May 31, 2004

Quantico National Cemetery

About 35 miles south of Arlington National Cemetery is another National Cemetery, at Quantico, Virginia. Quantico is the headquarters of the US Marine Corps, and is located on the other side of the interstate from the cemetery itself. There actually is a town called Quantico that is completely within the base perimeter, you have to go through the front gate of the base in order to get there. It's a nice enough little town, mostly small apartment buildings and businesses like laundromats for military personnel and featuring an honest-to-Landry Dallas Cowboys bar, smack dab in the middle of Redskins country.

At the main gate of Quantico base is a slightly smaller replica of the monument depicting the second raising of the US flag at Iwo Jima, just like the one in Washington, DC.

But if you go west on the interstate exit, heading away from the base, you'll come to a turnoff for the National Cemetery. Neither as celebrated nor as large as Arlington, Quantico is nevertheless a beautiful and peaceful place. Naturally, being in the heart of Marine country, many of the monuments and markers are dedicated to the Corps. Unlike Arlington, most of the grave markers are horizontal, facing up to the sky, leaving long stretches of perfectly-maintained grass divided by gently curving roads. There are also many wooded areas, and some decent walking trails through the woods, complete with benches and 'reflection stops' that have been built and maintained by Eagle Scout candidates over the years.

It's far from a sterile place because that area of Virginia still maintains huge tracts of undeveloped land. Sit quietly for a while and you'll see multitudes of birds and squirrels, rabbits, deer and the occasional red fox. In fact, one of the problems the staff has is hunters coming onto the grounds at night and poaching deer.

Four times a year, Quantico National Cemetery dresses up. The Avenue of Flags is an impressive thing to see. Hundreds of donated veteran's flags are raised along the roads on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Flag Day.

I went to Quantico National Cemetary early yesterday morning and spent a quiet hour walking around, taking pictures and talking to a few other folks who were there. I added my own silent thanks to those who've served this country that I love.

(pictures are in the extended entry, click the links to open in their own window for the bandwidth-impaired)

This is the front entrance to Quantico National Cemetary. It's open every day of the year during daylight hours.

Flags lining the roads. Those are 20 foot flagpoles.
Quantico flags 1
Quantico flags 2
Quantico flags 3

A young man originally conceived of and built this "Memorial Trail" as his Eagle Scout project. Over the years many markers and memorials have been added.
The beginning of the Memorial Trail
The very first marker on the trail
This one is particularly poignant today.
This overlook is dedicated to the First Marine Raider Battalion and their heroic battle at Guadalcanal. From this point on the trail, you can look out over a field of graves with markers like Arlington, another memorial to the US Marine 6th Division, and the Virginia Veterans Memorial.

We had the honor of attending the dedication of the Virginia Veterans Memorial some years ago, and the simplicity of the design is still striking. The only words are on this first panel, and inside the circle is a simple obelisk with an American flag draped over it, all done in stone. The stars and stripes are alternating areas of polished and plain stone. The monument is a study in grays, and the effect is powerful.

To close, some fitting words from a plaque on the 6th Marine Division memorial:
Quantico memorial trail 10.jpg

Happy Memorial Day.

Posted by Ted at 11:29 PM | Comments (2)
Category: History

May 30, 2004

Box Hockey - 3

The previous post about our project to build an old fashioned box hockey table can be found here.

As usual, the main part is in the extended entry, and y'all are invited to ask questions and leave comments.

Constructing the frame
Cut out the end and side pieces – two of each – and square up the ends. Test fit the pieces together and do a measurement from one corner to the opposite corner on the other side. Each diagonal measurement should be the same or nearly so. If they are, then your frame will be squared up correctly.

Here’s where a drill will come in handy and save you some blisters, you should drill pilot holes for the screws that hold these bits together. Countersink the holes too if you want, it’ll look neater and you can use a little wood putty to fill the holes once the screws are in place. The picture shows what I mean, those two light colored dots on the end are where the screws and putty are. In it we're looking up from below and can see where the bottom will be nailed into place.


When you drive the screws, put a thin smear of the glue on the wood where it joins together, then finish tightening the screws. Use a damp rag to wipe up any glue that squeezes out.

You can also (barely) see in the picture that I used finishing nails to attach the goal boards into place (right side, three light dots). The goal board is positioned 3½ inches in front of the end boards. Countersink the nails and use a little wood putty again to fill the holes. Let the wood putty dry.

This is what the finished frame looks like, looking from one end to the other.


Lay the assembled frame on top of the hardboard and, using a pencil, trace along the outside of the frame to mark the cuts needed for the bottom of the box hockey game. Make sure you use the corner of the hardboard as one reference point, because that’ll make sure you get two straight edges – one end and one side. Set the hardboard aside for now, we’ll get to that in a little bit.

Cut a length of leftover wood about four inches long, wrap a piece of medium grit sandpaper around it, and use it to sand the frame smooth. Lightly round the edges and corners too. Always sand with the grain of the wood (long ways along the boards). Once everything is sanded, do it again with a piece of fine sandpaper. Sanding by hand is a pain in the butt, I suggest getting zen with it, grasshopper.

Before you attach the bottom, go ahead and apply the finish of your choice to the frame. You can paint it, use varnish or tung oil, or for maximum protection use polyurethane. You can apply the polyurethane with those disposable foam brushes, just keep the coats thin to avoid big runs in the finish. If you want, you can sand the frame between dried coats with fine steel wool, that will really smooth out the finish. Follow the directions on the can for timing between coats and cleanup. Let everything dry thoroughly.

Cut out the rectangular hardboard bottom. Save the leftover hardboard, we'll be using it for the rest of the pieces. Flip the frame upside down, then place the hardboard with the smoothest side down on top of the frame. Starting in one corner, fasten the hardboard bottom to the frame using the small nails (panelling nails work well for this), spacing them every four inches or so.

Next time, we'll finish up the game board, cut out the paddles, and I'll talk about the rules we used to use.

(Update: click here for the final part of the series)

Posted by Ted at 07:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Build It

Common Sense is winning

More and more, we're seeing articles like this one from the Oregonian magazine. Quick summary: launching hobby rockets doesn't make me a terrorist!

Posted by Ted at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

May 29, 2004

Launching with the big boys

The gang over at the Maryland & Delaware Rocketry Association (MDRA) like to fly big projects, and their latest is a doozy!

Check out the pictures and video of the Liberty Project.

And just how big is that rocket? Well, according to John Hamill, who supplied the chutes, the O.D. green drogues you see in the recovery photos are 32' in diameter, which is what Army paratroopers use. The main orange and white chute is 100' in diameter, and weighs over 100lbs itself! It's used by the military to recover target drones.

The actual airframe is around 600lbs and stands about 25' tall. It was the largest hobby rocket ever flown east of the Mississippi. Way to go guys!!!

Posted by Ted at 09:46 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

May 28, 2004

A geek's dream come true

The cicada event is beginning to wind down, and the ground at work is littered with their little dead carcasses. As I was crunching my way towards my truck this afternoon, it occurred to me that since cicada life is geared entirely towards sex, then it follows that the ones who die first were probably the most successful in getting laid early in the cycle. So I was stomping on little cicada versions of those jerks in high school who never had a problem scoring with the ladies.

I hated those guys, and I really, really enjoyed that walk.

Posted by Ted at 12:41 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

Appreciating the little things

I just finished two apricots, the first of the season. My favorite.

I have a bowl full of pears ripening at home too. My second favorite.

I'll be leaving work at lunchtime today, because I've taken a half day off before every 3-day weekend for the last 15 years.

It's a 3-day weekend.

Wife and Mookie have to work tomorrow, so I'll get the whole day to myself.

Life is good.

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

Hey "Sweet Pete"

I assume that's your nickname. See, your personalized license plate was a little hard to decipher. I bet a lot of "sweet pea's" want those words on the plates, so you wind up going through all kinds of gyrations to spell your name.

Here's a tip: SWET PT will be translated as "sweat pit" by others. You couldn't have meant that, could you?

Posted by Ted at 05:15 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

May 27, 2004

Box Hockey - 2

I talked about Box Hockey back in March, but things got hectic and that became low priority. Now is a good time, so let's get started.

If you've never followed the Rocket Jones Build It series, I do some project online over a series of posts and hopefully by following my directions you can complete the same project. Our first project was a model rocket.

As usual, the meat of the post is in the extended entry, and y'all are invited to ask questions and leave comments.

Building a Box Hockey game is about as simple as it gets. As I said in the original post, the woodworking skills are basic and power tools are helpful but not necessary.

Here's what you'll need from the hardware store:
(3) 1"x4"x6' pine -or- (2) 1"x4"x8' pine
(1) 2'x4' hardboard (1 smooth side)
(16) 1.5"x#6 flathead wood screws
(1) pkg mixed grit sandpaper (we'll use medium and fine)
(1) box small flathead brads (~5/8" long)
(1) small can of polyurethane
(1) 1" paintbrush

Tools and supplies needed:
Drill and 1/16" or 3/32" bit (this will make things so much easier)
Elmers white or yellow glue or equivalent (optional but recommended)
Ruler, yardstick or measuring tape

Buying wood
Look for straight pieces without splits or chewed up edges. A few knots are ok, as long as they're tight and won't readily fall out. It's ok to pick through the rack of lumber to find just the right pieces, so be picky.

When you're looking at a piece, rest one end on the ground and sight down the length of it as if you were aiming a rifle. This will make obvious any warping, bowing, or twisting in the wood. You don't want that, get the straightest pieces possible. Look at it on edge, then swap the board end-for-end and look again. It may be necessary to buy an extra piece or two in order to get enough straight wood, since some boards might be perfect for half or two-thirds their length and then get funky. Since the boards should only be a few bucks each, it's worth the money to get good wood right up front.

Measurements - Frame
The frame of the Box Hockey game is made of 1"x4" pine. You'll need to cut 2 sides (42.5" long), 2 ends (22" long), and 2 goal boards (20.5" long). Cutting rabbets and dados will make the frame stronger, and if you know what that means then you can adjust the measurements on your own.
box hockey plans3.JPG
The goal boards have three goal openings cut into them. The outer two are 3" wide and start 3" from the ends, the middle one is 2.5" wide and sits 3" from the side goals. Make them tall enough to let a checker slide through (at least 1/2"), ours are 1" tall. You can see what I'm talking about on the diagram above (it's not to scale).

In the next day or two I'll talk about constructing the frame and what to do with the hardboard.

(Update: click here for part 3 of the series)

Posted by Ted at 12:01 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack
Category: Build It

Just to annoy Robyn

I'll be having lunch today at a local Mexican eatery, and it ain't Taco Bell. MmmmMmmm Yum!

Update: Sweetie, it's just as good, if not better, than El Charro!

Posted by Ted at 09:26 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Family matters

Fashion Lizard


This is the logo for the President's Commision on Moon, Mars and Beyond. I scored a pin at last weekend's rocket launch and will probably use it as a tie tack.

Posted by Ted at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Wanna see my Pump Rocket?

It's bigger than it looks. In fact, I actually had it in my hand, all ready to give to the checkout lady, but my conscience kicked in and I put it away. Even so, it's very impressive and lots of fun to play with.


Posted by Ted at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

No surprise there

Driving home from work yesterday, I merged onto the interstate behind a station wagon with out-of-state plates. Inside were two adults and at least seven or eight kids.

On the back was a bumper sticker: "I [heart] the Old Latin Mass".

Posted by Ted at 05:11 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

May 26, 2004

The slogan kinda bothers me though

On the way home from Michigan, we passed a billboard with this website, which made me think of The Llama Butchers.

Great URL - "Lamalot" - which makes me think of Richard Burton as king, with singing and dancing Llamas all over the place. Very memorable image, which is what you want.

But, "Try Llamas - For Pleasure or Profit"?!?!? Ewwwwww.

Posted by Ted at 02:49 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Pink bondage pants

That's what Mookie asked for over the weekend.

First I explained how life insurance worked, and that if I had a heart attack she wouldn't get a dime. She understood.

Then she explained what 'bondage pants' were. I understood.

Then I said "no".

She's annoyed with me, which is only fair since my chest still hurts from that thump-erk! she caused.

Posted by Ted at 02:40 PM | Comments (20)
Category: Square Pegs

Final Report – Team America Rocketry Challenge 2004

I’ve rattled on about this for a year now, and last Saturday, May 22, 2004 was the big day. The purpose of TARC is to promote an interest in aerospace sciences and technology fields among students, and in it’s first two years it has been a rousing success.

