that phrase yesterday. If you haven't heard it before, it refers to one of those times when you momentarily forget what you were going to say or do.

I don't use "senior moment" to describe myself, because I've been absent minded my whole life. I'm a fanatical list-maker, because if I didn't write it down, I know I'd forget. In fact, sometimes my biggest problem is finding an old list and trying to remember if I've already dealt with it or not.

I was going somewhere with this, but I was interupted and now I can't remember. Sounds like a joke, but I'm serious. I didn't make a note to myself, and I forgot. It's inevitable I tell you.

Damn, that's gonna bug me too.

Update: Ok, I didn't leave myself a note, but another window was open on the PC and that reminded me. And it was a list, kinda. Some bloggers share what they find on their searchengine referrer logs, and I love to read those because it's usually funny and amazing what turns up. I haven't done it before because, well, I'm odd like that, and usually won't do something that others do.

But it's a list, which makes it ok for this post, which is turning into one huge rambling mess. Besides the expected "rocket" and "how to make a rocket" stuff I find:

"porta-potty" rental rate

Probably someone from the State Department.

The Gravity Probe B satellite conspiracy

Paging Mr. Stone...

beats him like a red headed step child

Yep, I use that phrase. Surprisingly though, mine has hyphens. Ok, so maybe not so surprising. Some say punctuation is a tool for writers. In that case, I'm like the movie psychotic who misuses various tools to bludgeon understanding into your unsuspecting mind. Make sense out of that screwed-up metaphore, I dare ya!

gladiator eroticus pictures

The google hits for "softcore lesbian movie spoofs shot direct to video" start to roll in! Go me.

clipping riverdance

The nude version. It's my idea, but I need investors. Any takers? Apparently someone thinks I'll need a barber on staff too.

2004 email addresses of MR. YOUSUF

I think we'd all like to have that. Let me know when you get it, ok?

All right, enough of this nonsense.

Posted by Ted at 08:35 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

April 22, 2004

Presented without comment

"Protect your banana!" (work-safe)

Thanks to J-Walk Blog for the - ahem - pointer.

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

Ladies, see how stupid this sounds?

Does that banner above make my blog look fat?

It's a little too large I think. I'll have to shrink it a bit more this evening. I like the picture itself though. She's got a sly smile which hints at naughty times ahead. Just like Rocket Jones!

I'll be updating the hockey playoffs team array later to show the second round matchups.

And there's a new tagline over on the right. The tagline archive is here.

Oh yeah, Google has a graphic up celebrating Earth Day.

Posted by Ted at 06:49 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Al Gore never mentioned this

(ID's have been changed to protect the clueless and evil)

proudpapa: oh man
proudpapa: my son is sooooooo dead
lemon8: Why?
proudpapa: hes been looking at internet web sites in effing EUROPE
proudpapa: our effing phone bill is gonna be nuts
lemon8: Ooh, this is bad. Surfing long distance adds an extra $69.99 to your bill per hour.
proudpapa: ...!!!!!! DAMN DAMN DAMN
proudpapa: is there some plan we can sign up for???
proudpapa: cuz theres some cool stuff in europe, but i dont want to pay that much
lemon8: Sorry, no. There is no plan. you'll have to live with it.
proudpapa: o well, i ccan live without europe intenet sites.
proudpapa: but till i figure out how to block it hes sooooo dead
lemon8: By the way, I'm from Europe, your chatting long distance.
** proudpapa has quit (Connection reset by peer)

Posted by Ted at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Not everyone is focused on the X-Prize

Geekdom lately has been filled with news of Burt Rutan and others chasing the X-Prize. Sending people into space is well and good, but in the same way that like U-Haul rents big trucks and little trucks, access to space will require various payload capabilities, many of them unmanned.

The Middlesex Advanced Rocketry Society has been working for over five years to create a commercially viable rocket that can lift smaller payloads into orbit. I've followed their progress for much of that time and their work continues to impress.

Regarding their most recent successful test flight:

It is believed that the 25,400ft altitude achieved by Deimos Odyssey now stands as the highest altitude achieved by any rocket powered by a British developed amateur rocket motor and may be the highest altitude ever achieved by any European built hybrid rocket.

Posted by Ted at 05:47 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

April 21, 2004

Tech-savvy Sharks

After all, they are from the Silicon Valley.

Thanks to the Hockey Pundits for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Go three blocks and hang a right

It's located down by Rue de Dey.

Posted by Ted at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

An Invitation and an Introduction

For new visitors, I thought I'd briefly mention what Rocket Jones is about. Like it says up top, it's a literal description of my state of mind. My kids and I do hobby rocketry, and I use this blog to occasionally talk about the science, technology and fun involved. We're also heavily involved in educational projects with local schools and youth groups. My Rocketry category contains Rocket Jones posts on the subject, including tons of web links and pictures of our family doing rocket stuff.

And you might not have known, but Munuviana has its own space program!

Here's a beginner Q&A about model rocketry.

Here are pictures of a couple of our other larger rockets.

I posted this about a month ago, but I'll repeat myself.

BattlePark 2004, to be held May 1st and 2nd in Culpeper, Virginia, will be one of the largest rocket launches of the year in the United States. Rocketry enthusiests from all over the eastern US and Canada will be attending and making spectacular flights.

Located within two hours of Washington DC and Richmond, VA, the field is beautiful rolling farmland. You can find directions and a map here. Spectators are welcome (no charge), and kids launch for free. Everything from Estes-sized model rockets all the way up to extreme high-power will be launched. A 15,000' altitude waiver has already been approved by the FAA.

Mookie and I will be there both Saturday and Sunday, and we'd love to meet some of you! C'mon out and see something unique and exciting.

Posted by Ted at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Yet another clue...

... that I'm mentally prepared to leave this project.

I was talkng to some co-workers this morning when one lady made a disgusted choking sound and pointed at the floor. There was a large cockroach going his merry way down the hall. One guy moved to stomp it, but stopped when I said "better not." Everyone paused and looked at me.

"Might be management."

The roach got away. I better get a good review from him.

Posted by Ted at 08:22 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

April 20, 2004

Ripple Fire*

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who gave advice about my neighborhood pit bull situation. Y'all are levelheaded and rational, and I'm often not, so your words mean a lot. Cindy pointed out this story about a recent mauling, which is exactly the kind of thing I'm worried about.

A few thoughts about drivers, inspired by recent events during my commute:

I'm not anti-religion, but where in the rules does it say that as soon as you plaster devotional slogans on your car it becomes ok to be an asshole? My favorite so far is the bumper stickers that say "In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be driverless". Guess what? You already drive like a brain-dead zombie, so nobody will notice the friggin' difference!!!!!

Yesterday I passed one of those ubiquitous service vans (you know, plumbers, electricians, whatever... ladders on top, logos all over it), and got a dirty look for not letting him pull into my lane. He probably would've flipped me off, but he had a map in one hand, a cell phone in the other, looked to be steering with his knees, and couldn't spare an elbow to use the turn-signal. I didn't look to see if he was waiting for the Rapture.

Do you have HOV lanes where you live? "High Occupancy Vehicle" lanes, and on my route they're a separate roadway between the north and southbound interstates, and you need three people in the car to use them. The last couple of days the cops have been out in force enforcing it, which always makes me feel good. I don't mind if people cheat, as long as once in a while they get caught. The fines are very steep, so I consider it a tax on stupid (thanks for that one Victor).

Anyway, back to the HOV's. The cops set up at the far end of the entrance ramp to get on the HOV lanes so there's no sneaking by. This morning an SUV was trying to back up a quarter mile on the shoulder of the onramp after spotting the cops at the last minute. I laughed my ass off when another cop car pulled up behind the nitwit. Have an extra helping of ticket, ya idiot.

Still in the car, this morning I was listening to the Allman Brothers' Jessica. It's not uncommon for bloggers to post favorite lyrics, and I started laughing as I thought about this one.

Allman Brothers

Da da da da dee da da da daaah da da da daaah de dahhhhhhhh.
Da da da da dee da da da duh da da da de dahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Yeah, it's an instrumental. Stuff like that is funny when you're sitting in traffic.

I don't know what's scarier, the fact that I Googled "Jessica" + "lyrics" + "Allman Brothers" (just in case), or the fact that I got several hits. Thank God all of them just said "instrumental".

Have you seen the new NBA playoff commercial? It's got everything - bright marquee lights, rappers, squirmy young sex-bombs and Carlos Santana. It's like it was made exclusively for Laker fans, and the rest of the country can go to hell. To be fair, it'll probably appeal to a segment of the populations in Las Vegas and Branson, Mo too. Other than that, it's utterly forgettable. In fact, I'd seen it maybe four or five times before I even realized what it was for.

I don't blog much about work, but if I leave my current place of employment, expect a whole heap o' stories to pour forth. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be outraged (US taxpayers only).

All done, I feel better.

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

Posted by Ted at 06:34 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

NHL playoffs

Montreal came back from 3 games to 1 down to win their best-of-seven series against Boston. Boston star Chokin' Joe Thornton scored a grand total of zero points in the series. Montreal goes on to play Tampa Bay in the second round.

In the other game seven last night, Vancouver took on Calgary. The Canucks scored with 6 seconds left to tie, but Calgary won in OT and now advances to play Detroit.

Tonight, Toronto and Ottawa square off in their game 7. The winner takes on Philadelphia in round 2.

San Jose will meet Colorado in the other Western second round matchup.

In other hockey news, Igor Larionov announced his retirement today.

The 43-year-old Larionov, the oldest player to compete in the NHL this season, signed with New Jersey as a free agent in September. He had hoped to win a fourth Stanley Cup to cap a professional career that began in 1980 in the former Soviet Union.

The Flyers knocked the Devils out of playoffs Saturday.
"When you leave the game, it's sad," Larionov said. "It's time to move on. There are things in my mind that I want to do, but I'm not going to rush into anything."

He certainly didn't rush into retirement. In his career he won three Stanley Cups with Detroit and two Olympic Gold Medals playing for Russia. Good luck to a great champion.

