May 25, 2005

It's not that there's a little extra gravity lately

It's that my fantasy league baseball team sucks that bad.

Posted by: Ted at 05:56 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Yes, exactly!

Speaking of baseball, over at the McCovey Chronicles, Grant tries to explain the rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers.

It's something so ingrained, so automatic, I can't even prevent myself from sneering when I see a child wearing a Dodger cap. It's ridiculous. There but for the grace of geography go I, you know? The reason most of us are Giants fans is because of where we were born, where our parents were born, the careers they might have pursued, the twists and turns of relatives seven or eight generations back, and little more. At times, the rivalry seems completely arbitrary.

Also, the Dodgers are objectively evil and wrong. That also has something to do with this whole rivalry thing.

Amen.

Posted by: Ted at 05:11 AM | category: Links
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May 24, 2005

Because there's just not enough quirky and romantic New York stories out there

Alien Loves Predator.

Thanks to Red Ted for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 05:10 PM | category: Links
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Mookie News

She hasn't posted for a while, but she's still very much alive and kicking. In the county we live in, high school juniors must complete a research paper in order to graduate. They're given the entire year to work on it, and a lot of kids just barely squeak by on it (you may have met one this morning when you got your Egg McMuffin).

If there's one thing Rachael (aka Mookie) doesn't need, it's motivation to do well in school, so usually we just get updates on how things are going.

The other night, my wife Liz and I and Rachael went out. Over dinner I asked Rachael how her paper was going. Liz and I sat there stunned as she spoke for 20 minutes on her chosen topic: The National Theater Project, which was part of FDR's "New Deal". Without hesitation, she rattled off names, dates and places, and even tied it in with other similar programs of the day. The conversation went on for quite a while after dinner, even as we walked through a department store looking for something or other she needed (jeans maybe? I forget).

So between that, another huge research paper on the Canadian military in WWII, plus stage managing a show that the school chorus is putting on, she's been a busy busy bee. Yesterday I took her over to the Community College to get a library card and another reference book.

Hopefully, in a month things will settle down for her when school ends. Or maybe she'll just sleep for 36 straight hours and then charge right back into life.

Posted by: Ted at 05:48 AM | category: Family matters
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A Fish Story

From my friend Gordon Tatro:

This was a pretty interesting story from The Sunday Wichita Eagle Newspaper a couple of weeks ago. A resident in the area saw a ball bouncing around kind of strange in a nearby pond and went to investigate. It turned out to be a flathead catfish who had obviously tried to swallow a child's basketball which became stuck in its mouth!!

The fish was totally exhausted from trying to dive, but unable to because the ball would always bring him back up to the surface. The resident tried numerous times to get the ball out, but was unsuccessful. He finally had his wife cut the ball in order to deflate it and release the hungry catfish.

He finishes up with this bit of wisdom:

I suppose you need pictures in order to believe this? OK... But just remember:

Be kinder than necessary...
for every creature you meet (be they human or not)...
is fighting some kind of battle.



The pictures are in the extended entry
. more...

Posted by: Ted at 05:12 AM | category: Square Pegs
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May 23, 2005

President Bush Condemns South Korean Stem Cell Research

In other words, he's saying what he's said all along.

Regardless of what opinion you personally hold about the subject or the man holding the office, you have to admit that the President is consistant.

That's one of the things I like about him.

Posted by: Ted at 12:15 PM | category: Politics
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New Banner

The tapestry up top was done by yours truly and entered anonymously into the banner contest.

If you'd like, follow this link to make your own Bayeaux Tapestry (needs Flash).

Posted by: Ted at 04:45 AM | category: Links
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May 22, 2005

Back to the well, Gridley, one more time!

ZZ Bub.

zzbub.jpg

"Lord take me downtown. I'm just looking for some tush."

Posted by: Ted at 08:59 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Long but rewarding day

I'll put up a more complete post later, but for now here are some Team America Rocketry Contest highlights and things that come immediately to mind, in no particular order.

The top three student teams were all within 1 second of the target time.

Ken Mattingly of Apollo 13 fame (still sans measles) was there.

The Director of Education for NASA attended again, and in her remarks said that NASA was on the edge of a massive wave of engineer retirements, and that they desperately needed an influx of young talent. She said that they weren't able to get enough new people to backfill the positions left vacant.

