December 31, 2005

Happy New Year's Eve (Updated)

We'll be spending the afternoon cheering on the Washington Capitals as they take on the hated Philadelphia Flyers. In addition to Mrs. Rocket Ted, Mookie, and our son, we will be joined by Dawn, Nic, and Victor.

Special thanks to Nic for arranging this and getting the tickets. If we get into a brawl with those lowlife inbred Philly drunkards overly-boistrous Flyers fans, I'll make sure to post pictures.

Update: What a game!!! The Capitals won 4-3 in a shootout. Forsberg was amazing, and Ovechkin was even more so. Great company, great times. Happy New Year to everyone!

Oh, and... Yay Hats!!!

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Category: Square Pegs

December 30, 2005

National Film Registry

Each year, twenty five films are selected to be included in the National Film Registry.

Here's what that means:

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved for all time, either through the Library's massive motion picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Library of Congress contains the largest collections of film and television in the world, from the earliest surviving copyrighted motion picture to the latest feature releases.

Each year, films are nominated by the public and are carefully evaluated.

Here's a bit more about the criteria:

"The films we choose are not necessarily the 'best' American films ever made or the most famous, but they are films that continue to have cultural, historical or aesthetic significance," Billington said.

This year, the films include a Buster Keaton comedy, the Christmas classic "Miracle on 34th Street", "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", and "Toy Story". See the entire list here. There are some surprising titles there.

More from the article:

Half the movies made before 1950 and 80 percent to 90 percent of those produced before 1920 have disappeared, [Billington] said.

Among the more interesting additions was a 1906 documentary about the San Fransisco earthquake and fire. The disaster was one of the first ever documented on film.

While you're checking out the site, follow the link to the Moving Image Archives. I think I'll be spending many happy hours there.

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Category: Cult Flicks

December 29, 2005

Movie Poster Blog

Wicked cool.

Thanks to Sheila for finding this one!

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Category: Cult Flicks

Probably just me

I'd think it was funny if someone started "Brokeback Blogging".

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Category: Square Pegs

December 28, 2005

Now that you mention it, he does a have purty mouth

Over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy they're hosting the latest edition of the Carnival of Tomorrow. Minister Buckethead has titled this one as "Carnival of Tomorrow #16, blatant link whoring edition".

So head on over and check out one of the coolest Carnivals making the rounds.

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Category: Links

Taking a break from the donuts

Actor Michael Vale, best known for his appearances on Dunkin' Donuts commericials ("it's time to make the donuts"), has died from complications of diabetes at age 83.

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Category: Square Pegs

Hockey Whoopass Jamboree

Brandon's LA Kings beat my beloved San Jose Sharks the other night, so in accordance with the prophesy by the rules of the Whoopass Jamboree, my shame is hereby displayed.


The purple, it burns.

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Category: Balls and Ice

She ain't Mookie-riffic for nothing!

For Christmas this year, daughter Rachael found a copy of the out-of-print book Retro Rockets: Experimental Rockets 1926-1941. I've already read the first half, which deals mostly with Robert Goddard and his remarkable series of liquid fueled rockets.

One tidbit that really caught my eye though was a brief discussion of German Alfred Maul, who was a civil engineer for the city of Dresden. He patented an early version of a photographic rocket in 1903 and was using an onboard gyroscope for rocket and camera stabilization by 1906. By 1912, he had developed a fully functioning recon rocket that boosted on solid fuel and took photographs from 2000 feet.

[It was] battle tested in the Turkish-Bulgarian War of 1912-1913. Anticipating today's reconnaissance satellites, it produced clear photographs of Turkish emplacements for the German-allied Bulgarian Army.

Some of these photographs still exists today.

Recon by rocket had advantages over using balloons, but the arrival of the airplane soon rendered the idea obsolete.

If you're into rockets or space technology, the Saturn Press books are excellent references.

And for some amazing modern-day rocket photography, check out Ray Dunakin's work, which I linked to here.

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Category: Rocketry

December 27, 2005

If I were Gene Roddenberry

Klingons wouldn't just like pumpkin pie.

They'd go to war over it.

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Category: Square Pegs

Apparently the Big Guy is a little... organizationally challenged, shall we say

When I was growing up, I had this cool poster on my bedroom wall that showed the Sun and nine planets in their orbits around her, along with the mysterious asteroid belt. All neat and orderly.

Too bad it's not quite that simple any more:

Scientists no longer are sure what a planet is and how many reside in our system.

The International Astronomical Union, a worldwide alliance of astronomers, has been struggling for about two years to agree on a definition for planets. Three proposed definitions are being studied, but a decision isn't likely until spring, according to Robert Williams, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

So Pluto, which most of us were taught as the ninth planet, may lose that status. Then again, maybe not.

