June 30, 2004

Overheard at Customer Service

Mookie tried to buy an electric bike. Yesterday after work we re-packed it into the box, loaded it into the pickup and drove back to where she bought it. I was prepared for a fight, because there was a giant sticker on the box that said "Do Not Return To Retailer. Contact Manufacturer With Problems."

Bull. The damn thing was unusable right out of the box.

So I walked up to the Customer Service desk and told the friendly and helpful employee that I needed someone with a flatbed cart to go out to my truck and unload it, after which I wanted a refund. Then I handed him the receipt and a baggie full of broken lock pieces.

He started to make noises about the manufacturer, so I calmly and politely reminded him to call for someone with a cart to unload my truck, and asked to speak to a manager. I'm not going to waste my time dealing with him if he's not going to be immediately helpful.

I pulled the truck up in front of the store and helped two stock guys unload it onto a cart. One looks at the box and says, "Oh, it's a scooter."

I said, "No, it's a scooter-shaped piece of crap."

The guys take it inside while I go park the truck again, and Mookie hears this exchange:

Manager: "It's a scooter?"

Stock Guy: "According to him, it's a scooter-shaped piece of crap."

Five minutes later, we're walking out the door, all taken care of.

Posted by Ted at 06:41 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

June 29, 2004

You heard it here first

There's a new low-carb dog food.

A new medical study shows that excessive protein in the diet can cause fertility "problems". The reporters I watched verbally danced around, desperately trying to not say "Atkins" or "low-carb", and implied that the "problems" involved conception. The details of the report that I heard sounded more like birth defect type "problems". Balance people, the key is balance.

"Morbidly Obese", isn't that a lovely medical term? I hearby street-slangify it to "Mo'Beast", as in, "That dude with the Mac in each hand? He is Mohhh' Beast!"


Posted by Ted at 07:25 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

To Mookie

Sweetie, I hope you don't think I was mad at you last night. I am seriously pissed off, and this afternoon we're going to go take care of it, but I am NOT upset with you.

I really, really, really hate it when something disappoints you like that. We'll make it right and consider it a lesson learned. Ok?

PS. Call me at work.

Posted by Ted at 06:44 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Family matters

June 28, 2004

Favorite Anagram

"To err is human, to forgive, divine." -- Alexander Pope

I've humor to give in trade for sin. -- anagram of above :D

Posted by Ted at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs


I've been reading Percival Lowell's Mars, the seminal 1895 work. In it, the famed astronomer examines the planet with care and in detail, and despite classic use of logic and deduction, manages to get almost everything completely wrong. Such is science.

Anyways, in one passage Lowell states:

"...with about as much probability... as that a chance collection of numbers should take the form of the multiplication table."

Which is the polite and scientific way of saying "when monkeys fly out of my

Posted by Ted at 04:57 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

June 27, 2004

Cycles in the universe

Victor brings up the bondage pants again, and then this morning whilst cruising the ol' linklist I find Velociman pointing out this site (via this guy, who is very funny) where you can meet ladies who're temporarily guests of the state. At least one of them is a Dominant (Domme, in the parlance), who helpfully mentions that she's incarcerated for a non-violent crime. Considering this post I made just days ago, that brings to three the number of recent mentions of BDSM, which fulfills the prophesy and closes the circle. No need to worry about the end-of-the-world thing, it's a small circle. At worst, your front lawn may die.

In totally unrelated news, I've discovered that by going out into the backyard and shouting "Ni!", the squirrels are leaving my bird feeder alone. Probably no connection, I know, but someone did leave a nice shrubbery on the front porch overnight.

Crap. I just remembered that I watched Secretary last night. The circle begins anew.

Posted by Ted at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Targeted Advertising

On the radio I heard an ad featuring a couple of voices who were 'obviously' black and urban. The product was those walkie-talkie phones, and the kicker line was, "your late-night bootie chirp".

Why is it that it's ok to air this kind of crap to make money, but if we use similar logic for security purposes it's denounced as racial profiling?

Posted by Ted at 07:05 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

June 26, 2004

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinahhhhh!!!

I made a pot of Venomous Kate's Slow Spice Stew today. Yum!!!!!!

Posted by Ted at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Recipes

Hobby Rocketry in the news

Article in Wired.

Posted by Ted at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

100 million thousand billion centuries!

That's the estimated age of the dinosaur fossile bought at an auction in New York, according to the new owner.

More than 60 million years after the triceratops dinosaur roamed what is now Montana, its horn went to 6-year-old Eamon Rush for $550 at a Park Avenue auction.

Although the tip of Eamon's horn was rebuilt by a human hand, he was thrilled with his purchase. The Manhattan boy planned to bring home the dinosaur horn for the archaeology club he started with a classmate.

Knowlege and skill counts, but so does enthusiasm.
It was a bargain for Lot 69, offered at an estimated value of $1,500 to $2,000 by Guernsey's at its "Dinosaurs & Other Prehistoric Creatures" sale.

On Thursday afternoon, Eamon showed up on Park Avenue in a bright tie-dyed top, so when he shot up with his paddle to signal his bid, everyone noticed. And the adults held back higher bids so the 6-year-old could win.


Posted by Ted at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

Choking your chicken

Flipping the zippy, pounding yer pud, spanking the monkey, etc. Whatever you call it, it's all just snazzier ways of saying "male masturbation" (how sterile and clinical that sounds!). The first time I ever heard it called "choking your chicken" was in Basic Training, and it was one of our drill sergeant's favorite phrases.

I had a boss once who's still a very good friend. He was single, and made no bones about it - he beat off frequently. During our smoke breaks at work we'd get into some of the damndest conversations - "that older sister on The Wild Thornberry's, I bet she'd be a demon in bed" - and my boss would smile and say, "I've got to go be alone with myself now."

I used to tease him about it all the time. I'd tell him he jerked off so often that he kept a picture of his right hand in his wallet.

He used his left hand sometimes just so he could pretend he was with a stranger.

For him, foreplay was kissing and licking his fingers.

Got any good one-liners or anecdotes? Put 'em in the comments. Don't be shy, we all know it's stuff that's happened to your 'friend'. Uh-huh, sure.

And just to be crass, here's a related Helen Keller joke:

Q: Why did Helen Keller masturbate with one hand?

A: So she could moan with the other.

Posted by Ted at 07:48 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Square Pegs

Up Please

President Bush wants to return to the moon and put a man on Mars. But scientist Bradley C. Edwards has an idea that's really out of this world: an elevator that climbs 62,000 miles into space.

Edwards thinks an initial version could be operating in 15 years, a year earlier than Bush's 2020 timetable for a return to the moon. He pegs the cost at $10 billion, a pittance compared with other space endeavors.

"It's not new physics — nothing new has to be discovered, nothing new has to be invented from scratch," he says. "If there are delays in budget or delays in whatever, it could stretch, but 15 years is a realistic estimate for when we could have one up."

This is not a new concept, and no more outlandish than President Kennedy announcing to the world that America was going to the moon in the 60's. For more information, here's a FAQ page about space elevators.

Posted by Ted at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

June 25, 2004

Freedom Park

The new job is across the street from my old corporate headquarters (long since moved to the 'burbs), so the area isn't completely unfamiliar to me. Walking around this week, I found a new park that's been built since I last visited the area. Called Freedom Park, I'll try to describe the place, but I also recommend going here for some great pictures.

To start off, set back from the street in a nook between two skyscrapers, are nine sections of the original Berlin Wall. The sections are covered with artwork from three different artists, and there are several placards placed in front that talk about the wall. See those pictures! They also have an original East German guard tower from near Checkpoint Charlie.

To the left of this display is a set of steps (the entire park moves uphill in terraced steps as it broadly curves to the right) leading up to a series of symbols of freedom from around the world. Among the symbols are cast bronze replicas of the Goddess of Democracy located in Tienamen Square (similar to the Statue of Liberty, but with oriental eyes), a South African ballot box (end of apartied), the door to the jail cell where Martin Luther King, Jr was held, a small homemade boat used by Cuban refugees, reproductions of Women's Sufferage banners, an actual toppled stone statue of Lenin - sans head, a section of cobbles from the Warsaw Jewish ghetto, and finally, a slightly less than 1/2 scale bronze of "Freedom", the 1863 sculpture by Thomas Crawford that crowns the dome of the US Capitol building.

Still farther up is a Journalists Memorial, dedicated to those who gave their lives while practicing freedom of the press, known and unknown. A kiosk with a touchscreen terminal contains a directory of names on the memorial. There is also an attached Journalists Museum, but I haven't been in there yet.

Adjoining the memorial is a long curving series of fountains dedicated to early American journalism pioneers. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Gordon Bennett, Frederick Douglas, Horace Greeley (he of the advice to head west), and Ida B. Wells.

Across from the fountains are 270 pictures painted by kids that represent freedom. Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Religion, Freedom to Grow, Freedom to Learn, and so on.

Whoever designed the park did a nice job making it feel larger than it really is. It's impossible to hide the towering buildings around, but the eye is drawn downwards into the park itself. There are trees and grassy areas, and plenty of benches to enjoy the fresh air. This was a pleasant surprise to find, especially in the heart of the downtown area, and I'll probably go there often to have my lunch. If you're in the Rosslyn area of Arlington, you should check it out.

Posted by Ted at 08:45 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Random thought

Is William Hung the real-life equivalent of South Park's Timmy?

Posted by Ted at 08:09 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

This is a test, this is only a test

As promised, we conducted an emergency test of the Remote NogWatch System. Here's the original no-notice alert sent to my good friend and occasional commenter Anonymous Kyle:

This is a test of the Remote Nog Watch Network. Please check on the nog when you get a chance and let me know the status. No hurry, no pressure, but millions of interested blog readers are sitting on the edge of their seats and gnawing their nails, wondering if this will work.


Associate NogWarden Dan responded almost immediately to let me know that a report would be forthcoming. Sounds official, doesn't it?

Soon enough for government work, NogWarden Kyle reported back:

The Nog Stands Alone. Tell everyone that they can stop chewing thier toenails. Maybe our friend in the fridge could start it's own NogBlog.

NogBlog. The very idea is frighteningly (now there's a word to win some bar bets with) dull, although I like the name a lot. Consider it copyrighted or patented or whatever, you intellectual property criminals, it belongs to m-... uh, Anonymous Kyle.

So yeah, the Remote NogWatch System is a success. And I learned a couple of things: first, friends are important when you want to get things done, and second, it takes some real work to suck as bad as Bill.

Posted by Ted at 05:25 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

June 24, 2004

About as far from work-related as possible

Then again, this might be the most work-related link ever, depending on where you work. Not work safe.

Whoops! Forgot to credit the link: Fleshbot, for naughtyness.

Posted by Ted at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

June 23, 2004

Sometimes you're the windshield

Other times you're the bug. Work has dominated my universe this week, so I haven't been around to visit my usual haunts, let alone post much interesting here. I am working on something cool, hopefully it'll be ready to go tomorrow evening.

