June 23, 2005

Military Bling

From Dale Franks at Q & O, a very nice presentation of military insignia, selectable by branch of service.

Posted by: Ted at 04:33 AM | category: Military
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June 22, 2005

If this blog disappears, you'll know why

Forsooth, in the joy that reacheth my very bodkin, I misremembered to add thy Witch with the majick fob to the roster of bards on thy right.

All is right with my world again.

Posted by: Ted at 06:28 PM | category: Links
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Dilbert as Documentary

Real life Dilbertisms.

My favorite:

"We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees."

Thanks to Simon for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 11:58 AM | category: Links
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I wonder what their real-time failure rate was during the cold war?

The converted Soviet ballistic missile that was to carry the solar sail spacecraft into orbit failed 83 seconds after launch.

Why the submarine launch? What was the advantage or benefit?

Posted by: Ted at 06:09 AM | category: Space Program
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If I won the lottery, a little would be put aside for things like this

The Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. is major posh, so you can imagine what kind of celebration they'd put on for the 4th of July.

Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in a luxury suite before departing for a Potomac River cruise aboard the former Presidential Yacht Sequoia to watch the National Fireworks show.

While on board, partake of a gourmet buffet, open bar and champagne, music and dancing.

Back at the hotel, overnight accomodations with breakfast included. Of course, valet parking is part of the package.

Don't forget the keepsake gift.

And an evening like this will run you $1,750 per couple, not counting gratuities. Personally, I think it'd be worth it for a once in a lifetime experience like that.

Posted by: Ted at 04:58 AM | category: Links
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June 21, 2005

Saturday is Baseball Night - Reminder

The Phipps clan will be there, as will Rob and Big Hair from Left&Right. Nic and Victor have rizvipped. Who else want's to join us for an evening of beer, baseball and conversation?

I'll have to remember to wear my cup.

We're meeting at 6pm in front of the box office. Email me for cell phone numbers.

Posted by: Ted at 06:17 PM | category: Links
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What the NHL leadership has been doing during the strike

Apparently they're all working for Formula 1 racing.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Ted at 05:49 PM | category: Links
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Real star power

Launch set for solar sail spacecraft. Solar sails catch the stellar 'wind' coming from our sun for propulsion, much like a sail works on watercraft. Because the solar wind is so much less dense than wind, the corresponding sail area must be much greater. Fortunately, the microgravity present in space means that the sail can be much thinner as well.

So the spacecraft will use a naturally occurring, non-consumable resource to move. Whatever will the environmentalists have to complain about?

If all goes as planned, Cosmos 1 was to be launched early Tuesday afternoon, California time, and carried into Earth's orbit by a converted intercontinental ballistic missile...

Oh. Ok.

Posted by: Ted at 12:10 PM | category: Space Program
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Rotating Blog Banners

VW Bug of One Happy Dog Speaks is having a bit of a formatting problem with her banner in some browsers, and as Munuvians do she posted her questions on our group blog. In the course of the conversation I mentioned Madfish Willie's excellent banner rotation script and some tweaking I did to allow it to handle banners of different sizes. Rather than try to describe it so that everyone could understand, I'll just post the changes here and go through it step by step.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 06:06 AM | category: Build It
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Star Cards - 8

Someone was kind enough to scan and post a whole heap of Players Cigarette cards. This particular set of 85 cards is of Actresses, and were released during the late 1930's (from clues like "her latest film was...").

I'll post one of these every once in a while, with a couple of simple links to IMDB.com or a bio if I can find one. You might be surpirsed at some of the familiar names you'll see. The category is "Star Cards" (over on the right column), and you can click there at any time to see all that I've posted. Hope you enjoy.

(in the extended entry) more...

Posted by: Ted at 05:42 AM | category: Star Cards
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A significant educational milestone was reached yesterday

In regards to the lack of exposure to classic cinema for my daughters. They can now both say that they have seen Young Frankenstein. They laughed, they cried (Robyn still has her stitches), they enjoyed it.

Posted by: Ted at 04:18 AM | category: Square Pegs
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June 20, 2005

My Opinion

I've always been, in the vernacular, a linker rather than a thinker. Proud of my place in the grand scheme of things, even when called that less than complimentary term: link whore. If the shoe fits, as they say.

But what does bother me is the idea that I might be the blogging equivalent of People magazine. Somewhere, some tech-savvy blogger takes his laptop into the john and calls up Rocket Jones while he sits upon the throne, because like the aforementioned dead tree rag, my public writings are short, shallow, insipid (or all three) enough to indulge in during the length of an average crap (to paraphrase a great movie line).

