May 31, 2006

Via Email

I like this.

A win win win situation. Dig a moat the length of the Mexican border, use the dirt to raise the levies in New Orleans and put the Florida alligators into the moat. Any other problems you would like me to solve?

Hmmm... spam? While we're digging the moat and filling it with gators...

Posted by Ted at 05:54 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

May 30, 2006

Commercial Space Goes Small-Time!

And that's a very good thing.

Over at RocketForge, we see:

Masten Space Systems started taking payload orders today! $199 CanSats at an introductory price of $99! Full 1kilogram custom payloads for $250! Sign up now!

I've briefly mentioned CanSat before here and here. There are a couple of good follow-on links there, and I really recommend visiting Pratt Hobbies, where you can find plenty of useful kits to get your inner-rocket scientist jump started.

On a related note, this weekend I'll be supervising several teams of students as they assemble high power rockets to loft CanSat payloads. Altitudes will be less than 4,500 feet vs. the several tens of thousands of feet that Mastens is working towards, but the concepts are the same. Rocket science is rocket science.

Posted by Ted at 08:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Space Program

The Road To Hell Is Lined With Google Search Terminals

Remember, Google is Satan your friend.

Among the results returned for "Candy Baby Jesus":

Amazon sells a Nativity Chocolate Candy Mold set. Oops, "not available". Dang, 'cause that was just about perfect for when the Pope drops in and you want to offer him a little something sweet. I'm unclear on the etiquette here, would you nibble the savior feet first or head first? I think it would be funny to make one of these and gnaw the heads off of all the figures. Oh, and use white chocolate... hey, I just played the race card!!! Go, me!

Mapgirl, I'll save you a seat. Look for me near the boiling lake of blood.

Posted by Ted at 07:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links

May 29, 2006


My thanks go out today to every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform.

My grandfather served in WWI.

My great uncle served in WWII. This is the citation from his Medal of Honor:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company M, 329th Infantry, 83d Infantry Division. Place and date: Birgel, Germany, 14 December 1944. Entered service at: Glidden, Iowa. Birth: Willey, Iowa. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: He was leader of a machinegun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward and, at the pointblank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sgt. Neppel, blown 10 yards from his gun, had 1 leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sgt. Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.

He passed away in 1987. He was named "Handicapped Iowan of the Year" in 1970, and in 1989 the VA honored him by naming a wing of the Iowa City VA Hospital for him. A VFW post in Carroll, Iowa continues to award to scholarships each year in his name to the children of veterans.

My Dad was in the Air Force during the Korean conflict. He wasn't in-theater, and was medically retired after a devastating illness.

On my wife's side of the family, I know that Liz's Dad was a Marine, and at least two of her uncles served in Vietnam and made the Air Force their career.

Our son served a tour in the US Navy on the submarine USS Philadelphia. That boat is specially equipped to deliver special forces, and although he can't and won't say, I believe that they were directly involved in the initial stages of the Iraq invasion.

Finally, I'll include Shaun. Shaun has served two tours in Iraq with the US Army, and is the son of a friend that I served with during my Air Force days in Germany.

Thank you all.

Previous memorial posts on Rocket Jones can be found here and here.

Posted by Ted at 12:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Links Military


To those who snickered when I mentioned that I program in COBOL on a mainframe computer, I offer up the following:

main.frame ( 'mAn-"frAm noun): An obsolete device still used by thousands of obsolete companies and government entities, serving billions of obsolete customers and obsolete constituents, making huge obsolete profits for obsolete shareholders, and this year's obsolete models run twice as fast as last year's.

I forget where I where I found this, probably in one of the trade magazines.

Posted by Ted at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: SciTech

Purty Pictures

Pixy Misa pointed out this nifty Java applet that graphs your website. Check out Rocket Jones in the extended entry.


Posted by Ted at 09:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links

May 28, 2006

Oops (kinda)

I should have mentioned yesterday that both Dick Stafford's Rocket Dungeon and Mapgirl's Fiscal Challenge have been added to the blogroll. Of course, if I would've done that, then I wouldn't have had a post today.