For a complete change of pace, I'll tell you about my humdrum home life. Last weekend I'd planned to replace the attic fan motor, but as usual, not only couldn't I find one at the HumongousHardwareChain, but they've restocked the place with all new clerks who graduated surly cum laude.

So instead, I helped my neighbor replace his picket fence. Much use of manly power tools was made. He was kind enough to give me a new fan motor (he's in that line of work), so this afternoon Mookie and I braved the sauna of the attic and knocked that item off the honey-do list.

And that about sums up life this week. Things will calm down soon enough, and return to as near to normal as it ever gets.

Posted by Ted at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

In a meeting today

"T&A stands for 'Time and Attendance',
T&A stands for 'Time and Attendance',
T&A stands for 'Time and Attendance',
T&A stands for 'Time and -"

"Excuse me, Ted, did you have a question?"

"Oh. No, just making sure I have the terminology right."

Posted by Ted at 06:43 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

June 22, 2004

A small sample

JCL stands for Job Control Language, and it's been around since the 50's. It hasn't changed much over time, which means that computer jobs written decades ago still run perfectly today.

I'm (re)learning JCL as part of my new project, and here's a couple choice tidbits from the reference book:

"The role of JCL sounds complex and it is - JCL is downright difficult."
No sugarcoating here, nosireebob!
"This book will explain JCL, but it won't try to make you like it because JCL is not a likable language."
My head hurts, but I'm having fun!
Posted by Ted at 08:00 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Green Eggs and Hamlet

Would you kill him in his bed?
Thrust a dagger through his head?
I would not, could not, kill the King.
I could not do that evil thing.
I would not wed this girl, you see.
Now get her to a nunnery.

Posted by Ted at 04:16 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

June 21, 2004


My first day was memorable in a quiet and unassuming kinda way. The drive home was hella traffic and I'm beat. More tomorrow after I work a more normal (for me) shift.


PS: The new job is jes' ducky! :)

Posted by Ted at 07:48 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

A dirty joke with no naughty words

A woman walks into a deli, points to a pepperoni and says, "I'll take that one."
The guy asks her, "Do you want that sliced thick or thin?"
She replies, "What do I look like, a piggy bank?"

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

Things that make the boss go 'hmmmm'

Twice now, Dawn's boss has caught her headbanging, and once it was a song with rather... *ahem* inappropriate lyrics. It's good to remind the boss that total control over their realm isn't gonna happen.

I caught hell once in the Air Force for my music. I was jammin' to Zappa's "Joe's Garage" when an unexpected VIP dropped by. The music wasn't loud, so I didn't even think to turn it down or off. Once the VIP left my boss called me in for an ass-chewing.

Wet T-Shirt Night

Looks to me like something funny is going on around here
People laughin' 'n' dancin' 'n' payin' entirely too much for their beer
And they all think they're clean outta-sight
And they're ready to party 'cause the sign outside says it's WET T-SHIRT NITE
And they all crave some hot delight

Well the girls are excited because in a minute they're gonna get wet
And the boys are delighted because all the titties will get 'em upset
And they all think they are really awright
And they're ready to boogie 'cause the sign outside says it's WET T-SHIRT NITE
And they all crave some pink delight

When the water gets on 'em their ninnies get rigid and look pretty bold
It's a common reaction that makes an attraction whenever it's cold
And all of the fellas they wish they could bite
On the cute little nuggets the local girls are showin' off tonite
You know I think it serves 'em right
You know I think it serves 'em right
You know I think it serves 'em right
You know I think it serves 'em right
I know you want someone to show you some tit!


Another time (same squadron), my best friend and I volunteered to work at the Special Olympics. We had a great time and scored a couple of cool t-shirts, which we promptly took home and tie-dyed. We wore them to our next squadron picnic, and were both called in the following day for drug testing. I loved drug testing because when the results came back I always teased them about being naturally crazy.

With the right attitude, drugs are redundant.

Posted by Ted at 05:07 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

June 20, 2004


Check out Google! It's the Menendez brothers getting ready to take out Dad on his special day!

Hey, you don't live to be an old geezer without being a little paranoid.

Posted by Ted at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Box Hockey redux

The memory is the first thing to go. I completely forgot about our half-finished box hockey set until this evening, when I got a comment from this place. It's not the same game, but it still looks pretty cool. I'll finish up our series this week sometime, although judging from the lack of feedback I don't think anyone was paying all that much attention. :)

Posted by Ted at 07:28 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Build It

It's the little things that count

But this is huge:

In a joint statement at the conclusion of two days of talks in the Indian capital, officials said the dedicated secure hot line between the countries' foreign secretaries was intended to "prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues."

An existing hot line between directors-general of military operations in both countries also will be upgraded and secured, the statement said.

The future in Southwest Asia just got a whole lot brighter.

Posted by Ted at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!!!

Remember I told you that Mookie had my gift delivered last weekend, but I wasn't supposed to open it? Well, the box has been sitting by the door ever since...

She bought me a hybrid motor to replace the one destroyed when the Air Munuviana lawn darted. Also in the box was a sonic beacon (aka "screamer") to replace the one from that flight as well. You may recall that I found the original still blinking at the bottom of the creek - that's pronounced "crick" by the way - and although the water ruined the piezo buzzer and it was silent, the battery powered the LED blinker for another week after the soaking. Doug Pratt had some fun with this one, because I'm the proud owner of an original "Ted Phipps Edition" waterproof sonic beacon. LOL I'm not even going to open the packaging, this instantly became a keepsake.

Thanks Mookie. Thanks Doug. Gotta build a new rocket for the motor. :D

Posted by Ted at 06:51 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Rocketry

June 19, 2004

A chance to relive your childhood

If you flew model rockets as a youngster, you probably fondly recall your first rocket. In an effort to improve communications between rocketeers, rocketry clubs and Estes, their marketing folks have established a new email address, and want to hear from you.

EstesRockets (at) CenturiMS (dot) Com

Send 'em an email and let them know what classic kits you'd like to see them bring back!

Don't remember details about that favorite rocket? Listed below are a couple of sites that will really bring back the memories. They're incredible resources, and just plain fun to look through.

Jim Z's hobbies - the premier site for archived plans and pictures of those classic rockets.

Ye Olde Rocket Shoppe - another fine collection of classic plans.

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

Dear Chucklehead

If we're talking about someone, and you can't exactly place the person I'm talking about, and if I describe him for you and begin with "he's black", that doesn't make me a racist. Skin color or race is the most obvious feature to start with because then you narrow down the group pretty quickly, just like "male" or "female" instantly eliminates about half of the possible population to consider.

So lose the chip on your shoulder and grow up, because I never expected that shit from you, and it bothers me that you think that lighter skin color than yours is a sign of the devil.

If it happens again, we're no longer friends, 'cause I don't play that game and I don't want to be around those who do. Of course, you'll probably just assume that it's because of your skin color.


Posted by Ted at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

Another moving target

DeMythology has moved, and VoodooChild has renamed his blog The Temple of Rock (as in music). Check it out and change your links.

Posted by Ted at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

June 18, 2004

Domesticated Blogging, or lack thereof

Things have slowed down here at Rocket Jones lately as I prepare for the big job change on monday and other random bits of reality interfere with my blogging time.

This weekend's projects include hanging a new bird feeder, building a new DVD rack for my den, finishing up some drywall work I'm doing in the dining room (and maybe beginning to paint), and replacing the motor in the attic fan (bearings seized).

In unrelated domestic news, wife Liz has a new red blouse, which inexplicably got mixed in with a load of whites. Since I do all the laundry, I have no one to blame but myself. Fortunately, pink is in style right now, because half my underwear is a lovely shade of coral. Eat your hearts out.

Posted by Ted at 09:04 PM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

15'll get you 20

You've probably heard that the state of Virginia is now cracking down on statutory rape, which is a good thing. Except that they've decided to do it by launching a milquetoast advertising campaign.

Kat at Mostly Fluff (nice new digs by the way, adjust your links) has some killer suggestions for slogans that might actually be effective. My favorite:

If she wants YOU she’s too young to know better, pervert.

Go on over and say hi. Enjoy the sweet everydayness of Mostly Fluff.

Posted by Ted at 08:20 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Adios LMIS, it's been a pleasure

LMIS (pronounced "Limmis") stands for Logistics Management Information System, and I've spent a considerable portion of the last 14 years working with it. New modules, new customer requirements, Y2K, the list goes on and on, it's been a fun project precisely because there always seemed to be some new project on the horizon. But like all things, change happens, and in this case we got new managers who, although nice enough people, lack the vision, skill and leadership of the former bosses, so LMIS quit evolving and adapting. The final nail came when upper upper management realized that LMIS is old. It's been in use since the mid-80's, which is fairly ancient for computer systems. Never mind that over the years it's been finely tuned and customized to do exactly what the users needed. Never mind that the original design was so brilliantly flexible that it's never been unable to do what was asked of it. And don't even think about the fact that LMIS could've been easily modified to do everything the new system is supposed to do, for probably one-third the cost. Upper management could never get past the fact that LMIS is old.

Also, the users are supposed to ignore the fact that the new replacement system doesn't work. I'm extremely biased, but it's the truth to say that the new system that was bought to replace LMIS cost a whole lot of money to do a whole lot less for the users and customers. Of course, "whole lot less" only applies to the parts of the hideous nightmare that actually work.

I can vent about all this because this is the same stuff I've been telling management for two years now. It's not like I've been holding back. It's also part of the reason that I'm so looking forward to the next project.

I'm going to miss the people though, that's for sure. I've collected addresses and phone numbers from the folks I definitely don't want to lose touch with, and gone around to say goodbye to just about everyone. The desk is cleaned out, the PC is about as personally uncustomized as possible, and I'm leaving at lunch today.

I tried to keep it low key, but some close friends got together and are taking me out to lunch today, and they got me a gift certificate to my favorite rocket shop. How cool is that?

Since some of you guys read this, I'll put it in writing (you've already heard me say it): I'm going to miss you. You made it worthwhile coming in to work every day. Good luck, don't let the twinkies get you down, stay sane and in touch.

Special note: it's a misdemeanor if intentional damage to a vehicle is less than $500, but you can reach that limit just by keying the paintjob. Might as well just set fire to the fucker.

Thanks also to the folks who suggested wonderfulness to program my function keys. There are multiple job search sites and plenty of dancing, singing, flying, poking and viking cute things all there at the touch of a button. :D

Finally, a secret. I'm sure it kept you up at night, wondering. Remember I told you that I worked in a cage? I shared that cage with pallets of blank passports, visas, and all the machines used to process them.

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

Any day can be a Special Occasion

Not safe for work (in the extended entry).

Mookie, don't look, it's dirty. For those of you at work and over the age of 18, come back to look later and double my daily hits.


Posted by Ted at 05:09 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

June 17, 2004


Curmudgeonly & Skeptical is shut down? What the hell?

Update: He's back. Dunno what happened.

Posted by Ted at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links


I admit it, I'm a font-lovin' fool. I've got a gazillion of 'em on my PC, and I'll spend time looking for just the right one when I need to add a little pizazz to a project.

Alan E. Brain posted this nice link to a slew of alien-style fonts from science fiction.