Posted by Ted at 05:36 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

April 19, 2004

Godzilla vs Mothra Coke C2 vs Pepsi Edge

Coke and Pepsi are both planning to introduce mid-calorie colas this summer. At first, I couldn't see the point, but I assume they'll be closer in taste to their regular offerings.

I'll probably never even try them, because I grew up drinking diet soda (mom was diabetic - I love Tab and Fresca), so there's no interest here.

In further news, advance advertising includes the phrase "half the carbs". Gee, what a surprise.

Posted by Ted at 07:23 PM | Comments (8)
Category: Square Pegs

A little advice needed (updated)

Yesterday I was involved in a ‘situation’ in our neighborhood, and I’m not quite sure how to deal with it.

A little background to start (I don’t have all the details, but this is the gist of it): late one night a year or two ago, a dog was barking for an extended period of time. It turned out to be a pit bull owned by a neighbor’s boyfriend and it had “gotten loose” in the front yard. Apparently it went after a pizza-delivery guy, who then called the cops, and when the officer arrived, the dog went after the cop. Bang bang, dead dog.

Fast forward to last week. I get home from work and some bozo is walking the neighborhood with two pit bull pups running loose. They’re not far from full-grown. I called out to the guy and walked up to talk to him. Trying to get the point across about keeping the dogs leashed without being a prick about it, I told him about the cop shooting the loose dog. His response was “yeah, that was my dog.” So much for learning the lesson. Sheesh.

I did see him walking the dogs another day, and they were on leashes.

My front yard is enclosed by a picket fence, and I let my dogs out there to play. My dogs are territorial, and will sometimes bark at kids running by on the sidewalk or riding their bikes. Most of the neighborhood kids are used to it, and they get along fine.

Yesterday our dogs were out front and suddenly we heard a huge commotion going on. I ran upstairs to see what was going on, and those two pit bulls were running free again and were at the fence barking at my dogs, who were nose to nose with them yapping right back. Our younger dog came inside immediately when called, but Sam the old-timer held his ground.

I went out and picked him up, and suddenly I was face to face with one of the pit bulls trying to come over the fence at me. Not even thinking about it, I stood there and stared down the pup while holding my dog under one arm, away from the fence. The pup retreated and I took Sam inside.

In the meantime someone had run to get the owners girlfriend, who was trying to get the pups back to her yard. I was pretty pissed off, so I said something I figured would get her attention: “Next time, I’m calling the cops.” Her reply was something along the lines of “I didn’t let them out on purpose.” I absolutely believe her, but still, those dogs went after mine in their own yard, and one of them almost came over the fence at me. Couple that with boyfriend letting them run loose, and it’s two strikes. We have too many young kids in the neighborhood to risk strike three. I don’t blame the dogs, but the owner(s) haven’t shown me that they’re responsible enough to keep dogs with that kind of damage potential.

Later I realized just how close it had been. If that dog had really wanted to get me, that picket fence would have been no barrier at all.

I’m now keeping a bat near the door, and the wife and Mookie have been instructed in no uncertain terms that if they see those pups running free, they’re to call the cops, and to make sure they mention “pit bulls”.

What would you do? Am I overreacting?

Update: Upon further reflection, I've refined the "standing orders" for Liz and Mookie. If that situation happens again, they're to look out the window before opening the door. If our dogs are alone in our yard, they can open the door (with the stick ready) and call our dogs in. If things aren't too crazy, they can step out onto the front porch but have to hold the door open just in case. No way do they let that door close behind them because they have to have a way to retreat if needed. I made it clear that I'd rather lose our dogs than have the ladies hurt. Also, the stick is more for distraction than for clubbing. Give the dog something to go after and buy a few seconds while getting back inside.

We know we'll probably never need to do this, but just knowing ahead of time what to do makes it easier to deal with.

I also pointed out that this is another situation where having a pistol and knowing how to use it would be helpful.

Posted by Ted at 02:16 PM | Comments (15)
Category: Seriously


Yeah, I'm easily amused, but still, this is funny!

(the picture is work safe, the C&S comments banner isn't)

Posted by Ted at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Not as simple as it would seem

In this post I talked a little bit about the task for the Team America Rocket Challenge for 2005:

Instead of a target altitude, the kids will have to design a rocket for a target duration. In other words, the rocket from lift-off to touching ground again will be timed, and that's the parameter they're trying to zero in on.

Stephen remarked:

It would seem to me that if was total time from take-off to landing a big chute would have big advantage.

Absolutely correct, except that instead of total time the goal is a targeted time. The National Association of Rocketry holds many types of competitions, including duration events, and when you're going for maximum duration a great big chute is indeed the way to go. Imagine a 30" diameter parachute made from that ultra-thin plastic you get from the dry cleaners, marked with a few spots of hi-lighter for visibility in the air, and folded down to fit inside a 1/2" diameter tube. It's possible - with care - and I've seen many of these drift away over the horizon. They don't always come down either, because they'll catch a thermal column of rising air. I lost a rocket once under chute that was still going up as it drifted out of sight.

But for the Challenge, these won't be featherweight rockets. They'll be carrying an egg or two (26 - 52 grams total) that'll have to be brought back safely to earth. They'll also be carrying the expended motor casings because the rules allow for no ejection of mass for a gentler descent.

Like any other engineering task, it's all about finding a trade-off that works best under a variety of conditions. Let's consider two hypothetical rocket designs, both of which will perform as required. For the sake of argument, lets say the target time is 45 seconds (I have no idea what the actual target time will be, it hasn't been announced yet).

Rocket 1 is a fat draggy brute of a rocket. It's not going to go fast, it's not going to go high, and once the motors stop thrusting it's going to slow down pretty quickly. It uses a big chute to gently bring it down. Using the right motors, this rocket could easily meet the 45 second target from liftoff to touchdown.

Rocket 2 is thinner and more aerodynamic. It'll move faster and it'll go much higher than Rocket 1 on the same engines, but there’s nothing that says they can’t use smaller engines. It's also a lighter-weight rocket all around, so it doesn't need as big a chute to descend at a safe (for the egg) speed. This design could also be very successful for the challenge.

Under perfect conditions, both of these rockets will do the job equally well. So let's assume reality here, because things are never perfect. Cold dry air is less dense than warm moist air, so drag will be affected depending on local conditions. Because of the differences in design, they'll be affected in varying degrees, especially considering surface drag. The efficiency of the chutes will also be affected, and if they're skirting the edge of safe descent rates, a chilly day might cause the rocket to drop faster than expected, resulting in broken eggs.

If it's windy, there's a whole new set of variables to contend with. Weathercocking is the effect where a rocket veers away from vertical because of the breeze. Weathervanes that point out wind direction take advantage of this effect, and you've felt it yourself if you've ever stuck your hand out of a car window as it moves down the road. Fat rockets feel the wind more, because there's more area being affected by the breeze. Slow rockets are affected more, because the fins take longer to self-correct for weathercocking. But Rocket 2, the thin speed-demon design, while affected less (theoretically) by weathercocking, will be under chute longer in the wind, when it's not going fast and streaky and sleek. More time aloft equals more drift time. More drift time means longer in the air, because the rocket is going sideways instead of downwards.

Cold dry air, calm day.
Cold damp air, calm day.
Cold dry air, windy day.
Cold damp air, windy day.
Warm dry air, calm day... and so on. Each in infinite variety too.

The draft rules mention bonus points for a dual-egg payload and making your design two stages. Although it adds complexity and thus more chance of failure, both should be planned for. To me, you don’t turn down free points, but you’d better have a reliable staging design.

The answer is simple. The winner is going to design a rocket that works best for them. If past contests are any indication, designs will be broken down into two basic types: designs that are conventional, and designs that are ingenious. The ingenious ones are the most fun, because I've seen some real Frankenstein engineering. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I also think a key for this event is going to be to learn to adjust parachute sizes up or down according to local conditions.

Two ideas have already jumped out in my mind as potential winners, both unconventional but not original (there’s very little new under the sun). First, a radio-controlled glider carried to altitude by a rocket, which releases and is flown back to the ground. With a nicely trimmed design and a good pilot, timing the landing could prove to be very accurate and gentle on the eggs.

My second idea – and the one I like – is to build a UFO style design. Something saucer, cone or pyramid shaped. These designs have incredible drag, and go low and slow as long as the motor keeps thrusting, and stopping almost immediately when the motor burns out. A simple timer circuit or magnetic field apogee detector would throw the parachute out at the proper time. Plus by keeping the altitude down below 300 feet, wind drift would be minimized and more uniform descent times should be possible.

I may have to build one of these, just to see if my ideas work.

Posted by Ted at 05:50 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Rocketry

Hockey History

In 1926, a syndicate of buyers purchased the Victoria Tigers, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Cougars. In 1930 the name changed again to the Falcons, and in 1932 they became the Red Wings.

Madison Square Garden was built primarily for boxing by Tex Rickard, but he got a lot of financing from the Barnum and Bailey Circus. In exchange, he made a deal that allowed the circus to come in every year at a certain time, in perpetuity. That time coincided with the NHL playoffs, and later, when the New York Rangers club formed, they played some playoff series with no home games because of scheduling conflicts.

In 1928, the New York Rangers met the Montreal Maroons in the Stanley Cup finals. During the second period of game 2, a shot hit the Rangers goalie in the eye and he was taken to the hospital (they didn't wear masks in those days). There was no backup goalie available, so the Rangers coach/general manager donned the pads and took the net. He wasn't entirely unfamiliar with it since he sometimes played goal during team practice, and the Rangers won the game in overtime. For the rest of the series the Rangers used a goalie who'd spent most of the season in the minors, and they went on to win the hard-fought best-of-five series. Long time hockey fans may recognize the coach's name: Les Patrick.

