November 30, 2004

A handful of ass

Unfortunately, it's mine. It was handed to me by Brendoman who scored big in this week's Blogger Bowl and stomped my respectable score like a steamroller over a grape. Still, if Jamal Lewis hadn't been a last minute scratch and woulda rushed for 485 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, I coulda beat him.

Now next week I face Victor's Rats of Chaos. He's tied for first place and on a serious roll. I have two things going for me. First off, the Rocket Jones Hot Jets cheerleaders, which I'll list in a minute. And secondly, I got an interesting email last weekend with a link I found very intriguing.

This might be enough to topple the Rats of Chaos. While victory ultimately comes on the playing field, the morale-destroying effect of this kind of information cannot be ignored.

They're cute! They're cuddly! They're not naked! (see how silly that looks as a selling point ladies?) They *are* the Hot Jets!
annika, of annika's journal!
Denita, of Who Tends The Fires!
Gir, of Your Moosey Fate!
LeeAnn, of The Cheese Stands Alone!
Sarah, of Trying To Grok!
Kat, of Mostly Fluff!
Big Hair, of Left & Right!
Jennifer, of Jennifer's History and Stuff!
Heather, of Angelweave!
Margi, of Margi Lowry!
Nic, of Shoes, Ships, and Sealing Wax!
Lemur Girl, of... uh, Lemur Girl!
Lynn S., of Reflections in d minor!
Susie, of Practical Penumbra!
Blogoline, of Blogoline's Journal!
Cindy, of Dusting My Brain!
Wegglywoo, of On the Beach at the End of the World!
Dawn of Dawn Enterprises!
Stevie, of Caught In The XFire!
Helen, of Everyday Stranger!
Mookie, of MookieRiffic!
Tink, of Flitting Here and There!

Posted by Ted at 11:18 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

Wave of the future?

Check out this short transcript of a radio spot heard by the Everlasting Phelps. Pretty darn funny.

Posted by Ted at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links


From Rachel Lucas:

Suffice to say some Michael Moore fans hate me more than I hate Michael Moore. Which is kind of flattering but also really scary. John has been telling me for years to stop blogging under my real name, and you know what? I think it's time. I want to blog but I haven't felt free to truly express myself in a long, long time because of the hate mail and creepy folk who know how to do people searches. I don't live in a swanky apartment building with a doorman and security like Michael Moore does, that fat pig of a loathesome scumbag.

So I'm going to go anonymous, with a new blog. How will you, my loyal readers, know that it's me? I don't know. I'm sorry. But I'm guessing, and I know it's a correct guess, that 99% of you understand completely and will support this change wholeheartedly because you probably don't want my doorbell to be rung by some psycho hippie who thinks Fahrenheit 9/11 is the greatest truth ever told.

I still get the occasional comment dripping with venom over a *joke* post I made long ago about Michael Moore, so I have a teeny tiny taste of what this kind and wonderful and funny lady is going through. Go anonymous Rachel, s'ok and you're right. We understand. But I'm still gonna look for you and find you. In a non-threatening, non-stalkerish kinda way of course.

And when I do, I'm gonna read ya.

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

Because there's no such thing as too many rocket pictures

Now this guy is a rocketeer. Notice on his rocket picture page, the banner at the top that says "Rocket Chronicles". Most importantly, note that the well-dressed gentleman in said banner in no way looks like a terrorist (got that BATFE?). Also, he brought along his wife, who carries a big purse full of that little paper you trade for rocket supplies.

Cool pictures Mr. Ritchie, you'll be on the blogroll next time I venture into it.

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

November 29, 2004

It's obvious, really

Q: How many real men does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. Real men aren't afraid of the dark.

Posted by Ted at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Canada, California, one of those "C" places

Thanks to VegasBaby for this chuckle.


Posted by Ted at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Rocket Women

Even the most steely-eyed missile man has a lady in his life. One who keeps his feet on the ground while his head is in the clouds. I'll use the term "wife" here, but it applies equally well to moms, girlfriends, "just friends", and "other".

Wives fall into categories.

"Saintly" are the ones who build and fly their own rockets. Very rare and wonderful, if you have one you should treasure her. The biggest drawback is when you sneak over to the on-site vendor to pick up that big honkin' motor, she's already in line with *her* motor, and you know you can't afford both. Que sera, you settle for a slightly smaller whoosh generator, and vow to be quicker than her at the next launch. Dishes seldom pile up in the kitchen sink with her around because that's where she does her wet sanding.

Next in the hierarchy are the "Angelic" ladies. These are the ones who go to launches and enjoy flying your rockets, even if she doesn't want to build her own. You often wind up painting a few her favorite color (even pink) as a thank you for being so understanding. She might fuss a little bit about buying that gallon of epoxy instead of milk, but she understands and will explain it to the kids. And their shoes will last another month with a little duct tape.

"Very Cool" wives are next, and the first of the mortals. This perfectly describes my own wife. She doesn't build, doesn't fly, and could care less (mine's never even been to a launch), but she indulges you without complaint because she loves you. Easiest to identify around the holidays when she asks you for a list of rocket-related gifts you might like. Also known to call you from the rocket-aisle of a craft store to let you know that motors and/or kits are on sale and wants to know what she can get for you. And how many.

The "Ambivalent" wife doesn't fuss much, but doesn't take much interest either. As long as your rocketry doesn't interfere with home-life and doesn't become an obstacle to one of the kids' activities, she's pretty much ok with it. You are expected to miss the rocket launch this weekend because she volunteered you to mow the lawn at the church. Buck up and count your blessings, it could be worse.

"Equivalent" wife *is* worse. She believes that you can spend any amount you want to on rockets, as long as she gets at least that much money to spend on her activities in return. Of course, in "equivalent" math, one dollar for you equals at least five for her. On the plus side, you get a lot of fiberglassing done while she's out on Bingo nights, and she's graciously alloted you one knick-knack shelf in the den for your stupid toys.

The bottom of the scale is "Ex" or "Soon-to-be-Ex" wife. At best, she didn't intentionally bust up your rocket stuff when she left (and although she didn't give a shit about rockets, you can bet she'll zero in on the most expensive and hard to replace stuff you own), and your reputation will survive with minimal lasting damage. With luck, her bad-mouthing you will taper off over time, but face it, every mutual friend you have is going to look at you funny from now on.

Posted by Ted at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Rocketry

The force is strong in this one

I'm talking about the urge to hibernate. I can't remember a year when the onset of winter has had such an effect on me. For the last month my appetite has been mucho grande and all I want to do is sleep sleep sleep. Very unlike me (the sleep part, that is).

If I call my wife "little Boo-Boo" one more time, I think she's going to hit me.

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

November 28, 2004

Two recipes at the top of my "to try" list

I'll probably make each of these within the next couple of weeks. Reportage to come.

First up, from Denita of Who Tends the Fires, this Cranberries with Orange and Ginger thingie sounds yummy. The kids and I have a serious jones for cranberry sauce. We eat it all year round.

Secondly, this combination of peanut butter and oatmeal cookies baked into a pie, courtesy of Triticale. Mmmmmm, pie.

Posted by Ted at 09:03 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Recipes

Lon Chaney

While cruising the net, I ran across this image, which brought back memories:


[The stamps issued consist of] five portraits of the actors based on publicity photographs of their most famous horror films. Lon Chaney appears as the Phantom of the Opera, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Boris Karloff as Frankenstein and the Mummy and Lon Chaney Jr. as Wolf Man.

The descendants had wanted stamps that carried two portraits of their famous relatives, one with monster makeup and one without. Designer Derry Noyes of Washington met their wishes by placing signed photographs of the four actors at the top of the sheets of 20 stamps.

The stamps are the second to contain hidden images, using a process developed by Graphic Security Systems Corp. of Lake Worth, Fla. This time designers have scrambled an image -- not letters -- into each of the stamps: bats on the Dracula stamp, hieroglyphics on the Mummy, masks on the Phantom, wolves on the Wolf Man and lightning bolts on Frankenstein.

To see the images requires purchase of a $4.95 "decoder lens" from the Postal Service.

With that as inspiration, here's the second in a series of brief bios based on those classic stamps.

(in the extended entry)

From the PBS American Masters database:

When we think of the silent film era, we think of actors like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Clara Bow, stars who created trademark personas and spent their entire careers testing the limits of those characters. They perfected what they had created, but rarely attempted other roles. For many in the industry, both then and now, this type of career is considered the pinnacle of success, but for one actor it was the antithesis of the his art. For Lon Chaney, the art of acting was the art of continual transformation.

Leonidas Frank Chaney was born in Colorado in 1883, and both of his parents were deaf-mutes. That beginning allowed him to become highly skilled at pantomime and projecting emotion via his facial expression and body language. He started work as an extra at a theater, doing stage work, learning the trade and becoming an expert at stage makeup that served him well during his career (he wrote the 'make-up' entry for the 1929 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica). Lon Chaney made his first credited appearance in a film in 1912 and appeared in over 150 movies over the next 20 years. His last movie was the only "talkie" in his catalog of work.

Lon Chaney pioneered special effects makeup and prosthesis which earned him the nickname "Man of a Thousand Faces". His most famous roles were as Quasimodo in 1923's Hunchback of Notre Dame and later as the quintessential Phantom of the Opera. He also played Fagin in an early film version of Oliver Twist, and starred in Tell It To The Marines, for which he became the first actor to be awarded an honorary membership in the Corps. The shipboard scenes in the movie were filmed on the USS California, later sunk at Pearl Harbor.

Besides acting, Chaney also directed many of the films he starred in, which probably also helped establish him as a star. Unfortunately, most of his early work, both in front of and behind the camera, remains lost. His 1918 film The Kaiser, The Beast of Berlin was a major success at the time and is on the American Film Institute's "Ten Most Wanted" list of lost films.

Lon Chaney died of throat cancer in 1930, which gave Bela Lugosi the role of Dracula. There were several other roles that had to be recast in other films because of his death as well.

His craggy features kept him from romantic leads, but he found continuous work as a character actor in supporting roles. In the 60's and 70's, a number of his 'lost' films were rediscovered, including many of his non-horror movies, and his good nature and winning personality in regular roles was rediscovered as well.

"My whole career has been devoted to keeping people from knowing me." Lon Chaney

Lon Chaney was an intensely private man, which gave him a reputation as a strange and unfriendly man. His costars, among them Loretta Young and Joan Crawford, and friends tell a different story.

From his bio on

A friend of Afro-American actor Noble Johnson since both were boys in Colorado together, Chaney was responsible for giving his old friend some early breaks in a career that spanned more than four decades. Likewise, Chaney befriended the young Boris Karloff shortly after the latter's arrival in Hollywood. As with Johnson, he helped Karloff gain a foothold in the movies, and until the end of his life, Karloff always spoke kindly of Chaney as a good friend and colleague.

1991 Lon Chaney postage stamp
Besides the stamps listed above, he was also included as one of ten 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating stars of the silent screen, issued 27 April 1994. Designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, this set of stamps also honored Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, 'Charles Chalpin' , John Gilbert, Zasu Pitts, Harold Lloyd, Theda Bara, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Kops.

His son, Lon Chaney Jr., became a famous actor of the horror genre.

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

November 27, 2004

Buying a telescope?

Here's some handy tips on buying one from

They make some excellent suggestions. Our family has one, and I did some research after-the-fact (Google is your friend) and discovered that the one we bought isn't very good. The optics are actually rather good, but the overall quality makes it difficult to take full advantage of them. We've had fun with it anyway.

They do make a great suggestion though:

A good pair of binoculars makes a very good instrument for the beginning amateur sky watcher.

Other useful things for that astonomer on your gift list are star charts and books on general astronomy. Check out Amazon or any good book store. Something as simple as a notebook, sketchpad or red-filtered mini-flashlight are invaluable too. How about a thermos for coffee or hot chocolate? It gets chilly out there.

I've also pointed out simulation software, which is perfect for those too-frequent cloudy nights. If you've never tried it, you really should. The images presented by even "toy" telescopes can take your breath away, and it's a fun and educational way to spend a family evening together.

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

November 26, 2004

New Peeps

Smoking Toaster has me on their blogroll, along with some other familiar places. I'm honored to be included in such august company. He's funny in an evil grin kinda way, and I felt an immediate kinship when I read about his battles with cute fuzzy widdle squirrels hydroencephalic tree vermin. Go check him out, it's good stuff and a nice change after all that turkey.

In the not-even-close-to-safe-for-work department, we've got:

Kimochi-ii is a regular stop of mine, because I like to look at oriental ladies in various stages of undress (although I'll never understand the Japanese fascination for girls in "schoolgirl" uniforms). Well, the guy who runs the place has started a new blog called Erotic Zipai. The name refers to a Chinese word that means a picture of yourself, taken by yourself. In other words, a self-portrait, but it's specific to cameras. In other words (again), it's oriental ladies in various stages of undress, as photographed by their own exhibitionistic hand (and bless every last one of 'em).

I love the internet.

Posted by Ted at 07:05 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Bulletproof diaphranous lingerie

Scientists in Isreal have created artificial spiderweb. Imagine anything (and everything) that contains thread or fiber, and note the improvement gained by using threads stronger than nylon or steel.