My favorite font resource on the 'net is Mary Forrest's Free Font Fiesta. The site has been around for many years, and she keeps the link list reasonably up-to-date. Here's her home page too, it's a fun place to look around.

Other resources I use:

Aquamarine's Fonts Place
Chankstore Freefont Archives
Eric Brooks

Google up "free fonts" for thousands more possibilities.

Posted by Ted at 09:43 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Baseball Card Trivia

Don Rudolph pitched for the Chicago White Sox. On the back of his 1959 baseball card (in the extended entry), besides his stats they note that Don's wife is a professional dancer. Her name was Pat Wiggin, and professional dancer was a delicate way of saying 'stripper'.

I'm trying to track down a picture of her, but there's a bit of a flame war going on in the vintage erotica newsgroup, hence requests for help are getting lost in the mayhem. I remain hopeful.

Don Rudolph  card  1959.jpg
!  Pat Wiggin baseball card  1959 b.jpg

Posted by Ted at 05:38 AM | Comments (2)
Category: History

June 16, 2004

Risking my sanity so you don't have to

This is going under Cult Flicks because I'm not sure where else to put it.

I watched the premier episode of Extreme Dodgeball last night on the Game Show Network. I watched it again this afternoon with Mookie, because she TIVO'd it, and this way you get more than first impressions. As if that's important.

Do you like Slamball? If yes, then you'll enjoy Extreme Dodgeball. I admit it, I liked it. But before I actually describe the "sport" itself, well...

William Hung did a video commercial plugging various Game Show Network shows. What did he butcher sing? What else but Queen's "We Are The Champions", in that WH style that causes mass suicides we've grown to tolerate. Cheesy, and the perfect introduction, in my humble opinion. Consider yourself warned.

It's showtime! You know the format: two chatty announcer/hosts - one being Bil Dwyer (that's not a typo, it's only one "L") from BattleBots, with a much more subdued 'do - and a hot babe down near the action to 'interview' the teams during breaks in the action. Throw in pointless segments about various players (called "Beyond the Ball") and you've about summed up the entire show.

Oops, forgot about the teams, didn't I? In the Extreme Dodgeball league (?!?!), the teams are supposedly put together based on occupation, but 'concept' is the real story. Face it, even in LA you're not going to find five real Sumo wrestlers who're willing to be stupid for what probably amounts to minimum guild scale, not to mention the fact that there's no such thing as female Sumo. So the team is actually four fat guys and a fat gal. Just calling it as I see it, and as one of the circumferentially overachieving, let's just say that if I were on the team, my nickname would be 'Slim'. The other teams are horse jockeys, mimes, CPA's, rent-a-cops, hot chicks (and a guy), bodybuilders and tatooed people. Yep, I always wanted to list my occupation as 'canvas for prolific tatoo artist'.

The game itself has enough interesting twists to actually make it, well, interesting. A match is best-of-three games. For the first game, two balls are used. Second game, a third, larger ball is added, and in the third game one team member is designated the "Dead Man Walking" and if you hit them it's all over. The rest of the rules were mostly familiar. My favorite was "no head shots", which meant that a valid strategy was to curl up on your knees facing the other team and let them wail away at your head for no effect - rules-wise, not concussion-wise.

The team balance is actually pretty good, which is what the show's producers want. The rules work well, the strategies and tactics used were logical and surprised me a couple of times. All in all, you can tell that these people extensively tested and tweaked the rules.

So yes, I'll watch it again, if I stumble across it one night when nothing else is on and I want some noise on in the background. It's certainly not something I'm going to seek out and look forward to. I've seen worse. But you already knew that.

Posted by Ted at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Cult Flicks

Battle Reenactment

I noticed a license plate frame announcing the fact that the driver was a Civil War Reenactor.

I can't believe that it's strictly an American phenomenom, but I've never heard of it happening anywhere else. Are there groups in other parts of the world that reenact historical battles? Waterloo? Agincourt?

I'm curious, gonna go Google...

...found a couple. Here's a site that talks about an annual reenactment of a battle between Christian and Muslim forces in 1091, but it looks to be a small-scale representation held in the city square.

Here's a site that talks about an annual event that includes a reenactment of the WWII D-Day landings, from Lake Erie onto the shore at Conneaut, Ohio. This sounds cool.

I like this next one! The Californian Made Up Battle Reenactment Society recreates historically accurate battles which never actually happened. Among their recent reenactments were: Egyptians vs. Aztecs- The Battle of the Credit for Inventing the Pyramid, England vs. USA - The 1899 Battle of the 'Z' Pronuciation, and France vs. Itself - The 1986 Battle of No Point.

I found a site from the Ukraine that seems to be about a group of military history enthusiasts, but it's heavily under construction and I couldn't find a way to their reenactment pages. It appears that they do a reenactment of the 1812 battle of Borodino between Russian forces and Napoleon's invading army.

And of course, as often happens when Googling, I stumbled across some unexpected treasure: the site for the magnificent State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Very impressive online collection, well worth some time spent browsing.

Search results showed that the vast majority of the reencactments are American Civil War era, although I did find a few from the American Revolutionary War and some from other countries.

Posted by Ted at 07:11 AM | Comments (4)
Category: History

Finally, A Chain Letter I Can Relate To!

Long but funny (in the extended entry)

Hello, my name is Basmati Kasaar. I am suffering from rare and deadly diseases, poor scores on final exams, extreme virginity, fear of being kidnapped and executed by anal electrocution, and guilt for not forwarding out 50 billion freaking chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe that if you send them on, then that poor 6 year old girl in Arkansas with a breast on her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her off to the traveling freak show.

Do you honestly believe that Bill Gates is going to give you and everyone you send "his" email to $1000? How stupid are you? Ooooh, looky here!

If I scroll down this page and make a wish, every Playboy Bunny in the magazine’ll lay me! What bullshit. So basically, this message is a big GO TO HELL to all the people out there who have nothing better to do than to send me stupid chain mail forwards. Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my apartment and sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing the chain which was started by Jesus in 5 A.D. and was brought to this country by midget pilgrims on the Mayflower and if it makes it to the year 2010, it'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous streak of blatant stupidity. Screw them.

If you're going to forward something, at least send me something mildly amusing. I've seen all the "send this to 50 of your closest friends, and this poor, wretched excuse for a human being will somehow receive a Nickel from some omniscient being” forwards about 90 times. I don’t freaking care. Show a little intelligence and think about what you’re actually contributing to by sending out forwards. Chances are it’s your own unpopularity.


Chain Letter Type 1:
(scroll down)
> Make a wish!!!
> Keep Scrolling
> No, really, go on and make one!!!
> Oh please, they'll never go out with you!!!
> Wish something else!!!
> Not that, you pervert!!
> STOP!!!!
> Wasn't that fun? :)
> Hope you made a great wish :)
Now, to make you feel guilty, here's what I'll do. First of all, if you don't send this to 5096 people in the next 5 seconds, you will be raped by a mad goat and thrown off a high building into a pile of manure.

Thanks!!!! Good Luck!!!

Chain Letter Type 2

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy's life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund. Oh, and remember, we have absolutely no way of counting the emails sent and this is all a complete load of bullshit. So go on, reach out. Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds. Oh, and a reminder - if you accidentally send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly. Thanks again!!


Chain Letter Type 3

Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897. This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many sad pricks with nothing better to do. So this is how it works... Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:

*Bizarre Horror Story #1

Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drainpipe in a flood of poopie, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!

*Bizarre Horror Story #2

Dexter Bip, a 13 year old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his boyfriend (hey, some people swing that way). They both died and went to hell and were cursed to eat adorable kittens every day for eternity!! This Could Happen To You Too!!! Remember, you could end up just like Pinsley and Bip. Just send this letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be okay.


If you get some chain letter that's threatening to leave you shagless or luckless for the rest of your life, delete it. If it's funny, send it on. Don't piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth, who's been tied to a dead elephant for 27 years, whose only savior is the 5 cents per letter he'll receive if you forward this mail, otherwise you'll end up like Pinsley and Bip. Right? Now forward this to everyone that you know or you'll find all your underwear missing tomorrow morning.

Posted by Ted at 05:51 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

June 15, 2004

For those loyal few

My cultlike following is now accepting applications.

Posted by Ted at 12:07 PM | Comments (9)
Category: Square Pegs

Why not just "Joe"?

I'll take "Unfortunate Names" for one thousand, Alex.

Who is the only person worse off than this guy?

Thanks to Simon for pointing at the first poor soul.

Posted by Ted at 11:49 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Aye, there the beastie be!

Paleontologists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of whale that lived 14 million years ago in a sea that covered what is now eastern Virginia.

The whale is the oldest known member, by at least 3 million years, of a group that today includes the giant blue and fin whales, scientists said. It was several feet longer than any other whale in its time, said Alton Dooley, a museum paleontologist.

The discovery suggests that almost-modern-looking whales lived considerably further back in time than scientists realized.

Here's something neat: The Virginia Museum of Natural History named the new species Eobalaenoptera harrisoni, after Carter Harrison, a museum volunteer.

Posted by Ted at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

Goodbye Present

My PC at work has programmable function keys, and I have them set up to take me various places like our work systems, Google, Rocket Jones, and so on. Seeing's how the average user in the building isn't very technologically sophisticated, I was thinking that it'd be fun to reprogram the function keys to lead to weird and wonderful places on the internet. I'll leave the important work related ones, but I need some ideas for other destinations.

I was thinking Despair.com to start, but I need your evil suggestions. No porn, this is a work computer.

Posted by Ted at 07:17 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

On the way to work this morning

In traffic, bopping with Earth, Wind & Fire, I spied a dump truck chugging along. And as Philip Bailey croons:

We have a magic box
One that is never locked

I'm reading a sign on the back of the dump truck
For all your dirt needs
call 555-9999

I have such a dirty mind.

Posted by Ted at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

This is just so far beyond cool...

Code Blue for Mr. Ashcroft! Yet another group of pesky civilians display a little technological prowess, so it's time to warm up the black helicopters and suppress a few hobbyists in the name of Homeland Security.

Would you believe a flying radio-controlled scale model of the B-52? This incredible beastie weighs 300lbs and is powered by 8 tiny turbines.

There are photos and take-off & flyby video clips here, and golly gee, here's a link to the British manufacturer of those nifty little hobby turbine engines.

Kudos to Bill S, who pointed this out on one of my rocketry email lists.

Posted by Ted at 05:20 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

June 14, 2004

Perspective (updated)

Our relative insignificance commonly escapes us. If we reduce the universe to a scale on which we can conceive it, that on which the Earth should be represented by a good-sized pea, with a grain of mustard seed, the Moon, circling about it at a distance of seven inches, the Sun would be a globe two feet in diameter, two hundred and fifteen feet away. Mars, a much smaller pea, would circle around the two-foot globe three hundred and fifty feet from its surface; Jupiter, an orange, at a distance of a quarter of a mile; Saturn, a small orange, at two fifths of a mile; and Uranus and Neptune, good-sized plums, three quarters of a mile and a mile and a quarter away, respectively. The nearest star would lie two hundred and thirty thousand miles off, or at about the actual distance of our own Moon, and the other stars at corresponding distances beyond that; that is, on a scale upon which the Moon should be but seven inches off, the nearest star would still be as far from us as the Moon is now.