In the extended entry is a rundown on the whole event, and let me summarize by saying that this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Here are some numbers about the TARC 2004:

609 teams entered, comprising over 7,000 students, from all 50 states and DC.
201 teams submitted qualification flights
102 teams were selected to come to the flyoff (three way tie for 100th place)

Flight profile: Using a rocket designed and constructed by the student team, make a two-stage flight to as close as possible to 1250 feet, as measured by an electronic altimeter, while carrying a payload of two fresh eggs and returning them safely.

To qualify, the teams had to make a flight as witnessed and verified by a member of the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). The flight would be scored based on altitude and condition of the eggs and the scores sent in. The top 100 scores were invited to the finals.

More numbers:

7 teams submitted perfect qualifying scores (exactly 1250 feet and unbroken eggs)
41 teams qualified by making flights within 25 feet of the target altitude
The average qualifying score in 2003 was 99, in 2004 it was 38 (lower is better)

All day Friday, NAR and Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) volunteers set up the flying range at Great Meadows. Mookie and I helped last year, but this year I couldn’t take the time off from work.

On Friday evening, the NAR volunteers got together at a local high school for our final review of range operations. There were 70 volunteers, many of whom had also volunteered in the 2003 finals and/or had worked during the year to help organize this year's contest. Several had mentored one or more teams. Many were from out of state, from as far away as Colorado Springs and Minneapolis. There were quite a few New Englanders pitching in as well.

After the volunteer’s brief, the student teams entered the auditorium. Several hundred students, parents, and teachers were officially welcomed and given the rundown on the procedures that would be in effect for the contest. Speakers included the presidents and vice-presidents of the NAR and AIA, but the biggest buzz was saved for a surprise guest speaker, Vern Estes, founder of the Estes rocket company.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a picture of one of my rockets used on a promotional billboard at the briefing.

After the briefing, Mookie and I headed home – about an hour away – and got home around 10:30pm, needing to be at the flying field – more than an hour away – at 6am on Saturday.

In 2003, the weather at the finals was miserable and rainy. The contest even had a delay when a thunderstorm cell moved through and the field was cleared. For this year’s contest, the weather was clear but unseasonably hot and humid. The temperature hit the 90 degree mark, but the winds were near calm and the expected afternoon storms never materialized.

First order of business on Saturday morning was to help clear away the remains of a large party canopy that had been destroyed by the wind during an overnight storm. The canopy had smashed through a fence surrounding the field, so we did what we could to improvise repairs and make things safe.

Teams started to show up around 7am, and there were some high-power rocket demo flights made early on. Around 9am a local high school color guard presented the colors, and a student choir sang the National Anthem, followed immediately by a low level pass from a pair of US Marine Corps F18-Hornets. Oooo-Rah!

Mookie was a runner, delivering flight cards to the check-in table for teams that had selected their eggs. I was part of the recovery team, in case someone hung a rocket in a tree my job was to help them get it down if possible (and safe) using our 40 foot extensible poles, or qualify them for a re-flight if needed. Because of the calm winds, only one team treed a rocket, and they got it down safely. Basically, us recovery guys spent the day giving the runners breaks and spelling other volunteers as needed.

The most fun was watching the various teams. Many wore matching outfits or school colors, like the team who all had matching Hawaiian shirts with name tags showing their jobs (“egg specialist”, “ground support”, etc.). One memorable team wore togas, complete with laurel wreaths on their heads. I hope they used plenty of sunscreen.

Regardless of the uniform, or lack thereof, the focus was on their rockets. Each team made one flight for all the marbles. Limited exceptions were made for an encounter with the aforementioned rocket-eating trees (none needed) or altimeter malfunction or motor malfunction. Disqualifications were awarded for unsafe recoveries (i.e. – lawn darts) or broken eggs, which didn’t always match up. One team had their rocket come in sans parachute, and the eggs survived the sudden stop at the end of the flight. At the end of the day there were maybe six re-flights allowed, including one unfortunate team who suffered altimeter malfunctions on two different flights using two different altimeters. They took solace in the fact that they made two perfect flights, it was the electronics that let them down.

It was pretty neat to see the different ways the various teams tackled the technical problems involved. Same task, same goal, very different solutions and designs.

During the day, Vern Estes and his wife were out and about, talking to the kids and teachers. So was Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who is a big supporter of hobby rocketry. Homer Hickam of “October Sky” and “Rocket Boys” fame also got to speak to many of the teams.

There was also an area where several organizations had information tables. NASA had their mobile flight simulator set up, and various technical colleges and various other group reps were talking to people and handing out cool loot like posters and pens. Mookie scored a CIA pencil.

The competition was close, and everyone expected some ties among the top finishers, but it wasn’t until midway through the afternoon that a team nailed it – perfect score of zero. Right after that a team scored a five. Four more teams flew to within 15 feet of the target altitude, and ten more within 50 feet.

And then came the awards ceremony and guest speakers. Aside from the NAR and AIA representatives and the VIP’s mentioned above, speeches were given by NASA’s Director of Education (or some similar title, I tried to Google her name but had no luck), and Admiral (ret.) Craig Steidle, who now heads up NASA’s new Office of Exploration Systems, aka the “manned mission to the Moon, and beyond to Mars” projects. The high-profile of the guests demonstrates the importance attached to the TARC.

The kids really perked up when the NASA lady (damn, I wish I could remember her name) let everyone know that according to current plans, the first person to step onto Mars is currently in middle school or early high school. There were a LOT of “hey, that’s us!” looks and comments.

I may get some of the specifics about the awards wrong, but the gist is correct. The top 20 team’s faculty advisors (usually Science teachers) were each awarded $1000 to purchase equipment for their school science department. Several of the teachers were also awarded a trip to Space Camp for teachers, in addition to invitations to educational seminars sponsored by NASA and AIA member companies. I believe the top 15 teams will have the opportunity to submit proposals for further experiments to be flown aboard real NASA sounding rockets, the Space Shuttles, or the International Space Station. There is also an advanced version of the Rocket Challenge called the Student Launch Initiative sponsored by NASA where the teams compete using high-power rockets and the target altitude is one mile. The top teams also took home cash prizes for the students.

Head on over to the official website (click the “button” in the lower right corner to proceed through the title screens), and check things out. The official results are posted, and clicking on the team name displays a picture of the winning team with their rocket or with the VIP’s at the awards ceremony.

So that’s how Mookie and I and about a thousand friends, rocketeers and fellow space enthusiasts spent last Saturday. Like I said, it was one of the great days of my life, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.

Posted by Ted at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

May 25, 2004

She ain't "riffic" for nothing!

Mookie is the latest (first?) viewer/blogger to be posted on FuseBlog*, and has been invited to submit more posts. They've also added MookieRiffic and Fear Your Future to their blogroll.

In the traditional Munuvian manner: Yay!

*Fuse is a channel that does music videos, kinda like what MTV started out to be. I like 'em too, they rock.

Posted by Ted at 02:58 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

Previews of coming attractions

Busy busy busy catching up with things, but I do have a few things on the pad.

1. Team America Rocket Challenge. Was saturday, and was abso-freakin-lutely incredible!!! Tales to tell, but not today. In the meantime, the website has been updated with pictures and news (click past the sign in stuff - twice, you don't need it). More photos and stories will be posted in the near future.

2. Box Hockey. I talked about it once, then it was put on the back burner. Last week someone emailed me after googling "box hockey" and asked me to get going on it. So I will.

3. More interesting spacey kinda information. You know, the usual.

4. Even more weird and offbeat movie reviews. The movies are weird and offbeat, not the reviews. The reviews are colorful, insightful and informative. Trust me, I play a professional critic on the internet.

5. And enough miscellania to keep you shovelling away.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.

Posted by Ted at 01:47 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs


You have a dirty mind. Uh huh, I can see the smirk. It matches mine. :D

I haven't had the chance to look around yet, so these may be so yesterday's news.

From the Universal Church of Cosmic Uncertainty comes notice that the story about the lady who rode her motorcycle through the Cherbobyl area is a hoax. I know several bloggers linked to this one, but annika is the only one I recall at the moment.

Also filed under 'oops' is the story about the religious couple who couldn't figure out why she wasn't getting pregnant. Kevin of Wizbang exposes it as another hoax. Since everyone reads Wizbang (or should), you already knew this.

Posted by Ted at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Heard during the drive

It's rained 19 out of 23 days this month in Ohio (make that 20 out of 24 now). We saw lots of farm fields half under water. According to one radio report, Lake Michigan's water level has risen 2" this month. That's a lot of water!!!

Posted by Ted at 07:30 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Amusing myself on the way to work

This morning during the commute I was listening to one of my big band CD's. A song came on and brought back memories of classic black & white cartoons I used to watch on saturday mornings. These cartoons were before Hannah-Barbarra developed their cookie-cutter scenery style, and the music was lifted from the popular radio hits of the day.

The name of that particular song is "Song of the Volga Boatmen" and always seemed to be used for cartoon funerals or 'scary' skeleton dances. Another popular tune often used was "Sing Sing Sing", and I'm sure there are many more I'd recognize now.

I'll have to do some more research on this, because I don't have enough things to fill up every waking moment of my life. In the meantime, here's a site called Mike's Classic Cartoon Themes & Images. It concentrates on stuff newer than I'm talking about above, but it's still pretty cool. Seems to be fairly complete too, I mean, who else besides me remembers Marine Boy?

Posted by Ted at 01:36 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

May 24, 2004

1300 miles

Back. Tired. All good. Work tomorrow. Sleep...

Posted by Ted at 10:07 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Seriously

May 23, 2004

Family matters

Life happens, be back in a day or two.

Posted by Ted at 12:15 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Seriously

May 22, 2004

China changes space program focus

Moon, no. Space station, yes.

Thanks to Buckethead over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 04:44 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

May 21, 2004

Oh fer cryin' out loud

If you're here because of a Google search for "Calgary Flames Breast". You'll find them here (not work safe).

Credit where credit is due: Eric of Off Wing Opinion.

Posted by Ted at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links


This story was posted to the newsgroup Rec.Models.Rockets by Chuck Rogers, one of the team members who launched the amatuer rocket that reached space:

Fred Brennion and I were traveling back from the awesome flight to space of the CXST rocket. As we're heading back from Black Rock, being the yuppie that I am, I had the hankering for a raspberry mocha with soy milk, topped with whipped creme. Of course, heading back from Black Rock, once you're past Reno, you're traveling through the middle of nowhere. But, low and behold as we went through Bishop, CA, we found a great coffee shop, the Kava Coffeehouse.

Well, Fred and I are in the Kava Coffeehouse, and as I order my raspberry mocha with soy milk and whipped creme, Fred takes note of a good looking young lady at the other end of the counter. I don't really notice her, being totally enamored with my lovely wife Brenda, but Fred moves on down the counter to introduce himself to her.

Well, Fred says "hi", and then says "I'll bet you'll never guess why I don't have my driver's license". The young lady looks at Fred like that's the lamest pick-up line she's ever heard, and she says "let me see, I bet you had a DUI". And then Fred says "No, I put my driver's license in a rocket that went into space, but they haven't found the rocket yet."

I wish I could have taken a picture of the young lady's face! It was a mix of incredulousness, but yet a strange realization that Fred's comment was so completely off the wall, it probably was true!

Yes, in a strong vote of confidence that they'd recover the rocket, Fred asked the CXST team to put his driver's license in the CXST rocket payload bay. Bruce Lee also put one of his credit cards. These guys were confident that the CXST team was going to get that rocket back!

I told the nice young lady that the CXST flight was already on (the Kava Coffeehouse had a couple Internet terminals, we checked Internet news sites and found it), and that she could check it out herself. Another incredulous, stunned look. If she caught it on TV later, she probably turned to her friends and said, "you're not going to believe this, but I talked to these two geeks in the Kava Coffeehouse...", etc., etc..

Needless to say I drove the entire way home. Although if Fred was driving and we got pulled over, it would have been hilarious to watch him explain to the Highway Patrolman how he'd lost his driver's license. "You see officer, I flew my driver's license into space on a rocket, and they haven't found it yet".

Yea, right buddy!

I'm sure the CXST team will be mailing Fred his driver's license. Fred's already getting a new one, because his old one has been to space and needs to be framed, or something!

Kudos' to the CXST team! Great flight! Fred knew he'd get his driver's license back! And if you're going through Bishop, stop in at the Kava Coffeehouse for a great mocha.

Word is that there was quite a collection of keepsakes and momento's in the payload (also posted to Rec.Models.Rockets, from Pat G):
You left out the part that Bruce Lee threw his credit card in, and after the launch and recovery, he used it at Bruno's, still worked, btw, after being in to space.

