March 31, 2004

This is too funny

Paging Mr. Green. Paging Mr. Green.

We've all gotten those Nigerian scam emails, but did you know there's a group of people who - like fellow Munuvian Mr. Green - live to mess with those scumbag fools? Going one better, they ask for photographic evidence of the scammer's sincerity, preferably holding up a sign or otherwise doing something unusual to prove their authenticity.

Look in the extended entry for a couple hilarious examples. Found on Eros Blog (not safe for work). more...

Posted by: Ted at 08:31 PM | category: Square Pegs
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A good overview of rocket history

Not just good, it's excellent. Over at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy. Blast off and go read.

Posted by: Ted at 01:15 PM | category: Space Program
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Yay! Redux

Once again, the traditional Munuvian greeting, welcome and joyful exclamation (it's a compact language) echos through the hills as Munuviana continues it's assimilation of the blogosphere celebratory birthday expansion.

The newest batch to bribe their way through customs (hint: pineapple fried rice) have arrived. Stop by and say hello to:

Rambling Rhodes
Lemur Girl
Educated Beyond Her Intelligence
Primal Purge
Flying Space Monkey Chronicles

There are more pushing and shoving patiently waiting in line to join the Munuvia clan. They should, because we are the cool kids.

I expect there will be many housewarming parties held as folks get settled in.

Posted by: Ted at 08:07 AM | category: Munuvian Daily Tattler
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Angels and Demons

Interesting style. Many broken links, you'll have to explore a little. Not safe for work.

Posted by: Ted at 05:29 AM | category: Links
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March 30, 2004

More than one way to skin Shroedinger's cat

To become a scientist just like Daniel, you can either spend thousands of dollars in a structured and professional setting, or you can let your natural curiosity take over with loving, helpful guidance.

(Mookie, I would kill you!)

(in the most loving and kindest way possible, of course)

Posted by: Ted at 02:26 PM | category: Links
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Preventing Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace

A pragmatic approach.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 05:31 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Just thought I'd mention...

The San Jose Sharks have achieved their first-ever 100 point season, and have all but clinched the Pacific Division title for the second time in three years.

Since the playoffs are a whole new season, I'd just like to take a moment at this time to gloat over my fellow Munuvians as the clear winner of the First Annual Inter-Munuvian Hockey WhoopAss Jamboree*.

San Jose Sharks
Go Sharks!

I'm also pleased to note that Helen's Dallas Stars and Heather's St. Louis Blues will also both make the playoffs, while Victor's Washington Capitals burnt to the ground (I feel your pain, really!) and Daniel never officially entered his Atlanta Thrashers.

Dallas Stars

St Louis Blues

Washington Capitals

Atlanta Thrashers

I do believe next year's go-round might prove interesting, eh?

*Anyone interested in getting in on next year's edition, the rules are simple:
1. Declare your favorite hockey team.
2. During the season, when your team plays another in the Jamboree, the loser must display the logo of the winner for 24 hours.
3. Trash talking and good-natured making fun-of is encouraged.

Posted by: Ted at 04:32 AM | category: Links
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March 29, 2004

BestOfMe Symphony

I had a theme picked out for this Symphony, but IÂ’m still in the midst of a flu-administered ass-kickin', so I just donÂ’t have the energy to go through with it. You get the plain jane versions, which is fine, because these links are the highlights anyway.

Not that I won't run my mouth. Just pretend it's part of my folksy charm.

In no particular order...

Simon provides an essential guide to Hong Kong taxi's. There are even more helpful tips in the comments. Note to the tourism board: Louis Armstrong-impersonating taxi-drivers should be talked up more.

Pixy Misa wades into the philosophical debate with Idealism, Struggle, Despair, Passion, Success, Failure, and Enormously Long Lunch Breaks.

Meanwhile, Pixy's granddaughter writes from the future, but it was over two months ago that we first were able to receive Trixie's writing that she'll do later... I think the Nyquil just kicked in.

Ironbear of Who Tends the Fires offers up "Wax cannons and management training". A great story I enjoyed when it first appeared, and I'm happy to point it out for your enjoyment now.

Susie talks about the reasons for panic attacks.

