August 28, 2003

Lightning Research

Two guys are talking, and the first says, "My wife drives like lightning."

"Drives fast, eh?", says his friend.

"Nah. She hits trees."

Over the last couple of days, we've had massive waves of thunderstorms plow through the area, leaving thousands without power. The storm last night put on a spectacular light show, with frequent lightning in every direction.

Other than flying a kite in the rain (not recommended despite historical precedence), how do we learn about this phenomenon?

It is possible to artificially generate lightning to study it, but it's difficult and expensive. In addition, you're not necessarily duplicating the environmental conditions that produce lightning. An alternative is to use rockets to induce a lightning strike in a specific area where scientific instruments are located.

There are some spectacular photos on that page, as well many interesting links. If you're interested in seeing the process in action, there are QuickTime movie clips here and here.

Posted by: Ted at 11:01 AM | category: Rocketry
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Military Wisdom

"Aim towards the Enemy." -Instruction printed on US Rocket Launcher

"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend. -U.S. Marine Corps

"Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground." -U.S.A.F.Ammo Troop

"If the enemy is in range, so are you." -Infantry Journal

"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit." -Army's magazine of preventive maintenance.

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed." -U.S. Air Force Manual

"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo." -Infantry Journal

"Tracers work both ways." -U.S. Army Ordnance

"Five-second fuses only last three seconds." -Infantry Journal

"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." --David Hackworth

"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush." - Infantry Journal

"No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection." -Joe Gay

"Any ship can be a minesweeper... once." -Anon

"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do." -Unknown Marine Recruit

"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you." -Your Buddies

"If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him." - U.S.A.F. Ammo Troop

And to prove this last point, check out this story titled

"Can You Outrun a Nuclear Missile?
Yes, But Only If You Don't Obey The Guard's Orders to Stop!

Posted by: Ted at 10:59 AM | category: Military
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Jamestown fort rediscovered

I'm not sure, but I think Jennifer's list of punishments said that forgetting where your fort was rated 18 lashes.

Read about the history of Jamestown.

Posted by: Ted at 10:57 AM | category: History
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August 27, 2003

Catchy Title Needed

I need a snazzy name for these rambling link-filled muse-o-rama's. C'mon peoples, gimme a hand here. I thought maybe "Around the Horn", but that's already used by a loser of a sports show. I also thought of "Link-o-rama" (lame), "The Melange" (sounds medically undesirable), or "Best Links on the Net" (delusional). Think about it.

Mookie is afk for the next day or so. SheÂ’s visiting her best friend, who moved about an hour south of us last year. They bought a few acres and built one of those log houses, doing most of the interior work themselves. Mookie spent many a weekend there helping out, framing walls and perfecting basic carpentry skills. TheyÂ’ve worked their butts off doing it, and it shows, because the place is beautiful.

But Mookie and her best bud donÂ’t get to see each other nearly enough because of the distance, so we took her down there Sunday so they could spend some time together before school started. Which also means that mom and I are child-free for a few days. Heaven!!!

Oooo, another bug story… this morning as I was getting into my truck I noticed something stuck in the rear window. It was still dark so I couldn’t see it real well, but the first impressions I got were ‘brown’ and ‘leaf’ and then something about the shape… I pulled the flashlight out of my lunchbag and took a closer look and it was a big ol’ moth. Yep, it was a mottled brown, and the wingspan was bigger than my palm. Kinda neat, if you’re into moths. I left him alone, because I'm a nice guy.

At this point, someone is thinking ‘flashlight out of my lunchbag’? (humor me) What kind of idiot does that? Short answer: guys do. I always carry a mini-mag flashlight in my bag, along with a Leatherman, and I always carry my Swiss Army knife. I notice on the knife page that they’ve reworked the ‘Angler’, which is what I have. Mine is an older version, and has scissors instead of those cheesy pliers, and a Phillips-head screwdriver instead of the corkscrew. I like mine better, in case you’re interested. Everyone, and I’m talking about you ladies too, should carry a knife all the time. It’s just a damn handy tool to have at hand. Try one of these Victorinox Classic (available in pink too), or even a good ol’ fashioned Boy Scout knife.

