December 24, 2003

Even Santa puts up with the government

Because of recent events, Santa now has to go through a more thorough FAA "Flight Safety and Emergency Certification" inspection. On the appointed day, he greets the inspector, and they chat about the new rules and regulations imposed.

Just like they do every year, the FAA inspector looks over Santa's maintenance records, then they go out and do a walk-around of the sleigh. He checks for loose runners, makes sure the reins aren't dry-rotted, asks more questions about what to do during this or that emergency situation, and just generally being more thorough than the normal annual inspection.

Finally, it's time for the check ride, and Santa gets in the sleigh. He's a little alarmed when the FAA inspector climbs aboard with his clipboard and a rifle. Santa immediately inquires about the weapon.

"Well," says the FAA inspector, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but you're going to suffer an engine failure during take off."

Posted by: Ted at 08:11 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Greetings

Happy Holidays! ** (see Footnote 1 in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 05:28 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Audience participation night - NHL style

The New York Islanders held a promotion where anyone dressed as Santa Claus got free admission to the hockey game last night against their crosstown rival New York Rangers.

Between periods, the Santas were ushered on to the ice, at which point two of them opened up their suits to display NY Ranger sweaters underneath. In a display of old fashioned hockey tradition, both Santas were jumped by the rest, knocked down and stripped of the offending uniforms.

The fight lasted nearly nine minutes, and several normally-dressed fans joined in from the stands. Geez, I love hockey!

Posted by: Ted at 05:16 AM | category: Square Pegs
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December 23, 2003

iPod information update

I had originally asked for any and all information about iPod's here, and got lots and lots of great answers in the comments. Then Dawn stopped me dead with this link and the quicktime video viewable from that page. If this is true, then the iPod isn't necessarily such a great deal anymore. Anyone know if what they say in the video is the real deal?

Update: Once again Dawn comes through! Look here for step-by-step instructions - with pictures - on how to replace your own iPod battery. Batteries run around $60.00 from the same company. That doesn't sound like an unreasonable price.

Posted by: Ted at 11:41 AM | category: SciTech
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Christmas Trees

Why a Christmas Tree Is Better Than a Woman

1. A Christmas tree doesn't care how many other Christmas trees you have had in the past.
2. Christmas trees don't get mad if you use exotic electrical devices.
3. A Christmas tree doesn't care if you have an artificial one in the closet.
4. You can feel a Christmas tree before you take it home.
5. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you look up underneath it.
6. When you are done with a Christmas tree, you can throw it on the curb and have it hauled away.
7. A Christmas tree doesn't get jealous around other Christmas trees.
8. A Christmas tree doesn't care if you watch football all day.
9. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you tie it up and throw it in the back of your pickup truck.


Why A Christmas Tree Is Better Than A Man

1. A Christmas tree is always erect.
2. Even small ones give satisfaction.
3. A Christmas tree stays up for 12 days and nights.
4. A Christmas tree always looks good - even with the lights on.
5. A Christmas tree is always happy with its size.
6. A Christmas tree has cute balls.
7. A Christmas tree doesn't get mad if you break one of its balls.
8. You can throw a Christmas tree out when it's past its 'sell by' date.
9. You don't have to put up with a Christmas tree all year.

Posted by: Ted at 08:06 AM | category: Square Pegs
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The Year Santa Started World War III

This is a song I wrote in 1979 or Â’80. I was in the Air Force, stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota with the Strategic Air Command (SAC). It definitely reflects my life and mindset at the time, considering where I was and what I was doing. ItÂ’s a little dated now that the Soviet Union is no more, but I think it still works. I wish I could post the music with it (and you should be glad I donÂ’t know how to post audio). Anyway, the various snippets of Christmas carols are mostly sung to their original melodies and rhythms, and the background is a simple glockenspiel line or finger-picked guitar.

The Year Santa Started World War III

Deck the halls with jingle bells, jingle bells, and lots of Christmas cheer,
I remember all the fuss at Christmas time that year.

Our spies had found the Russians out,
Discovered quite a trick,
On Christmas eve a missile dressed as Santa Claus would hit.
Washington would be aglow,
With more than Christmas cheer,
WouldnÂ’t need no Christmas lights, the next ten thousand years.