Plus Ky recovered an Aerotech 38mm motor case that went to space, plus a lot of other memorbilia, coins, letters, etc.

There was mention in the reports about plastic in the nosecone melting from the friction heat generated by going mach 5.5, so apparently this stuff wasn't that far forward. Still a neat story. Congrats guys, again!

Posted by Ted at 06:39 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Rocketry

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

The hockey season isn't over, it just seems that way now that my beloved Sharks are out of the playoffs. Apparently there's another sport being played this time of the year...

Let's lead off with a little baseball history, shall we? The question is: "who is the ninth man?"

He is out there somewhere in spring training. He's probably 20 or 21, maybe 22. And he will retire in the year 2016. He will be the grand old man of baseball. And they will say, 'He's so old that the year he broke in, Eddie Murray was still playing.' And he will become the ninth man. Eddie Murray's the eighth man. When he broke in, Brooks Robinson was still playing. And when Robinson broke in, Bob Feller was still playing. And when Feller broke in, Rogers Hornsby was still playing. And when Hornsby broke in, Honus Wagner was still playing. And when Wagner broke in, Cap Anson was still playing. And when Anson broke in, Dickey Pearce was still playing. And when Pearce broke in, Doc Adams was still playing. Adams played for the Knickerbocker club inthe first organized game of baseball in 1846, number one of the eight men whose careers cover the 152 seasons since. And somewhere out there is the ninth man.

Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer to this one.

In the #2 spot we have Roberto of DynamoBuzz telling us about taking the family to see a minor league baseball game.

Moving the runners along, QandO reports on "Terror Math" and what exactly it means to find a single sarin-filled artillery shell in Iraq. This is scary stuff. In related developments, John and McQ have added Dale Franks to the blogging team, removing them from the Beeblebroxian category and placing them squarely in the realm of three-headed knights of Holy Grail fame. Ni! (I know)

Batting cleanup, we find this from the flea ethereal:

Bruce Campbell says there is "some validity" to rumours Ash could take on Freddy and Jason.

The mere thought makes me grin like an idiot.

Up next is Lemur Girl, who says:

...we all have the same love for the sun. So when it next peeks out from behind a cloud and people rush down to bathe shirtless and in tiny tops I will gladly join them.

Film at 11 (he wonders hopefully)?

Batting sixth is Angelweave's Heather, who has figured out that the cicada's are actually Zerg! Yikes!

In the seventh slot, we have Daniel, who brazenly displays a deep and penetrating understanding of mysterious technological mysteries. Jen steals the sign and calls the balk!

Seventh inning stretch! Jello shots, courtesy of Lawren.

Batting eighth, and consistantly going deep, is Debbye Stratigacos. Way to shut the home team down!

And finally, batting ninth with a funny bat, we have Simon. If you love football, you're daft, according to him.

Hitting the showers was never this much fun.

That's it, complete game. Now will someone please tell McCarver to STFU?!?!?!

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

May 20, 2004

Television coverage

Tune in to CNN on May 22, 2004. They will be broadcasting live throughout the day from Great Meadow, The Plains, VA, covering the 2nd Annual Team America Rocketry Challenge finals!

Who knows, you might see Mookie or yours truly.

Posted by Ted at 04:22 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

Conflict Map

An interactive map showing the locations of 20th century wars. Nifty.

Thanks to J-Walk Blog for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Air Force Blue (part 13)

Welcome to another boring story about my days in the United States Air Force. These are in no particular order, and this one takes place about midway through my twelve year stretch. My first four years were spent as Security Police, and then I cross-trained into Computer Programming.

I’d been stationed at Gunter Air Force Station in Montgomery, Alabama for a few years. Gunter was home of the AF Data Systems Design Center, where many of the standard Air Force computer systems used around the world were developed and maintained. Ever do a DITY (do-it-yourself) move? I wrote that one, way back when.

But this story isn’t about computers and programming, it’s about an extra duty I picked up – “supply guy”. I’m sure there was an official name for it, but I don’t remember what it was. Basically, when someone in our unit needed some equipment or supplies, they’d come to me and I handled the paperwork and legwork needed to get it done. There was nobody to teach me how to do the job, so I spent a lot of time on the phone asking the base supply unit lots of questions, and I visited with them quite a bit, building a relationship (because everything goes easier for a friend) and asking more questions. The supply people saw I wasn’t trying to get around the system, I just wanted to make sure I did things right the first time, which would save me time and frustration, as well as make folks in my unit happy (and less likely to bitch).

The Design Center was a unique military environment because there was a large civilian component. These weren’t contractors – although there were a few of those – they were federal employees who provided the long-term stability to the place. The military folks would get rotated out periodically, but the civilians were there forever.

One of the ranking civilians in my unit was tasked to set up a new branch, and he got to work. Besides figuring out how many new people he would need, he made arrangements for new office space and then came to me. We went through his requirements and put together an order for desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and all the other bits of furniture you need for offices.

Contrary to popular belief, the military doesn’t waste tons of money (notice the average age of our bomber and fighter aircraft for instance). One of the things I had to do as supply guy was to make a visit to the warehouse where used but usable furniture was stored. When someone wanted new stuff, we were required to go to the warehouse and see if we could find serviceable things instead of buying new.

I wandered through the stacks – the place was huge – picking out the best available. There was nothing wrong with the furniture I selected, other than it wasn’t new, and I even went to extra trouble to make sure partitions matched and such. And because it was a rush job, I set it all up to be delivered via flatbed truck during the following week, even though I’d be on leave.

The civilian big-boss wasn’t happy. Like most people, he wanted brand new furniture and raised hell with me and my supervisor, but there wasn’t much he could do. I'm not a big fan of 'by the book', but in this case the rules made sense and I had no reason not to follow them.

Two weeks later, back at work after my leave, I got a phone call from the supply folks. Seems that they had a requisition to order new furniture and nobody had done the ‘used furniture’ check first. I arranged to go down there that afternoon, and went to find out what was going on.

Turned out that when the flatbed of furniture showed up, Mr. big-shot Civilian refused delivery of the entire load. Then he submitted paperwork to buy everything brand new. And he did all this knowing I was on leave, hoping to get it processed before I got back.

That afternoon at the warehouse I found a nice pile of used furniture that hadn’t yet been re-sorted into it’s various areas, and – wonder of wonders – it exactly matched what big-boss needed. I wonder where it could have come from? Heh.

Two weeks later I got another phone call. A delivery flatbed was out back, full of furniture. I called big-boss and let him know it was here, and he was tickled pink, thinking that he’d pulled a fast one on me.

Imagine the look on his face as the forklift started unloading his ‘new’ office furniture. I even included some horrible framed “art” for the walls of his new offices. These were my little revenge, because I only had one requirement for those: heart-stoppingly ugly. Anything that also had a shitty frame was especially welcomed to the pile.

He didn’t speak to me for a long time after that. As for the “art”, I later found where he’d hidden those and personally hung them up for him one evening.

Posted by Ted at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Boring Stories

More details about the first amateur rocket to reach space

First mentioned here.

From the Rocketry Online release [emphasis added]:

Amateur Rocket Reaches 77 Miles
May 19, 2004
Web posted at: 2:48 PM EDT

(ROL Newswire) -- Rocketry Online received a call from Ky Michaelson from the lake bed at Black Rock Nevada reporting the Civilian Space Team had launched their amateur high power rocket on Tuesday May 18 to an altitude of 77 miles with velocities up to mach 5.5. The rocket is reported to have spent about eight minutes in a weightless environment before descending back to earth. The booster section has not yet been recovered, however the team was able to recover the payload section completely intact. The motor for the flight was provided by Korey Kline and Derek Deville. A full report is expected on the flight after the team returns home.
Source: ROL

Update: Even more detail, plus a link to video of the launch, over at RocketForge. The motor designation was an S-50000 and contained 435lbs of propellant. As explained in a previous post about rocket motors, each letter designation is twice as powerful as the previous one. The largest I've ever flown (so far) is an "I" motor, so the "S" motor is a little more than 1000 times more powerful than what I've done.

Casey at the Gantry Launchpad has a bit up about it as well.

Posted by Ted at 06:10 AM | Comments (0)

Just saying thanks

Mookie and I hadn't had any luck getting her PC connected to the internet on the new cat-5 cable we ran. Yesterday I asked a friend in the PC shop at work if he could put new jacks on the ends and test it for me (yeah, I was going to un-install the cable - we were that frustrated).

Instead he lent me a line tester, and when I got home last night Mookie and I got things up and running in about an hour.

I'll tell him 'thank you' this morning, and even though he doesn't read Rocket Jones, I thought I'd tell him thanks here too.

Posted by Ted at 05:20 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

May 19, 2004


That's how I'd describe the San Jose Sharks play during the last two games of their season.

Congrats to the Calgary Flames, you deserved the win.

And big thanks to my beloved Sharks, it's been a helluva ride.

Posted by Ted at 11:40 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Right up your alley

If you're one of those people who loves to jump on the bandwagon, join the parade, be part of the 'in' crowd, can't say no, or never met a cause you couldn't get behind, well, today is your lucky day!


Posted by Ted at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Blue Ox droppings are hell to get off the car

Last week, we got a notice that they were going to be trimming trees around the building at work. When I came in monday morning, three huge trees in front of the building had been completely removed. It was amusing, because a lot of people knew something was different, but couldn't put their finger on exactly what it was.

These were mature trees, taller than our two-story warehouse, and they had been planted way too close to the building. Sidewalks were being lifted and the last major trimming they'd had done had lopped all the branches off of the building side to keep them from smashing windows in the wind. So they were badly placed and wildly off-balance. People here at work are throwing a hissy fit. I hate that they're gone, but I understand why. Now I hope someone is talking about planting new trees, about 15 feet farther out from the building would do nicely.

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

Are you sick of hearing about Cicadas yet?

After 17 years they suddenly become a huge nuisance. Experts tell us that they're special and we should be nice to them, although they serve no useful purpose. They're noisy as hell, individually screeching until collectively they become an unintelligable droning. The only thing on their mind is sex, after which they disappear again until the next generation comes along.

To sum up, they're teenagers.

Posted by Ted at 06:44 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

Tang? He's my brother

On Wednesday, Col. Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut is expected to arrive in New York to begin a multi-day tour of the United States that will bring him to the United Nations and to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, among other locations.

Posted by Ted at 06:24 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

I didn't know this

In 1997, NASA was sued by three Yemeni men who claimed that they owned the planet Mars, and had the documents to prove it.

"We inherited the planet from our ancestors 3,000 years ago," they told the weekly Arabic-language newspaper Al-Thawri, which published the report Thursday.

Thanks to Jeopardy for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 05:35 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

May 18, 2004

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

Blogger had issues, there's no argument there, but the new version added comments and more style to several of my regular stops, so that's a good thing. Here we go on the Blogspot edition of Rocketing Around the Blogosphere...

First up is The Eternal Golden Braid, which is a great space blog. He's got comments now. Woot! I also found a link from his place to a page about StarForce, which is the space wargame and company I couldn't remember the name of here. That makes me happy too, although I'm guessing you're less than overwhelmed. May I suggest you go visit and check out his awesome Martian Pictures of the Day.

Check out Blogeline's snazzy new design. That's what I mean by new Blogger style. She was invited to be a Munuvian by notGeorge, and I think she wants to, but she's shy. Pixy, is she on the waiting list? If not, may we get her added?

The Llama Butchers are moving from Blogspot to new digs within the ever-expanding borders of Munuviana. Are they anti-Llama? Or are they Llama's who enjoy a little of the ol' ultra-violence, eh? Check 'em out, and decide for yourself. Warning though, they're definitely the thinking person's wooly mammal. Mammals. Whatever.

The Cheesemistress of Chaos (who I'm sure has noted that the term 'fairy floss' sounds like something Tinkerbell would wear at her evening job on the seedy side of town) has found a new friday funfest called Blogmaze. I followed her maze and came across CowDog, who was automatically added to the blogroll just for being an adult cowpuppy.

Somewhere and somehow I also wound up on the beach at the end of the world (not Mookie-safe, but fun nonetheless). She's Aussie, mentions breasts a lot, has pictures of submarines in her photo album (and we all know how much I love breasts submarines), and she's quite funny. Welcome to the blogroll dear. I can call her 'dear' because annika says I'm the "great elder statesman" of Munuviana, which also means I can be grouchy too, so back off ya whippersnapper.

