March 16, 2006

I never heard of it before, but I got it

I was griping last weekend about my personal head-start on the Summer cold season. I spent all weekend in bed, managed to work a half day Monday but felt lousy enough to take Tuesday off. Yesterday I cried uncle and called the doctor because the sore throat just wasn't getting better, and left work early today for the appointment.

Turns out I have Tracheitis, which is kind of a bacterial infection that settles into the windpipe instead of going north to become a sinus infection, or south to become bronchitis. I'm running a slight fever (which I didn't realize), and antibiotics have been prescribed. It's a good thing I went in, because this stuff can cause enough swelling to block off the airway.

It's supposed to rain and snow tonight. I've already let work know I'm probably not going in tomorrow.

My wife told me to quit whining. I called her Nurse Ratchet. Bad move.

Posted by: Ted at 06:54 PM | category: Square Pegs
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March 15, 2006

In which I tell a parable that has absolutely nothing to do with work. Honest.

And lo, the worker was given to construct a vehicle to convey information, and it was simple. Yet he toiled mightily, said vehicle being tossed to and fro amongst the waves of conflicting priorities.

And the worker was chastised for the delay.

From on high, the original requester was given to using faulty logic, as explained by Werner Von Braun:

"Crash programs fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby in a month."

And when the duplication of effort was discovered, it was also revealed that the worker now had two conflicting sets of instructions to accomplish said task.

And the worker was chastised for the delay.

So with patience and fresh resolve, he worked with the requester to define the precise requirements and once achieved, set them into stone.

Three times.

When the requester said, "it would lighten my heart to see an adjustment made to the headlights," the worker did adjust the headlights and looked and saw that it was good.

And the requester looked upon it and said, "that is good, but those are not the headlights that needed adjustment." Upon which the requester pointed to the tires.

And the worker was chastised for the delay.

And lo, finally the vehicle was complete and ready for testing. When the worker discovered a blind-spot in a mirror, he brought it up to the requester, so that the worker might truthfully say that the task was thoroughly accomplished.

And the requester said, "a problem that will not be, just make it work like this other vehicle," upon which the requester pointed towards a shoe.

And the worker will be chastised for the delay.

Posted by: Ted at 07:22 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Job Openings in Exciting Times

Mark Oakley hadn't posted anything for quite a long time, which is understandable since he's busy working for one of the original X-Prize challengers. They're still in business, because being the first to do it (Rutan) doesn't necessarily count for anything more than historical recognition (is the Wright Aircraft Corporation still around?).

Anyway. TGV Rockets is hiring.

Related to that, check this out from RocketForge:

You don't steer the elephant, you just drive around him in your new car.

Go here to read the rest (it's short and to the point). Were I an engineer, I'd be begging these people to hire me.

Posted by: Ted at 11:57 AM | category: Space Program
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March 14, 2006

Ya don't gots to be no musish'nin to enjoy these

From Parkway Rest Stop, an abundance of amusing bass guitars.

Posted by: Ted at 01:15 PM | category: Links
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March 13, 2006

There are female astronauts because the guys won't stop and ask for directions

Rich points out that there are now Google Mars and Google Moon. Very cool.

While you're there, check out his link to the worst Transformer and GoBot characters ever. Laugh out loud funny!

Posted by: Ted at 07:26 PM | category: Links
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Disturbing Images and Pleasant Surprises

Suncoast Video's parent company filed for bankruptcy, so the company buying the chain is closing many of the stores, including the one closest to me. The last time I stopped by, they were in the middle of a huge clearance sale. I hadn't planned on getting anything, but walked out with a few items at a terrific price.

One of those items was a five-pack of oldies grouped under the title "Vampire Collection, Volume 2". One big selling point for this batch was that each film was international: one from Canada, one from Italy/Spain, one from Germany/Spain, and a pair of USA/Philippine offerings. So let's take a look at each of them, shall we? (in the extended entry). more...

Posted by: Ted at 05:33 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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March 12, 2006

Pluto revisited

Not the frozen planet way out yonder, nor the Disney dog.

Project Pluto, which I talked about a couple of years ago, mostly in the context of the ramjet engine that was to be it's source of power.

For those needing a refresher, Pluto was to be a nuclear powered cruise missile, capable of Mach 3 at treetop level, dropping nuclear warheads in its wake. There were serious, ah, problems shall we say, with the concept. It was possible, but eventually people asked if it was desirable.

Thanks to Ghost of a Flea, we have a new link to a nicely detailed history of Project Pluto. Fascinating stuff.