Al of You Can Call Me Al (go figure) mentions the movie Momento. He recommends it and I agree. Fair warning though, youÂ’ll never see it on the Lifetime network. The other day I was rummaging through the bargain bins at Wal-Mart, and ran across a two-DVD set of old old old John Wayne movies. These are the one-reel flicks he made as a young man, classic black and white westerns from the 30Â’s and 40Â’s. IÂ’m waiting for a rainy weekend podner. I also picked up Altered States, which is best viewed, well, in an altered state.

HereÂ’s a new blog to check out: Ramblings of an Average White Guy. Robert is looking around and seeing all of the different styles and approaches to blogging, and trying to define his place in it all. Best advice I can give you is; Study Bill. Do the opposite. Bill whines a lot about his inadequacies, which gives him plenty to blog about. That doesn't work for everybody.

Personally, I keep a little piece of paper with notes and ideas, and IÂ’m usually working on two or three things that need more research done, so I always have something to post. Unless I donÂ’t feel like it, because this is for fun, and I refuse to obsess.

Welcome, Robert, and remember: PCÂ’s are for people who lack the ability to think big (from one mainframe guy to another).

In War news, the forces of the evil superhero NetFlix-Man (no link without reciprocity) are still way behind the power curve, with debate heating up about what they shall be named. Weeks ago, I suggested ‘girlie-shirt wearing loser persons’. They should’ve taken my suggestion, because so far, they look to be the blogging equivalent of the U.N.

Also, IÂ’ve noticed that somewhere along the line the allies of Glenn have been misidentified as the Axis of Evil Naughty. It ainÂ’t true folks! Please keep the carnage tidy, there may be collateral damage civilians about.

Hey, I haven’t linked to Jennifer in a while. She thinks I’m “totally cool” (note the quote marks), and she’s not afraid to put it in writing. I think we’ve got a date too.

Victor is discussing beer, hooters, chicken wings, and womenÂ’s professional soccer. ItÂ’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

Tuning Spork (love that name) talks about Deep Throat not once, but twice! Woohoo! Close your raincoat, ya perv, weÂ’re talking politics here. Good stuff, and interesting to read in the exact same way that VictorÂ’s wasnÂ’t.

Over at Winds of Change, read Ad Astra, without NASA for an excellent review of the ‘state of the space program’. Lots of good links to supporting information too.

For the best roundup of blogging links around, go see Kelly at Suburban Blight. Scroll down for the aforementioned Cul-de-sac, because sheÂ’s got mucho interesting stuff to say, and itÂ’s worth a leisurely look.

Tiger gives us a peek into the law, Texas style. No six-gun blazinÂ’ frontier justice here folks, though he does wear a nice tie.

In my world (which is infinitely more interesting than he-who-shall-not-be-named), life has lately been about my oldest daughter going to school way far away from home. I got to wondering if there were any rocket clubs in the general area of her school, so I did a little research. Lo and behold, within a day I got an email telling me about two local rocket clubs in Michigan, their websites (here and here), and an invitation to join them. I love the people in this hobby!

Come to think of it, I need a kickass closing line for this thing too.

Posted by: Ted at 11:29 AM | category: Links
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Name Calling

Zionazi. Jewpropagandist.

This is the crap that Michele dealt with over at 'a small victory'. She pointed out two wildly different versions of the same story, one posted by Newsday, the other by Indymedia. She points out that the IM version seems to be lacking in credibility, not only because of the source and itÂ’s obvious bias, but because of the lack of facts.

And as one commenter pointed out, she handled it as an adult, which meant that he could indulge in name-calling.

Hey, itÂ’s only fair, right? I mean, they started it.

I think this is what bothers me the most about politics today. You have a great mass of people who are so politically correct that they cannot call a shovel a spade, but off to either side are groups who must label everyone who doesnÂ’t agree with them with the most vile and juvenile terms they can come up with, and they happily revel in the slime. But at it's root it's the same problem, the true message is less clear because of intentional distortion.

Zionazi. Jewpropagandist.

HereÂ’s two more:

Paleosimian. Colon Bowel.

Yep, both sides do it.

Hyperbole? Humor? Venting? Maybe, but there are others out there who use the same terminology, only they hate. IÂ’m talking about that mad, incoherent, unthinking, genocide-is-possible, room-for-nothing-else hatred. They hate and they use words like that because it demeans and dehumanizes and belittles the object of their hate.

There are a few popular blogs that I don’t read because I don’t like the general attitude. A friend called it mean-spirited, and that’s as good a term for it as any. I’m not slamming personal style, because it’s exactly that – personal. I just don’t read them, and I probably miss out on some good stuff too. But at the same time, if you spend that much time calling someone clever names, your audience may miss the meaning of the message you’re trying to put across.