Posted by Ted at 08:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links

May 27, 2006

Since I'm in some sort of weird "posting content" mood

Over at Pratt Hobbies blog, Doug has put up a picture of himself and his son Brian. Brian was my co-timer during the Team America finals.

Meanwhile, for the true tech-geek out there, check out this mashup of Google Maps that lets you track the orbital positions of satellites as well as letting you know when and where they'll appear in your sky over the next 48 hours. Tres cool! Kudos to Dick's Rocket Dungeon for the info and pointer.

Great Comment

You may or may not have heard about Lordi, the Finnish band that staged a huge upset to win the European version of American Idol*.

No? Over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy, they have a bunch of pictures of this group along with plenty of background. Fun reading, even if you're not into "Arctic Death Metal bands" (and if not, why not?).

I liked this comment by the lead singer of Lordi:

"We are not Satanists. We are not devil-worshippers. This is entertainment. Underneath [the mask] there’s a boring normal guy, who walks the dogs, goes to the supermarket, watches DVDs, eats candies.

But my favorite part, which resulted in a massive choking fit caused by the ol' soda-through-the-nose effect, was when Mapgirl** wonders aloud in the comments:

Heh heh “eats candies” Candied what? Baby Jesuses?

Worth the click.

*More correctly, American Idol is our copy of Eurovision, since theirs has been held for 50 years. We are but an egg.

**Mapgirl is a long-time commenter at the Ministry (she was already there when I found them) and she has a personal finances blog. You should go say hi.

Posted by Ted at 08:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links Rocketry

Seen on the road

A vehicle with one of those magnetic "support" ribbons, this one was black with purple outlines. The cause?

Support Lap Dancing

I could donate a twenty to that.

Posted by Ted at 07:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

May 26, 2006

Dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century

I now have a cell phone. I warned my wife that I wasn't going to automatically answer it just because it makes noise at me.

Posted by Ted at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't sit down

I took today off for an overdue extra long weekend. Even so, Liz woke me up when she left for work at 7 so I could get a few things done.

So let's see... it's just after noon, and I've:

Taken the car in for scheduled service and maintenance.
Gotten a haircut.
Bought some needed items for my new hybrid rocket motors.
Mowed the yard.
Broke the fence while mowing.
Fixed the fence.
Given both dogs a bath.

This afternoon I've got to meet Liz at the car dealership. Her vehicle has a recall against it and she scheduled an appointment to get it taken care of. While that's happening, we'll run a few other errands and then, other than laundry and cleaning the house, we should be completely done with "have to do's" for the holiday weekend. Yippeeeeeee!

Posted by Ted at 11:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

May 25, 2006

Quickie Movie Review - Slapshot 2

There is a secret government program whose sole purpose is to ensure that whenever one of the Baldwin brothers needs work, Hollywood with retch up another shitty movie like this one. I have no proof of this, but it's at least as plausible as the "deal with Satan" theory.

The original was full of unique and likable characters, and even the supporting cast was memorable in their brief moments in the spotlight. This time around, unique was replaced by stereotypes and odd quirks that are supposed to pass for personality.

The story makes no sense, and "important" plot points are dropped and forgotten halfway through the movie. The characters, every last one of them, is stupid and irrational. I don't mean stupid as in "that was a dumb move", I mean Forrest Gump stupid.

The Hansen brothers risked their cult hero status with this stinker, and they're fortunate that it wasn't more widely seen. Even their schtick is tired, and the camera rather obviously avoids getting too close to them or people might see that they're in their mid-40's or so.

Stick with the original, this one is lame.

Posted by Ted at 05:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Cult Flicks


These guys write some of the catchiest, smartest songs around.

I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln
And the enemies of truth
But I could not tell a Kennedy
From a John Wilkes Booth

The Rainmakers - "Reckoning Day"

Posted by Ted at 04:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

May 23, 2006

Maybe Antarctica (updated)

Creating a surface-to-idiot missile is actually quite simple*. Testing it is next to impossible because the guidance system is constantly overwhelmed with targets.

* No, really. It is! I designed one and had it about 95% working. I think there was a problem with a switch though, because every time I turned it on the darn thing would blow up on my workbench.