I'll never be exclusively a thinker, but in order to add some variety to my normal blogging, I'm toying with the idea of posting more opinion pieces. So, to kick things off, I'd like to say:

Peas. I like them.

A little mental fiber to go along with the flake.

Posted by: Ted at 05:32 PM | category: Square Pegs
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The Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic

Over at Dynamo Buzz (your source for all political Joisey things), I found a pointer to news that in February next year, there will be an outdoor hockey game at Lambeau Field, home of the NFL Green Bay Packers. The matchup will feature the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State. Roberto's got more details and a link.

Be there, or be warm.

Posted by: Ted at 04:59 PM | category: Links
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Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinahhhhhh!

Cookies Without A Name*

These cookies were brought in to my wife's work one day, and she liked them so much that she not only got the recipe, but she then stopped on the way home to get the ingredients.

You need a couple of mini-muffin pans to make these. They're worth getting if you don't already have them, and then you can make Madeleines too!

ingredients
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 (13oz) pkg miniature peanut butter cups

directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the eggs, water, oil and vanilla until good and frothy. Stir in the cake mix and peanut butter until well blended.

Drop by teaspoonfuls into paper-lined mini-muffin cups, you want each cup about 3/4 full.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just lightly browned. While they're baking, start unwrapping the peanut butter candy. Remove the foil and the paper cups they come in.

When you take the cookies out of the oven, immediately press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Let them cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before carefully removing them to finish cooling. After removing from the pans, you can also put the cookies into the fridge for 15 minutes to help the chocolate to re-set.

Makes 5-6 dozen.

*The recipe my wife brought home calls these the uninspired and misleading "Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups". So it's time to exercise your creativity by giving these cookies a worthy name. I'm soliciting suggested names in the comments, and then I'll put a poll up on the sidebar so that everyone can vote on their favorite.

Posted by: Ted at 05:58 AM | category: Recipes
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June 19, 2005

Questions of my Childhood

Amy tagged me with this meme and went to the trouble of emailing me to let me know (and throwing in a little ego-stroking as well). Since I'm a sucker for flattery...

Five Things I Miss From My Childhood

1. The toys. We'd spend hours outside playing with G.I. Joes, and not those wussified later versions either with the lame-ass "real" hair and beard, or kung-fu grip, or even later those dwarf-i-fied posers. I'm talking real freakin' G.I. Joes, with miniature versions of actual machine guns and grenades and bayonettes instead of made-up "cool" weapons. We didn't have any stupid nicknames either, like "Cobra" or "Streetsweeper". No secret fortress or fancy basecamps, we'd dig actual trenches and ambush pits with twig and grass covers, and someone's Mom would make us little canvas ponchos and squares that we'd turn into tents. Each of us had one or maybe two Joe's, a rifle for each and maybe a pistol and a few grenades. Then there were the Erector sets. I had three or four of them, huge metal boxes stuffed full of metal girders and plates and L-beams and pulleys and hundreds of stripped little screws and nuts. Mine all came from the flea market, where my folks would run across them on someone's table and buy it for me. They weren't complete sets, just lots of random pieces thrown together for sale secondhand. That was ok though, and I would spend hours building giant cranes and cars, and every "new" box of parts was like Christmas. For a while, my brother and I were into Hot Wheels. When we finally talked our parents into getting us a set, I specifically asked for a Camaro. I was so disappointed when we opened the set and pulled out the two included cars, because one was a Camaro. Turns out that what I really wanted was a Corvette, and my parents achieved deification when they handed each of us an extra car and mine was the Corvette I so desperately wanted! I remember my brother's first car was the Hot Wheels version of the Beatnik Bandit in bright metallic green. We collected a couple dozen cars apiece and never went beyond a fairly basic track setup, although my folks bought us a pair of high-banked turns one year for Christmas. There's so much more... Lego, back when you had to use your imagination when building things with them, and your whole collection of parts consisted of red and white bricks with maybe a few clear plastic and the rare yellow, black or blue brick. I've posted before about the Secret Sam briefcase. We had a closet in the old house that was full of board games. The contents of that closet could become a post of its own, maybe for a rainy day, that seems appropriate.