And isnÂ’t conveying your message the whole point?

Posted by: Ted at 11:27 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Columbia Accident Investigation Board - Final report

Available here, downloadable in whole or by chapters.

Posted by: Ted at 11:25 AM | category: Space Program
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If a tree fell on Ashcroft...

...and no Americans were around to see it, would you still hear cheering?

Alphecca has mentioned it, and IÂ’ve ranted about it a couple of times. I wish I could have put it as eloquently as this.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) now claims in a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that hobby rockets can be used to make "light anti-tank" weapons with a range of up to five miles. The best the United States military can do is only 3.1 miles with the LOSAT anti-tank missile system. How ridiculous is it to claim that a terrorist can cobble together anti-tank weapons superior to what is produced by Lockheed-Martin for the US Army? This absurd claim strongly suggests that Department of Justice and ATFE simply fabricated claims without any research or supporting analysis.

ItÂ’s clear that many Senators, Representatives and the media simply accepted the Department of Justice & ATFE claims at face value. This blind acceptance was dramatically illustrated by the Senator Schumer and Lautenberg press conference on July 29. During the press conference, they repeated the false claims, which were then repeated in the New York Times and various wire stories.

The Amateur Rocketry Society of America has been conducting research to show the truth about the false claims made by the Department of Justice and ATFE. Every claim made in their letter on the dangers of rocketry in America is provably false. The ARSA has since published reports on the technical feasibility of using hobby rockets as anti-aircraft or anti-tank weapons.

Or as one rocketeer put it: “I'm going to put in a resume to the DoD, as it's obvious I can do better the Thiokol, or Lockheed who are wasting millions of my tax dollars.”

(the above includes excerpts from numerous posts in the Rocket newsgroup)

Posted by: Ted at 11:20 AM | category: Rocketry
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Aerial Photography

Ray Dunakin flies camera-carrying rockets and gets the most amazing photos. See lots more in his online photo-albums.

Posted by: Ted at 11:10 AM | category: Rocketry
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August 26, 2003

It's called 'Go Fever'

The report outlining circumstances that led to the loss of the shuttle Columbia is to be released today.

Early word is that this report is going to be very critical of NASA management and engineering practices, so much so that Sean O'Keefe, who heads NASA, has told employees that:

"we need to not be defensive about that and try to not take it as a personal affront."

Like any organization, especially government entities, NASA tends to bloat with bureaucracy and inane rules for rules sake when left unchecked. Unfortunately they have a mission that is simultaneously one of the most difficult to accomplish and one of the most misunderstood by the general public.

As an example, I've had conversations with people who don't believe that the shuttle is real. Their reasoning is that the shuttle couldn't possibly carry enough fuel to keep its engines burning for an entire 10 day flight. And everyone knows that if the engine isn't running, then you stop, and if you stop flying then you crash.

These aren't stupid people, they just lack the most basic understanding of physics. These are taxpayers and constituants of ambitious politicians who are willing to sacrifice the long-term for political gain today. It makes perfect sense to say we are wasting millions to send a few people into space for no reason, as long as your audience has no real idea about the science being done and the benefits thereof.

Years ago, a paper was done that reached the conclusion that the way to cut costs in the space program was to launch more missions. The counter-intuitive reasoning was based partially on analysis of the German V2 program in WWII and economies of scale, it also assumes that demand for commercial access to space will be there if costs come down.

NASA needs this reality slap upside the head, I'm just sorry that it took the deaths of the Columbia crew to spur this review. NASA needs to do a much better job of public education, because this country has forgotten the fact that America is the world leader in space flight and related technology. Yes, we've got partners from around the globe, but not one of them could do it without us leading the way. That includes China and their fledgling space program, which is based on old Soviet technology and methodology. The shuttle has become ho-hum, and there's no reason that should be so.

Don't believe me? Go see a shuttle launch in real life. Feel the earth shake under your feet, and hear the roar drown out the voices around you, see the flame - too bright to look at directly - accelerating the shuttle skyward with pure brute strength. Trust me, there is nothing ho-hum about it.

Posted by: Ted at 04:20 PM | category: Space Program
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August 25, 2003

Dark corners of the web

Well, not really. Just a couple of interesting and unusual links for y'all.