Ho Ho Ho, Fa La La La Laaaaaa,
And a silent night,
WeÂ’ll intercept that phony Santa and blast it out of sight.

Christmas eve had rolled around,
And everything was set,
Our missiles were all poised to strike at Rudolph the Red Threat.
We tracked it on our radar,
And let our missile fly,
It hit and as we watched in awe it lit up half the sky.

Wise men ‘round the world agree,
That on that holy night,
We intercepted something and we blew it out of sight.

Radar screens began to light up,
All across the land,
It soon was plain to everyone that doomsday was at hand.
Kids still talk about it,
As the yule that never was,
America had shown itÂ’s might and nuked poor Santa Claus.

Dashing through the snow,
Up on the rooftop reindeer pause,
With Uncle Sam as Mr. Scrooge we nuked poor Santa Claus.

A lesson quite apparent,
No need to dig down deep,
Just need one to wage a war, need two to wage a peace.
“Do You See What I See”
is a motto for all men,
God intended Christmas as a time to start again.

Ho Ho Ho, Fa La La La Laaaaaa,
ChildrenÂ’s Christmas dreams,
First Noel reminds that nothingÂ’s as bad as it seems.

Partridges and pear trees,
Holly decks the halls,
Peace on earth to everyone, and God bless one and all.
Peace on earth to everyone, and God bless one and all.

Posted by: Ted at 07:10 AM | category: About Ted
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December 22, 2003

Oooo, a rocket question!

I know, it's *yawn* to most of you. But it's not often I get to act like Horschack.

Victor left a comment on my post about the upcoming Bowling Ball Loft contest. He was referencing part of the rules:

I took a look at the rules, and this intrigued me: Use a launch rail, tube or tower. Rods are prohibited due to past bad experience.

And he asked:

Can you explain the difference between the four launch pad configurations (apologies if my terminology is not correct) and what kind of bad experience they may have had with a launch rod? (I realize that might be speculation on your part.)

No speculation needed, I know exactly why they don't allow the use of launch rods in this situation. First a little background:

An unguided rocket (like we fly) has to be moving at a certain speed for the fins to have a stabilizing effect. Usually itÂ’s around 40mph, although a lot of different factors can make a difference one way or another. Since hobby rockets are launched very nearly vertical, we use different ways of making sure that the rocket stays pointed straight up until itÂ’s moving fast enough for the fins to take over.

All of these assume that the launch pad itself is stable. Good wide legs, low center of gravity, anchored to the ground or hefty construction; all of these combine to ensure that the launch pad wonÂ’t tip or tilt when the thrust of the motor kicks it. Attached to the launch pad itself will be the rod, rail, tube or tower.

The oldest method is the launch rod. Most commonly used for the smallest model rockets (1/8” x 36” long), it doesn’t scale up well but is still used - up to 1” diameter rods around 12 feet long. The problem is that when more power and weight are used, the rod tends to ‘whip’ which can fling a rocket off vertical. Not a biggie with a nine ounce model rocket, but it can be very dangerous with a nine pound rocket. A ‘launch lug’ is used, which is just a length of tubing glued to the rocket that slides loosely over the rail. On smaller rockets, the lug looks like a short piece of soda straw.

The launch rail is quickly becoming the standard method of launching bigger rockets. Made of extruded aluminum, the extra mass and shape of the rail makes for a much stiffer guide, which ensures that the rocket stays vertical as it launches. Instead of lugs, ‘rail buttons’ are used, which slide into the channel of the rail to provide the guidance. There's a picture of a typical rail in the extended entry.

A launch tower is primarily used in altitude contest launches. Instead of a lug or buttons attached to the rocket, the tower provides the guidance for a rocket by using three rods or rails spaced around the rocket body (between the fins). In its simplest form, a launch tower can be three parallel rods sticking up out of a coffee can full of cement. The main advantage is that since the rocket doesn’t have lugs or buttons, there is significantly less drag, which makes for higher altitudes. The main disadvantage is that a tower is only good for one diameter of rocket, unless some way of adjusting the guide rods is included, which adds to the complexity and cost. This elegant design here – by another Ted – allows for the three most common diameters of model rockets.

