January 27, 2004


Daughter Mookie is contemplating an area blogger meet. She's already gotten some interest in the event, and is soliciting ideas. If you're from the Maryland/DC/Virginia area, or might like to travel a bit to attend, visit her and leave some feedback.

Posted by: Ted at 06:54 AM | category: Links
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Going to Mars, on someone else's ruble

Over at Jen's History and Stuff, Pete posted a nice review of US Mars exploration missions to date (he also included the UK's Beagle2).

As an addendum, here's a quick list of Soviet Mars missions.

October 1960: Two unnamed Soviet spacecraft achieve Earth orbit only, fail to fly past Mars.

October 1962: An unnamed Soviet spacecraft achieves Earth orbit only, fails to fly past Mars.

November 1962: Soviet Mars 1 spacecraft radio fails en route to flyby of Mars. A second, unnamed Soviet spacecraft achieves Earth orbit only, fails to fly past Mars.

November 1964: Soviet Zond 2 spacecraft flies past Mars, but radio fails and no data are returned.

May 1971: Soviet Kosmos 419 lander achieves Earth orbit only. The Soviet Mars 2 orbiter-lander arrive at Mars in November 1971; no useful data received after lander burns up. Soviet Mars 3 orbiter-lander arrives December 1971; lander operates on surface for 20 seconds before failing.

July 1973: Soviet Mars 4 spacecraft flies past Mars in February 1974, but fails to enter orbit. That same month, the Soviet Mars 5 spacecraft arrives in orbit, but operates for only a few days.

August 1973: Soviet Mars 6 and 7 combination flyby module-lander spacecraft arrive at Mars in March 1974. Mars 6 lander smashes into Mars; Mars 7 lander misses planet.

July 1988: Soviet Phobos 1 orbiter and lander fail one month after launch. Phobos 2, launched five days after Phobos 1, is lost March 1989 near the Mars moon for which it was named.

November 1996: Russian Mars 96 orbiter and landers fail on launch.

And in July, 1998, the Japanese took a shot at Mars with their Nozomi spacecraft. It failed to enter Mars orbit in December 2003.

Posted by: Ted at 06:17 AM | category: Space Program
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January 26, 2004

I know just what I'd do with my refund too

Thanks to Phillip Coons, I found this online petition in support of revoking the federal tax exemption of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They've collected over 10,000 signatures in the first week.

Heather, did you know about this?

If we get a rebate from our taxpayer subsidies to these eco-terrorists, I'm gonna buy a pair of fur earmuffs.

Posted by: Ted at 07:29 PM | category: Links
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Honoring Fallen Comrades

McQ of QandO posted this article (same title, I used theirs) about the return of the fallen from Iraq.

At various times I've seen some folks make a point of slamming President Bush or the media for not making a big deal out of this. They attempt to make this a political issue, or try to paint it as uncaring or unfeeling in some way. They have the right to their opinion, but I think they're absolutely wrong about it.

Don't think for a second that our military sons and daughters make their final homecoming under shameful secrecy.

Posted by: Ted at 06:50 PM | category: Military
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Funny but true in a sad sort of way

Pixy left a comment on one of my earlier posts that perfectly sums up a problem most of us have had.

Microsoft error messages SUCK.

Or to illustrate:

Weather was bad in Seattle, but the traffic reporter insisted that they get airborne anyways. Reluctantly, the chopper pilot agreed.

It didn't take long for them to get hopelessly lost in the thick fog. After flying around for a while, desperately searching for any landmark, they glimpsed the ghostly outline of a skyscraper not too far away.

Easing closer, they spot a conference room full of people, and soon enough the people notice the helicopter hovering outside.

Thinking quickly, the reporter scribbles on a piece of paper and holds up his makeshift sign: "WHERE ARE WE?"

The people immediately grab some paper and after a little discussion write their own sign. Holding it up, it says "YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER."

The pilot immediately flies away and without problems heads directly to their airport where he lands safely. The reporter is stunned and asks the pilot how he managed it.

The pilot answered, "Well, their answer was technically correct but completely useless, so I knew that it was the MicroSoft headquarters building. From there, I could find our way home."

Posted by: Ted at 11:41 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Mean-assed Bird

My wife called me at work.

"Ted, there's a woodpecker out back. He's tearing up the wood around the tomatoes."

"Chase him away."

"No. I'm afraid of it."

We had just gotten back from Germany, and were renting a house in Maryland. Nice place on a large lot, with a fair sized garden patch lined with telephone pole sized timbers.

Liz gave me more details, and the more she told me, the less plausible it all sounded. I told her that I'd take care of things when I got home in a few hours.

Oh. My. God. She wasn't exaggerating a bit. Examining the aftermath, the timbers looked like someone had machine gunned it. Foot-long splinters were everywhere, and the wood was peppered with holes big enough to poke your finger into. The wood was shredded. Our landlord was a jerk, and he was going to be pissed for sure.