Posted by: Ted at 11:10 AM | category: SciTech
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Is it time for 'tussin yet?

It's been a beautiful weekend, and I'm down with a big-time cold.

Posted by: Ted at 10:16 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Things that make you go hmmmm

Rocket Jones is number 2 on the Google search for "how to meet a guy in the grocery store".

Number 1 is "The Best Places to Meet Gay Men".

I'm not sure what to think about that.

Posted by: Ted at 07:15 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 11, 2006

Why is it?

Bosses are "visionary".

Peons are "hallucinatory".

Posted by: Ted at 08:43 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 10, 2006

Digging through unposted "draft" articles

Alien loves Predator

Make your own Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Thanks Owlish!)

K, proprietor extrordanaire of Kimochii (Asian cuties in various stages of dress and undress), has combined his several sites into one. Enjoy K's Lounge (NSFW).

Posted by: Ted at 09:49 PM | category: Links
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Rocketry Stuff (and a note for Russ)

Because this *is* Rocket Jones ya know.

I've been talking about "certification" and "Level 2" and such, without ever explaining what that means.

A while back I posted a Beginner's FAQ explaining the hobby rocket motor codes, and another post illustrating the size of some of these motors. You can read it for more detail, but I'll try to explain it here without needing to follow that link.

This all applies to the US. Canada, the UK, and probably other countries have their own variations.

Until recently, if you were younger than age 18 then the largest motor you could fly was a "G" motor (up to about 16lbs of thrust). There were ways around that limit, by having an adult purchase and possess the motor and take responsibility for the flight, even though a minor may have done most of the work. The National Association of Rocketry (NAR) has introduced a program where a youngster can legally fly high power motors, basically by standardizing the "sponsor" requirements.

High power motors are defined as "H" power and above, and you need to make a certification flight to prove that you can construct a safe rocket for the power involved. For Level 1, your flight has to be witnessed by two members of your rocketry organization who are also Level 1. Safely flying and recovering the rocket means you can purchase and use "H" and "I" motors (a little better than 140 lbs of thrust).

Level 2 requires the certification flight, but you also have to pass a written test about organization information, government laws and regulations and general rocketry knowledge. That's the level that I'm working towards, and once I get there I can fly "J", "K" and "L" motors (up to 1,150 lbs of thrust).

The top level right now is Level 3, for "M", "N" and "O" motors (and up I suppose, an "O" produces up to 9,208 lbs of thrust). For this, you're assigned two advisors who already have their Level 3 certification, and you must document the construction process and put together a binder showing details about the rocket and simulations of the expected flight. There are also additional safety requirements at this level. Like the others, you must make a flight and recover the rocket undamaged.

So that's the certification process that I keep babbling about.

Russ, I'd be happy to sign off on your Level 1 flight.

As for the Zinger drag race, well, you're on! Someone once described the Zinger as "arial pornography" and I've got to agree. I thought I had an unbuilt kit somewhere but I can't find it, so send me the specs and fin measurements and I'll have one ready for the next launch.

And since the next launch is on April first, I've got a few fun and/or odd April Fool's rockets that'll be ready to go as well. I'm looking forward to this one!

Posted by: Ted at 05:58 PM | category: Rocketry
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Evil I tell you, pure eeeevil!

To all those cheering the "defeat" of President Bush on his stupid idea to let Dubai run American seaports, I have only one thing to say:

Dubya just made you his bitch.

Now Dubai will sell their interest to an American company. A company owned, no doubt, by a wealthy friend of President Bush. Meaning one of his rich friends just got a whole lot richer. And you asked... no, you demanded it. Just like he planned all along.

If it's Halliburton, I will laugh until I cry.

Posted by: Ted at 12:14 PM | category: Square Pegs
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March 08, 2006

No Easter This Year

They found the body.

Note: If this offends you, I don't want to hear it. Go burn down an embassy or something.

Posted by: Ted at 11:27 AM | category: Square Pegs
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NaNoWriMo - again, finally

Chapters 13 and 14 are in the extended entry.

You can find chapters 1 and 2 here.
Chapters 3 and 4 here.
Chapters 5 and 6 here.
Chapters 7 and 8 here.
Chapters 9 and 10 here.
Chapters 11 and 12 here.

There now, all caught up.

I know it's been awhile. No promises, but I'll try to get back into the once-a-week posting of this story. We're almost to the point where I'd lost a few chapters, so after this I'll be back to winging it.

Enjoy. Leave feedback. Thanks. more...

