If you've been visiting Rocket Jones for a while you already know that my son is home after serving in the US Navy. You also know that he was a crewman on an attack sub, the USS Philadelphia.
That boat is the sister ship to the USS San Francisco, which just had the high-speed run-in with an uncharted underwater mountain. The crew performed bravely and heroically and managed to save their boat. That scenario was my worst nightmare as a parent, and I'm thankful that the accident wasn't worse.
A.E. Brain has been keeping up with this, with pictures and news, both before and after. Plenty of links too. Please, follow those links and be horrified at the damage sustained and be amazed at the ability of the crew to maintain and make it home again.
The training and professionalism of the US military is second to none, although we tend to hear most often of the Army and Marines. The tsunami-relief efforts of our carrier groups got some attention lately, but the actions of the crew on board the San Francisco demonstrates that the Navy, like the other branches of our armed forces, are second to none.
Joe DeRouen's Weird Web Sites is updated weekly, and features such as:
Have you ever wanted to dress Bible-friendly but just weren't sure how? While this website won't tell you much in terms of dresses, skirts, and blouses, it does cover (no pun intended) what's underneath. The site shows examples of what bras, panties, and girdles are approved by the Bible, and which undergarments will send you straight to Hades.
Links to all plus an extensive archive make this the perfect place to lose yourself for an afternoon. Or two.
I need to thank the following people for their advice, links and help when I was asking about wireless security for a home network. You guys are aces!
I've seen variations of this floating around in email before, but this is the most comprehensive version I've ever run across. Many thanks to Gordon for forwarding it to me.
(in the extended entry)
Why The English Language Is Hard To Learn
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike? How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?
Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable? And where are all those people who are spring chickens or who would actually hurt a fly?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.
My daughter Rachael is blogging again, in the same place but under a new name: Down Stage Left. I believe she's going to focus more on her theater interests, but will occasionally post things like her memorable "Dead Guy of the Day" series. I'm sure her spelling will still be painful too. Can't change everything I guess.
Welcome to democracy.
Space.com has another one of those articles that seems obvious - once you think about it. This time, it's the need for simulated moon dirt.
This time, when we go back to the moon, it'll be to stay. It's good practice for Mars and beyond, not to mention how much easier it'll be to mount further exploration missions from there compared to the deep gravity well on Earth. Obviously, we're going to need ways to produce what we need from the materials available on the lunar surface. Also obviously, that means devising nifty machines to do all that scientifical magic that creates those things we'll need. You gotta test those machines and methods beforehand, hence the not-so-obvious need for fake moon regolith (dirt).
Tons of lunar simulant, called JSC-1, were produced years ago under the auspices of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, hence the name. Made from volcanic ash of basaltic composition, JSC-1’s composition mimicked many of the attributes of lunar mare soil samples.
But now supplies are largely gone, with some of the material even hoarded by some researchers due to its scarceness.
We never had all that much genuine lunar soil, and there are also some limitations besides the amount available. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt walked on the moon with Apollo 17, and was the only actual geologist to go.
“The main problem with this Apollo material is that it no longer is in extremely hard vacuum and has not been for thirty-three-plus years. Also, the samples and fractions taken from it for analysis have been agitated by handling and splitting and have lost significant amounts of solar wind volatiles,” Schmitt explained.
In other words, even our original moon samples aren't precisely what was collected more than three decades ago. Like most things, regolith is changed by the environment it exists in and by the handling it sustains.
The first lunar simulant 'MLS-1' was made because it had an approximate chemistry to Apollo 11 soil 10084, but its mineralogy and engineering properties were all off. Subsequent attempts to duplicate grain-size distribution and glass content were not adequate. But, this was used by many investigators, most of whom unknowingly were not using a good simulant.
Later simulants were much better, but there is still room for, and a need for improvement. They're not exactly sure how much they'll need, but it will be measured in tons. There's money to be made in fake moon dirt.
It occurs to me that if we move the federal government to Dade County, we wouldn't even have to change the stationery.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's opening remarks to State employees:
(Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, this is a little different welcome than the first time that I came to work at the State Department. Now, that may surprise some of you, but I was, in 1977, an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. (Laughter and applause.) Now, there's a lesson in that: Be good to your interns. (Laughter.)
Complete text of her remarks can be found here.
Also distributed (sorry, couldn't find a link):
Message from the Secretary of State
Colleagues, today is the first of many days ahead that we will work together to help our country build a safer, better world. I am honored to lead the State Department at this critical time—a time of challenge and hope and opportunity. And, like you, I owe a special debt of gratitude to our dear friend Colin Powell, who has served our nation with distinction, and has done so much to strengthen the Department of State.
September 11, 2001, was a defining moment for our nation and the world. Under the vision and leadership of President Bush, our nation has risen to meet the challenges of our time; fighting tyranny and terror, and securing the blessings of freedom and prosperity for a new generation. The work that America and our allies have undertaken, and the sacrifices we have made, have been difficult. And necessary. And right. Now is the time to build on these achievements—to make the world safer, and to make the world more free. We must use American diplomacy to help create a balance of power in the world that favors freedom. And the time for diplomacy is now.
In these momentous times, American diplomacy has three great tasks. We will unite the community of democracies in building an international system that is based on our shared values and the rule of law. We will strengthen the community of democracies to fight the threats to our common security and alleviate the hopelessness that feeds terror. And we will spread freedom and democracy throughout the world. That is the mission that President Bush has set for you and me, and the great mission of American diplomacy today.
As we begin our work together, President Bush and I will expect great things from each of you in the service of your country and of a great cause. More than ever, you will be active in spreading democracy, fighting terror, reducing poverty, and helping to protect the American homeland.
I want each of you to know that I have no higher priority than the well-being and personal development of the men and women of the Foreign and Civil Services and the Foreign Service Nationals who work beside us. I know from experience how hard you work and the many risks you take. And I am especially aware of the hardships and sacrifices that your families endure as they also serve our nation. I want you to know that I will personally work to help ensure that you have the tools you need to do your jobs—from training to budgets to mentoring to embassy security.
Colleagues, I am honored to be your Secretary during these historic times. Together, we will serve our wonderful country and the cause of freedom for which it stands.
Let's see... first she thanks outgoing Secretary Powell, next is a reminder about 9/11, then diplomacy, building democracy, fighting terror, and looking out for her people.
Yep. As far as I'm concerned, she hit all the right points. In the right order too.
In St. Paul, Minnesota:
"closed, indefinitely, due to 'cost un-certainty' and high player salaries"
You are a SEDL--Sober Emotional Destructive Leader. This makes you a Dictator.
You prefer to control situations, and lack of control makes you physically sick. You feel have responsibility for everyone's welfare, and that you will be blamed when things go wrong. Things do go wrong, and you take it harder than you should.
You rely on the validation and support of others, but you have a secret distrust for people and distaste for their habits and weaknesses that make you keep your distance from them. This makes you very difficult to be with romantically. Still, a level-headed peacemaker can keep you balanced.
Despite your fierce temper and general hot-bloodedness, you have a soft spot for animals and a surprising passion for the arts. Sometimes you would almost rather live by your wits in the wilderness somewhere, if you could bring your books and your sketchbook.
You also have a strange, undeniable sexiness to you. You may go insane.
Of the 82232 people who have taken this quiz since tracking began (8/17/2004), 5.4 % are this type.
Instead of just reviewing a movie this time around, I thought I'd point out an excellent DVD for cinema fans.
The disk is a triple feature under the title Horror Classics, volume 1. Released by Navarre video, it falls under their Reel Values label. I got my copy at Suncoast Video for around ten bucks.
So what's so special about this DVD with the mundane name?
I talked a little bit about Nosferatu here:
My only complaint is that the Americanized version I have changed the names of the characters, making the story more familiar yet taking away from the original intent (for instance: Graf Orlok was changed to Count Dracula and Profesor Bulwer became Dr. Van Helsing).
There's more to the story. According to some accounts, when Bram Stoker's Dracula was first put on sale for movie rights, among the first buyers was F. W. Murnau, who was one of the most famous German directors at the time. Soon after beginning production of the film, they got the word that they had been scammed and that the widow of Bram Stoker refused to allow them to use the name and specific storyline of Dracula. To get around the problem, Murnau changed the name Dracula to Count Orlok, Harker became Hutter and Van Helsing became Professor Bulwer. Instead of London, the story is set in Bremen.
When Nosferatu premiered, the widow Stoker brought legal action against the studio and Murnau. In 1925 a German court ordered all prints of the film to be destroyed. Fortunately, several prints of the film survived.
Another interesting fact from the movie is that very little of it was shot on a movie set, almost the entire thing was shot on locations in Eastern Europe. The castle? Real. City street in Bremen? Real. The authenticity shines through.
Next on the DVD is Phantom of the Opera, the classic starring Lon Chaney (Rocket Jones bio here). As so often happens, the recent Broadway play and movie productions change the original plotline to suit "modern" audiences, and in my opinion the changes greatly lessen the impact of the original.
Not that any version of Phantom has been completely true to the novel by Gaston Leroux. Even this first version required the creation of a new ending when audiences hated the final scenes as first filmed.
The first time you see the Phantom's real face is among this list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments, although the entire scene of the masqued ball is chilling.
Finally, there is Metropolis. Filled with amazing performances and incredible special effects (in 1927!), the cast was enormous and the expense of creating this masterpiece almost bankrupted the studio.
According to the director himself (Fritz Lang, who also did the classic Frau im Mond), the film as originally conceived wasn't seen for decades because several important filmed sequences were lost.
The lead actress, Brigitte Helm, was an early movie star. When she had to turn down one role it was given to newcomer Marlene Dietrich. Ms. Helm made her final film in 1935, after which she retired to Switzerland. She was so disgusted by Adolph Hitler and his takeover of the German film industry that she refused to talk about her career or the subject ever again.
This film influenced many SciFi films to come, including such diverse efforts as Star Wars, Blade Runner and Dr. Strangelove.
I'll repeat myself. These are must-see films, and this DVD is a wonderful value.
Porn star Jenna Jameson has launched a new line of downloadable "Moan Tones" for your phone, so now when that hot call comes in, you can honestly say it can't wait.
Reaching out to touch someone should probably not be attempted.
Next best thing to being there? Only if your phone is set to vibrate.
I had no idea this even existed, a site dedicated to hockey fight stats!
Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for pointing that out (via your PDA version no less).
Chris Muir's Day by Day. Today's is especially good.
Called Orbiter, and the page has all kinds of add-ons and nifty toys to download. Looks like everything is free too.
Recharged and revved up to get into blogging again.
Casey, over at the Gantry Launchpad, has his one-year anniversary tomorrow (thursday, the 27th). He also notes that he's not quite reaching a milestone of 6k hits. Since he's a lot nicer than Bill, and definitely posts more often, I'm asking that each and every Rocket Jones visitor today click this link and go visit Casey. Let's put him over the top, so do it twice or even three times, and if you're a really nice person you'd leave a comment for him too.
Happy anniversary Casey, keep up the space blogging.
It's been awhile since I've done one of these, but rather than do my usual forty-seven "oooooh, look at this!" posts, I'll just do one great big "oooooh, look at these!" post.
But officials are quick to point out that these are not the autonomous killer robots of science fiction. A SWORDS robot shoots only when its human operator presses a button after identifying a target on video shot by the robot's cameras.
