January 26, 2005

Putting the "Illegal" back into "Undocumented Immigrant"

There's a reason the first word of the original phrase is "illegal", although I'd go along with "Illegal Immigrant" as being even more accurate. Either way, here's what happens:

Is it so liberal that governments must pay for those who ignore the law while citizens go without? In California, the money to incarcerate more than 14,000 felonious illegal aliens from Mexico - well over $400 million - would fund the start-up costs of 20 university campuses like the new University of California at Merced, at a time when Americans (including many first-generation Mexican-American citizens) who are eligible for higher education cannot find access or financial support.

I'm not anti-immigration or anti-Mexican. I am stridently anti-illegal-immigration.

Thanks to Mad William Flint for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 11:45 AM | category: Links
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What a beautiful rocket photo

Taken by one of the photographers from Blue Planet Media (and I've forgotten his name to my eteranal shame), this liftoff shot of my upscaled Yellow Jacket boosting on twin C6 motors has been used in NAR promotional materials.


Talking to someone recently about rocketry, they were surprised when I mentioned that we flew them more than once. They were under the impression that the rockets flew up and disappeared or exploded or some such. We bring them back under parachute or other recovery method. The rocket in the photo has made 21 flights so far, and is still going strong.

Posted by: Ted at 05:55 AM | category: Rocketry
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Degrees of empathy

Since everyone in the family except Mookie ended up sick last weekend, she did yeoman's work taking care of us all. For the record, she's closer to Ratchet than Nightengale.

Posted by: Ted at 04:48 AM | category: Square Pegs
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January 25, 2005

Finishing rockets - 2

Way back in 2003 I posted a little blip about finishing rockets, and the guy who laminated sheets of uncut one dollar bills to his airframe.

Here are some other interesting finishes I've seen.

On a rocket named Child's Play, the owner had his kids dip their hands in fingerpaint and left primary-colored hand-prints all over the rocket.

Another guy left his unpainted, but every time the rocket flew he wrote the date of the flight on the airframe. The rocket was covered with dates.

One that worked for me was a rocket I named Alchemy. The nosecone is chrome silver, halfway down the body it fades into Rustoleum's hammered silver finish, and near the fins it fades into a fleckstone faux-granite finish. It looks cool, if I do say so myself.

Another finish that I tried to create without success was to use that antique crackle overcoat over flourescent paint. A friend of mine used simple gold under black crackle that came out very nice. I thought it would be cool if the crackle finish exposed neon orange and green jags. Unfortunately, the flourescent finish has too much 'tooth' and wouldn't allow the antique finish to 'crackle' correctly. I sanded and repainted that rocket, trying slightly different techniques, probably four or five times, and never got it to work right. I still like the idea though... maybe someday if I get good enough with an airbrush.

Posted by: Ted at 12:39 PM | category: Rocketry
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The latest in the magnetic ribbon craze, this one in the NHL's orange and black.

Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 08:36 AM | category: Links
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January 24, 2005

So much for my favorite sweater

From Reuters (which doesn't rhyme with "neuters"):

Female legislators in Israel have seen red after a leading rabbi compared women who wear the color to prostitutes.

Protesting against a ritual ruling by Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, head of the rabbinical court in the southern city of Beersheba, banning Jewish women from dressing in red, several woman lawmakers wore the color in parliament Monday.

Overreaction? I mean, it's not like he called them Dubya supporters.

Related thought: there's a city named Beer-Sheba? I dunno about you, but the name conjures up images of Friday nights full of good music, good drinkin' and women of questionable virtue (bless 'em all). I may have to add that to my list of places to visit before I die.

Posted by: Ted at 12:05 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Tragedy on the ice

Sharkspage has links and story:

According to the BYU Icecats website:

Jaxon Logan, our teammate, friend, and brother passed away Friday night. While blocking a slap shot, Jaxon was struck in the chest by the puck which led to cardiac arrest and ultimately his death. Jaxon was a great man, talented athlete, and fierce competitor. A memorial service will be held at the LDS church on 85 south 900 East Provo, Monday @ 6 pm. All are invited.

It's just one of those freak things that happens in life, and a good reminder to appreciate what you have.

Posted by: Ted at 06:10 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Star Power, Baby

Pixy asks:

When they make MuNu: The Movie, who will play you? And feel free to make nominations for the other Munus.

My very first thought was John Goodman as Rocket Jones. Which was spooky because Jennifer said the exact same thing, and then Joe Don Bak Victor thirded the nomination, followed up by Spork in Jen's comments.

Funny thing, my wife immediately said "Jim Belushi".

I'll have to give some thought to further casting, but right off the top of my head:

Jennifer played by Bridget Fonda. Tough. Smart. Sassy.
Susie played by Sandra Bullock. Ditto, kiddo.
Spork played by Michael J. Fox, for that intense yet amiable competence.
Victor played by Joe Don Baker, natch.
LeeAnn played by Janeane Garofalo, with the stipulation that she not be allowed to speak any lines not written for her by LeeAnn herself (maybe a shock collar... careful Ted, you're getting into real fantasy territory now).
Steve and Robert played by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams reprising their roles as Laverne & Shirley. Shmeel. Shnozzle. Yip! Yip! Yip!
Michael King played by Sinbad, for no reason other than it would amuse me to no end to hear Sinbad say "Just Damn!"
Bill, played by Oscar the Grouch.