Patrick was hired to coach the fledgling Rangers, but he inherited a team built by Conn Smythe, who was fired before they played a single game. Bitter over his treatment, Conn Smythe vowed to build a team that would beat the Rangers. In 1927 he purchased the Toronto St. Pats, changed their name to the Maple Leafs and their colors from green and white to blue and white. In 1932 the Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

When Chicago was awarded a franchise, the Black Hawks signed most of the players from the powerhouse Portland franchise of the newly-defunct Western Canadian Hockey League. In 1934 the Black Hawks won their first Stanley Cup behind the stellar play of goalie Chuck Gardiner. Gardiner had been ill all season and died eight weeks after winning the Cup.

More later as the playoffs progress.

Posted by Ted at 05:14 AM | Comments (0)
Category: History

April 18, 2004

Things We Should Learn From Dogs

1. Never pass up an opportunity to go for a joy ride.
2. Allow the experience of fresh air and wind in your face to be pure ecstacy.
3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
4. When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
5. Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
6. Take frequent naps, and stretch before rising.
7. Run, romp, and play daily.
8. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
9. Be loyal.
10. Never pretend to be something you're not.
11. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle him or her gently.
12. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
13. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
14. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shade tree.
15. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
16. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout - run back and make friends.

Posted by Ted at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

I was up late last night (this morning) watching hockey. The Canucks/Flames went into triple overtime before the Canucks scored to force the series into a deciding seventh game. Three AM before I crawled into bed. What? Don't you realize it's the first round of the NHL playoffs? C'mon, get some perspective. Sheesh.

My dogs aren't hockey fans, although they do lay on the floor near the TV. I think they have trouble following the puck, so they close their eyes and just listen to the game. That's what I choose to believe anyways.

They also wanted to go outside way too early this morning. *yawn*

Speaking of dogs, do you read Two Nervous Dogs? You should be, because of stuff like this:

In other doggie developments, the ear infection is pretty much gone (again), but then a sty appeared on the eyelid. The vet punctured it, which was disgusting. The puncturing of the sty didn't seem to bother the dog at all. Yep, no problem at all with a guy jabbing a needle right into the eyelid "while you wait," but you just try clipping those toenails, mister.

Truer words were never spoken.

Meanwhile, Denita continues to provide monster artwork for their new game. You've got to check out the latest over at Who Tends the Fires. Make sure you click on it and see the bigger version too. Between cooking and movie reviews and kid-blogging and intelligent commentary, there's a whole lot of good stuff to go through.

Lynn posts beautiful pictures, talks about classical music, and makes me smile with her wit and insight. She's got a post up about Vegetarians, and this line of hers made me laugh out loud:

I sort of lean toward the "The body is a temple" side myself but, as everyone knows, temple gods demand regular sacrifices of animal flesh.

Exactly! Just a warning though, the comments for that post are civil but not for the weak. They talk about liver.

And for the record, I like liver.

Spoons recently got married (congrats!). He also wrote one of the funniest posts I've seen in a long while. It's short, you should go read it.

And speaking of congrats being in order, SilverBlue and his partner have decided to make it official. Best wishes for you both, and I hope you find happiness, contentment and prosperity together.

And lastly but not leastly, a couple of pointers to some other bloggers that review movies on a somewhat regular basis. Besides Ironbear at the aforementioned Who Tends the Fires, you could also visit Truly Bad Films for some great fun, as well as one brand new to me called A Perfectly Cromulent Blog (and thanks to Norbizness for that pointer).

My dogs are laying here snoring, yet I'm now wide awake. I think I'll go cook some bacon and not give them any.

Posted by Ted at 08:46 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Links

Trend spotting

I have a special gift. I kill comment threads. For a while there, I felt hurt by that, because nobody ever responded to my comments, and if I left the first one somewhere, the little number '1' sat there like a tombstone, telling the world that Ted killed another potential conversation. After a while I moved right past the unsettled feelings and began to enjoy it. I kill comment threads. I'm a serial comment thread killer. I wonder if there's a program for that? I wonder if I would bother to go?

Posted by Ted at 08:39 AM | Comments (7)
Category: Square Pegs

April 17, 2004

Air Force Blue (part 11)

When I was stationed in Germany, my unit shared a building with several other units and the community latrines were out back on the loading dock. The bathroom walls were always an entertaining read, especially since names were named fairly often in regards to some perceived injustice.

Things took a turn for the surreal when some wag assumed an alternate identity as "The Hammer" (those quotes are a sign of respect, because there could only ever be one, and MC ain't it). "The Hammer" began regaling us with lurid descriptions of his sex life, always accompanied with a crude anatomical drawing designed to make a stallion feel inadaquate. I particularly remember one wall-spanning diagram with the caption "The Hammer punishes women!"

The leadership used the same facilities, and we heard often about how embarrassing it would be if some visiting VIP used the latrine and saw it all. Someone decided that the bathrooms should be painted over to get rid of the various scribbles.

"The Hammer" was inspired anew by the fresh canvas thus presented. At infrequent and unpredictable intervals word would go around that "The Hammer" had struck again. A real fuss was raised when "The Hammer" made an entry in the Ladies bathroom, but subsequent investigation by the leadership determined that it was a copycat crime. That worried them because now they had to consider that "The Hammer" might have a female assistant.

Meanwhile, the rest of us mostly laughed at the whole situation. After more than a year without being caught, "The Hammer" suddenly ceased his work. There was much speculation on who it might've been, but we never did discover who "The Hammer" was. I wish I knew, because I'd buy him a beer.

Posted by Ted at 07:49 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories

It's beautiful outside

In this corner of the world anyway. Get outside and do something!

Posted by Ted at 03:12 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

The Veil

This obscure series was made in 1958, and never made it to US television other than rare showings on PBS.

From SomethingWierd.com:

Two years before Thriller, Boris Karloff hosted a hitherto obscure ten-episode pilot of a unsold TV horror anthology, The Veil. Though Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond wouldn’t make their debuts until 1959, The Veil uncannily evokes both by presenting “true and authenticated” stories of ordinary people who experience some aspect of the bizarre or paranormal intruding into their lives. In addition to his duties as a genteel host -- in which Karloff greets us from in front of a gigantic flaming fireplace which looks like he’s hosting from Hell -- Boris also stars in [many of the] episodes which makes this a rare treat for Karloff fans and forces one to wonder why the shows were never aired.

Apparently, nine episodes were made with an American audience in mind, and a tenth episode titled "Jack the Ripper" was made in England and tacked onto the end of the series to round it out.

Some years after they were originally made, the episodes were grouped together into three compilation movies. This was done without the knowledge of any of the original directors or even the series creator.

SomethingWeird video offers up the series on multiple DVD's and VHS tapes, but I stumbled onto another version completely by accident. Brentwood Video offers a collection of 10 classic zombie movies called The Dead Walk (reviews will be coming eventually), and each of the five double-sided DVD's contains a bonus in the form of an episode of The Veil. Completely unexpected and a wonderful surprise.

The picture quality on the DVD's is excellent, and the acting is pretty good. Fans of the genre will recognize some familiar faces among the casts. The stories range from fair to good, and concentrate on the eerie. No explanation is ever offered for the uncanny events.

Zombie movies and Boris Karloff. Pass the popcorn!

Posted by Ted at 01:36 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

April 16, 2004


The results of the qualifying for the Team America Rocketry Challenge were released, and the team I was mentoring didn't make it to the finals. Darn.

I just talked to their teacher, and we agreed that they learned a lot from this project. Since the finals will be local for them, they might come out and spend the day watching. That would be a great thing, because they were entirely successful, it just wasn't quite enough to advance. Besides, it'll do them good to see finalists have the same problems they had while making their qualifying flights. It's rocket science, and perfect preparation means you only minimize the effects of bad luck. You can't eliminate it completely.

In other great news, they've already announced that there will be another Challenge held in 2005. This was originally conceived of as a one-time event, but it's been successful enough to have a third go-round.

Next year's Challenge will be a little different. Instead of a target altitude, the kids will have to design a rocket for a target duration. In other words, the rocket from lift-off to touching ground again will be timed, and that's the parameter they're trying to zero in on. Of course, the rockets will have to carry at least one egg (and bring it back unbroken), and it looks like there will be bonus points awarded for two-stage designs and carrying two eggs aloft.

Mookie and I will be volunteers working the finals again this year. Fun fun fun!

Posted by Ted at 12:10 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Rocketry


The guys at Anticipatory Retaliation point out this unique way of looking at space exploration: Expensive Hardware Lobbing. Funny commentary to go along with your history.

Also, John links a wonderful collection of space and science themed e-cards. Very nice.

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


It's been rather eventful lately if you've an eye towards the heavens.

Using a technique predicted by Albert Einstein, astronomers have detected a planet orbiting a star 17,000 light years away. Think about that for a moment. Now I'm sure some Trekkie will stomp me like a Tribble onstage at Riverdance correct me if I'm wrong, but if I remember rightly, in the Star Trek universe Warp 1 was the speed of light, Warp 2 was twice that, Warp 3 four times light speed and Warp 4 was eight times faster than light.

I also recall that early Federation starships were pretty much maxed out at Warp 4, and I think the Enterprise cruised right around Warp 4 too. Which means that I should never ever be allowed to do math in public when the Enterprise was brand spanking new, it's contemporaries would need 2,125 years to reach that planet at max speed.

Talk about perspective, eh?

Back to the real science:

The discovery marks the first time that the technique, known as gravitational microlensing, has been used to identify a planet moving around a star beyond Earth's solar system.

The technique takes advantage of a phenomenon that Albert Einstein predicted in his theory of relativity and confirmed using the Sun. The gravity of stars or planets can focus light, brightening stars or planets that lie farther away.

Einstein has been front page lately, at least in the Science & Technology section of the paper. Professor Hall presents a nice set of links to information about the Gravity Probe B. This project has been in the works since the 60's, and you'd think that after all that time, someone would've come up with a catchy name. Nothing boring about the mission though, this is cutting-edge cool science.

Gravity Probe B is the relativity gyroscope experiment being developed by NASA and Stanford University to test two extraordinary, unverified predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

The experiment will check, very precisely, tiny changes in the direction of spin of four gyroscopes contained in an Earth satellite orbiting at 400-mile altitude directly over the poles. So free are the gyroscopes from disturbance that they will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system. They will measure how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and, more profoundly, how the Earth's rotation drags space-time around with it. These effects, though small for the Earth, have far-reaching implications for the nature of matter and the structure of the Universe.

