April 25, 2004

I found my dream job

I'm just not sure who to send my resume to.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 07:38 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 24, 2004

Movie Review: First Spaceship on Venus

This one is a treat, despite some flaws. Remember that bit in Shrek where he's talking about layers? You know, like an onion, there are many layers because it's not something simple? Fine, like a parfait then. The point is that there's a lot worthwhile in this movie, even if you're not a fan of the genre.

First Spaceship on Venus was made in East Germany in 1959. Rather than overt preaching about the joys of Communist living, the message here was much more subtle and pervasive. Almost every aspect of the movie was colored by the society which created the film and the society it was targeted towards. There's an grim earnestness here, where everyone is expected to pull their weight for the common good of all Earth (even those poor misguided Americans). Of course, the crew is gloriously diverse, containing both males and females and of every race. One scene that troubled me happened near the end, where some crew members were lost. There was no effort to rescue them, and even though they were hailed as heroes they weren't sacrificed. They were just left behind by circumstance when the ship returned to Earth, and little was wasted on regret. To my mind, that perfectly pointed up the socialist attitude of individual expendability.

This movie is based on a story by Stanislaw Lem, who's novel Solaris has been made into a movie twice - first in Russia, and then again a year or two ago by Hollywood (starring George Clooney). I've read some Lem, and don't much care for him. I'm wondering now if it's because of our differing viewpoints about the world we grew up in. His fiction is wildly imaginative, but there always seemed to be an alieness about his writing that had nothing to do with the story he was telling.

But despite (or maybe because of) this, First Spaceship on Venus presents an intriguing story. More cerebral than action-oriented, much of the plot is advanced via dialogue, and since it was filmed in the earliest days of space exploration, they get a lot of the science wrong, sometimes with unintentionally funny results.

The spaceship is one of the most beautiful creations ever conceived for the big screen. It also has one of the dumbest names - the Cosmostrator.

The special effects are outstanding for the most part, especially the surface of Venus. The dubbing and editing are horrible. Supposedly my copy was "fully restored and enhanced from a digital master", which just tells me that the original must've been in really bad shape. The picture isn't bad, but it's not all that great either.

Bottom line: this one is well worth watching. In fact, I'll go ahead and call this one a must-see.

Posted by: Ted at 07:59 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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This reminds me, I need to mow the lawn

Buried in the jungles of Guatemala, excavations at Mayan ruins continue to surprise archeologists with unsuspected data.

A team of U.S. and Guatemalan archeologists says it has discovered important Mayan monuments covered with texts from the ceremonial ball court at the Cancuen palace in northern Guatemala.

Cancuen, one of the largest Mayan palaces found so far, was built between 765 and 790 A.D. by King Taj Chan Ahk. It is located along the banks of the Passion River, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the Guatemalan capital.

They've been exploring those ruins for over 100 years.

Posted by: Ted at 01:05 AM | category: SciTech
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April 23, 2004

Long day done

Tomorrow the contractors come to install new windows in our house. After managing a little ladder mishap last night that wrenched my back I'm moving at half speed. So I took today off from work because everything around the house was going to take longer to do.

We got all the curtains down and washed, and all the hardware for curtains, blinds, shades, etc removed. Furniture moved and access to every window cleared. The last thing I have to do tonight is to put a couple of CAT-5 connectors on the new cabling we ran last weekend, and a few last-second things in the morning.

A little while ago they stopped by and dropped off some materials for tomorrow. I've been wanting to do this for several years, but damn it's expensive. I know it'll automatically raise the value of the house at least as much as they cost, not to mention the improved efficiency of new windows compared to the original almost 40 year old ones. I was talking to a couple of neighbors about it, and apparently we got a decent price too.

Hockey's on. Then I need a hot shower, some kick-ass pain drugs, and some sleep. Enjoy your weekend.

Posted by: Ted at 07:49 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Fallen Hero

Excerpted from here.

Pat Tillman, who walked away from his professional football career to join the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

Tillman played four seasons with the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6 million deal from Arizona.