I need a quick show of hands here. How many of you read Soldier of Fortune magazine? Ever? Ok then, who's ordered books from Paladin Press? This company offers some of the most unusual books on the market. Yes, I own more than a couple. I was young and stoopid once, ya know. And they are fun to read (disclaimer: use common sense and don't believe everything you read). Besides, how can you not love a company that has a category called 'Revenge and Humor', eh?

They claim that this site is wildly popular. Surf around a bit and you realize that it's not nearly popular enough.

Chainmail bikini's and lingerie. Google is your friend.

Ever try to assemble something where the instructions were translated into English by a Japanese who wasn't quite fluent in the original German? Welcome to! Featuring Pads of Mousing. Make purchase for Happy Time!

Posted by: Ted at 07:22 AM | category: Links
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Happy Monday Morning

Just a few odds and ends to kick off the week.

Frank Zappa said it best, "Just make sure you do it right the first time, 'cause nothings worse than a suicide chump." This woman is a suicide chump. If you really want to kill yourself, it's just not that hard. It sounds unfeeling, but I'm tired of 'Iamgoingtokillmyself(pleasesomebodystopme)'.

We've got sedums planted in the front yard along the picket fence, and right now they're covered with thousands of tiny pink blooms. I love to sit outside and just watch the activity around the flowerbeds. It's like the worlds busiest airport in miniature. You see bees of all types, mayflies and other insects too numerous to count buzzing in and out and around. Look close enough and you'll notice at least a half dozen spiders spinning their webs in strategic places. And butterflies. Butterflies love the sedums. And early in the morning, you can catch the toads out sunning themselves before it gets too hot and they retreat back into the darkest corners of the bed.

I didn't put this in my launch report, but something pretty cool happened while I was retrieving the rocket that landed behind the barn silo. I was walking along a dirt road skirting the meadow, and suddenly I was engulfed in a cloud of butterflies. There must have been close to a hundred of them. Painted Lady's, sulpher-somethings (the ones with white wings), and some small metallic blue ones. My first thought was that it was like being in a Disney movie. Happened again as I walked back through the same area after fetching my rocket. You've got to enjoy the little things.

I want to die on my one hundredth birthday. Shot dead. In bed. By a jealous husband.

I believe in planning ahead, so I need a date for early September, 2059. Any takers?

The Doobie Brothers' Jesus Is Just Alright is kickass driving music. Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull is another great one. What makes you crank it up while driving?

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

Bobby Bonds

Ok, I'm doing this from memory, so if I get something wrong...

Bobby Bonds in left, Willie Mays in center, Jim Ray Hart in right field.

Willie McCovey at first (Orlando Cepeda had been traded to the Cardinals a couple of years before), Tito Fuentes playing his rookie season at second, Hal Lanier at shortstop, and Ron Hunt - king of hit-by-pitch - at third.

Dick Dietz behind the plate. He had one spectacular year, but this one isn't it. He's only an average catcher. On the mound is Juan Marachal, Gaylord Perry, and in relief is ancient Don McMahon. The 'closer' doesn't exist yet.

In those days, I live and breathe Giants baseball. I loathe the Dodgers. American league? Ha, might as well be double-A, for all I care about them. Except for a mild interest in the A's in Oakland. I'm an avid collector of baseball cards, and my uncle taught me a game he made up using dice and baseball cards, like an early low-tech rotisserie league. I'm a stat-junkie, back before every waking moment of a players life became statisticized. Imagine my surprise years later when I come back from overseas and discover that these little rectangles of cardboard are worth big money! "Hello mom? What did you ever do with my old baseball cards? Really? Would you send them to me? Thanks!" I went to just one card show, and the family had a very nice dinner one evening thanks to a Reggie Jackson rookie card in 'good' condition.

On my birthday, my uncle takes me to see the Giants or the A's, depending on who's in town. We usually go two or three times a year, and the ultimate was a double-header at Candlestick under the lights. Cold as hell, and eating ballpark hotdogs (before Candlestick concessionaires got weird with the menu's).

Closer to home, we usually saw one or two minor league games a year with the Cub Scouts. The local team is the San Jose Bees. Kansas City Royals single-A farm team I think. They used to hold promotions like the fastest guy on the team racing a horse or something.