"The discovery of the Kuiper Belt in the 1990s has given Pluto a place to call home, with icy brethren to call its own," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, in an e-mail.

"The Kuiper Belt is the largest structure in the solar system," Stern said recently. "We used to think Pluto was a misfit," he added. Now Earth and the other inner planets are the oddballs.

Depending on what definition of "planet" is chosen, our solar system may have as few as eight (demoting Pluto) or as many as seventeen (!!!) planets. Astronomers have already discovered a body larger than Pluto in the Kupier Belt.

The largest and most distant of the ice dwarfs is nicknamed Xena after the television warrior princess. Discovered in 2003, it's 1,600 miles across and 20 percent bigger than Pluto is. Xena has a moon of its own, named Gabrielle after the TV Xena's sidekick.

These bodies haven't been assigned official names yet, which is why you see whimsical designations like Santa (which has a moonlet named Rudolph), Easter Bunny, Orcus, Quaoar, Ixion, Buffy and Sedna.

Even asteroids have been discovered with their own moonlets, and at least four moons in our system are geologically active.

What a wonderfully messy and chaotic neighborhood we live in.

Thanks to Chris Hall for the pointer.

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Category: SciTech Space Program

Things you wonder about when you're overly tired

I have this brown spot on the back of my hand, below the base of my thumb knuckle.

Liz thinks it's an age spot, but I've had it for years, and it's the only one. I look at it, and wonder if all the caucasion skin cells on my hand didn't get together and decide that all the darker skin cells should be segregated into their own little area. If they did, and the darker skin cells ever decide to rebel, they're sitting right at the base of my thumb, where they can take over an important digit and really raise hell.

I just wish they could all get along, like on my shoulders, where the freckles have co-existed peacefully for years with the rest of me.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 26, 2005

Christmas is over, it's time to get back to normal

New banner, same old attitude.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 25, 2005

From Me to You

I won't bother with a rundown on the loot that Santa left for me. Instead, I'll direct you to a few other places of Christmassy related internettedness.

First up, through Dogette - who has been sleighing me (get it?) me with her "12 Poops of Christmas" series (if you're not a PREMIUM USER, then you wouldn't understand) - I've met Jim of Parkway Rest Stop. He reminds me of CGHill's Dustbury, in that he combines charm and local color to create an always interesting and often funny visit. Give him a try, you won't be sorry. He's on the blogroll now too.

Speaking of Dustbury, I just had to include this bit:

Lawrence, Kansas Mayor Boog Highberger has proclaimed International Dada Month, and what's more, he's not adhering to that hopelessly-square business about having it one continuous month: it will begin 4 February 2006, end on 26 October, and occupy randomly-selected days in between.

The proclamation includes a classic line from German Dadaist poet Hugo Ball: "zimzim urallala zimzim urallala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam."

That kind of poetic genius just brings a tear to the eye.

Of course, any Christmas visit with Rocket Jones must include zombies! And in one of those frightrul synergystic happenings, we've got poetry about zombies!

Christmassy poetry about zombies!!!

From the Ministry of Minor Perfidy, we are directed to this heart-warming site and their reworking of The Night Before Christmas. A sample stanza:

I in my Kevlar(tm) and ma in Gortek(tm)
Had salvaged some canned goods from a truck that had wrecked
The children had rifles and covered our ass
As Grandpa raced over to siphon some gas

Bless us every one.

Finally, what would Christmas be without scantily clad asian ladies dressed up in red with furry white trim? Not safe for work. I'm going to check under our tree again, just in case Santa left me one and I missed it! I also learned that the name of the site, "Kimochi-ii", is Japanese for "feels goooood!". I've never watched Japanese porn, so I didn't know that. Consider that today's lesson in the "No Pervert Left Behind" curriculum.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

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Category: Links

December 24, 2005

Christmas in St. Louis

It's been tough on St. Louis hockey fans this year, but the Blues rose up and beat my beloved Sharks last night.

According to the rules of the Hockey Whoopass Jamboree, here is the logo of the Blues.


Congrats Brian.

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Category: Balls and Ice

Merry Christmas

We're doing the whole Family Christmas thing today, because the girls both have to work tomorrow.* Our son can't make it home either because of work, both today and tomorrow.

To all my friends, have a wonderful Christmas. May you have peace and joy, and may we all have health, good fortune and prosperity in 2006.

Click this to see a Christmas carol that I wrote years ago.

I sent out "Merry Christmas" emails to a bunch of people, if you didn't get one, check your old email accounts or leave a comment. :)

*Robyn and Rachael both work at a local answering service whenever they're home from college, and no student should pass up a chance for eight hours at holiday double time.

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Category: Family matters

December 23, 2005

Simple Solution

So Italy issues an arrest warrant for 22 American CIA agents.