His brother, Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians' organization, also joined the Rangers and served in the Middle East.

My condolences to the Tillman family, and my gratitude for their sons' service and sacrifice.

Update: Eric has a much more comprehensive post about this, including links to many background stories.

Posted by: Ted at 11:47 AM | category: Military
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6 Again

From my wife, who got it from her sister.

A man asked his wife what she'd like for her birthday. "I'd love to be six again," she replied. On the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Lucky Charms and then took her off to the local theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park: the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, and the Screaming Monster Roller Coaster, everything there was. Five hours later she staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down. Right away, they journeyed to a McDonald's where her loving husband ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a refreshing chocolate shake. Then it was off to a movie to see the latest blockbuster, a hot-dog, popcorn, a soda pop, and her favorite candy, M&M's. What a fabulous adventure! Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted. He leaned over his precious wife with a big smile and lovingly asked. "Well, dear, what was it like being six again?" Her eyes slowly opened and her expression suddenly changed.

"You idiot, I meant my dress size!"

The moral of the story: Even when a man is listening, he's gonna get it wrong.

Posted by: Ted at 10:03 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Senior Moment

My wife was surprised to hear me use that phrase yesterday. If you haven't heard it before, it refers to one of those times when you momentarily forget what you were going to say or do.

I don't use "senior moment" to describe myself, because I've been absent minded my whole life. I'm a fanatical list-maker, because if I didn't write it down, I know I'd forget. In fact, sometimes my biggest problem is finding an old list and trying to remember if I've already dealt with it or not.

I was going somewhere with this, but I was interupted and now I can't remember. Sounds like a joke, but I'm serious. I didn't make a note to myself, and I forgot. It's inevitable I tell you.

Damn, that's gonna bug me too.

Update: Ok, I didn't leave myself a note, but another window was open on the PC and that reminded me. And it was a list, kinda. Some bloggers share what they find on their searchengine referrer logs, and I love to read those because it's usually funny and amazing what turns up. I haven't done it before because, well, I'm odd like that, and usually won't do something that others do.

But it's a list, which makes it ok for this post, which is turning into one huge rambling mess. Besides the expected "rocket" and "how to make a rocket" stuff I find:

"porta-potty" rental rate

Probably someone from the State Department.

The Gravity Probe B satellite conspiracy

Paging Mr. Stone...

beats him like a red headed step child

Yep, I use that phrase. Surprisingly though, mine has hyphens. Ok, so maybe not so surprising. Some say punctuation is a tool for writers. In that case, I'm like the movie psychotic who misuses various tools to bludgeon understanding into your unsuspecting mind. Make sense out of that screwed-up metaphore, I dare ya!

gladiator eroticus pictures

The google hits for "softcore lesbian movie spoofs shot direct to video" start to roll in! Go me.

clipping riverdance

The nude version. It's my idea, but I need investors. Any takers? Apparently someone thinks I'll need a barber on staff too.

2004 email addresses of MR. YOUSUF

I think we'd all like to have that. Let me know when you get it, ok?

All right, enough of this nonsense.

Posted by: Ted at 08:35 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 22, 2004

Presented without comment

"Protect your banana!" (work-safe)

Thanks to J-Walk Blog for the - ahem - pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 11:49 AM | category: Links
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Ladies, see how stupid this sounds?

Does that banner above make my blog look fat?

It's a little too large I think. I'll have to shrink it a bit more this evening. I like the picture itself though. She's got a sly smile which hints at naughty times ahead. Just like Rocket Jones!

I'll be updating the hockey playoffs team array later to show the second round matchups.

And there's a new tagline over on the right. The tagline archive is here.

Oh yeah, Google has a graphic up celebrating Earth Day.