Meanwhile, closer to home:

An Atlas 2 rocket carrying a Japanese communications satellite made a picture-perfect nighttime launch from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, lighting the Atlantic seaboard in central Florida like a shimmering torch.

Pure poetry.

The 8:45 p.m. EDT liftoff followed a perfect countdown and extended the string of successful launches by Lockheed Martin's Atlas to 71, dating back to 1993.

Which is all the more impressive when you recall the rocket accidents and failures suffered in the last few years by China, Japan, Russia, Brazil and the US.

And just 'cause 'tis the season, over at Rocketforge they report on the latest Aldridge Commision Meeting. Here's an interesting little snippet:

The highlight of today's meeting was one of the UAW guys saying that one of the requirements is that sustainability needs bi-partisan support. In the Q&A Bob Walker turns that around and asks the UAW guy if that means that since the UAW has endorsed Kerry, that the UAW will use that clout to get Kerry to stop dissing Bush's space plan? His answer: if he wants our votes he will.

I had a whole lot to say about this, but it's friday, it's beautiful outside and I'm stuck here at work, so the heck with it. Summed up: I don't buy it. Space is just another political chip to both candidates and the players on either side. For the forseeable future, progress in space will be made in spite of, not because of an American President.

There's a nifty new quote over on the right column too. Look for the Tagline label.

Update: Changed the original tribble joke to something I think is funnier.

Posted by Ted at 06:29 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program

Sorry Heather

San Jose Sharks take the series against your St. Louis Blues, 4 games to 1.


Posted by Ted at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

April 15, 2004

April 15th makes a lot of people queasy

Which reminded me that we haven't done a Nog Watch report for the month. Nothing special to report, other than it's still there. The surrounding contents of the shelf rotate on a semi-regular basis, but the carton of Nog remains (what an appropriate word) as Lord of all it surveys.

For those wondering what I'm babbling about, pieces of the story are here and here and here and here.

Posted by Ted at 12:10 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

NHL Playoff Impressions

No deep analysis here, just some things that have stuck in my mind as I watch the playoffs. For more knowlegable coverage, check out Off Wing Opinion and The Hockey Pundits. Both highly recommended.

Nashville has taken two in a row at home to tie their series against powerful Detroit. This shouldn't surprise anyone, because the Red Wings have a history of getting knocked out of the playoffs in big upsets. The Sharks did it several years ago, and last year it was the Mighty Ducks. Nobody believes the Predators will actually do it, but still...

The Wings have been spoiled in recent years by spectacular goaltending. This year they had kind of a soap opera in net, but I'm tired of hearing people griping about Manny Legacy. He's not a great goaltender, but he's not as bad as they make him out to be. Plus, he got the Wings into the playoffs. The Wings are going with Curtis Joseph is goal tonight. Good luck CuJo, they're giving you a chance to do your annual playoff choke.

Montreal's Kovalev is lucky his teammates haven't practiced a little 'lynch mob justice' against him. For those who haven't heard, Kovalev was moving the puck when a stick hit him across his (heavily gloved) hand. He quit playing the puck and acted like he was hurt trying to draw a penalty, then ran into his own player. An alert Boston player took the puck and scored the game-winning goal. Oh yeah, it was overtime. Two things really piss me off about this. First, Kovalev has a history of this kind of crap, and secondly, he blamed the teammate that he ran into for it. That's twice in this series that a Montreal player has faked an injury on the ice trying to draw a penalty. Embarrassing.

On the upside, it was fun watching former player and coach Barry Melrose go off about it on television. He didn't use the word "chickenshit", but that's about all he forgot.

Philadelphia is playing great and making the Devils look bad in the process. Broduer looks ordinary.

Tampa Bay is for real. I hate them, especially Martin St. Louis who looks like Richard Simmons. I don't know why, but he just annoys me. Actually, I do know why, it's because of last years playoffs against the Washington Capitals. Yep, I'm holding a grudge.

Toronto vs. Ottawa. *Yawn* Toronto is no fun without the whining, and Ottawa reminds me of the machine-like play of Landry's Dallas Cowboys. Mats Sundin left the game last night hurt, so unless he can come back, Toronto is done.

Colorado, Dallas and St. Louis just look old. All still good teams, but this year speed is king (Tampa, Nashville, Boston, San Jose), and these teams are showing their age.

Those speed teams I mentioned are just making the plays. They seem to be in the right place at the right time. Boston and San Jose in particular are fast and tough. These aren't prissy little speedsters, they check hard, move people off the puck, and plant someone in the crease on offense.

Calgary and Vancouver are too far west for this east-coast guy. I haven't really seen either play all year, and won't until later rounds when they might come on a little earlier. Kiprusof was the Sharks backup goalie last year, and it's beginning to look like San Jose is becoming a goalie factory - Shields, Nabokov, Kiprusof, Teskala, and I understand they've got a couple great prospects still in the minors.

The Sharks are going to be good for a long time. Young, fast, and good goaltending.

Posted by Ted at 06:32 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Conversation Snippet

Walking through a shopping mall yesterday with my wife, we passed a store called “The Bible Outlet”. I wondered aloud who would buy an ‘outlet’ Bible. Liz said it would be the equivalent of buying “dollar store douche” and that they probably contained the "gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and Justin".

Posted by Ted at 06:08 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Family matters

April 14, 2004

Hockey History

The Vezina trophy is awarded each year to the top goaltender of the season. It's named for George Vezina, the first great goalie to play the game. He started his career in 1910, playing for a mediocre Montreal team. Despite that, he led the league in goals-against average his first two seasons, took Montreal to the Stanley Cup finals in his fourth season, and won it all for the first time in his fifth season.

In the early days, goalies were not allowed to fall to the ice to make a stop, making it much harder to prevent scoring. George Vezina developed a stand-up style that influenced other goalies in the league for decades.

In November, 1924, Vezina was obviously not in good health. Despite a high fever he was in net for the Canadiens' season opener versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. He collapsed during the first period, and was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. He passed away four months later.

George Vezina was one of the original dozen players elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame when it opened in 1945.

Posted by Ted at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)
Category: History

Happy First Munuviana Birthday!!!

(in the extended entry - work safe)


Posted by Ted at 07:20 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

Happy Birthday to My Love

Today is her birthday. Every day I give thanks for finding her.

Always Be Together

Pablo Cruise

When I look back on our early years
And how we spent so much time in tears
It's a wonder that we're face to face tonight
But something saw us through all those times
Something stronger than you or I
Here we are, and now it sure feels right

Oh I have seen
What your love has done for me
And I could stay with you forever
Oh I, I know
Love like this can't help but grow
That's why, we will always be together

When you left me all alone
I could have made it on my own
But part of me was missing
And when we had so much to say
All the words got in the way
Until we took the time to listen

Oh I have seen
What your love has done for me
And I could stay with you forever
Oh I, I know
Love like this can't help but grow
That's why, we will always be together

When I look back on our early years
And how we spent so much time in tears
It's a wonder that we're face to face tonight
But something saw us through all those times
Something stronger than you or I
And here we are, and now it sure feels right

Oh I have seen
What your love has done for me
And I could stay with you forever
Oh I, I know
Love like this can't help but grow
That's why, we will always be together

Always be together

(repeat and fade)

Posted by Ted at 07:11 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Family matters Waxing Lyrical

April 13, 2004

Could it be?

Has Bill Watterson (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) resurfaced under a psuedonym? Check out the conspiracy theories laid out and linked by The Llama Butchers.

Posted by Ted at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

I'm on a roll!

Sometimes being a reasonable adult is just too much fun.

First, read all about it at Susie's. I got lumped into the category of right-wing Freeper trolls because I questioned a "poll". The author of the "poll" then claimed that it was "commentary". I guess that's one way of looking at it, especially if you get called on it by reasonable people. Of course, while trying to have a discussion of the points made, some moonbat wigged out at Susie and called her a Nazi.

Next, over at CD's place, I was accused of being a Hitler admirer by a conservative moonbat because I dared to suggest that people might disagree with their position because they actually believed differently. An innocent enough remark in my mind, but apparently enough to send one whackjob into attack mode.

Adios to both of those places (not Susie's, but the other two) because I just don't have the time nor inclination to listen to ranting and raving from either end of the political spectrum. I don't normally make a big deal out of delinking people, and I'm not really here either, because I never linked to the one place, and I'll just stop visiting the other.

I said it once, I'll say it again: right wing moonbats = left wing moonbats. Lesson learned (again).

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

The sky is falling. Eventually. Count on it.

At some point in time Earth will get smacked again by a chunk of rock wandering through the solar system. That's a given, and it actually happens several times a year. But probability says with near-certainty that a big'un will intersect with Mother Earth. There are some projects gearing up to look out there, but as early warning systems they are far from comprehensive.

And what if we actually do see something ahead of time? Just what would we do? Face it, Bruce Willis isn't getting any younger.

Fortunately, we've got some very intelligent people thinking ahead and more importantly, doing something about it.

Posted by Ted at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Stanley Cup History

In 1892, the British Governor General of Canada Sir Frederick Stanley donated the Stanley Cup as "an outward and visible sign" of an annual championship among hockey teams in Canada.

The Cup is unique among championship trophies in that each member of the winning team is allowed to take the Cup home for a day to share with friends and family.

That tradition started in the 1980's, a few years after Montreal Canadiens player Guy Lefleur "stole" the Cup from the team's victory party. He drove the Cup to his boyhood home in Quebec, and placed it in the front yard where his father had built a makeshift rink where he first learned the game.

The very first winners of the Cup were the Amatuer Athletic Association of Montreal, in 1893, and for reasons unclear today refused to accept the trophy. They topped the league again in 1894 and that time accepted the Cup.

I'll post more little tidbits as the playoffs continue.

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

Happy Birthday to My Love

Another favorite song lyric that touches on my feelings for my wife.

God Only Knows

Beach Boys

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you

God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows

(repeat and fade)

Happy Birthday, Liz.