Update: Thanks to Zoe pointing out the spelling error (now fixed). Maybe it wasn't the switch...

Posted by Ted at 05:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

May 21, 2006

New Tagline

Over on the sidebar. It's been a long time since that was updated.

Posted by Ted at 11:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

"You can never have too much shock cord"

Well folks, another rewarding weekend spent watching the future of America has come and gone. The 2006 Team America Rocketry Challenge is over, and if you're so inclined I'll tell you all about it, from my vantage point as one of the volunteers.

First, I'll kick this off with a few factoids that I thought notable:

  • 100 teams of students from 37 states and the District of Columbia made it to the finals this year.

  • Some 7,000 students entered this year's contest.

  • Unlike last year, the vast majority of these teams were first time participants in the finals.

  • Plantation High School in Florida sent *six* teams to the finals!

The weather looked dicey all week, but when Saturday dawned it was cool, the winds were calm and although the sky was completely overcast, the clouds were high enough not to impact the contest flights. As the day went on, the ugly overcast moved out, leaving us with a glorious day in the mid-70's, breezes around 10mph, and a sky half full of fluffy white clouds. Perfect rocket weather.

This year, the contest flight goal had been simplified in an important way. Instead of making two-stage flights and lofting two fresh eggs, the requirement was to design and build a single stage rocket that only had to carry a single egg. The target altitude was lowered to allow single-stage flights, although two-stagers weren't prohibited. The reason for this change was to increase the number of qualified flights. In previous years around 35% of the entered teams were able to make successful flights (even if they didn't make it to the finals). This year, the number was - I believe - closer to 70%. To compensate for the reduced technical difficulty from previous years, the design goals were expanded. Rather than going for either a set altitude or duration in the air, the teams had to go for both a target altitude of 800 feet *and* a duration of 45 seconds from first motion to the first part of the egg capsule touching down. Obviously, a broken egg was a disqualification.

Due in large part to the simplification of the mission, we saw far fewer outright failures (translation: uncontrolled debris raining down out of the sky). There was a real effort made to not disqualify flights because of nitpicky rules interpretations, and I didn't hear of any flights DQ'd for other than gross and/or obvious rules violations.

Once again, the students amused and amazed with their ingenuity. We provided a 1/4" launch rod 6 feet in length, plus a single pair of electrical clips for ignition. Teams that clustered motors had to bring their own clip whips or other method of multiple-engine ignition, and could bring their own launch pads or electrical launch systems. Several did. I saw teams who had built mini-weather stations into launch towers, ranging from simple streamers to indicate wind direction to full setups including anemometers, thermometers and barometers.

One team used a tube launcher (see here for a description of different kinds of launch methods), and several brought rails. One enterprising group of MacGyvers cobbled together a large windbreak from scrounged cardboard boxes, duct tape, string and various pieces of scrap wood (I identified a 1"x2" and a length of broomstick in there). It was hideous, but it worked and was ingenious. Farther down you'll find out what the specific benefit was.

In previous years, I'd been in charge of parking, been part of the recovery teams (long poles to get rockets down out of trees), and handled access to the flying field. All needed tasks, but none that actually let me see the contest flights except from a distance. This year, I was up close and personal. I had the honor of working as part of the timer crew, each rocket being timed by a pair of NAR members using stopwatches to time the duration portion of flight in hundredths of a second. Our lead for the day was Jim Barrowman, author of the "Barrowman equations", which are still used to calculate stability of simple rocket designs. Here's a blip from his NASA bio:

James S. Barrowman served as a project and program manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center for 22 years, managing Attached Shuttle and Space Station Payloads, the Explorers Program, and the Hubble Space Telescope Program. He was awarded NASA's Exceptional Service Medal twice, as well as a Goddard Space Flight Center Award of Merit. He has also been the President of the National Association of Rocketry.

I should add that he's one heckuva nice guy.

So I spent the day talking to students from a quarter of the teams. Each team sent one student to the timer's area to point out which part of the rocket had the egg capsule. Some designs separated into as many as three pieces under separate parachutes.