Ok, I feel better now, because we all know that humans are all kind and gentle creatures who hate to harm each other.
Filed under "You can't make this stuff up", Azygos tells of the Potty Bowl, which is associated with, appropriately enough, the Arizona Cardinals.
At this good, clean fun (and educational) event, Arizona Cardinal quarterback Shaun King will act as master of ceremonies and honorary "Kandoo Coach" while kids play against each other to finish the Go! Wipe! Flush! Wash! Dry! obstacle course first.
I noticed that one of the co-sponsors (alongside Pampers), was KOOL and my first thought was that those bastards in the tobacco industry were targeting toddlers in their zeal to indoctrinate new smokers. I mean, what's more natural than sitting down on the throne and lighting up a cigarette? After a more careful reading, I see that KOOL is a radio station, and judging by this event, it's probably on a par with WKRP in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, over at Random Nuclear Strikes, we learn of this story:
Bay Area native Daniel Berk had planned to spend the Christmas holiday in Sri Lanka, getting his scuba certificate, but canceled his plans at the last minute. He missed the deadly tsunami, but on Saturday, he was killed in an avalanche while snowboarding off-trail in the Austrian Alps.
To which AnalogKid remarks:
When your name is on the Reaper’s clip board, making him switch from bermuda shorts to a parka only pisses him off.
Also from Random Nuclear Strikes comes the pointer to a blog called (ready for it?)...
They're serious about it, but probably my favorite part is where they quote Oliver Willis who digs up some dirt on Republicans! Imagine that?!?!?! Here's a news flash - ALL POLITICIANS ARE BASICALLY SCUMBAGS!!!
The trick is selecting a scumbag who's reality most closely mirrors your own personal priorities. That said, voting for someone who refuses to acknowlege recent history (like, fer instance, claiming WMD's were the *only* reason we invaded Iraq), means that you're not just supporting a scumbag, it means your scumbag is either a) stupid beyond belief, or b) believes "a" to be true about you. As Bill Engval would say, "here's your sign".
Better yet, maybe I should just chill out and wait for the damn robot overlords. Heaven knows, they probably couldn't do worse.
Wallops Island is Virginia's designated Spaceport. It was named for John Wallop, a 17th-century surveyor who began patenting land on Virginia's eastern shore in the 1660's. In 1672 he received a Crown Patent of the 13-square-kilometer island from King Charles II, and in his will John Wallop referred to "my island formerly called Keeckotank." It was also known as Accocomoson or Occocomoson Island, but has borne the name "Wallops Island" for more than 260 years.
Source: "Origins of NASA Names" by Wells, Whiteley, and Karegeannes, NASA SP-4402, 1976
There's a reason the first word of the original phrase is "illegal", although I'd go along with "Illegal Immigrant" as being even more accurate. Either way, here's what happens:
Is it so liberal that governments must pay for those who ignore the law while citizens go without? In California, the money to incarcerate more than 14,000 felonious illegal aliens from Mexico - well over $400 million - would fund the start-up costs of 20 university campuses like the new University of California at Merced, at a time when Americans (including many first-generation Mexican-American citizens) who are eligible for higher education cannot find access or financial support.
I'm not anti-immigration or anti-Mexican. I am stridently anti-illegal-immigration.
Thanks to Mad William Flint for the pointer.
Taken by one of the photographers from Blue Planet Media (and I've forgotten his name to my eteranal shame), this liftoff shot of my upscaled Yellow Jacket boosting on twin C6 motors has been used in NAR promotional materials.
Talking to someone recently about rocketry, they were surprised when I mentioned that we flew them more than once. They were under the impression that the rockets flew up and disappeared or exploded or some such. We bring them back under parachute or other recovery method. The rocket in the photo has made 21 flights so far, and is still going strong.
Since everyone in the family except Mookie ended up sick last weekend, she did yeoman's work taking care of us all. For the record, she's closer to Ratchet than Nightengale.
Way back in 2003 I posted a little blip about finishing rockets, and the guy who laminated sheets of uncut one dollar bills to his airframe.
Here are some other interesting finishes I've seen.
On a rocket named Child's Play, the owner had his kids dip their hands in fingerpaint and left primary-colored hand-prints all over the rocket.
Another guy left his unpainted, but every time the rocket flew he wrote the date of the flight on the airframe. The rocket was covered with dates.
One that worked for me was a rocket I named Alchemy. The nosecone is chrome silver, halfway down the body it fades into Rustoleum's hammered silver finish, and near the fins it fades into a fleckstone faux-granite finish. It looks cool, if I do say so myself.
Another finish that I tried to create without success was to use that antique crackle overcoat over flourescent paint. A friend of mine used simple gold under black crackle that came out very nice. I thought it would be cool if the crackle finish exposed neon orange and green jags. Unfortunately, the flourescent finish has too much 'tooth' and wouldn't allow the antique finish to 'crackle' correctly. I sanded and repainted that rocket, trying slightly different techniques, probably four or five times, and never got it to work right. I still like the idea though... maybe someday if I get good enough with an airbrush.
The latest in the magnetic ribbon craze, this one in the NHL's orange and black.
Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer.
From Reuters (which doesn't rhyme with "neuters"):
Female legislators in Israel have seen red after a leading rabbi compared women who wear the color to prostitutes.
Protesting against a ritual ruling by Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, head of the rabbinical court in the southern city of Beersheba, banning Jewish women from dressing in red, several woman lawmakers wore the color in parliament Monday.
Overreaction? I mean, it's not like he called them Dubya supporters.
Related thought: there's a city named Beer-Sheba? I dunno about you, but the name conjures up images of Friday nights full of good music, good drinkin' and women of questionable virtue (bless 'em all). I may have to add that to my list of places to visit before I die.
Sharkspage has links and story:
According to the BYU Icecats website:
Jaxon Logan, our teammate, friend, and brother passed away Friday night. While blocking a slap shot, Jaxon was struck in the chest by the puck which led to cardiac arrest and ultimately his death. Jaxon was a great man, talented athlete, and fierce competitor. A memorial service will be held at the LDS church on 85 south 900 East Provo, Monday @ 6 pm. All are invited.
It's just one of those freak things that happens in life, and a good reminder to appreciate what you have.
When they make MuNu: The Movie, who will play you? And feel free to make nominations for the other Munus.
My very first thought was John Goodman as Rocket Jones. Which was spooky because Jennifer said the exact same thing, and then
Joe Don Bak Victor thirded the nomination, followed up by Spork in Jen's comments.
Funny thing, my wife immediately said "Jim Belushi".
I'll have to give some thought to further casting, but right off the top of my head:
Jennifer played by Bridget Fonda. Tough. Smart. Sassy.
Susie played by Sandra Bullock. Ditto, kiddo.
Spork played by Michael J. Fox, for that intense yet amiable competence.
Victor played by Joe Don Baker, natch.
LeeAnn played by Janeane Garofalo, with the stipulation that she not be allowed to speak any lines not written for her by LeeAnn herself (maybe a shock collar... careful Ted, you're getting into real fantasy territory now).
Steve and Robert played by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams reprising their roles as Laverne & Shirley. Shmeel. Shnozzle. Yip! Yip! Yip!
Michael King played by Sinbad, for no reason other than it would amuse me to no end to hear Sinbad say "Just Damn!"
Bill, played by Oscar the Grouch.
Note the U. of Chicago address, some people just can't enjoy a movie... sheesh. ;)
Wow, this is a post that's been sitting in the draft pile for a long long time. Better late than never, eh?
Now when things don't quite go according to plan, you see things like the video clips on this page. Spectacular footage.
An announcer on television just breathlessly announced that today's football game is historical because it's the first time that two African-American quarterbacks ever faced each other in a league championship game.
Who gives a shit? In the grand scheme of things, that's like the first-ever matchup between left-handed Ivy League graduates on a Thursday night game when it rained in the third quarter. Bottom line: McNabb is Eagles green and Vick is Falcons red.
If you want frozen onion rings made the old fashioned way, you know, with actual onion rings inside, you have to get gourmet onion rings. Otherwise, you get ring shaped dough with bits of chopped onion.
Whereas Lawren just found it disturbing. One of us should probably seek professional help.
One of the neatest types of hobby rockets are gliders. They soar into the sky straight up like a rocket, and then when the motor burns out they transition to recover like a glider airplane. Some are radio controlled. Divided into two general types, there are "boost gliders" which eject the motor pod at apogee in order to gain their flying trim, then there are the "rocket gliders" which keep everything together, usually relying on some sort of mechanical movement to achieve flightworthyness.
Mookie and I have had the extreme pleasure of launching rockets with Rob Edmonds for several years now. Anytime we have a club launch, Rob is usually there, testing new glider prototypes or perfecting existing models. The man is a font of glider-knowlege, and he's more than happy to share his expertise.
His company, Edmonds Aerospace, makes some of the coolest rocket kits around. Specializing in glider designs, Rob has carved out a niche creating the simplest and most fool-proof glider kits imaginable. They're perfect for beginners, but they also fly great! For more advanced rocketeers, he features binary gliders, larger models (for bigger motors) and the simplest RC glider available.
I noticed in the latest issue of Sport Rocketry a full-page Edmonds Aerospace ad. I'll excerpt it here, because it's an awesome educational concept:
This special package will get your students into the air more quickly and at lower cost than any other rocket-powered product. You will enjoy costs of less than $2.50 per student and build times of as little as twenty minutes! Individual aircraft for 12 students are packaged with a single rocket booster that launches three aircraft at a time. Each student experiences a rocket launch of her own model, yet you can launch all twelve students with only four motors, cutting your flying costs by two thirds. Each group of 3 students can enjoy competing to see which aircraft remains aloft the longest!
He's designed this model to fly on Estes A10-3T motors, which come four to a pack (around $5.00 at WalMart). Plus you get the fun of multiple gliders flying at one time. Too cool.
Rob also suggests using the G-Pack for birthday parties, which would make for a memorable (and easy to do) event. The glider kits in the G-Pack consist of 5 parts, no cutting is necessary, and, being the owner of several Edmonds kits, I can tell you that they fly like a dream.
Just for fun, here are pictures of several of our rocket gliders. Click on the links to open in a new window.
Edmonds Deltie, Mookie has one of these too.
Another Edmonds kit. This one isn't a beginner model, it takes some effort to make it fly nicely.
Edmonds Tinee, another beginner-level kit. Isn't that the coolest looking thing?
A Holverson Zoomie. No longer in business, I've got one of their Silver Hawk flying wing gliders in my 'to build' box.
There are a couple of others we fly, but I don't have pictures right handy. Something you might have noticed was that the gliders are mostly undecorated. I use pink highlighter to add some flair without adding the weight of paint. Makes 'em easier to see too.
Crystal Light has come out with mini-packs of drink mix to turn your bottle of water into a bottle of lemonade or fruit punch.
On Thursday, Idaho scientist David Atkinson said that someone failed to turn on a radio receiver for the instrument he needed to measure the winds on Saturn's largest moon. Because of that error, data transmitted by the gear on the Huygens lander was not received by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft for relay to Earth.
Oops. It doesn't specifically say, but since the Huygens probe was ESA's baby, I don't think this was a NASA goof. In fact, this sort of thing is exactly why NASA goes overboard with the checklists. Except that it's not going overboard if you prevent things like this from happening.