In a related (sorta) note, I once read a science fiction book where giant spiders were bred and used for construction purposes, spinning web the size of bridge cables. The very idea of riding a dump-truck sized arachnid like a mahout gave me nightmares for weeks.

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

She Builds Seashells Down by the Seashore

Via Transterrestrial Musings:

Dr. Belcher has studied the biology of abalones and how the mollusks are able to assemble an extremely hard shell from calcium carbonate and other minerals in an ocean filled with various microbes and contaminants. The result: she and her colleagues have developed proteins that can bind to about 30 different electronic, magnetic, and optical materials, and then assemble the materials into protein structures.

In other words, a very real potential for computer chips and components assembled from materials other than silicon.

One of the most promising aspects of Dr. Belcher's discovery is that the process takes place in seawater - not the billion-dollar fabrication plants and hygienic rooms required for silicon manufacturing.

Every day we're a little bit closer to our giant fighting robot masters.

Posted by Ted at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

Estrogen-laden Chaos

Women's Roller Derby is making a comeback.

Nobody's quitting their day jobs yet, but the night belongs to ladies who go by names like Syble Disobedience, Baby Ruthless and Ginger Snap. Women who leave their professional personnas at home when they lace up the skates and do battle on the banked oval.

There were at least two recent attempts to revive Roller Derby, both resulting in WWF-type extravaganza's - long on style, way short on substance. Personally, I loved old-time Roller Derby (Go Bay Bombers!), and hope these ladies can grow this into something wonderful again.

Posted by Ted at 05:17 AM | Comments (4)
Category: Links

November 25, 2004

Bela Lugosi

While cruising the net, I ran across this image, which brought back memories:


[The stamps issued consist of] five portraits of the actors based on publicity photographs of their most famous horror films. Lon Chaney appears as the Phantom of the Opera, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Boris Karloff as Frankenstein and the Mummy and Lon Chaney Jr. as Wolf Man.

The descendants had wanted stamps that carried two portraits of their famous relatives, one with monster makeup and one without. Designer Derry Noyes of Washington met their wishes by placing signed photographs of the four actors at the top of the sheets of 20 stamps.

The stamps are the second to contain hidden images, using a process developed by Graphic Security Systems Corp. of Lake Worth, Fla. This time designers have scrambled an image -- not letters -- into each of the stamps: bats on the Dracula stamp, hieroglyphics on the Mummy, masks on the Phantom, wolves on the Wolf Man and lightning bolts on Frankenstein.

To see the images requires purchase of a $4.95 "decoder lens" from the Postal Service.

With that as inspiration, here's the first in a series of brief bios based on those classic stamps.

(in the extended entry)

Bela Lugosi was born in the Austrian-Hungarian empire as Be'la Ferenc Dezso Blasko (lots of little squiggly emphasis marks missing in that name) on October 20, 1882.

As a young man, he became a star of the stage and theater in Budapest, as his fine singing voice gained him many roles in operettas as well as traditional plays.

He volunteered for military service during WWI and was commissioned as an infantry lieutenant. He was wounded three times during the war.

He was forced to immigrate to Germany because of his "leftest" activities when he helped organize an actors union. He arrived in New York City in December, 1921.

He became a charter member of the Screen Actors Guild, having membership number 28.

Bela Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956. At the time of his death, Lugosi was in such poor financial condition that Frank Sinatra quietly paid for his funeral. Lugosi was buried in his full Dracula costume, including a cape.

According to Vincent Price, when he and Peter Lorre went to view Bela's body during the funeral, Lorre, upon seeing Lugosi dressed in his famous Dracula cape, quipped, "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?"

Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia (excerpted):

The man who will always be known as Dracula actually had a long and distinguished acting career (mostly on stage) before donning cape and fangs in Hollywood. In 1901, after studying at the Budapest Academy of Theatrical Arts, this banker's son made his stage debut as a featured juvenile. Tall, aristocratic, and handsome in a vaguely sinister way (with piercing eyes and a cruel mouth), he spent the next two decades building a reputation as one of Hungary's great matinee idols, and made his first film-A Leopard-in 1917. Political turmoil in his homeland drove Lugosi to Germany in 1919; he appeared in several films there, including a 1920 adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and a 1922 filmization of The Last of the Mohicans.

Emigrating to America shortly thereafter, Lugosi toiled in stage melodramas and routine programmers (such as 1923's The Silent Command and 1925's The Midnight Girl) before assuming the title role in the 1927 Broadway production of "Dracula," which he also essayed for two years on the road. The thick, almost impenetrable accent that hampered him in most roles actually proved to be an asset when he played Bram Stoker's Transylvanian vampire. Film rights to the play were sold to Universal, which announced that Lon Chaney would play the title role. But Chaney's untimely death from cancer in 1930 prompted producer-director Tod Browning to cast Lugosi instead. Dracula (1931) launched Universal's long-running cycle of horror movies and made its star a household name overnight.

Unfortunately, the movie's success also doomed Lugosi to a lifetime of boogeyman roles in vehicles of steadily diminishing quality. After refusing to play the Monster in Frankenstein (1931, the role taken by Boris Karloff), he played his first mad doctor in Murders in the Rue Morgue a voodoo master in White Zombie (delivering a wonderfully florid, over-thetop performance), and a priest of the Black Arts in Chandu the Magician in 1932 alone. But the next year he was already working for Poverty Row producers, getting top billing in Mascot's The Whispering Shadow and Majestic's The Death Kiss but winning only supporting roles in major-studio productions such as The Island of Lost Souls and International House (all 1933). Independent producer Sol Lesser gave Lugosi a bona fide hero role as the star of The Return of Chandu a 1934 serial also released in featurelength version. That same year he returned to Universal for The Black Cat (1934), the first (and best) of several chillers that teamed him with Karloff, whose career eclipsed Lugosi's almost from the start.

Lugosi's typecasting and his failure to master the nuances of the English language certainly hampered his American film career, but he also proved to be his own worst enemy, taking leads in the most abysmal mini-budget schlockers for whatever money producers were willing to pay. A colorful character role, that of Ygor, the mad shepherd in Son of Frankenstein (1939), briefly restored Lugosi to prominence, and he appeared to good advantage in that year's Ninotchka (starring Greta Garbo), but he alternated strong supporting roles in Universal's Black Friday (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942, again as Ygor) with negligible turns in low-budget Monogram melodramas produced by schlockmeister Sam Katzman, who teamed Lugosi most ignobly with the East Side Kids in Spooks Run Wild (1941) and Ghosts on the Loose (1942).

Major thanks to for much of this material.

Posted by Ted at 09:12 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Cult Flicks

November 24, 2004

Hockey Whoopass Jamboree

Better late than never.

Matt's Houston Aero's defeated my Cleveland Barons, so in accordance with the rules, his team's logo will be prominently displayed for 24 hours.


Not a problem, it's a pretty cool logo ('cept for the colors).

Posted by Ted at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Second helping

From last Thanksgiving.

Who Gets the Wishbone?

There's nothing better than the whole family getting together for Thanksgiving.


Posted by Ted at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

One pair of Rocket-powered Roller Skates please

The legendary ACME catalog, in all its inspired glory.

Thanks to Mark of Auteriffic for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Dusty Rose

Sounds like a stripper name, doesn't it?

Actually, I'm talking about the color.

Dusty Rose

Kinda nice, eh? Now imagine that same color done in a beautiful metallic finish. Very nice.


Too much of that color looks like someone's stomach turned inside out and you're sitting inside the giant bladder, cluelessly rolling down the road. Gahhh.

Posted by Ted at 06:07 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

More about "Top ____ Songs" Lists

From Dustbury, a link to the 1001 Greatest Singles, compiled in 1989.

Top five from that list:

1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine - "Gaye, Marvin" 1968
2. Johnny B. Goode - "Berry, Chuck" 1958
3. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag -"Brown, James" 1965
4. Reach Out I'll Be There - "Four Tops, The" 1966
5. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - "Righteous Brothers, The" 1964

Next up, Roberto of DynamoBuzz nails that link I couldn't find, to Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Here's my original post.

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

Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinaaaaaahhh!!!

Last night, we had an unwitting test subject a very special guest over for dinner. Dawn braved I95 traffic and two protective dogs to enjoy mexican food with our family (we not only put the fun in disfunctional, we put the dis in there too. Love means never having to say anything nice about each other). One of the dishes served up was yet another experimental version of my vegetarian enchiladas. If I do say so myself, these are pretty darn good!

I need a name for these, since I already have "Vegetarian Enchiladas" and "Garden Veggie Enchiladas" in my recipe book. Suggestions welcomed. There are some notes on the recipe at the end of this post, including a revved-up version of my Salsa Verde. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Enchiladas

2 sweet potatos
3 medium zucchini
1 jicama
sliced black olives
4 cups shredded cheese (colby, jack, cheddar, whatever)
24 corn tortillas
3 cups salsa verde

Peel the sweet potato, quarter and steam until tender (15-20 minutes). Chop into bite-size pieces and then set aside.
Slice the zucchini in half the long way, then again to make quarters. Cut into 1/2" long pieces. Steam until tender (about 10 minutes). Set aside when done.
Peel and dice the jicama. You want about a cup and a half to two cups of diced jicama. Steam it for about 15 minutes (it stays crunchy when cooked).

Toss the veggies together in a bowl. You can leave them plain, or sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.

Wrap a stack of corn tortillas in a slightly damp paper towel and microwave for 2 minutes at 50% power. When those are warmed, microwave the salsa verde until it's warm as well. Pour some into a wide shallow bowl.

Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with no-stick, open the cheese and your enchilada assembly line is ready to go.

(The nice thing about enchiladas is that if they fall apart while you're putting them together, you can just layer the ingredients in the pan and call it enchilada casserole.)

Dip a tortilla into the bowl of salsa, both sides (the warmed tortilla and salsa help keep it from tearing or breaking apart). Spread about 1/4 cup of filling down the middle of the tortilla, then a good pinch of cheese. Roll both ends over the top, then transfer to the baking dish, folded side down.

Keep making them until you run out of tortillas or filling or pans. Evenly pour the rest of the salsa verde over the enchiladas, then spread the rest of the cheese, and then garnish with sliced black olives.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then remove the foil and keep baking until cheese is melted and bubbly.

If you can't find jicama (HEE-cah-mah) in the produce section, you can substitute diced or sliced water chestnuts. Or try a hispanic market. Leftover jicama can be eaten raw, and it adds a great crunch to salads, or serve it in sticks on a veggie tray with dip.

This recipe makes a lot (two 9x13's worth)! You can cut it in half, or juggle the proportions of veggies. The sweet potato balances the natural 'sour' of the tomatillo based salsa verde and white cheeses.

As presented, the dish gets all of it's heat from the salsa verde. Seed and chop a hot pepper or two into the veggie mix if you want.

Ted's Revved-Up Salsa Verde

My family preferes mild to wild, so there's always room to spice up my recipes to taste.

1lb Tomatillos
1 Jalepeno chilie, roasted, seeded and chopped
2 Poblano chilies, roasted, seeded and chopped
2 Green chilies (the kind used for chilies relleno), roasted, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano

Turn the flame on your gas stove to medium high. Put the chilies on the burner rack in the flame and let char, rotating them with tongs so that they blacken evenly.

When completely charred, lay one in your palm on a paper towel (careful, they are hot!) and use another paper towel to wipe away the charred skin. Do all of the chilies, putting them into a small bowl with a lid to steam themselves for about 20 minutes.

Slice the chilies lengthwise, then remove the stem and seeds. Chop the remainder and set aside.

Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash. Slice the tomatillos into wedges. In saucepan combine everything, including the chilies and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

I like my salsa chunky, so I use a pastry cutter to break it up a little bit in the pan instead of putting it into a blender.

This recipe makes for heat about like medium salsa.

Posted by Ted at 05:28 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Recipes

November 23, 2004

Ding Dong and Ding Dong

Ding Dong, the bitch goes down!

Dan Rather stepping down from CBS news anchor.

he had agreed with CBS executives last summer that after the Nov. 2 election would be the right time to leave.

I'm dancing in my jammies!

Ding Dong is the sound this nutjob makes when you rattle his head.

Retired running back Ricky Williams has turned up once again, this time at a Northern California school for holistic medicine.

"I realized a while back that I have an innate ability to be compassionate,'' he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "and I saw that the strength of compassion is something that healers have and healers use.''

Not everything he says is from outer space though.

Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, and his attorney, David Cornwell, both think it's likely that he'll return to football next year. Steinberg calls Williams' departure "a sabbatical.''

But Williams said, "I understand their wishful thinking. It's easy math. If I play, it puts more money in their pocket.''

Nah, he's just a flake, and I still think he'll return to pro football for the bucks.

Posted by Ted at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Lilly and Marilyn were Hot Rod Babes

Head on over to MunsterKoach and stroll through a wonderful site dedicated to the legendary George Barris custom hotrods featured on the 60's show The Munsters. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Munster Koach (the family hearse) and Drag-u-la (Grandpa's coffin coupe), including plenty of pictures (cheesecake photos of Marilyn posing with the cars too!).