Posted by: Ted at 06:49 AM | category: Munuvian Daily Tattler
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Al Gore never mentioned this

(ID's have been changed to protect the clueless and evil)

proudpapa: oh man
proudpapa: my son is sooooooo dead
lemon8: Why?
proudpapa: hes been looking at internet web sites in effing EUROPE
proudpapa: our effing phone bill is gonna be nuts
lemon8: Ooh, this is bad. Surfing long distance adds an extra $69.99 to your bill per hour.
proudpapa: ...!!!!!! DAMN DAMN DAMN
proudpapa: is there some plan we can sign up for???
proudpapa: cuz theres some cool stuff in europe, but i dont want to pay that much
lemon8: Sorry, no. There is no plan. you'll have to live with it.
proudpapa: o well, i ccan live without europe intenet sites.
proudpapa: but till i figure out how to block it hes sooooo dead
lemon8: By the way, I'm from Europe, your chatting long distance.
** proudpapa has quit (Connection reset by peer)

Posted by: Ted at 06:40 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Not everyone is focused on the X-Prize

Geekdom lately has been filled with news of Burt Rutan and others chasing the X-Prize. Sending people into space is well and good, but in the same way that like U-Haul rents big trucks and little trucks, access to space will require various payload capabilities, many of them unmanned.

The Middlesex Advanced Rocketry Society has been working for over five years to create a commercially viable rocket that can lift smaller payloads into orbit. I've followed their progress for much of that time and their work continues to impress.

Regarding their most recent successful test flight:

It is believed that the 25,400ft altitude achieved by Deimos Odyssey now stands as the highest altitude achieved by any rocket powered by a British developed amateur rocket motor and may be the highest altitude ever achieved by any European built hybrid rocket.

Posted by: Ted at 05:47 AM | category: Space Program
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April 21, 2004

Tech-savvy Sharks

After all, they are from the Silicon Valley.

Thanks to the Hockey Pundits for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 11:58 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Go three blocks and hang a right

It's located down by Rue de Dey.

Posted by: Ted at 10:51 AM | category: Links
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An Invitation and an Introduction

For new visitors, I thought I'd briefly mention what Rocket Jones is about. Like it says up top, it's a literal description of my state of mind. My kids and I do hobby rocketry, and I use this blog to occasionally talk about the science, technology and fun involved. We're also heavily involved in educational projects with local schools and youth groups. My Rocketry category contains Rocket Jones posts on the subject, including tons of web links and pictures of our family doing rocket stuff.

And you might not have known, but Munuviana has its own space program!

Here's a beginner Q&A about model rocketry.

Here are pictures of a couple of our other larger rockets.

I posted this about a month ago, but I'll repeat myself.

BattlePark 2004, to be held May 1st and 2nd in Culpeper, Virginia, will be one of the largest rocket launches of the year in the United States. Rocketry enthusiests from all over the eastern US and Canada will be attending and making spectacular flights.

Located within two hours of Washington DC and Richmond, VA, the field is beautiful rolling farmland. You can find directions and a map here. Spectators are welcome (no charge), and kids launch for free. Everything from Estes-sized model rockets all the way up to extreme high-power will be launched. A 15,000' altitude waiver has already been approved by the FAA.

Mookie and I will be there both Saturday and Sunday, and we'd love to meet some of you! C'mon out and see something unique and exciting.

Posted by: Ted at 10:24 AM | category: Rocketry
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Yet another clue...

... that I'm mentally prepared to leave this project.

I was talkng to some co-workers this morning when one lady made a disgusted choking sound and pointed at the floor. There was a large cockroach going his merry way down the hall. One guy moved to stomp it, but stopped when I said "better not." Everyone paused and looked at me.

"Might be management."

The roach got away. I better get a good review from him.

Posted by: Ted at 08:22 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 20, 2004

Ripple Fire*

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who gave advice about my neighborhood pit bull situation. Y'all are levelheaded and rational, and I'm often not, so your words mean a lot. Cindy pointed out this story about a recent mauling, which is exactly the kind of thing I'm worried about.

A few thoughts about drivers, inspired by recent events during my commute:

I'm not anti-religion, but where in the rules does it say that as soon as you plaster devotional slogans on your car it becomes ok to be an asshole? My favorite so far is the bumper stickers that say "In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be driverless". Guess what? You already drive like a brain-dead zombie, so nobody will notice the friggin' difference!!!!!