Atkinson spent 18 years designing the experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. He did say Thursday there was a chance that some of the data that was beamed toward Cassini could be picked up on Earth.
Ouch. Fortunately, according to the story most of the data was recovered.
Getting back to the checklist thingy. I imagine that the ESA (and every other space program) goes to the same lengths as NASA regarding checklists and procedure manuals. I'd bet that the checklist item to send that command was forgotten or lost somewhere along the line and so wasn't present to be performed during the execution of that particular series of commands. Trust me, nobody *forgets* something like that.
Finally getting around to a few that have been on my list:
Welcome to Eric's Random Musings
Oops, almost forgot. Phillip has moved too.
From the Maryland/Delaware Rocketry Association Newsletter (html conversion of .pdf file):
There was also going to be the Kimberly Harms / John Lyndal full scale Honest John powered by four 4-grain full O motors. Dave Triano, Mike Hobbs had teamed up with Frank Kosdon on an 8" minimum diameter full Q motor attempt scheduled to go over 88,000 feet. Then there were all those 35,000 foot fun flights.
Of course, it helps to fly in the desert too. Black Rock, Nevada to be precise. The same chunk of desert where Burning Man takes place. Rocketeers in the Western U.S. have room that we east of the Mississippi only dream about.
Back to the story:
Not much comes back alive at Black Rock and this held true for the mighty Honest John. This was a full scale model of the real thing. It was built by Kimberly Harms and the Community Space Program out of Washington State. The motors were built by John Lyndal out of Oregon. John and Kim have combined their talents successfully on many other projects in the past. But this was the biggest one yet and this was Balls 13 at Black Rock. As with many other projects at the event there would be a secret conspiracy with the 700 pound, 24" diameter, 4 full O powered rocket. Earlier in the event I was talking with Kim and mentioned to her that she should put some "Cow Spots" on her military green painted rocket. She slowly shook her head and said she thought the project might go the way of the Cow . I wonder what she knew, that the rest of the world didn't. I had discussed with both Kim and John how the big projects get logarithmically more difficult. That was one thing we were all in agreement with.
[The photo below shows an actual Honest John being launched. The black, white and orange colors indicate that this is a test round, and the plumes emerging from the nose end are small rockets mounted at an angle to induce spin which increased stability and hence accuracy. The full-scale Honest John discussed in the article had no spin rockets and was launched vertically, as are all our rockets for safety reasons. -- RJ]
The Honest John was man handled onto the tower fully assembled. We were not out at their pad, which was over a mile away, yet we could see the progress as they finally got the big rocket vertical on the tower. The time had finally come and the button was pushed.
The Honest John climbed right up and off the tower. It started to take a slight arch to the right and then about 1,000 feet all hell broke loose. One of the O motors had catoed and that tore the rocket apart. The motor section continued to sail past the flailing payload and nose cone section. As the booster cruised by the nose cone it clipped it smashing the nuclear warhead to tiny bits [the Honest John was a nuclear-capable rocket used by the US Army, this was a full scale model - RJ]. The booster must have continued on to about 3,000 feet while the rest of the rocket fell helplessly back to earth from a much lower altitude. On Sunday I approached Kim to offer my condolences on the demise of her project and she told that "You can't cry over spilled milk."
When Mookie was a wee rocketeer, she took to design like a fish to water. One of her very first rockets was a beautiful flyer painted red, white & blue, and we watched it drift away under chute over an adjoining patch of woods. Despite our best efforts, we never did find it. She impressed me with her attitude because you could tell it hurt her to lose her rocket, but she accepted that sometimes you don't get them back.
First we identified the Axis of Evil, now it's the Outposts of Tyranny. Bigwig of Silflay Hraka suggests the third tier should be named the Bastions of Bastardy. I like it.
Here's another discussion on it, this one in a more serious vein.
My wife is feeling even worse than I am, so I have no one to whine to. This sucks.
Being sick (yeah, now me too dammit), I had some time last night to put a small dent in my to-watch stack of "Ted movies" (as my wife calls them). If you're not a regular visitor, you might not realize that I love "B" movies, the low-budget efforts that I lovingly refer to as crap movies. There's a whole category here on Rocket Jones dedicated to them, full of reviews and trivia and related nonsense, and an updated list of my movie reviews. Now grab some popcorn and let's get on with this episode.
Back at the dawn of the nuclear age, a wave of giant creature movies hit the screens. My personal favorites from that time include Them! (giant ants) and Tarantula (giant spider - shudder - and an early bit part for Clint Eastwood), but I also had the pleasure of watching the following two.
First up is a cheesy little stinker called The Giant Gila Monster. See, there's this young man named Chase Winstead who lives in rural Texas. He's clean cut, polite and respectful, and works hard at the local auto repair shop. Two odd things about him though, somehow parts from wrecked vehicles he's towed tend to end up on his hotrod, and it seems that the townspeople trust him and his judgement to a ludicrous degree. I mean, the sherrif doesn't make a move without checking with Chase first, and overlooks the obvious theft of tires and such. Mental note: work on my "aw shucks" look, I've obviously underestimated its power.
Chase is the leader of the local hot rod club (if you're a classic car enthusiest, that's enough reason to watch this one right there), and they help the sherrif search the area when mysterious vehicle wrecks start happening and people start disappearing.
I'm not going to go into the plot much more than that, other than to say that Chase kills the giant Gila Monster in the end and saves his crippled little sister in the process (he steals car parts because he's saving his money for leg braces for sis). He also arranges to have the hottest DJ in the area show up to spin records at their club barn dance, and finds time to sing three songs during the movie. Other than the songs, this is a good kid.
And what, pray tell, could be wrong with the songs? Chase is played by Don Sullivan, who tried, and failed miserably, to become another Frankie Avalon. He wrote and performed the songs in this movie, and they are painfully bad. Painfully. Bad. Painfully. Bad. A little known fact is that in Texas it's legal to kill someone for playing the ukelele, and it's known at the Don Sullivan law. Painfully. Bad.
Ok, enough ragging on poor Don, who turned in a pretty good performance otherwise. On to the monster, the Giant Gila Monster. The monster is incredibly realistic, mainly because every time it appears it's a real lizard in closeup or on a miniature diorama. To save money (very low-budget) you never see the Gila Monster and actual people in the same shot, it always cuts from one to the other. Something I didn't know before watching this is that Gila Monsters are slow and ponderous critters. There's not much excitement when he's on screen, although it's fun watching him wreck
an HO scale a train as it goes over a trestle bridge. You can almost imagine someone picking the lizard up and turning it around for another pass over the pile of toy trains hear the screams of the people trapped inside the wrecked passenger cars. Sheer comedy terror.
Merciless, I know. But I still recommend this movie. The plot is not awful, the acting is only fair to terrible, and Don sings three times, but it's still fun. And when you're watching a movie with the title The Giant Gila Monster, if you're expecting more than fun then you're expectations are set way too high.
Trivia: This movie, and it's sister flick Attack of the Killer Shrews, were produced by Ken Curtis. Ken Curtis started his career as a vocalist for Big Band leader Tommy Dorsey before going into pictures. He appeared in many movies including the small but important role of Dolan in Mr. Roberts, but he's undoubtably best known for his long-running television role as Festus in Gunsmoke.
Everyone loves giant beastie movies. The Japanese are famous for it, and most everyone else who makes movies rattled off a few. Even Denmark.
The movie is called Reptillicus, and I'll say right up front that this movie is rotten. Awful. Eye-gougingly, where's-my-electric-drill-I-need-to-put-it-through-my-temple, gargling ground glass bad. Making your kids watch this is grounds for a visit from the naughty-parents police.
I also recommend it (big surprise there, eh?), with reservations.
Like most movies, this one has it's good points and it's bad points.
Good: When the monster is first discovered, the explanation actually makes a kind of sense.
Bad: They hire a cartoon as night watchman at the lab where they're studying the remains of the monster. This guy is the prototype "Rose Nylund St. Olaf" story character.
Good: The monster regenerates itself. That's how they wind up with a whole monster even though they only started with a little piece. It also causes them to be creative when killing it, because blowing it up (as per usual practice) would just cause lots of explodey bits growing into many new monsters.
Bad: The monster itself is badly done (see Don Sullivan above). His primary weapon is a green acid spitball thing that is badly animated. Even for a badly done monster movie it looks amatuerish. Also, look for the guy getting eaten, it's obviously (badly) drawn in. Pitiful (and lots of 'badly').
Good: You get to see lots of pretty scenery around Copenhagen.
Bad: You get to see lots of pretty scenery around Copenhagen. In order to pad out the movie, it looks like they took stock tourist footage of the city and stuck it in here and there. At one point the lead characters go out for a night on the town and it plays like a travelogue.
Good: Pretty Scandanavian sisters. Woo-hoo!
Bad: The American General character. Another cartoon, although a super-heroic one. This guy was the inspiration for the slogan "I am an Army of One".
My favorite line from Reptillicus:
"Shoot it point blank, from very close range."
As opposed to point blank, from long range, I suppose. I think the biggest problem with this one is that it doesn't translate well into English and some of the dialog and motivations seem 'off' to me. Unlike The Giant Gila Monster, it isn't a strength here when the film tries to take itself seriously.
So there ya go, the horror of
ukelele-strummin' hot-roddin' song-singing teenagers giant reptiles and extra cheese for your popcorn or chilidog. Enjoy!
Son TJ walked through the door at 11am, looking like crap. They sent him home from work after he started barfing. At 2pm, Liz was home, same thing. Dammit, I better not catch whatever they've got.
The Little Joe II series of rockets did for Apollo what the Little Joe I did for Mercury*.
From Rockets of the World:
In order to make the flight to the moon, the Apollo spacecraft was launched atop a six million pound tank of explosive liquids called the Saturn V.
Once again, a Launch Escape System (LES) was fitted to the nose of the capsule to move the astronauts out of harms way during the boost phase, and the Little Joe II program was designed to test the LES.
At it's most basic level, the Little Joe II consisted of a series of structural rings covered by commercially available sheets of corrugated aluminum. Four fixed fins provided guidance, with additional control surfaces added on later flights.
The first Little Joe II flight took place in August, 1963 at White Sands missile range in New Mexico.
On the final test flight, as the rocket ascended it was intentionally sent into a wicked tumble before the LES was activated. It performed flawlessly, proving the system would work under worst-case conditions.
In all, just five Little Joe II flights were made. Studies were made to extend the program to test the Apollo Lunar Module, but the idea never went beyond wind-tunnel testing (the Little Joe II/LM stack proved dynamically unstable). There was even a proposal for an orbital version.
There are some really nice photos here at the Field Guide to American Spacecraft.
If you'd like to build a flyable model rocket version of the Little Joe II, JimZ has the original Estes plans available for free online.
*I've discovered some errors in the original post. Corrections have been made and noted.
Since today is a holiday for me (inauguration), I took tomorrow off as well for a nice four-day weekend. Only problem is, I stupidly promised to paint the living room on my days off.
In painting, 90% of the job is prepwork, so I don't skimp on it, even though I hate it with a passion.
Reading the paint can, I noticed the part that said if you want one-coat coverage, you should apply the paint liberally. Anything to make the job go quicker, says I, even if I don't understand the reasoning. I put The Shawshank Redemption into the DVD player (it's the only Tim Robbins movie we own) , and I let the paint know how disappointed I was in it for being white and how it was inferior to paints of color.