Thanks to The Astounding B Monster for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Cult Flicks

(________) Gifts

Stupid Gifts. 'Nuff said.

Lame Gifts, Mother-in-Law style.

Worst Gifts (that a man can buy a woman).

Perfect Gifts, especially for the goatherder in your life.

Romantic Gifts, ranging from pure romance to downright naughty!

Which could lead to The Gift That Keeps On Giving.

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

Blogger Bowl 2004

There was some serious excitement going on this week in the league! Besides another victory for yours truly (3 in a row, Yay Rockets!), Nick bumped off the suddenly-vincible Fire Ants and Victor claimed a share of first place by handling annika. Jim also edged Brendoman by 1 point to hang in at the middle of the pack*.

Now, cue the music and cut on the spotlights! Despite warnings from the NFL and the FCC, I'd like to introduce you to the greatest cheerleading squad both inter and outernet**. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Hot Jets!

Heather, of Angelweave!
Margi, of Margi Lowry!
Nic, of Shoes, Ships, and Sealing Wax!
Lemur Girl, of... uh, Lemur Girl!
LeeAnn, of The Cheese Stands Alone!
Sarah, of Trying To Grok!
Kat, of Mostly Fluff!
Big Hair, of Left & Right!
Jennifer, of Jennifer's History and Stuff!
Lynn S., of Reflections in d minor!
Susie, of Practical Penumbra!
Blogoline, of Blogoline's Journal!
Cindy, of Dusting My Brain!
Wegglywoo, of On the Beach at the End of the World!
Dawn of Dawn Enterprises!
Stevie, of Caught In The XFire!
Helen, of Everyday Stranger!
Mookie, of MookieRiffic!
annika, of annika's journal!
Denita, of Who Tends The Fires!
Gir, of Your Moosey Fate!
Tink, of Flitting Here and There!

Next week I match up against Brendoman. I'll have to play better than this week to beat him, for sure.

*Sorry for those bloggers I didn't link to, I don't know exactly who you are, and don't really have the time right now to dig.

**And no, I'm not apologizing for that either.

Posted by Ted at 05:45 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Now even more annoying! Danger added for your clicking pleasure!

Banner ads that carry virii. Jeez.

Posted by Ted at 04:32 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

November 22, 2004

Seen at the North Pole Post Office


If you've seen this elf, contact your local authorities immediately. She is armed with a teenager's attitude and could be dangerous to your sanity.

Posted by Ted at 08:47 PM | Comments (7)
Category: Square Pegs

Luuka is in da house!

Hot Swedish babe alert! If you don't hear from me in three days, send more vodka. Pictures and wild stories coming up... now where did I leave that number to the bail bondsman...

Posted by Ted at 08:10 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Links


Happening to me. Lots of it too. I'll post more when I get a chance.

Posted by Ted at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

November 20, 2004

To that Christian lady in the minivan

I was impressed by the sheer number of religious symbols and bumper stickers plastered over the back of your vehicle.

And then you went and flipped me off.

You proclaim to believe in Jesus. Well, I believe in turn signals. Try using them next time, and maybe that and your righteously pure heart will inspire me to make room for you to change lanes in front of me.

Posted by Ted at 08:45 AM | Comments (6)
Category: Square Pegs

November 19, 2004

Wouldn't you like to fly, in my beautiful balloon?

Two Fifth Dimension-inspired titles in two days. Wonder what that means?

Scientists using an experimental X-ray telescope suspended from a balloon have captured a unique picture of a pulsar shining in a form of light never before imaged in detail -- that is, in high-energy "hard" X-rays. The observation marks a milestone in astronomical imaging.

The difficulty in detecting X-rays is precisely what makes them so useful in medical imagery, they tend to go through things. Like mirrors and detection equipment.

Visible light -- the reds, greens and blues our eyes can detect -- is far easier to reflect and magnify, the basic function of an optical telescope. Shine a flashlight into the mirror, and the light will bounce back. A beam of X-rays would pierce through the mirror. To reflect X-ray light onto a detector, scientists need a telescope with mirrors aligned at shallow angles to the detector. The process is like skimming a stone on water.

Lofting experimental equipment by balloon is nothing new, it's a cost effective way to perform tests and diagnostics without actually sending it all the way into space (this balloon achieved an altitude of 39 kilometers). As a bonus, you can retrieve the payload after you're done testing, which is difficult to impossible from orbit.

"The beauty of balloons is that we can test these cutting-edge technologies for relatively little money. Try to imagine testing a 26-foot-long telescope any other way. We plan to fly InFOCuS several more times in the next few years."

This is all headed towards a proposed NASA mission called Constellation-X.

Constellation X, proposed for flight early next decade, would comprise several telescopes flying in unison with the combined light-collecting power needed to observe matter falling into black holes. Constellation X is a key mission in NASA's Beyond Einstein roadmap.

In other words, pure fundamental research.

I also noted this at the bottom of NASA's press release:

Note on acronym: The "u" of "InFOCuS" is actually the Greek letter "mu" (m), which denotes the prefix "micro".

Mu's in space! Who Nu?

Posted by Ted at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)
Category: SciTech

End of the Sudanese Civil War?

Rebel officials and the Sudanese government committed themselves Friday to ending the 21-year civil war in southern Sudan before January, signing an agreement at a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council in Africa.

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and southern rebel leader John Garang, the main negotiators for the two sides, made a similar pledge last year that never came to fruition. But this is the first time the warring sides have put a deadline in writing before the U.N. panel.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I'm not getting my hopes up too much.

Sudan's southern civil war has pitted the Islamic government against rebels seeking greater autonomy and a greater share of the country's wealth for the largely Christian and animist south. The conflict has left more than 2 million people dead, largely through war-induced hunger and disease.

A conflict in the western Darfur region started in February 2003, when the government attempted to crush two non-Arab African rebel groups who took up arms to fight for more power and resources. The government responded by backing Arab militias now accused of targeting civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson.

Where have we heard this before? And for those who haven't been paying attention, the government has been known to send it's Air Force to bomb and strafe random villages in revenge attacks. Slavery is also rampant in the region. A thriving business has grown where Muslims from the north kidnap southern Christians and animists, forcing them to convert to Islam before selling them into servitude. A related industry functions as a conduit between those willing to pay ransoms (often clueless western Christian missionary groups) and slave owners.

Like I said, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Posted by Ted at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

A flag of flowers

Sarah shares a way cool photo and the story with it.

The 2002 Floral Flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintains the proper Flag dimensions as described in Executive Order #10834. This Flag is 6.65 acres and is the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed Stars comprised of White Larkspur. Each Star is 24 feet in diameter; Each Stripe is 30 feet wide.

Check it out.

Posted by Ted at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

Kraftsman Tools?

I've been waiting for someone to make the obvious joke.

Posted by Ted at 05:48 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

I think soccer is boring

Wouldn't it be more interesting if they played by "Aztec" rules? You know, where the losing team gets ritually sacrificed at the end of the game. I'd watch that.

Posted by Ted at 05:03 AM | Comments (1)
Category: Square Pegs

November 18, 2004


Weggy has posted a picture over at her place that is so... words fail.

It's not safe for work, but definitely something to see. Enough to make an atheist reconsider.

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

I was just watching the fish in the aquarium...

...unwinding after work, and recalled that PETA wants me to believe that fish are intelligent, feeling creatures and that we shouldn't eat them. Just then, a Guorami swam by with a string of poop twice his body length trailing from his little fishy butt.

Sorry guys, no sale.

Posted by Ted at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

Rolling Stone Magazine - Top 500 Rock Songs of all time

Some interesting choices, and as with any list, mucho room for argument.

I put their top 50 in the extended entry (still looking for a link to the whole thing).

1. Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
2. Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
3. Imagine - John Lennon
4. What's Going On? - Marvin Gaye
5. Respect - Aretha Franklin
6. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
7. Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
8. Hey Jude - The Beatles
9. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
10. What'd I say? - Ray Charles
11. My Generation - The Who
12. A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke
13. Yesterday - The Beatles
14. Blowin' In The Wind - Bob Dylan
15. London Calling - The Clash
16. I want to Hold Your Hand - The Beatles
17. Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
18. Maybellene - Chuck Berry
19. Hound Dog - Elvis Presley
20. Let It Be - The Beatles
21. Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
22. By My Baby - The Ronettes
23. In My Life - The Beatles
24. People Get Ready - The Impressions
25. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
26. A Day In The Life - The Beatles
27. Layla - Derek and the Dominoes
28. Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding
29. Help - The Beatles
30. I Walk The Line - Johnny Cash
31. Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin
32. Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones
33. River Deep, Mountain High - Ike and Tina Turner
34. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Righteous Brothers
35. Light My Fire - The Doors
36. One - U2
37. No Woman, No Cry - Bob Marley and The Wailers
38. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
39. That'll Be the Day - Buddy Holly and the Crickets
40. Dancing in the Street - Martha and the Vandellas
41. The Weight - The Band
42. Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks
43. Tutti Frutti - Little Richard
44. Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles
45. Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley
46. Heroes - David Bowie
47. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
48. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
49. Hotel California - The Eagles
50. The Tracks of My Tears - Smokey Robinson and The Miracles

Posted by Ted at 02:23 PM | Comments (3)
Category: History

Do you know the way out of San Jose?

A fourth of all Californians are thinking about moving — either out of state or just to another town — to bring down their housing costs, a new survey shows.

I grew up in San Jose, California. In the mid 70's my parents sold their house and we moved into a brand new and very nice double-wide mobile home. In the mid 80's my folks sold that place for nearly three times what they paid for it new. Mobile-freakin'-homes appreciate in California!

only 19 percent of the state's households can afford the state's median-priced home of $465,000. That's a 5 percent drop from a year ago. Nationally, the median-priced home — where half cost more and half cost less — was $186,600 in September.

I love California, but I've never wanted to go back. The insane cost of housing there has always been a major factor in that.

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

Fuzzy fuzzy fuzzy

Russia is developing a new type of missile which will render the US Missile Defense Shield useless. So the reporters breathlessly claim.

Not so fast.

It's not really "new" in the sense that nobody knows what it is or might be. There are very few actual "new" types of weapons throughout history, the vast majority are variations and enhancements on already existing designs. Since this is a missile, then we already know basically how it's going to work. The devil is in the details.

Secondly, the MDS is designed to deal with today's threats, knowing that most of tomorrow's threats will just be better versions of what's already out there. Even if Russia deploys a superduper missile that the MDS can't handle, there's still a world full of existing threats that it can deal with. To claim that one new missile makes it worthless is like saying everyone should throw away their bulletproof vests because we've now got an Airborn Megawatt Laser system.

Posted by Ted at 07:32 AM | Comments (2)
Category: SciTech

Feel the synergy?

I tell you, it's a scandal that I'm not rich already. Ideas pop out of my head like golden eggs from a goose's patoot. For instance:

Gir of Your Moosey Fate is hosting this weeks Carnival of the Cats.

There's a Carnival of the Recipes making the rounds too.

Who wants to host the first Carnival of the Cat Recipes?

You saw it coming, but you continued reading anyway, didn't you?

Posted by Ted at 06:05 AM | Comments (3)
Category: Links

New and Approved!

Some links that should have been done long ago, now added to the sidebar.

Maelstrom (aka Rich), he flies rockets, which automatically makes him cool. He's also a heckuva nice guy and has a great joke up on his new blog.

Derek, aka Son of Cheese. Let me tell you, this guy describes restaraunt visits like DeSade described girlfriends. His toons are first rate too! Oh, and he plays rec-league hockey! Three very good reasons to pay him a visit.

Catt. I'm looking forward to meeting this funny lady and her family in the near future, since my oldest daughter will be going to school right near her neck of the woods (whatever that really means).

Jenn, who's little man plays hockey. Like she says, it ain't NHL, it's better!

Brian J Noggle, part of a duet with Munuviana's own Heather. He's smart, funny and interesting. In other words he's just like me, and since you're already here, who needs him, right? Wrong. There's no such thing as too much smartfunnyinteresting (although I'm still working on the weight thing).

Dr. Funk -- Canadian Funk? How could I pass this up?

Professor Chaos -- He linked me in a post, I'm putting him on the sidebar. Let's see if it's reciprocal. Let's see if I can spell reciprocal.

Sheila O'Malley - I have no idea how I wound up on her blogroll, but I'm a sucker for redheads good writing, so welcome to the sidebar and thanks for including me on yours. It doesn't hurt that the last O'Malley I knew was played by Tom Selleck in High Road to China. He's not my type.

Posted by Ted at 05:35 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Links


Back to back tracks on a CD full of love songs:

"Kiss the Girl" from Disney's Little Mermaid

"Damn, I Wish I Were Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins

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

November 17, 2004

It's a joke

I was offered up to three little kittens at work today. I told the lady that I appreciated the offer, but I already had two house dogs and they wouldn't know how to deal with live food.

Posted by Ted at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs


My very first ever "official" poll, over on the right column. I needed something to tabulate the thousands of votes submitted so far, although "Viagra" and "Human Growth Hormone" weren't valid choices and were immediately eliminated. Hey, is it ok for a guy to say his box was stuffed?