Pierre of the Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill lays a righteous fisking on the Seattle Post Intelligencer when they explain that President BushÂ’s popularity is almost solely due to the fact that Americans are stupid. ThatÂ’s pretty much a direct quote by the way.

Jeff Doolittle offers up The Death of Hit Counting, with the following statement: "Considering the weight that is placed on things like 'sitemeter' this post is extremely relevant to blogdom." Here's an exerpt:

Counting the number of visitors to your site has become a lesson in futility. It is no longer possible (if it ever was) to accurately track the number of anonymous users to your website. While cookies and/or user authentication can still help you track visits by known users, assessing the number of casual visitors is not possible.

I'll say this on the subject, that if you use Sitemeter as a measurement instead of a counter, then it works well enough. I once worked a project to reengineer a software system, and discovered that a particular value had been calculated incorrectly for a long long time. The clients were horrified, but I convinced them that since the values were consistently calculated that even though they were wrong they had value as comparison and evaluation numbers. We fixed it and told the users that we were using a new method to calculate that number, and everyone was happy. Now, sitemeter doesn't offer that absolute consistency (as far as I can tell), but it's good enough to give me an idea of ebb and flow in visitors. I'm not going to obsess over numbers, especially since it's free.

From The Owner's Manual, Gary submits his Fair Warning to Round-Eyed Weirdos. Exerpt:

We may be experiencing fallout from the supremacy of American culture as exemplified by the global popularity of Western movies.

I won't even tell you what it's about, but it's not what you think it might be. Good read though.

Now this one is fun. Dave at Blogo Slovo sends in some thoughts on the television series "The West Wing". I'm a fan of the series, and he's spot on with his observations.

Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgeblogium fame gets my pick for best title this week: Consensual Cannibalism. I'll forego the obvious jokes, because they've probably already been (over)done.

From Interested Participant, we have HUMAN TRAFFICKING LINKED TO BACHELOR PARTIES. Here's an excerpt:

In several previous posts, I've discussed at some length the occurrence of human trafficking and sex slavery in Europe and Asia (see SEX SLAVES IN CZECH REPUBLIC, BALKAN CHILDREN SMUGGLING, SEX TOURISM LAW, and BALKAN SEX TRADE). Logically, it would be of interest to me when a United Nations expert in the field of human trafficking appeared recently as the guest speaker at a City Club of Cleveland luncheon.

Short version: Males are evil. Go read. Good stuff.

I mentioned I was sick. Actually, I mention it often around the house, because I'm genetically predisposed to whine when unwell. My wife is a gem, promising that when she finally decides to collect my life insurance, it'll be when I'm mercifully asleep.

So you can imagine my reaction to this email greeting:

Hi! here's my entry!

Oh please, don't wait, just do it now.

And then I read the submission, and it's a very cool bit of writing. The Cycling Dude presents My CRITICAL MASS Experience, and here's the Dude's description:

In this time of Liberal Protesting of President Bush & The War Against Terror, I thought I'd share my own experience, in a Bicycle Ride, at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

An excellent post, and I take great comfort in being on the opposite coast from Kiril, because if he doesn't have a sense of humor he might want to assist my wife as payback for teasing him above.

I've been a big fan of Hold the Mayo from his earliest days. Read Pick a Theory and you'll see why. In his words:

This was my analysis of the reasons for the Howard Dean melt down at the Iowa caucus, so it's kind of old news but it was good when it was written.

It's still good, my friend.

Watcher of Weasels offers up the Myth of the Jobless Recovery. I can't agree with his conclusion though:

The Democratic nominee (whoever it may be) will look like an abject idiot if, come this November, he is still using last August's numbers to argue for the repeal of Bush's tax cuts and the resurrection of Hillarycare.

After all, aren't we supposed to be too stupid to realize this? C'mon, get with the program.

If All You Have Is Lemons, by Graham Lester of uncategorical (no caps in the name), makes some telling observations that are sometimes overlooked for the 'greater good'.

The Cheese takes her stand on activism, protestism, and any other ism you've got: Don't Assume I'm Comfy Just Because I Don't Squirm.

Next up is Going From Bad to Worse, from Zero Intelligence. Provided synopsis:

A student is punished for using the word 'gay' correctly and in context while speaking about his gay mother. The school board refuses to define what is and what is not appropriate speech.