What will probably happen is that we'll ignore it, but wouldn't it be fun instead to kidnap a bunch of Italian aid relief workers in Iraq? Demand a dismissal of the charges or we'll make them sit in a cold room and listen to disco or something equally evil. Trust me, the Italian government will cave.

Posted by Ted at 03:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Good thing I took speed reading

Next to one of those ubiquitous "How Is My Driving?" signs on the back of a truck, some wag had scrawled in the dirt, "Like Steve McQueen".

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Category: Square Pegs

December 22, 2005

Hockey is on TV, time for a Baseball post

Baltimore Orioles coach Elrod Hendrix died of a heart attack yesterday. Today would have been his 65th birthday. For those who don't know, Elrod was a catcher in the big leauges from 1969 to 1979, mostly with the Orioles. He was the starting catcher for the O's when they won the World Series from '69-'71.

When he retired as a player, he became a coach for the Orioles, and has been the bullpen coach for 28 years. In all, Elrod Hendrix made more appearances in an Orioles uniform than any other man in club history.

He didn't keep a low profile either, he was the unofficial ambassador for the O's, making frequent appearances at youth baseball functions all over the area. It's often said of those who pass away that "he was loved by everyone". In Elrod's case, that was the literal truth.

We're going to miss him.

In other news, the San Fransisco Giants sent overpaid has-been Edgardo Alphonzo to the California Anaheim's of Southern Angels (or whatever the hell they're calling themselves this week) for overpaid has-been Steve Finley.

From the ever-quotable McCovey Chronicles:

Enjoy Alfonzo, Southern California. Enjoy him to the last drop. There is no injury that can explain away just how awful he was, and his age-related decline started when he was about 29. He's truly an artist, both at the plate and around the bag at second. Unfortunately, the artist is Robert Mapplethorpe, and you don't want to know where that bullwhip is going. You think you might get used to it, but you never do.

On the plus side, with the addition of Finley, the Giants can boast an outfield featuring Barry Bonds (age 41), Moises Alou (age 39), and Steve Finley (age 40). This might qualify them for discount contract insurance through AARP.

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Category: Links

Cliche Theater

Never mind, you've probably already heard it a million times.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 21, 2005


A crusty old Sergeant Major found himself at a gala event, hosted by a local liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young, idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the Sergeant Major for conversation.

She said, "Excuse me, Sergeant Major, but you seem to be a very serious man. Is something bothering you?"

"Negative, ma'am," the Sergeant Major said, "Just serious by nature."

The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, "It looks like you have seen a lot of action."

The Sergeant Major's short reply was, "Yes, ma'am, a lot of action."

The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, "You know, you should lighten up a little. Relax and enjoy yourself."

The Sergeant Major just stared at her in his serious manner.

Finally the young lady said, "You know, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when is the last time you had sex?"

The Sergeant Major looked at her and replied, "1955."

She said, "Well, there you are. You really need to chill out and quit taking everything so seriously! I mean, no sex since 1955! Isn't that a little extreme?"

The Sergeant Major, glancing at his watch, said in his matter-of-fact voice, "You think so? It's only 2130 now."

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Category: Square Pegs

How did I miss this?

Did you know that Al Zarquawi was live-blogging the Iraqi elections?

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

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Category: Square Pegs

Can She Fit In My Coup?

I'm happy to announce that until further notice, Rocket Jones will now be a group blog.

I'm still the only writer, but I'm trying to shame myself into losing these extra pounds I'm carrying.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 20, 2005

Merry Christmas Officer

I got pulled over this morning on my way to work. I was on I-395, less than a mile from my exit, when the blues started flashing behind the grille of an unmarked trooper car.

I pulled out my wallet and license, opened my glove box and pulled out the envelope full o' stuff that came with the car (just bought it last week, remember?), turned off the radio and rolled down the window, and waited.

Me: Good morning.

Trooper: Good morning. Do you know why I pulled you over?

Now, seriously, is there any answer to this other than "no"? How many people actually admit that they were doing something wrong?

Trooper: You didn't realize that you were speeding and passing people?

Me: No sir.

Ok, now we've established that I'm a liar and we both know it. In this situation, it's expected. I've handed him my license and and going through all the paperwork that came with my car. I know that there has to be some sort of registration in there. I find *three* different ones for my old truck, but nothing for this car. The whole time, he's talking to me.

Trooper: You didn't see me? You passed me and I pulled in behind you and paced you for a while as you passed that whole string of cars.

Me (still riffling through papers): No sir.

Trooper: You were travelling at speeds up to 75 miles per hour.

Me (all surprised): Really?

Finally, I find something pink that looks official, and it's my temporary registration. I hand it over, he tells me to stay in the car, and goes back to his troopermobile. I do a little mental math (yeah, I can afford the ticket), and laugh at the situation. I'm pissed at myself for being stupid. Did I notice him back there? Of course I did. Did I know he was a cop? Nope. Now, I have a question for him as well. Did he realize that he was my wingman as we strafed that line of fighters parked on the enemy tarmac passed that line of cars? I think not. A wingman wouldn't treat his buddy this way.