And look what I found there on the beach, this video of a girl folding t-shirts. Go on, watch it. You know ya wanna. It's safe for work.

Publicola is another former blogspotter who's now a Munuvian. If you want to know about firearms rights and the second amendment, he's a good place to start. And if you're interested, check out Alphecca, Say Uncle, Murdoc Online, Spoons and the Shooter's Carnival for more about guns and shooting.

More recent additions to the blogroll, maybe you'll find something new and interesting to add to your lists:
Opinion8 - he's also a regular commenter at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy
Serenade - a Brit, I believe.
Republican Atheist Rocket Scientist Man - almost as descriptive as the literal Rocket Jones, eh?

That's it, I'm outta here. Dinner and a hockey game coming up.

Posted by Ted at 04:14 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

Finding rockets with GPS

There's been a misunderstanding about how I intend to use GPS when tracking and recovering my rockets. I'll talk a little bit about what's available now, the excellent suggestions given, and then explain the technique that I'll actually use.

(in the extended entry)

There are non-GPS low-power transmitters that can be put into a rocket, including a system developed by Walston. The club that we occasionally fly with in Whitakers, North Carolina has the Walston system. Each rocketeer buys a transmitter on a different frequency, and they split the cost of the receiving unit. The nice thing about the Walston unit (as I understand it) is that you don't need a ham radio license from the FCC, because the unit is extremely low-powered. You have to use a directional YAGI antenna, and there's an art to the technique of tracking down your rocket once it touches down. This explanation on using the Walston Tracking System is the best I've ever seen. The author, Sue McMurray, is a wonderful lady who was head of motor testing and certifications for the national high-power rocket organization for a time. She also offered her assistance when a local girl scout troop leader decided that "rockets aren't something that girls do". The lady can flat-out write, but more importantly she builds and flies some impressive rockets.

Back to tracking. It's also possible to use a higher-powered transmitter, but in that case you'll need to obtain your ham radio license. From what I've heard, it's not difficult to become a ham, especially since you no longer need to know Morse code as a prerequisite.

These systems are costly, and the rockets have to be designed to contain the transmitter antenna. They really do work, both out west where they tend to much higher altitudes (it helps to fly on the desert), but their recovery area is exponentially greater, and here in the east where we are more limited on altitude but the recovery areas tend to be cropland and woods. Trust me, wading through high cotton, tobacco or corn is no way to spend a summer day searching for a rocket.

Neither of those options are GPS though, they're just simple beacon transmitters, and you triangulate on the signal to locate the rocket. It's possible to lose the signal behind obstructions, which is where the art of the search applies. Picking up a blocked signal is made more likely by understanding the way everything works and how to take advantage of it.

Putting a GPS into a hobby rocket introduces new problems. You'll still need the transmitter, but instead of a simple beacon signal it needs to transmit its coordinates. It also has to be able to maintain the GPS signal on the way down and on the ground, regardless of how and where it lands. There is also more government regulation on transmitting signal strength and frequency.

My intended method is simpler and doesn't rely on having a signal transmitted from the rocket at all. In fact, it's just using the GPS to refine the search area. It does require seeing the rocket come down, otherwise I'm back to covering the general area in a search pattern until I get lucky or give up.

Before the actual launch of our rockets, if I've got extra eyes (Mookie) to help track I'll send her out a ways in the general direction of expected drift. If I'm at the club launch alone I'll enlist a friend to track from the pad and I'll head out a ways to get a different angle on the flight. Once it comes down, I make note of a landmark on the line of sight and estimate how far away the rocket landed. Often it's by judging whether it came down in front of or behind treelines, which means it can be very imprecise (the field behind that treeline might be half a mile wide). Then I head along that sight line, while Mookie (if she's available) does the exact same thing from where she was watching. In a perfect world, where we come together is where the rocket landed. In reality, one of us didn't track the rocket all the way down, or we have to scramble around and over obstacles which throws off the line of sight, or many other gotcha's that keeps you from walking a straight line in nature.

And this is where the GPS comes in. Some models allow you to shoot an azimuth with a compass, orient your unit to it, then enter 'waypoints'. By doing this, the GPS tells you how far off your line of sight you've wandered as you head towards the rocket. Entering a second set of waypoints - from where Mookie is standing - increases the accuracy.

It's not the most efficient use for GPS, but it's definitely an improvement over the guess-and-by-golly method we use now.

Posted by Ted at 11:24 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry Rocketry Resources

Practice your innocent look first

Have some fun with this site where you can create fake newspaper stories about your favorite (or not-so-favorite) people.

(work sensitive)

Posted by Ted at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Amateur Rocket Carrying Ham Radio Payload Reaches Space

The CSXT team is not competing for the X-Prize, but they've managed to reach space on their third attempt.

Posted by Ted at 12:55 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

May 17, 2004

Calling Iron Chef Klendathu

What the hell is wrong with people?!?!?!?

Cicada's are crawling out of the ground after 17 years and everywhere you look these nitwits are talking about eating them!

Recipes are printed in the newspaper, the newscasts are full of happy freaks chowing down on the insects, even the radio on the way home talked about chocolate chip cicada cookies. "First you pull off their heads and legs, then you dry roast them..." *gag*

Be honest now, March was National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, did y'all have a sudden hankerin' for chitlins?

Posted by Ted at 04:17 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Virtual target practice

Thanks to Wince and Nod for the pointer to this online shooting range. Learn how to line up various kinds of sights on pistols and rifles. Lots of fun and edjumuhcationable too!

Posted by Ted at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Lessons learned and lessons taught

America learned once again, thanks to Abu Ghuraib, that our freedoms are a two-edged sword, especially when trying to instill our overreaching principles on another people.

For all the breast-beating and second-guessing that we're hearing, I'm still proud of the USA, precisely because of what happened at Abu Ghuraib.

The humiliations inflicted on the prisoners were wrong, but that is a small (albeit important) part of the story. A soldier knew that it was wrong, and reported it to his chain of command. The military immediately began an investigation. The people identified in the investigations are being brought up on charges. The media was informed of the investigation at the very beginning, by the military itself.

America proved to the world that not only do we talk the talk, but we walk the walk. We've given the whole world a lesson in American-style freedom, and it is being noticed and talked about.

From BlackFive:

Iraqi media, almost unbelievably, have in recent days begun to editorialized astonishment at how the United States has responded. No covers ups. No denials. The President of the United States, the world's most powerful man, formally apologized to the people of Iraq. The U.S. Congress grilled a senior member of the Administration and all the while the U.S. media was allowed to report on the unfolding story with full freedom and access. "Why does Arab media fail at self criticism and why can't Arab human rights NGOs pressure Arab governments the way their counterparts do in America?", asked the host of satellite news channel al-Arabiy's (one of the harshest critics of the United States) "Spotlight" news program. The follow up commentary was even more astounding, given the source. "The Americans exposed their own scandal, queried the officials and got the American Government to accept responsibility for the actions of its soldiers," stated the host before asking her guests why this sort of open and responsive action isn't taken in the Arab world.

There's lots more, all worth reading.

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

Shoe porn

Not quite as dirty as it sounds, but still not safe for work.

Posted by Ted at 05:30 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Altruism *is* self-interest

What's in it for me?

It's a crass way of defining the motivations of man. All mankind. Every last one. Even people like Mother Theresa operate from the same basic principles, although one might put it more delicately.

Helping someone 'from the goodness in your heart' means you do it because it makes you feel good inside, or it satisfies your code of ethics. Or maybe you do it because God tells you to, in which case your 'reward' is spiritual, but it is there. Even self-sacrifice boils down to the same base motivations.

Nobody does anything unless their self-interested needs are met somehow.

(this is what passes for rigorous thought in my fluffy little world, now where's my puppy...)

Posted by Ted at 05:06 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

May 16, 2004

Nifty historical links

Courtesty of The Massive Whinger, who's trackbacks are blocked and won't work.

Castles of Britain.

Churches of Britain.

Military history.

Prelude to D-Day, 1944.

The Battle of Monte Cassino (WW II).

Posted by Ted at 06:29 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links


I have one, and if you do I'd like to hear it. Leave it in the comments.

Pink or Avril Levigne?

Update: So far, the vote is Pink: 5 Avril: 1, although Norah Jones did get a write-in vote. We also got two "who?", including Lynn who points out that Avril sounds like the name of one of those new drugs on the market.

Posted by Ted at 05:07 PM | Comments (12)
Category: Square Pegs

Online Space Related Resources

NASA History Series Publications On-Line. A whole heap o' historical documents available, including some very interesting online books about various NASA facilities (Ames, Marshall and Johnson research centers), projects (Skylab, Mariner, etc) and other aspects such as space medicine and planetary research. This is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in space and the space program.

Be sure to check out A Meeting With The Universe: Science Discoveries from the Space Program. This book has beautiful illustrations and photographs and is designed for the non-technical reader.

Also, there's an amazing history of America's "moon" rocket - the Saturn booster, which includes not just what actually came to be, but also the earliest concepts and plans as well as what might have been had we continued development of that family of rockets.

Of course there are little gems for rocket nuts like yours truly too, like this publication entitled: NASA SOUNDING ROCKETS, 1958-1968 - A Historical Summary. Bliss!

Posted by Ted at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program


For pete's sake people, if you're looking for partners to have cyber-sex on the internet, at least use some ordinary common sense and protect yourself.

(in the extended entry)

safe cyber-sex.jpg

Posted by Ted at 06:48 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

May 15, 2004

Rocket Launch

I've been under the weather since wednesday, but today I'm headed out for a club rocket launch. The day is supposed to be beautiful, with possible thunderstorms rolling through tonight.

Enjoy your day, I'm going to enjoy mine.

Posted by Ted at 07:17 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

In space, no one can hear you say stupid things

I got this comment to one of my space posts a while back, and had put it aside to respond to later. I forgot about it. Naturally, the return email was bogus, but the sentiments contained within are worth looking at again.

I believe that there should be one global space program (to help it move along quicker) However, it should be noted that if any country needs a space program, it's China.

When one and one half billion people live in an area the size of the US, and when they have to commit genocide against the Tibetans in order to resettle the Han population, I say it's about time to resettle the same Han Population onto the Moon.

Not only China, but also India, Bangladesh, Madagascar, the United States etc need to resettle their collective populaces outside the Earth for the sake of environmental recovery.

People need to settle on the Moon etc As Soon As is Possible. There are way too many people on the Earth and for each person born (especially to the wealthy) our resources are strained more and more and our environment is further decimated. It would be best if ALL the people on planet Earth left for space, save for a few indigenous peoples. That would give the Earth time to repair it's self.

Eventually all the cities towns and villages lying along the great coastal plains will have to build protective domes around them (as the ice caps melt and sea levels rise). The Space program may very well supply this technology.

The given link [here ya go - RJ] shows all the eco-regions and how, why, and to what extent they are being threatened.

Oh man, where to begin...

Posted by Ted at 06:14 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

May 14, 2004

Edge of space

Burt Rutan and his team are right on the edge of claiming the X-Prize. Read about their latest successful test flight.

Posted by Ted at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Movie Review: Happiness of the Katakuris

Japanese. Horror. Subtitled. Musical. Schizophrenic. Fun. Thriller. Stupid. Subtle. Disjointed. Hilarious. Crude. Original. Sweet. Surreal.

Wow, this one is impossible to describe. It's all of the above, and more. Imagine watching the shower scene from Psycho, and immediately afterwards the police show up and the investigation is conducted as a musical number from Saturday Night Fever. It makes even less sense than that, but damn, it's odd fun.

Did you enjoy Clerks? Fargo? Godzilla? North by Northwest? Gumby? The Sound of Music?

I saw it on the Sundance Channel. Check your local cable or satellite listings, or according to IMDB reviews, it's also available at some Blockbuster Video stores.

If you like things a lot off the wall, you'll probably enjoy this movie. Or not. Hell, I have no idea. All I know is that *I* loved it.

Did I mention the zombies?

Posted by Ted at 07:07 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Cult Flicks

Estes releases X-prize model rockets

Crap. I'm going to have to get all eight of these. Yep, darn. ;)

Ye Olde Rocket Shoppe has details and pictures of the announcement advertising.

Looks like Estes is also coming out with a couple of rocket gliders, a new version of their camera rocket, and a rocket that takes in-flight digital movies.

Posted by Ted at 01:48 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

Damn, this war is expensive!

Time for some creative thinking!

Contact your local PTA's and volunteer to head up fundraising efforts for Uncle Sam. Picture the little patriots standing out in front of the local supermarket, holding a "Pennies for Cruise Missiles" drive.