Posted by Ted at 05:57 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Family matters Waxing Lyrical

April 12, 2004

Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinaaahhh!!!

Wow, it's been a while since I've shared a recipe, mostly because we've been sticking to our standard fare, and I haven't had much chance to experiment. Tonight was an exception, since Liz had to work late and Mookie was at school for rehersals and a date later, so I was on my own for dinner.

I found a recipe a while back at Cooks.com that was used as the starting point.

Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage in Tomato and Cream Sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (more to taste)
1/2 diced onion
5 cloves minced garlic
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes (I used the roasted garlic flavor)
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
Bow Tie pasta
Minced fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the sausage and red pepper and cook until the sausage is no longer pink, stirring frequently. Drain. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until the onion is tender and sausage is browned. Add the tomatoes, cream and salt. Simmer until the sauce thickens a little bit. Add the broccoli for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water. When done, drain well and top with sauce, parsley and parmesan cheese.

I made some garlic bread and a green salad. What I've been doing with my salads is instead of dressing I crumble a few savory crackers into it. There's a new Cheese Nip cracker called Twisters, and they have a wonderful Buffalo & Bleu Cheese cracker that's perfect for this. Nice zing.

I'm not a huge fan of tomato sauces, so I only used about half the amount of tomatoes that the recipe called for, and next time I'll use more garlic and broccoli. It's a nice change of pace, and makes enough to feed four to six people.

Posted by Ted at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Recipes

Someone out there has a sense of humor

Being a computer consultant in the DC area, I've worked for a few different government agencies over the years. The following is an actual telegram received when I worked at the Department of State, regarding, ah... budget matters... at an embassy overseas. I edited out some of the 'official' jargon to clean it up some.






Posted by Ted at 04:37 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

Happy Birthday to My Love

It's my wife's birthday this week, and Munuviana just happens to share the 14th with her. She was born on Easter day, so the meticulously nosy could figure out how old she is.

This is a song that's special to us both.

She & I


She and I live in our own little world
Don't worry about the world outside
She and I agree
She and I lead a perfectly normal life

Ah but just because we aren't often seen socially
People think we've got something to hide.
But all our friends know we're just a little old fashioned
She and I


Oh ain't that great
Aint it fine
To have a love someone that others can't find
Aint it wonderful to know all we ever need is just the two of us
She and I
So wonderful
She and I

She and I share with every body else
The same wants, needs and desires
She and I save
She and I pay on everything we acquire

Ah but just because we aren't often seen separately
People think we live one life.
Its hard for them to see how anyone could be as close as
She and I

repeat chorus

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Family matters Waxing Lyrical

April 11, 2004

Glad I'm not in *her* address book

My wife is watching The Beautician and the Beast (1997) starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton, and she tells me that they've just mentioned a third celebrity in the dialogue who's now dead: Mother Theresa, JFK Junior and just now Sonny Bono. That's kinda spooky, considering the movie was made fairly recently.

Posted by Ted at 09:29 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

Sometimes busy can be relaxing

It's been one of those odd weekends where you look back and realize that you've gotten a lot done without really trying. Besides the rocket launch yesterday, today we cleaned the aquarium, cleaned some junk out of the attic for bulk pickup next weekend, had a nice Easter dinner, baked a couple of batches of chocolate chip cookies, and still managed to get a nap.

I'm sitting here now with an ice-cold diet pepsi and a piping hot cup of tea, watching the hockey game. I'm pleasantly tired and looking forward to a good night's sleep. It's supposed to rain all night. Oh yeah.

Posted by Ted at 08:06 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Pixy is one thinking-ahead kinda guy

For proof, all you need to know is that "Yay!" is the traditional Munuvian greeting and celebratory exclamation.

He alone recognized the need to keep it short and simple, as MuNu expands at a rate comparible to the business at an all-you-can-eat buffet opening next to a Jenny Craig.

A collective Yay! to the following new fellow-Munuvians:

A Likely Story
There's One, Only!
Mamamontezz's Mental Rumpus Room
Light & Dark
It's All About De
Fear Your Future
2Flower To You
Anticipatory Retaliation
The Meatriarchy
Ellis Island
Blogo Slovo
Brain Fertilizer
Physics Geek
Beyond the Black Hole
The Massive Whinger
Straight White Guy
Key Issues
Martinis, Persistence, and a Smile
Closet Extremist
Shoes, Ships, and Sealing Wax
Combat Arms
Frinklin Speaks

Some were already on my blogroll in their old digs, some are new to me. Go explore a little bit, and say hi.

Oh, and check out Fear Your Future. It's a new teen group blog born of some pebbles rattling around inside Mookie's skull. Ask pointed questions, and don't give them the easy out. Remember, they may be the generation that picks out your old-folks home.

Posted by Ted at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Munuvian Daily Tattler

April 10, 2004

Today's rocket launch

I talked about it here.

The weather was beautiful, and the site of the launch, Middletown Park, is really nice.

We were on a tight schedule because one of the team had to be at work early, so the plan was to get there, make a practice flight, turn it around and do another 'official' flight to try to improve on their qualifying score. To speed things along, the team had pre-loaded the engines into the rocket so that on the field all they'd have to do was install igniters and the altimeter and eggs.

When we arrived they quickly got prepped and safety-checked, and set the rocket up on the pad. Then it was a short wait for their turn to launch.

Countdown and all three first-stage motors lit. The rocket took off straight as an arrow and it was looking to be a picture perfect flight. First stage burn-out, and the second stage should ignite... should ignite... should ignite any time now...

The rocket coasted upwards, and as it was beginning to arc over the upper stage lit. She powered into the ground about 150 yards away. We collected our gear and went to recover it, to see what could be salvaged for the next flight.

No chance at a second flight. The nosecone was embedded into the ground, and shattered. The egg capsule was smashed too, as were the eggs inside. Much of the second stage was waterlogged (it landed on the edge of a pond) and the motor mount ripped free from the impact. The altimeter was beeping out 620 feet, just about half of the target altitude.

We sat down and started to recreate the flight to figure out what went wrong. When the motors were pulled from the booster stage, we found the problem. Instead of using booster motors (no delay, instant upper-stage ignition), they used upper-stage motors with a seven second delay. So instead of igniting the upper stage immediately, while the rocket was still moving fast and vertical, it slowed down and tipped over during those long seven seconds.

The guy that loaded the wrong motors felt really bad, but it was a simple mistake. I reinforced the lesson about using the checklist when prepping complex rockets, and tried to make the point that everyone makes mistakes now and then. The team has a good qualifying flight to turn in, so they still have a strong chance at making the finals.

Three different teachers also stopped by while we were inspecting the rocket and talked to the kids. I really appreciated that, because they were all supportive and their kind words made the team feel better.

They should know by the end of the week if they made the finals. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by Ted at 09:54 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Rocketry

Air Force Blue (part 10)

Other bits and pieces of my life can be found under the Boring Stories and Seriously categories.

I don’t remember exactly how we got invited to the party, but it was some sort of semi-official function. There were four Canadian exchange officers there, and one of them was in full piper kit. Since I love the bagpipes, I got to talking to them, and we all hit it off pretty well. Being young and enlisted, my roommate and I drank way more than we should have, and the Canucks matched us drink for drink. We got a lot of disapproving stares from the other guests because other than us, it was a rather reserved crowd.

It was around midnight when we left the party. My roommate and I went to the Visiting Officers Quarters (VOQ) with the Canadians and we continued the party there. They broke out bottles of Meyer’s Spiced Rum and we kept right on drinking. Sometime after 1am we got thrown out of VOQ for marching up and down the hallway singing filthy drinking songs and being generally disruptive.

Since the night was still young, the Canucks accompanied us to our dorm, and that’s when things got really fun. We got there, and suddenly our new friends got wildly enthusiastic, because we had a pool table. They started to tell us about a game they played called Crud.

Between the rum and the fact that this all happened some 20 years ago, I’ll try to describe the game. It was fun as hell, but that may just be because we were all drunk.

Ok, first off, to play Crud you only use two of the balls: the cue ball and the 8-ball. Cue sticks are not used. So far, so good.

The object is to use the cue ball to knock the 8-ball into a pocket. That scores a point. Likewise, if the 8-ball stops moving before you hit it with the cue ball, the other team scores a point. The main rule is that the 8-ball cannot stop rolling. You hit the 8-ball with the cue ball (trying to get it into the pocket), and then the other team has to grab the cue ball and they have to hit the 8-ball, then it’s your teammate’s turn, followed by the other team’s second player, and so on. And that brings up the other main rule, the so-called “ball” line. One end of the table is where all cue balls have to be rolled from, but only after your balls (testicles) are behind that end of the table.

Body blocks are allowed, but only by putting both hands on the table and sticking your ass out there. It’s not considered sporting to trip someone.

Sounds pretty sedate, huh? There is no ‘scratch’. If the cue ball leaves the table, you have to run and fetch it, then get back behind the “ball” line before you can take your turn, and all before the 8-ball stops rolling. What happens in practice is that quite often you’re snagging the cue on the bounce, then diving back across the line while sidearming that cue ball back at the table.

That’s how we wound up putting the cue ball through the front of the coke machine. Twice. No bones were broken, but there were plenty of bruises administered, and around 4am someone called the base cops on us, and our evening ended.

I never did get to play Crud again because it was specifically banned in the dorm. Supposedly, there were Crud tables in Winnipeg bars, complete with chicken wire enclosures. I never saw any, but when we went to Winnipeg, it was for CFL games (go Blue Bombers!) and horse racing at Assiniboia Downs, so we didn’t do much bar-hopping in Manitoba.

Posted by Ted at 04:31 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories

Someone got paid to think of this

Which doesn't bother me nearly as much as knowing that someone else in charge thought it was a fine idea.

(in the extended entry)

gabby_hayes coloring_book.gif
FYI, Gabby Hayes is undisputed king of the western sidekicks characters.

Posted by Ted at 01:02 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

April 09, 2004

Mucho Gracias

I posted something a couple of days ago crowing about myself, and ended with this line:

We now return to our modest and self-depreciating self.