One wall and part of the ceiling is done. It looks nice.
According to a new recent international survey, Icelandic women own more vibrators per capita than women in any other country.
Somebody knocked together thier list of the 50 Worst Songs of All Time. Channelling my inner-lemming, it's in the extended entry, and I've bolded the ones I actually like (or can at least tolerate).
1. We Built This City ... Starship
2. Achy Breaky Heart ... Billy Ray Cyrus
3. Everybody Have Fun Tonight ... Wang Chung
4. Rollin' ... Limp Bizkit
5. Ice Ice Baby ... Vanilla Ice
6. The Heart of Rock & Roll ... Huey Lewis and the News
7. Don't Worry, Be Happy ... Bobby McFerrin
8. Party All the Time ... Eddie Murphy
9. American Life ... Madonna
10. Ebony and Ivory ... Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
11. Invisible ... Clay Aiken
12. Kokomo ... The Beach Boys
13. Illegal Alien ... Genesis
14. From a Distance ... Bette Midler
15. I'll Be There for You ... The Rembrandts
16. What's Up? ... 4 Non Blondes
17. Pumps and a Bump ... Hammer
18. You're the Inspiration ... Chicago
19. Broken Wings ... Mr. Mister
20. Dancing on the Ceiling ... Lionel Richie
21. Two Princes ... Spin Doctors hey, the Second Prince wants to buy you rockets
22. Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) ... Toby Keith
23. Sunglasses at Night ... Corey Hart
24. Superman ... Five for Fighting
25. I'll Be Missing You ... Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
26. The End ... The Doors
27. The Final Countdown ... Europe
28. Your Body Is a Wonderland ... John Mayer
29. Breakfast at Tiffany's ... Deep Blue Something
30. Greatest Love of All ... Whitney Houston
31. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm ... Crash Test Dummies
32. Will 2K ... Will Smith
33. Barbie Girl ... Aqua
34. Longer ... Dan Fogelberg
35. Shiny Happy People ... R.E.M.
36. Make Em Say Uhh! ... Master P featuring Silkk, Fiend, Mia-X and Mystikal
37. Rico Suave ... Gerardo
38. Cotton Eyed Joe ... Rednex
39. She Bangs ... Ricky Martin
40. I Wanna Sex You Up ... Color Me Badd
41. We Didn't Start the Fire ... Billy Joel
42. The Sound of Silence ... Simon & Garfunkel
43. Follow Me ... Uncle Kracker
44. I'll Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) ... Meat Loaf
45. Mesmerize ... Ja Rule featuring Ashanti
46. Hangin' Tough ... New Kids on the Block
47. The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You ... Bryan Adams
48. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da ... The Beatles
49. I'm Too Sexy ... Right Said Fred
50. My Heart Will Go On ... Celine Dion
Via Fark (thanks to Mookie for pointing it out).
We were supposed to be released from work today at 3pm because of tomorrow's inauguration ceremonies. Instead, this morning we got an inch or two of snow which caused a panic and we were released at 1pm.
So was everyone else it seems.
Three freakin' hours on the commute home. My forty-minute cruise to go 26 miles turned into a neverending slow-motion journey thanks to several nitwits in tricked-out piece-of-shit Hondas (or similar) who believed that physics didn't apply to them. As I finally drove past the multi-car wreck they caused, I could tell that at least two of the cars wouldn't be taking to the roads anytime soon. With any luck they weren't insured either, so it'll take even longer to save their pennies to get their homey-mobiles rolling again. Assholes.
That's me. Scott and Eileen are planning a one-year tour of the US, taking the backroads and poking into all the little odd nooks and crannies of our country.
From their FAQ:
Why are you doing this? Two reasons. One, to explore the less-charted areas of America and capture what we find in words, still photography, and moving images. Two, to audition thousands of small American towns for the role of our new hometown. At the end of our trip, we'll choose one of them as the place to start a family.
Like CG Hill of Dustbury, I'll be adding them to the blogroll (eventually) so I can keep an eye out on their progress.
In England, bar and pub owners are being advised to spray their toilet seat lids and covers with WD-40. Seems that patrons like to use the smooth surfaces to snort cocaine from.
"A chemical reaction takes place with the cocaine that causes it to congeal and become a mess so it's unusable," a police spokesman said. "It's one very small, very cheap way in which you can very seriously restrict the amount of drug use in your premises."
The manufacturer of WD-40 has already issued a statement reminding folks that WD-40 should not be ingested (it's right there on the can), but you just know some half-drunk yahoo is gonna do it anyways and the result will be an injury (real or lawyer-real) and, well, you know what comes next.
Over on the right, plus the archive of all taglines that have appeared is here.
Ho Tep: 1. Relative or descendant of the 17 Egyptian Dynasties, 3100-1550 B.C. 2. Family surname of an Egyptian pharaoh (king).
Bubba: 1. Male from the Southern U.S. 2. Good ole boy. 3. Cracker, red neck, trailer park resident.
We had a mini Bruce Campbell movie marathon last weekend, culminating in our first viewing of Bubba Ho-Tep. Basic storyline:
Elvis (played by Bruce Campbell) is still alive and living in a nursing home in Texas. He had switched places with an Elvis impersonator years before when he got tired of all the hype and burdens of his celebrity. Also living in the nursing home is John F. Kennedy, who's being kept hidden there by the government. His disguise is so complete that they made him black (played by Ossie Davis). These two elderly gentlemen must team up to defeat an ancient Egyptian mummy who's killing the residents of their nursing home.
Keep that in mind, because they play this movie absolutely straight within the parameters of that backdrop.
In other words, this is not the movie that you expect to see. Given the plot, you ready yourself for horror served up with a thick frosting of comedic farce. Instead, what you get is a surprisingly introspective and complex look at life. At the start, Elvis is just existing, and doesn't really start to live until JFK piques his curiosity about the mysterious deaths happening in the home. Yes, there is a mummy and he's killing elderly residents and that's central to the plot, but it also manages to be peripheral to the real story of two old guys taking control of their lives again and standing up for what they know is right.
This is a low-budget indie film, but thankfully most of the money was spent on casting and not special effects. Campbell's Elvis is subtle and brilliant, and Ossie Davis's JFK is eminently dignified, yet occasionally there are lapses that make you wonder if he's not just a mentally unstable old man. Besides Campbell and Davis, Ella Joyce (who co-starred in television's Rock) plays the nurse who takes care of Elvis. Her character is at once professional and compassionate, and she manages to portray the weary detachment of one who's spent too long taking care of and watching the elderly die without completely burying her affection for those under her care. One of the administrators is played by Reggie Bannister, who you might remember as the guitar-strumming tuning-fork-wielding ice-cream dude from Phantasm.
The movie is based on the novella by Joe Lansdale and according to what I've heard remained faithful to the original work.
A funny moment was when Elvis and JFK were talking about the mummy and how he was a "soul sucker". This made me think of another Elvis-themed movie (but I couldn't remember the title). In that flick, a teenage rocker kidnaps Elvis for his mom's birthday because she's a huge fan. In that movie the little sister sleeps with the lights on because she's afraid of "the slimy soul sucker". When I mentioned it to my wife, she immediately knew the movie and title (Heartbreak Hotel).
Back to Bubba. The plot makes sense in the context of the background story, with plenty of wry little twists and snicker-inducing moments. The special effects aren't awful, and at times they're pretty darn good. The ending was a little hokey, but it matched the tone of the rest of the movie.
On to the DVD itself. I got the collectors edition for Christmas, and the extra features are wonderful. There's a "music video" that basically highlights the guy who did all the music, and he did a helluva job too. Remember the low-budget that these guys worked with? There isn't a single actual Elvis song in the movie, but you don't even realize it until after it's over, and it isn't because the sound track is full of soundalike crap. There are two commentary tracks, the first with the producer and Bruce Campbell talking about the making of the film (very nice), and the second with "the King" providing his insights as the story unfolds (lame). There are a few other extras included too.
I had an Atari 800. Went into hock to pay for that pitiful thing, but man was it great. Two of my favorite games for it were SCRAM, a nuclear power-plant simulation, and an Avalon Hill (I think) wargame where you built up a military industrial complex until one side attacked and then you nuked it out. Think Battleship, the Armageddon edition.
The Atari was also the last PC that I knew intimately. In those days if you wanted to do anything beyond primitive BASIC gaming you had to be familiar with the chipsets and command sets available. Hell, I wrote a simple parser/compiler and a disk drive controller using BASIC.
The "bible" for Atari geeks like me was called De Re Atari. All About Atari. I owned a copy, well worn in a 3-ring binder. It's cool that you can still reference it, but now it's online.
For Christmas I bought my wife a serger (fancy type of sewing machine). Last night she asked me for parachute patterns so she can practice on that pile o' ripstop nylon I bought.
I love it when a plan comes together.
A comparison between the murder rates of Iraq and Chicago. Sure, it's just fun with numbers, but that doesn't mean a pearl of wisdom isn't hiding in there.
Found via Diplomad.
Blaxploitation.com: A Soulful Tribute.
Esa Tikkanen spent two decades in the NHL and now he hopes to become a coach. Since the NHL lockout drags on (and on and on and on), he's taken a player/coach position in the new Asian hockey league, with the South Korean team Halla. The league consists of teams from Japan, South Korea, Russia and China.
In less happy news:
The NHL's official puck supplier has laid off half its staff, a result of the hockey lockout that entered its 123rd day on Sunday.
InGlasCo, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, laid off 20 of about 40 employees from a plant that normally produces about 300,000 pucks and souvenirs for the 30 NHL teams.
"The business has been down since September, we haven't shipped anything to any NHL teams, no souvenir or licensed products"
Yet another group of people directly impacted by millionaires having a biggest-dick contest.
Hasbro Toys is ready to roll out a new Mr. Potato Head line, this time tying into the Star Wars franchise.
May the force be with Sheila O'Malley for pointing that out.
We're using a LinkSys router/switch for our in-home network, and it's been absolutely trouble-free since we got it a couple of years ago. We've also gone to some trouble to run cat-5 cable into the upper floor of the house.
Lately we've been talking about getting a laptop and how nice it would be to have a wireless connection for it. I don't want to go completely wireless because we do some things on the net I'd rather not have go out into the ether, so what I'm looking for is a router/switch that is both wireless but has at least 2 ports to accept cat-5 cable. Anyone know of anything to fit those specs? Recommendations?
Rand Simberg, over at Transterrestrial Musings, reminds us that one year ago President Bush announced his vision for the American efforts in space. Follow the link and read the impressions and insights from someone actively involved in the process. Here's a teaser:
NASA has moved forward in implementing it, with a new Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, with a new and apparently able man in charge (Admiral Steidle, of Joint-Strike Fighter fame). After the recent election, he (along with Tom Delay) ensured that it received full funding for the current fiscal year (in the face of budget cuts for almost all other domestic programs). Exploration architecture studies were let, technology studies have been selected, and an RFP is about to be released for the first phase of development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Quietly, they've been making the vision a reality.
It's probably just me. I have an obvious fondness for B-movies, so maybe it's easier for me to overlook the glaring flaws present in most of these cheesy goodies. And it annoys the hell out of me when some critic-wannabe overanalyzes a B-movie to the point of taking all the fun out of it.
You may remember the small debate Victor and I had over the movie Starship Troopers. He even went so far as to rename it Earth vs. Soup so as not to influence his critque by comparing it to the book (one of my all-time favorites).