Or for organizations, how about a "Sponsor A Bomb" program? For your donation, you get pictures showing your organization's name and logo on the bomb, along with the crew who're going to load it onto the aircraft and the pilot who drops it. You also get before and after photos of the target taken out by "your" bomb, and if it's a smart bomb you get a tape with the actual video feed as it reaches out and touches someone. Up close and personal, as they say.

I know, I can hear you saying that you already pay for all those things with your tax dollars, and you're absolutely correct. Think of this as a way to direct your bucks towards something specific. Ever hear someone complain that if they could, they'd make sure their money wasn't being used for [insert whatever here]? Same idea, turned 180 degrees.

Another thought. Why isn't PETA sending doggie-flak vests to our K-9 compadres? Here's an angle that may persuade them: for every military working dog that survives, the chances are that he'll point out more humans that will be killed! Safer dogs and less people! Win - win, eh?

Come to think of it, the tree-huggers outta be thrilled with that too.

There are untapped resources out there. We just need to give until it hurts them.

Posted by Ted at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

May 13, 2004

Operation Smile

Another worthy cause. Read the story and if you can, please lend a hand.

Posted by Ted at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links


Mark left the following in the comments a few days ago.

1998 saw a new wave of expansion of the NHL. Nashville was selected as one of the new cities. Native Tennesseans don't grow up with hockey (period). We learn the basics of Basketball, baseball, and Football. We tend to tolerate basketball/baseball until football comes back. Hockey vocabulary isn't taught/supported in the home.
I have been a Predator fan since I saw the inagural game back in 1998. I have looked at hockey as outsider for the last six years and have come to understand a few things. I understand that Hockey suffers from a lack of funding that might see a lockout/strike next year. Hockey needs an increase in Television revenue and that will only happen when the networks increase the "newbie" factor in the broadcast commentary. Hockey rules/strategy is not basic to most of American Culture like it is around the "orginal six" cities.
Along those same line, Hockey vocabulary needs to be explained to those who don't know what biscit, top shelf, five hole, or a blue line is. Somethings aren't as aparent like the difference between a wrist or slap shot. Then there are the more obscured, but vital words like a checking line. In this age of instant information the "orgianal six" tend to ignore the obvious that they have developed a language all of their own.
The second thing that the broadcasters need to improve upon is the number of cameras covering the game. How many times durring an NFL or NASCAR event that there wasn't a camera angle avilable to show fowl/accident/excitment? Why is it extreamely better to go see a live hockey game than a Televised game? There are disparities between the two that need to be adressed before the NHL will compete effectively with the NHL.
I would have thought that the fans of the "original six" would seek to convert anyone into a fan instead of this elitist mentality that only they should have hockey. I will be bitterly disappointed if there isn't hockey next season because the elitist have propagated the phrase "watered down hockey" to the point that not even the die-hard fans watch anymore. -- Mark

This guy makes so much sense he should be hired by the NHL to market the league.

To their credit, hockey started a series of televised games called "NHL Rules" where they explain what's going on during the course of the game. When icing is called, you get a quick explanation of what it is and what happens next. Two line pass? Same deal, an on-the-fly explanation, sometimes with a diagram to help explain the concepts. Unfortunately, hockey isn't televised all that much in the US unless you live near one of the teams, and the local teams don't do "NHL Rules", it's a national thing.

The league also does celebrity commercials - little quickies where they go over the slang and bits about how things work. Shania Twain does a couple, as do Jim Belushi and Keifer Sutherland and others. But again, they show these during hockey games, when many of the people watching are already at least somewhat familiar with the rules. They need a generic version to play during NASCAR races and NBA games and reruns of Friends.

Speaking of, the NHL is where NASCAR languished for years. People think hockey means fighting, like auto racing used to mean crashing. The league needs to play up the athletic angles without taking away from the crunch. The hitting in hockey is as intense as pro football, the sustained pace of the game can be compared to NASCAR, and the grace and moves of the players rivals basketball. The downside is the lack of scoring which might make viewers think of soccer, except that soccer doesn't have nearly the number of shots attempted. In addition, the NHL is implementing some rule changes to goalie equipment that should make scoring a little easier.

I learned most of my hockey knowlege from watching live games, and having the season-ticket holders sitting nearby explain things to me. I saw the same half dozen people time after time, and they were great people.

As for extra cameras, I'd settle for better placement. In some arenas in the NHL, the cameras are so badly located that the glare from the ice washes out the action. Or they're placed so high up that it's like watching from the upper deck.

Robert Heinlein once said something like "The answer to most any question is 'money'" (yeah, I butchered that quote). The NHL is trying to survive in markets that aren't intuitive. This year could see a Stanley Cup final between the traditional hockey hotbeds of Tampa Bay, Florida and San Jose, California (hope springs eternal). In the meantime, competition for players has driven salaries up like in every other sport, which in turn has driven ticket prices up. I don't see many live hockey games anymore, because it's just too damn expensive. I wish we had a minor league team closer - I think Atlantic City or Wilkes-Barre are the closest, and both of those are several hours away.

Cap the salaries guys, and if you lose a few stellar European players who decide to stay home, I can live with that.

Face shields should be mandatory. Who wins when a star takes a puck to the face and is knocked out for weeks (Roenick) or even forever (Chelios)?

Market the game, market the rivalries, market the stars - in that order. In fact, there should be a whole lot more emphasis placed on the history of hockey. Everyone knows what the Stanley Cup looks like, even non-hockey fans. Do you know what the World Series trophy looks like? How about the Super Bowl trophy? Hell, the Super Bowl team rings get more attention than the trophy. But the Stanley Cup is like everyman's trophy. It's the perfect link to the history of the game. Use it!

Posted by Ted at 11:31 AM | Comments (10)

R Crumb site

Some representative samples from the artist (not safe for work). Even if you don't recognize the name, you may know the work. He did the cover of Cheap Thrills by Janis Joplin's Big Brother & the Holding Company.

Posted by Ted at 06:15 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

May 12, 2004

Mutual Assured Destruction of Omaha moment

I had to move a bookcase out of the way to get at the wall where our modem cable enters the house. Afterwards I was inspecting the new cat-5 cables, and noticed a little bit of nature happening right near my feet.

A yellow jacket was buzzing on the floor, caught up in a spider web. Also on the web was the owner, possibly a black widow, darting in and out, doing spider things to subdue the yellow jacket and make it more secure in the web. It was pretty fascinating to watch.

I finally got a spraycan of gloss clearcoat and hosed them both down until all movement stopped. Old joke, but true in this case: they died with a beautiful finish.

Posted by Ted at 04:46 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

PDA's and GPS

Just before I left the Air Force, the unit I was assigned to purchased Geodex systems for every officer. Geodex was similar to DayRunner or File-o-Fax and was basically a notebook full of the myriad details that you needed for life.

Alas, Geodex is no more. This truly sucks because it was one of those instances where the implementation lived up to the promise of the original concept.

Anyways, one officer I worked with didn’t want his Geodex because he already had a system that worked for him, so he gave the whole thing to me to use. I loved it and used it for several years, finally giving it up when I could no longer get the annual refills needed to keep it current.

Since then, I’ve relied on post-it notes, various lists jotted here and there and numerous notebooks and steno pads. Nothing very formal, nothing very organized, but good enough to get by with.

Obviously, I’m not one of those people who runs right out to get the latest and greatest technology. I still don’t have a cell phone, let alone a PDA. A PDA always fell under the category of ‘nice to have’ – if I ever had a few hundred dollars to spare. Being married with teenagers in the house, you can imagine how often that happens.

GPS was kind of interesting, but for me the main idea would be using it to triangulate the position of a rocket when it landed, hopefully cutting down the time spent searching for rockets that come down out of sight. The kids and I have always used the human method, where one stays back and marks a distant landmark, then uses hand signals to direct the searchers to the correct line to follow. It works better than guess-and-by-golly, but it’s far from perfect.

GPS always fell into the ‘nice to have’ category too, but my sensible (and better) half is starting to convince me that it’s time to modernize all-around (hint: when convincing me, it helps to use a bigger 2x4).

I’m feeling the need for a PDA, and Garmin makes a model – the Garmin iQue 3600 – that combines the features of a good PDA with everything I need in a GPS system. The damn thing is almost $500.00, but Liz made the point that with the amount of money I’m risking per rocket launch nowadays (motor parts, electronics, chutes, etc), that if the GPS helps me locate a rocket or two that I might otherwise lose, then it’s practically paid for itself right there. Like I said, she’s the sensible member of the team.

Still with me? Cool. This is a long, meandering way to finally get around to asking if you have a PDA or GPS, and if so, what it is and how it works for you? What do you like about it? What do you hate about it? What would you change about it?

Don’t have one? Why not? I’m curious and collecting experiences and opinions here. Thanks.

Posted by Ted at 11:33 AM | Comments (8)
Category: SciTech


Mr. Green puts it perfectly:

Abu Ghraib represents a betrayal of our principles, while this murder [Nicholas Berg - RJ] represents an expression of theirs.

It's short, and not all flag-waving and chest-thumping either. Go read.

Posted by Ted at 07:56 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

The secret life of my inner-geek

Over at the Llama Butchers, Robert comes out of the geek-closet and lists ten things that he knows way too much about to be considered healthy. Well, I have a few of those niche interests myself, so here's my list:

1. Stonehenge
2. Druids
3. Star Trek paperback novels (original series)
4. WWII Battle of Midway
6. Car Wars game
7. The Fantasy Trip role-playing game
8. H.P. Lovecraft
9. Hitchcock movies
10. James Garner

Things I know quite a bit about but not enough to go on that list:

1. Cooking
2. Gardening
3. Hockey
4. 60's & 70's tennis
5. Cary Grant movies
6. Movie musicals
7. Woodworking, cabinetry and carpentry
8. Oakland/LA/Oakland Raiders
9. San Francisco Giants

Robert also asks that you run with this and post your own list, however long or short, on your own place if you have one. Feel free to leave it in my comments if you'd rather.

Posted by Ted at 06:15 AM | Comments (5)
Category: About Ted

Mentioned in passing

My wife once bought me a bumper sticker for one of my old beater vehicles. It read "Vulcan Science Academy - the logical education".

I put it on my back bumper. Upside down.

Posted by Ted at 06:03 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

May 11, 2004

Thunderbirds are Go!

A new live action style movie due out in July. Be sure to watch both trailers, because the US and international versions are different.

Thanks to Doug Pratt for sending this link to me! And if you go to Doug's site, you should order one of his cool new Freedom 'hoody' sweatshirts or 'rocket scientist' t-shirts. Both are Mookie-approved!

Posted by Ted at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Cult Flicks

Another rocket contest

This one calls for teams to build a rocket that deploys a remotely-controlled rover vehicle.

Posted by Ted at 06:05 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Unlike Frankenstein, the green stops at my thumbs

I'm not bragging, I'm just good at non-vegetable gardening. There are a few pictures of this year's work (so far - it's early yet) in the extended entry.

This is a little area I've been putting together for a few years. The clematis is two years old and finally starting to really take off as it climbs the pole and iron bird feeder, You can see the big blue flowers on the clematis, they're spectacular when they really get going. Flanking the clamatis are a pair of dahlias, one pink and one yellow, and the hanging basket has pink petunias that'll grow and spill over. The big orange-liquid feeder is for orioles, not hummingbirds. I got Liz a nice glass hummingbird feeder for Christmas, but she wants to put that in the backyard because she's afraid some kid will break it out front.
These two hostas were transplanted from another bed less than a month ago when they first started surfacing. They're three years old now, and I've moved them each spring looking for the perfect spot.
Here's my holding bed in the backyard where I keep extra hostas of various kinds. Over the last few years I've stashed sedums, hostas, black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, heather, dusty millers and lavender in this bed while I relocated some beds in the front yard. I may as well just put a border around this one and incorporate it into the landscape.

Posted by Ted at 05:21 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Family matters

May 10, 2004


Here's the list of visiting guests at the Team America Rocketry Challenge finals to be held weekend after next (link over on the right column):

"Rocket Boy" author Homer Hickam, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, NASA Associate Administrators Craig Steidle and Adena Loston, Marshall Space Flight Center Director David King, NASA astronauts Jay Apt and Charlie Walker, among other dignitaries.

Mookie and I got to meet Homer Hickam, Senator Enzi, and Jay Apt last year. Good people.

Posted by Ted at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Rocketing Around the Blogosphere

I've been working on this as time allowed over the last few days, so if you find some of these links are a little... old, they're not, they're nicely aged like a fine wine. Yeah, that's it.