No mention of commercial space. Not surprising since NASA and the Aerospace Industry Association picked up the tab for TARC, and none of the new players are members in the AIA (yet). Still, this is an opportunity to recruit and promote that private space companies should grab a piece of if they can.

One of the demo flights was a full-scale reconstruction of Robert Goddard's original rocket. Unlike the original flight, this one was designed to fly in a safe and stable manner, and did. It looked scale, it didn't fly scale.

Several teams managed to hang their rockets in evil rocket-eating trees, but all managed to get them back and return the egg payload for scoring. One team found their rocket after searching for five hours. Only one team never found their rocket.

God likes rockets.

Lots of goodies and stuff to check out along "vendor row". Mostly colleges passing out information on their engineering and sciences curriculums. The CIA was there, so was the Civil Air Patrol, and they had a nifty Wright Brothers flight simulator where you could sit in a reconstruction of their original flyer's cockpit (such as it was) and try to fly the darned thing. The line was too long for Mookie and I to get to try that.

I remembered sunscreen. Mostly.

My cheeks hurt from smiling all day long.

Posted by: Ted at 06:37 AM | category: Rocketry
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May 21, 2005

Team America Rocketry Challenge

Today is the day.

Last night Mookie and I sat in an auditorium with over 500 motivated and enthusiastic young men and women, their parents and teachers, listening to the pre-brief.

Gotta run. More info over on the right sidebar. Do a search for "Team America", or scroll down under the sections for "Rocketry" and "I'm Involved".

Fun, fun, fun, and a complete report later.

Posted by: Ted at 04:44 AM | category: Rocketry
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May 20, 2005

Carnival of the Recipes

The latest is up over at Curmudgeonry, and fellow Munuvian Jordana has done a fine job of whetting my appetite before lunch. Enjoy!

Posted by: Ted at 11:50 AM | category: Recipes
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Best Hubble Space Telescope Images

Space.com is asking you to vote on the best Hubble images. From this page, click on any image to go to a slideshow that allows you to rate each image on a 1-5 scale. There are some amazing and beautiful choices.

Posted by: Ted at 11:38 AM | category: Space Program
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Andrews AFB Airshow this weekend

The airshow is one of the biggest events of the year in the Washington DC metro area, but it's always kind of melancholy and bittersweet time for my family. We don't attend, and haven't been to an airshow since 1988.

I suspect that others' thoughts go back as well, since comments on the original Flugtag '88 series of posts increase as this event approaches.

Read the posts, read the comments. Count your blessings.

Posted by: Ted at 06:13 AM | category: Links
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The scariest thing I've ever read

In 1815, Mount Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, erupted in the largest and most powerful display ever witnessed by mankind. The eruption itself and associated tidal waves killed 88,000 people.

If we reduce all the ash from Tambora to dense rock equivalents and include all ash flow tuffs that formed at the same time, we come up with about 36 cubic miles of rock. Quite a bit compared with the destructive U.S. eruptions of Mount St. Helens in 1980 that produced about 1/4 cubic mile.

Wow. Except, that's not the scary part. Geologists have been studying a geologically active region that has in the past underwent events of unimaginable power, dwarfing even Tambora. That place is called Yellowstone.

The volume of volcanic rock produced by the first Yellowstone caldera eruption was about 600 cubic miles—about 17 times more than Tambora, and 2,400 times as much as Mount St. Helen's, an almost incomprehensible figure. One more statistic: Ash from Tambora drifted downwind more than 800 miles; Yellowstone ash is found in Ventura, California to the west and the Iowa to the east.

Yellowstone was created by three separate volcanic geologic events. The last may have removed the southern portions of the Washburn mountain range.

Read that last sentence again.

Here's a simple analogy:

Imagine a bottle of carbonated water lying in the sun. Pick it up, shake it vigorously, maybe tap the cap...boom, it blows off. Instantly the pressure in the bottle drops, the dissolved carbon dioxide exsolves into bubbles and an expanding mass of bubbles and water jets into the sky. In a few seconds, the event is over. Wipe off your face and check the bottle; some of the water remains, but most of the gas is gone. This simple scenario is a scaled-down analogy of what happened 600,000 years ago in Yellowstone when the volatile-rich upper part of the magma chamber vented and erupted the Lava Creek Tuff.