The trooper came back and handed me my license and registration. He didn't write me a ticket, just told me to be more aware of what I was doing and what was going on around me. It probably helped that I've only had one ticket in the last fifteen years, and it wasn't for speeding (you don't have to go fast when chasing down feral grannies).

I hope that the kindness was because he was filled with holiday spirit, because it's a little frightening to think that being a clueless idiot excuses that kind of driving. I didn't ask, because sometimes I *do* know when to keep my mouth shut.

I wished him a Merry Christmas and was on my way.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 19, 2005


Quote from an editorial by Mark Steyn:

Dean arguing that America can't win in Iraq, Barbara Boxer demanding the troops begin withdrawing on Dec. 15, John Kerry accusing American soldiers of terrorizing Iraqi women and children, Jack Murtha declaring that the U.S. Army is utterly broken. Pepper 'em with a handful of "Praise be to Allahs" and any one of those statements could have been uttered by Zarqawi.

Found at Transterrestrial Musings.

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Category: Square Pegs

A question for those smarter than I

I've seen a new headache remedy lately on commercials. It looks a little like a stick deoderant, and you rub it across your forehead to deliver whatever anti-headache medicine it contains.

A few questions arise:

1. Headaches occur within the brain, correct? How is rubbing medicine on your skin going to help, since even after being absorbed there's that little barrier called your skull between the medicine and your brain?

2. If it absorbs into your bloodstream, wouldn't it make more sense to rub it in under your arm or on the inside of your thigh, where major arteries lie? It seems that the medicine would be absorbed and distributed quicker. Even along your jugular makes more sense.

Ok, so "few" = two. Got any answers?

Posted by Ted at 06:03 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Snippet redux


Wife: They cleared another patch of woods on Minnievale.

Ted: What?!?!? Jeeezus, what are they building now?

Wife: Another church.

Ted: This area is going to hell.

We looked at each other and started giggling.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 18, 2005

It's the most surreal time of the year

Rachael had one of her college friends up for the weekend while Liz and I were out of town. When we got back this afternoon, Rachael matter-of-factly mentioned that they'd had a few more friends over yesterday and had wound up with a stripper's pole set up in the living room. I chuckled and the conversation moved on to other things.

Later, while putting away luggage, I found a large container leaning in the corner of the living room. It was a stripper pole set that was given to Rachael's friend as a belated birthday present!

So yeah, in Rocket Jones' living room were pretty teenage college girls doing some pole dancing. And I'm not posting pictures. Neener neener.

Posted by Ted at 08:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

'Tis the Season

Daughter Rachael (aka Mookie) is home for Christmas break, so my wife and I decided to take advantage and left her to take care of the remaining children dogs while we got the hell outta Dodge.

Liz had some free hotel nights saved up, so this morning I find myself blogging from Martinsburg, West Virginia courtesy of the free WiFi offered by the hotel.

"Almost Heaven" is a whole 'nother world compared to the DC metro area. We pretty much finished off Christmas shopping yesterday at a couple of malls in the area, and it was mostly pleasant and painless (aside from the constant bells - I'm beginning to really hate the Salvation Army). Even the lines were short.

Mental note: Never enter another Old Navy. They're assholes and ripoff artists playing the bait-and-switch game. We were polite and pleasant and got great satisfaction from leaving a heaping pile o' clothes at the register and walking out. We weren't going to let that spoil our good mood.

I did say "mostly pleasant" though, because as the day wore on, people were notably more aggresive and you could tell that nerves were frayed. After a late lunch/early dinner, we went to a super WalMart for stocking stuffers and such and I saw what happens when grannies go feral.

Two elderly ladies were racing (for elderly ladies, that is) for the short line from different directions. As the last second, one cuts off the other one with a bold move and drags her cart into line and snags the coveted spot. I watched, fascinated, as the loser of the race began repeatedly banging her cart into the other lady's cart. I was conflicted, because these two frail women could have really hurt each other, yet I was hoping they'd escallate and really get into it. I was tempted to run back into toys and grab a couple sets of clearance-priced talking Hulk Hands and letting them duke it out. But, alas, I lost my wife in the teeming throng again and had to begin the search pattern to find where she'd wandered off to.

At one point, some sales lady laughed at me as I waited in the cosmetics aisle and said I looked like I didn't want to be standing there. I told her she was crazy, that I *loved* that aisle, because it was occupied by me and my wife alone, we were out of the milling crowds and I wasn't dodging forty other shoppers just to get from one end to the other. One young lady did try to enter our refuge, but she left as I started fanning my ass and loudly appologized to my wife for having such horrible gas.