A launch tube is similar to the tower, except that the guidance is provided by the walls of the tube against the tips of the fins. Unlike a gun barrel, there is no back pressure assisting the liftoff. There are ways to use the ‘cannon’ method of launching as well, but it’s difficult enough that it’s not usually worth the effort and extremely rare to see it done.

Professional rockets use a variety of these methods, usually for the same reasons we do. The Super Loki Dart sounding rocket (this picture is of a scale model) is launched from an 12Â’ long tower (picture here along with some specs) that is spiraled like a gun barrel to provide spin and extra stability. The Loki reaches Mach 5 in a little less than a second, so staying straight is critical or the rocket will break into pieces.

Personally, I use launch rods up to about ¼” diameter – on anything up to about 2 pound rockets. I have rail buttons mounted on our larger rockets, and a lot of our rockets are rigged to use either, just in case a rail isn’t available. Given a choice, I’ll use the rail any time, because I’ve seen some scary flights caused by rod whip. more...

Posted by: Ted at 03:16 PM | category: Rocketry
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The Internet Video Archive

If you've got the bandwidth and a high-speed connection, you could probably spend quite a while here.

Posted by: Ted at 06:58 AM | category: Links
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More retro coolness

Hey Daniel, if you thought the Atari classic joystick full of games was cool, check out this one: the Intellivision 25!

My neighbor had an Intellivision, and I always wanted one. Way beyond our newlywed budget at the time, they had some nifty games that were more strategy-oriented than the (still fun) Atari shoot-em-ups.

I'll post a review of it in the near future.

Posted by: Ted at 06:24 AM | category: Square Pegs
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December 21, 2003

Is this true?

According to Sports Illustrated, for the first time since 1954 no football teams from New York or California will make the playoffs.

Obviously the republicans control the NFL, vindictive bastards.

Posted by: Ted at 11:17 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Rocket contest

From the Rec.Models.Rockets newsgroup (my notes and clarifications are in italics):

Arizona High Power Rocketry Association (AHPRA) will be once again holding the bowling ball loft at LDRS (annual high power rocket launch featured in the Discovery Channel programs).

For LDRS 23 the Bowling Ball Loft class will be I-Lite (on the small end of the scale for 'I' sized motors). This was chosen to best suit the field size and waiver restrictions at the New York site (yes, safety matters to us).

Rockets will be launched for maximum altitude with a payload of one eight
pound bowling ball using an I motor from the approved list
.

In addition to the regular cornucopia of prizes AHPRA gets from vendors
there is the potential to win up to $1000 (One Thousand Dollars US) cash if
you set the new I Lite record during the contest
.

Look here for more information.

Posted by: Ted at 10:49 AM | category: Rocketry
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After Link Love like this, I need a cigarette

Over at JimiLove, Inc., yours truly has been nominated, nay, crowned "nicest guy on the internet".

I'm feeling pretty darned good about it. Since it was totally unexpected, I don't have any words prepared, so I'll plagiarize paraphrase some from a movie.

If this were Ted's Universe, I'd require stiffer sentencing for repeat offenders. And world peace.

Thank you.

Posted by: Ted at 10:24 AM | category: Links
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Not a Bee Gee to be found

Over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy, Johno points out what may very well be the best week in the history of rock and roll.

Check out the Billboard Chart for December 20, 1969:

No. 1, "Abbey Road," the Beatles
No. 2, "Led Zeppelin II," Led Zeppelin
No. 3, "Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas," Tom Jones
No. 4, "Green River," Creedence Clearwater Revival
No. 5, "Let It Bleed," the Rolling Stones
No. 6, "Santana," Santana
No. 7, "Puzzle People," the Temptations
No. 8, "Blood Sweat & Tears," Blood Sweat & Tears
No. 9, "Crosby, Stills & Nash," Crosby, Stills & Nash
No. 10, "Easy Rider" soundtrack (featuring the Byrds, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf)

Right there, you have the soundtrack to one kick ass roadtrip.