Yesterday I passed one of those ubiquitous service vans (you know, plumbers, electricians, whatever... ladders on top, logos all over it), and got a dirty look for not letting him pull into my lane. He probably would've flipped me off, but he had a map in one hand, a cell phone in the other, looked to be steering with his knees, and couldn't spare an elbow to use the turn-signal. I didn't look to see if he was waiting for the Rapture.

Do you have HOV lanes where you live? "High Occupancy Vehicle" lanes, and on my route they're a separate roadway between the north and southbound interstates, and you need three people in the car to use them. The last couple of days the cops have been out in force enforcing it, which always makes me feel good. I don't mind if people cheat, as long as once in a while they get caught. The fines are very steep, so I consider it a tax on stupid (thanks for that one Victor).

Anyway, back to the HOV's. The cops set up at the far end of the entrance ramp to get on the HOV lanes so there's no sneaking by. This morning an SUV was trying to back up a quarter mile on the shoulder of the onramp after spotting the cops at the last minute. I laughed my ass off when another cop car pulled up behind the nitwit. Have an extra helping of ticket, ya idiot.

Still in the car, this morning I was listening to the Allman Brothers' Jessica. It's not uncommon for bloggers to post favorite lyrics, and I started laughing as I thought about this one.

Allman Brothers

Da da da da dee da da da daaah da da da daaah de dahhhhhhhh.
Da da da da dee da da da duh da da da de dahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Yeah, it's an instrumental. Stuff like that is funny when you're sitting in traffic.

I don't know what's scarier, the fact that I Googled "Jessica" + "lyrics" + "Allman Brothers" (just in case), or the fact that I got several hits. Thank God all of them just said "instrumental".

Have you seen the new NBA playoff commercial? It's got everything - bright marquee lights, rappers, squirmy young sex-bombs and Carlos Santana. It's like it was made exclusively for Laker fans, and the rest of the country can go to hell. To be fair, it'll probably appeal to a segment of the populations in Las Vegas and Branson, Mo too. Other than that, it's utterly forgettable. In fact, I'd seen it maybe four or five times before I even realized what it was for.

I don't blog much about work, but if I leave my current place of employment, expect a whole heap o' stories to pour forth. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be outraged (US taxpayers only).

All done, I feel better.

* ‘Ripple Fire’ is a mode whereas multiple military rockets are launched at a (usually ground) target in rapid sequence. It’s similar to machine-gun fire, but with big booms at the receiving end. I use the title for disjointed snippets and thoughts too short for their own posts.

Posted by: Ted at 06:34 AM | category: Square Pegs
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NHL playoffs

Montreal came back from 3 games to 1 down to win their best-of-seven series against Boston. Boston star Chokin' Joe Thornton scored a grand total of zero points in the series. Montreal goes on to play Tampa Bay in the second round.

In the other game seven last night, Vancouver took on Calgary. The Canucks scored with 6 seconds left to tie, but Calgary won in OT and now advances to play Detroit.

Tonight, Toronto and Ottawa square off in their game 7. The winner takes on Philadelphia in round 2.

San Jose will meet Colorado in the other Western second round matchup.

In other hockey news, Igor Larionov announced his retirement today.

The 43-year-old Larionov, the oldest player to compete in the NHL this season, signed with New Jersey as a free agent in September. He had hoped to win a fourth Stanley Cup to cap a professional career that began in 1980 in the former Soviet Union.

The Flyers knocked the Devils out of playoffs Saturday.
"When you leave the game, it's sad," Larionov said. "It's time to move on. There are things in my mind that I want to do, but I'm not going to rush into anything."

He certainly didn't rush into retirement. In his career he won three Stanley Cups with Detroit and two Olympic Gold Medals playing for Russia. Good luck to a great champion.