Victor shredded the movie in his review (parts 1 and 2 - worth reading). I'm ok with that because Starship Troopers was not a B-movie. A major studio made the movie, using a top-flight director and talent with name recognition. They spent oodles of money on special effects. This movie was meant to be a blockbuster. Only problem is, they screwed up the story so bad that not only did they alienate Heinlein purists, but the end result wasn't even a very good flick. Each and every point Victor brought up was correct. I still liked the movie though.
So that's kind of the way I watch my movies, and it most certainly colors my perception when I review them. If you follow my recommendations, most of the time you won't see a great movie, sometimes it's not even a good movie. I try to be up front about that though. The key to enjoying these is to just *enjoy* them, and don't expect brilliance. But you'll also be surprised at how often you underestimate them too.
Ok, rant over. What kind of fired that up was watching a couple of old Bela Lugosi flicks, writing the reviews below, and then checking out what others have to say on the net (mostly IMDB). I usually do that, putting my own thoughts down before reading the other reviews. So anyways, on to the fun...
But when the doc opens his mouth to speak, what comes out is Dracula, "I vant you to take two of these und call me in ze morning."
Bela Lugosi is cast as the doctor in The Devil Bat, a little gem released in 1940. The plot is fun and has some inspired ideas, but don't think it's going to make a lot of sense.
By this stage of Legosi's career, he was pretty much stuck in B-movies, although it would be quite some time before he was reduced to appearances in Ed Wood films. In addition, the quality of the film bore no relation to the performance he gave. He was always 'on', no matter how lousy the script or supporting performances. Bela Lugosi's acting ranged from brilliant to over-the-top ham, and he appeared in few really 'good' movies, in large part because he never toned down his accent (he didn't try very hard either).
Back to the movie. Bela, er, Doc Carruthers isn't just a beloved doctor, he's an expert chemist who created a formula which made his bosses rich. He missed out on the big bucks because he sold the rights for cash. Being bitter, he develops another formula, this one designed to enrage giant bats to the point of attacking whoever is wearing it.
What giant bats, you say? Why, the giant bats that Doc is creating in his lab. He tricks selected victims into trying the new 'after shave' and then tsk-tsks over the body when found with their throat ripped out.
Lugosi is wonderful to watch, and you can even get past the ridiculous farce of the heavily-accented "Doc" (although I did chuckle through the first third of the movie every time he spoke). The newspaper photographer, One-Shot, is a hoot, in a 1940's kind of way.
Here's a lovely bit of surreal dialog between the Chief of Police and the newspaper reporter:
reporter: So what are you holding back?
chief: Oh no, I'm not trusting a reporter with details!
reporter: Chief, I promise to help solve this case.
chief: Ok then, we've got this one clue that we've kept secret...
This one is big fun.
Trivia: Dave O'Brien, who played the reporter, appeared in almost 200 B-movies, mostly westerns. His cinematic talents also included directing (43 movies), writing (31 movies), stunt work and songwriting! For all that, he's best remembered as one of the dope-smoking teen fiends in the classic cult-propaganda flick Reefer Madness.
The second Bela Lugosi flick is The Invisible Ghost. I'm going to put the synopsis from the box here:
In the effort to ease the pain of losing his wife, Kessler (Lugosi) submits to hypnosis therapy. But the hypnosis causes Kessler to have lapses of memory followed by a rash of murders - all which seem to be fulfilling the vendetta of his late wife.
There's more, but this is enough. The description above was written by someone who never saw the movie or badly confused it with something else. There's nothing in the flick about hypnosis, and as to the vendetta, well, the movie never mentions any vendetta (and his wife isn't very 'late' either, if you know what I mean). Even the title bears little relation to the actual movie.
Even so, this is another fun movie. Bela Lugosi again steals the show in every scene except when the butler Evans in onscreen. Evans was played by black actor Clarence Muse, and his character defied the stereotypes of the day, being intelligent and dignified, often moreso than the rest of the cast. He's a delight, especially when he makes wry comments during the goings on.
So yes, I recommend this movie too. After all, how often have you seen a movie where one of the lead actors gets executed in the electric chair before the film is half over? No clemency for him!
Trivia: Clarence Muse held a law degree from Pennsylvania's Dickerson University, and was one of the first inductees into the Black Filmmaker's Hall of Fame. In his long career, his film credits included roles in White Zombie, Huckleberry Finn, Showboat, Porgy and Bess, Car Wash and The Black Stallion.
They did it!!!! On the surface and good data being transmitted.
Or more properly, cooking with the dog.
It doesn't matter what I'm making, the dogs love to be in the kitchen when I cook. They have several routines that they alternate between, trying to find one that might lead to treats being distributed. Outright begging isn't allowed, so they try the "I'm so cute" look or the "poor starving puppy" routine or my favorite, the "how can I help, Dad?" look. Sam actually smiles, showing front teeth like a people in his effort to be helpful. Trix is like that painfully earnest child who tries too hard.
Get past the attempted persuasion though, and I think I've got them figured out. They always have two suggestions for every recipe.
1. More hamburger.
2. Needs gravy.
All night long. This morning I stepped in a poodle.
Over at Unscrewing the Inscrutable, DarkSyd is keeping us space geeks up to date on the descent to Titan's surface.
Liz got this in email and couldn't wait to share it with me.
Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy
Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime
A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need.
GENERAL EQUATIONS & STATISTICS
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.
Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
PROPENSITY TO CHANGE
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED
Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.
With all the beautiful warm weather we've been having, the freaking mosquito's have come out in force.
Tomorrow it drops below freezing again and it's gonna be a bloodsucking slaughter. Heh.
Ignore the stupid "suicide" headline, that's just some idiot editor trying to punch up a story that doesn't need it.
Launched in 1997, the joint NASA/ESA probes have finally arrived at Saturn after taking the roundabout route.
On a 2.1-billion-kilometer (1.3-billion-mile) trek, it looped twice around the Sun, twice around Venus, once around Earth and once round Jupiter, picking up gravity "assists" that, like a slingshot, helped it build up enough speed to reach the outer Solar System.
It's been sailing away for seven plus years, usefully whipping around all sorts of system objects, and now it's going to be right where we want it. Precision enough to take your breath away.
On Christmas day, the Huyjens probe separated from Cassini and began it's solo journey to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. Titan is interesting because it's got an atmosphere. A thick atmosphere and real clouds.
"Titan has a very thick nitrogen atmosphere which also contains lots of methane, and where you see methane you have complex organic (carbon) chemistry," Huygens project manager Jean-Pierre Lebreton told AFP from mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.
"We suspect that Titan's atmosphere is undergoing the same type of chemical reactions that took place on Earth way before life appeared. These precursors are called prebiotic chemistry, in other words, the chemistry which took place on Earth before the emergence of life."
The Huygens probe will begin its descent into the Titan atmosphere around 9am EST tomorrow. It'll spend over four hours under parachute, transmitting pictures and all the measurements it can gather to the Cassini probe in orbit around Saturn. The scientists are hoping that the probe will continue to transmit even after landing on the surface of Titan.
Once Huyjens goes quiet sometime tomorrow afternooon, Cassini will transmit all of the collected scientific goodness back to Earth and then continue it's own mapping of the Saturn system for at least another three years.
Huygens is named after the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, who discovered Titan in 1655. Cassini's name comes from the Italian Jean-Dominique Cassini (1625-1712), who discovered the Saturnian satellites Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys and Dione. In 1675, he discovered what is called the "Cassini Division," the gap between Saturn's rings.
5. Conclude each story with comical "Boing" sound effect.
That's a no-brainer.
Here's the first sentence of the first post made during each month of 2004, kinda like a Reader's Digest condensed version of Rocket Jones:
The Redskins fired
Barney RubbleSteve Spurrier.
I'm awake, and I'm one unhappy camper.
Ultimate Band List is a site with tons of information and links to official band website and fansites.
March 2004 will go down in the family history as one rotten month all around.
Might post more this evening.
I had one of those oddly productive weekends where you look back and say "wow, I got a lot done!"
Since there's been such a hue and cry (translation: nobody asked) about the secret identities of our intrepid NogMeisters, I've decided to give some clues about who they are and what they look like.
Here's your chance to write cheers for the Hot Jets cheerleaders!
As usual, the people hosting BattlePark ran a great event.
Since everyone missed it in the Blogger Bowl post below, here is an explicit link to my newest fans: Rats for Rockets.
So let's see...
May and November referred to rocket launches, August, October and December talked about sports and the fantasy football league, while January combined sports and Redskins-bashing. The nog was mentioned in July, and September was a movie reference. Tack on the link to some interesting place on the net from March and that's not a bad description of this place, eh? Not bad at all.
Last week it was reported that the attack sub USS San Fransisco was returning to harbor after a mishap while underway. One sailor was dead and more than twenty were injured, some seriously.
Interested Participant has links to updated information, and it looks like the initial reports were understated.
The USS San Francisco hit an uncharted undersea mountain "incredibly hard" and, contrary to a previously reported 23, about 60 crew members were injured. The submarine was traveling at high speed when it hit, sustaining significant bow damage which caused flooding in the sonar dome and ballast tanks.
New reports indicate the collision slowed the boat from a speed of 30 knots to about 4 knots almost instantly. I can't even imagine how the crew felt as they fought to save their boat.
He's currently resting in Jamaica, but his wife is making plans to exhume his remains and have them reburied in Ethiopia, his spiritual home.
Doesn't matter where his physical presence is, his music lives on.
Religious action figures, courtesy of the Jesus Christ Superstore!
Thanks to Rambling's Journal for the pointer. For the record, I agree with him when he says this is so over-the-top that it's meant to offend everybody. Check out their version of the Last Supper!
Or in this case, the old workplace.
I worked in the building across the street for several years, but now they're demolishing it. They've spent several weeks gutting the interiors, and yesterday started in with the wrecking ball.
My old office is a balcony.
Riding a rocket has been described as "sitting on top of a fuel tank that's exploding in a carefully controlled manner". That's not precisely accurate, but it's not far off either. It should be no surprise that astronauts have dealt with the pressures using humor.
Before the flight of Apollo 17, Gene Cernan asked the wife of Don Evans for advice on how to wake the deep sleeper. "All I do is give him a kiss", she replied. Always ready with a joke, Cernan reported that after eight days of flight "he did start to get pretty good-looking".
The last words spoken from the moon also came from Cernan: "OK, let's get this mother out of here".
The crew of Apollo 8 read from Genesis while in lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, and when a Japanese correspondent found a Gideon Bible in his hotel room he reported that "NASA Public Affairs is very efficient - they had a mission transcript waiting in my hotel room."
Apollo 9. After jettisoning the lunar module, one of the astronauts mentioned to ground control that they hoped they hadn't left anything aboard it. Ground control asked if that meant they hoped they hadn't left the LM pilot aboard. Astronaut James McDivitt replied "I didn't forget him -- I left him there on purpose..."
Shuttle mission STS41-C - The mission was originally numbered STS-13. The crew's alternate patch flaunted the 'Apollo 13 curse' by showing a black cat, the number 13 and a Shuttle flying from underneath the cat.
Mercury mission MA-8. Deke Slayton tried to trip Wally Schirra up with "Are you a turtle today?" on open comm (the reply must be 'you bet your sweet ass I am'). Later, in orbit over Ecuador, the ground controller insisted that Schirra say "Buenos dias", and Schirra replied with an exagerated "Buenos dias, y'all".