Posted by: Ted at 08:39 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Nothing profound, just a couple of thoughts about women

Guys, you should go with your wife when she has to visit her gynocologist. It's fun to sit in the waiting room and without doing a thing, make every female there uncomfortable as hell. Kind of an implied 'I know what you're here for' thing. Plus, you get to catch up on your chicks magazine reading.

***

My wife was outraged the other evening when I told my daughters that they should do more phone sex. Things calmed down after I outlined "Dad's Definition of Phone Sex":

phone rings, daughter picks up: hello?

boy on other end of line: hey, wanna chill?

daughter: SCREW YOU!

after which daughter immediately slams phone down.

Us dads don't get enough credit for thinking outside the box.

***

If you're drowning in estrogen around the house, get a male dog. Nothing is more 'guy' than a puppy humping everything in sight or licking himself in the middle of the floor. Never ever let a women talk you into getting him fixed.

***

A while back Nic said this in my comments:

"Your love for and commitment to your family comes through in every post."

That's a very sweet thing to say, and I thank you for it. I think it also explains why I have such a hard time meeting women on the side.

Posted by: Ted at 08:04 AM | category: Square Pegs
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December 20, 2003

Classic Trashy Movie Titles

I talked about movie stars appearing in less-than-memorable movies, and now I'll list some wonderfully crappy movie titles. Once again these are courtesy of Video Hound's Cult Flicks & Trash Pics.

Also, titles preceded with an asterisk are ones I've seen. I love these kinds of movies, although, to quote the hound: "An inspired title doesn't necessarily ensure an inspired movie."

* Assault of the Killer Bimbos

Attack of the Killer Refrigerator

Avenging Disco Godfather

The Beautiful, the Bloody and the Bare

* Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens

* Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death

* Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things

* Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters

Gore-Met Zombie Chef from Hell

* Hillbillys in a Haunted House

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers

* I Dismember Momma

* I Spit on Your Grave

* Mars Needs Women

Oversexed Rugsuckers from Mars

* Pecker

Please Don't Eat My Mother

Rabid Grannies

Rat Pfink a Boo-Boo

The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!

* Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Satan's Cheerleaders

* Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama

Three on a Meathook

Posted by: Ted at 08:20 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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OSHA and Santa

Nic pointed this one out. Too funny!

Posted by: Ted at 07:10 AM | category: Links
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December 19, 2003

Just the facts please

Ok, iPod's and MP3 players... what's the story?

I've tried to get answers to a few basic questions, and have had no luck so far, so I'm coming to the smartest people I know - folks who read my blog.

Suppose I buy one of these beasties and spend a buck a song to fill it up with music. That's a significant chunk of change on top of the initial price.

Is there a way to back up the music? I mean, if someone steals the iPod or it gets destroyed somehow (flying monkeys), am I out the hardware and the songs I've already paid for?

How much music does it actually hold? Assuming a mythical 3 minute rock'n'roll song, about how big is it? How many of these would fit in a 64MB memory? See what I'm getting at? I mean, what good is one of these if it only stores 20 songs at a time, I might as well keep my DiscMan.

Any upgrades available and doable by the average user? Better headphones, more memory, etc?

Batteries. What do they use, how long do they last, yadda yadda yadda.

What else do I need to know? I know these are very vague questions, but that's the kind of information I need. Don't tell me it holds up to 300 songs, because I know it will only hold 1 song, but it will be very very long. Getting the straight word on this kind of stuff drives me crazy, like used-car salesmen and military recruiters, you're only going to hear the good stuff.

Posted by: Ted at 12:17 PM | category: SciTech
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Photographic History

Sometimes I'm just awed by what you can find on the internet. This is a perfect example:

On June 15, 1878, a clear and sunny day in Palo Alto, California, amid a gathering of art and sports journalists, Eadweard Muybridge photographed the first successful serial images of fast motion.

The subject of these photographs was the trotting horse, Abe Edgington, harnessed to a sulky. The horse was owned by railroad builder and former governor, Leland Stanford. Proven was Stanford's theory that during a horse's running stride, there is a moment of suspension where no hooves are touching the ground.

What had begun as a topic of unresolvable debate among artists and horse enthusiasts now launched a new era in photography.

Take some time to look through the index and galleries too, and enjoy the history replaying before your eyes.