200 Words or Less: Celebrating Diversity. Harvey from Bad Money calls it "a silly answer to a stupid question found on a University of Virginia admissions application". I call it Harvey at his best.

And then there's Am I the widower of a woman or the husband of a fish?, courtesy of Jim at Snooze Button Dreams. His description is accurate - "I react when contraband items are brought into my house" - as is the title, go see how.

Feste of Foolsblog submits Damn Straight, with the following comment:

A recent announcement of detente between Bush and Chirac reminded me of this post. It's true, we will not entirely forget this betrayal, nor will we eat French cheese or sup French wine with quite same enthusiasm. Now we know each bite or sip puts money into the pockets of anti-Semites and America haters who rejoiced when 3000 Americans died at the hands of terrorists.

Damn straight.

Enough of my moping and griping, eh? Let's end this with a chuckle from the ever-[look up word before posting] Bunsen, who gave us the memorable Opening Attachments From People You Don't Know is the New "Goddamn, I'm Stupid". Bunsen comments hillariously on the morons who make virus propagation possible.

[I know, I missed it and don't feel like dealing with it. -- Ed.]

So that's it for this BestOfMe Symphony. Thanks to everyone who sent in submissions. I've enjoyed meeting the new-to-me bloggers, and have lots of new and interesting places to visit.

As an added bonus, I've included my choice for greatest album cover of all time (in the extended entry). Just because I can. more...

Posted by: Ted at 04:44 AM | category: Links
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March 28, 2004

The Trunk Monkey

After the weekend I've had, I needed a good laugh. Major thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 07:32 PM | category: Links
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That's the traditional Munuvian greeting, welcome and joyful exclamation. And if'n you listen carefully, you'll hear many a 'yay' in the distance as Munuviana expands mightily.

Pixy Misa, author of Ambient Irony, has generously decided to offer up space for relocation and settlement. So far, welcome:

Miss Apropos
Little Miss Attila
Um's Musings

Check back, there will be many more in the near future. Oh, and if they don't look active right away, give 'em a little time because it takes a while to pack up and move, not to mention decorate. Sheesh people, new homes are always painted stark white.

Posted by: Ted at 10:07 AM | category: Munuvian Daily Tattler
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Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves, and a Volkswagen in a Pear Tree

I grew up in rural San Jose, California, back when it was still getting used to the idea that it had become a small city and was no longer the farm community it once was. In those pre-silicon valley days, San Jose was figuring itself out, not wanting to be like it's snooty neighbor San Fransisco, and secretly worried that it might turn out to be like thuggish Oakland.

Out where we lived, it was as rural as was left in that part of the bay area. We lived in a newish trailer park (did you know that mobile homes appreciate in value in California?), in a big brand-new double-wide. The park was as far on the outskirts as possible while still being part of San Jose. We were isolated, at the very end of First Street (at that time the longest 'main street' in the US).

The park was situated at the end of a half-mile long stretch of raised blacktop off of First Street. The most remarkable thing about the road was a humungous drainage dip about 3/4 of the way to the park. Take it at speed, and you would be airborn. Nowadays kids would think of it as a near perfect half-pipe, at least a beginners version. The rest of the road sat about six feet higher than the land on either side.

Bordering the park on the back side was Agnew State Mental Institution (West Wing), where the safe crazy's lived. They farmed for therapy and sold produce at a roadside stand. Loony as all git out, but harmless. The violent and scary ones lived about a mile away at the East Wing, where the fences were topped with razor wire and inmates getting a little fresh air were chained to the benches. Every six hours, a siren would wail at one wing, and the other would answer, letting folks know that all was safe in the land of the normal. I've got some loony stories, but those are for another time.

So we've got the mental hospital on one side, and an interstate on another, with a big field between us and the highway. In season the field would be full of migrants, picking lettuce or onions or whatever was growing.

On the third side was a cactus farm, with big glassy greenhouses and complete with scary-assed watchdogs. You didn't mess around there.

But on the fourth side, where the road connected to First Street, was pear orchard. Across First Street was pear orchard. Acres and acres of orchards. Beyond the cactus farm was another onion field, and then more orchards. All those orchards were our playground. In the Calvin & Hobbes cartoons, Calvin used to go into the woods to get away and play. We had the orchard.