Posted by: Ted at 11:26 AM | category: Zombies of Autumn
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Bashing Barry Bonds Brings Boffo Book Sales

I'm admittedly biased because I'm a Giants fan and a Barry Bonds fan, but this latest rash of headlines about Bonds starting to use "a vast array" of performance enhancing drugs in 1998 is bullshit.

The book was written by two newspaper reporters who covered the BALCO steroid scandal. Their sources? Nothing new, just the same trial transcripts, interviews and other documents that Major League Baseball, Congress and law enforcement authorities have had all along. And, you know, Bonds is soooo busted by what's there.


This is a rehash of old information, hyped to boost book sales. Does Barry Bonds have a history of cheating? I have no idea, but I do know that up to this point, despite numerous investigations and allegations, no one has been able to prove a thing.

Two "reporters" trash someone's name in order to make a buck. What a surprise.

Posted by: Ted at 05:15 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 07, 2006

Launch Report - 3/5/2006

Where: Great Meadow Equestrian Center, The Plains, VA
When: 10am - 4pm
Weather: Winds from 10-20mph

Our rocketry club, NOVAAR, had scheduled a two-day launch event for the weekend, but high winds scrubbed Saturday. Sunday was still quite windy, but we had a great time anyway.

I loaded up the car with some small rockets to fly, but wasn't expecting much because of the wind. When I got to the field I was amazed to see probably 50+ cars there.

I caught up with some friends and talked rockets for awhile, then I headed over to the launch control area to see what was up. On the way I passed a whole gaggle of high schooler's who were there with their Science teacher, prepping egg-lofting rockets. At the table I was drafted into helping do pre-flight safety checks because we were about to get swamped by all those students. I stayed busy for better than an hour, checking rockets, asking questions and making suggestions on things to do differently and/or better in the future.

Besides the egg lofters, there were a few high power flights made, including Mitch's Endevour clone on a J350. His rockets are so reliable that they're almost routine.

A young guy named Ben made a couple of memorable flights with a little orange rocket. By little, I mean about the length of your finger, and he stuffed the largest motor he could fit into this little thing, a C6-5. On the first flight, I watched it zoom nearly out of sight and somehow managed to pick it up on the way down and saw it land. It's too small and light for a chute or streamer, it does what we call tumble recovery. I had a line on it on the ground, and Ben and I walked out there and pretty much right up to it in the middle of the field. Unbelievable, because that combination is almost certain "fire-and-forget".

He did it again later, but lost it. After his family left the launch, Ben's orange rocket reappeared on the lost-and-found table. Someone else found it while looking for their rocket. Ben will be getting it back.

I picked several people's brains for ideas and suggestions for my Level 2 rocket. Then I admired Bart's photo album and stories about his successful Level 3 flight. Bart flew out to Arizona to launch with his brother at an event in the desert. His rocket flew on an "M" motor, weighed 40 lbs at take off and achieved an altitude of 7600 feet. It came down perfectly under chute and Bart now has his Level 3 certification so he can fly with the big big boys.

I did make two flights of my own, both small model rockets.

1. Vampyre - A10-3T - this minimum diameter ring-fin always screams off the pad and gives a great flight. Recovered undamaged on a streamer.

2. Groove Tube - B4-4 - a classic Centuri clone, you could see the wind pushing the rocket sideways as it ascended. It drifted a long way even though I used another streamer instead of a parachute.

Our next club launch is April 1 and 2. There will be contest flying (helicopter, chute, streamer and glider recovery models, plus an altitude event), and as always flying for fun is encouraged. I'm planning to be there both days, and I'll have something high power to fly too.

Y'all are invited.

Posted by: Ted at 04:53 AM | category: Rocketry
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March 06, 2006

Playing the game for the sheer joy of it

I was sad when Kirby Puckett was forced to retire from baseball because glaucoma made him blind in one eye. I'm stunned that he's passed away at age 44 from a stroke.

Thank you, Kirby, for all the joy you displayed on the field, and for showing us all that you could be great and still have fun playing the game.

Posted by: Ted at 09:09 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Skipping the "make an ugly woman your wife" part

Eat a live bug every morning when you wake up, and nothing worse will happen to you all day long.

Posted by: Ted at 05:16 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 05, 2006

Hockey Whoopass Jamboree

Gir's Calgary Flames beat my beloved San Jose Sharks again last night, and so I will display her cool logo on my page.


Congrats, Gir!

Posted by: Ted at 08:15 PM | category: Balls and Ice
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