I'd just like to thank everyone who didn't point and laugh at me for not using the correct phrase "self-deprecating".

Bragging on yourself is bad enough, but to say something stoopid while doing it is downright embarrassing. Mmmm, foot. The other white meat.

Posted by Ted at 10:03 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs


Forget pink and purple paisleys
Little mellow yellow daisies
Ain't no pot of gold
In her rainbow
Her favorite color is chrome

Trace Adkins

Now that is pole-dancing music, country-style.

Posted by Ted at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs


Beautiful pictures of yesterday's test of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne. Thanks to RocketForge for the pointer.

Update: Transterrestrial Musings has more on the story too, with links.

Posted by Ted at 11:55 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program

Eastery Greetings

Rabbits invented hip-hop.

Posted by Ted at 05:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

April 08, 2004

More Students and Rockets Stuff

The Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC) requires that each participating team of students make a qualification flight. The top 100 teams are invited to the finals to be held in Virginia in May. You can check the links to see details, suffice it to say that this is not an easy contest, but the prizes are great (grants, scholarships, and educational opportunities sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association and NASA).

A key point is that the students are entirely responsible for the design, construction, prep, flight and recovery of the rocket. Teachers and mentors are for advice only. No hands-on by adults is allowed.

Last year, the team of high school students I mentored barely missed the finals, coming in 111th out of over 900 teams entered from across the US.

This year's contest is even bigger, and the team is even more determined to make the finals. There’s only one student left from last year, and they’ve been working hard. They built two rockets, one a clone of last year’s design, and the second incorporates some ‘advanced’ technology like fiberglass fins and better aerodynamics. They’ve been running lots of computer simulations on their designs, and have flown both rockets at least a half dozen times on practice flights (pictures here). Their egg protection system is flawless so far, not a single crack yet.

Last Sunday they tried to make their qualifying flight. The wind was terrible, I was surprised that they were allowed to launch. Their first official attempt worked perfectly and went over 1000’, but the target altitude is 1250’. They went with a smaller upper-stage motor, and misjudged on the low side. They next decided to try the other rocket on a practice flight, then choose between the two for their final qualification flight.

1175’. Beautiful, but unofficial. They hustled to turn the rocket around to make another flight before the range closed for the day, and somewhere in the rush a mistake was made. On their final flight, only one motor ignited in the booster stage (it’s a three-motor cluster) and the badly underpowered rocket tipped horizontal off the rod and then the upper-stage motor ignited. The rocket then flew into the ground under power and pretty much disassembled itself. The eggs survived!

So this week they’re rebuilding. The teacher is headed out of town because of a family emergency, so on Saturday morning I’ll meet the students at their school and haul the crew up to Frederick, Maryland so they can make another, hopefully better, attempt.

Keep your fingers crossed for them.

Posted by Ted at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Hockey Quotes

It's playoff time, so you'll be bored to tears thrilled to know there'll be more hockey-related posts than usual for a while. I'll try to keep it to some sane level, but I have ice in my veins and frozen rubber in my pocket.

That doesn't sound right, does it? Gives me the squicky mental picture of dating Ted Williams' head. Ick.

By the age of 18, the average American has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, most of them occurring during Game 1 of the NHL playoff series. -- Steve Rushin

A puck is a hard rubber disc that hockey players strike when they can't hit one another. -- Jimmy Cannon

Ice hockey is a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept. -- Doug Larson

Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental. -- Jim McKenny

How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo? -- Jacques Plante

I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out. -- Rodney Dangerfield

We take the shortest route to the puck and arrive in ill humor. -- Bobby Clarke

I'm not dumb enough to be a goalie. -- Brett Hull

More here and here.

Posted by Ted at 04:54 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Square Pegs

April 07, 2004

Government Licenses First Private Rocket

It's about time.

Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites make the big step first. I've talked about them before (search on "x-prize" - on the right), because their Space Ship One is typical Rutan: innovative, original and functional.

I expect there will be several more companies hitting this milestone this year.

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

It's a gift

First, I won the caption contest at Wizbang! And although it was a while ago it's not like I enter these all the time. Besides, Susie said some of my other entries should've won too, which proves that she has exceptional taste.

Now, over at Captain's Quarters, I've taken top honors once again. Thanks to Stephen for suggesting people go over to whup him like a red-headed step-child enjoy his fine entries and possibly play as well.

We now return to our modest and self-depreciating self.

Posted by Ted at 01:46 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Links

I missed it because American Idol was on

Entire article and pretty pictures here.

On January 5, 2003, Titan - Saturn's largest moon and the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere - crossed in front of the Crab Nebula, a bright, extended X-ray source. Titan's transit enabled Chandra to image the one-arcsecond-diameter X-ray shadow cast by the moon (inset). This tiny shadow corresponds to the size of a dime as viewed from about two and a half miles.

This may have been the first transit of the Crab Nebula by Titan since the nebula was formed by a supernova that was observed to occur in the year 1054. The next similar conjunction will take place in the year 2267, so this was truly a once in a millennium event.
Posted by Ted at 07:13 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Space Program

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Last night I had on my first baseball game of the year - Giants vs Astros - and they had an interesting factoid. Tonight will be the first time in baseball history that a 300 game winner (Clemens) pitches to a 600 home run hitter (Bonds).

The reason the game was on was because I couldn't stand another minute of Mars Needs Women. Lord knows I tried, but even I have limits.

So while the game was on, I did a quick check of all those little sticky notes on my desk...

Terra Taco is back! Yay!

Denita of Who Tends the Fires showcases her artistic talent by presenting not one, but two internet creatures: The DU Spawn and the Spam Golem. Mmmm, spam. Gimme an onion and a skillet and I'll whip up some good eats!

Rob at Left & Right tells a hilarious story that falls under the category of Stupid User Tricks. Years ago I saw a 'computer alphabet' and the letter 'V' stuck with me:

V is for Void
A vast empty null
A lot like the inside
Of a user's skull.

I had to wave my wife over to the PC to read this classic from Kelley because I was laughing too hard to read it to her.

Now here's a twist to the old Nigerian scam that I might fall for: Save the Nigerian Astronaut! Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the timely intervention.

Bunsen. Red Sox. No surprise there, it's funny.

And just so this doesn't turn into a one-note chucklepalooza, take a look at Travelling Shoes and his link about fruit fly fights.

Wizbang guest blogger Rodney links to the story that the Mars rover Spirit has officially completed all tasks on its original mission. NASA has plenty more lined up, but from here on out it's all icing on the cake.

Short list this time, life has been hectic. If I post less often, does that mean the quality on Rocket Jones improves because the frequency of suck goes down? Any statitstics wizards out there?

Posted by Ted at 06:13 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

April 06, 2004

Cult Cinema reviews

Last weekend I stumbled across a new genre that I'd never seen before. After doing some research, I've discovered that it's a fairly new niche in the cult flick scene and seems to have a small but loyal group of followers.

Softcore Lesbian Spoof movies shot direct to video.

Man, I can't wait to see the Google hits that one generates. The movie I saw on late-night television was titled Lord of the G-Strings: Femaleship of the String. The main characters were all female, and it was an obvious and not terribly bad parody of the Tolkien works ("terribly bad" as per my definition). I love crap movies, so if your tastes run to the normal, then these probably aren't for you.

In the movie, Dildo the Throbbit is entrusted with the task of delivering the G-String of Power to... uh, someplace... for destruction. Need I go on?

The sex is simulated and overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) lesbian. The characters get naked often. There is a plot of sorts, and actual acting is attempted at times. The humor is pretty hit and miss, but there are some laugh-out-loud moments.

And then there is the leading lady. Her screen name is Misty Mundae (go on, I'll wait for you to stop snickering). She's killer cute, with an innocent face and the morals of... well, no... she has no morals that I can determine, at least as far as making softcore lesbian spoof flicks. (Mental note: run that job search through Monster.com)

Misty Mundae has made numerous movies over the last several years for Seduction Cinema, and seems to have a cult following built up, including her own Yahoo group fan-club (as does Seduction). The movies have titles like The Erotic Witch Project and The Sexy Sixth Sense, as well as some not-spoof flicks. Apparently it's not all mindless T&A either, as I saw some good reviews of one movie as a noir thriller offering.

So what do I think? I went through the satellite-guide for the month and picked out a couple of other related flicks. I'll let you know after I've seen Play-Mate of the Apes and Gladiator Eroticus: The Lesbian Warriors. I'd pick these up if I see them in a bargain bin somewhere, but they're not going onto my "must buy" list.

Favorite review snippets:

"This is just under ninety minutes, which means total production time was about ninety minutes."

"Best scene: the gorilla having sex with the sex-doll... now there's something I hadn't seen yet..."

"...What surprised me about this movie, is that it actually worked. The movie made some sense. The formula actually worked."

"three beautiful women get lesbo-crazy in front of a camera. Talk about entertainment!"

Sexy fun, and there's nothing wrong with that. Uh huh, I already know I'm a pig. Oink.

Posted by Ted at 05:49 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Cult Flicks

I thought I only made that noise during sex

The Washington Capitals, my second-favorite hockey team, have won the lottery for the first pick of the upcoming draft and will almost certainly take Russian forward Alexander Ovechkin, who is compared to Pittsburgh great Mario Lemieux.

I know Victor is one happy camper!

Now, if I could just get Nic to post pictures of herself doing the happy dance...

Posted by Ted at 05:01 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Google Bombs for Justice

Down on the bottom of the right-hand column, permanent bait for the 'bot.

Idiots piss me off. Thanks to Simon for the tip.*

*The referenced expression of appreciation was interpreted and approved by whoever-the-hell is really in charge in Hong Kong.

Posted by Ted at 06:49 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Random Phrase Generation

Or you can just read a sports story about cricket:

Vice-captain Yousuf Youhana, who had struck a fighting century in the first test at Multan, was on 33 on an increasingly friendly wicket for batsmen.