Link thanks to Fleshbot (not work safe).

Posted by: Ted at 09:06 AM | category: History
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One of those little excursions

Mookie borrowed a t-shirt from her best friend last weekend (they often trade clothes) which said "How Not To Get Caught". Underneath are three 'international' style pictograms, you know the ones with the little stick figures. The first says "Act dumb", next is "Deny you did it", and then finally "Blame the flying monkeys". Cute.

But I wondered what kind of hits one would get if we Googled "How Not To Get Caught".

Number 2 on the list is How not to get caught in the unethical fish trap via the BBC. From the article: "Eating seafood can be a minefield for the ethical consumer. Where, how and when a fish is caught dictates its environmental impact - and this information is seldom available on shop labels or menus."

Next up - number 6 or so - is a site titled "Grow securely - how not to get caught". Welcome to the UK Cannabis Internet Activists (UKCIA), which is some sort of marijuana advocacy organization. They have a forum listed on their main page, and ask you to tell them what you think. I'm reminded of an old 'Shoe' comic, where Skyler asks Uncle Shoe if dope is bad for you. He says "Yes. It causes your body to be thrown into jail."

This next one looks like some sort of historical link: How not to get caught making fake credit card calls. Chock full of 60's-style anti-establishment lingo and rhetoric. Amusing.

How not to get caught wanking. Crude and juvenile. Lots of pop-ups too, including one featuring a picture of Einstein. Do you think Albert wanked in the shower? The unified theory of wanking?

Moving on...

The very first thing on page 2 is How not to get caught on the World Wide Web. Since you're reading this, I'll assume it's too late.

Dark Tipper Kevin Rose On How Not To Get Caught Downloading Music, Proof Planet X Exists, Camwhore Face-Off.

Here we get tips on How not to get caught speeding (hopefully). I especially like the "(hopefully)" part. Here's a helpful tip: "Memorize the headlight patterns of the common cop cars in your area." Uh huh.

Boy Howdy! At NotInYourPants.com you can order books on how to deal with Escorts. They adveritse: "MORE F**K FOR THE BUCK! BUY NOW and you'll also get a copy of my FREE article, "How Not to Get Caught With the Girl You Bought," full of extremely valuable information on guaranteeing that your escort experience remains discreet."

Simply titled How Not To Get Caught, our next stop contains this wisdom:
"Martyrs have their place in every movement, and they can be quite effective symbols; however, substance wins over symbolism every time, and you can't do anything substantial if you are sitting behind bars. The Confederate guerrilla is, by the nature of his activities, the free-est of free men. The only way that he can maintain that freedom of action is not to get caught, and the only way not to get caught is not to be identified."

Digging a little further, this guy is waiting for the Confederacy to rise again. Literally.

There are tons and tons of links to go through. How not to get caught when shoplifting, having affairs, stealing cable TV and other assorted naughtyness.

Google is your friend.

Posted by: Ted at 08:41 AM | category: Links
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More pretty pictures

NASA unveiled the first views from its space infrared telescope, a super-cooled orbiting observatory that can look through obscuring dust to capture images never before seen.

The newest member of NASA's family of orbiting telescopes, this telescope is named in honor of the famed astronomer Lyman Spitzer Jr. Spitzer, a Princeton University astronomer, proposed in 1946, long before the first orbital rocket, that the nation put telescopes into space, above the obscuring effects of the atmosphere.

Spitzer was a leader in efforts to persuade Congress to pay for a fleet of orbiting telescopes. He also played a major role in the 1990 launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. He died in 1997.

Spitzer is considered one of the most significant astronomers of the 20th century.

The telescope completes NASA's original plan to orbit telescopes to study segments of the electromagnetic spectrum, the visible and invisible radiation that fills the universe, which is partially or completely blocked by the Earth's atmosphere.

The Hubble, launched in 1990, gathers images in visible, ultraviolet and near-infrared waves. The Compton, launched in 1991, studied gamma rays, a high energy form of radiation. Its mission ended in 1999. The Chandra Observatory, launched in 1999, studies X-ray radiation from supernovas and black holes.

Posted by: Ted at 08:11 AM | category: Space Program
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