Posted by: Ted at 05:42 AM | category: Links
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B-movie Biology

Interesting discussion about monsters and more, both giant and miniature, to be found here, courtesy of J-Walk Blog.

Note the U. of Chicago address, some people just can't enjoy a movie... sheesh.

Posted by: Ted at 04:51 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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Rocket pictures and movies, both big and small

Wow, this is a post that's been sitting in the draft pile for a long long time. Better late than never, eh?

Here's a cool picture of a rocket lifting off. The motor is an Animal Motor Works M2200(?) Skidmark. To give you an idea of scale, the rocket is around 10' tall.

Now when things don't quite go according to plan, you see things like the video clips on this page. Spectacular footage.

Thanks to A.E. Brain for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 04:34 AM | category: Rocketry
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January 23, 2005

Needless hype

An announcer on television just breathlessly announced that today's football game is historical because it's the first time that two African-American quarterbacks ever faced each other in a league championship game.

Who gives a shit? In the grand scheme of things, that's like the first-ever matchup between left-handed Ivy League graduates on a Thursday night game when it rained in the third quarter. Bottom line: McNabb is Eagles green and Vick is Falcons red.

Posted by: Ted at 03:10 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Another sign of western decay

If you want frozen onion rings made the old fashioned way, you know, with actual onion rings inside, you have to get gourmet onion rings. Otherwise, you get ring shaped dough with bits of chopped onion.

Posted by: Ted at 01:27 PM | category: Square Pegs
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I laughed, I cried, I went out and talked to my car

Whereas Lawren just found it disturbing. One of us should probably seek professional help.

Hasselhoffian geometry.

Posted by: Ted at 09:20 AM | category: Links
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Rocket Gliders

One of the neatest types of hobby rockets are gliders. They soar into the sky straight up like a rocket, and then when the motor burns out they transition to recover like a glider airplane. Some are radio controlled. Divided into two general types, there are "boost gliders" which eject the motor pod at apogee in order to gain their flying trim, then there are the "rocket gliders" which keep everything together, usually relying on some sort of mechanical movement to achieve flightworthyness.

Mookie and I have had the extreme pleasure of launching rockets with Rob Edmonds for several years now. Anytime we have a club launch, Rob is usually there, testing new glider prototypes or perfecting existing models. The man is a font of glider-knowlege, and he's more than happy to share his expertise.

The best rocket gliders

His company, Edmonds Aerospace, makes some of the coolest rocket kits around. Specializing in glider designs, Rob has carved out a niche creating the simplest and most fool-proof glider kits imaginable. They're perfect for beginners, but they also fly great! For more advanced rocketeers, he features binary gliders, larger models (for bigger motors) and the simplest RC glider available.

I noticed in the latest issue of Sport Rocketry a full-page Edmonds Aerospace ad. I'll excerpt it here, because it's an awesome educational concept:

The G-Pack

This special package will get your students into the air more quickly and at lower cost than any other rocket-powered product. You will enjoy costs of less than $2.50 per student and build times of as little as twenty minutes! Individual aircraft for 12 students are packaged with a single rocket booster that launches three aircraft at a time. Each student experiences a rocket launch of her own model, yet you can launch all twelve students with only four motors, cutting your flying costs by two thirds. Each group of 3 students can enjoy competing to see which aircraft remains aloft the longest!

He's designed this model to fly on Estes A10-3T motors, which come four to a pack (around $5.00 at WalMart). Plus you get the fun of multiple gliders flying at one time. Too cool.

Rob also suggests using the G-Pack for birthday parties, which would make for a memorable (and easy to do) event. The glider kits in the G-Pack consist of 5 parts, no cutting is necessary, and, being the owner of several Edmonds kits, I can tell you that they fly like a dream.

Just for fun, here are pictures of several of our rocket gliders. Click on the links to open in a new window.

Edmonds Deltie, Mookie has one of these too.

Another Edmonds kit. This one isn't a beginner model, it takes some effort to make it fly nicely.

Edmonds Tinee, another beginner-level kit. Isn't that the coolest looking thing?

Flying Jenny. This biplane glider is available from plans here. It's an old design, and when I lose one I just build another.

A Holverson Zoomie. No longer in business, I've got one of their Silver Hawk flying wing gliders in my 'to build' box.

There are a couple of others we fly, but I don't have pictures right handy. Something you might have noticed was that the gliders are mostly undecorated. I use pink highlighter to add some flair without adding the weight of paint. Makes 'em easier to see too.

Posted by: Ted at 09:06 AM | category: Rocketry
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File under "Flippin' Obvious"

Crystal Light has come out with mini-packs of drink mix to turn your bottle of water into a bottle of lemonade or fruit punch.

Posted by: Ted at 08:17 AM | category: Square Pegs
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January 22, 2005

Things often work better when you turn them on

First seen at Naked Villany, and I googled up a link to the story here.