Pakistan had resumed on their overnight 61 for one with Farhat hitting leg spinner Anil Kumble for four in Tuesday's first over and then driving left arm paceman Irfan Pathan backward of point for another boundary.

Yasir Hameed joined in, immaculately driving Pathan on the up through the off side.

But the 26-year-old was out for 19, edging a wide delivery from medium pacer Ajit Agarkar to Rahul Dravid at second slip.

Agarkar was nippy in his five-over first spell, which got him one wicket for 17, hitting Inzamam on the helmet with a well-directed bouncer.

The Pakistan captain shrugged off the blow, cutting Agarkar behind square for four and then slashing him through the covers.

Huh? Don't try to explain, it's rhetorical.

Posted by Ted at 06:04 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

I thought they had a card for everything?

Prison birthday cards, because sometimes being your bitch just isn't enough.

Posted by Ted at 05:34 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

April 05, 2004

Holy Fellow Munuvian Bloggers Batman!

Who else but the flea would point out this gem of a site, a list of "Holy (blank), Batman!" phrases used by the sidekick of the Caped Crusader?

For some reason my inner-synergist is inspired by this.

Munuviana - Holy Multitudes
Ambient Irony - Holy Alter-ego
Practical Penumbra - Holy Perfect pitch
Blather Review - Holy Blackout (I'm guessing this applies to his keyboards)
Stranger in a Strange Land - Holy Missing relatives
Publius & Co. - Holy Purple cannibals
Jennifer's History and Stuff - Holy Jelly molds
MookieRiffic - Holy Molehill
The Cheese Stands Alone - Holy Chutzpah
Hoppings of Roxette Bunny - Holy Rainbow
D.F.Moore - Your Daily Dose of Pizzazz - Holy D'artagnan
Caught in the XFire - Holy Crack-up
Angelweave - Holy Armadillos
Anger Management - Holy Astringent pomite fruit
Snooze Button Dreams - Holy Split seconds
Everyday Stranger - Holy Escape hatch
Simon World - Holy Squirrel cage
Tom's Nap Room - Holy Trolls and goblins
Semi-Intelligent Thoughts - Holy Skull tamper
Civilization Calls - Holy Crucial moment
Hold the Mayo - Holy Hot foot
Minx Development Blog - Holy Mechanical army
annika's poetry and journal - Holy armour plate
Trying to Grok - Holy Travel agent
Ilyka Damen - Holy impregnability
Being American in T.O. - Holy bat-logic
Read My Lips - Holy Red herring
G'Day Mate! - Holy Geography
Miss Apropos - Holy Masquerade
Little Miss Attila - Holy Levitation
Triticale - Holy Terminology
Backstage - Holy Bijou
Um's Musings - Holy Unrefillable prescriptions
Rambling Rhodes - Holy Reverse polarity
XSet - Holy Uncanny photographic mental processes
Lemur Girl - Holy Looking glass
Educated Beyond Her Intelligence - Holy Einstein
Primal Purge - Holy Priceless collection of Etruscan snoods
Flying Space Monkey Chronicles - Holy flight plan
A Likely Story - Holy Las Vegas
There's One, Only! - Holy One-track Bat-computer mind
Mamamontezz's Mental Rumpus Room - Holy mesmerism
Light & Dark - Holy Magic Lantern
It's All About De - Holy Diversionary tactic
TexasBestGrok - Holy Toreador
Fear Your Future - Holy Fugitives
2Flower To You - Holy Fishbowl
Anticipatory Retaliation - Holy alphabet
The Meatriarchy - Holy Mashed Potatoes
Ellis Island - Holy Fourth of July

Holy uneven effort, Batman!

Posted by Ted at 08:20 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Links

Like a kid on Christmas morning

A 1,000-ton barge rammed into a pier supporting an aging bridge over Florida's Apalachicola Bay last week, delighting civil engineers, who plan to ram it a dozen more times.

Depending on your job, it isn't often that you get real-life data to work with. These structural engineers are loving life right now, getting to study the effects of bridge and boat collisions. With the goal of improving national construction standards, of course. I watch NASCAR for the racing too.

When stationed in Germany as part of the US Air Force, I'd heard that the runways at Ramstein AB were going to be redone. Part of the plan was to let pilots blow hell out of things with live ordnance (great training), followed by Prime Beef teams repairing the runways afterwards (more great training). This was supposed to go on for some time as aircrews were rotated in for the chance to actually blow something up for real.

I transferred back to the States before that happened. Did it? If it did, I bet it was a great show.

Posted by Ted at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

Fantasy Hockey Wrapup

The season is over and I finished a respectable 6th out of twenty teams. Not too shabby, considering I had no idea what I was doing when the season started and had to learn the rules as I went.

Highlights for the year for me were one glorious day when I stood alone in first place. I was fighting for third as recently as three weeks ago. Third through sixth were closely contested.

Offensively, I was in the top five for goals scored, power play points, short handed points, game winning goals and shots on goal. I also finished on the plus side for the +/- stat. I consider that a victory because I spent much of the season in the negative and made several trades specifically to improve in that area.

For goaltending, I was in the top half for wins and shutouts, but only because I had three goalies that played a lot. They weren’t very good, but enough mediocre adds up. Everyone ahead of me was significantly better in net.

Early on I talked about some things I’d noticed in our league, and now that it’s over I think those observations held up pretty well.

Lessons learned: Play lots of games. Get starters for every slot on your roster. A lot of teams fall behind because they have marginal players on the fourth line. They don’t play often, and when they do they don’t get many minutes.

Manage injuries. I was lucky, and only suffered four major injuries to my team all year. Three I was able to put on IR and wait for their return, and the fourth player returned to the ice sooner than anyone expected. Move those injured players and pick up replacements as soon as possible. When the injured players return, cut loose your least-productive players. Which brings us to…

Don’t be sentimental. If your favorite player is having a lousy year, trade for value or otherwise get rid of him. Same thing if you stock your team with your favorite team’s players. Diversify, and don’t get too attached.

Consider trades early. By this I mean trading hot players while they’re still hot, when they’re worth maximum value. The perfect example of this for me was Atlanta Thrashers goalie Pasi Numinem. He was insanely hot for the first third of the season, and I should have realized that he (and the entire Atlanta team) couldn’t keep the pace up. He faded badly, and I should’ve traded him before the all-star break for another scorer or solid everyday goalie.

So I had fun, and I'll probably play again next year. Any fellow Munuvians interested, start thinking about it and we might get enough for a "fun" league amongst ourselves. You too Nic, you're an honorary Munuvian as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Ted at 06:21 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Let the Hockey playoffs begin

The San Jose Sharks found one more marvel in their bottomless bag.

Brad Stuart tied the game with two goals in the final 20 seconds of regulation, and Vincent Damphousse scored with 3:10 into overtime to send San Jose into the playoffs with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

With three goals in 3½ minutes, the Sharks capped the best season in franchise history with a stunning comeback in both teams' season finales. The Pacific Division champions, seeded second in the Western Conference with 43 victories and 104 points, wound up with the NHL's third-best record one year after finishing 25th.

I said early in the season that following the Sharks was going to be a roller-coaster ride this year. I meant the ups and downs bit, I had no idea I'd be having this much fun on the way!

Posted by Ted at 05:13 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

April 04, 2004

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Old vs New

I've had the original version of this movie sitting on the shelf for awhile, purposely putting off watching it again until the remake was released. I wanted to see the original and the new to make a back-to-back comparison.

The original TCM remains one of the most disturbing films of all time. It's intense in ways that Hitchcock approached only at his very best. Considering its reputation, there is surprisingly little gore and only one murder by chainsaw. Where it gets you is the unsettling details in every scene and unrelenting suspense, because it just never lets up.

A major gripe with the original was "poor cinematography". It's pretty dark and murky much of the time, which adds to the atmosphere in my opinion. I also don't agree with the complaints about plot (or lack thereof). This movie doesn't tie up loose ends, and there's very little understandable motivation for the characters. Imagine the scariest book you've ever read, but the first and last chapters are missing. You get the distilled essence of terror, without any of the context that helps you to rationalize it. That multiplies the experience because things happen that are just on the edge of making sense.

The DVD contains several scenes that never made it to the theatrical release, including background and thoughts from the actors involved. There are plenty of other extra features too.

On to the remake. The story has been changed. It makes (a little) more sense than the original, but much of the urgency and sense of not knowing what was coming next was lost in the update. The movie just feels more modern, and that's not a good thing in this case.

The acting is better. The actual filmwork is better. The 'good guy' characters are more likable. The special effects and gore are more gruesome, and there's more blood splashing around. The lead female character, played by Jessica Biel, is a good looking lady, and she gives a fine performance.

But throughout the film the director went for the modern touches, like gore and sex jokes. Instead of suggesting, they went for explicit. Even the creepy little details that made the original so memorable seemed contrived in the remake, placed for effect instead of being the disturbing minutinae that set the scene.

So far, everything I've said about the remake are in comparison to the original. And don't get me wrong, the remake is a pretty good movie. It will scare the hell out of you. Some people will like the new version better because it is a more complete movie. My personal opinion is that the original is a scarier experience.

The remake DVD is pretty sparse in the special features department, offering the TV ads, the movie trailer, and a lame-ass music video.

UPDATE: I was reminded that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies were inspired by the real-life person Ed Gein (warning: link has some graphic photos). Despite what the movies claim, they are not true stories. Ed Gein was also the inspiration for Bloch's Psycho, later turned into the peerless classic film by Alfred Hitchcock. For more information on Gein and other mass and serial murderers, check out the Crime Library.

Posted by Ted at 08:21 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Cult Flicks

Beats a lawn jockey

You're in your yard, admiring all the hard work. You've spent hours fertilizing and mowing, trimming and edging, not to mention the back-breaking landscaping projects you've done over time. But there's something missing, you need a focal point. Something that will make the whole neighborhood stop and say 'wow'.

Nothing says wow like real military hardware.

Picture the impact your tulip bed would have as it frames a 155mm howitzer. That mixed bed of hostas perfectly sets off your new M-5 Stuart light tank (as an added bonus, it'll keep those pesky kids out of your yard too!).