Later, as we ate dinner we heard the woodpecker again. I went out on the deck and I swear this sonuvabitch was the size of a chicken. Once again he was attacking the timbers around the garden, and the splinters were flying. He flew off when I approached him, but reluctantly. I had an uncomfortable flashback to Hitchcock's The Birds.

He returned a few more times over the next few days, and on the weekend I threw rocks at him when he went after the wood siding under the eaves of the house. He finally did leave, never to return again.

Good riddance.

Posted by: Ted at 08:36 AM | category: Boring Stories
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That explains it

The problem with the Mars rover.

Posted by: Ted at 06:13 AM | category: Square Pegs
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January 25, 2004

A couple of links*

The snow is beginning to fall, accumulation tonight is expected to be 4"-8" (historically we're on the light end in my neighborhood), and they're calling for a second wave consisting mainly of freezing rain and sleet. Boy howdy.

Wow. The weather report just said that this pattern could go right through wednesday. Alternating waves of snow and sleet.

I spent late last night watching crappy horror movies (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, Blood Tide, and some Frankenstein I can't recall the exact title of), and this morning watching a couple of John Wayne movies (circa 1934 - The Lucky Texan and 'Neath Arizona Skies), wrapped around a trip to the grocery store and raking those dang monkey balls out of the backyard. I also did a little indoor gardening - nothing illegal mind you - trying to overwinter a few favorite plants from the garden. Mixed results so far, a couple are really thriving, a couple aren't doing so hot. Nothing dead yet though.

The main reason for the grocery run was to pick up some EV Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar and a loaf of Italian bread. Yesterday at the mall, SilverBlue and I sampled some incredible bread dipping oil. Rather than spending $15 for a bottle, I decided to try making my own. After buying small bottles of the two main ingredients, that price doesn't seem so out of line.

Early taste tests are promising, I'll post what I did later. When I asked Mookie to try it, she immediately gave me a detailed critique. The mall is across the street from her high school, and she and her friends often go into that particular store to sample the goodies. She's very familiar with the various bread dipping oils they offer. Who knew?

Speaking of crappy horror movies (I know, clumsy... sue me) kinda like this story over at Travelling Shoes. Where we read:

British use of cluster bombs in the Iraq war could count as a war crime and justifies further investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in the Hague, a group of international lawyers say.

"The U.S. cannot be tried before the court because it refuses to sign up to it. The UK did."

If you remember all the way back to May of 2002, the Bush administration had decided that there was a strong likelihood that any International Criminal Court would be used as a means of persuing politically-motivated war-crimes charges against American soldiers and officials. And so the president "unsigned" the Clinton-era treaty which had tentatively committed the United States to participate in the court.

That decision now looks prescient.

You should go read the whole thing.

Jay at Sophont passes on the word that the Whole Earth magazine has closed it's doors. I remember their catalogs.

Say Uncle has this post about identifying Pit Bulls. Well worth a look.

More Mars stuff from Minor Perfidy Minister Bucket.

Sometimes there's no good way to end one of these posts, ya know?

*and a whole heap o' rambling on, eh?

Posted by: Ted at 08:40 PM | category: Links
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Now *This* is one mad cow

Here. (warning: language alert, might wanna swallow that drink too.)

Posted by: Ted at 08:10 PM | category: Links
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Michael's Crafts Rockets & Scouts Promotion

Event Sold Out almost two months ahead of schedule.

Posted by: Ted at 07:59 PM | category: Rocketry
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Happy Birthday!

Today the excellent blog by Publicola is one year old! Stop by and say hi, and if you read a bit, you might find yourself returning often. He's that good.

Not to mention that the man downright knows his funk.

Posted by: Ted at 05:33 PM | category: Links
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Opportunity has landed successfully and is sending back astounding pictures. That makes five scientific probes examining Mars right now. Spirit and Opportunity rovers on the surface, two more US satellites in orbit, and the European satellite.

In related news, the BBC has admitted that it was only joking when it claimed that evidence of an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator had been detected.

Oh drat.

Posted by: Ted at 09:13 AM | category: Space Program
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January 24, 2004

Blog Meet

I got the chance to meet SilverBlue, PoloRandy, Tink and Roxette Bunny this afternoon when they wandered northwards into my neck of the woods. I felt like I was getting back together with old friends, and we spent an hour talking about anything and everything. What was especially fun was to watch these four interact like the family unit they are.

Roxette Bunny was not as tall as I had imagined. And if I may be non-politically correct ungentlemanly for a moment, Tink is a real cutie! *wolf whistle*

PoloRandy and Tink had tickets to a basketball game and had to leave, but John and I walked and talked our way through Potomac Mills mall for awhile longer before I had to say adios.

A lot of bloggers do their thing because they have opinions to share, or they want to improve their writing. For me, today was what it's all about, it's the people I meet online and the friendships that grow there. For me, blogging is all about you. Thanks for stopping by my friends, and I hope you come back again soon.