The accuracy that these students were achieving was amazing. In the first hour we'd already timed a 45.3something, and the other timer teams were seeing similar results. Obviously, the determining factor was going to be the altitudes.

Each rocket carried aloft an altimeter that used barometric pressure to determine the altitude achieved. The altimeter would sound a series of beeps that the judges listened to which gave the results in feet. Later in the day, as the wind picked up, a problem with some rocket designs appeared where the pressure of the wind across the vent hole would create a venturi effect which would reduce the air pressure inside the rocket. This would trigger the sensor, causing it to think it had already reached maximum altitude and it would start to beep an altitude, usually something like 4 feet. The design solution is to not make your vent holes too large, the practical solution was to let each team make "one last check", listening to the altimeter just before starting the countdown. There were a few rockets that had to recycle through the launch queue in order to reset their altimeters.

This year, NASA sweetened the deal for teams that placed from 11th to 25th (out of the money, so to speak). Each school or group gets an invitation for a teacher to attend a workshop on how to include aerospace subjects into the curriculum. The workshops are held in Huntsville, Alabama (home of Space Camp), and NASA is picking up transportation costs for the teachers as well. In addition, each of these teams has been automatically entered into NASA's Student Launch Initiative (SLI) program where they build a high powered rocket designed to achieve one mile in altitude. The group gets a $2500 grant to do that. Plus (yep, there's more), the teams can design and submit a scientific package that may be selected to be launched on an actual NASA research sounding rocket. If their experiment is selected, they get to travel to the launch site and see the launch.

The top ten teams may get that in addition to the prize money, but it wasn't specifically mentioned.

Each of the winning teams went up on the platform to get their trophies, meet the VIP's (including Buzz Aldrin, who still looks great) and get their photos taken. There were some 40 "partner awards" given out by the various aerospace sponsors. This year, besides the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and NASA, DoD and the Civil Air Patrol were sponsors as well.

The second place team was all girls. More about them in a bit.

The first place team was three guys, and they dedicated the day to two of the original team members who'd been killed in an auto accident not too long ago.

Afterwards, there was a BBQ for all of the students, families, guests and volunteers. I wound up sharing a table with two young ladies from the team that finished in second place. Their parents were there too, and I found out that they were from Toledo, Ohio. I'd been one of the timers for their flight, and I remembered that they were incredibly nervous. Turns out that the team had entered TARC the previous two years without making the finals, but this year they made it and won big. Their rocket was very utilitarian, well constructed and painted plain white with signatures from various people being the only decoration. This team was comprised of three seniors and a junior (who vowed to be back with a new team next year), and one of the graduating ladies already had a scholarship to MIT.

Of course, there was plenty to see besides rocket contest flights. There were lots of booths and tables set up from colleges and organizations, handing out literature and goodies like pens and keychains and pins and stickers and frisbees. The creator of the RocketCAD design and simulation software package had flown in from Germany to attend, and a company from Finland was flying a weather balloon to 750 feet with weather radiosondes located up and down the cable to measure weather conditions at various altitudes. There was a simulator of some sort (I barely got a chance to walk through the displays, and had no chance to stop and look). The Marines from Cherry Point, NC sent two AV8-B Harriers to do a flyover after the National Anthem in the morning, and a recon UAV did a flyover demo during the lunch break, circling the field and (I presume) beaming back pictures to the ground where folks could see them in real time.

Murdoc would've loved the Stryker on display, as well as a Humvee. I did get a chance to talk to the soldier there with them.
He was about a month away from retirement, but was part of the battle that toppled Baghdad. As a platoon sergeant for an artillery company, he was doing recon towards the airport (which was one of the last parts of Baghdad to fall), when his main unit became engaged by Iraqi's with small arms fire. He turned his recon unit around and hit the unsuspecting Iraqi's from behind. Kicked their ass too. I thanked him for his service.

File this next bit under "Small World". When I first joined NOVAAR, the very first person I talked to was Roger. Roger is a nice guy, and his son Doug was often out at the field as well, testing rocket glider designs.