Closest to home, we played baseball constantly in season. My hero - always and forever - is Willie Mays. I wasn't fast enough to play center. Hell, to be honest I sucked as an outfielder. Not enough arm for pitcher (good control, lousy velocity), but good enough at third or first base. So I usually played second base. I always thought playing catcher would be cool, except that catcher was where you put the kid who was picked last. Like right field, except if you didn't have enough players for two teams you played 'no right field' and you were out if you hit the ball into right.

As a hitter, I had no real power, but I could hit to the opposite field when the situation called for it. Which was usually good for extra bases because of the normal quality of our pickup-game right fielders. I was also the best bunter in the neighborhood, which did me no good at all because I was too slow to take advantage of it.

To my horror, it turned out that I was one helluva fast-pitch softball pitcher. Now in those days, softball was what you played in PE because they wouldn't let you play 'real' baseball. Girls played softball for chrissake!

Everyone had their own glove and bat, and the bats were wood. Your favorite bat was always owned by someone else. All was right in the world when dad would take you out to buy a new glove. You'd been griping for month that your old glove was shot. You'd been saving every cent you had to help pay for it, not because your limited income allowed you to contribute any real money, but to show your sincerity. And when you get to the store, the baseball glove aisle stretches for miles and you spent an hour in heaven trying on glove after glove. Finally you decided on two, the one you couldn't afford (hope springs eternal) and the glove you could settle for. You also bought a brand new baseball. Your old one would be ruined because you'd heavily oil your glove and then tuck the ball into the pocket and slip it between the mattresses on your bed. This is how you broke it in. Your hands ached all day from constantly massaging the stiff leather, and you'd sleep on and around this uncomfortable lump in your bed. You wore that glove everywhere, playing catch with yourself if no one else was around. Your friends all ooohd and aaahd over your new glove. Your hand smelled like sweat and leather and glove oil for weeks. Painstakingly, carefully writing your name on your new glove, so that no one would rip it off. Your name would become part of the glove forever, so getting it right was critical. Laughing your ass off when someone screwed up their name, like running out of room and having to squeeze the last 's' in all weird.

Baseballs. For some reason, our neighborhood tended towards rubber-coated baseballs. Which were ok, except when they got waterlogged (like from playing on a rain-wet field) became permanently rock-hard. I'm sorry, 'rock-hard' doesn't begin to convey the degree of hardness. If you needed diamond dust, and all you had was your wifes wedding ring, soak a rubber-coated baseball in the sink overnight, then use it to pulverize the diamond. I mean, these things were lethal hard. Regular baseballs were more expensive, but much more highly prized. And of course, your name was prominently written on it. Not some fancy players-autograph style either, you wrote your name in big block letters on the ball. On each leather panel too, so you could see the name no matter how you held it.

I hate what baseball has become. But I loved it then, and when I think of baseball today, I tend to remember it that way, back in the sixties. Watching Bobby Bonds and the Say Hey Kid. That impossibly high leg kick that Marachal did each and every windup - that none of us could ever duplicate, though lord knows we all tried. Taking your heavy windbreaker to Candlestick, because you knew that when the sun went down it would get cold.

Thank you Bobby Bonds for everything you gave to me as a kid. You had a rich but troubled life and I hope you've found peace. I hope you find also that you were fully and completely appreciated - if by nobody else than at least by a little white kid who so desperately wanted to be a big leaguer, but knew there was never ever a chance. You helped me love the game I could never be great at.

Posted by: Ted at 04:26 PM | category: Boring Stories
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More information about the Brazilian rocket tragedy

After two successful test flights there was a long delay in further flights (reason unknown, I'm still looking into it), and since resuming their VLS program there have been two failures in flight requiring destruction of the rocket, and now this accident on the launch pad.

From MASA Planet, a rocketry newsletter:
"...The rocket consists of seven solid propellant stages—three in the core vehicle and four strap-ons—with additional solid motors used for roll control. The first launch attempt was at Brazil's Alcantara site on 2 November 1997, but one of the SRBs failed to ignite.... Although the rocket maintained attitude and an upright trajectory, it eventually deviated from its planned course and the rocket and its SCD satellite payload had to be destroyed. The second launch, on 11 December 1999, was more successful, but the second stage failed to ignite and the rocket and payload, a Brazilian SACI satellite, again had to be destroyed. A third launch attempt may occur in 2003. "

No official word yet on what the cause of the explosion could have been, although speculation is suggesting that the previous ignition problems may have provoked a more rigorous pre-flight test of the igniters. Perhaps too rigorous.