It's a jungle out there, and I'm not above a little chemical warfare. Truth be told though, it was psychological warfare. Purely a decoy move.

So yes, I loved my blessedly empty little cosmetics aisle, my oasis of calm. I was inspired enough to wonder why nobody had ever done a WalMart of the Living Dead movie (redundant?).

But we survived the day with our sanity and cheer, and I'm reminded once again why I've never shopped during the month of December for at least the last ten years.

I hope all my Secret Santa buds like their gifts. They're all getting makeup.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 17, 2005


I can see why people might confuse Aspercreme with Preperation H.

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Category: Square Pegs

December 16, 2005

Aiming is for wimps

Check out this pictorial showing the typical skill-level of the various militias fighting in Monrovia, Liberia. From the introduction:

...use of iron sights is known to be strictly prohibited. Also prohibited are aiming, assuming a supported firing stance, and any common practice of marksmanship whatsoever. Hip-Hop/Rapper/Gangsta shooting stances are mandatory, the "Glock Foh-Tay" hold being the most popular. lethality is acheived by subjecting the target to a wide swathe of area fire, simliar to unaimed indirect artillery, or scaring the enemy away with gesturing and aggressive hip-hop style dancing while firing. Points are awarded for artistic effort, style, fearsome facial expression/vocalizations and blue duct tape.

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so deadly serious.

Found at (Wizbang). Thanks for the reminder, Victor!

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Category: Introduction

December 15, 2005

Color me naughty

Over at Kimochi-ii!!!!, K is posting his usual assortments of asian cuties in various stages of dress and undress (not safe for work!), but he's taken to grouping them by the color of their... whatever... they're wearing.


So far.

Posted by Ted at 08:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links


I know I got this from at least two people, Cat being one of them. In one of those really odd happenings that make life so interesting and frustrating all at once, today Cat and I discovered that we work in adjacent buildings. The frustrating bit being that tomorrow is her last day there as her internship ends. We *will* be getting together for lunch, and possibly semi-regularly if I understand correctly that her friend "the blogless wonder" works there too (you'll remember him from the blogmeet we had in Old Town Alexandria).

Ah yes, Susie was the other. So be jealous guys, because I got double teamed by two lovely ladies! And don't believe Susie when she claims to be perfectly normal. *nudge nudge* *wink wink*

Ok, so onward to five weird things about me.

1. I am hopeless at math beyond the basics, unless I'm doing computer programming. Do a cruise missile flight simulation using three-dimensional vector geometry? No problem. Kids ask Dad for help with algebra homework? Brain lock, better ask Mom.

2. Lists. If I don't write it down, I'll forget it. Our desk is covered with post-it notes with lists of things I want to remember. I have to clean out my briefcase every once in a while to get rid of old lists and reminders.

3. My pockets. When I'm out, I'm almost OCD about patting my right back pocket to check that my wallet is still there. While I'm at it, the front pockets get a quick pat (keys in front left, pocket watch and change in front right), and my left back too (handkerchief and pocketknife). At work, I reach up and make sure my building badge is in my shirt pocket. I probably look like I'm feeling myself up sometimes.

4. I'm right handed, but when I practiced martial arts I always fought left handed. I'm a better shot left handed too.

5. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. Sitting up, laying down, in a car, on a plane, in the middle of an argument. Doesn't matter. Give me 30 seconds and I'll be snoring.

Bonus weirdness, because Susie brought it up. I must have ketchup on my french fries if they're crinkle cut, otherwise, no thanks. And the only other time I eat ketchup is with grilled cheese sandwiches. Unless I've got a bowl of tomato soup, then I'll dip the sandwich in there.

If you want to play, leave a link in the comments.

Posted by Ted at 08:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links

December 14, 2005

What is a Billion?

This came from the December issue of our local Community Connection Magazine:

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" casually, think about whether you want the politician spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases.

  • A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
  • A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
  • A billion days ago our ancestors were living in the stone age.
  • A billion years ago no one walked on two feet on earth.
  • A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes at the rate the government spends it.

No, I haven't checked the figures. I can get the point without being anal about it.

Posted by Ted at 12:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

December 13, 2005

Pigskin Prestidigitation

Not really, but I like the way that title rolls off the tongue.

Playoffs begin this week in the Blogger fantasy football league. Mostly by managing to stay healthy, the Rockets finished the season in second place with an 11-3 record. One loss was to the first place finisher, and two were to the team that ended up in third.

I get a bye in the first round of playoffs (go me!) and then we'll see what happens. My biggest challenge all year has been deciding which pair of middling receivers to play each week, because on any given Sunday some random two of them will have a great game, and as often as not I've left them on the bench.

Celebrating and/or whining forthcoming.