Doug recently received his Masters degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech. When I heard the school, I asked Doug if he'd known Chris Hall, a professor there and long-time resident of the Rocket Jones blogroll as the author of Spacecraft. Sure enough, Professor Hall was on Doug's panel.

One last item, about the title quote. While timing one flight, I remarked upon an exceptionally long shock cord (the bit that keeps the various pieces together under parachute). The student told me that their team mentor always said that "you can never have too much shock cord", and I laughed because I say that too. Their mentor was fellow club member Ivan, and he and I are both known for using the longest length of shock cord that we can fit into a rocket.

Posted by Ted at 07:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry

May 18, 2006

Team America Rocketry Challenge this weekend

The weekend we've been planning for, and that the student teams have been working towards for almost a year is upon us.

I've talked about the challenge itself, I've talked about the prizes. Here are some of the final details (from the final crew update).

The opening ceremony will include a flyover by a pair of US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier fighter jets. There will be a large number of display booths by various aerospace corporations and miltary services. The CBS Morning Show will be broadcasting live from the field, and other networks may do this also.

Remember, the winning team will also be treated to a trip to the Farnborough Air Show in England by Raytheon Corporation.

Check out this list of distinguished guests:

Dr. Buzz Aldrin, NASA Astronaut

The Honorable James Finley, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology

Dr. William Berry, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Laboratories & Basic Sciences (Acting)

Mr. John Landon, Deputy to the Assistant Secretary for C-3 ISR and IT Acquisition

The Honorable John Young, Director of Defense Research and Engineering

Ms. Patricia Grace Smith, Associate Administrator for Commercial Space, FAA

Mr. Rex Geveden, Associate Administrator, NASA

The Honorable Ronald Sega, Under Secretary of the Air Force

The Honorable Delores Etter, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition

Ms. Lynn Cline, Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA

Ms. Angie Johnson, Assistant Associate Administrator for Education, NASA

Dr. Mark Lewis, Chief Scientist of the Air Force

Dr. Tony Tether, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Dr. James Short, Director, Defense Laboratory Management; Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Laboratories & Basic Sciences)

Dr. James Tegnalia, Director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)

Dr. Bernice Alston, Deputy Chief Education Officer, NASA

Ms. Lisa Sutherland, Staff Director, U.S. Senate Committee on Science, Commerce & Transportation

Mr. François Gayet, Secretary General of the Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe

Mr. Graham Gibbs, Counsellor, Space Affairs, Canadian Space Agency, Embassy of Canada

Dr. Tony Sinden, Councillor, Defence Science & Technology, Embassy of the United Kingdom

Mr. Frederic Nordlund, Head, Washington Office, European Space Agency (ESA)

Mr. Kiwao Shibukawa, Director, Washington Office, JAXA

Mr. Andrew Flinn, Underwater Weapon Systems Liaison Officer, Embassy of the United Kingdom

Mr. Andrew Bird, Missile Defence Liaison Officer, Embassy of the United Kingdom

That list gives a good idea of just how serious the government and tech fields take this type of event. The students might not even realize it, but just by making the finals they've generated some interest.

A couple of years ago, a NASA official told the assembled students that according to projections, the first person to land on Mars is in high school right now. It might just be one of these kids.

Posted by Ted at 01:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry

Technically, this is a post

Been way too busy doing things not worth blogging about, and rather than sink to bunny blogging I've just been letting Rocket Jones idle. Except for the hockey playoffs, that is. That's been kept up to date, and now that my beloved Sharks are eliminated (streaky play to the end, rotten time to go cold), I'm looking at the remaining teams and have to say, "Go Sabres".

Maybe, if we all ask nicely, Mookie will share some of her London pictures and stories with us.

Posted by Ted at 05:11 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Square Pegs

May 13, 2006

Leaving well enough alone

We went to the store this evening, and I was wandering the cereal aisle and noticed a box of Captain Crunch. Yum!

Except, this wasn't the Captain I grew up with. The Captain I remember was a kindly old man, in fact, he always reminded me of another Captain, named Kangaroo. Check out this Wikipedia link for a nice picture of the "good" Captain.