Percival Lowell - Mars (1895)

Update: I'd forgotten that that on the mall in Washington DC, the Smithsonian has a physical display of this very thing. The scale is smaller:

Picture the sun as the size of a grapefruit. That would make tiny Pluto smaller than a poppy seed in the Smithsonian Institution's new scale model of the solar system.

By the same scale, the nearest star would be the size of a cherry - located across the country in California.

Stretching more than six football fields across, the Smithsonian's new model doesn't fit in any museum. So, "Voyage: A Journey Through the Solar System," will be displayed outdoors, stretching 650 yards along the museums lining the National Mall.

The exhibit - built at one ten-billionth of the solar system's full size - takes the learning experience beyond the walls of the museum, said Carolynne Harris Knox, the Smithsonian's coordinator for the project.

The sun is located beyond the east end of the National Air and Space Museum. Earth will be affixed nearby, just off the building's east corner, but starting from the castle and walking down the mall towards the Air & Space Museum, you can get a physical idea of the incredible distances involved.

Past the full length of that massive museum, past the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, past the Arts and Industries building, near the corner of the Smithsonian Castle, is Pluto.

Posted by Ted at 02:07 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Space Program


All the I's are crossed and the T's are dotted, and this is my last week on this project. Beginning next monday, my commute distance doubles, my hours start even earlier, and I'll be back in a learning environment again. I'm looking forward to this change because I've gotten stale and too comfortable where I'm at.

I may vent and bitch about work at some future date, but then again, what's the point? I take great comfort in the fact that I'm being replaced by a singularly unhelpful "help desk", and their personnel turnover so far is massive and constant. Most of my users have already stopped by to say goodbye and tell me how sorry they are to see me go, which is always good for the ego.

I may occasionally do a remote Nog Watch, so those anxiously riveted to their seats need not worry.

I like working early hours, so I've already gotten the ok to work 6am-3pm at the new place. This is good because I'll miss the worst of the traffic both ways. It's bad because I'll have to leave my house at 5am, at least until I figure out exactly how long it'll take to get there.

During the interview, the big boss explained what they were doing and where they were going with the new project, then asked me what I thought about it. I told him it sounded like fun.

*nipple check* Yep, I'm excited.

Posted by Ted at 10:41 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

Someone's In The Kitchen With Dinaaahhh!

When I went home for my mom's funeral, one of the neighbors brought over this cake. It was one of my mom's favorites, and so wonderful that I asked for the recipe.

Better-Than-Sex (Almost) Cake

1 stick margarine
½ cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 small can ‘angel flake’ coconut
5 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (your choice)
5 egg whites, stiffly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together the margarine and shortening.
3. Add sugar, beat until smooth. Add egg yolks, blend well.
4. Combine the flour and baking soda, add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
5. Stir in vanilla, add the coconut and nuts. Fold in the egg whites (see notes below).
6. Pour into 3 greased & floured 8” cake pans.
7. Bake for 25 minutes.

* There are a couple of gotchas in the preparation, but they're not difficult. Failure to get it right doesn't ruin the cake, it only turns out excellent rather than orgasmic.

First, about those egg whites: use an electric beater to whip them stiff or you'll wear yourself out trying to do it by hand.

Secondly, once you've got those egg whites light and airy, gently fold them into the batter. Follow that link for the correct technique, it makes a difference.

Lastly, if you use a pair of 10" rounds or a sheet cake pan you'll have to increase the baking time, and there's more chance that the cake will fall. Test doneness by sticking a knife into the cake near the center, it should come out clean.

Once the cakes are cooling, it's time to make the frosting.

Better-Than-Sex (Almost) Frosting

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 box 10x Powdered Sugar
½ stick margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla
chopped nuts

1. Beat cream cheese and margarine until smooth.
2. Add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
3. Spread on the cake, then sprinkle chopped nuts on top.

Posted by Ted at 06:38 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Recipes

Satellite Radio

We have the Dish Network in our house instead of cable. Recently, they've added the Sirius Satellite Radio channels to the lineup. Their 70's channel is exactly that - everything 70's. So you hear Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, mixed in with the BeeGee's and Donna Summer, mixed in with Ted Nugent and the Doobie Brothers. I like it much better than the mix offered on the old channels, which had 70's Soul and 70's Rock and 70's Pop and...

There are 100 channels, and several of them are pretty specialized, but so far I'm giving this a thumbs up. Doesn't hurt that it's included in our basic package either.

Posted by Ted at 05:37 AM | Comments (2)
Category: SciTech

June 13, 2004

Launch Report - 6/12/04

I keep my logbook here online since I've started Rocket Jones. If you'd like to read about my day spent launching rockets, it's in the extended entry. If not, that's ok too.

But first, a note about customer service and my recent encounters with two guys who get it more than right.

Last weekend I ordered a couple of rocket kits from a new local hobby dealer - Vertical Force Rocketry. Not only was he offering a club discount, but he met me at a local shopping center to deliver the kits to save me shipping costs. He also threw in a couple of sets of decals that he made so I could give them a try. We met yesterday at the launch, and then this morning Rich emailed this awesome liftoff photo (280k) of my flying saucer taking off. Great photography Rich, great customer service, and everyone should go check out his place and buy rockets for yourself and all your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandkids, etc.

The other good guy is Doug Pratt, who's the very definition of "customer service". Seriously. He made a special trip out to the launch just to deliver a package to me, and stayed all of about 10 minutes before having to head out again. Quite out of his way too. Thanks Doug! Remember, Pratt Hobbies is where you can get those nifty "As a matter of fact, I AM a Rocket Scientist" t-shirts, and he's added hoody sweatshirts too ("Freedom to dream. Freedom to fly"). Mookie says they're cool, and we all know what a fashion lizard she is.

Ok, launch report. Click the link below for the extended entry.

Where: Great Meadow Equestrian Center, The Plains, Virginia
When: 9am - 5pm
Weather: mid-70's, high scattered clouds, light breeze

I wasn't going to go to today's NOVAAR club launch, because Mookie had graduation parties (yes, multiple) to attend today. She's not a senior, but several of her friends are, so her social calendar is full until the end of the school year. I figured I'd just play chauffeur (sonuvabitch if I didn't spell that right the first try!) all day, toting her here and there since graduation parties only happen once, but there are rocket launches every month.

Except that I was informed that I *had* to go, and that Pratt Hobbies might be there with a package for me. And when I got said package, I was *not* to open it. It's my Father's Day present, and I don't officially get it until next week.

So despite last night's rain and party plans, I packed up a few rockets and headed out to the club launch. It's turned out to be a glorious spring day, and I've got the sunburn to prove it. Because of the light winds, rockets were returning on their chutes almost back to the launch pads no matter how high they flew, and as the day went on folks got braver, the rockets got larger and the altitudes achieved increased dramatically.

I only brought model rockets to fly, and flew everything I brought.

1. Barenaked Lady -- D12-5 -- I started the day with a fine flight from this scratchbuilt. Not too high, and our homemade x-form parachute deployed perfectly and looked great coming down. She landed gently about 30 feet from where I was standing.

2. Snitch -- D12-0 / C6-0 -- This plastic flying saucer from Estes is big fun (you saw the picture above, right?). For added amusement, I CHAD-stage this little beastie. CHAD stands for "CHeap And Dirty", and what it means is I jam a second motor onto the bottom of the first motor and just let it hang there. At ignition the first motor lights, and then it lights the main motor before falling away. Like I said - big fun. On this flight though, the upper motor didn't light. Not a problem for the Snitch, it lands upside down without a parachute anyways (tumble recovery), so there was no damage. The motor just didn't light, but the entire nozzle area was charred and it should've. Weird.

3. YJ-218 -- C6-5 (x2) -- Another scratchbuilt, this time an upscale of the Estes Yellow Jacket. She flies on twin "C" motors, and the flight and recovery were perfect. In fact, this would have been my longest walk of the day for recovery (less than 100 yards), except that she landed within 50 feet of my truck, and a friend picked it up and put it in the bed of my truck for me.

4. Fat Boy -- C6-5 -- Hey lookie, it's our rocket! Flew perfectly too.

5. Saturn 3 -- A3-4T (x4) -- The concept behind this originial rocket was to be an affordable cluster by using four mini-motors. All four motors lit, another great flight, and I'm on a roll!

6. Falcon -- B6-4 -- This is a basic rocket kit from Quest, and flies nicely, if not very high.

7. Honest John -- B6-4 -- This is a semi-scale model of the US tactical nuclear missile of the 60's. Mine is painted in the test round colors rather than olive drab, because I'm shallow and easily distracted by bright pretty colors. Perfect liftoff, straight boost, and nice recovery.

8. Snitch -- D12-0 / C6-0 -- I wanted to get it right this time, and I did. Perfect flight all around, including the staging. Very nice.

9. Dynamic Carrier -- B6-4 -- This is a kit from Custom Rockets, and it's interesting and unusual. I've got it painted up to look like some kind of alien spaceship, and it flies great. Nice flight.

So I flew everything I brought. I also spent some time helping other rocketeers make their flights, talked to friends, and just generally enjoyed being out on the beautiful day.

9 flights (13 motors burned)
2 staged
2 clustered
power range: B - 3, C - 2, D - 3, E - 1

Posted by Ted at 08:21 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Rocketry

June 12, 2004

Movie Review Time

Rejected title: Uh-oh, what's Ted gotten into this time?*

I'm going to start with the best and work down to the worst. These are all titles I've recently picked up in various bargain sections.

First and by far the best is Zulu. You may remember this 1964 classic that tells the true story of the 1879 battle at Rorke's Drift. About 150 British soldiers bravely (and barely) hold off a series of attacks by more than 4,000 African Zulu warriors. Starring Michael Caine, this one is a must-see movie, especially for anyone who loves action movies and/or historical drama. If I remember correctly, I got this one at Mieir's as part of a 3 for $10.00 deal.

The second disk of that deal wasn't quite the classic, They Came From Beyond Space. Alien minds take over earth scientists to help them repair their damaged spaceship, and it's up to a McGuyver-esque wannabe to uncover the truth. Luckily for earth, he's got a metal plate in his head, making him immune to alien mind control. I really enjoyed this one, right up until the last three minutes, when the stupidest ending ever committed to film managed to completely screw up a decent movie. This was based on the book "The Gods Hate Kansas", and at times this 60's British import tries too hard and takes itself too seriously.

I almost put this 1998 direct-to-video T&A offering last: Sorority House Vampires from Hell. It somehow seems right that the IMDB description at that link is screwed up. The cast list is correct, but the plot synopsis is for a whole different movie.

I'll just copy the blurb on the box for you instead:

Death, Demons, D-Cups! The UFO-Demon, Rabaalhazor, has sent the vampire, Natalia to destroy the Earth. Each time she takes a victim a natural disaster rocks the planet. Humanity's only hope is the sexy sorority pledge, Buffy, and the members of her sisterhood. She must not only save the world but she also must save herself from the perverted desires of both Rabaalhazor and Natalia.