And I just had to add Spork's suggestion. Wish I'd have thought of that one!

So vote away, and unlike some elections, it's expected that you'll vote more than once. C'mon, feed my ego. Carryout dreams are depending on you.

Posted by Ted at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Square Pegs

Not the herb I was afraid it might be


What herb are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ignore that last bit about being left alone. My inner-child constantly screams for attention.

Thanks to LeeAnn for the extra bit o' spice in my day.

Posted by Ted at 09:04 AM | Comments (2)
Category: About Ted

Aye, 'tis the truth ye be speaking

Over at 1000 Words, the latest photoshop contest is "What if Pirates Ruled the World?"


A full broadsides to that scurvy dog Frinklin for pointing it out.

Posted by Ted at 05:46 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Links

I wish

Alan E. Brain (who you should be reading every day), proposes this curriculum for those who want Creationism taught alongside Evolution, and I'll give you this little bit before sending you off to read the rest:

In keeping with our American heritage, the primary theory being taught will be that of the Lakota Nation of Native Americans, and the majority of the course will concentrate on the roles of Thunderbird and Coyote, and experimental verification of the Theory. Students engaged in Advanced studies will perform a critical analysis and comparison of the primary Theory with that of the Arunta people of Northern Australia, in particular the concept of the "Dreamtime" and the role of the Rainbow Serpent.

His last line nails it:

After all, this is about "Science" and not any particular religion, isn't it?

Go. Read.

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

Barry Bonds is the greatest player in baseball history

He just won his seventh MVP award (fourth in a row, both records), without any real protection behind him in the Giants lineup. He's third on the all-time home run list, and will certainly pass Babe Ruth this season and could make a serious run at Hank Aaron. The man gets walked intentionally more than some teams over the course of a season. His mere presence at the ballpark automatically influences the game, which no other player currently playing can say (and few in history for that matter).

And for those who think he might have cheated to accomplish this, a sportswriter puts it as well as anyone I've ever read:

Yet in the absence of positive tests on Bonds and the lack of convictions in the ongoing investigation, the only conclusive evidence is the fact that Bonds is doing things at bat that simply can't be attributed to any known drug.

There isn't a steroid in the world that can account for his patience at the plate as he waits for hittable pitches, or his uncanny solid contact with the ball when he does swing. His body armor lets him hug the plate, and his short, compact swing is the deadliest in the game.

Bonds has two seasons left on his contract in San Fransisco, and he'll break the home run record sometime in that span. After that, if he wanted to he could sign on with an American League team (Yankees anyone?) and play DH for another ten years. Nine hundred homers isn't out of the question. I honestly don't think he'd go that route, but the possibility is there and kinda fun to consider.

Posted by Ted at 04:18 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Square Pegs

November 16, 2004

Snippet of conversation

Son: "I've been drinking that crap coffee they sell by the Metro. Why didn't you tell me there was a Starbucks down the street?"

Me: "You live at home. You can't afford Starbucks."

Posted by Ted at 06:35 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Family matters

Must. Resist. Snark.

Surprising Second Black Hole Found in Milky Way's Center.

Do you know how painful it is to not even mention Paris, Madonna, Anna Nicole, J-Lo or others? Ok, a small one:

Just two?

Oops, I did it again.

Posted by Ted at 02:45 PM | Comments (4)
Category: SciTech

My coworkers are giving me odd looks

I was laughing to near tears over this:

I mean, look, the state of Texas has a law--and it is still enforced--that says owning 5 marital aids is perfectly legal, but owning 6 is a felony. Stupid? You bet. Constitutional? You bet. And, really, I’ve never come across any situations in which more than 4 were ever needed anyway.

Not what you expect to read in the middle of a discussion about Roe vs. Wade and Constitutionality. Nice ambush, Dale.

Posted by Ted at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Links

Blogger Bowl 2004

The allegedly uninteresting annika (don't you believe it!) was my opponent this past week. She's also one of the Hot Jets cheerleaders, so although she's sad about being soundly spanked (sorry, couldn't resist) in front of everyone (really, it just happens), she also got to cheer and wave her pompoms to celebrate a Rockets victory! Because we know I'm all about feelgood happytimes, vaulting into 6th place is enough excuse for me to party (in public I'm gracious, in private I dance enough to make Mark Gasteneau blush).

Also of note, congrats to Daniel for knocking off the previously undefeated Fire Ants.

So next week I face the cellar-dwelling Vehement Spittle, no pushover to be sure. I am equipped with my sturdy eye goggles and antibacterial spittle sponge just in case, and expect another resounding victory.

And as always, because they're the best and because it annoys Victor, may I present the finest group of cheerleaders to grace a virtual sideline, the Hot Jets!

annika, of annika's journal!
Denita, of Who Tends The Fires!
Gir, of Your Moosey Fate!
Tink, of Flitting Here and There!
Sarah, of Trying To Grok!
Kat, of Mostly Fluff!
Big Hair, of Left & Right!
Jennifer, of Jennifer's History and Stuff!
Heather, of Angelweave!
Margi, of Margi Lowry!
Nic, of Shoes, Ships, and Sealing Wax!
Lemur Girl, of... uh, Lemur Girl!
LeeAnn, of The Cheese Stands Alone!
Lynn S., of Reflections in d minor!
Susie, of Practical Penumbra!
Blogoline, of Blogoline's Journal!
Cindy, of Dusting My Brain!
Wegglywoo, of On the Beach at the End of the World!
Dawn of Dawn Enterprises!
Stevie, of Caught In The XFire!
Helen, of Everyday Stranger!
Mookie, of MookieRiffic!

Posted by Ted at 12:01 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Links

Yay ESA!

The first European spacecraft sent to the moon has entered lunar orbit, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday.

It has scientific experiments that it will conduct, but possibly the most important part is this:

SMART-1 has also been the test flight for a new solar-electric propulsion technology, a kind of solar-powered thruster that is ten times more efficient than the usual chemical systems employed when traveling in space.

The so-called "ion" engine was tested over a long spiraling trip to the moon of more than 84 million km, a distance comparable to an interplanetary cruise, ESA said.

It does not burn fuel like chemical rockets do but instead converts sunlight into electricity via solar panels and uses it to electrically charge heavy gas atoms, which speed away from the spacecraft and thereby drive it forward.

Bravo, ESA!

Posted by Ted at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Space Program

Dinah needs your help!

Last night I made a chinese chicken recipe for the first time, and broke my own rule about doctoring it right off the bat. Not only that, but I've got additional things I'm going to change the very next time I make it. I'll post the recipe next time, but for now I need a catchy name for the dish.

It's chicken, vaguely similar to General Tso's except that the sauce is pineapple based. The recipe is flexible enough to go from mild to tongue-searing. The way I made it, there was a subtle but definite heat. My son likes food much hotter than I do, and he said it wasn't hot enough.

So folks, I need you to vote in the comments. I've got a few names listed, and write-ins are welcomed. Help me name this new culinary masterpiece!

Should it be called:

  • General Ted's Chicken*

  • Chicken Mo Fo

  • Pineapple FireCluck
  • *that's "Phipps" with 3 "P"s and 4 stars, and don't you forget it!

    Posted by Ted at 05:17 AM | Comments (8)
    Category: Recipes

    This should automatically go on everyone's Christmas list

    Lionel Trains files for bankruptcy!

    Not so fast though, there's this:

    M.T.H., owner of Columbia, Md.-based Mike's Train House, accused Lionel and a South Korean subcontractor, Korea Brass, of getting drawings and plans for the toy train that were stolen from M.T.H. subcontractor Samhongsa, also based in South Korea.

    A jury found Lionel guilty, and it's the awarded judgement that's driving the bankruptcy notice. Very sad, every aspect of this is very sad.

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

    China space plans include hundreds of spy satellites

    Wheeeeeee! I'm having fun with more scary headlines.

    China plans to launch more than 100 satellites before 2020 to watch every corner of the country, state-run China Central Television quoted a government official as saying Tuesday.

    They're gonna watch over their own country. Which is pretty much what we do too. Check it out:

    A "large surveying network" would be set up to monitor water reserves, forests, farmland, city construction and "various activities of society," a government official said without elaborating.

    It's that "various activities of society" that makes one wonder though. Like Rocket Jones, the Chinese seem to have better success with the 'up' part of rocket launches than the 'down' part.

    Last month, the retrievable chamber of China's 20th recoverable satellite returned to Earth with a bang, crashing through the roof of a house.

    Posted by Ted at 04:56 AM | Comments (1)
    Category: Space Program

    November 15, 2004

    I may have fallen off the turnip truck, but it wasn't yesterday

    Rocket Jones got a comment that I won't reprint here (it's deleted now), but the gist was that I've been voted one of the 100 worst websites on the net. If I want to rebut, blah blah blah, send an email to (hotmail address).

    Note to commenter: Gee, thanks for the opportunity to get on your spam mailing list, but no thanks. Thanks also for assuming that I'm an idiot, and while we're on the subject, you can kiss my ass. Thank you.

    Note to everyone else: If I *were* voted one of the 100 worst, you can bet I'd be doing the happy dance and shouting it from the rooftops.

    Enim Combibo, Solum Mei Combibo!

    Posted by Ted at 06:06 AM | Comments (7)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Movie Review Index

    Updated 10/01/05

    I've been doing crappy movie reviews* since almost the beginning of Rocket Jones, and thought it might be a good time to recap and give you a one-stop place to see what's been done to this point.

    American President
    Andromeda Strain
    Angry Red Planet
    Ape Man, The
    A Smell of Honey, A Swallow of Brine
    Astro Zombies
    A Sweet Sickness
    Attack of the Puppet People
    Attack of the Sixty-foot Centerfold
    Beast from Haunted Cave
    Beast that Killed Women
    Beast, The
    Bite Me!
    Braniac, The
    Brick Dollhouse
    Brotherhood of the Wolf
    Bubba Ho-Tep
    Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death
    Clerks: Uncensored
    Creature from the Haunted Sea
    Curious Dr. Humpp
    Dawn of the Dead (remake)
    Destination Moon
    The Devil Bat
    Don't Look in the Basement
    Dr. Horror's Erotic House of Idiots
    Electric Dreams
    Eye, The
    Fangs of the Living Dead
    First Spaceship on Venus
    Frankenstein (Frankenstein Legacy Collection)
    Bride of Frankenstein (Frankenstein Legacy Collection)
    First Spaceship on Venus
    Ghost Gunfighter
    The Giant Gila Monster
    Gladiator Eroticus
    God, the Devil, and Bob
    Gorilla, The
    Happiness of the Katakuris
    House at the Edge of the Park
    Idle Hands
    The Invisible Ghost
    Last Man on Earth
    League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    Lord of the G-Strings
    Malibu Beach Vampires
    Monster of Camp Sunshine
    My Fellow Americans
    Night Train to Terror
    Omega Man
    Phantom of the Opera (original silent version)
    Play-Mate of the Apes
    Revolt of the Zombies
    Severed Arm, The
    Shogun Assassin
    Slave of the Cannibal God
    Sorority House Vampires from Hell
    Story of Riki-Oh
    Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original and remake)
    They Came from Beyond Space
    Toy Box, The
    Toys Are Not For Children
    Vampires Anonymous
    Van Helsing
    The Veil (TV series)
    Virtual Girl
    Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
    What's the Matter With Helen?
    Whoops, Apocolypse!
    X from Outer Space, The

    Bela Lugosi
    Lon Chaney
    Lon Chaney Jr.
    Boris Karloff
    Brinke Stevens
    Steve Reeves

    *As in: the movies I review are usually crappy, the reviews themselves are brilliant if unconventional.

    Posted by Ted at 04:48 AM | Comments (2)
    Category: Cult Flicks

    November 14, 2004

    I got the whole world in my hands...

    Safe for work, but in the extended entry anyway.

    Thanks to Kimochi-ii for the pic (that link is not safe for work!)


    Posted by Ted at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Stupid is as stupid does, and some stupid goes on forever

    Burger King's newest ad campaign is the chicken fight between two guys in chicken suits. One is crispy, the other spicy (or some such nonsense). Good to know that they haven't raised their standards since the days of Herb.

    Posted by Ted at 03:02 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Someone's In The Kitchen With Dinahhhhh!!!

    I am definitely a winter cook. I love soups and stews and baking, and with the weather turning chilly you can expect more Rocket Jones kitchen alchemy to show up.

    If you scroll through my recipe archives, you'll find this recipe for Biscochitos, a Mexican dunking cookie flavored with anise. Yum! This time around, I've got the more familiar Italian Biscotti. These are killer-good with a cup of hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Don't let the preparation steps scare you either, it's a lot less work than it sounds like.