Posted by: Ted at 04:25 PM | category: Space Program
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August 23, 2003

Launch Report

For the last few days weÂ’ve suffered oppressive heat and humidity, but a thunderstorm-spawning cold front passed through last night. Today was absolutely beautiful, with temperatures in the low 80Â’s, just enough wind to be comfortable, and a bright blue cloudless sky.

MookieÂ’s trip to Michigan last week put her behind on her summer homework, so she decided to stay home and buckle down. I only took three rockets today, deciding to concentrate on the higher end of the motor range I normally fly.

First up was a veteran named the FY2K. You can tell what was going on in my life when I built this rocket. ItÂ’s rather small, but takes a relatively large motor for itÂ’s size, so it screams off the pad and gets great altitude.

Which is exactly what it did this time. People don’t expect a rocket this size – not much bigger than your standard Estes stuff – to be this loud and smokey, so as usual folks jumped and kids screamed in fright and wet themselves (just kidding). But it does get their attention. So she’s boosting arrow-straight, on a slight angle into the wind, and leaving a thick dark line of smoke behind her and just as she arches over at the top the neon-yellow parachute is ejected and fills instantly. Perfect.

I noticed something tiny fall away, and someone says it must be the ejection wadding (protects the chute from the ejection charge). So as weÂ’re watching the rocket descend under chute from almost 2000 feet, out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of something.

Wheeeeeeeee-thunk! The freaking nosecone screams down and hits the ground about 10 feet from where a group of us are standing. It weighs more than a quarter of a pound, and to have that sucker freefall down and almost hit us was way too much excitement. I’m embarrassed about it, but kinda proud too that I judged the wind that well. Thank goodness it didn’t hit anybody. It’s plastic and rounded – not pointy – but it still would’ve hurt.

The rest of the rocket, still under chute, drifts much farther than it should because a large portion of its total weight took the express back to earth. It finally settles down beyond a barn silo, and I walk about a half mile to find it in good shape in a meadow.

Now it’s time for the main event: Ain’t Misbehavin’. And I immediately run into a snag. I’ve forgotten the binder I keep the checklist in. This is far and away the most complex rocket I’ve ever attempted to fly, so I have a detailed checklist to make sure I remember everything and do things in the right order. Step 1 should be: “bring the checklist, stoopid”.

Fortunately, some friends with lots of experience are there to help. This is my first hybrid-motor rocket, and the first flight relying entirely on electronics to deploy the parachutes, so IÂ’m grateful for the assistance. Everyone likes my design to arm and disarm the ejection charges, and since the wind is picking up we decide to go with a slightly smaller chute to bring it down faster.

Three quarters of an hour later weÂ’re ready to go. I get a quick lesson on how to use the remote box to fill the tank with nitrous, and as soon as we see a plume venting from the side of the rocket we do a quick countdown and I press the button.

She hesitates on the pad for a second, and then an electric-red flame erupts from the nozzle and she starts to climb. This is the smallest possible motor I can use in this rocket, so the flight is slow and low, and at apogee the altimeter fires the ejection charge and the parachute deploys perfectly. A very sweet flight.

The altimeter measured 608 feet, which is just fine for a maiden flight, especially one full of personal firsts. IÂ’ve already figured out how to trim at least a pound off of her weight, and can double the motor power with no problem on the next flight, so 2000 feet plus isnÂ’t out of the question.

So that’s what I flew today (didn't get to fly the third rocket). There were many other interesting flights. Roger brought his television rocket. It transmits a rockets-eye view of the flight to a receiver station on the ground, which feeds it into a video camera to record the flight. Neat stuff. There were also several RC rocket glider flights made, and a very interesting monocopter (1-bladed helicopter – weird but cool). There were also a lot of kids and parents flying little rockets. I enjoy watching the kids make flights, their wonder and joy is contageous.

Today was a great day.

Posted by: Ted at 04:27 PM | category: Rocketry
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I'll leave you with this, then get back to loading up the truck for today's launch.

A blonde lady is speeding down a highway, and gets pulled over by a blonde cop. He asks her for her license and registration, and as she's digging through her purse, her compact comes open and she see's her reflection in the mirror. Thinking it's her license, she hands the open compact to the cop. He looks into it and says, "If I'd have known you were a cop, I wouldn't have pulled you over."