2. Orchards
. I grew up on the outskirts of San Jose, California (before it became the Silicon Valley) and our playgrounds were fruit orchards. We spent the days running around and playing in them, we camped in them at night, and often we earned a little pocket money in them during the summer by cutting apricots for drying. Later we moved to the opposite end of the city and instead of apricots and cherries we had miles and miles of pear orchards. All summer long we feasted on pears picked right from the trees and towards fall had huge battles where the ammo was overripe fruit. At the end of the day we'd head home bathed in a sickly-sweet miasma from the smooshed fruit that we'd been splatted with.

3. Rainy days.
I still love rainy days, but when I was young my Dad built a patio cover made of corrugated aluminum. Next best thing to a tin roof, believe me. I loved playing outside even when it rained, and at night the best lullaby ever was the sound of the drops dancing and drumming outside the window.

4. Fishing with my Dad. For one stretch, my Dad worked nights. During the summer he would come home before dawn and get my brother and I up to go fishing. He'd send the dog in to wake us up while he brewed up a thermos of coffee for himself, and sometimes he brought a bag of donuts for breakfast. We'd quickly get dressed and grab our poles and tackle boxes and head for one of the local reservoirs. We had lots of choices in our area, but I remember going to Coyote and Lake Anderson most of the time. When we got there, we'd bait up with earthworms (sometimes with salmon eggs just for a change) and toss our lines in from the bank. We caught mostly crappie and bluegill, occasionally a small bass and even more occasionally a catfish. If someone was nearby we'd offer them our fish, if not we'd release them. After a couple of hours the sun would be fully up and the fish would quit biting so we'd head home. Dad would go to bed and we'd head outside to play all day.

5. Mom's Goulash. "Goulash" is what my Mom called it, although I know now that it was nothing like the real thing. I remember it had chunks of tomato and hamburger and maccaroni in it and I absolutely loved it. We didn't have it often because my Dad hated it, and I learned something valuable from him. As my kids were growing up we'd sometimes have something that I hated, but I ate it anyway because they liked it. And since I would do that, they learned that sometimes you do something you would really rather not just because it makes someone else happy. I asked my Mom for the recipe a couple of times before she died, but she never got around to giving it to me, if she even had it written down anywhere. I'll never try to make it from memory, because I remember it as being perfect, and I don't want to disappoint myself.

So that's my five. Thanks Amy, this one was fun!

The rules:

Remove the #1 item from the following list, bump everyone up one place and add your blogÂ’s name in the #5 spot. You need to actually link to each of the blogs for the link-whorage aspect of this fiendish meme to kick in.

margi lowry *dot* com
Note-It Posts
Eat The Lettuce
Prochein Amy
Rocket Jones

Next, select four unsuspecting victims, list and link to them.

SilverBlue
Son of Cheese
Dusting My Brain
Oorgo Blog

Posted by: Ted at 10:56 AM | category: Boring Stories
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Happy Father's Day

My wife got me a DVD collection of classic SciFi movies. Like a lot of these collections, "classic" is in the eye of the beholder, and several of these titles rank right down there with Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Beast of Yucca Flats. What Liz didn't realize though, was how delighted I'd be with the unexpected treasury of peblum flicks included.

Peblum, literally, is the short skirt worn by ancient gladiators, but it's also used to describe a genre of movies. Although generically it refers to any heroic fantasy movie set in ancient times (Hercules, Atlas, Jason, etc.), specifically the term applies to the movies made in Italy during the 50's and 60's. You can check out my earlier post on Steve Reeves for a bio of one of the superstars of the type.

I suppose the fantasy aspect of these movies qualified them for inclusion in a SciFi collection, but that's ok with me. Look for an upcoming Rocket Jones review of Hercules movies in the future. You know you can't wait.

Posted by: Ted at 08:01 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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June 18, 2005

The things (insane) parents do for their children

Yesterday was the last day of school here in Prince William County, and I had agreed to chaparone a party for my daughter Rachael. We rented a pavillion at a local park, bought lots of food to feed dozens of newly-liberated teenagers, and I had agreed to chaparone a party for my daughter Rachael.

Most of the parents I met as they dropped off sons and daughters called me a brave man (translation: fool) because I had agreed to chaparone a party for my daughter Rachael.

But really, it wasn't that bad. In fact, the party was a huge success.

Mookie and I got to the park a little after 1pm, and kids started showing up around 2pm. All told, there were 45 people there and most stayed until almost 8pm when I called it over (the park closes at sunset). Unfortunately, two of her best friends couldn't make it because one had to work and the other moved earlier this week about 3 hours south. On the other hand, two other good friends made the trip up from downstate with boyfriends in tow.