And a simplified reconstruction of the real thing:

Nearer the vents, fiery clouds of dense ash, fluidized by the expanding gas, boiled over crater rims and rushed across the countryside at speeds over one hundred miles per hour, vaporizing forests, animals, birds, and streams into varicolored puffs of steam. Gaping ring fractures extended downward into the magma chamber providing conduits for continuing foaming ash flows.

More and more vapor-driven ash poured from the ring fractures, creating a crescendo of fury. As the magma chamber emptied, large sections of the foundering magma chamber roof collapsed along the ring fractures, triggering a chain reaction that produced a caldera 45 miles long and 28 miles wide.

Yellowstone is three separate but overlapping caldera, and the area is still extremely active in the geological sense. So a reoccurance isn't necessarily imminent, but at some point, it will happen.

Victims of the Mt. St. Helen's eruption were found with their lungs, sinuses and mouths full of ash. We've already seen how relatively minor that eruption was. Here's what you'll experience if you happen to be too close to the action.

Hot ash flows are fascinating. Driven by expanding gas, they are really clouds of hot glass shards and pumice plus expanding gas whose turbulence keeps everything flowing like water.

Not that you'd experience it for more than a fraction of a second. Merciful, that.

So there you have it, the scariest thing I've ever read, and I meant that literally. The full text is here: Yellowstone Calderas, and I have Transterrestrial Musings to thank for the nightmares.

Posted by: Ted at 05:54 AM | category: SciTech
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I got tagged and never saw it

Fridge meme from Elisson... Early next week Amigo, best I can do.

Posted by: Ted at 05:49 AM | category:
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Most every Jason I've ever known has been a jerk

Even the ones who aren't hockey mask-wearing psychopathic serial murderers. But if you want a rundown on most of the Friday the 13th franchise, you're in luck, because Pete gives his take, right down to "best killing" in each flick.

I've still got an unopened copy of the original on my shelf, a gift for Christmas.

Posted by: Ted at 04:55 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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May 19, 2005

Floating an idea

Maybe the US should head north and provide a little (re)democratization in Canada. The political situation there has gone way beyond farce.

I'd love to see a contingent of Iraqi peacekeepers patrolling the streets of Ottawa.

Posted by: Ted at 06:11 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Some interesting and entertaining links

Today and tomorrow and, hell, I'm gonna be swamped until Monday at least...

Weg noticed that someone is proposing to make a Ray Bradbury short story into a movie, and hopes that they'll do it justice. I hope so too. Personally, I hate Bradbury with a passion, but he's done a few stories that I like, and one of them is A Sound of Thunder. Head on over to her place and read the background, plus she provides a link to the story online. It's a good read.

Moving from Science Fiction to science fact, the guys at Random Nuclear Strikes point the way to a nifty experiment in reality vs. Hollywood-reality. We've all seen the bit where the guy confronts a padlocked door or gate, whips out his pistol and, kapow!, removes the lock with a well-placed shot. Does it really work that way? Head on over to Life, Liberty, Etc. to read about the test and see pictures of the results. Way cool.

Rich puts up the best analysis of each episode of Survivor that I've seen on the net. I've never watched an episode, but his posts were good enough to know what was going on.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Minor Perfidy has overplayed their hand and it's now obvious that they desire nothing less than world domination under Canadian financial control. A most excellent writer who began as a commenter, became a blogger, then returned to commenting only has now been assimilated into the MoMP collective. As such, the call has been put forth:

...think of clever and mildly (mildly!) deprecating snippets to include in the random list of capsule bios that appear under every ministerÂ’s name...

Take 'em up on their generous offer to mock Patton before you actually read any of his posts. It's the Democratic way!

Oops, almost forgot. Buckethead posted his take on the blogmeet/demolition derby we had last Saturday night.

Nic is posting uber-cool pictures!

Gotta run. See ya when I get a chance.

Posted by: Ted at 05:41 AM | category: Links
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May 18, 2005

Instant Gratification Theater

The butler did it.

Posted by: Ted at 04:30 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Can I get an Amen?!

Michele:

News Editors need to dig deep into their values and go back to a place before news was a commodity; before news became earnings, ratings and subscriptions competition, to a place where a News Editor's role is once again that of a vanguard and protector of the truth. For that is what the American people want, and that is what our system of democracy demands.

There's more.

Posted by: Ted at 11:31 AM | category: Links
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