They spared all expense for this one. The opening sets were cardboard boxes covered with random PC boards glued here and there. Not that you noticed, because there was a topless vampire babe go-go dancing in front of it. Intended to be in the same vein (pun intended) as movies like Scary Movie this spoof muddles along without letting anything like humor and production values get in the way.

There are occasional smirk-worthy bits, including onscreen subtitles that appear every time Surfer Boy speaks. Rabaalhazor sounds like a cross between Mako and Cheech Marin. But mostly, it's an unwatchable mess, which is a pity, because I really like the title.

So what could possibly be worse than that? This last movie was irretrievably spoiled by a horrid audio track. I can overlook weak plot, uneven pacing, poor acting, and sleaze and cheese, but when I have to strain to hear dialogue that sounds like it's coming from the bottom of a well, it kinda ruins it for me.

Ghost Gunfighter (also released as High Tomb) is a horror story set in an abandoned western ghost town. The town starts to come to life around a bunch of stranded kids (surprise, surprise), and of course they start to die (ditto).

I may upgrade my review of this one in the future, because I'm that pissed off right now about the audio. The movie has real promise, but at the moment it's in the "sucks" category. Maybe my mind will change, but there's an awful lot of stoopid and lame-ass going on, podner.

So there you have it - a classic, a fair-to-middlin' flick, and two stinkers.

* Thanks to Dawn of Caterwauling for the inspiration to use the 'rejected title' idea (translation: I stole it from her fine site).

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

Rocket Launch today

It rained pretty steadily yesterday evening and into the early morning, so the field might be a mess. Doesn't matter a bit, I'm gonna go launch some rockets. Enjoy your day, and I'll have something up later.

Posted by Ted at 06:15 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

June 11, 2004

My Sincere Thanks

Yep, he was a cowboy, both in the movies and in real life.
My military service was essentially under two presidents: President Carter and President Reagan. There was a brief period at the beginning under President Ford, and an even shorter time under the senior President Bush.

When President Reagan took the helm, there was a noticable difference in the armed forces. Our Commander in Chief truly believed in us, and we had to live up to his expectations. To him, the military wasn't the backup plan or last option to be played, it was another tool for implementing policy, and few Presidents ever wielded a tool with greater precision or confidence.

Besides the material measures of the strengthening of the US Military, I think his greatest achievment was the rejuvination of the spirit of the armed forces. That may also be, ultimately, the longest lasting effect, because despite the advanced technology and methods employed, the future of the United States rests, as it always has, directly on the shoulders of the men and women who make up the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. A realistic look at history will show that America has never been more secure than it is right now. We can still be hurt, but we are farther from the possibility of our complete downfall than at any previous time in our 200+ years.

Well done, President Reagan.

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

President Reagan's Speech at the Challenger Memorial Service

We come together today to mourn the loss of seven brave Americans, to share the grief we all feel and, perhaps in that sharing, to find the strength to bear our sorrow and the courage to look for the seeds of hope.

Our nation's loss is first a profound personal loss to the family and the friends and loved ones of our shuttle astronauts. To those they have left behind - the mothers, the fathers, the husbands and wives, brothers, sisters, and yes, especially the children - all of America stands beside you in your time of sorrow.

What we say today is only an inadequate expression of what we carry in our hearts. Words pale in the shadow of grief; they seem insufficient even to measure the brave sacrifice of those you loved and we so admired. Their truest testimony will not be in the words we speak, but in the way they led their lives and in the way they lost those lives - with dedication, honor and an unquenchable desire to explore this mysterious and beautiful universe.

The best we can do is remember our seven astronauts - our Challenger Seven - remember them as they lived, bringing life and love and joy to those who knew them and pride to a nation.

They came from all parts of this great country - from South Carolina to Washington State; Ohio to Mohawk, New York; Hawaii to North Carolina to Concord, New Hampshire. They were so different, yet in their mission, their quest, they held so much in common.

We remember Dick Scobee, the commander who spoke the last words we heard from the space shuttle Challenger. He served as a fighter pilot in Vietnam, earning many medals for bravery, and later as a test pilot of advanced aircraft before joining the space program. Danger was a familiar companion to Commander Scobee.

We remember Michael Smith, who earned enough medals as a combat pilot to cover his chest, including the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals - and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, in gratitude from a nation that he fought to keep free.

We remember Judith Resnik, known as J.R. to her friends, always smiling, always eager to make a contribution, finding beauty in the music she played on her piano in her off-hours.

We remember Ellison Onizuka, who, as a child running barefoot through the coffee fields and macadamia groves of Hawaii, dreamed of someday traveling to the Moon. Being an Eagle Scout, he said, had helped him soar to the impressive achievement of his career.

We remember Ronald McNair, who said that he learned perseverance in the cotton fields of South Carolina. His dream was to live aboard the space station, performing experiments and playing his saxophone in the weightlessness of space; Ron, we will miss your saxophone and we will build your space station.

We remember Gregory Jarvis. On that ill-fated flight he was carrying with him a flag of his university in Buffalo, New York - a small token he said, to the people who unlocked his future.

We remember Christa McAuliffe, who captured the imagination of the entire nation, inspiring us with her pluck, her restless spirit of discovery; a teacher, not just to her students, but to an entire people, instilling us all with the excitement of this journey we ride into the future.

We will always remember them, these skilled professionals, scientists and adventurers, these artists and teachers and family men and women, and we will cherish each of their stories - stories of triumph and bravery, stories of true American heroes.

On the day of the disaster, our nation held a vigil by our television sets. In one cruel moment, our exhilaration turned to horror; we waited and watched and tried to make sense of what we had seen. That night, I listened to a call-in program on the radio: people of every age spoke of their sadness and the pride they felt in `our astronauts.' Across America, we are reaching out, holding hands, finding comfort in one another.

The sacrifice of your loved ones has stirred the soul of our nation and, through the pain, our hearts have been opened to a profound truth - the future is not free, the story of all human progress is one of a struggle against all odds. We learned again that this America, which Abraham Lincoln called the last best hope of man on Earth, was built on heroism and noble sacrifice. It was built by men and women like our seven star voyagers, who answered a call beyond duty, who gave more than was expected or required, and who gave it with little thought to worldly reward.

We think back to the pioneers of an earlier century, and the sturdy souls who took their families and the belongings and set out into the frontier of the American West. Often, they met with terrible hardship. Along the Oregon Trail you can still see the grave markers of those who fell on the way. But grief only steeled them to the journey ahead.

Today, the frontier is space and the boundaries of human knowledge. Sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain. Our nation is indeed fortunate that we can still draw on immense reservoirs of courage, character and fortitude - that we are still blessed with heroes like those of the space shuttle Challenger.

Dick Scobee knew that every launching of a space shuttle is a technological miracle. And he said, if something ever does go wrong, I hope that doesn't mean the end to the space shuttle program. Every family member I talked to asked specifically that we continue the program, that that is what their departed loved one would want above all else. We will not disappoint them.

Today, we promise Dick Scobee and his crew that their dream lives on; that the future they worked so hard to build will become reality. The dedicated men and women of NASA have lost seven members of their family. Still, they too, must forge ahead, with a space program that is effective, safe and efficient, but bold and committed.

Man will continue his conquest of space. To reach out for new goals and ever greater achievements - that is the way we shall commemorate our seven Challenger heroes.

Dick, Mike, Judy, El, Ron, Greg and Christa - your families and your country mourn your passing. We bid you goodbye. We will never forget you. For those who knew you well and loved you, the pain will be deep and enduring. A nation, too, will long feel the loss of her seven sons and daughters, her seven good friends. We can find consolation only in faith, for we know in our hearts that you who flew so high and so proud now make your home beyond the stars, safe in God's promise of eternal life.

May God bless you all and give you comfort in this difficult time.

Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas -- January 31, 1986

Further links and information can be found here.

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

President Reagan at NASA's Houston Mission Control

Because this is Rocket Jones after all (in the extended entry).

President Ronald Reagan gets a laugh from NASA officials in Mission Control when he jokingly asks crew members, astronauts Joe Engle and Richard Truly if they could stop by Washington en route to their California landing site in order that he might come along. The STS-2 crew was in their next to last day on orbit when the conversation took place. From left to right standing: Terry J. Hart, NASA Deputy Administrator Dr. Hans Mark, NASA Administrator James M. Beggs, JSC Director Dr. Christopher C. Kraft Jr. From left to right seated: CAPCOM, Astronaut Daniel C. Brandenstein President, Ronald Reagan Directly above the President in the background: JSC Flight Operations Director, Eugene F. Kranz [the guy with the vest in the movie Apollo 13 - ed.]

Posted by Ted at 05:44 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles

Dead at 73. Damn.

Posted by Ted at 09:32 PM | Comments (1)

Doubling the amount of beachfront property available

Over at Transterrestrial Musings, Andrew Case talks about building cities on the oceans, and some serious plans to make seasteading a reality. This is definitely worth checking out, with plenty of interesting links to follow.

Absurd idea to start your own country, you say? You might want to tell the residents of the Principality of Sealand, I think they'd disagree.

Posted by Ted at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

If'n it don't rhyme, then it ain't no poem

The Carnival of the Vanities is up at Ambient Irony. Pixy has included lots of links to thoughtful and insightful posts there, but no pictures. Darnit.

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

I'm easy to spot in traffic

I don't just sing along with the radio. I conduct.

Posted by Ted at 06:55 AM | Comments (2)
Category: About Ted

Chicken and Road, Air Force Version

Why the Chicken Crossed the Road -- USAF Interpretation

Colonel: Successful crossing, well planned and carried out in accordance with my directives.

Chief: About time that thing worked; hope the Colonel's finally happy.

NCO: Changed two wings, a beak, and removed a bad egg, and the silly thing still can't fly!

2nd Lt: Look at the pretty bird!

(there's more in the extended entry)

TOWER: The chicken was instructed to hold short of the road. This road-incursion incident was reported in a Hazardous Chicken Road-Crossing Report (HCRCR). Please re-emphasize that chickens are required to read back all 'hold short' instructions.

COMMAND POST: What chicken?

Air Education and Training Command (AETC): The purpose is to familiarize the chicken with road-crossing procedures. Road-crossing should be performed only between the hours of sunset and sunrise. Solo chickens must have at least 3 miles of visibility and a safety observer.

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC): The chicken crossed at a 90 degree angle to avoid prolonged exposure to a line of communication. To achieve maximum surprise, the chicken should perform this maneuver at night using NVGs, preferably near a road bend in a valley.

Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC): Due to the needs of the Air Force, the chicken was involuntarily reassigned to the other side of the road. This will be a 3-year controlled tour and we promise to give the chicken a good-deal assignment afterwards. Every chicken will be required to do one road-crossing during its career, and this will not affect its opportunities for promotion.

Air Intelligence Agency (AIA): Despite what you see on CNN, I can neither confirm nor deny any fowl performing acts of transit. Questions? Please see the SSO.

Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC): If it didn't happen on a Saturday or Sunday then we missed it.

Air Force Foreign Technology Center (AFFTC): This event will need confirmation; we need to repeat it using varied chicken breeds, road types, and weather conditions to confirm whether it can actually happen within the parameters specified for chickens and the remote possibility that they might cross thruways designated by some as 'roads.'

Air Combat Command (ACC): The chicken should log this as a GCC sortie only if road-crossing qualified. The crossing updates the chicken's 60-day road-crossing currency only if performed on a Monday or Thursday or during a full moon. Instructor chickens may update currency any time they observe another chicken cross the road.

Pacific Air Force (PACAF): We don't have chickens yet, as they haven't been funded. The latest projection is for chickens in FY2002, at which time they will be WRM assets assigned to ACC.

Air Mobility Command (AMC): The purpose is not important. What is important is that the chicken remained under the OPCON of USCINCTRANS and did not CHOP to the theater on the other side of the road. Without CHOPing, the chicken was able to achieve a seamless road-crossing with near perfect, real-time in-transit visibility.

Tanker Airlift Control Center (TACC): We need the road-crossing time and the time the chicken becomes available for another crossing.

Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC): Recent changes in technology, coupled with today's multipolar strategic environment, have created new challenges in the chicken's ability to cross the road. The chicken was also faced with significant challenges to create and Develop core competencies required for this new environment. AFMC's Chicken Systems Program Office (CSPO), in a partnering relationship with the client, helped the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution strategy and implementation processes. Using the Poultry Integration Model (PIM) CSPO helped the chicken use its skills, methodologies, knowledge capital and experiences to align the chicken's people, processes, and technology in support of its overall strategy within a Program management framework. The CSPO convened a diverse cross-spectrum of road analysts and retired chickens along with MITRE consultants with deep skills in the transportation industry to engage in a two-day itinerary of meetings in order to leverage their personal knowledge and capital, both tacit and explicit, and to enable them synergize with each other in order to achieve the implicit goals of delivering and successfully architecting and implementing an enterprise-wide value framework across the continuum of poultry cross-median processes. The meeting was held in a park-like setting enabling and creating an impactful environment which was strategically based, mission-focused, and built upon a consistent, clear, and unified Mission Need Statement and aligned with the chicken's mission, vision, and core values. This was conducive towards the creation of a total business integration solution. The Chicken Systems Program Office helped the chicken change to continue meeting its mission requirements.

C-130 CREWMEMBER: Just put the darn chicken in back and let's go.

C-141 CREWMEMBER: I ordered a #4 with turkey and ham, NOT Chicken! Besides, where the heck are my condiments?! We ain't taking off til' I get my condiments!!!

AWACS CREW: Due to our being in a turn at that precise moment, we have no confirmation of any chickens in the area at that time.Our ACE advises that such an event is extremely unlikely, in any case.

FIGHTER JOCK: Look, dude, that was the frag, OK? I've flown my 1.0 for the day and I ain't got time for any more questions!

F-117 PILOT: Wasn't that great! I snuck up on it at 2 feet AGL at 600 knots, illuminated its tail feathers with the laser designator, and 'goosed' it before it even knew I was there!

B-1 CREW: Missed the whole show: We had an IFE so we couldn't get out to see it; you'll have to ask the SOF.

CHECKMATE: The chicken used its unique ability to operate in 2 dimensions to bypass the less important strategic rings on this side of the road and strike directly into the heart of the enemy, destroying the will of the enemy to fight and ending the conflict on terms favorable to the chicken.

CONGRESS: The chicken appears to be an efficient substitute for F-22s!

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

June 09, 2004

Earth remains the most intensely studied planet in the Solar System

Sometime between now and July 3rd, NASA's newest Earth Orbiting Satellite (EOS), AURA, will be placed into orbit.

The Aura spacecraft won't be alone in space during its planned six-year mission.

Once aloft, Aura will trail the Aqua spacecraft in a formation flight pattern to make comprehensive climate observations of the Earth. In 2005, the cloud-watching satellites - CloudSat and the CALYSPO - are expected to fill in the gap between the two EOS spacecraft, with the French-developed PARASOL satellite to join them in 2006.

Mission scientists have dubbed the five-spacecraft formation the "A-train," in which each spacecraft passes over a region 15 minutes after its predecessor and takes data that can ultimately be combined into a complete climate picture.

Some EOS satellites have continued to function for more than 12 years longer than their designed lifetime. That's a pretty good return on the investment, I'd say.

Posted by Ted at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

I don't *feel* deprived

I have never seen a single episode of The Soprano's, Sex in the City, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, American Idol, Survivor, or any reality show other than one episode of The Amazing Race midway through it's first season.

Posted by Ted at 11:01 AM | Comments (6)
Category: About Ted


Got my hair cut yesterday, which isn’t a big deal, but it got me to thinking about barber shops and haircuts.

(in the extended entry)

As a young kid, we’d visit the local barbershop every couple of weeks (I’m guessing here, because preschoolers don’t have a real sense of time). Mom would take us and we always had the same couple of barbers. My brother’s barber was a guy named Casper, and I don’t quite remember what my barber’s name was (it might have been Ted too). Conversely, I can clearly picture my barber’s face, but only have the vaguest recollection of what Casper looked like.

My first buzz cut courtesy of Uncle Sam doesn’t register, probably unremarkable because I’d been expecting it. I do remember how difficult it was to recognize all my fellow enlistees without hair, and it surprised me how the lack of hair made us all pretty anonymous.

The next truly memorable haircut I can remember happened in Mississippi, years later in the Air Force, and it wasn’t the end result that sticks in my mind, it was the process. I badly needed the haircut and went to the on-base barber shop. There were probably a dozen barbers, and twice that many waiting customers. While you’re sitting there, you watch everyone working and form your opinions on which ones are ok and which ones are hacks. Sometimes you play a little game where you try to guess which barber you’ll wind up with. Eventually my number was called and I wound up – as I’d feared – with the scariest barber I’ve ever seen.

This guy was ancient, tiny and hunched over and withered, but the most frightening part is that he shook like an epileptic poodle. That was the longest haircut of my life, in every sense. Each scissoring took seconds as he worked the comb just so, then a careful, gradual move with the scissors before he made the snip. It took forever, but he wasn’t a butcher about it, and he did a good enough job, albeit in slow motion.

I almost wet myself when he went for the heated shaving cream. My heart was pounding as he applied it to my neck and around the ears. My heart stopped when he managed to smear some inside my ear, and across my cheek. I barely managed to not scream when he started wiping the back of my collar with a towel, trying to clean up the shaving cream he’d managed to miss my neck with. And I witnessed a miracle when he picked up the straight razor. His arm became rock steady, but the rest of him seemed to shake even more, as if trying to take up the slack. He was quick and firm and confident with that razor, and I checked for blood and ear loss afterwards, but he did just fine. I don’t win lotteries or raffles, there’s just not that much karmic luck in my life, so I went off-base after that for haircuts. No sense tempting fate.

Very soon after that, I was in Maryland, preparing to get married. Staying at my future in-laws place, I went to the local barber shop and had the absolute best haircut of my life. This haircut took a long time too, but for a completely different reason. The barber wasn’t in a hurry. He wasn’t slow or lazy, he just took his time. It was an old fashioned neighborhood barber shop, where the old men hung around to socialize and kill time, and a radio always played in the background. The barber was a youngish guy, and I think he’d inherited the business from his dad. We talked about the Orioles and the Military and my upcoming wedding, and when I left there a couple of hours later I felt like I’d made friends for life.

Over the years, barbers have changed. There was a day when a woman barber was something you just didn’t see. Nowadays, it’s common to walk into a barber shop full of small oriental women cutting hair. I got used to it in the military, but since rejoining the civilian world I’ve noticed it more and more as well.

A few years ago I let my hair grow long for no good reason, I just didn’t get it cut for a couple of years. One day, again for no particular reason, I stopped in at a new “Barber Salon” in the area. Slick chrome and leather furniture, a huge wide-screen TV in the corner playing action movies, and three young and very good looking ladies cutting hair. I sat down, pulled the pony free (get your mind out of the gutter), and told her I wanted it cut short. She really didn’t want to. She was afraid that I’d change my mind and get mad at her. At this point, my hair was halfway down my back, and finally I convinced her that it was what I really wanted. She did a nice job on the haircut, but I never went back because the place reminded me more of a singles bar than a barber shop.

I’ve also gotten a few haircuts in whatever salon is attached to the WalMart. Nothing particularly bad about the experience, but nothing special either. I missed the barber shops of old, so I started looking for alternatives.

A place opened up nearby that bills itself as an “old fashioned barber shop”, so I had to give it a try. Once. The haircut was fine – can you tell I’m not terribly picky about that part? – but the barber talked my ear off. I don’t mind a little conversation, but this sunuvabitch never shut up. I got all his political views, his lottery history, details about his son and the worthless bitch he married and on and on and on. I was wishing he’d just jam his scissors into my temple and put me out of my misery.

Since then, I’ve found a nice place. It’s not traditional, but it’s not too far out either. Filled with small oriental women, they chat if you want to talk, and shut up if you don’t feel like conversation. They don’t jabber at each other in Vietnamese either as they cut your hair – I really hate that. The first time I went, the cutie who cut my hair apologized for ten minutes when I said she’d cut it shorter than I’d wanted. She even got the manager so he could apologize for a while. It was a casual comment, because hair grows out and it was actually a very good cut.

For fifteen bucks (and that includes a generous tip), I get a haircut, head, neck and shoulders massage, hot towel, razor shave, and a little pampering while being surrounded by nice looking ladies.

I’ve found my barber shop.

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

Extensive Online Rocket and Missile Resource

For anyone interested in rockets, missiles or space-related information, check out Jim Ball's Scale Data Library. This site is an incredible resource in and of itself, but when you see the links he's collected... wow!

Posted by Ted at 05:52 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

Words of wisdom

Fortune Cookie Maker

McDonalds Sign Generator

And lots more too. Thanks to J-Walk Blog for the pointer.

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

June 08, 2004

Undersea Volcanic Eruption

Hoping to learn more about undersea volcanoes, scientists sent a camera-equipped submarine down to take a look. They got more than they bargained for, witnessing a deep-sea eruption.
Duck and cover, Ariel!
Posted by Ted at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

History repeating itself

Iraq isn't Vietnam all over again, but there's more in common with WWII than you might realize. Check out this interesting piece from Alan E. Brain (posted at The Command Post too).

Posted by Ted at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)
Category: History

Stanley Cup goes to Tampa Bay

Congrats to the Lightning. Normal sleep patterns shall now resume.

Posted by Ted at 05:39 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

Not Safe For Work

Really. A dirty cartoon with nudity and sexual content. In the extended entry.


Posted by Ted at 05:26 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Square Pegs

June 07, 2004

Student Loan changes in the works

Rates on federal student loans have fallen to around 3 percent — a 35-year low. Even better, students can lock in those rates, potentially saving thousands of dollars by ensuring their payments won't increase even if interest rates do.