Today's Captain Crunch looks like a lunatic escapee from an asylum! The heck with it. The cereal goes into a plastic container in the pantry and I threw the box away. Too creepy. Next time you're in the supermarket, check out the loon on today's box and you'll see what I mean.

Posted by Ted at 11:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

I'm alive

...just been very, very busy.

Posted by Ted at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

May 08, 2006

I knew college would turn her into a commie

Mookie got some PC time from London the other day, so she IM'd Dad. She's having a great time, and told a great story about one day her and a friend had while sightseeing. It seems that they were out and about on May 1st and somehow wound up marching in the socialist's May Day parade. Afterwards, they were within about 20' of the main stage where all the speaker's were talking to the crowd. She said they got tons of flyers and leaflets and a big sign too.

Dad, every conceivable nitwit with a cause was out there. What a freakin' zoo.

That's my girl.

Posted by Ted at 07:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Square Pegs

May 07, 2006

Not Quite What I Remember

NASA creates some wicked cool animated mission videos, and the best I've seen was a version where someone added a background soundtrack of Lenny Kravitz' Fly Away.

This version is pretty good though, set to Nine Inch Nails Sunspots. Check out NIN to Mars.

Here's another, which leaves the original NASA audio intact. It's longer too, not edited down to fit a particular song.

Posted by Ted at 07:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Links SciTech Space Program

I remember

I remember seeing the pubic service announcement as a lad.

I don't remember it being a big problem.

Maybe a regional thing: Willie Mays warning kids not to play with blasting caps.

Thanks to The McCovey Chronicles for the memories.

Posted by Ted at 07:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Links

May 05, 2006

First thoughts on playoff hockey

Tonight was my first chance this year to sit down and watch some playoff hockey games.

Buffalo vs. Ottawa. Ooooh baby, this was some seriously fun hockey. There were three goals scored in the first couple of minutes of the game, and three more in the last minute and a half. Buffalo tied the game at 6 with 10 seconds left, and then won the game just 18 seconds into overtime after a Sens defenseman fanned on a clearing attempt.

Despite the fact that both teams feature powerful offenses, the truth of this game is that both goalies are rookies, and both goalies looked like it. The scoring is fun, but the netminding sucked.

Give the Sabres credit though for hanging in there long enough to steal the game. They had 7 goals on less than 20 shots. The Senators dominated, and if Buffalo doesn't get it together then Ottawa will walk away with the series.

About the commercials... OLN "believes in hockey". It's about f*cking time.

Verizon and their "what should I get Mom for Mother's Day?" commercial: yet another example of advertising that is memorable as designed, but in all the wrong ways. If I have to watch that commercial through the rest of the playoffs, I will never, ever use Verizon.

The second game is on right now: Colorado at Anaheim. At the end of the first period the game is scoreless. The prime thought I have is that the OLN broadcasting team should be working for Verizon. They're that bad. Unfunny jokes. Inane and pointless chatter. I'm about ready to rediscover mime hockey.

Colorado has been blocking shots like crazy. If I hadn't heard the insane numbers they put up in the first round against Dallas, it would still be notable.

Former Washington Capital Steve Konowalchuk is back for the Avs after missing 62 games with a broken wrist. He's one of the class guys in the league and it's good to see him back.

Every time you use a Verizon phone, an angel bursts into flame.

Posted by Ted at 10:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Balls and Ice

Commitment, Committed... whatever

My Level 2 rocketry certification process took a huge step forward last night when I ordered the motor casing and reload kit.

Contrail J246 hybrid. 38mm motor case, 36" long. 673 newton/seconds total thrust delivered over 2.8 seconds of burn time.

When all is ready to go (early summer), y'all are invited to the launch.

Posted by Ted at 05:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
Category: Rocketry

May 04, 2006

Frozen Treats

The first round of NHL's playoffs are over. The top four seeds in the Eastern Conference all advanced, while none of the top four in the West survived.

Now things get interesting. Both Ottawa and Buffalo are starting rookie goalies. The Senators are a goal-scoring machine, but Buffalo has managed to do it all year long. Speed, speed, speed. This series is going to be fun.