Posted by Ted at 05:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Fantasy Fulfilled

If your fantasy is sleeping with one of the Llamabutchers, that is. Who knew that oorgling could be considered pillow talk?

Heartfelt yips to Dawn for sending the link!

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Category: Introduction

December 12, 2005

We all know that I'm easily amused

I think it's funny that there's a baseball player named Merkin Valdez.

The "merkin" part, anyways.

Posted by Ted at 05:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

December 11, 2005

Three Rules for the DJ

I was asked to DJ for my wife's office Christmas party last night. Christmas music during cocktails and dinner and then dance music afterwards. Because it's a rather diverse group of people ranging from their 20's to 60's, putting together a playlist for dancing was a challenge, but one that I'd dealt with before when I used to DJ at the American Legion for "family night" dances. I assumed that the older people would leave earlier, so tried to front load the playlist towards them. Towards the end, I set up a bunch of commonly requested songs. Also, so that I could enjoy the party too, it was suggested that I just bring some CD's that I could put on and let play, rather than sit there and work. So with that in mind, I put together a few dance CD's containing everything from country to funk to rock. It went well enough, but I was reminded of the DJ rules:

1. Never leave your equipment alone, because people will play with it.

When the dance music started, a few folks decided that it was too loud and turned down the volume so that they could talk. In turn, the folks who wanted to dance would crank it back up. It got to be a silly little pissing contest.

Later, the people dancing wanted more volume, but since I'd brought a limited setup rather than the whole system, we had the volume maxed out. It wasn't bone thumping, but it was good enough. Well, except for the yahoos who managed to shut the whole thing down *three times* by fiddling with buttons at random.

2. In a mixed group like this, everyone is going to hate something you play.

The younger group wanted more fast rock, the older folks wanted more country and slow dance music. Of course, everyone tells the DJ how lousy his music choices are, at different times depending on what's currently playing.

3. The DJ is always the last to leave, and nobody helps haul the equipment back to your car.

Oh well, I had fun anyway, and there were several couples dancing. For all the griping, I did notice that most everyone knew the music too and there were plenty of people "dancing" in their seats.

The playlists are in the extended entry, for the bored and/or curious.

Dance 1

The Motown Song - Rod Stewart
Dela - Johnny Clegg
Lady Love - Lou Rawls
What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Shake Your Groove Thing - Peaches & Herb
Give Me the Night - George Benson
Boot Scootin' Boogie - Brooks & Dunn
Guitars, Cadillacs - Dwight Yoakum
Behind Closed Doors - Buddy Rich
Sure Feels Good - Elvin Bishop
She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals
Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles
You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
The Game of Love - Michelle Branch & Carlos Santana
Heaven - Los Lonely Boys
Tub Thumping - Chumbawumba
Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows
Waterfalls - TLC
I Can't Help Falling In Love - UB40

Dance 2

Baby Likes to Rock It - The Tractors
Bing Bang Boom - Highway 101
Crazy - Patsy Cline
Don't Be Stupid - Shania Twain
Down at the Twist and Shout - Mary Chapin Carpenter
The Truth About Men - Tracy Byrd
Rush Rush - Paula Abdul
Moonlight Feels Right - Starbuck
Dancing in the Moonlight - King Harvest
Together Again - Janet Jackson
Your Love Keeps Lifting Me - Jackie Wilson
Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
The Boys Are Back In Town - The Busboys
Brick House - The Commodores
September - Earth, Wind & Fire
Never My Love - 5th Dimension
1985 - Bowling for Soup
We Got the Beat - The Go-Go's
All-Star - SmashMouth
Unskinny Bop - Poison

Dance 3

Have I Told You Lately - Emilio (Spanish version - very beautiful)
Wild Wild Life - Wailing Souls
Hillbilly Rap - Neal McCoy
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye - Neal McCoy
I'll Take You There - Staple Singers
Give Me Just A Little More Time - Chairmen of the Board
Oh Girl - Chi-Lites
Short Skirt, Long Jacket - Cake
Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
As I Lay Me Down to Sleep - Sophie B. Hawkins
Love Shack - B52's
Y.M.C.A. - Village People
If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life - Jimmy Soul
Going Going Gone - Neal McCoy
Head Carolina, Tails California - Jo Dee Messina
Heart of Rock & Roll - Huey Lewis & the News
American Woman - The Guess Who
Rockin' Me - Steve Miller Band
Old Time Rock & Roll - Bob Seger

Posted by Ted at 11:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

December 10, 2005

Busted (my ass, that is)

Youngest daughter Mookie is home for Christmas break, and of course she brought back most everything she owns. I went out to help haul her crap from the car to the house and slipped on the ice. There are two knots on my right shin from where that leg slammed into the car tire, my leg is throbbing and I think it's going to turn a nice Christmassy blue and greenish as it bruises.