I cooked burgers and hot dogs for 4 hours, and at the end of the day, only one uneaten dog got thrown away. We did run out of ice and drinks though, but still had plenty of cups for water.

Rachael had declared this a masquerade/costume party and had made masks for a couple of her friends. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at how many of the kids showed up in costume and masked.

I was also struck by how diverse her circle of friends is. The youngest there was a freshman boy who swears Mookie helped him pass Construction class this year. The oldest was a girl who graduated the year Rachael was a freshman. A lot of these kids she knows from drama and theater, so they're an outgoing group. They hug a lot. Their standard parting is "I love you". They're mentally unstable, but polite. I got lots of thank you's for cooking and chaparoning.

Forty three minutes after the start of the party, I heard the first mention of water balloons.

Shortly after that, the first one was thrown. At that point, I made the only rule I needed all day: No water in the pavillion. There were too many cell phones and cameras laying around on the picnic tables. All water fights stayed outside the covered area after that. One great thing about the park is that it's a cell phone dead zone. It's almost impossible to get a signal, so the phones don't ring and there weren't a dozen teens constantly on their phones.

Back to the water fights. Another group of friends showed up with super soakers, and soon enough it devolved into cups of water, 2-liter soda bottles filled at the faucet and a few cleverly hoarded balloons. I fully expected the kids to just start dragging victims into the bathrooms one at a time for drowning in the toilets. Lots of very very wet teenagers running around.

And of course, the entire time they're in ever-changing little groups playing on the playground equipment, kicking around a hacky sack and soccer ball, and plotting the next liquid ambush.

Finally, most everyone drifted over to the soccer field where the athletically inclined played an actual game, and the rest of the kids all made up intentionally obnoxious and politically correct "positive reinforcement" cheers and planned an actual halftime show. Drama kids. They're all showoffs.

And then it was getting late. Everyone helped pick up around the area, including bits of exploded balloon, and parents were called for pickup (the few kids with working cell phones shared theirs out). Many more hugs and "I love you's" were exchanged along with lots of "great idea, Rachael!" comments.

And Mookie was positively glowing, which made it all so worth it to me.

Posted by: Ted at 07:45 AM | category: Boring Stories
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June 17, 2005

Good Read (so far)

The fourth sentence of the book lets you know that you're not in your half-remembered childhood version of Oz.

Though winter storms and the crowbars of agitators had torn up the road, still it led, relentlessly, to the Emerald City.

That's from the Prologue of Wicked, subtitled The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

If you've never read the Oz books then you might not realize that the stories are satirical commentary on a par with Orwell's Animal Farm or Swift's Gulliver's Travels. If you've ever wondered where the Wicked Witch came from, or Dorothy's posse, or how the Wizard came to rule Oz, well, this book gives the background.

There's charm and delight here, but very much buried under a layer of grime and despair that many of the characters struggle with in their early lives. This feels right, because ofttimes strength of character is forged by overcoming adversity.

My recommendation? It's in the title. Just go in with your eyes open.

The book was the basis for the Broadway show Wicked, which has a kickass soundtrack too.

I started reading this yesterday during my wait at the hospital. I'm also in the middle of P.G. Wodehouse's Something Different in eBook format, but during yesterday's stressgrinder it was comforting to hold a solid, substantial book in my hands.

Posted by: Ted at 09:23 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Stripping is big business

That's according to this report, and Rocket Jones is already positioned as a valuable resource for the ladies who want to dance.

Now *I'm* doing a happy dance. No charge.

Posted by: Ted at 06:49 AM | category: Links
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My Care Bears

One of my quirks is that I have to be covered when I sleep. Not necessarily all the way under blankets, but I sleep better if there's something thrown over me at least a little bit.

Now that summer is here, we've pulled out my Care Bear sheets. I don't remember which daughter they belonged to*, but they're at least 15 years old and worn enough to watch TV through. So thin that they don't block the breeze from the fan. Perfect for covering up Dad while he naps on the couch during the dog days.

I sleep much better curled up with my Care Bears.

*My family actually had a discussion about the other night when oldest daughter Robyn referred to "her" Care Bears. I immediately corrected her and we rediscovered the following facts:

  • they were originally used by Robyn

  • they were bought in 1986 (how does my wife remember stuff like this?)

I decreed that since my money was used to buy them in the first place, then that makes 'em my damn Care Bear sheets, although I graciously allow the entire family to use them.

When I'm not.

Posted by: Ted at 06:07 AM | category: Square Pegs
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