The Kenosha Military Museum not only has lots of real vintage hardware on display, but they also buy and sell equipment. Spring is in the air, why not spruce up in a big way?

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

April 03, 2004

The only thing wrong with space flight is there's not enough of it

CNN has this nice article on the X-Prize.

When the competition was announced just eight years ago, many were skeptical that any privately financed team could meet the requirements to collect the prize: Build a spacecraft capable of taking three passengers 62.5 miles (101 kilometers) above the planet, then make a second successful suborbital trip within two weeks.

"It's going to happen in 2004. Someone will win it," said Gregg Maryniak, director of the St. Louis-based X Prize Foundation, a group created to spark development of reusable spacecraft that can take average citizens into space.

Rocketman Blog has followed progress closely, and has conducted a series of fascinating interviews with X-prize candidates. In fact, he's gotten a job with one of the companies as a result of his blog!

So if you're interested in the commercialization of space (and you should be, it's the next boom to happen), then head on over to RocketmanBlog and read up on some of the pioneers taking those first baby-steps.

Posted by Ted at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Stripper Music

According to the news last night, pole dancing is the newest fitness fad for ladies. So be it, who am I to argue? Now just on the off chance that some wonderful lady wants to pole dance for me, here's a few songs I'd love to hear during the show:

Feel Like Making Love - Bad Company
South City Midnight Lady - Doobie Brothers
Dreadlock Holiday - 10cc

C'mon folks, let's hear from the peanut gallery. Guys, what would you want to hear? Ladies, what songs would inspire you to give your best performance?

(6/8/2005) Update: Besides the great suggestions still trickling in in the comments, I've collected a lot of them into one long list of "Favorite Stripper Music". Enjoy, feel free to add to the list via the comments, and most of all, thanks!

(8/22/2005) Update: Up until now, when someone asked about where to find pole dancing lessons, all I could do was offer generic advice about where to look in their local areas, and to wish them luck.

Until now.

This first link, A Pole Lot of Fun, looks to be a 'party' style setup, similar to the way Tupperware used to work.

We bring the pole, you bring the friends and together we create a magical night of fun, laughter, and support.

Follow that link above and see if there's someone local to you.

This link, PoleStars, is based in the UK and Australia. It looks like this is more of the traditional class instruction on the art of pole dancing and strip tease.

Both sites offer equipment and clothing too. If you try either of these, or something else you've found in your area, drop by and leave a comment to let everyone know how it went.

Posted by Ted at 10:12 AM | Comments (67)
Category: Square Pegs

April 02, 2004

The longest journey starts with but a single step

I honestly don't know if anyone who stops by Rocket Jones practices Islam. But it can't hurt anyone to read this, and if so inclined to go here.

Posted by Ted at 05:10 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

I never suspected, but it makes sense

When NASA's Spirit rover was crippled computer-wise in January, there were a lot of potential reasons for the problem. NASA has finally figured it out, and think they may have also discovered what befell the Beagle 2 probe too.

Posted by Ted at 04:35 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program

San Jose Sharks - NHL Pacific Division Champs

Here's the story of how the San Jose Sharks hockey franchise got its name, from the official Sharks website.

(in the extended entry, for those bored by sports stuff.)

Popular Sweepstakes Paved Way for Selection of "SHARKS"

They came from as far north as Manitoba, Canada, as far east as Bar Harbor, Maine, and as far south as Coral Gables, Florida.

One even came from Italy. They came in the form of seas creatures, fictional characters and computer components. More than 2,300 of them were submitted by over 5,700 entrants in hopes of winning the grand prize trip for two to the 1991 National Hockey League All-Star Weekend in Chicago. What were these strange items? -- entries in the national sweepstakes to help name the Bay Area NHL expansion franchise.

In a random sweepstakes drawing, San Jose-attorney Allen Speare was selected as grand prize winner. Other entries were submitted from participants representing California and nearly every other U.S. state and Canadian province. The top 15 names submitted, in alphabetical order, were Blades, Breakers, Breeze, Condors, Fog, Gold, Golden Gaters, Golden Skaters, Grizzlies, Icebreakers, Knights, Redwoods, Sea Lions, Sharks and Waves.

Club management selected the team name "Sharks" aided by suggestions acquired during the sweepstakes.

"The involvement of hockey fans throughout the Bay Area, the state of California and all over North America was outstanding," said Matt Levine, then the team's executive vice president of marketing and broadcast. "We were considering several alternatives for a name prior to the sweepstakes, but the creativity shown by many of the entrants was of great benefit to us, " Levine said.

The "Name the New NHL Team" sweepstakes was designed to thank hockey fans for their initial support of a new team for Northern California and to give them an opportunity to offer ideas for the new team's name. Along with Speare's grand prize, an additional 300 sweepstakes prizes were awarded to entrants, ranging from Stanley Cup videos and NHL publications to official NHL pucks and commemorative sweepstakes hockey stick pens.

Why Sharks?

In selecting a team name, club management was looking for something that would appeal to children and adults. It needed to be a name that would inspire graphic logo applications for uniforms, merchandise, promotional items, hockey educational materials, etc. "Sharks" fit all the above and also make sense from other viewpoints:

The neighboring Pacific Ocean is home to seven different varieties of sharks including the Great White, Leopard, Mako, Seven-gill, Blue, Soupfin and Spiny Dog. A specific area of the Pacific in the Bay Area is called the "red triangle," because of its shark population.
Several area institutions provide great amounts of time and money to shark research, preservation and education, including the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco and the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC-Berkeley.
And, as stated by Levine, "Sharks are relentless, determined, swift, agile, bright and fearless. We plan to build an organization that has all those qualities."

The 'Look' of the Sharks

The Sharks colors, trademarks and uniforms were selected through a combined effort of team and league officials. The Sharks primary colors are Pacific teal, gray, black and white. They have used those colors to come up with a variety of trademarks, attractive team uniforms and a vast array of merchandise applications.

Primary design work on the Sharks now-familiar trademarks was done by two local, but nationally accomplished designers -- the crest and fin were executed by Terry Smith of Sunnyvale, while the typeface applications were developed by Mike Blatt of Lafayette.

Posted by Ted at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)
Category: History


This came via email, and I haven't checked the numbers (not going to, either), but the gist of it is correct.

Compared with Gasoline

Think a gallon of gas is expensive? This puts things in perspective.

Diet Snapple (16 oz @ $1.29) = $10.32 per gallon

Lipton Ice Tea (16 oz @ $1.19) = $9.52 per gallon

Gatorade (20 oz @ $1.59) = $10.17 per gallon

Ocean Spray (16 oz @ $1.25) = $10.00 per gallon

Brake Fluid (12 oz @ $3.15) = $33.60 per gallon

Vick's Nyquil (6 oz @ $8.35) = $178.13 per gallon

Pepto Bismol (4 oz @ $3.85) = $123.20 per gallon

Whiteout (7 oz @ $1.39) = $25.42 per gallon

Scope (8 oz @ $3.99) = $59.04 per gallon

And this is the REAL KICKER...

Evian water (9 oz @ $1.49) = $21.19 per gallon?!?

$21.19 for WATER - and the buyers don't even know the source.

So, the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on water, Scope, or Whiteout, or - God forbid - Pepto Bismal or Nyquil.

Posted by Ted at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Made me think of lovely cheese*

Play something sweet
Play something mellow
Play something I can sink my teeth in like jello
Play something I can understand
Play me some Brickyard Blues.

Play something sweet
And make it funky
So I can lay back and grin like a monkey
Play something I can understand
Play me some Brickyard Blues.

-- Three Dog Night

*If I have to explain...

Posted by Ted at 07:39 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Waxing Lyrical

April 01, 2004

Even more spacey techie exploratory coolness

Scientists have issued a weather forecast for the oily oceans of Titan, Saturn's major moon and a target for a space probe landing next year.

Read all about it here.

Here's a link for more on the Cassini mission and the Huygens probe.

Thanks to Across the Atlantic for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

I like McDonalds

Here's a neat page about the oldest-surviving McDonalds (the third one built), with pictures. Growing up, we had one very much like this in our town. Not real close, it was a treat for us every time we went.

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

Burger King sucks.

Posted by Ted at 09:57 AM | Comments (6)
Category: History

The simplest game in the world

Perfect for those days you just don't want to work that hard.

Posted by Ted at 06:14 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links


March 2004 will go down in the family history as one rotten month all around. Good riddance! Here's a partial rundown, because I need to vent a little, but I'm going to stay vague about some things.

1. Liz's trip to the emergency room when they discovered a mass in her head. She's fine, no problem, getting taken care of.

2. Two other family medical situations, both potentially severe in the long term. One was discovered very early and wil be taken care of in the immediate future, the other one is pretty much untreatable.

3. Me getting the flu or whatever the hell it was. It's been a long while since I've felt that lousy for that long a time. Getting better.

4. Still medical-related, a friend and co-worker was diagnosed with an agressive cancer. It started a month or two ago, and it doesn't look like he'll survive the year. He's right around my age.

5. We had a serious Mookie issue that I won't go into other than to say trust was betrayed. To her credit, she admitted it, feels terrible, and knows she screwed up (none of this "you don't understand, you're being unfair" nonsense). We're working through it together.

6. At work, I got notice that my position is being terminated. I work for a great company, and the day they called to tell me that, they pointed me at a possible new position, which I'll interview for in the next week or two. I expect I'll still have a job with my company, just in a different place. Because I didn't have enough stress going on in my life, fate added this little cherry on top.

So all in all, we're doing fine. There was nothing there that doesn't happen to many people every day, it just didn't have to happen all in one month, ya know? Thanks to my wife Liz, who helps me stay sane (and I, her), and Mookie (who's a good kid if a little odd sometimes), and the two who've already gone out into the big bad world, I know that there's more right with Ted's Universe than wrong.

Thanks also to my friends who let me vent (you know who you are), and those who sent emails and comments. You're appreciated and cherished.

I feel better now. It's a whole new month...

Posted by Ted at 05:46 AM | Comments (10)
Category: Seriously
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