Posted by: Ted at 06:04 PM | category: Munuvian Daily Tattler
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There should be no one surprised at the escalation in attacks and casualties against coalition forces the last few days.

A prominent Shiite leader has called for his followers to be reasonable and wait for the UN to make a determination about whether early elections are possible.

And the UN won't come in unless 'security concerns' are addressed. It doesn't matter what you think about that, it's the way it is.

So all the Baathtards have to do is make it bad enough to scare away the UN (not hard to do), and then the Shiite leader will be frustrated, which ratchets up the pressure on everyone. Just what the Baathtards want.

Kofi Annan will play right into their hands (again) and not allow his team to go to Iraq. U.N. stands for "Unmistakably Nutless".

Posted by: Ted at 03:13 PM | category: Politics
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You can hear the screams echoing from afar

The Oakland Raiders are searching for a coach, but not just any coach. The coach they're looking for must be offense-minded, yet timid enough to be firmly under the thumb of owner Al Davis. Special requirements indeed.

Or, as the San Fransisco Chronicle put it last week "Al is Searching for a Spineless Jellyfish".

So today we hear that Davis is interviewing Miami Dolphins assistant coach Norv Turner. Turner spent more than six seasons in the DC area, being wishy-washy while guiding the Redskins to the playoffs just one time. The man may be an offensive genius and a genuinely nice guy, but he's about as stern as PeeWee Herman. I shudder to say this, but he's a perfect fit for what Al Davis wants.

Dude, if you thought Raider Nation was classless before (and I prefer the term 'colorful'), wait until you see this year. It's going to get ugly.

Posted by: Ted at 12:03 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Newspaper Ads

1. Free Yorkshire Terrier, 8 years old. Hateful little dog. Bites.

2. Free Puppies: 1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbor's dog.

3. Free Puppies: 1/2 German Shepherd, part stupid dog.

4. Found: Dirty White Dog. Looks like a rat... been out awhile... better be a reward.

5. For Sale: Snow Blower. Only used on snowy days.

6. For Sale: Complete set of Encyclopedia Brittannica - 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1000 obo. No longer needed - newlywed and wife knows everything.

7. For Sale: Nordic Track, hardly used. $300. Ask for Chubby.

8. Nice Parachute. Never opened, used once.

9. Joining nudist colony! Must sell washer and dryer - $300.

Posted by: Ted at 08:32 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Rat movie sighting

Last night / this morning on FX was a movie titled The Rats. From the movie guide:

An exterminator and a PR executive battle a colony of vermin that infests a department store and threatens New York.

Rocket Jones, doing my part to bring rodent-related cinema to your attention. Victor and Nic would give it two (tiny scrabbling clawed) thumbs up, I'm sure.

Posted by: Ted at 08:15 AM | category: Links
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January 23, 2004

Two down...

Many have already written about the passing of Captain Kangaroo. I grew up watching him (and Romper Room with Miss Maryann, and Beany & Cecil). He was my first best friend.

Also, the incredible Ann Miller has left us. In my opinion, she was the greatest female tap dancer of all time, and one of the overall best as well. If you've never seen her work, on January 27th, the Turner Classic Movie (TCM) network is going to air a tribute to her with four of her movies - On the Town, Easter Parade, Kiss Me Kate, and Hit the Deck - and an interview from 1997. I'll be setting the TiVo for this one.

Posted by: Ted at 09:33 PM | category: Cult Flicks
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Hockey news

Jaromir Jagr (45 pts) to the New York Rangers for Anson Carter (17 pts). More importantly, the Caps will save about 7 million a year on his salary - I haven't heard yet what Carter makes, but it won't be close to that.

Rumors are rampant that the Caps are shopping goalie Kolzig, forwards Lang and Bondra, and defenseman Gonchar. Lang is a newcomer, the others are long-time Caps and would really be missed for more than their ice time.

In fantasy hockey news, I dropped rapidly in the standings when both of my goaltenders realized that they were human and quit playing over their heads. Things have settled down now, and with the return of two good players from IR, I'm slowly climbing back into contention (currently 5th place).

Posted by: Ted at 08:37 PM | category: Square Pegs
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I don't talk a whole lot about work. Let me just say for the record that this week was the culmination of literally years of effort (and millions of taxpayer dollars), and I am so freaking glad it's almost over.

I've come in early every day and I've worked through lunch every day. My 'office' is a refrigerator, and I don't mean I'm chilly, I mean it's damn cold in here.

My big accomplishment this week is arranging 17 years worth of data into useful form and then putting it out there for other folks to upload into a brand new computer system due to roll over like a dead dog come online monday. Well, almost all of the data. It turns out that we're going to be short some .8 million records because we're running out of time. And I'm not coming in to work this weekend. Screw it, I was all set and ready to go, but some genius had to make unneccessary last minute changes that destroyed our carefully planned schedule.

Enough whining. They can get it monday.

Posted by: Ted at 02:29 PM | category: Boring Stories
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