Mercury MA-3 (first US manned flight). During the press conference after the flight, John Glenn noted that Alan Shepard, who's suborbital lob came between the flight of the chimpanzee Enos and Glenn's pending orbital flight, represented the "missing link between ape and man". Shepard received $14.38 in Navy flight pay for his fifteen minutes aloft.
Apollo 16. Astronaut Charlie Duke had been hypnotized to keep him from using his customary cuss words while being broadcast live from the moon, which led to his constant singing to compensate.
I don't know if this is supposed to be funny or not, but it's so typically Russian:
Khrushchev was removed from power while the crew of Voskhod1 was in orbit, and the crew was cryptically informed that "there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy."
Thanks to Encyclopedia Astronautica for most of these.
Love in the bayou...
Pit Bulls and Chain Saws - Bellamy Brothers
Well I met a real beauty down in Baton Rouge
She stole away my heart with some black voodoo
I followed her home like a man in a trance
She started getting weird and went into her dance
A witchy little woman with some character flaws
She loves pit bulls and chain saws
Now it didn't take long for me to find that door
But she locked it up tight so I couldn't go far
Her momma cast a spell and her daddy threw a curse
And my whole day went from bad to worse
And what came next was the very last straw
She loves pit bulls and chain saws
Well the dogs are howlin', the saws are rippin'
Rats are flying and the cats tail whippin'
She's cooking up a love potion in the kitchen
I hate to leave but I gotta be zippin'
When they found me I was high in a cypress tree
Her brother sawed it down while she chanted over me
Under heavy pressure we were married that night
Now we live in the swamp in our own doublewide
Just look at me now I'm having a ball
With my pit bulls and chain saws
I got 'em cheap from my brother-in-law
Pit bulls and chain saws.
The takeover was pretty darn hostile, but Oracle finally absorbed PeopleSoft. Now they're announcing immediate layoffs, and rumors hold it could be up to half of the original PeopleSoft workforce.
I've dealt with PeopleSoft products and they're less than impressive, in a violently inhaled cave-in-your-cheeks sort of way. Bitter? Nahhhhhh.
(in the extended entry)
Q: Which of these four things doesn't belong on this list?
eggs, meat, dog, blowjob
A: You can beat eggs, and you can beat your meat. You can even beat your dog, but you can't beat a blowjob!
A friend had to go fill the little cup as part of getting fitted for a new workplace, and it reminded me of my military days.
As Security Policemen, and especially since we worked around nuclear weapons, we were regularly tested for drugs. Later in my career, after transferring into computers, they went to more of a lottery system. Every month they would draw 1 or 2 or 3 numbers randomly, and anyone who's social security number ended with that number went in for the ol' golden flow. They claimed it was random, but the same 'suspected' people were tested pretty much continuously. A friend and I volunteered to help out at the Special Olympics one year and got really nice event t-shirts. We tie-dyed them and wore them to a unit picnic, after which we were immediately called in for urinalysis.
Rumor had it that there were certain "signs" to look for to uncover the dopers. Among them were hippy clothes (tie-dye, peace signs, Grateful Dead shirts, etc), and hair parted in the middle. Seriously. Seriously stupid.
Anyways, as a cop we were required to show up for work at least a half hour early to draw our weapons and gear. A few carried .38 revolvers (this was pre-9mm days), a few lugged around the M60 machine gun or the M203 grenade launcher/M16 combo, but most of us carried the regular M16. So we'd draw weapons and ammo and get ready for our inspection before going on duty, called "guardmount".
Usually, guardmount was held in a small room right next to the armory. We'd get the daily passwords, any special notices and news to be aware of, changes in assignments, plus an inspection of our bad little selves. Hair, uniform, equipment, etc. You've seen similar on television on most every cop show from Hill Street Blues to Reno 911.
If there was to be a larger formation or if the higher ups wanted to talk to us, then we'd have to trudge across the street to the cop headquarters building. They had a larger guardmount room there.
One morning, after working a midnight shift, we were told to report across the street for formation. This news was met with boos and grumbling, because we just wanted to turn in our shit and go home.
A lot of cops (me included) made a quick pit stop before heading over for the formation. You can see where this is going, right?
Yep. We lined up and they informed us that it was time for a surprise urinalysis test. They were lucky that we'd already turned in our weapons, because there was murder in our eyes. We couldn't leave until we peed, and many of us had just gone a few minutes before.
Tired and irate, that described us. When we railed at them for not giving us 10 minutes warning, they suggested that we drink water and/or lots of coffee. That was reasonable, but screw that, if they didn't want to be reasonable, we weren't going to be either. It didn't take long to realize that they couldn't leave until we all took the test too. A lot of us refused to drink anything (we had to go to bed, who wanted to be up running to the bathroom every half hour?). It finally devolved into them waking us up every half hour to ask us if we were ready, and gradually our numbers thinned out as nature took its course. Four hours later the last cop filled his little plastic cup, snapped the lid on and handed it over. We never had another "surprise" inspection like that again.
So says Paul over at Sanity's Edge. Right out there in the open too, not all hidden in the comments or in an extended entry.
Long story short: Paul was looking for a new quote for his sidebar and decided to make it a contest. Lots of great entries, but mine won. Because I'm a
f*cking cheater genius.
Just to prove there's no hard feelings between myself and the little people, I'll bestow links. Dortch. Shank. Oorgo. Casey. Jim. I'll do more than that, I'll even recommend them because they're smart people (even though none of them link to Rocket Jones dammit (except for Jim)). I know they're smart because they read Paul, and Paul's obviously a genius.
It takes one to know one.
The guys over at RNS have been on a roll the last few days, and have something worth reading every day.
From Mom, a really funny joke. Too true by half too.
They also link to a guy who acts unprofessional. I'd seen this the other day and meant to link to it, but forgot. Do yourself a favor and go read it now. Really.
Someday the shit might hit the fan where you live, in a big way. Are you prepared for that day? Have you ever even given it some thought? Check out "For Ourselves, By Ourselves". That link is to the 4th part, and there are links there to the first three parts. Most of the time I throw these links around and don't really expect many folks to click them, but... well, I'd go so far as to say it's required reading.
There's a regular over at RNS name of Rivrdog, who has his own site. Good stuff there. Drop by and look around. He posts boobs too.
NEW YORK (AP) - Four CBS executives were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation into a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story about President Bush's military service that relied on forged documents.
The network fired Mary Mapes, producer of the report; Josh Howard, executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" and his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.
From The Sporting News:
... as if the NHL hasn't had enough bad publicity in recent months, BusinessWeek magazine has named [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman one of the worst managers in the United States in 2004.
In selecting Bettman to this list, the magazine cited the "shambles" of the NHL's and the "weak TV deal" he signed last June with NBC, leading to the conclusion that the NHL was now "a second-tier sport" in the United States.
It's unknown what Bettman's opinion is of this dubious honor, but there are more than a few NHL players and fans that consider BusinessWeek's assessment of the commissioner to be quite accurate.
The NHL gets a huge boost every four years come Olymipics time, and people know about the "Miracle on Ice". Thanks to inept marketing and a refusal to adapt the rules to correct readily apparent problems with game play, the NHL has squandered every chance to become a major sport in the US.
So how does the well-connected fan channel his frustration over the labor impasse? This guy bought Hockey cards. Problem is, he used a government credit card to do it.
Donald Billing, a former director of Measurement Canada, was charged with 11 counts of fraud. Police say he used government credit cards to buy hockey cards valued at approximately C$185,000 ($150,000), and tried to pass off the purchases as office supplies.
He's Canadian, so the NHL strike just has to be a mitigating circumstance, right?
What luck! This site just happens to sell swords (and other weapons) of all kinds.
They call it the Hot Lix Tequila Lollipop, I call it a bug sucker. It's a tequila flavored sucker with a real worm embedded inside.
I got it as a gift, and it's too unique to actually eat. That's my
excuse story and I'm sticking to it.
America's initial manned program was project Mercury, where each flight carried a single astronaut. Early on, after the decision to go to the moon had been made, work was begun on the Apollo spacecraft, which were designed for three astronauts. Along the way it was decided that an intermediate program was needed, hence the Gemini program was born. As indicated by the program name, Gemini carried two astronauts. Since it began after the other programs, the Gemini spacecraft were actually more technologically advanced than the following Apollo capsules which went to the moon.
In football, playoffs are those extra games at the end of the year between all the teams in the league who win enough games. They use the playoff games to figure out who the best team is that season.
I know some Washington Redskins fans are confused as to why some teams are still playing. In recent seasons, the Redskins have sometimes stopped playing football as early as October.
This was posted back in July of 2003 at my old Blogspot site and inexplicably never made it over during the migration to Munu. I'll repost it here and now pretty much as it originally appeared.
We got a phone call from our son yesterday. He’s in Greece, doing the Med tour with his boat (submarines are referred to as ‘boats’, all other commissioned vessels are ‘ships’), loving Navy life and doing great. [Our son is out of the Navy now, but still doing fine - RJ]
Last night I started randomly googling around with the word ‘submarine’ and got to wondering about the method the US uses to name our subs. Here’s a little bit about what I found.
Before WWII, all US subs were basically numbered by type, so you had the O-25, the R-14, and the S-12. Militarily efficient, but not very inspiring.
In WWII, US submarines were named after fish and marine creatures. So we had cool scary names like the Barracuda, Stingray, and SeaDragon. We also had some less-than-fearsome names like the USS Plunger, Tuna, and Cod. We had a lot of submarines in WWII, and I guess we ran out of good names.
Since then, the Fast Attack boats have been named according to evolving custom, starting with the same fish and marine creatures, then moving on to Presidents, Admirals, and important Americans, for awhile cities and towns, and most recently to States (which used to be what we named Battleships for).
For the ‘boomers’ (missile boats), the evolution was from Presidents, to Distinguished Americans, and now States of the Union. There was a time when you knew a ship’s function by it’s name; the Iowa and Texas were battleships, the Helena and Indianapolis were cruisers. It's not that cut and dried anymore.
While poking around, I saw among the USN Ballistic Missile Submarine force the Lafayette (SSBN 616), Tecumseh (SSBN 628), Von Steuben (SSBN 632), Casimir Pulaski (SSBN 633), Simon Bolivar (SSBN 641), and the Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN 658). There is also a Fast Attack boat named the Kamehameha (SSN 642). Not all of these boats are still in service since the average lifespan of US submarines appears to be around 30 years.
The names may be familiar, in a vague sort of way. But what did they do that was important enough for us to name ships (er, boats) after them? Click on the names for more complete biographies.
The Marquis de Lafayette was a French soldier and statesman who played an important part in the American Revolutionary War.
One of the great leaders of the American Indian tribes. A member of the Shawnee, he worked to unite the Indian nations against the encroaching white man.
Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben was a Prussian soldier who came to America to help in the war against Britain. He was instrumental in turning Washington’s ragtag band of revolutionaries into an army, introducing techniques of training that are still used today.
Polish officer who is known as the Father of American Cavalry, he helped organize and train troops for General Washington. He trained the father of Robert E. Lee in cavalry tactics.