Fellow Munuvian Linda of Auteriffic has an interesting discussion going on about porn. If you’ve read Rocket Jones for any length of time, you know I peruse the naughty bits on occasion, and then cheerfully pass it along to you. That’s not what Linda is doing, she’s looking at it from a more intellectual standpoint, and the discussion is excellent. Go check it out.

P.S. For anyone expecting to find my input there, it’s not. I’ve got some things to say, but haven’t really had a chance to sit back and sort it out in my mind. This is a subject where it’s all too easy to lose sight of your original point, and I don’t want to do that. Maybe this week, if not then I’m afraid it’ll be too late to toss my two cents in.

Over at Say Uncle, Thibodeaux passes on a link and a joke. The excerpt from the linked story is priceless!

I’ve heard of LittleTinyLies before, but there are only so many hours I can waste at work spend surfing the ‘net, so I’d never visited.

Big mistake on my part. This guy is on a BBQ binge lately, and some of his posts are so mouth-wateringly wonderful it’s damn near pornographic [another porn reference - what gives?]. Ignore some of the unholy abominations he experiments with (donut lasagne?) and stick with the 'dead beasts on fire' recipes. Yum!!!

Annika has probably already seen this (and frightened co-workers as she suddenly burst into laughter throughout the day at the mere thought of), but she seldom misses an opportunity to slam the American Skankwoman. So just in case she missed it, here's Britney Spears in her natural state, courtesy of Wizbang!

Do you love Scrappleface? Are you a regular Onion reader? Have you tried Broken Newz yet?

Thank J-Walk Blog for this link to 40 years of Astounding/Analog covers. I read Analog faithfully for years from the early 70’s, and was introduced to war gaming thanks to a little ad inside one of their issues. What was that company again... SSI - Strategic Simulations, Inc? I need to google that up.

He also linked to the Read Print library, with thousands of online books. This is going to be fun to go through.

Loren at Civilization Calls links to this interesting phenomena in Africa - fairy circles - that as far as anyone can tell, may actually be created by fairies.

Yet another Munuvian, Rae, talks about her Mother's Day weekend and teaching her kids life lessons about work and money. We've tried to do the same with our kids, and I think we've been successful. Mookie bought her own PC with babysitting money (she was tired of having the old hand-me-down machine), and oldest daughter Robyn bought her own first car. They've learned that saving money and working towards your goals is worthwhile, because you tend to appreciate what you have more when you earn it.

Speaking of Mookie (aka Rachael), her internet connection has been shut down for a couple of weeks. When we had new windows installed in the house, the old cable was removed and we've run two new lines into the upstairs. Unfortunately, the new cable we dropped into her bedroom isn't working, so one evening this week I've got to head back up into the attic and we'll try the second cable run and hope that one works. She's been making do with scrounging time on Mom's PC.

Short. Sweet. Absolutely true. Thanks for the laugh, John.

Bigwig at Silflay Hraka posts the latest "Not the Prudie" advice column link, and it's a keeper. My favorite bit:

A ballroom dancer who's a great listener, puts other people first, and seeks advice from his women friends. I'm not saying you're gay, but everyone else is.

I miss Dear Dottie. Is she still writing for the Weekly World News?

Dustbury remains one of my favorite daily stops. Here he opens a discussion about President Bush's policies. I get involved. Head on over and point and laugh at your host (that would be me) being shredded intellectually (I anticipate this last bit).

Update: Maybe I'm not an idiot. People seem to be agreeing with me, which probably means they're talking about me behind my back. That's ok too, it's better for my self-esteem. :)

All right, if I wait much longer to post this links might start expiring. Enjoy.

Posted by Ted at 08:14 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Links

Eagles over Washington D.C.

Not quite, but closer than you might think.

When folks think about American Bald Eagles, they often picture the birds soaring through majestic mountains and nesting atop barren, craggy peaks far above the treeline.

What you might not know is that there is a bald eagle preserve in northern Virginia, about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. Set along both shores of the Potomac river, this preserve is home to up to 50 bald eagles at a time and has three active nests. George Washington himself may have watched an eagle or two, since his Mount Vernon home overlooks the Potomac river just north of today's preserve. It's not unheard of for boaters on the Rappahanock river to spot an eagle circling lazily overhead as eagles continue to make a comeback from their endangered status.

Much of the preserve's land remains in private ownership, and not open to the public, but there are also several parks where hiking, boating, and camping are allowed.

You may remember when President Clinton released an adolescent eagle named Freedom at July 4th ceremonies in 1996. The eagle flew directly over an Osprey nest, and the territorial osprey (four of 'em) attacked Freedom and knocked him into the water. Freedom was rescued by the Coast Guard and re-released a couple of weeks later after recovering from minor injuries.

Posted by Ted at 06:36 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Successful Aerospike Test

Here's a good explanation of what aerospike rocket motors are all about.

There are pictures here, and if you select the medium or large sizes, you can really study the detail of the aerospike design (if that sort of thing floats your boat).

The names and organizations involved are familiar to rocketeers, because this is the kind of cutting-edge experimentation that some of us get involved with. Here's the inside scoop from Chuck Rogers, one of the people involved, as posted on the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup (links added):

Cesaroni Technology Incorporated did a great job on the structural design and fabrication of the aerospike. The aerospike retrofits onto an O5100 motor in place of the conventional conical nozzle. BlackSky Research built the Optimal 168 rocket, and ran the launch operations for the flights.

I've seen the Cessaroni motors flown, and they are sweet. They're also commonly available to people like myself who fly the smaller rockets. BlackSky is another company that does everything from hobby rocketry to 'real' experimental rocketry. My launch rail was made by them.
The aerospike is a centered Prandtl-Meyer all-external expansion design. It delivered 97% of ideal efficiency in ground test (exceeding historical Rocketdyne data), and theoretically would deliver the same high efficiency from sea level to vacuum flight conditions.

Even the most optimized conventional nozzles are compromises for the expected range of altitudes and pressures expected. The efficiency of the aerospike means that bigger payloads can be lifted on a given thrust.
The rocket flights were to demonstrate operation of the aerospike in flight, and to measure installation effects compared to the uninstalled ground static firings. CFD was run not only for the aerospike hot gas flowfield, but for the combined rocket and aerospike plume flowfield.

This is the most highly instrumented high power/experimental rocket ever flown. In addition to highly accurate accelerometers and pitch, yaw, and roll rate sensors, the rocket used a conic nosecone with a built-in Flush Air Data System (FADS) (like a pitot tube), calibrated with CFD and cone pressure tables. This was the first inflight direct aerodynamic measurement of angle of attack on a model, high power, or experimental/amateur rocket.

Blacksky Research coordinated the development of the aerospike nozzles and solid rocket motors, provided overall project management on the contractor side, and really helped refine the whole concept of using large high power rockets for advanced flight test research. All at a low cost relative to normal government aerospace projects.

All that fun and saves Uncle Sam money too. Later on in the exchange, questions about the materials used to construct the aerospike were asked. This is why I love rocketeers, because Anthony Cessaroni himself jumped into the conversation:
Composites, ferrous and non-ferrous alloys, a little bit of graphite and a pinch of tungsten.

We also got to hear about one of the hazards of aerospikes (Chuck Rogers again):
Well, it turns out that the tungsten tip on the aerospike is REALLY SHARP. While walking around the rocket as it was mounted on the transfer cart I got "speared" by it. It put a tear in my shirt, but it didn't break the skin. It did not draw blood!

For this experiment we wanted a "pure" spike that went all the way to a sharp tip. For an "operational" aerospike there is predicted to be very little performance loss for up to a 25% reduction in the spike length.

You'd want at least some minimal truncation to avoid that VERY sharp tip.

Which was suggested by CTI, but again, for the "purity" of the experiment we wanted a sharp tip.

These are the kind of details that bring history to life. And to add a data point to our assertion that hobby rocketry leads to technology-related careers, here are two pages from a 1982 rocketry magazine written by "Crazy-Chuck" Rogers.

Posted by Ted at 05:22 AM | Comments (1)
Category: SciTech

May 09, 2004

Congratulations Canada

They won the world hockey championship for the second year in a row.

The US took the bronze.

Posted by Ted at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Enough light to do the job

This redefines 'task-lighting', eh?

A U.S.-Israeli laser designed to protect northern Israel from missile attacks downed its largest rocket to date during a test over the southern New Mexico desert, the Army said Friday.

There's more coolness, you should check it out.

Posted by Ted at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

Happy Mother's Day

(in the extended entry - click where it says "light this candle...")

Happy Mothers Day

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

All right, your wait is over

I warned you here that I was going to watch a couple more offerings from Seduction Cinema. By the end of last month, I'd recorded Play-Mate of the Apes and Gladiator Eroticus. Boy howdy.

Like I originally stated, the formula is to spoof a popular movie, and to fill it with lesbian softcore porn. Part of what makes these films work is that the original storylines are closely followed, so the movies tend to actually have plots.

But face it - and I can't believe I'm actually saying this (my 'guy' membership will be revoked for sure) - there is such a thing as too much lesbian porn. Watching one of these movies is fun, but two is borderline boring, and three is serious overkill. Maybe it's because it was the first one I saw, but I still think Lord of the G-Strings is the best of the three I've seen. Play-Mate of the Apes was fun and funny, but there were way too many enhanced bustlines for my taste. The overstuffed petrified-chest look just doesn't do it for me.

Now that this peculiar little itch has been scratched, I can get back to my beloved obscure crappy horror movies. I do have some interesting flicks on my list to be reviewed, but with springtime here my movie time is seriously curtailed. We'll get to 'em all in time.

Posted by Ted at 12:05 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Cult Flicks

May 08, 2004

Thanks Euth!

I talked about Dairy Queen's new Flamethrower Burger commercial here. Have you seen it yet? Well, thanks to Euth, here's the link to see it online. He didn't leave contact info, so the good deed counts double.

Posted by Ted at 05:52 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Michael Moore deserved an Oscar for Dr. Strangelove dammit!

What do you mean it wasn't real?

Posted by Ted at 11:23 AM | Comments (12)

HOA's, and how meteors don't smash into them nearly often enough

Paul had a little run-in with his HOA. I commiserated in his comments and asked if I'd ever told him the story of the meteor that almost crashed through my roof.

Turns out I had told that story here. Damn, I can't be running out of material already.

Posted by Ted at 09:32 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Federal Government going after Hobby Rocketry

This appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Since they require subscription to access, the article is included below (in the extended entry) as posted on the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup.

The hobby rocketry community is small and active, so I've talked to most of the rocketeers or shopped at the hobby shops mentioned in the article. This is the perfect example of Homeland Security acting in a way that will not actually make anyone safer, but they can point to it as an example of ways that they're working to protect us. Justifying their existance is what I call it.

For the most part, the article is fair and reasonably accurate. The main point missed though isn't the cost of the new permits, it's the unreasonable storage requirements which are damn near impossible to comply with.

May 7, 2004 PAGE ONE Explosive Debate: Should U.S. Check Up On Model Rockets?

Under 9/11 Law, ATF Keeps
Tabs on Propellant Buyers;
Feds Visit Al's Hobby Shop

May 7, 2004; Page A1

ELMHURST, Ill. -- Al's Hobby Shop in this leafy corner of suburban
Chicago is always packed with mothers looking for Cub Scout badges,
teenagers ogling imported slot cars and grown men playing with model

But to federal law-enforcement officials, Al's is also a possible
terrorist supply depot. And so, last October, a special agent from the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was sent to Al's
from Washington to buy $1,700 in model rocket motors.

"The guy told me that the government wanted to do some tests," recalls
Tim Lehr, who sold the agent 40 motors containing almost 60 pounds of
propellant. "He wouldn't say what the tests were for, but I could
guess: The government wanted to ruin my hobby."

Since the passage of the initial post-9/11 antiterrorism laws in
October 2001, hobby rocketry has been struggling to avoid regulation
that enthusiasts say will destroy their sport, deter youngsters from
pursuing an interest in science and waste the nation's limited
law-enforcement resources. The Department of Justice says that federal
agents need to keep an eye on who is buying model rockets because the
toys are potentially dangerous and could be adapted by terrorists to
attack airplanes and American soldiers.

At the heart of the problem is a long-running dispute between
hobbyists and the ATF, which is part of the Justice Department, over
how to legally classify the chemicals used to propel rockets. Ammonium
perchlorate composite propellant, better known as APCP, is a rubbery
mixture of resins, powdered metals and salts that ignites at 500
degrees Fahrenheit and burns like a road flare on steroids. It's the
same fuel that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses
in the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle.