But a proposal in Congress could shut down the party. The measure would end the fixed-rate option, making all federal student loans issued after July 2006 subject to variable rates. Repayments would then rise and fall each year in sync with interest rates.

This may affect oldest daughter and will most certainly affect Mookie.

Posted by Ted at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Happier Days

In the extended entry.


Posted by Ted at 06:19 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

He's back!

Mark Oakley of Rocket Man Blog has spent the last couple of months moving and getting into his new job as chief propulsion engineer for TGV Rockets, one of the companies going for the X-Prize.

Things have settled down for him enough to resume blogging, and I'm looking forward to interesting times ahead. Stop by and welcome him back. Who knows, maybe we can work a deal for a 'bloggers discount' on trips into space?

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

Extreme Mumbledly-peg

Knife Throwing 101, courtesy of Iron Bear over at Who Tends the Fires.

This is one of those things that is on my "everyone should know" list. You do carry a knife, right? At the very least, a Swiss-army or Boy Scout pocket knife should be part of your daily kit. Something larger and defensively-oriented should be in your car. And you should know enough about using it to be a credible threat, because nothing is more frightening than facing someone who obviously knows how to use that knife in their hand. And at some point, that might mean your only good option is throwing your knife at the target. Iron Bear has the best advice possible on the subject.

Even if you don't stick or cut your target, throwing a knife can have benefits. I'm assuming here that you have a backup like another knife, you don't throw your only weapon in most situations. The first benefit is pretty obvious, most folks will flinch if a knife is coming their way, probably a lot too, and that's a hell of a distraction. Use that distraction to get away, or to prepare for the disabling move you're going to win the fight with (like hosing him down with pepper spray). Also, since you don't lob or toss a knife - you throw it hard - another benefit is that even if you hit your target with the hilt of the knife, it should feel like a Randy Johnson fastball, and he's going to take a moment to do a quick check and realize that the blade isn't buried deep. Again, get away or use the time to win the fight.

Like many skills, accurate and effective knife throwing isn't technically difficult, but it takes time to develop the ability, and more time to practice and keep your skills sharp.

Guys, impress the ladies. Ladies, impress the guys and remember: nothing says "no" like a woman who can perform an impromptu vasectomy from across the room (that's 'Dad' talking, by the way).

Posted by Ted at 05:59 AM | Comments (8)
Category: Links

June 06, 2004

Thanks Dutch

Ronald Reagan was everything America needed as a President at that time.

Posted by Ted at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Politics

June 05, 2004

It's not that it bothers me, but I do notice so I assume you do too

My usage of punctuation and the other doodads of writing is rather cavalier. I'm sure I use a dash when a semicolon would do, and vice-versa. You may cringe that I throw commas around like a cop writing tickets to meet his quota. Consistancy? Hah! I will damn well italicize whenever I wish, thank you. And I never met a convoluted sentence structure that I didn't like. It should be obvious to all that I hated, Hated, HATED those fiddly bits in English class. But I think the message gets across, which is what it's all about, eh?

I am fishing for comments curious about this. Does my writing make you grit your teeth?

Posted by Ted at 10:48 AM | Comments (14)
Category: About Ted

Mind those pine-fresh pigeons! They might get high on you!

Nobody specifically asked, but I'm all about anticipating your needs, so I'm pleased to point you to a random surreal phrase generator that you can put on your sidebar!

Thanks to Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul for the link, which I can't find again on her site, but my post-it note iPAQ says that's where it came from, so I must believe me. Or forever be lime. How surreal.

Posted by Ted at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Sex dominates the world, and now I dominate sex!

Hi-dee-ho esteemed guest, it's movie review time! Since I seem to have driven my old readers away in disgust picked up several new semi-regular visitors, let me tell you that I adore obscure and crappy horror movies. Then I bore you to tears write all about 'em here, because that's what I do. If you'd like to see the rest of the Rocket Jones "Cult Flicks" category, click here.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching several movies, but for this post I'm going to review just three.

Let's start out with a question: when someone says "Argentina", do you automatically think "horror movie"?

Me neither. How about "mad scientist monster movies?" No? Hmmmm... ok then: "cheesy sexploitation movies?" Ding ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner!!! Argentinian sexploitation sci-fi horror. How cool is that?!?!?!

Screwing around aside (no pun intended), the story here is that a mad scientist, the Curious Dr. Humpp, has his monster (we know he's a monster because he has a blinking light in the middle of his forehead) kidnap various people in order to have sex with each other. Among the victims are a lesbian couple, a group of orgiastic hippies, a stripper, and so on. According to his evil plan, he then uses aphrodesiacs and "electronic control of the libido" to coerce them to have frequent sex, after which he extracts the "blood forces of sex" from them. The title of this post is one of his dramatic lines from the movie. Of course, not all goes according to plan and even the evil talking brain in the jar on his desk can't help much.

Believe it or not, this movie is better than it sounds. The production values are reasonably decent, the acting isn't terrible, and even the dubbing is pretty well done. According to what I've dug up on the web, several extra sex scenes were added to spice up the movie for release in the US, so if you fast forward through most of the nudity and softcore you'll actually be watching the movie as the director originally intended, making it more of a morality play and less of a schlock flick.

Next up is a double feature DVD from Something Weird Video: The Toy Box and Toys Are Not For Children.

The Toy Box is just plain odd. Equal parts horror, sexploitation, science fiction, and acid trip, this is a flick that works best if you just hang on and enjoy the ride without trying too hard for understanding. If you insist on storyline, then "Uncle" throws parties where people act out fantasies to get rewards from 'the toy box'. That's about as distilled-down lucid as you can get with this movie, and even that falls way short of the actual twisted happenings.

Winding up this odd threesome of odd movies is Toys Are Not For Children. Looking for a one-word description? "Disturbing" fits as well as anything else. A young girl grows up obsessing about her father, who was tossed out of the house by mom. In a bizarre series of events, she gets a job in a toy store, gets married (unhappily), and then finds happiness by becoming a hooker. She eventually does have a reunion with her daddy, and it's hard to imagine things going any more badly than they do. Although still considered a 'sexploitation' flick, this movie is more a psychological study, and there is actually very little nudity.

So there you have it, three twisted movies, each deemed worthy of your time. If you're into that sort of thing, of course.

Posted by Ted at 06:24 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Cult Flicks

June 04, 2004

In Klingon, the name would be K'Ben

A Rat to English dictionary.

Somehow, I think Victor and Nic already knew about this. They probably contributed.

Thanks to J-Walk Blog for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 12:40 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Gadget Review - iPAQ 1945

I asked about PDA’s back in this post, and got plenty of good advice and ideas in the comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

I wound up getting an iPAQ Pocket PC, model 1945, and so far I love it!!! Originally developed by Compaq, now the iPAQ’s fly under the Hewlett-Packard banner (my parents both retired from HP – Yay!). This is a true PC, shrunk down to pocket size.

The 1900 series of iPAQ’s are the low-end of the line, which doesn’t mean a damn thing when you look at the features built in. The processor is as fast as the two year old PC on my desk, and there’s as much on-board RAM as my PC too. The iPAQ’s run the Windows CE operating system, which was a positive thing in my eyes. They have MSWord and Excel built in, so I don’t have to convert files to and from a proprietary format like I would have had to if I'd have gotten a Palm. It also has Internet Explorer, Outlook and PowerPoint built in. The color screen is small, but clear and bright and sharp. It's also oriented in portrait mode rather than landscape, so some programs rearrange things to make better use of the space.

Besides the PC-style software, there's a very nice Contact List function, which is like a super address book, the ability to build to-do lists - called Task Lists - including setting alarms to remind you before tasks are due. Appointments and calendars are easy to set up and use, and you can check your schedule by the day, week, or month, plus there's a built-in perpetual calendar.

And that's not all. The "notes" function reads your scribbles to jot quick notes or draw a diagram, and a simple one-button voice recorder lets you save verbal messages as .wav files.

Plus - yep, there's more! - the 1945 has built-in bluetooth wireless technology. I'm not entirely up to speed on bluetooth yet, but it's similar to WiFi and allows you to automatically connect to other bluetooth devices, like a cell phone, to access the internet, email or another PC.

A single expansion slot is available for Secure Disk media, and besides memory cards (generally costing a little less than fifty cents per MB), there are many other attachments such as true WiFi cards, digital cameras, GPS modules, etc. Some of the other nifty things available are "real" keyboards and even solar panels that will power your iPAQ if you're working outside.

Input can be done by either tapping out on a little virtual keyboard on the screen (which isn't as horrible as I thought it might be), or there is handwriting recognition software already installed. The best option, especially if you have a lot of input to do, is to type it into your desktop PC and then transfer it to the iPAQ.

The iPAQs are designed to be used with your desktop PC as a team. By hooking up the included USB cable, you can synchronize the two, which will update both PCs with the most recent versions of data from each. Battery life is supposed to be about four hours of actual use, but I haven't come close to that because at home and work I keep it plugged in to the AC converter (included), which also keeps the battery charged.

I picked up a copy of "iPAQ for Dummies", which I highly recommend. It's not all applicable for my situation, and a lot of it is stuff I'd already figured out on my own, but it's full of simple explanations and suggestions for ways to get the most out of the iPAQ.

I've discovered several resources online for downloadable programs. There's an awful lot of freeware and shareware, and even professional titles range from a few bucks up to about thirty dollars. The iPAQ has an active user community on the 'net, with forums where you can post questions and receive help quickly. An example of the freeware available are programs that allow you to turn your iPAQ into a programmable universal remote. Yes, it'll work on TV's and VCR's, but also on slide show projectors and presentation media controllers.

One of the freeware programs I've loaded onto my iPAQ is the eBook Reader from Microsoft. I've never tried eBooks before, but to my surprise I really like the implementation. The text is far more readable than I anticipated, and there are a few really good libraries of free eBooks to download, besides the popular bestsellers and such you can purchase from Amazon (among others). You can add annotations and bookmarks and attach notes, kinda like writing in the margins as you read. It's pretty neat.

So what am I reading? A lot of the free volumes are classic literature, like Shakespeare. I've read some Edgar Allen Poe, am currently enjoying Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and I have Percival Lowell's Mars on deck. In the future there will be some Sherlock Holmes, John Carter of Mars and Tarzan, and others less mysterious and adventerous. I'll find the links (they're on my home PC) and post them in the near future for anyone interested.

Two warnings about these electronic beasties. First, you'll only get out of them what you put into them. If you make it a point to use it consistantly, then it'll be more useful to you when you really need it. Which means you have to remember to have it with you. It'll take some time to get all your information entered and organized the way you want it, but it's worth the effort. This is no different than using a paper-based system like the Geodex or Dayrunner.

Second, buying the iPAQ is only the beginning of the expenses. You'll almost immediately want to buy a case for yours, to protect it. There are thin plastic overlays for the screen, to keep you from scratching it up as you tap (same as a mouse click on a PC) and write on it with the stylus. I haven't needed to yet, but they sell spare stylus in multipacks, so apparently they break or get lost easily. And of course, there are the memory cards. The cards are your 'hard drives', because everything on the iPAQ resides in memory. I expect that I'll eventually get a few memory cards, one for work-related stuff, one for personal stuff (including eBooks and rocketry files, and maybe one dedicated to music files so I can use the iPAQ like an iPod.