Because of our relative isolation, as kids all we had were each other. Galapagos Finches. We had few outside friends, because we were bussed across town to school (we passed at least three high schools on the way to our school). It was an interesting environment to grow up in, and we did have our occasional Lord of the Flies moment, but we mostly got along.

One friday night I was walking around looking for something to do, when I came across Moby and Mac (names changed to protect the stupid). Moby was as tall and bumbling as could be, and the closest thing to a stoner that we had in our little circle. Mac was the middle brother of three, and somehow he'd managed to get drunk. Moby was leading him around the park, trying to sober him up before taking him home.

I started walking along with them, and at one point Moby randomly complained about his mom being out on a date, and being bored. His mom drove an old blue VW bug, and it seemed like a good idea to go for a spin. We headed over to his house, and Moby searched for her keys. No joy.

I said we could hotwire it, and showed them how. More by luck than skill we got it started. I climbed in the back seat, while Moby took the wheel and Mac rode shotgun. We buzzed around the park for a while, and mostly I held on to Mac's belt to keep him from falling out the window as he leaned out and drunkenly hollered at signs and trees.

We made two or three runs down the main road to First Street, but since none of us had a drivers license, we weren't brave enough to actually leave the park property. So we'd go like a bat out of hell granny's VW down the straightaway, then turn around at the end and head back.

On one of those runs, Mac yelled something about hitting an animal and grabbed the steering wheel. We made a sharp right turn, straight off the edge of the road and headed into the pear orchard.

Remember the scene in Blair Witch Project where they're running through the pitch dark woods in black and white? Exactly.

When I came to my senses, my head was hurting. I think I hit it on the roof as we bounced through the field. The car was at an odd angle, up against a tree. The lights were on, the engine was running, the radio was playing, both doors were open, and the front seats were empty.

I looked out the back window and saw Moby and Mac scrambling towards the road. All I could think of was that the car must've been on fire and I didn't want to be in it when it blew up.

I caught up to them on the road. Moby was crying, mostly because he knew his ass was grass. Mac was laughing like a maniac, mostly at Moby. Me, I was already setting up my alibi. Going through the timeline out loud, making sure I was covered and completely unconnected with it all. Getting everybody's story straight.

When I got home later, I calmly said goodnight to my folks and went to bed. The next morning, I mentioned that it had been a while since we'd been to Confession.

That afternoon, we were sitting in the family room, and I remember my aunt and uncle being there. The phone rang and my mom answered. She listened for a moment, not saying much at all, and then handed the phone to my dad. Mom got up, walked over to where I was sitting on the couch, and started to beat me. It went like this:

"How" {SMACK} "Dare" {SMACK} "You" {SMACK} "Steal" {SMACK} "A" {SMACK} "Car" {SMACK} "And" {SMACK}...

Well, you get the idea. I was curled up, arms over my head protecting myself while mom wailed away and my relatives looked on with stunned expressions.

My dad hung up the phone and walked up behind mom and stopped her from hitting me any more. She hadn't done any real damage, she was too mad to do more than flail away, but I'd have some bruises on my arms for sure. Mom actually said to my dad "You hit him, my arms are tired."

Dad gathered me up and we walked down to Moby's house. The beetle sat in their driveway, looking beat to hell. Windsheild smashed, fender torn off, dented and scraped up pretty good. My dad talked to Moby's mom, and they agreed that I would buy a new windsheild and get a fender and put it on. The rest would be up to the other boys.

I found out later that Moby called his mom when he got home and told her the car was stolen. When the cops found it - not hard at night with the lights still on - they supposedly dusted it for prints and found ours. I still think Moby just guilted himself into ratting us out.

The phone call. When my mom answered the phone, Moby's mom said "Mrs. Phipps? Last night your son and two other boys stole my car and wrecked it in the pear orchard." Not once did she ever tell my parents that her son was one of the "two other boys".

I got a sunset curfew for a year, and my folks enforced it. Dad and I made a trip to the junkyard. I dipped into my savings and bought a windsheild and fender, and my dad helped me attach the fender. He was pretty pissed off when he found out the other two got zero punishment for our stunt, and we never did finish the glass.