Carolina took a nap early in the series against Montreal, and it almost cost them. The Devils are a solid team, and they have Broduer in net, which is a huge positive. Add the fact that they've won fifteen straight games. Personally, this series is probably the least interesting one to me, but it features two evenly matched teams who promise plenty of excellent hockey.

In the West you have the San Jose Sharks, who're on a scorching hot streak (second only to those Joisy boys), up against the Oilers, still on a high from knocking off the top-seeded Wings. Edmonton's Chris Pronger has quietly put together another excellent season, and after years of playoff futility in St. Louis he's hoping to carry his new team all the way this year. Then again, they're about to run into the buzz saw of the Sharks offense. They have so many weapons that shutting down one, like the Predators did with Thornton, only means that someone like team captain Marleau will ably pick up the slack. In goal, it's Roloson for the Oilers, a late acquisition from Minnesota at the trade deadline, vs. Toskala, yet another in the recent series of excellent Finnish goaltenders. Backing up Toskala is Nabokov, who would be starting for more than half the teams in the NHL (hell, maybe more than half the teams that made the playoffs).

Last, but not least: Colorado against Anaheim. I know next to nothing about these two teams this year, beyond that the Avs have former Canadien Jose Theodore in net, and that he played beyond expectations against the Stars. I always liked him, but then like I said, I haven't seen him play much this season. Colorado stumbled badly towards the end of the season, but if they've truly turned it around they should handle the Ducks easily.

Ha, like I know what I'm talking about!

Posted by Ted at 05:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Category: Balls and Ice

May 02, 2006

His name is Fred, and he's a quiet guy

The extended Phipps clan grew by one last weekend with the addition of a new pet.

Meet Fred. He's a Holland Lop.

Fred, the Holland Lop Bunny

Liz kinda surprised us all a few weeks ago when she announced that she's always wanted a rabbit. This was news to everyone, because none of the rest of us can ever remember her mentioning it before. I know that she was born on Easter, whatever that may have to do with it.

But I'm nothing if not agreeable, so I told her to do some research and if she really wanted a bunny, then I didn't have a problem with it. Google is your friend, and we also discovered that there is a "Rabbits for Dummies".

I've learned a bit about the little critters, such as mostly they ain't so little. Fred is a bantam by bunny standards, coming in at around 4 pounds. Also, being a lop, his body structure is very different from the short-eared breeds more common out west where I grew up. When Fred hunkers down, he's shaped like a Volkswagen, whereas the wild jackrabbits I hunted in my youth were more upright and lean, built for speed.

Not to say that Fred is a slowpoke. He's already demonstrated an amazing ability to reverse direction on a dime, leaving our dog Trix wondering what the hell just happened during the chase.

The dogs are fine with Fred. Sam, the oldster, could really care less. Trix has mastered the skill of jumping over the baby gate at will, assuming that the barrier is to keep Fred *in*, not him out. Mostly, they're still getting used to each other, with Trix trying to figure out why the new weird dog doesn't act like one.

About the name. Fred's first known name was Severn, as in "Severn River", which is where he was found as a stray (and how do you know a rabbit is a stray?). When he was taken in by the Bunny Rescue people, he was renamed Fast Freddie for his pinball-like speed. According to the pet psychic, he likes the name Fast Freddie. I hate it, but it's better than anything else we've come up with, so by default his name in our house is becoming plain ol' Fred.

Pet psychic? Oh yeah, the Bunny Rescue people have a pet psychic come in to see the rabbits every once in a while. Fred remembers two Springs, so they figure he's two years old. When the lady told us about the pet psychic, she said "this is going to sound goofy...". You know what? She sounded about as goofy talking about the rabbits as I do talking about rockets. Nothing wrong with being passionate about something.

Fred was neutered and microchipped, so he can be tracked and reunited with us in the event of a natural disaster.

He likes dried papaya, spinich and raisins, besides his normal diet of Purina Rabbit Chow and hay. Rabbits are big hay eaters, which I didn't know. He's also litter box trained.

I think he's happy with his new home. At least he hasn't been bitching, but like I said, he's a quiet guy.

Posted by Ted at 07:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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