I didn't mention games at all, because I'm not a big computer game player. The iPAQ comes with Jawbreaker and Solitaire, and versions of Minesweeper, Tetris, and almost everything else under the sun are available for download. The screen is small but sharp and clear, so I expect game play to be acceptable.

I'm pretty level-headed when it comes to new technology, I really have to be able to justify it to myself before getting a new toy. If you have the need for one of these, I highly recommend it. If you don't have the need, you'd probably find something for it to do, because it's that versitile.

Posted by Ted at 05:51 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

June 03, 2004

Just Damn

Like I said, I like to cook, but I've never gotten this reaction to one of my culinary creations:

This is an evil pie. If it was a human being, it would be the kind that your daughter explores her love of bondage and discipline with. If it was a flower, it would be a dandelion nodding its impudent yellow head on the 18th hole at Augusta. If it was a car, it would be the bastard love-child of KITT and the Batmobile--and the midwife would be Jesse James. It's a high-voltage vibrator-induced multiple orgasm for your tastebuds.

I stand humbled.

Posted by Ted at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

All things (virtual) classic pinball

Just last night, while Mookie was practicing her driving, we were talking and I mentioned an old pinball machine that I used to play at the NCO club. Funny how it happens, because this morning I come across this place: VPForums, where they live, breathe and eat pinball. Make sure to check out their sister site, where they have lovingly recreated 883 classic pinball tables!!!

I'll be perusing their database this evening, and hopefully I'll find that machine I remember so fondly.

Posted by Ted at 10:23 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Good Eats

It's no secret that I like to cook, and just looking at me tells you that I love to eat. Years ago in high school, a science teacher said something that always stayed with me, which was:

Cooking is chemestry.

Everything that happens when you cook is either a chemical process or the catalyst for a chemical process, and that includes mixing, heating, blending, baking... all of it. We use recipes to control those chemical processes in a way that leads to (hopefully) edible food.

Alton Brown has a show on the Food Network called Good Eats. In it, he digs deep into the why of cooking, and he's entertaining as hell doing it. If you haven't had a chance to see it, you really should. His shows generally focus on one narrow theme - for instance, fish & chips - and as he cooks, you get the story on what's really happening to the food as you prepare it. And knowing the 'why' of things helps you to understand why certain things are done and to avoid potential problems.

J-Walk Blog pointed out a nice feature about Alton Brown in Wired. It'll give you a better idea of why this show is one of my favorites on television.

Posted by Ted at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

Why go to space?

Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes...and all of this...all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars. -- Commander Sinclair, Babylon 5
Posted by Ted at 08:21 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Space Program

June 02, 2004

I love the logo!

Because even though it's the science that ultimately matters, you still have to sell the dream. Check out NASA's new Office of Exploration Systems.

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 11:55 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Space Program

Air Force Blue (part 14)

I once worked in an office with an evil copier machine. I’m not saying that it was cantankerous and seldom worked right, like jamming beyond hope when you most needed it or randomly crumpling and shredding your only original. I mean this thing exerted an evil influence on people who used it. We’re talking Stephen King storytime stuff. I’ve thought about this over the years, and it’s the only explanation that makes sense, because I’ve known other copiers and never… well, read on.

Ramstein, Germany. I’d been assigned there for a year or so, and without changing desks I’d worked for the Electronic Information Systems Division (EISD), then the Computer Systems Organization (CSO), then the Information Systems Services Office (ISSO), and rumors were flying that yet another name change was in the works.* Our mission hadn’t changed one bit, just the hats we wore and how we answered the phones. It got so silly that I came up with a new name for us: the European Integrated Electronic Information Organization. Yepper, E-I-E-I-O.

My first memorable encounter with the copier was when I was standing around it with another NCO and our section leader. Our section leader was a newly promoted Captain, and (rightfully) proud as a peacock about his new rank. As we were talking, I said something about the “Lieutenant” out of habit. He immediately interrupted me and, pointing to the bars on his shoulder, reminded me of his new status. Instead of apologizing or just acknowledging him and getting on with it, the evil influence of the copier took hold of me and I heard myself say:

“Well Sir, you’ll always be a Lieutenant in my heart.”

You can imagine how well that went over. But you can see what I mean about the evil copier, right?

Our organization was a tiny part of the Communications Squadron, and we were attached to the comm guys not because we fit in there, but because we fit in even less anywhere else. The comm folks hated us because we were computer pukes, not communications, and both sides were quick to make the distinction. Mostly, we went our way and did our thing and the less we had to deal with the rest of the squadron the better we liked it.

Which worked great until we got the idea to form an office softball team for the base league. We talked about it and decided to do it for fun – no serious win-at-all-cost attitudes for us. And then word came down from on high that the squadron already had a team, and that we were invited to try out for it, and they might send their ‘leftover’ players to our team, but we could not be in the league independently. Screw that, we entered anyways, under an assumed (organizational) name: E-I-E-I-O. Had shirts and hats made and everything, and caught major hell halfway through the season when we showed up to play our parent squadron in a scheduled game.

Back to the copier. Like most small office photocopiers, probably more unofficial stuff was copied than real work-related documents. The Air Force decided to combat the waste by placing a tiny transparent sticker to the underside of the glass, so that every Xeroxed page was marked in the upper corner with a letter and number code showing what copier reproduced it. Every copier on Ramstein had it’s own tiny little ID code.

Most of us ignored it and went on using it anyways. One weekend I went into the office for something and found the NCOIC (my boss) at the copier, making stacks of personal copies. Yet another clue about the evil influence of the machine. Well, maybe not, because the NCOIC then showed me that by unscrewing this and this and this you could lift the glass out, rotate it 180 degrees and the sticker wouldn’t show up anymore! Wow, my boss showing me how to circumvent the system for personal reasons. Evil copier.

About the time we were getting our stern talking-to about our unauthorized softball team, a group of us were sitting around drinking and bullshitting, when inspiration struck. I can’t claim credit for the idea, because I honestly don’t remember who thought of it. Like I said, we were drinking.

But I absolutely am responsible for the implementation, because when it comes right down to it, what good is a stupid idea if you don’t have the balls to make it happen, eh? So early Monday morning, my partner in white-collar crime and I lifted the glass on the Xerox machine, turned it over, and by carefully scraping with a knife blade, we removed the letter/number code and replaced it with rub-on letters that spelled out EIEIO. It was a near perfect match, and because the mark showed up on every copy (and had for months), nobody even paid attention to them any more.

A couple of weeks later, we realized that it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out who was responsible for the symbolic ‘bird’ we were sending out with every copy, so we changed the decal again. Who knows what possessed us to do this? Wait, it was the copier!!! I tell you, that thing was evil.

This time we changed the copier code to read “FOAD”.

For the innocent, that stands for “F__k Off And Die”. It’s also a valid hexadecimal number (make the ‘oh’ a zero) if you’re a real computer nerd, which is interesting but hardly relevant.

We held our breath, and waited for the shit to hit the fan. And waited. And waited. And it didn’t, because nobody noticed.

Several months later, my compadre and I were called into the Captain’s office. He “knew” we had changed the sticker, but he couldn’t prove it. He was throwing a fit because copies from our machine were headed out all over Europe, and each and every one had a cheerful little “FOAD” in the corner. We played appropriately dumb, but I did admit that I’d noticed the sticker before. He almost stroked out when I told him I assumed it meant “For Official Authorized Duplication”. I was full of shit, and he knew it, and he knew I knew he knew it (and so on), but there wasn’t much he could do about it other than to suggest that the problem better be taken care of. Sometime in the next few days, someone mysteriously changed the label again by scraping it clean and from then on our photocopier was the only Air Force copier in Europe without it’s own little number of the beast.

* I know for a fact that ‘EISD’ is correct, but the others might not be spot-on. If nothing else, they give you an idea of the acronym-hell that the Air Force can be.

Posted by Ted at 06:10 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Boring Stories

Late, but it's not like anyone cares

Favorite bands, alphabetically. First seen at Blather Review.

A - Joan Armitrading, Atlanta Rhythm Section
B - Beach Boys, Bachmann-Turner Overdrive
C - Chicago, Alice Cooper
D - Doobie Brothers, Diamond Rio
E - Earth, Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra
F - Foghat, Myron Floren
G - Grateful Dead, Guess Who
H - Heart, Head East
I - Incubus
J - Jethro Tull
K - Kansas
L - Little Feat, Lovin' Spoonful
M - Glenn Miller, Michael Stanley Band, Molly Hatchet
N - Night Ranger
O - Orleans (yeah, I like 'em. deal with it)
P - Pablo Cruise, Pink Floyd
Q - Queen
R - Rainmakers, Lou Rawls
S - Styx, Sly & the Family Stone, Spinners
T - Temptations, Third Eye Blind, Tubes
U - Black Uhuru
V - Van Halen
W - War, Bob Marley & the Wailers
X - Xavier Cugat
Y - Weird Al Yankovich
Z - Frank Zappa, ZZ Top

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

June 01, 2004

Mad Scientists To-Do List

1. Build neat and mysterious laboratory equipment.
2. Interview assistants.
3. Practice maniacal laugh.
4. Find body.

Now for step 1, you could do worse than looking here.

And no self-respecting Doktor would be without one of these, although you could get by with one of these until you inherit the fortune from your sinister uncle who lives in the castle.

Follow the links, have fun, and imagine the delight a youngster would have by building something like this for the science fair. Make the other kids look like Abbey something-or-other.

Can I call you "Igor"?

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

Pointless details

I had one of those oddly productive weekends where you look back and say "wow, I got a lot done!" Yardwork, trees pruned, gutters cleaned, errands run, wallpaper scraped, naps taken, meat grilled, house cleaned, laundry done, etc., etc. I stayed mostly busy, but still I'm nicely recharged for the week.

I could use some sleep though. I stayed up into the wee hours each night, watching my crap movies. Now our young dog is sick. He's acting like a typical male cat, winding around your feet constantly and demanding attention. Not sure what's wrong, but he's still eating and playful. He's just acting 'off'. Of course, being sick he's restless and was constantly walking around on the bed all night. He's little too, so my sleeping body is nothing more than an obsticle to be navigated over in the dark. He woke me up more than once doing the little doggy circle-dance on my back as he tried to get comfortable.

I was also a major oinker all weekend about eating. Constantly hungry for some reason. To make up for it and get my slacker butt back into healthy food mode, today I brought a low-fat yogurt for breakfast and fruit for lunch. If anyone is interested, I've lost about 30 pounds since the beginning of the year.

Yesterday, the Action Channel showed a Combat! marathon. Starring Vic Morrow, the series ran in the early 60's and was about a platoon during WWII. I had it on for most of the day, which really brought back some memories. Combat! and Bonanza are the first two shows I can remember watching with my dad.

A friend sent me this:

If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can read this in English, thank the US Military.

I'll extend those thanks to our friends and allies around the world, because Lord knows nobody can do it alone.

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