    Almond Biscotti

    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    3 Tbsp brandy
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp almond extract
    1 cup unsalted almonds, chopped, sliced or slivered
    3 eggs
    2 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 Tbsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Mix together well the sugar, brandy, butter, vanilla and almond extracts, eggs and nuts.
    Stir in the flour, salt and baking powder.
    The dough will be sticky. I use a spatula to trowel it onto a cookie sheet and form it into two long flat loaves (about 3" wide by 1" high by however long).
    Bake for 20-30 minutes or until firm and cake-like.
    Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle them.
    Using a serrated bread knife, slice each loaf into 3/4" thick slices on the diagonal.
    Put the slices back on the cookie sheet, cut side down and return to the oven.
    Bake for another 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through, until both sides are lightly toasted brown.
    Let cool and store in an airtight container.

    Posted by Ted at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)
    Category: Recipes

    Kitchen Tips - Repost

    I originally posted this a year ago.

    * With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, it's time to buy new spices. Get rid of the old stuff in your spice rack or cabinet, and buy fresh. Do this every year around this time, and you'll notice the difference.

    * Get a pepper grinder. You don't have to spend a fortune for one of those riot-baton sized monsters, small ones are available at Wal-Mart or kitchen specialty stores. Fresh ground pepper is a whole 'nother matter compared to the usual stuff folks buy.

    * Along the same lines, try kosher salt for cooking. It's not iodized, so it doesn't have that metallic taste we've grown used to.

    * Buy good knives. Unfortunately, quality costs. Even if you can only afford one a year (a present for yourself), it's worth the money. And regardless of the knife, keep it sharp. A sharp knife is safer to use.

    * You should have at least two cutting boards. A wooden board for veggies and general use, and a glass or non-porous plastic one for poultry. Believe it or not, wood is naturally anti-bacterial. That doesn't mean you don't have to clean them, just that the board itself is helping.

    * Ever see Rachel Ray on the Food Network? Love her or hate her, one excellent idea she taught me was to keep a big 'garbage bowl' close at hand. That way you're not running back and forth to the garbage can all the time.

    * The first time you make a recipe, follow the directions and measure carefully. That way, if you want to adjust things to your taste the next time, you have a known baseline to work from.

    * Something I've found that really works is to do like cooking shows and pre-measure spices and such into little bowls ahead of time. Yes, it causes a few extra dishes, but makes it much easier during the actual assembly and you're not running around snagging items from the pantry and fridge when things get cooking.

    * Keep up with the dishes if you can. It just makes things easier if your workspace isn't cluttered with bowls and pots and pans. Plus, if you do one or two when time allows during cooking, then you won't be discouraged by the memory of the mountain of dirty dishes created next time you feel like cooking.

    These are just common sense and little things, but it's stuff that I've learned or been taught over the years. They work for me.

    Posted by Ted at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)
    Category: Recipes

    November 13, 2004

    I have issues

    No news there, eh?

    Actually, I mentioned that I'm having some computer problems. I managed to track it down, and am now running a complete hours-long system scan (I'm posting from my wife's PC). My son generously agreed to purchase the latest and greatest anti-virus software for my PC - let's say he has a vested interest in that, and he won't be visiting certain places on the 'net anymore - but my machine was boinked enough to fight back during the attempted installation. I expect eventual success, but it could be messy and will take some time.

    ROFLMAO Mookie just wandered by, read over my shoulder, patted me on the shoulder and said, "Problems can be solved. Issues can't."

    Posted by Ted at 11:03 AM | Comments (4)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Come to think of it, so does Mookie

    Mookie posted a bunch of juvenile but funny condom ads. She also has them stuck all over one of her school folders. She just stopped by to show me her latest addition, the "Condom Fairy", complete with magic wand and irredescent butterfly wings.

    As explained to me, "The Condom Fairy stops by in the middle of the night and leaves presents for all the naughty boys and girls."

    She comes by it honestly.

    Posted by Ted at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Square Pegs

    November 12, 2004

    It Came, It Thawed, It Conquered

    TV Dinners celebrate their 50th anniversary.

    Thanks to Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

    Posted by Ted at 04:39 PM | Comments (4)
    Category: History

    Obvious to me

    Someone put various Thanksgiving decorations up on our office doors. Mine has a turkey.

    How redundant.

    Posted by Ted at 02:50 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Hockey Whoopass Jamboree

    I haven't been keeping up very well with the Hockey Whoopass Jamboree. No good reasons, just lame excuses.

    But I guess I picked a good day to check back in, eh? Cleveland defeats the Manitoba Moose 3-2 in an overtime shootout! Take that, Gir!!!

    Sometimes it's good to be an Earth creature.

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

    Queer Eye for the Undead Guy

    Saw Van Helsing yesterday. I have the same basic feelings towards it that I had towards The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Great special effects, much more storyline than I expected. Not a very good movie, but fun nonetheless. Biggest nitpick: why was Dracula so damned gay? Dashing, suave and debonair, yes, but he practically swished and sang show tunes (he said, tossing out stereotypes with abandon).

    Posted by Ted at 06:10 AM | Comments (8)
    Category: Cult Flicks

    Arafat's Funeral

    If Isreal sent a representative, I bet his instructions included poking the body to make sure the sonuvabitch is really dead.

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

    November 11, 2004

    Contemplating Suicide

    Scary title, eh? I'm not personally thinking of committing suicide, but I have been thinking about what it is and what it means.

    This line of thought was triggered (no pun intended) by someone I didn't even know, who recently took their own life for reasons unknown to me. That's most of the details I have, and I don't need to know more because it's none of my business, and I refuse to disrespect that individual simply to satisfy my morbid curiousity. They obviously had reasons of their own, but I'll never understand how someone can come up with that final equation.

    If it's so bad that death seems like the only answer, then doesn't it make sense to believe that things can only get better?

    Like probably everyone else, I've pondered suicide at one time or another. And like most people, it's been fleeting and never taken very seriously. More of a "what if?" kinda thought.

    And I think that might be a key. I don't even pretend to know what's going through someone's head in that situation, but if you can think beyond the moment then you probably don't really want to do it. I've never been able to think of my own death as a final thing, there's always consequences and repurcussions to consider among those I'll leave behind. Dying is only final for the one who stops breathing. Everyone else still has to deal with it.

    There's definitely an element of selfishness involved too. Simple rule: if you're gonna kill yourself, please be kind enough to leave something behind to explain why. It doesn't have to be a twenty page self-psychoanalysis, but that wouldn't be a bad thing. Don't leave friends and family staring at each other and asking "why?".

    I think I'm a reasonable guy, and so there are many situations I can think of where suicide might be acceptable or even preferable. It doesn't even bother me to think that way, because not everyone thinks like me, or sees the world like I do. Still, I wish I could've been there to help in some way. Maybe just to listen or lend a shoulder to cry on. To try to point out some small sliver of silver lining they might not have thought of. To keep them from feeling so damned alone. To try to understand.

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

    Happy Veterans Day

    Say "thank you" to a veteran today (Vadergrrrl, anything more is above and beyond the call of duty *grin*). Love 'em or hate 'em, veterans are the reason that you can have an opinion of your own, and that you can express yourself freely.

    And for those inclined to do a little digging, here's a site with various information about the history behind today and plenty of links for more.

    Posted by Ted at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Links

    November 10, 2004

    Mach 10 ScramJet

    One more step towards the day when we spend more time at the airport than actually in the air.

    They call it a "scramjet," an engine so blindingly fast that it could carry an airplane from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in about 20 minutes -- or even quicker. So fast it could put satellites in space. So fast it could drop a cruise missile on an enemy target, almost like shooting a rifle.

    Mach numbers signify how many times faster than sound you're going. This flight of the X34 is expected to reach some 7,200 miles per hour, which is nearly ten times the speed of sound.

    The speed of sound isn't an absolute number because it varies somewhat with temperature, humidity and other factors. Seven hundred and fifty miles per hour is a fair enough estimate.

    Go read it. Cool stuff. Thanks to Kyle the Nog-Warden and Carl (who has deep nog-secrets) for pointing this one out.

    Posted by Ted at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
    Category: SciTech

    We're just getting started

    The newest challenge for commercial space is the fifty million dollar America's Space Prize. Here's what it's going to take:

  • Carry a crew of no fewer than five people

  • Achieve an altitude of 400 kilometers

  • Complete two orbits of the Earth at that altitude

  • Do it again within 60 days
  • There's more:

  • No more than twenty percent of the spacecraft hardware can be expendable

  • Must have the ability to dock with Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable space habitat

  • Be able to remain docked in orbit for six months
  • And one last thing:

  • Must be done by January 10th, 2010
  • That sounds like a pretty ambitious set of requirements, and they're specifically crafted to encourage a private-sector replacement for Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. At this time, the US is dependent on Soyuz for transport to and from the International Space Station.

    Bigelow Aerospace is putting up the entire amount of the prize after NASA was unable (for various reasons) to pony up half. I originally talked about inflatables in space here first, then here. Follow those links for even more links and information.

    Posted by Ted at 06:07 AM | Comments (6)
    Category: Space Program

    Maurice Clarett: "Help me, I've fallen, and I can't shut up!"

    After threatening to "take down" the Ohio State football program during the NCAA investigation caused by Clarett's inability to tell the truth, the nitwit has now come out with a series of charges against his former school.

    The school's reaction? Ho hum.

    You see, everything that Clarett is alledging was investigated as part of his original troubles. The school was cleared by the NCAA. He seems to think that this time he can hurt them by producing a corroborating witness, a former linebacker from the team. Only problem is, the linebacker is parrotting the same charges, and was thrown off the team for drug possesion. Sounds like an axe to grind to me.

    In my view, Ohio State has been trying to do the right thing all through this, and Maurice Clarett refuses to grow up and act like a responsible human being. He reminds me of that player "Leon" in those beer commercials, where it's all about "me, me, me" and nothing is ever his own fault.

    I guess the part of this that really burns me up is that he's talented, so someone in the NFL will draft him and pay him millions of dollars. And he'll keep right on being a dick.

    Posted by Ted at 05:29 AM | Comments (3)
    Category: Square Pegs

    November 09, 2004

    An amazing thing happened at the Spider Pool

    In September I posted here about a search for the mysterious Spider Pool. Seen in numerous vintage nude photo sets, some members of the newsgroup have been piecing together clues and photographs like a long-forgotten puzzle. Photo archives have been searched and sets identified, sometimes with little more than the pattern on a ladies skirt in two different photos. The fact that the pool may be dated from the 1930's or even earlier only added to the challenge.

    Slowly, the pieces started to fit, and then last weekend, the Spider Pool was found.

    (more in the extended entry)

    From the couple who discovered the original site:

    Ultimately, the "Cupola" building photo was the one that we used to find the Spider Pool property. The "Graces" photos gave us a defined area in and around Pacific View drive. We started down near the Barham & Hollywood freeway intersection looking up into the hills. We identified what we believed to be the "Cupola" building which is quite visible today. First and foremost, the "Cupola" is no cupola. It is merely a large chimney on a two-story Spanish style house. Today that chimney lacks the metal cover which gave the appearance of windows to many who examined the old photos. Little did we know that our first few photos from that position near Barham actually showed a small portion of a Spider pool wall that we later identified from another location with a high powered telescope.

    Moving up the hill and south along the eastern side of the Hollywood freeway we found what we believed to be an advantageous spot at a ridge above the Hollywood Reservoir. This location was slightly below the roof of the "Cupola" building on the opposite side of the Hollywood freeway. There we setup my optical surveying instrument (I am an architect) and aimed it at the "Cupola" building. Now taking into account the information in the "Cupola" building photo. One, that the Spider pool is higher in elevation than the "Cupola" building. Two, the "Cupola" house is oriented in such a way that the main axis of the building points to a position past (north) of the Spider pool. Using the "Cupola" building main axis orientation as a maximum position north and knowing the Spider pool's elevation was higher. We had a tightly defined area to search as the only a small portion of the next ridge beyond was both north and above the "Cupola: building when viewed through the survey instrument. There a small section of white wall with rounded crenellations was barely visible through the survey instrument in the light rain.

    We ran home and got the high powered telescope (not easy to move) and returned to the same location as I had the survey instrument setup. By this time the rain had stopped and the sun had come out late in the day back lighting the area in question. Everything was washed out. We couldn't make out any detail. We then moved the telescope north along the ridge until we found a location where a large tree blocked the sun from our lens. Still difficult to make out any detail but my wife began to focus on a slightly darker section of the wall. She screamed, "I see it, the spider, it's still there." Not only was the spider visible, the tile surround was still intact.

    Now, go check out the photo here (safe for work), and compare it with the discovery photo here (this too is safe for work).

    This is just too cool.

    More from the couple who made the discovery:

    The remnants of the Spider Pool are essentially just the back wall with some planters and mosaic tiles and, of course the mosaic of the spider in its web. I never noticed before that there is actually a raised wasp caught in that web!

    Unfortunately, the pool itself must have collapsed with the hillside years ago. A few blue tiles can be found on the grounds and part of the pool deck (with the broken tile) closest to the wall still remains. Fortunately, the back wall survives because it is essentially holding up the hillside.

    Look for the pictures to be posted at the blog Search for the Spider Pool (not safe for work). There you'll find most all of the original photo sets and the reconstructions. Also, it's fascinating reading as you go through the entries and see the mystery unraveled.

    There's plenty more to uncover though. Who built it? Why a spider?