On Thursday, Idaho scientist David Atkinson said that someone failed to turn on a radio receiver for the instrument he needed to measure the winds on Saturn's largest moon. Because of that error, data transmitted by the gear on the Huygens lander was not received by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft for relay to Earth.

Oops. It doesn't specifically say, but since the Huygens probe was ESA's baby, I don't think this was a NASA goof. In fact, this sort of thing is exactly why NASA goes overboard with the checklists. Except that it's not going overboard if you prevent things like this from happening.

Atkinson spent 18 years designing the experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. He did say Thursday there was a chance that some of the data that was beamed toward Cassini could be picked up on Earth.

Ouch. Fortunately, according to the story most of the data was recovered.

Getting back to the checklist thingy. I imagine that the ESA (and every other space program) goes to the same lengths as NASA regarding checklists and procedure manuals. I'd bet that the checklist item to send that command was forgotten or lost somewhere along the line and so wasn't present to be performed during the execution of that particular series of commands. Trust me, nobody *forgets* something like that.

Posted by: Ted at 07:09 PM | category: Space Program
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blogroll matters

Finally getting around to a few that have been on my list:

Welcome to Eric's Random Musings

Both Jen and Rich have moved, their links on the right have been updated.

Waiting for Boof, an excellent SF Giants blog, has morphed into the McCovey Chronicles. Good stuff for Giants fans and anyone who appreciates excellent baseball humor and writing.

Oops, almost forgot. Phillip has moved too.

Posted by: Ted at 08:30 AM | category: Links
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When you wanna fly big rockets, a group is the way to go

From the Maryland/Delaware Rocketry Association Newsletter (html conversion of .pdf file):

There was also going to be the Kimberly Harms / John Lyndal full scale Honest John powered by four 4-grain full O motors. Dave Triano, Mike Hobbs had teamed up with Frank Kosdon on an 8" minimum diameter full Q motor attempt scheduled to go over 88,000 feet. Then there were all those 35,000 foot fun flights.

Of course, it helps to fly in the desert too. Black Rock, Nevada to be precise. The same chunk of desert where Burning Man takes place. Rocketeers in the Western U.S. have room that we east of the Mississippi only dream about.

Back to the story:

Not much comes back alive at Black Rock and this held true for the mighty Honest John. This was a full scale model of the real thing. It was built by Kimberly Harms and the Community Space Program out of Washington State. The motors were built by John Lyndal out of Oregon. John and Kim have combined their talents successfully on many other projects in the past. But this was the biggest one yet and this was Balls 13 at Black Rock. As with many other projects at the event there would be a secret conspiracy with the 700 pound, 24"
diameter, 4 full O powered rocket. Earlier in the event I was talking with Kim and
mentioned to her that she should put some "Cow Spots" on her military green painted rocket. She slowly shook her head and said she thought the project might go the way of the Cow . I wonder what she knew, that the rest of the world didn't. I had discussed with both Kim and John how the big projects get logarithmically more difficult. That was one thing we were all in agreement with.

[The photo below shows an actual Honest John being launched. The black, white and orange colors indicate that this is a test round, and the plumes emerging from the nose end are small rockets mounted at an angle to induce spin which increased stability and hence accuracy. The full-scale Honest John discussed in the article had no spin rockets and was launched vertically, as are all our rockets for safety reasons. -- RJ]

Actual Honest John launch in test colors

The Honest John was man handled onto the tower fully assembled. We were not out at their pad, which was over a mile away, yet we could see the progress as they finally got the big rocket vertical on the tower. The time had finally come and the button was pushed.

The Honest John climbed right up and off the tower. It started to take a slight arch to the right and then about 1,000 feet all hell broke loose. One of the O motors had catoed and that tore the rocket apart. The motor section continued to sail past the flailing payload and nose cone section. As the booster cruised by the nose cone it clipped it smashing the nuclear warhead to tiny bits [the Honest John was a nuclear-capable rocket used by the US Army, this was a full scale model - RJ]. The booster must have continued on to about 3,000 feet while the rest of the rocket fell helplessly back to earth from a much lower altitude. On Sunday I approached Kim to offer my condolences on the demise of her project and she told that "You can't cry over spilled milk."

When Mookie was a wee rocketeer, she took to design like a fish to water. One of her very first rockets was a beautiful flyer painted red, white & blue, and we watched it drift away under chute over an adjoining patch of woods. Despite our best efforts, we never did find it. She impressed me with her attitude because you could tell it hurt her to lose her rocket, but she accepted that sometimes you don't get them back.

Here's a nifty panoramic view of the playa at Black Rock.

Posted by: Ted at 08:07 AM | category: Rocketry
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Bastions of Bastardy

First we identified the Axis of Evil, now it's the Outposts of Tyranny. Bigwig of Silflay Hraka suggests the third tier should be named the Bastions of Bastardy. I like it.

Here's another discussion on it, this one in a more serious vein.

Posted by: Ted at 07:14 AM | category: Links
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Did I mention that I was sick?

My wife is feeling even worse than I am, so I have no one to whine to. This sucks.

Posted by: Ted at 06:45 AM | category: Square Pegs
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