My brother wrecked our family car in the same orchard a few years later after I'd left home. Drag racing or something equally stupid. Almost a family tradition.

And that's the story of #5 on my list.

Posted by: Ted at 01:07 AM | category: Boring Stories
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March 27, 2004

Mach 7

NASA's X-43A unmanned scramjet test vehicle made it's first successful flight today.

Back in January I posted about the ramjet powered Project Pluto, which included this link for a look at various types of ramjets and how they work.

Posted by: Ted at 09:32 PM | category: SciTech
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Rockets in Advertising

Bell South is sending out mailers for their new dial-up internet service.

Rocket = fast.

I approve. more...

Posted by: Ted at 08:40 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Eleven lines. Sixty-one words. Essence.

Update: Taco has apparently set up a rotating quote on the page while he revamps his site. Still worth a look.

Posted by: Ted at 06:22 AM | category: Links
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March 26, 2004

But we already knew that


Posted by: Ted at 08:33 PM | category: Links
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Never having to say you're sorry

I'm watching Maine vs Harvard in the NCAA hockey version of March Madness. College hockey is a treat, the skill level is surprisingly good at this level.

I love satellite TV.

Posted by: Ted at 07:32 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Sometimes you should just quit while you're behind

It doesn't matter what you say, because you're not going to be believed. Might as well just shut up and take your lumps.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 06:07 PM | category: Square Pegs
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I surrender

I've been fighting the flu all week, and I'd have stayed home a couple of days except that I've had important stuff to do at work.

It's friday, it's beautiful, and I've had it. I'm going home. Look for more this evening, after a long nyquil-induced nap.

Don't forget that Rocket Jones is hosting the symphony next week, so keep the submissions coming. Scroll down for details, I mentioned it somewhere. Blah.

(heh heh, I said "submission")

Posted by: Ted at 11:49 AM | category: Family matters
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The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were

This is so cool. Round up 100 art designers and ask them to come up with an album cover for the artist of their choice.

Imagine Ralph Steadman doing a Rolling Stones cover. Or Vonnegut doing Phish. The concept is pure genius.

Posted by: Ted at 06:51 AM | category: Links
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March 25, 2004

Air Force Blue (part 9)

I'm going to backtrack a little bit, back to Security Police training (talked about it here and here). The last part was Air Base Ground Defense, where we threw grenades and patrolled and set ambushes and all that army-man stuff. Big fun. Really. Like playing as kids, except we had real M16's full of blanks.

So one day towards the end of our ABGD training, our job as a unit was to attack and secure a mock weapons storage area. It had a fence around it, and real bunkers and a tower, but the 'buildings' were mostly plywood boxes with door and window openings. Nothing too permanent.

So we attacked, and overran the base, and secured it. And after all this running around, the fire team I was attached to - four of us - were sitting in this corrugated tin shed that was used as the Entry Control Point for the area.

It was cool and dark inside, and we leaned back against the walls catching our breath, when one of the guys pulls out this little bottle from his shirt pocket. I had no idea what it was, being the naive youngster that I was then. It was a bottle of what he called "Locker Room" or some such, and I think they also called it a popper. The basic idea being you inhaled and it gave you a massive head rush and you got really dizzy for a moment and pretended it was like being high.

So the guy hits it, and for some reason reached for his weapon leaning against the wall. He manages to grab it by the trigger guard, and inexplicably his weapon wasn't on safe, it was on full auto. The fool accidentally machine guns a full 20-round magazine of blanks at the ceiling.

Remember now, we're in a tin shed.

The noise was deafening. We were writhing around on the floor, holding our ears. After a few seconds someone realized that we were being called on the radio, wondering what we were shooting at. There was only one thing to do.

We ran out of the shed, flopped to the ground, and started shooting into the treeline across the road. Soon every trainee in our unit is blazing away at that poor innocent clump of trees. Eventually we all ran out of ammo and the firing trickled off. We later got an 'attaboy' for detecting the attack, and our prompt action prevented the enemy from conducting the attack, forcing them to withdraw after surprise was lost. Uh-huh.

My ears rang for hours. The three of us beat the crap out of popper-boy later that evening.

Posted by: Ted at 03:58 PM | category: Boring Stories
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