This one has me a little stumped. Basically his claim to fame – as far as the US Navy is concerned – is that he traveled through the US soon after the war of independence, which may have inspired him to liberate South America. He is sometimes called the ‘George Washington of South America’. I’ll keep looking for the tie-in, unless ‘prominent Americans’ extends to the whole of the Americas (USS Carmen Miranda anyone?).
Mariano G. Vellejo
Born in Mexico, he considered himself a Californian above all else. He played an important part in the development of the California territory and it’s eventual inclusion into the United States.
A dynasty of Hawaiian monarchs. I always thought it was just one King.
I’ll be looking up some of the other, less well-known historical figures later and I’ll link to their biographies as well.
According to this site, it's possible that in the John Wayne movie Rio Grande, you can see a UFO in the background over the Duke's shoulder.
J-Walk Blog is a nifty place to visit because he updates frequently during the day and it's often a link to something really cool.
Two recent examples:
Use your mouse to write your name in the snow. Don't worry about running out if you've got a long name, because your capacity is virtually (ahem) unlimited.
Someone's collection of unusual LP cover art. I love this kind of kitsch!
I've mentioned album covers before at Rocket Jones too.
See a little of the ol' slap and tickle, Lego style. I especially like the lego dude with the camera, it adds an authentic sleazy touch.
Be warned though, the guy that did the site is seriously sick.
All images courtesy of NASA and are clickable for larger versions.
The Little Joe rockets were essential to the success of the US space programs, yet very few people know about them.
There were two basic models, known appropriately enough as Little Joe I and Little Joe II. Little Joe I was designed to test the emergency escape system of the Mercury capsules that would ride atop Atlas and later Redstone rockets. Little Joe II performed the same missions for the Apollo program.
The escape system itself was simple in concept, but depended on a complex sequence of events, so inflight testing was deemed necessary. Attached to the nose of the capsule was a framework with the escape rocket mounted at the very top. The escape rocket was a small but powerful solid fuel rocket with three exhaust bells canted out at an angle so that the flames didn't hit the capsule. The rocket burned for one second. On later Apollo's, a fifth rocket was added to the escape tower that fired directly sideways to push the capsule out of the way of the rocket it had been riding. The towers also carried a jettison rocket that ejected the tower away from the capsule once the boost phase of the flight was completed and the escape system was no longer needed.
Because each flight tested different aspects of the escape system, there was no standard configuration of the Little Joe rockets beyond the basic model. Various combinations of Pollux, Castor and small Recruit solid fuel motors were clustered together to craft a specific desired flight profile, and control ranged from simple fins to movable rudder surfaces or additional helper rockets designed to impart spin or other dynamic forces during flight. Each flight of a Little Joe I rocket could be accomplished for about 1/5 the cost of an Atlas flight.
The first Little Joe I launch was to take place from Wallops Island, Virginia in August, 1959. About a half hour before the scheduled takeoff, the escape rocket unexpectedly fired and carried the capsule to an altitude of about 2000 feet. The problem was traced to an electrical transient in the system that caused a premature abort signal. Even so, the escape sequence worked almost perfectly.
In October, 1959 the first Little Joe I flight took place from Wallops. Because the Little Joe flights were numbered according to mission goals and not chronologically, the first mission was LJ-6. This flight lifted a boilerplate Mercury capsule to an altitude of 40 miles and proved that the Little Joe rockets were suitable for the test series.
The fourth Little Joe I launch tested the system at max-Q (maximum dynamic pressue) while carrying Miss Sam, a rhesus monkey*. At 9 miles altitude, the escape rocket fired and carried the capsule safely away from the rocket. Both Miss Sam and the capsule were recovered in perfect condition. In fact, at the later beach party it was agreed that the flight didn't affect the taste of the monkey meat at all (just kidding, checking to see who's paying attention).
The last of eight flights involved an actual malfunction of the Little Joe I rocket, yet the capsule was recovered in good shape. The series proved that the Mercury escape system would be effective in saving the astronaut's lives if called upon.
As for the how the rockets got their name, the original plans for the design showed four holes in a square pattern on the bottom where the booster motors would be attached. This pattern reminded the designers of the game of craps, where rolling the dice and getting a pair of dueces was called "little joe". The name stuck.
Part 2 covering the Little Joe II will be posted shortly.
Much of this material comes from Peter Alway's invaluable Rockets of the World, 3rd edition. Highly recommended.
*Corrections: Miss Sam was the monkey who flew on the fourth Little Joe I flight. Sam, her male counterpart, made the flight on the 3rd launch of the Little Joe I. Both emerged from their test flights in fine shape, and Sam experienced 3 minutes of weightlessness at his apogee of 53 miles.
I'm sure this has been all over the net and email, but what the heck.
(in the extended entry)
50. Act Naturally
49. Found Missing
48. Resident Alien
47. Advanced BASIC
46. Genuine Imitation
45. Designer Jeans
44. Good Grief
43. Same Difference
42. Almost Exactly
41. Government Organization
40. Sanitary Landfill
39. Alone Together
38. Legally Drunk
37. Silent Scream
36. British Fashion
35. Living Dead
34. Small Crowd
33. Business Ethics
32. Soft Rock
31. Butt Head
30. Military Intelligence
29. Software Documentation
28. New York Culture
27. Extinct Life
26. Sweet Sorrow
24. "Now, then..."
23. Synthetic Natural Gas
22. Christian Scientists
21. Passive Aggression
20. Taped Live
19. Clearly Misunderstood
18. Peace Force
17. New Classic
16. Temporary Tax Increase
15. Jumbo Shrimp
14. Plastic Glasses
13. Terribly Pleased
12. Computer Security
11. Political Science
10. Tight Slacks
9. Definate Maybe
8. Pretty Ugly
7. Twelve Ounce Pound Cake
6. Diet Ice Cream
5. Rap Music
4. Working Vacation
3. Exact Estimate
2. Religious Tolerance
AND the Number One Top Oxymoron
1. Microsoft Works
Courtesy of the Mexican government, a comic book giving their citizens handy tips on dealing with their wanderlust and the gringos they'll encounter on the way.
I love the "translation" provided by the guys at Q&O, and they kept my blood pressure under control as well. You can probably guess what my reaction was when first hearing about this.
Each image is available for downloading in several sizes and resolutions, and also have additional information about the photos.
From the site description of this photo:
Dr. Robert H. Goddard at a blackboard at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1924. Goddard began teaching physics in 1914 at Clark and in 1923 was named the Director of the Physical Laboratory. In 1920 the Smithsonian Institution published his seminal paper A Method for Reaching Extreme Altitudes where he asserted that rockets could be used to send payloads to the Moon. Declaring the absurdity of rockets ever reaching the Moon, the press mocked Goddard and his paper, calling him "Moon Man." To avoid further scrutiny Goddard eventually moved to New Mexico where he could conduct his research in private. Dr. Goddard, died in 1945, but was probably as responsible for the dawning of the Space Age as the Wrights were for the beginning of the Air Age. Yet his work attracted little serious attention during his lifetime. However, when the United States began to prepare for the conquest of space in the 1950's, American rocket scientists began to recognize the debt owed to the New England professor. They discovered that it was virtually impossible to construct a rocket or launch a satellite without acknowledging the work of Dr. Goddard.
Check it out, tons of history and pictures.
I've been playing with more HTML and CSS over at the Skunkworks. Feedback appreciated, as always.
This site, SharkShock, has a bunch of cool fonts you can download for free. The link takes you to the main page, just click on the "font" button and become immersed in font-infested sharkness.
If you display an American flag at your house, replace it when it gets faded or worn. Check your phone book for a local American Legion or Veteran's of Foreign Wars (VFW) post and they'll take the old flag and dispose of it properly.
In fact, ask about attending a flag disposal ceremony. It's a stirring tribute to Old Glory, and something everyone should see at least once.
You may have seen their blogads on some sites, offering their "History of US Political Parties" posters. I was intrigued and followed the links and also found their "Race to the Moon" poster. Very cool.
Red, over at The Sheila Variations, points the way to an article that asks:
"WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS TRUE EVEN THOUGH YOU CANNOT PROVE IT?"
This very question was asked of 100 (in her words) "big brainiac-types" and they provided some truly thought-provoking answers and visions.
Right off the top of my head, I believe you should head over to The Sheila Variations and read her take on it, and then follow her link to the actual article. Cool stuff.
Immediate Update: Jay of Sophont has his take posted as well, including this dandy little snippet:
I believe in science. Unlike mathematical theorems, scientific results can't be proved.They can only be tested again and again, until only a fool would not believe them.
I cannot prove that electrons exist, but I believe fervently in their existence. And if you don't believe in them, I have a high voltage cattle prod I'm willing to apply as an argument on their behalf. Electrons speak for themselves.
That's a quote from Seth Lloyd, a Quantum Mechanical Engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I was recently watching Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama , and as they do occasionally there was a 'biography' feature on the DVD. Skimming the titles of the other movies done by the director and stars (yes, stars, show a little respect), I noticed that one of the ladies also had a role in the movie Body Double, a 'real' movie that I saw not too long ago.
Heading over to the Internet Movie Database, I discovered some interesting things about Ms. Brinke Stevens, who played the character Taffy in Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama.
After graduating with a double-major (biology and psychology) at San Diego State, she went on to earn a master's degree in marine biology from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
She also worked as an environmental consultant for a Southern California nuclear power plant, and all this was before becoming a model, actress, and, ultimately, scream queen.
She remains (refreshingly) unenhanced, although she is underendowed by Hollywood standards. (Rocket Jones official policy: Boob jobs bad.) This doesn't stop her from stripping down when her art requires it (yes, I said that with a straight face).
Her role in Body Double was as "Adult film actress #3". Many of her movie credits are direct to video schlock exploitation flicks, but she's tried to go mainstream more than once. She's had roles in The Three Amigo's, This Is Spinal Tap!, Psycho III and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, all uncredited.
Altogether she's appeared in over 90 movies, including two to be released in 2005. She also wrote and starred in Teenage Exorcist and Dr. Horror's Erotic House of Idiots, and produced a well-received series of video's where she interviews producers and directors of low-budget horror and exploitation films.
I like that. Find your talent and wallow in it, and if you can make a living at it, so much the better. And if you can't, you can always fall back on that education thing.
On Futurama, one of the newscasters is Morbo, an alien with a serious dislike for humans. When asked "how's the family?", he replies, "numerous and belligerent."
Oh yeah, every time.
I subscribe (free) to eMobie via my (free) Avant Go account so I can download and read up on the latest PDA tools and toys out there on the market. I highly recommend the site because it's chock full o' information and solid reviews. Once in a while though, it's nice to visit the actual site and see what's not included in the digest version.
For instance, this:
What Is BlueJacking?!
When two Bluetooth devices get within 10 metres of each other, they can be linked together wirelessly. Unlike an infrared link, Bluetooth doesn’t require a line of sight connection. Bluetooth was originally envisioned as a “wireless cable replacement,” to connect to phones, printers, and other peripherals. It has also been used to beam business cards, text files, and applications from one PDA to another. Recently, users of these devices have found a new way to use this technology, which they call “bluejacking!”
Bluejacking is where people with Bluetooth-enabled phones and PDAs send anonymous messages to those with similar phones/PDAs nearby. The purpose behind this craze is to un-nerve other Bluetooth users and have a little fun. For example, if you’re riding the underground and you see another PDA user, you might send them a comment about the clothes they are wearing, or the book they are carrying. Don’t send anything ominous or nasty—just a simple message that lets them know your there. It might lead to an interesting conversation.