Posted by Ted at 12:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

December 07, 2005

New Banner

Found this in an out of the way folder. I'd forgotten all about it.

Posted by Ted at 04:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Chip, chip

There's plenty going on right now in life, and as Murphy surmised, fate is always happy to add a cherry on top of everything else to be dealt with. In my case, my pickup truck decided that it was the perfect time to develop problems. Yay!

I dropped the truck off for a quick checkup over the weekend, and they confirmed what I'd suspected, it was the transmission. The mechanic (who I trust) told me that a complete diagnosis would involve pulling the transmission from the vehicle and disassembling it to discover exactly what needed to be replaced.

In other words, $800 just to find out how many more thousands I'd be forking over.

I thanked him and let him know that I'd be picking up my truck that afternoon. When he asked why I wasn't going to get the work done, I told him that it made more sense to just trade it in.

This truck is in great shape (except for the transmission). I've never had a bit of trouble from it before, but it's a 1998 and getting close to the magic 100,000 mile mark, so it was time. In fact, the original plan was to trade it in come springtime.

So we advanced the timetable forward a few months. When I started working at my current jobsite, my commute doubled from what it was before, so I wanted a little economy car. Something basic that would get good gas milage back and forth to work. Since we'd be losing the hauling capacity of the truck, my wife would trade in her big car for a minivan, and in a perfect world, we'd do it all in one swell foop.

Last night we hopped into Liz's car and headed to our local car dealer. We have a particular favorite - we'd bought three cars from them - and they have always been fair and above board with us. Armed with a printout from their website, we went browsing for used cars. After a while, we let one of the sales guys know that I was ready to do more than wander the lot and freeze. I had one requirement, I had to be able to fit inside and drive the darn thing. I'm a little taller than average, and quite a bit rounder, so I pointed to a couple of models and asked to sit inside. The salesman started talking test drive and options, but at this point, I just needed to know if I'd be eliminating them from consideration.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only could I drive it, but it was comfortable and even roomy. They had plenty to choose from, so it was on to stage 2 - Liz's van.

We looked at several vans, and a few smaller SUV's, and after a little discussion we decided on a van that we both liked. That told me how much I could afford on my little pocket rocket.

While making my choice, I was flipping through the printouts and noticed something. I told the salesman that the price listed online was a grand cheaper than the sticker. Without hesitation, he said "ok". I tell you, these people are easy to deal with.

We went inside to warm up and work the numbers. They took Liz's car for an inspection and decided that they'd just work my truck trade sight unseen, based on my answers to a checklist they had. I didn't mention the transmission, because a seven year old truck was a throw-in for this deal as far as I was concerned. We soon realized that it just wasn't adding up for us. We switched focus to just getting me the little commuter, using my truck for trade, and I started feeling guilty about it.

The guy came back and gave me their best offer: $2500 bucks for the truck (that they'd never seen). That was quite a bit more than I expected, but I couldn't take it. I told the guy that the truck might have some transmission problems and that he was offering too much. He thanked me for being a sucker honest and offered $1800. I jumped at that.

This morning, I drove my new (to me) 2004 Hyundai Accent to work. This afternoon, I'll take my truck over to the dealer and drop it off, saying goodbye to a great vehicle. Yep, they still haven't seen the truck.

There's still a lot going on that I have to deal with, but this went better than I could have hoped. They'll get my business again for sure, and I feel good about not ripping them off after they trusted me. A little bit of that weight-of-the-world has been chipped away from my shoulders. Feels good.

Posted by Ted at 12:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Boring Stories

December 04, 2005

One Step Closer

Remember a while back when I wrote about rocket racing?

Check this out. Rutan is involved, so you know they're serious.

Posted by Ted at 06:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: SciTech

Last One Dancing

From the December 4, 2005 New York Times (sorry, no link):

The last of the Ziegfeld Girls is still dancing.

Doris Eaton Travis, Broadway's longest-running performer, is planning to waltz again at the New Amsterdam Theater for two nights in March. When the curtain
rises again at her old stomping grounds, Mrs. Travis will be 102.

The last of the Ziegfeld Follies girls, Doris Eaton Travis, 101, will dance again next year on Broadway. "The New Amsterdam is where I started," Mrs. Travis said recently from her ranch in Norman, Okla. "And that's where it looks like I'm going to finish."

doris eaton1.jpg

Mrs. Travis, the honorary president of the National Ziegfeld Club in New York, which raises money for indigent women in show business, was 14 when she became a member of the Ziegfeld Follies in 1918, joining a legion of long-legged lovelies in a variety show created by the impresario Florenz Ziegfeld. Along with two sisters and two brothers who also appeared in the Follies - which featured singers and comics as dancers and ran from 1907 until 1931, the year before Mr. Ziegfeld's death - Mrs. Travis worked the stage alongside stars like Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice and Will Rogers.