    Congrats folks, you've all done yourselves proud!

    Posted by Ted at 07:25 PM | Comments (5)
    Category: History

    Changes in the Bush Cabinet

    Attorney General John Ashcroft, a favorite of conservatives, and Commerce Secretary Don Evans, one of President Bush's closest friends, resigned Tuesday, the first members of the Cabinet to leave as Bush heads from re-election into his second term.

    I've made no secret that I can't stand AG John Ashcroft. Yay!

    Posted by Ted at 06:45 PM | Comments (3)
    Category: Politics

    Fixing Hockey

    This article has some interesting ideas about rule changes to improve the game.

    Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer.

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

    Shake Those Pom-Poms Ladies!

    Once again, the Rockets are on a roll. After a decisive victory this past weekend, we once again face the lovely and talented Syble annika, who'll somehow manage to be on both sidelines in the upcoming game.

    In the meantime, check out any or all of these links, each hosted by a wonderful, intelligent and sweet Rockets fan. The Hot Jets cheerleaders:
    Helen, of Everyday Stranger!
    annika, of annika's journal!
    Lynn S., of Reflections in d minor!
    Susie, of Practical Penumbra!
    Blogoline, of Blogoline's Journal!
    Cindy, of Dusting My Brain!
    Wegglywoo, of On the Beach at the End of the World!
    Dawn of Dawn Enterprises!
    Stevie, of Caught In The XFire!
    Mookie, of MookieRiffic!
    Denita, of Who Tends The Fires!
    Gir, of Your Moosey Fate!
    Tink, of Flitting Here and There!
    Sarah, of Trying To Grok!
    Kat, of Mostly Fluff!
    Big Hair, of Left & Right!
    Jennifer, of Jennifer's History and Stuff!
    Heather, of Angelweave!
    Margi, of Margi Lowry!
    Nic, of Shoes, Ships, and Sealing Wax!
    Lemur Girl, of... uh, Lemur Girl!
    LeeAnn, of The Cheese Stands Alone!

    Posted by Ted at 05:21 AM | Comments (3)
    Category: Links

    November 08, 2004

    Nitrous-injected chainsaw

    Sorry for the tease, there is no video link available.

    I am rather proud of that "light sabre through an Ewok" line though, so I suggest pondering that image if you're that disappointed. For raising of spirits, imagine it's Princess Leia weilding that light sabre in her brass bikini.

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

    Good Buzz

    A paleotologist is challenging the scope of devastation caused by the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

    To do this, Kozisek took a novel approach for a paleontologist - instead of looking at what died out, she dug through the literature to find out what survived the massive extinction event.

    "I made a list of all survivors and picked those with strict survival requirements," said Kozisek. She determined what those survival requirements were by calling on studies of the closest modern analogues -- which wasn't always easy for some species, she pointed out. There was, for instance, a very early primate that crawled out of the Cretaceous alive, but there is really no comparable small primate around today with which to reliably compare, she said.

    On the other hand, a good number of tropical honeybees haven't changed a lot in 65 million years and a great deal is known about modern tropical honey bees' tolerances to heat and cold. What's more, amber-preserved specimens of the oldest tropical honey bee, Cretotrigona prisca, are almost indistinguishable from - and are probably the ancestors of - some modern tropical honeybees like Dactylurina, according to other studies cited by Kozisek.

    I got stung by a yellow jacket this weekend. I blame the meteor, and The Eternal Golden Braid, for allowing me to redirect my anger at an inanimate object.

    Posted by Ted at 05:27 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: SciTech

    Don't Supersize My Indiscriminate Slaughter, Thank You

    The US Air Force is bringing a new smart bomb into play in Iraq, and it's the smallest one yet. Designed especially for urban warfare, the emphasis on maximum accuracy and effect with minimal collateral damage (that's mil-speak for civilian casualties) has produced a new bomb that's half the size of the smallest currently available. Another bomb, again reducing the size by half is near readiness as well.

    The US doesn't get enough credit for the care it takes to avoid unecessary casualties during warfare.

    Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

    Posted by Ted at 05:19 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Military

    November 07, 2004

    Launch Report - 11/6/2004

    There's a bumper sticker I've seen that says:

    A bad day fishing beats a good day at work every time

    That's what happened to me yesterday. I had a wonderful day, despite all kinds of things going absolutely wrong.

    The day started off very chilly. When I got up, I discovered that we were inexplicably childless. Rachael had left early (SAT's) and TJ had been called in to work. That meant I had to load the truck up myself. This is doable, but my "system" results in some rather large and heavy containers best handled by two people. So I switched to plan B, which is to empty the containers, load them into the truck, then refill them again with all of my equipment. Not a biggie, just unexpected.

    When I got to the field, I was stunned at the number of cars already there. We've really been growing this club for the last few years, and I remember the days when there might be a half dozen cars and ten people launching rockets. When I arrived yesterday, there were probably close to fifty vehicles already there. Amazing and wonderful.

    Lots of kids too. There were Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and a local school Physics club and several Team America student teams working on next year's challenge.

    Since I had her repaired and ready to go, I grabbed the Hot Jets and headed for check in. While waiting in line, I was asked to do a shift at the check-in table (safety inspections and pad assignments) and I said "sure". I had just enough time to load the Hot Jets onto a pad before my shift started.

    She launched beautifully on an F24-7, but the 7 second delay is just too long. When the ejection charge fired, she was well on her way down and although the nose cone came off, the chute didn't make it out of the tube. She went down behind a small rise and I headed over the see the damage.

    Coming up to her, it was obvious that the soft grass had saved her. The rocket had a tiny crumple along the rim where she hit the ground, and it looks like she bounced and deployed the chute then too. Impact deployment of the parachute is hard on your rocket - just a tip from someone who's been there and done that. Not this time though, I got lucky. The chute had been driven into the ground a little ways by the body tube hitting, but all in all she's undamaged and ready to fly again.

    Time for my shift as part of the range crew. It was mostly kids and all kinds of fun. The physics students all had identical egglofters and were flying raw egg payloads. The rockets were also a bit underpowered for the windy conditions which made for some, uh, interesting flight profiles. And a few scrambled eggs.

    Early on I put my hand down to write something on a flight card and came down on a yellow jacket that had been sitting on the table. He did the famous yellow jacket ninja half-roll maneuver and buried his stinger into the meaty part of my right hand below the pinky. I felt the fire, and it took a shake or two to dislodge him. Mindfull of the little ones around, I didn't let out the string of swear words that were running around inside my head (good thing they couldn't read thought balloons). I contented myself with an "Ouch, that smarts!" and wishing it had been a bee instead so at least I'd have the satisfaction of knowing he'd die from it.

    I'm not allergic to bee stings, so other than the painful throbbing in my hand all day, the day went on.

    After my shift was over, I took the ground support equipment I needed out to the pads. It was time to launch Watch the Birdie, my hybrid-powered rocket that refused to fly last weekend. After getting everything set up and ready to go, I tried three times to launch, and three times had no joy.

    I have a couple of ideas about what the problem might be, and the rocket (the motor half) is set up on a test stand right now. In a little while I'll head out to the backyard and run some tests to see if I can't pinpoint the exact trouble. When ignition failed, I didn't get a clean dump of the nitrous tank, but the entire motor section of the rocket frosted up. That tells me that the nitrous was escaping there somehow, instead of through the vent or back through the fill hose to the dump valve. Yes, it all sounds very complicated, you should be impressed. Especially the ladies.

    So that was my day. I didn't fly anything else, preferring to visit with friends and talk rockets. I did visit Performance Hobbies to buy some stuff. Ken had his huge trailer full of rocket goodies there, which doesn't happen often enough, so I try to take advantage when he's there. Unfortunately he was out of stock on almost everything I wanted. I still bought a couple of things anyway (support the people who support you).

    My hand was still hurting, so I said my goodbyes, packed up and headed home. It was still a beautiful day and I had a great time. Next launch is December 11th. I'll be there, y'all are welcome to come on out and join us.

    Posted by Ted at 09:55 AM | Comments (3)
    Category: Rocketry

    Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

    Robert the Llama Butcher has been keeping us posted on his gripping battle against savage nature. The chaotic forces of the wild have waged unrelenting warfare upon his neat and orderly bastion of civilization, and so far in his desperation he's managed to stem the tide, but not completely halt the devastation.

    Earlier this year, Robert made a public plea for help, asking any with previous experience with this sort of enemy to please assist him.

    Amidst the subsequent flood of calls for napalm, claymore mines, razor wire and beamed microwave weapons (mmmmm, toasty!), my quiet advice to use human urine went unheeded.

    Now I based this on two things. First, I saw it once in a movie (Doc Hollywood), and we all know that Hollywood knows what's best for us. Secondly, I asked an aquaintance I know who is something of an expert on nature. Mr. X (he asked me not to use his real name on the internet because he fears our evil government) is eminently qualified. He drives an old but functional VW microbus with an ecology sticker on the bumper and he is a member of the American Greens Party, our indigenous friends of nature.

    This is what he told me; "Human urine is the perfect method of area denial against natural forces. Almost all animals will avoid an area with that scent because we're all chauvanistic biped assholes who think we own the planet."

    He also told me that he recalls seeing it in a movie once. When I asked how that was possible, seeing as how he didn't own a television (evil government beaming brain-controlling waves through the screen, ya know), he admitted that someone might have told him about it.

    This is an educated man in touch with the world around him. Mr. X invited me in to try his latest culinary creation: Sinsemilla Brownies with Patchouli frosting. Fortunately I was pressed for time and had to decline, but not before hearing about how he has entered variations of that same basic recipe to every Betty Crocker recipe contest since 1964. He is convinced that he has taken first prize every year, but since he dares not send his real name and address through the governmnet controlled mail system, well, the Betty Crocker people can't contact him to let him know that he's won. Such is the life of one who refuses to be a tool of the man.

    Another possibility occurred to me. Robert just may not be very familiar with our wildlife in Northern Virginia. Like everything else in such close proximity to Washington DC, even the animals achieve a cunning and cynicism not encountered elsewhere in the wild (evil government mind-beams? I merely note, you decide for yourselves).

    I once saw a diagram of a favorite tactic used by deer in this area. A classic case of misdirection, a deer sneaks up on a hunter behind a tree then taps his shoulder. When the hunter looks that way, the deer tiptoes away in the opposite direction, smirking like a chimp (Mr. X used that simile often during our conversation, it's kinda stuck in my mind at the moment).

    But Northern Virginia deer have taken the misdirection to new levels of sophistication. They have learned from the hunters, and are now using their own camoflage. The deer in our region are now wearing coveralls and posing as county workers. Their lack of hands poses no problems, because no one expects county workers to actually be doing anything anyways. It's a near perfect disguise.

    So Robert, my advice to you regarding Bambi the Balrog and his evil sidekick Thumper (who may or may not be in the employ of our evil government) is simple and direct. You don't need explosives (for this, otherwise they're big fun), all you need is a supersoaker squirtrifle and your own human bodily functions. Urinate into the tank every time you have to go. Drink plenty of beer (volume) and eat asparagus (odor) to assist. Then, next time you see a group of county workers in your neighborhood pretending to be doing roadwork or such, do a quick check. County vehicle? Jumpsuits? Multiple "workers"? Remember, misdirection works because they give you just enough to let your own mind fill in the details you expect to see. Strap on that supersoaker and charge them. Spray them with your human essence. I guarantee that you'll instantly scatter them in a panic to get away. And when they send reinforcements, probably in a different type of uniform - misdirection, remember? - greet them at your door with your supersoaker of righteousness as well.

    Let me know how this works out for you, eh?

    Posted by Ted at 08:25 AM | Comments (1)
    Category: Links

    November 06, 2004

    Rocket Launch today

    Maybe a launch report later or tomorrow. The weather is cooperating again this weekend: light breezes and warming up nicely after a chilly night. The Hot Jets is repaired and ready to fly again, and Watch the Birdie has a rebuilt hybrid motor installed, so she's set to launch as well. I also have a handful of model rockets packed away for the launch as well. It's looking to be a goooood day.

    Before I go, I wanted to tease you with this little tidbit.

    Doug Pratt was telling me about the solonoid valves he uses on the ground support equipment we use to fill hybrid rocket motors with nitrous oxide. Seems that early on, folks were using automobile-rated valves and burning them out because cars get a quick shot, whereas we hold the valves open for many seconds to complete the fill.

    So Doug went out and found a source for custom solonoids, and it's the guy who did all the nitrous systems for movies like The Fast and the Furious. The guy is a complete loon, and his latest toy is a nitrous-injected chainsaw.

    Rumor has it that there's a video out there showing this beast passing through a railroad tie like a light sabre through an Ewok. I'll try to get a link.

    Posted by Ted at 08:05 AM | Comments (2)
    Category: Rocketry

    The beauty of everyday

    Hauntingly beautiful ice photography. Thanks to the Flea for pointing this one out.

    Posted by Ted at 06:18 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Links

    November 05, 2004

    Not Royal Purple, American Purple

    This is the best post I have ever read. Anywhere. Ever.

    Posted by Ted at 12:50 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Links

    If I were a rich man

    Wouldn't it be fun to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times that said:

    Ok, we admit it.