For hobby rockets, APCP comes in the form of pellets wrapped in
cardboard about an inch in diameter and three inches long. The
cylinders, which start at $12.50 apiece and can go up into the
hundreds of dollars, can be stacked in reusable aluminum casings to
power larger rockets.

Rocketeers have always maintained that APCP doesn't detonate, it
deflagrates. That is, it burns intensely at a controlled rate. Since
1971, however, the ATF has branded APCP as a "low explosive" subject
to regulation and licensing by the bureau. In practice, the ATF
largely ignored the rocketeers as long as they weren't selling or
buying APCP across state lines.

With new fears about national security after 9/11, President Bush
signed the Safe Explosives Act, an antiterrorism law contained in the
bill that created the Department of Homeland Security. In effect for a
year, the law now requires permits for all purchases of rocket motors
and all explosives, including APCP.

Suddenly, hobbyists who had been freely purchasing such motors for
years had to be fingerprinted and to submit to background checks. They
had to pay $25 for ATF low-explosive-user permits to purchase more
than 2.5 ounces of APCP and allow local and federal inspectors onto
their property anytime to check for proper storage of the propellant.

The government insists it is trying to balance civil liberties with
homeland safety. But federal investigators say that since terrorists
showed they could level skyscrapers with boxcutters, no potentially
suspicious activity can be ignored. "Most of the people involved in
these activities are harmless fanatics and nerds," says one federal
law-enforcement official. "But since 9/11, we have a responsibility to
make sure the nerds are not terrorists."

Other hobbyist have also come under federal scrutiny, including bird
watchers on the Canadian border and operators of radio-controlled
airplanes. But this does little to console the rocketeers. Terry
McCreary, associate professor of analytical chemistry at Murray State
University in western Kentucky and a hobby-rocket guru, says sport
rocketry helps kids by interesting them in wonders of chemistry,
physics, astronomy and aerodynamics. "If you look deeply into the
background of our top mathematicians and scientists, you will find a
kid with a model rocket."

Pointing at a troop of about 15 Boy Scouts at a recent launch in The
Plains, Va., Doug Pratt, who runs his own hobby-rocket business out of
his basement in Herndon, asked: "Does that look like a group of
terrorists to you?"

Faced with the prospect of being fingerprinted and having agents
poking around their past, many rocketeers are leaving the hobby. The
rocket club at Kettering University in Michigan has closed down
because of the new regulatory requirements.

Looking for help, rocket groups have turned to Republican Sen. Mike
Enzi of Wyoming, an avid fan of hobby rockets and model airplanes. In
May last year, Senator Enzi sponsored a bill to exempt hobby rockets
from government regulation.

The Department of Justice, which oversees the ATF, then wrote him a
letter saying that "large rocket motors could be adapted by terrorists
for use in surface-to-air missiles capable of intercepting commercial
and military airplanes at cruise level and for use in 'light antitank'
weapons capable of hitting targets from a range of nearly five miles."

Mr. Enzi wrote back to Attorney General Ashcroft, asking to see the
results of the tests that led his department to its conclusions.
Within weeks, an agent from the ATF was sent to Al's Hobby Shop
outside Chicago to buy the first rocket motors for testing. Over the
past six months, according to ATF officials, agents and private
contractors have been working at Air Force bases in Utah and Florida
firing model rockets at drones, vehicles and simulated crowds of
people. The tests are classified.

Some rocketeers have hit upon another solution: They make their own
fuel. They get together on weekends with pizza, beer and jars of
precursor chemicals for "cooking parties" in their homes and
apartments or in the back rooms of their businesses.

"It's legal and completely safe," says Jerry O'Sullivan, an insurance
agent who cooks fuel with his friends in suburban Washington. Mr.
O'Sullivan, who is a member of the Maryland Delaware Rocketry
Association Inc., is taking advantage of a loophole in explosives
legislation exempting anyone who mixes an explosive for his own
"personal" use from having to get a permit. The exemption was created
mainly for farmers who mix fertilizers and fuel oil to blast their own
irrigation ditches.

One oddity of the government crackdown is the focus on rockets and not
guidance systems. "The secret is in the guidance systems," says Arthur
"Trip" Barber, a former captain of a U.S. navy guided missile
destroyer, who is now vice president of the National Association of
Rocketry. "I can build a rocket overnight but I couldn't build a
guidance system in a lifetime."

Posted by Ted at 06:51 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

Hockey History - Expansion

The National Hockey League had survived many years with teams being created and fading away, but the "original six" always survived. They were:

Boston Bruins
Chicago Blackhawks
Detroit Red Wings
Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs

In 1967, the NHL gambled on a major expansion and doubled their size to 12 teams. In the extended entry is a list of those teams, along with pictures of their original sweaters.

Los Angeles Kings
Originally owned by Jack Kent Cooke (known as the 'Squire', he also owned the Washington Redskins football team). The Kings changed their primary colors to purple, black and silver in 1988.

Minnesota North Stars
Moved to Dallas and dropped the 'North' from their name in 1992.

Oakland Seals
My first love and the 'hometown boys' before the Sharks came along. The Seals suffered from poor attendance and in 1976 moved to Cleveland and became the Barons. Two years later the franchise was absorbed into the North Stars. The hideous green and gold color scheme (look familiar?) can be blamed on owner Charley Finley, who bought several professional sports teams (Oakland A's among others) and outfitted them all in kelly green and gold.

Philadelphia Flyers
The most successful expansion franchise, the Flyers have won the Stanley Cup twice in seven appearances.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Their initial home was the Civic Arena, locally nicknamed the "Big Igloo", so the Penguins name seemed like a natural. Their first General Manager hated the name and so copied the blue and white uniform colors of the famed St. Michael's Majors junior team in Toronto. The Penguins changed team colors to gold and black in the 80's. The Penguins franchise has declared bankruptcy twice, matching the number of Stanley Cups they've won. At one time Eddie DeBartolo (former owner of the San Fransisco 49ers) was a major partner.

St. Louis Blues
They've reached the playoffs 25 years in a row, yet during that stretch have never reached the Stanley Cup finals. The Blues have never won a game in the finals, making three appearances (1968-1970), but being swept each year (Montreal twice and Boston once).

Posted by Ted at 12:12 AM | Comments (6)
Category: History

May 07, 2004


I caught this exchange between Mookie and my wife.

Mookie: "What is dad's problem? He just chewed me out for nothing."

Mom: "He's grouchy. Hockey playoffs are on, so he'll be short of sleep for a couple of months."

Posted by Ted at 07:51 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Family matters

Paperback Wisdom

Nic offered up this link: online Pulp Fiction Greeting Cards. Too cool!

Snippets from the covers of dimestore novels.

"Shock trooper in the battle of the sexes!" -- Lust for a Green Beret

"Chuck Merrick, private eye, and the girl with the .32 gun and the 36" chest." -- Girl In A Jam

"A novel of temptation - and primitive passions" and
"She was his property: to keep, to beat, to use." -- Cracker Girl

"Trapped on a planet of peril, he dared challenge its monster ruler" -- An Earth Man on Venus

"High-voltage sex and spying" -- I Was A Teeny-Bopper For The CIA

"She was as tough as the hoods she worked with - until she met a man who made her feel like a woman" -- Syndicate Girl

Posted by Ted at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

I'm politically incorrect enough to laugh at this

Seen in a bathroom stall:

You can't beat good pussy.

Underneath, in different handwriting:

Sure you can, just ask Ike Turner.

For more assorted scribbles and scrawls on the restroom walls, go check out The Writing on the Stall.

Posted by Ted at 05:37 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

May 06, 2004

And the peasants rejoiced...

Rachel Lucas is making noises about coming back.

Spork, I'm speechless.

Posted by Ted at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Handy Tips for Men

This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, or neighbor!!

DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?
SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?
SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: Are you wearing that?
SAFER: Gee, you look good in brown.
SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?
SAFER: Could we be overreacting?
SAFEST: Here's fifty dollars.
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?
SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.
SAFEST: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: What did you do all day?
SAFER: I hope you didn't overdo it today.
SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

Posted by Ted at 11:54 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Square Pegs

Say Hey!

Happy Birthday to the greatest baseball player who ever lived - Willie Mays.

"The Catch". That's all I've got to say.

Posted by Ted at 09:51 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Cap'n, there be whales here!

Science reported and discussed with a sense of humor:

The humpback whale is believed to sing its mysterious songs for the same reason generations of teens have started bad garage bands: to get girls.

The findings undermine long-held assumptions about humpback behavior, said whale biologist Phillip Clapham of the Northeast Fishery Sciences Center, co-author of a paper on the singing in the current issue of Proceedings Royal Society, Biology.

"It tells us whales don't read the text books, which is really annoying," he said.

Humpbacks have a range that covers eight octaves, from a bass so low that humans can't hear it to a magnificent soprano, Clark said. Their highly structured songs include multiple themes that are constantly repeated and even rhyme.

The songs last up to 30 minutes, and the whales embellish like jazz musicians, seeing "who can improvise in some attractive way better than the other (whale)," Clark said.

Everything I knew about humpback whales I learned from Star Trek.

Posted by Ted at 07:19 AM | Comments (1)

I had no idea Dawn worked where I do


Posted by Ted at 05:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

.0001% less chance of nuclear winter

Note: my link for this has expired. Here's an alternate that still works, but it references the same dead link I had. In the meantime, here a quote from the original source:

"Thus, if the Minuteman III ICBMs have to be used in some future nuclear war, their rocket motors will not pollute the atmosphere. EPA regulations do not apply in foreign countries, so no changes are being made to reduce the harmful environmental effects of the nuclear warheads"

That's right folks, Uncle Sam's ICBM arsenal is now more environmentally friendly because their propulsion has been reworked in order to meet EPA regulations.

Update: The 'dead' link works again.

Posted by Ted at 05:07 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

May 05, 2004

I'm getting a little tired of the same six Egypt shows on The History Channel

The Scream network. All horror, all the time. Sounds like 'must see' TV to me!

Thanks to Bad State of Gruntledness for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 12:31 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Cult Flicks

They fly like girls

But the important thing is, they fly.

Here's a nice newspaper article from King County in Washington state, talking about an all-girl team that's going to the finals of the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Those finals are being held on May 22, 2004 at Great Meadows, The Plains, Virginia. Open to the public.

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

Continues to surprise

More cool archeological news from Mayan ruins. And it's from a different dig than mentioned here.

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

Another new blogroll member (updated)

Patton has been a regular in the comments over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy for quite some time, and he seems like a reasonable sort, so it's nice to find that he now has his own blog.


Update: While looking at the ecosystem (for the first time in a long time) I found a couple of other 'rocket' blogs, so here ya go.

Republican Atheist Rocket Scientist Man - sounds like a bio.

Ok, so this guy has been on the 'roll for a while now. Give a visit, because we all enjoy a few extra site hits: Rocketsled to Hell.

Posted by Ted at 09:57 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

New Tagline

Over on the right column, just above the tagline archive. Sometimes I'm just too darn organized.

Posted by Ted at 05:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

May 04, 2004

Another great laugh...

... and this time, non-hockey fans will get it.

Thanks to Rodger, of Curmudgeonly & Skeptical fame, for this one.

Posted by Ted at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Blogging will be insufferably upbeat for the rest of the day

I interviewed for a new position Wednesday last, and have been waiting on pins and needles for word.

Yay Me!

No real details yet other than that I'll be staying with my current company, but working in another location.

And I need to do some digging and learn about Web Services. This is going to be serious fun.

Thanks for all the support, my friends. You people rock!

Posted by Ted at 11:35 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Family matters

There's something disturbing about people like this

Not only do they concoct the most gruesome confections like the anatomically correct thorax cake, but they review my kind of movies, and give ratings from one to five severed thumbs.

Welcome to my blogroll.

Thanks to Matt for the pointer, and also for one of the funniest posts I've read in a long time.

Posted by Ted at 06:26 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Ribbons, Military, Mine

Rob posted the medals he was awarded while in the Navy, and Wind Rider put up his collection as well. Here are my modest awards, plus a couple of other bits that I'm proud of.

(in the extended entry)

My ribbons, from top left to bottom right: AF Commendation Medal, AF Outstanding Unit Award, AF Organizational Excellence Award, AF Good Conduct Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, AF Overseas Long Tour Award, AF Longevity Award, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, AF Training Ribbon.