Posted by: Ted at 05:36 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 19, 2004

Godzilla vs Mothra Coke C2 vs Pepsi Edge

Coke and Pepsi are both planning to introduce mid-calorie colas this summer. At first, I couldn't see the point, but I assume they'll be closer in taste to their regular offerings.

I'll probably never even try them, because I grew up drinking diet soda (mom was diabetic - I love Tab and Fresca), so there's no interest here.

In further news, advance advertising includes the phrase "half the carbs". Gee, what a surprise.

Posted by: Ted at 07:23 PM | category: Square Pegs
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A little advice needed (updated)

Yesterday I was involved in a ‘situation’ in our neighborhood, and I’m not quite sure how to deal with it.

A little background to start (I don’t have all the details, but this is the gist of it): late one night a year or two ago, a dog was barking for an extended period of time. It turned out to be a pit bull owned by a neighbor’s boyfriend and it had “gotten loose” in the front yard. Apparently it went after a pizza-delivery guy, who then called the cops, and when the officer arrived, the dog went after the cop. Bang bang, dead dog.

Fast forward to last week. I get home from work and some bozo is walking the neighborhood with two pit bull pups running loose. They’re not far from full-grown. I called out to the guy and walked up to talk to him. Trying to get the point across about keeping the dogs leashed without being a prick about it, I told him about the cop shooting the loose dog. His response was “yeah, that was my dog.” So much for learning the lesson. Sheesh.

I did see him walking the dogs another day, and they were on leashes.

My front yard is enclosed by a picket fence, and I let my dogs out there to play. My dogs are territorial, and will sometimes bark at kids running by on the sidewalk or riding their bikes. Most of the neighborhood kids are used to it, and they get along fine.

Yesterday our dogs were out front and suddenly we heard a huge commotion going on. I ran upstairs to see what was going on, and those two pit bulls were running free again and were at the fence barking at my dogs, who were nose to nose with them yapping right back. Our younger dog came inside immediately when called, but Sam the old-timer held his ground.

I went out and picked him up, and suddenly I was face to face with one of the pit bulls trying to come over the fence at me. Not even thinking about it, I stood there and stared down the pup while holding my dog under one arm, away from the fence. The pup retreated and I took Sam inside.

In the meantime someone had run to get the owners girlfriend, who was trying to get the pups back to her yard. I was pretty pissed off, so I said something I figured would get her attention: “Next time, I’m calling the cops.” Her reply was something along the lines of “I didn’t let them out on purpose.” I absolutely believe her, but still, those dogs went after mine in their own yard, and one of them almost came over the fence at me. Couple that with boyfriend letting them run loose, and it’s two strikes. We have too many young kids in the neighborhood to risk strike three. I don’t blame the dogs, but the owner(s) haven’t shown me that they’re responsible enough to keep dogs with that kind of damage potential.

Later I realized just how close it had been. If that dog had really wanted to get me, that picket fence would have been no barrier at all.

I’m now keeping a bat near the door, and the wife and Mookie have been instructed in no uncertain terms that if they see those pups running free, they’re to call the cops, and to make sure they mention “pit bulls”.

What would you do? Am I overreacting?

Update: Upon further reflection, I've refined the "standing orders" for Liz and Mookie. If that situation happens again, they're to look out the window before opening the door. If our dogs are alone in our yard, they can open the door (with the stick ready) and call our dogs in. If things aren't too crazy, they can step out onto the front porch but have to hold the door open just in case. No way do they let that door close behind them because they have to have a way to retreat if needed. I made it clear that I'd rather lose our dogs than have the ladies hurt. Also, the stick is more for distraction than for clubbing. Give the dog something to go after and buy a few seconds while getting back inside.

We know we'll probably never need to do this, but just knowing ahead of time what to do makes it easier to deal with.

I also pointed out that this is another situation where having a pistol and knowing how to use it would be helpful.

Posted by: Ted at 02:16 PM | category: Seriously
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Yeah, I'm easily amused, but still, this is funny!

(the picture is work safe, the C&S comments banner isn't)

Posted by: Ted at 12:18 PM | category: Links
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