    You already suspected, but Dubya really screwed up when he called Karl Rove "the Architect", and now the cat is out of the bag.

    We gotcha! Ever hear the saying, "Bet big or stay at home?" You were so busy looking for all those hidden conspiracies that you didn't see the great big one right in front of you.

    That's right, there was no fraud committed during the election. We just plain ol' reelected George W. Bush because we knew it would piss you off, and y'all are fun to watch when you rant and rave and foam at the mouth.

    Can't move to Canada either, 'cause they were in on it too.

    Don't you feel stupid?

    Bill and Hillary helped. Or didn't, depending on your viewpoint.

    Oh yeah, some of you are saying you should all go out and arm yourselves for the revolution. Please do. What with the National Firearms Registration Database and background checks and waiting periods that you insisted on, well, they make dandy tools to help identify the ones we really want to keep an eye on.

    So to sum up, the election was a huge elaborate joke on you. Every last person that voted for President Bush knew about it. In fact, we held secret meetings just so we could laugh our asses off at how oblivious you were.

    That kinda explains that smirk y'all hate too, don't it?

    Yep. We're all stupid. How's it feel to be dumber than us?

    Four. More. Years.

    Uncle Karl

    Posted by Ted at 12:03 PM | Comments (3)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Funny headline

    Doctors Fight To Keep Arafat Alive
    Who else wonders if French doctors fight as hard as their army?

    Seeya, Yasser!

    Posted by Ted at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)
    Category: Square Pegs

    International Leave A Comment Day

    Here's a simple idea who's time has come. Visit five blogs you usually just lurk at, and leave a comment. Visit three blogs you've never been to before and leave a comment. Even if it's just "Hi, it's Leave A Comment Day", that's fine. We are but fragile flowers who bask in showers of attention Everyone likes a little feedback, otherwise we feel like we're just talking to ourselves. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    (cross posted to Munuviana too)

    Posted by Ted at 06:07 AM | Comments (6)
    Category: Links

    How do you see your music?

    The Smithsonian rocks!

    The American Museum of Natural History, in collaboration with MTV2, has launched SonicVision, a groundbreaking digitally animated alternative music show. SonicVision takes audiences in the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater on a mind-warping musical roller-coaster ride through fantastical dreamspace. With a mix by Moby and featuring tracks from Radiohead, U2, David Bowie, Coldplay, Queens of the Stone Age, Prodigy, The Flaming Lips, Fischerspooner, Spiritualized, Audioslave, Stereolab, Boards of Canada, David Byrne and Brian Eno, Goldfrapp, Zwan, White Zombie, and Moby, the music ignites this one-of-a-kind computer-generated musical and visual experience, which uses next-generation digital technology to illuminate the Planetarium's dome with a dazzling morphing of colorful visions. SonicVision is presented every Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30p.m., in the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum's Rose Center for Earth and Space.

    Follow this link for ticket info and prices. I think the girls and I are going to catch one of these shows before Christmas.

    Posted by Ted at 05:55 AM | Comments (1)

    T+ 25 years and counting

    Twenty five years ago today, radical Islam declared war on America by attacking the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Sixty six Americans were taken hostage and held for more than a year.

    We didn't start this war, and it took a while for most of us to actually believe it was happening, despite the evidence right in front of our eyes. Beruit, USS Cole, Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the bomb in the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center, Khobar towers bombing and many many more. 9/11 was the date of their most successful attack, not their first.

    Posted by Ted at 05:45 AM | Comments (1)
    Category: History

    Obviously not Yugo's

    Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity continue to function and are sending back intriguing data from the surface of the red planet.

    Spirit, having trekked nearly two miles across the flat terrain of the vast Gusev Crater region where it set down, is zigzagging up the rugged Columbia Hills and is now nearly 200 feet above the surrounding plain.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, on the other side of the planet:
    Opportunity is nearing the end of its exploration of stadium-size Endurance Crater in the Meridiani Planum region and may claw its way over the rim.

    These guys have solar arrays used to generate electricity and have been working on reduced power during the Martian winter. As time goes by, the arrays have been covered by a light coating of dust, which has reduced their efficiency. But Opportunity recently received an unexpected power boost.
    "One favorite [theory] is that a dust devil happened to pick the vehicle to go through and go over the surface of it and clean it off a little bit," Erickson said.

    I'd rather imagine that the Martian equivalent of Gomer Pyle wandered by and did the windows. Surprise. Surprise. Surprise!

    Posted by Ted at 05:27 AM | Comments (1)
    Category: Space Program

    One premise, two movies

    Boy. Girl. Jealous computer.

    Two movies take this basic storyline on divergent paths: Virtual Girl (1998) and Electric Dreams (1984). What a difference 15 years makes.

    Lets start with the sweet stuff first. Almost nobody saw Electric Dreams when it first premiered, which is a shame because this is a charming love story with a SciFi-ish twist. In it, an architect named Miles buys his first PC (in the days before PC's were everywhere), with plans to control his entire home with it. Of course, things get screwed up right from the start, since almost the first thing he has to do at setup is input his name. He mistypes it, and for the rest of the flick the computer calls him "Moles". The PC gradually builds itself a male personna and things seem to be reasonably under control (with amusing exceptions here and there).

    Then a new neighbor moves into the apartment downstairs. Madeline hits it off with Moles Miles, and also with Miles' computer without realizing it. The computer becomes jealous over the relationship between Miles and Madeline, and an interesting if improbable love triangle develops. When Miles realizes that the mysterious 'other man' is his own PC, he tries to take control of the situation and all hell breaks loose. I said this was a sweet movie, and there is a happy ending.

    Electric Dreams is one of those movies that stuck with me and I'm not sure why. It bills itself as a fairy tale, which is as good a description as any. The soundtrack is pure 80's with a strong European lean, the story is fun and interesting, the special effects are ok (considering their age), and the acting is better than average. If you get a chance, grab a bottle of wine and a blanket big enough for two and cuddle up with your snuggle buddy for this one.

    Note: in the end credits, the movie is dedicated to UNIVAC 1, one of the earliest supercomputers of the 1950's.

    Virtual Girl is a modern, raunchier movie that's based on the same basic plot elements. I caught it on late-night cable, so the fact that there's plenty of nudity and softcore sex wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise was how much plot there actually was. To be sure, this isn't a good movie, but it's far above the usual late-night skinflick trash that's on.

    A hotshot programmer is given the task of debugging a virtual sex simulation. The underlying rationale makes sense, and the scene between him and his boss arguing over it was a nice touch and unexpected in this type of movie.

    Where you'd usually see the lead male actor panting in anticipation for every woman in sight, this guy is happily married. They have a baby, and near the beginning there's a brief attempt to show him as a devoted family man. Mostly the baby is used as a prop to advance the storyline when necessary - evil threatens baby! Ratchet up the tension.

    Once again, the computer becomes jealous of the man. More correctly, the computer software is the jealous partner this time. Virtuality is her name ("Just call me Virtue"), and she starts to influence reality and cause problems in interesting ways.

    The special effects in this one are way beyond what you'll see in Electric Dreams, but still fall short of today's best efforts. The best bits are when Virtue morphs from one girl to another ("What do you want? blonde cheerleader? brunette amazon? Anything you desire."). I have a quirky taste in women, so I'll admit that the lead actress is good looking enough but did absolutely nothing for me.

    So there you have it. I recommend Electric Dreams, and if your tastes run in that direction you could do worse than Virtual Girl.

    Posted by Ted at 04:40 AM | Comments (2)
    Category: Cult Flicks

    November 04, 2004

    Healing in every sense

    Over at Captain's Quarters, Ed says this:

    There is a difference between an enemy and an opponent, a distinction lost on more than a few people on both sides of our necessary and beneficial political divide. Osama bin Laden, Abu Masab al-Zarqawi, and Mullah Omar are our enemies; John Kerry and John Edwards were our political opponents, but first they are our fellow Americans.

    Good words.

    Remembering that, send good thoughts and prayers towards Mrs. Edwards, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My best wishes for a complete recovery.

    Posted by Ted at 07:56 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Links

    All I want for Christmas... for this story to be true: John Ashcroft to resign as AG. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!

    Posted by Ted at 04:08 PM | Comments (6)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Hoser no more!

    I'm pleased to announce that my oldest daughter, currently attending school in Michigan, has been accepted into Old Dominion University here in Virginia. I'll be heading to the Great White North in early December to help her pack up all her crap and haul it back down here.

    Closer to home and in-state tuition rates. Yesssssssss!

    Posted by Ted at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Family matters

    Hung for the Holidays

    The unsinkable William Hung is back, this time with a CD full of Christmas music.

    I actually heard one of the tracks this morning on the radio. Terrible, but not make-your-ears-bleed terrible. Lots of backup singers, which helps a lot.

    Posted by Ted at 06:08 AM | Comments (1)
    Category: Links

    November 03, 2004

    Aftermath and aftereffects

    Dawn gets it.

    You are going to see me get more involved in my political party during the next four years.

    That statement is a striking difference to the overwrought handwringing being put forth by the most vocal (and fringe) members of the left. Those making dire declarations of their impending move to Canada and such are nothing more than drama queens who wouldn't be missed because they don't contribute to the process anyway.

    Got that? Democratic Process. It's that thing where you make your points, and I make mine, and we discuss and debate and eventually everyone decides together which way we'll do it for a while. But if you choose to quit if you don't get your way, then not only are you contributing to the problem you're bitching about, but you're also telling me that it's your way or no way.

    Really. Screw you then. Enjoy Canada. News flash: your viewpoint isn't the only one that counts, and all your whining and name-calling doesn't change that. It's not even all that interesting anymore. And while we're at it, did you ever stop to think that your "one way" worldview is exactly the same as totalitarianism? Probably not, or you might also realize that your worldview is almost certainly not the "one way" that would become mandatory.

    Something else: if the reason you voted for your guy is because he wasn't the other guy, then you don't get to be outraged when others fail to see the second coming where you do. Making a choice based on negatives is a perfectly valid way to vote, but that doesn't infer any special qualities on your candidate. This election framed it perfectly: "Anybody But Bush" didn't work, because the "anybody" wasn't someone that most people could vote for.

    So work with the system, push and protest and suggest solutions. Spare us all the theatrics and name calling. The system works, and it has for over two hundred years.

    Posted by Ted at 07:15 PM | Comments (3)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Lou Rawls will do that for you

    I'm in the top 20 if you Google "girls in superglue bondage". Just thought you'd like to know that.

    Posted by Ted at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Square Pegs

    State of Ted

    Rejected title: You can take the boy out of California...

    As my Dad says, "It's all over but the shoutin'." Personally, I've never followed a Presidential election with this much intensity, and my stress level has been higher than a kite over it. I need a little calm and relaxation. I've thought of several methods, many are aerobic and at least a couple are illegal in some states.

    President Bush won reelection with more than fifty percent of the popular vote. The importance of that can't be emphasized enough. He didn't win big, but he won big enough.

    I have serious problems with President Bush, especially his domestic policy. My choice came down to two things: 1. Senator Kerry and his anti-war activities, and 2. President Bush's handling of the War on Terror.

    I cannot and will never forgive Senator Kerry for his words and deeds following his return from Vietnam. I don't know if my attitude would change if he apologized, but he never has. I expect a fair amount of weaseling from politicians, but some matters of honor are beyond that.

    Still, the Democrats ran a masterful campaign and damn near pulled it off. They had lots of help, to be sure, but even after presenting a ticket of epic unelectability (is that even a word?), America almost voted these guys into office. I don't think Senator Kerry is contemptous of average Joe American, because I think we don't even register on his radar. We are beneath his notice until he needs something. And what might be even scarier was the idea of being one pushy Secret Service agent away from President Edwards. In the computer programming universe, there's nothing more worrisome than a customer with a little knowlege. That's the definition of Edwards: just enough experience to be dangerous.

    I think Dubya has done a pretty good job with WOT and foreign policy in general. I'd like to see his domestic advisors in the unemployment line.

    For the record, I don't expect a mass exodus to Canada, but I remain hopeful.

    I'd also like to thank George Soros for his massive spending on this campaign. As a free market capitalist, I've got to approve of that many millions of dollars being injected into our economy.

    I believe that the Swift Boat Veterans once again served their country with honor. I'm proud to be known as a veteran, and hope that some day if called upon I can rise to the challenge with their conviction, dignity and courage.

    I had a personal epiphany last year. I realized that I don't have the answers to many of the hard questions, and that for the most part, neither does anyone else. My personal wisdom might be knowing that I'm not wise enough to know what to do sometimes. I muddle along and try to do my best, which is about what I hope for from people in general.

    I don't believe that President Bush is actually hated by almost half the country. Democrats in general are not the enemy, and both parties have to muzzle the fringe elements. We may never know how many people changed their vote because of the bad behavior (as minor as tearing down signs, as major as attempting to mislead the public using obviously forged documents).

    527's should be history. Campaign reform is badly needed. Let's try it again, with a little common sense and forethought this time.