Check out Wind Rider's post here for an excellent explanation of most of these. I'm not positive that these are entirely up to date.

The first of the Humanitarian Service Medals was recieved for helping out during spring flooding of the Red River in Grand Forks, North Dakota in the late 1970's. Base personnel pitched in and helped sandbag levees. For an idea of how bad the flooding could be, most of downtown Grand Forks wound up underwater about 10 years ago after the spring thaw.

The second Humanitarian Service Medal (designated by the oak leaf) was awarded for assistance provided immediately following the Flugtag Airshow Disaster.

The Marksman Ribbon was for shooting expert with the M16, the oak leaf was for shooting expert with the .38 revolver. I also qualified with the M60 machine gun and the M203 grenade launcher. Loved every second of it.

The following picture is a closeup of my Security Police badge.

Here is my SP badge flanked by my beret crest (USAF SP's wear a dark blue beret) on the left, and an old-style Strategic Air Command (SAC) fatigue uniform patch on the right. The patch is from the days before everything went camouflage ('subdued' in military-speak).

Finally, a picture of the two other major units I was attached to. On the left is another uniform patch, this time the subdued version of the AF Communications Command. Almost all USAF computer types are part of AFCC. The other, smaller badge, is for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which was my last assignment before getting out. DLA is a joint service command, meaning that all branches of the service have people assigned there.

Posted by Ted at 12:41 AM | Comments (4)
Category: About Ted

May 03, 2004

Silver Lining

Yeah, it sucks to crash a rocket. On the other hand, it gives me an excuse to build another. :D

Posted by Ted at 10:40 PM | Comments (7)
Category: Rocketry

Paperback Wisdom

Snippets from the covers of dimestore novels.

"An intense story of uncontrollable passion!" -- Sinful Life

"A beautiful girl - An amorous male - A great weekend" -- One Night With Nancy

"Her pagan desires violated even the loose moral code of the marshlands!" -- Swamp Bred

"A street-girl gives her real heart to a guy in the gutters of hell" -- All Dames Are Dynamite

"A startling view of life in 1984. Forbidden Love... Fear... Betrayal" -- 1984

"It promised a thrill! She fell prey to the foulest of rackets!" -- Marijuana Girl

Posted by Ted at 05:53 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Cross your fingers

send good thoughts
eminate positive vibes
say a little prayer
wish upon a star
whatever, it's all appreciated...

hoping for good news this afternoon.

Update: Nope, no word today. To misquote Van Morrison: "Just because you didn't hear from him, that just means he didn't call."

Hopefully tomorrow. And as soon as I hear, I'll let you know too. In the meantime, those good vibes couldn't hurt, so keep 'em coming.

Posted by Ted at 10:43 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

It explains a few I've known

(in the extended entry)


Posted by Ted at 05:13 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

May 02, 2004

Aftermath pictures of the Air Munuviana

Post-flight analysis, complete with photos showing in excruciating detail all the damage suffered in the crash.

Instead of my normal embedded pictures, these photos are clickable links to make it easier for those on dial-up. It's all in the extended entry.

Enjoy. Remember, you learn more from the failures than you do from the successes.

Someone in previous comments thought that it would've been cool to have pictures of the actual crash site. I didn't have the camera because I had no idea if I would be able to find the remains. The area the Air Mu went down in has some very wet meadowland, and it wasn't inconcievable that she might have hit and driven straight down into the mud, with anything left above ground hidden by tall grass. That, and the possible scramble through the woods for an unknown length of time just didn't make carrying the camera bag something I wanted to do.

This first picture is of the recovered pieces, laid out more or less in order. The long purple tube on the right side is the motor.

Bits and pieces

Now this next picture is interesting. First off, only one of the two on-board batteries were recovered, and as you can see, it's pretty messed up (upper right). Yep, that's a 9v, and yep, that's a big ol' dent in it.

Upper left is the altimeter and plywood mounting plate. Besides the splintered ends of the plywood, the main indication of impact is the circuit bits knocked free and just barely hanging on. Something not clear from the photos is that all those wires are snapped clean, but the terminal ends of each wire connection are still secure.

That green and yellow bit towards the bottom is the ejection canister. It consists of an electric match in a plastic container that holds the black powder ejection charge, and is fired by the altimeter. This one didn't. I know that because of that soggy mass of black and gray between the canister and the battery. That is the flame-proof wadding used to protect the parachute from the burning particles of the ejection charge when it goes off. All of that black is the unburnt black powder. The impact shattered the canister, the black powder wound up in the surrounding wadding, and the water soaked it all. I'm going to let it dry out a day or two and try test-firing the electric match.

Detail - bits and pieces

This next picture is of the nose cone, from the base looking up towards the point. See what I meant about the nose cone being flattened the long way? Notice the paint job. All that red didn't scrape off, it crackled from the deformation of the plastic and fell off in little bitty pieces. Also note the three holes in the base. I used 3/16" tubular nylon for the recovery harness, and it cut through the thick plastic like a cheese-slicer.

It used to be round, honest!

Here's a close up of the (now) two-piece motor tube. The dented bit of cardboard cylider is the motor mount adapter, and still has the aluminum tube and thick plastic fuel grain inside it! I couldn't get a good end-on picture, but the tube is out of round as well at the nozzle end (black bit on the upper right). The motor tube snapped just above the fuel grain, which basically runs the length of the cardboard adapter shown. The end of the bottom tube was plugged with almost 2" of mud. I dug it out to see where the floating injector wound up. It wasn't attached to the grain where it should be, and I was wondering if it hadn't been propelled forward into the upper end of the motor tube at impact. Nope, the injector wasn't recovered, it might still be laying on the bottom of that creek.

Motor tube(s)

So the final analysis doesn't give a clear answer as to what went wrong. The altimeter may have failed, although it's more likely that I did something wrong to cause the failure. I have some theories about that, and I'm going to have to give some serious thought to the steps I took during prep, and how to improve my methods. Face it, when a failure costs this much money, it's in my best interest to figure out best I can how not to do it again.

Posted by Ted at 08:38 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Rocketry

BattlePark Rocket Launch Pictures

A few photos taken at yesterday's launch (in the extended entry, and click-to-view for the bandwidth impaired).

Here is a picture of the Super Stretch Ninja. We'd given her up for lost after everyone lost sight of her on the way up.

Super Stretch Ninja

Here are a couple of people prepping rockets. On the left is the guy who found our Super Stretch Ninja. He was looking for the yellow rocket he's holding here, but never located it. In the background is a rocketeer readying a large chute for folding. He successfully flew a two-stage scale model of the Bumper-WAC, which was basically the US version of a V2 with a small sounding rocket attached to the nose.

Rocketeers at work

These next two photos show an actual Arcas sounding rocket. This particular round was the upper stage of a flight from Wallops Island, Virginia, and reached 120,000 feet carrying a scientific payload. She was presented to an Atlantic Research Corporation engineer upon his retirement. Unlike the models we fly, it's all metal. This round was recently used as a mold to create a beautiful full-size fiberglass kit that includes every detail.

Arcas 1
Arcas 2

Posted by Ted at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

May 01, 2004

Launch Report – 5/1/04

Today was the start of BattlePark 2004 in Culpeper, Virginia, and according to the weather reports, the better day for flying. Mookie and I went and had a great day, despite some not-so-successful flights.

The day started with high clouds but the sun burned through now and then. A cold front is moving into the area and intermittent rain has started, but the day was mostly dry. The winds were out of the south and stayed between 5-10 mph.

Culpeper is in the heart of Virginia’s horse country, and the area consists of gently rolling hills dotted with farms. Our route there takes us through the Chancellorsville Battlefield from the Civil War. On the way, Mookie spotted a deer back in the trees.

We got there early and prepped a couple of rockets. When the range opened we set up our FY2K with an F23 motor. We wound up making the first flight after the first rocket scheduled to launch burnt it’s igniter without lighting the motor. The FY2K is a smallish rocket, and leapt off the pad with a roar and trailing thick black smoke. The chute ejected right at the top and she landed softly within 100 yards of the pad.

Next up for us was the Super Ninja. The Super Ninja has made many flights for us, and today we were going to fly her on an E18, the biggest motor she’s ever used, and it simmed out to over 2000 feet altitude. I have no idea how high she actually went, and nobody else did either, because everyone lost sight of it while she was still screaming upward. While I was looking up, trying to see some glint in the sunlight, a friend told me that the rocket was probably already on the ground. Couldn’t prove it by me.

Mookie and I went searching in the direction she probably would’ve drifted, but after a good long walk we had no luck finding her. The worst part about it was losing a reloadable motor casing, which costs $40.00 to replace.

We spent some time visiting with friends and watching other rockets launch. After a while I prepped the Air Munuviana for a flight on a hybrid I-80. With the help of Doug Pratt we got her ready on the pad while I sent Mookie and Brian Pratt downwind several hundred yards to watch for where she landed.

The liftoff was perfect, and the I-80 really moved her along. I lost sight of the Air Mu in the sun, but others watching said the chute never came out and she came in ballistic. I heard the impact when she hit the ground, in the opposite direction where Mookie and Brian were stationed. As a friend and I started the walk to find it, someone said they had a line on it which was nice because it gave me a couple of reference points to use to tell me about where it came down.

We walked about a quarter mile to the first treeline, crossing an electric fence along the way, and there I continued on alone since I had to wade a stream to get to the meadow beyond. The meadow was pretty boggy in spots, and I covered it pretty good all the way back to another treeline. The second treeline was the start of a mature pine wood, planted at some point because many of the trees were in straight rows. It was also demarked with a barbed wire fence.

About this time, Mookie and Brian showed up. We found a spot to get through the barb wire, and made a circle through the wood beyond. It was a pretty good hike, but we had to be careful to pick our way around patches of poison ivy. No luck finding the rocket.

We’d been looking for more than an hour, so we headed back. The guy who saw the Air Munuviana come down couldn’t tell how far away it was, so just to be thorough I decided to check the near meadow after we waded the stream again. Brian and Mookie headed towards the truck while I walked the stream.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the purple of the anodized aluminum motor casing. Calling back to the kids to let them know I’d found our rocket, I took a closer look.

Usually in these lawn darts, the motor is the only thing that survives. Not this time, because I could see a dent in the casing. It was standing straight up in the mud on the bank of the stream. Pieces of the airframe were scattered around, lying in the water. I laughed when I saw a blinking light underwater, as either the altimeter or sonic beacon was still functioning and the LED was flashing.

When the kids got there, we climbed down into the creek and started locating the debris. The motor casing was dented, making it unusable. The altimeter was wet, and a closer look showed it to be trashed from the impact. The parachute was intact. We figured the nosecone had floated downstream and was lost.

I wanted to get a look at the other bank to see what might be over there. Climbing that side, I came across the nosecone. It had been flattened – the long way – by an impact in the tree above. Sure enough, Mookie spotted a branch about 30 feet up with a big bare spot where the Air Mu spacked at speed. We also found the motor mount, with the bottom 8” of the motor tube. How hard do you think it had to have hit that tree to snap an aluminum tube cleanly?

We also found a whole fin and most of another, as well as a few small shreds of delaminated plywood.

Now this flight cost almost $200 in destroyed equipment, but something about rocketry that is seldom talked about is that even crashes like this are kinda cool. It also felt good to find the pieces, much better than just losing it and not knowing what happened. This way, I can possibly determine what caused the failure. The ‘up’ part was perfect. I need to work on the ‘down’ part.

Once we got back to the truck, we all called it a day and packed up. Doug had invited us to join him and Brian for ribs at a killer BBQ place near there, and it sounded good after the long hike. Just as we were getting ready to pull out, a guy tapped on our window and said he’d found our rocket. I hopped out and sure enough, he had the Super Ninja (and my motor case – yay!). One fin was broken, but she was otherwise intact. He’d been looking for one of his rockets, and came across ours almost a mile and a quarter downwind.

The remains of the Air Munuviana are spread out on a table behind me, drying out a little. I’ll post some pictures tomorrow. The sonic beacon is still flashing, which amuses me, but all the drying out in the world won’t revive the piezo buzzer so it’s toast.

The ribs were awesome. I’m gonna be sore tomorrow from all that scrambling cross country. It was a great day.

Posted by Ted at 11:00 PM | Comments (5)
Category: Rocketry

Gone fishin' rocket launchin'

Might post more this evening. Enjoy your day, we'll be enjoying ours!

(picture in the extended entry)

Mookie took this picture at one of our club launches in February 2002
Mookie took this picture at one of our club launches in February 2002.

Posted by Ted at 06:30 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Rocketry
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