Posted by: Ted at 08:28 AM | category: Square Pegs
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August 22, 2003

Blogger Problems et. al.

...and I've got some things to say today! Might as well wade in and hope for the best.

Annika points the way to a story thatÂ’s beyond weird. DonÂ’t we have lab animals or something for that?

This is sweet (graphic-intensive). Thanks to CherryÂ’s Ramblings for the pointer.

And to cleanse the palette, Jeff at Alphecca discusses Gephardt.

Actually, maybe you should've read about Gephardt first, then gone to the sweet stuff to mask that nasty slimy political aftertaste.

Oh for crying out loud. Why don't you just tie a mattress to your back? Then again, no one will accuse Kin of conducting a half-hearted battle.

Rachel Lucas announced that she was goint to rent Bowling for Columbine and then review it. We haven’t heard from her since. Would one of our Texas friends please check the local hospitals for attempted suicides. Might want to check with the police too, for attempted homicides. No telling how she reacted, but ‘violent’ is probably somewhere in the description.

And finally, a quick tour around the War Front:

They called me “despicable”! Why, thank you, that’s quite kind. I'm taking this in the spirit it's intended, and using it as an opportunity to practice my cartoon impersonations. Tom Tuttle from Tacoma would approve! Furthermore, as a personal reply, I’ve added you to the blogroll over there on the right, and from here on out all references to the Alliance will be pink. (Lucky for you that I’m near-illiterate when it comes to html, or it would be bright pink instead of this black-looking pink you will see from now on. Ha!)

Bad Money has designed Alliance currency. Now how can you not like a guy who thinks you only need one coin, and that has naked women on both sides! Welcome to the blogroll.

Next up on our tour of the Alliance is Not Quite Tea and Crumpets. Clever and dastardly. I want to party with this guy.

Tiger felt a little left out. Sorry my friend, everyone always forgets Switzerland.

Oh yeah, new tagline.

Update: Rachel Lucas has posted her review of the movie. Her head didn't explode, but I bet it was a near thing. I'd also like to personally thank her for watching this and telling me about it, so that I don't have to.

Posted by: Ted at 04:42 PM | category: Links
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Delta Skelter

A couple of weeks ago, I was stunned when my daughters told me that they had never seen Animal House. We had been discussing classic movies, because I've been introducing them to Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, John Wayne, etc.

Last weekend we rented the video and the girls enjoyed it. It's been a while for me too, so it was like rediscovering an old friend (tired cliche, but true). Today in the news is the announcement that the DVD is about to be released, and they held an anniversary party featuring members of the original cast and a reenactment of the parade.

Screw the Prowler, I want a DeathMobile!

Posted by: Ted at 04:40 PM | category: Cult Flicks
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Bonus Silent Service

According to submariners, there are only two kinds of ships: Submarines, and targets. To understand the frightening power of modern submarines and torpedos, check out the video and picture slide show on this page.

From the page:

"The torpedo warhead contains explosive power equivalent to approximately 1200 pounds (544 kg ) of TNT. This explosive power is maximised when the warhead detonates below the keel of the target ship, as opposed to striking it directly. When the detonation occurs below the keel, the resulting pressure wave of the explosion 'lifts' the ship and can break its keel in the process. As the ship 'settles' it is then seemingly hit by a second detonation as the explosion itself rips through the area of the blast. This combined effect often breaks smaller targets in half and can severely disable larger vessels."

Note that the 'smaller target' in the video is 372 feet long and weighed 2,750 tons!

"MK-48 and MK-48 ADCAP torpedoes can operate with or without wire guidance and use active and/or passive homing. When launched they execute programmed target search, acquisition and attack procedures. Both can conduct multiple reattacks if they miss the target."

They have a range of 5 miles and can strike a target when launched from a submerged position beyond the horizon.

Posted by: Ted at 04:36 PM | category: Military
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That's why it's called rocket science

A Brazilian rocket being prepared for launch exploded on the pad, killing twenty technicians.

Major-Brigadier Tiago da Silva Ribeiro, general coordinator of the project said, "We have had no glitches of any kind so far."

Well, make that one. Keep trying compadres, you can do it!

Posted by: Ted at 04:35 PM | category: Space Program
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Expensive shit

European soccer champ AC Milan signed a young Brazilian player known simply as "Kaka" for about 2 million a year.

Posted by: Ted at 03:05 PM | category: Square Pegs
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