    I'm shocked at the sweeping rejection of gay marriage as a concept. I grew up in the Bay Area of California, and had a lesbian couple as our next door neighbor for years. It's no biggie to me. Obviously, it still is to more people than I'd realized. I support compromise of some sort, call it 'civil unions' or whatever, but we need to catch up to reality. Passing a law doesn't make it go away.

    Of all the issues on the table, abortion is the one I'm most conflicted about. I don't think I believe that life begins at conception. I am pro-choice. I am anti-abortion, and wish they were never ever performed. I hate that some people consider abortion a form of birth control.

    Last night, Rachael and I split a huge steak, BBQ'd Texas-style over an open fire. To balance it out, we also had grilled asparagus, for the nuance don't'cha know.

    One last thing. Michael Moore, here's your sign:

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

    Music updates via email

    Thanks to my lovely wife for passing these on.

    Some of the musicians from the 60's are revising their hits with new lyrics to accommodate the aging baby boomers. This is good news for those feeling "a little older " and missing those great old tunes.

    Herman's Hermits - "MRS. BROWN, YOU'VE GOT A LOVELY WALKER"





    Johnny Nash - "I CAN'T SEE CLEARLY NOW"




    Procol Harem - "A WHITER SHADE OF HAIR"


    The Temptations - "PAPA'S GOT A KIDNEY STONE"


    Posted by Ted at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Not that I'm embarrassed or anything

    The undefeated Fire Ants barely escaped with their record intact, squeaking by the Rockets in last week's Blogger Bowl matchup.

    It's only a rumor that after they walked off the field in pity, we scored. Three plays later.

    Posted by Ted at 04:17 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Square Pegs

    November 02, 2004

    The Opposite of Reality TV

    According to Maxim magazine, Comedy Central is coming out with a new animated show called "Drawn Together". Taking direct aim at "The Real World", the toon is populated with several stereotypical animated characters living together. You can now see what happens when ingenue Princess Clara meets urban rocker Foxxy Love (think Josie and the Pussycats).

    Hint: there's a hot tub girl-on-girl kissing scene, complete with a Disney-like song "A Black Chick's Tongue In My Mouth."

    Posted by Ted at 08:01 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Links

    (smiley face)

    "Vote early and often" has become the equivalent of "Have a nice day". It quit being cute after the first four thousand times I heard it.

    Posted by Ted at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Square Pegs

    Since it seems to be a holding-your-nose kinda day

    What better subject than Lutefisk?

    Now, even in America, frozen lutefisk is readily available at selected fish markets and at Scandinavian delicatessens.

    Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) must surely be the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians, but what a treat when prepared properly. Everyone of course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are defend it vehemently. Others go to the opposite extreme and claim it's a national disgrace.
    Lutefisk must be served hot on piping hot plates. Accompaniments vary from bacon or pork drippings, white sauce, mustard sauce, or melted butter which seems to remain a favorite. Boiled and steamed potatoes, stewed whole, dry green peas are a must as a vegetable accompaniment. The only other necessary additions are freshly ground pepper, lefse, or flatbread. In some parts of Northern Norway, lutefisk is served with melted goat cheese.
    So there you have it. Take codfish, dry it with lye until it's shoeleather. Boil it for 10 minutes, then serve with boiled potatoes and bacon grease.

    You can have mine. Better yet, I'll trade you straight up for your kimchee.

    Ufda, I forgot the recipe!

    feeds 10 people
    time needed: about 2 weeks

    1 kg dried fish
    100 g caustic soda
    30 liters of water

    Saw the fish in suitably sized pieces or leave it whole. Put in water. Leave in water in a cool place for 5-6 days if cut in pieces, 8 days if the fish is whole. Change the water every day.

    For the luting use a plastic or stainless steel or enamelled tub (the enamel must be unchipped). Wooden vessels, china or stoneware may also be used.

    Place the fish in the tub with the skin side up. Dissolve caustic soda in the water, pour over the fish until covered complete by lut water. Leave the fish in a cold place for 3-4 days.

    When the fish is completely luted, it will be well swollen and you should be able to put a finger through it. Rinse the fish and leave in cold water 4-6 days. Change water every day.

    If the fish stays in water for too long after the luting, it may be soft and difficult to boil. Test boil a piece, if you are uncertain.

    Do not make lutefisk in the warm season.

    Posted by Ted at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)
    Category: Recipes

    Rituals not even Paris got to see

    Eldritch rituals.

    Santanic rituals.

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

    Celebrating my Freedom

    Work. Vote on the way home. Do a couple of loads of laundry tonight.

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


    LeeAnn was commenter number 3000 and celebrated by doing cartwheels and splits.

    Of course, it was inevitable that the batteries in my camera were dead. Story of my life.

    Posted by Ted at 06:01 AM | Comments (0)
    Category: Links

    November 01, 2004

    Launch Report - BattlePark - October, 2004

    As usual, the people hosting BattlePark ran a great event. Since this isn't the biggie launch of the year for them (that happens in the Spring), the crowd was a bit smaller and things were more relaxed.

    Culpeper is a little better than an hour's drive from my place, and the last 40 miles is on smaller roads going through the Virginia countryside. It's a beautiful trip any time of year, but especially in the fall as the trees turn.

    (continued in the extended entry)

    The launch itself is held on the property of a generous family who allow a hunt club and various hobby groups use of their farmland. We get to use it in the spring and late fall by scheduling around the growing season. This year a little bit of feed corn was set in, but mostly it was soybeans. Harvesting had already happened, so the soybeans were only about knee tall and not too awful bad to walk through. The areas of corn were cut back to the ground, so that's where the launch range was set up.

    When my alarm went off Saturday morning, I looked out the window and saw thick fog, so I went back to bed for an hour. It was still a little foggy when I left, and by the time I reached the field, it was completely socked in again. I visited with friends and got a couple of rockets ready to fly, and by 11:30 or so the fog had lifted and we had a beautiful afternoon.

    My first flight of the day was the Hot Jets on an E18-7 White Lightning, one of my favorite reloadable motors. The liftoff was perfect, and although a tad underpowered she still made a nice flight. A 4 second delay would be better for this rocket. She was recovered undamaged, pretty close to the pads.

    Now I wanted to fly my Watch the Birdie. This original design started off as a short stubby 4 inch diameter rocket, and she flew three times in that configuration. I modified her by adding a 24 inch length of body tube above the fins. By doing this stretch, I'd have room to fit in the longer hybrid motors and still have room for an electronics bay and parachute. Unfortunately, as I was getting her assembled, it became apparent that my electronics bay design wasn't going to work the way I wanted it to. I fiddled with it for a bit, but once I got frustrated with it I decided to set it aside for a while and calm down. There's nothing dumber or more unsafe than a rocketeer who's determined to fly a rocket come hell or high water.

    Instead, I grabbed another rocket, this time Rachael's Barenaked Lady. I had another reloadable motor ready for this lightweight bird, an Aerotech E11-3 BlackJack. She lifted off beautifully with this long-burning motor, ascending arrow straight and leaving a thick black smoke trail behind. The chute popped right at the top and she was recovered downwind a couple hundred yards away. Flight number ten for her.

    I'd figured out what needed to be done to launch the Birdie, but was going to have to take care of it at home that evening.

    I did have another rocket ready to go though: my original Level 1 certification rocket, an upscaled Centuri Groove Tube. This tube fin rocket is another that I'm going to have to modify to handle hybrid motors, but for her eighth flight I had one last standard solid motor to fly. I built an Aerotech H123 White Lightning motor and got her on the pad.

    Tube fin rockets fly straight and are way cool to watch, especially big ones like this one. Another beautiful liftoff atop a long yellow flame and white smoke, and even after the thrust ended you could see the last of the fuel grain burning brightly inside. The parachute came out perfectly and she got applause for the flight. All that was left was recovery.

    The wind had been picking up, and I should have used a smaller parachute. I considered it, but the next smaller chute I had was too small, so I went with her normal 45" size and figured I'd have a long walk to retrieve her. What happened was that she moved much faster horizontally than vertically. I was still hustling up a hill of cut soybeans when I lost sight over the crest. I had a good line on her, so I wasn't too worried. Even in the fields, it's hard to lose a red, white and blue rocket with a neon orange chute.

    As the crow flies, it was almost certainly less than a mile, but it felt like much more as I waded up that hill. Coming to an electric fence at the end of the soybeans, I went along it for quite a ways in each direction, trying to spot my rocket in the meadow beyond. No such luck. Now I was wondering if it had drifted over the road into the fields beyond, so I headed in that direction. Once along the road, I kept checking the fields on both sides, noting spots to search more thoroughly on my way back if I had to.

    Then I spotted the chute. On the same side of the road, right alongside a creek (pronounced "crick", and what is it with me and water?), draped over a fallen tree. There were also about 100 cows in the pasture with it. Not knowing for sure if any bulls were there, I headed for the farmhouse and barns (this is a huge farm run by a couple of brothers) to ask permission. I tracked 'em down and got the ok, then skidded and slid through some very muddy meadow to recover my rocket. Undamaged too.

    I got a ride back to the launch area with some other rocketeers who had hung their rocket in a tall tree at the same farm. I saw it land and showed them where it wound up, but it was too high to recover without tools or help.

    I'd been gone for quite a while, so that was pretty much the end of my day. I guzzled some badly-needed water and talked to friends and made plans to return the next day.

    Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. Absolutely georgous! The only bummer was a forcast for occasional gusty winds.

    Since it was Halloween, I'd added my blood-dripping battleaxe rocket Pacifyer to my rockets for the day. But when I opened my rocket box, somehow she'd snapped a fin. Fixable, but she wasn't going to fly that day.

    First up then, would be this little black rocket called the FY2K. I built it in 1999 specifically for Econojet motors, and this would be her eleventh flight. Econojets are loud and smokey single use motors, and really get this rocket moving off the pad. The FY2K made another perfect flight on an F23-7 engine, and recovered undamaged downwind.

    The wind was stronger on Sunday than Saturday, especially the upper-level winds.

    My hybrid-support guru, Doug Pratt, was busy helping another guy make a flight, so I went ahead and prepped the Hot Jets for another flight. I'd built another motor the previous evening, this time stepping up in power to an F24. The boost and coast was beautiful (she spins slowly as she goes up), but when the chute ejected it became tangled and never opened. Luckily, she fell in a flat spin and the fall was somewhat cushioned by the soybean plants. One fin broke in the best possible way, meaning she can be fixed in about 10 minutes using nothing but an xacto knife and some epoxy. No problemo.

    Since she drifted halfway up that same freakin' hill again (without a chute!), I grabbed the camera and after picking up the Hot Jets, shlepped the rest of the way to the top to take some panoramic pictures of the area.

    Back at the truck, it's Birdie time. The new and improved altimeter bay design works well, and everything goes together easily. The only hitch was that I forgot to install the vent hose, but three screws and five minutes work took care of that little oopsie. Meanwhile, Doug is setting up a rail for me to launch from, and I hauled my nitrous tank (20lbs of happy gas!) and ground support equipment out to the pad. Once that was all set up we readied the rocket, snapped some pictures of me standing there looking happy, and we were good to go.

    I was gonna try for liftoff pictures, so Doug did the honors at the launch controller. As soon as he pressed the 'fill' button to load the nitrous into the motor tank, a very... ah, indelicate, noise indicated a problem. Apparently the fill hose inside the motor had come loose. It's an easy fix, but time consuming, since the electronics had to be disarmed, the rocket taken down from the pad, haul it back to the truck and remove the motor. Disassemble the motor and fix the fill hose, then do all of it again in reverse to get ready to fly. Since I have another launch this coming weekend, I didn't feel any pressure to hustle through this to get it done. We scrubbed the hybrid launch plans for the day.

    I did make one more flight before leaving for the day. I launched my Saturn III on a cluster of four A10-3T mini-motors. All four motors lit, and the recovery was fine, although once again she drifted a good ways up that stupid hill.

    Among the memorable flights I saw (and one I missed while wading through cow-flop), was a rocket built of carbon-fibre veil that flew on a K-sized hybrid. Awesome flight. The one I missed seeing was Ben's M-powered flight, although I definitely heard that one! There were several other K's and J's flown, and I think I overheard someone say that they were making their first mile-high flight. I also had the honor of being a witness for a Level 1 and a Level 2 certification flight. Both perfect, just the way you want it. There were also a couple of spectacular CATO's (Catastrophe At Take Off), including one where the rocket made it maybe 200 feet up before ejecting the chute at speed and descending slowly with flames coming out of both ends.

    It was a great weekend, and off in the distance you could hear a loud horn sound occasionally. The horn signaled another shot by a monstrous breech-loading pumpkin-chuckin' cannon. Those guys were launching ten pound pumpkins all weekend long. I'd guess the barrel was 40 feet or more long.

    On the way home Sunday afternoon I missed my turn (I do that about a third of the time) and wound up taking even smaller back-country roads home. With the foilage near peak, that wasn't a problem at all, and I got home in plenty of time to unload the truck before the little tricksters started prowling the neighborhood.

    So yeah, I had fun. How was your weekend?

    Posted by Ted at 04:23 AM | Comments (2)
    Category: Rocketry
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