It’s actually quite easy to bluejack. Open Contacts and create a new entry with the phrase “You’ve been bluejacked” or “You’re wearing a nice hat” entered in the Name field. Then go back to the Contact list view, tap and hold down on the new “contact” and select the “Send via Bluetooth” option from the drop down menu. A list of enabled hardware in the area should appear on your device. Select the device you want and send your message. As easy as that!
“Bluejacking”—sending a message to another Bluetooth-enabled device—can be easily done from Contacts.
Wild stories on the Web suggest that “bluejacking” could infect a phone or PDA with a virus or allow a “bluejacker” to steal data. But despite its name, bluejacking doesn’t hijack the device or suck off information—it simply sends a message to the bluejacked device. The recipient can ignore it, read it, respond or delete it.
Many Bluetooth developers have been testing it, but is seems to be impossible to catch a virus from “bluejacking” and no damage can occur to your phone or PDA. In reality, Bluetooth is not the easiest way to get data off a PDA or phone. Some critics say that it’s easiest steal the device rather than try and transfer data wirelessly!
For More Information about Bluejacking, please visit: www.bluejackq.com
Pardon me, my geek is showing.
And I tell ya, I gotta agree. Incidentally, my sides hurt from laughing as I read it.
Thanks to Derek for pointing that one out. Feel better, guy.
Rob at Left & Right notes that the US Navy ship Bonhomme Richard is very much in the thick of the tsunami relief effort. He also reminds us that this is the ship that nitwit Pablo Paredes was assigned to. You may recall him as the asshat who refused to report to his ship as a protest against the Iraq war.
What's the protest now, Pablo? Is Chimpy McShrub Co and his cronies at Halliburton invading Indonesia in an act of illegal humanitarian aid?
Because of your actions, there is one less person providing relief to the area.
Right on, Rob!
Moving along to other naval news, the folks at Silent Running posted a little tidbit about the urgent need for fresh water in the devastated regions, and wouldn't you know it, naval ships happen to be pretty damned good at generating fresh water - up to one half million gallons per day from a Nimitz class carrier alone (we have two carrier groups in the region I believe).
I'd consider that a dual-use weapons platform, eh?
The Indian Navy Tuesday cleared Sri Lanka's key Galle port after an extensive operation to remove sunken vessels there as part of the largest peacetime initiative mounted by the country's armed forces post tsunami.
Crews of the Indian ships have set up field kitchens and medical aid stations, passed out supplies, and an Indian hospital ship is anchored at one location to provide additional medical assistance. A second hospital ship is enroute.
Australian naval aviation isn't just working harder, they're working smarter:
"The Iroquois [helicopter] is probably the quickest capability that we can deploy forward," he said.
"It's got a light footprint, so it doesn't take quite as much equipment and personnel to get it moving quickly.
"So we found that the Iroquois was something that we could put on at very short notice."
But Australia had more modern Black Hawk helicopters and heavy lift Chinooks on standby to send to Banda Aceh if they were required, he said.
"Obviously they could do significantly more, but the early assessment that we've made here is that there is a significant amount of other helicopters here already," Lt-Col Steel said.
He said the RAAF had moved enough spare parts for the Iroquois to remain in Aceh for up to three months, while ground crews had been told to expect a stay of at least a month.
The French are assisting as well, sending military ships to Sumatra in coordination with other relief efforts:
The Jeanne d'Arc, a ship carrying six helicopters and two units of engineers, and the Georges Leygues, a frigate, were to leave Djibouti Tuesday, the defence ministry said.
The Jeanne d'Arc was transporting 6,000 food rations, 800 tonnes of water and water treatment equipment, five tonnes of medicine and field medical posts, it said.
I've just touched on what's out there, and it just kinda flowed that this was naval oriented. I also heard this morning that the donations to the Red Cross have already matched what was collected for last year's hurricane relief in Florida. There's hope for this ol' world, because it's full of people like these who help in whatever way they can.
*Ripple Fire is the process of launching several rockets in rapid succession. The military version features big booms at the receiving end.
PETA is oblivious to how stupid they appear to most people:
A prominent U.S.-based animal rights group urged former President Jimmy Carter on Monday to give up fishing on the grounds that the activity was inconsistent the Nobel peace laureate's humanitarian efforts.
This kind of argument could actually sway the man, which makes me shudder to think he occupied the oval office for four years.
Sadie is a new Munuvian, and her place is at Fistful of Fortnights. Permalink is over on the right. Yay!
Weaselteeth is another new Munuvian. Again, Yay! (that's the traditional Munuvian greeting, ya know)
Same for Naked Villiany, except that he's not a Munuvian, and his permalink is farther down on the right with the other non-Munuvian bloggers. Give us time, we're assimilating as fast as we can.
To the person who got here by Googling "true erotic paperboy story", well, I'll 'fess up now.
Never. Nada. Zip.
Thanks for asking, though.
As for the person looking for "indentations above ass crack", they're called dimples.
A beautiful selection of the best space photos of 2004, in various sizes to fit your monitor.
Los Angeles Anaheim California Los Angeles Anaheim Angels have announced that their new official team name is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, George Steinbrenner has announced that his team will henceforth be known as the Boston Yankees of New York, and the Irsay family hopped on the bandwagon by renaming their team the Baltimore Colts of Indianapolis.
Lawyers for Al Davis are looking into the possibilty of suing all North American sports leagues over ownership of the name "Los Angeles".
Saturday, January 8th, from 10am - 3pm at Great Meadow Equestrian Center in The Plains, Virginia. We've been enjoying a stretch of spectacular weather, and it looks like it might just hold on through the weekend.
Y'all are invited. Look for me in the red Mazda pickup.
Artist Kelly Freas passed away today at age 82 of natural causes.
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Freas illustrated the covers or the pages of books by writers including Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, A.E. Van Vogt, Poul Anderson and Frederik Pohl.
I knew Kelly Freas best from his illustrations in Analog, the Science Fiction magazine, but he was probably better known for his work that graced the covers of Mad Magazine for many years.
Beginning in the 1950s, he spent seven years as the main cover artist of Mad Magazine, creating stylishly detailed portraits and helping to make famous Alfred E. Newman, the freckled, front-tooth-deprived purveyor of the phrase, "What? Me Worry?"
He also did other work including an album cover for Queen and the original Skylab patch design for NASA.
Update: De Doc has a nice post up about the passing of this artistic giant.
You may have seen this on 60 Minutes last night, during a piece they were doing on Google. There's also been a fair amount of buzz on the 'net about this, but just in case you weren't aware...
Go to the Google page and type in "books about xyz", where xyz is anything you want (for instance, I tried "stonehenge" and then "submarines"). When your search results are returned, at or near the top will be a listing marked by several colorful books. These are links to online copies of books. But that's just surface cool, because this feature goes much farther.
Click on a listed book link, and you'll see the scanned pages of the book. But over on the left side is a search box. Yepper, the entire text of the books are searchable! How cool is that?
Go play and be amazed. Thank you Al Gore, for making this all possible.
The Mars rover Spirit landed on the red planet one year ago today, and is still going strong.
I was thinking about making this a series, but I'm not sure I have the time to do it up right. At least for now, I'll post the story and link, and I might revisit later.
In the 1950's, Burdick presented himself and his drawings to a publisher who was fascinated by them and wanted to read the stories that the pictures illustrated. Burdick promised to return the next day with those stories but did not keep the appointment. The publisher tried for many years to find the man but was never able to discover who Burdick was or what had happened to him.
Then, in the '80s, the publisher showed the images to an author friend -- hence the book, published in 1984.
When the author received the pictures from the publisher, he was also given a box containing dozens of stories written over the years by the publisher's children and their friends. He read and found all of them remarkable -- some bizarre, some funny, some downright scary -- the makings of another great book.
Since Burdick never did return as promised, you'll have to write your own stories. You have a jump start, as Harris Burdick had written a title and caption for each picture.
-- from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
Chris Van Allsburg has written and illustrated other children's books, with a similar technique so the question becomes, was there really a Harris Burdick?
And does it matter?
This looks ideal for exercising the creative writer inside you or for firing up a child's imagination. Even a child too young to write can be encouraged to tell a story based on the picture.
This nifty site has all of the mysterious illustrations and more links to some of the creative writing submitted by students as inspired by the pictures.
As a teaser, I've included the first picture, complete with title and caption in the extended entry.
If you'd care to, write a story based on it and link back to this post, or send me the link and I'll include it. If the response is favorable, maybe we'll do more of them. I'd especially love to hear the tales from the little ones. Those can be magic.
ARCHIE SMITH; BOY WONDER
A tiny voice asked, "Is he the one?"
Need advice? Ann Landers too tame and Dear Dotti too conventional? Try this column. The questions seem rather typical:
"Jane" and I have been in the same sorority for two years, and we were best friends from the time we met at freshman orientation. Last week I found Jane in bed with my fiance "John." I have been deeply hurt and don't know what to do. I can't break my engagement with John or he'll take his credit card back. And I just couldn't stand to look at Jane at the mixer last night. Do you think we should all go to some sort of counseling?
What a bunch of touchy-feeling crap. You need a dose of Klingon wisdom (edited for brevity):
The first thing you will need is a spear. If you don't have a conventional spear, any long sharpened wood will do. Now, go to Jane's house... Leaving her writhing body impaled on her front lawn as a warning to others might be a nice touch.
Since we're talking Klingon (not really, I'm a fan of the original series, but far from a trekkie), my favorite book from the original series is called The Final Reflection. Besides an early alternative view of the Klingon Empire (much different than as realized during the many incarnations of the Star Trek universe), the book revolves around the Klingon equivalent to human chess, known as Klin Zha. The glimpses of the game in the book are fascinating and not surprisingly have been formalized and expanded by trekkies. This site has the rules and many variations here, including this PDA version that I'll be downloading and testing just for fun.
But I digress (yeah, like I have a point). The best of the original Star Trek books (to my mind) were the ones where the focus was primarily on the alien cultures. Besides the prologue and epilogue, The Final Reflection told a great story without Kirk and the Enterprise. Only one regular makes an actual (and brief) appearance, and another is mentioned in passing. Other than that, it's all Klingon. It's very refreshing to see them as the good guys for a change. Big fun.
Another title focusing on the Klingons is Pawns and Symbols. The Enterprise crew is part of this tale, but only in a peripheral role. Once again you see the people behind the ridged foreheads and get to know the culture as more than the warriors usually depicted on television.
Coming from the other side of the sector (quadrant? nuetral zone? whatever.), is a story from deep within the Romulan Empire - The Romulan Way. Lots of outrageous SciFi action and adventure and a look inside a proud and haughty culture.
So there ya go, three of the better Star Trek books. Recommended by Rocket Jones.
Kai Kassai Klingon!
I'm looking forward to that new Fox series Point Pleasant (link is bandwidth intensive). I just hope the actual show lives up to the hype.
I also will not drink Miller beer as long as those lame-assed referee commercials air. Miller is quickly joining the short list of products I refuse to use on principle, because they blatantly insult my intelligence.
Firefox. It's actually been downloaded onto my PC for a couple of weeks now, but I never got around to installing it until this morning. It seemed like a nice way to welcome the New Year.
In other trivial news, yesterday I discovered that my oldest daughter has no funk in her soul. She is funk-free. How sad.