For the past eight years, she has returned to New York to help raise money for
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, dusting off old dance numbers like the swing trot and the black bottom before several thousand theatergoers who probably missed her opening act 87 years ago.

"Every year, she brings down the house," said Nils Hanson, administrator of the Ziegfeld Club. "She's the darling of Broadway, a New York treasure."

When Mrs. Travis first performed for Broadway Cares in 1998, she was joined by four other original Ziegfeld Girls, all of whom have since died.

Last month, when the former Ziegfeld dancer Dorothy Wegman Raphaelson died in Manhattan at 100, Mrs. Travis became the sole survivor of a bygone era of song and dance, when the Follies shared Broadway marquees with the likes of Fred and Adele Astaire and Bob Hope.

"It's a strange feeling to know that all of that is gone," she said. "It can get kind of lonely."

Mrs. Travis says that she is overcome by a sense of nostalgia whenever she steps onto her old stage. "I think back to all the beautiful people I danced with, all the beautiful numbers, hearing that wonderful applause," she said. "It was a beautiful era, and there hasn't been anything like it since."

Mrs. Travis remembers Mr. Ziegfeld as a man determined to "create an environment of beauty and grace," when putting together his Follies shows. "He would always scrutinize our costumes," she said. "He always wanted to make sure that there was nothing vulgar about the way we dressed, and that we were all a picture of elegance out there on stage."

Mrs. Travis and her siblings grew up in Washington and began their careers as child actors with Poli's Theater there. By 1913, before Mrs. Travis turned 10, she was performing at Poli's in front of huge Friday night audiences, which sometimes included President Woodrow Wilson. "The president loved coming to our theater," Mrs. Travis recalled. "During curtain calls, we would wave to him, and he would wave back at us."

After leaving New York in 1938, Mrs. Travis opened the first Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Detroit, building a successful chain of 18 of those studios throughout Michigan, which she operated for 30 years. In 1970, she moved to Norman to live on an 880-acre ranch with her husband, Paul Travis, who died two years ago. She continues to keep her spirits and her rhythm alive by teaching country-western dancing at a small club near her home.

"Listen now, some days I get up and I don't feel like doing the Charleston," she said. "But I still feel pretty good, and I still love to dance."

In 1992, at the age of 88, Mrs. Travis became the oldest student to graduate from the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in history. Two years ago, she was the lead author of "Days We Danced: The Story of My Theatrical Family From Florenz Ziegfeld to Arthur Murray" (Marquand Books).

"It seems strange to me," she said, "that of everyone from that world, this old Follies Girl is the last one standing."

And the last one dancing.

There's a current photo of this amazing lady in the extended entry.

doris eaton2.jpg

Doris Eaton, last surviving Ziegfeld Girl, 2005.

Posted by Ted at 01:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: History

December 02, 2005

I tried, really I did

The subject line said:

Excercise a little patience and read through my letter

I hate exercise, especially when the "delete" button is right there. Buh-bye Spammer.

Posted by Ted at 05:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

December 01, 2005


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is over. On the right sidebar is my personal not-quite high point, the bar reflects the last time I'd updated, before I lost that chunk of story. I'd gotten to over 30,000 words when that happened, and the aftermath left me with a little more than 25,000 done as of right now.

Needless to say, that was kind of a momentum crusher. I haven't written a word of it since, although I have opened the file a couple of times. I just haven't had the desire to recreate.

But as of now, I will. I'm going to finish this, dammit. Before the end of December too. I need a title too. Maybe after I post it and y'all read it, we'll have a contest or something. Hmmmm.....

File this next bit under "Yay!": Dawn made her goal! Fifty thousand words in November.

*standing ovation*

Those of us who tried and fell short realize just what an accomplishment that is. So head on over to Dawn's place and congratulate her. She put a helluva lot of work into it.

Posted by Ted at 06:08 AM | Comments (5)
Category: Links

I should've been a headline writer

The headline reads "Bush fails to allay Democrats' doubts about US Iraq policy", and in the story we hear about (surprise, surprise) Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy and the usual gang of idiots bitching and moaning about nothing that makes actual sense.

I think I'm looking forward to the end of President Bush's term in office, just because it'll be interesting to see what happens to this cult of hatred that the Democratic party has embraced once their only apparent reason for being is gone.

Suggested alternate headline: "President's Speech Fails to Stimulate Testicular Growth in Sheep"

Posted by Ted at 05:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

Did I mention this?

I meant to.

Colored bubbles. Bubbles of color. I mean, when you blow the freakin' bubbles, they float away in technicolor. Time was, you needed blotter acid to see stuff like this.

Very cool, and you won't believe the vision, persistance, and science it took to make it happen. Go here, and then follow Rich's link to the fascinating background story.

Posted by Ted at 04:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Links
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