April 29, 2006

Funny because it's true

I fell asleep early last night on the couch in my den, and woke up around 4am (my usual time) with a stiff back. I went into the sewing room, and sat in my wife's chair because she keeps a heating pad there. Felt gooooooooood.

Not wanting to fall back asleep with the heat on (sitting up? oh yeah, no problem for me), I turned on the TV and looked for something besides those inane infomercials for Jack LaLaine's Power Juicer and the revolutionary new Me Gym.

So I settled on a couple of gardening shows, which was ok, but what I remember is one particular commercial I saw for some dog food. In it, a guy's sitting on the couch reading a book, when his dog comes in (big, beautiful white short-hair breed) and noses his head under the book. The dog is obviously saying "pet me". The guy half turns and goes back to his book, and the dog climbs up into his lap.

Next shot, the dog is laying on the guys lap like an oversized baby while he scratches his belly. Next shot, the dog is sitting in the guys lap with both feet on his shouldeers, washing his face.

The tagline for the commercial was something like "He's more than a dog, he's your best friend".

The commercial closed with one of those time-elapsed bed shots showing you sleeping at different points of time during the night. First, the guy is laying there and the dog is in the bed too, with his head on the guy's hip. Next, the guy is still laying there, but the dog has leaned into him back to back. Finally, the dog is all sprawled across the bed, and the guy (still asleep) is scrunched against the edge of the bed.

Very funny. Very true.

After a while, my back was unkinked so I headed to my own bed. Our dog Trix was curled up on my side of the bed with no inclination to move. I wound up wrapped around him, arm across both the dog and Liz, more crossways on the bed than anything.

Very true.

Posted by: Ted at 07:26 AM | category: Square Pegs
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See what being a nice guy will get you?

A while back... ok, quite a while back, I mentioned an idea I had for a new banner. I was just hoping to pull it off using my basic photoshopping skills ("photoshopping" as a generic term, I have an older version of Paint Shop Pro, which isn't quite the same thing).

Derek, professional art-teest that he is, was kind enough to offer to create it based on my idea. His first go was awesome, but not quite what I had in mind. Second and third, closer. There are a couple of changes I'd still like to make, but tell me that ain't genius up top there, both in execution and concept.

Derek, you rock. Go Avs.

Posted by: Ted at 07:13 AM | category: Links
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April 28, 2006

PC's are for those who cannot think big

I've been diddling around with the playoff series table up above, both here on Rocket Jones and on my own space at home. Partly for fun, and partly to sharpen up some new skills for the workplace.

See, I am currently working as a COBOL programmer. I know, I can hear some snickering and even a gasp of disbelief or two. They don't even teach COBOL in school anymore. Which is all well and good, except that there are literally billions of lines of COBOL code out there in the real world, being used every day, and working perfectly well. The only problem is that it's "old", and to many people in today's technological world, "old" = bad.

It's not always true, and luckily for me, I was able to fall back on the ol' COBOL skillset when my last position disappeared because a "new", "good" system was implemented (one that still doesn't work very well two years later, but that's another story). I did mainframe database systems for years and years before this.

But I don't necessarily want to be a COBOL programmer for the rest of my working life, although I probably could. I'm actually a young whippersnapper compared to a lot of the COBOL programmers still working, and that pool of talent is shrinking faster than the remaining need for 'em. One of the best skills to have for the massive Y2K effort was COBOL. Business needed them, and paid dearly because they needed them badly.

So I've been taking classes and doing a lot of home-study. HTML and CSS. I've got a test database built in MySQL and I've started accessing it via PHP to create dynamic web pages. Not a biggie to the guru's out there, but for a mainframe guy this stuff is a whole new way of looking at the world. Kinda like what you went through learning Visual Basic if you knew plain ol' vanilla Basic before that, or OOP when that became the way to go.

Next up is XML and Java, and my company has told me that VB.NET is hot right now.

But at this moment, I've got my NHL Playoff database and I'm learning how to do strange and wondrous things with it. Up top is a standard HTML table, but at some point it might evolve into something interactive. If I figure out how soon enough.

Baby steps... that's how to take it... baby steps.

Posted by: Ted at 05:48 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 26, 2006

One of the funniest things I've ever read

Over at Iowahawk, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi (listed as "Senior VP, Al-Qaeda In Iraq") is guest-blogging.

Make sure you check out his past posts too, there are links in the article.

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 05:02 AM | category: Links
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April 25, 2006

Camera Adventure Update

Yesterday Rachael and I headed to the store to exchange memory cards (#2 on this list). During the day I'd called corporate headquarters and opened a customer complaint case and gotten the name of a local contact who'll handle it.

Because I had an appointment late yesterday afternoon, I didn't have time to raise hell at the store itself. We walked in and a very nice, very knowlegable young man handled the problem. First, new - correct - media. Good deal. Next, I wanted a new camera as well because I might've damaged something trying to put the incorrect cards into the slot (I used a bit of force because we were assured that we had the correct card, so, it *had* to fit, right?). The kid said we'd test the camera first, because he really didn't think I could've damaged it that way. I'm a reasonable guy.

No joy. Camera broked. He went to get another. Got that one out to test it, and it wouldn't initialize correctly. The lens mechanism was jammed or some such right out of the box. He went to check the inventory, but that was the last one they had in stock. I allowed him to steer us over to the camera display to see if we could find an acceptable substitute, but I was pretty picky, finding nit-noid fault with everything he suggested.

With great sadness I told him that I wanted a refund for everything. He was sad too, and apologized to Mookie because now she wouldn't have a camera.

That's when I let him know that a rival chain had an upgraded model on sale, and that we were headed right on over to pick one up.

Memory cards? No, refund those too, because rival chain had 'em for the same price, plus a rebate.

Hanging up on this customer cost them a sale this time, and we won't be going back. I hope that jackass got his jollies doing it, because the last laugh will be mine. I've made it clear to corporate that, as a professional who deals with customer service every day, I know that pulling a stunt like that is a firing offense. I want that nitwit terminated.

Posted by: Ted at 11:02 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 24, 2006

This ol' world spinnin' 'round 'n' 'round

(this post sponsored by the apostrophe!)

Lot's been happening around the ol' homestead. In no particular order:

1. Mookie is home from school for a week or so. Then she jets off to London for her theater junket. We shall have a house full of college girls staying over on Tuesday night before they leave. I have already been warned.

2. My wife and Mookie went out yesterday and bought a new digital camera for the trip. They already knew what model they wanted, but the knucklehead who worked there would not let them see the box ("I have to personally carry it up front to the register"). He also sold them the wrong media cards, which my wife would have realized if she'd have been able to read the box. So as annoying as it is having to go back there to exchange the memory cards, when my wife called to complain about it, the department manager copped an attitude, started mouthing off and then hung up on her.

Bad move. Now they have to deal with me. And I've already got corporate's customer service number and a whole evening worth of stewing built up. In fact, I think we might check to see if that camera is available at another store. With luck, Mookie gets her camera, the first store loses the sale (and if the Gods are smiling, chucklehead works on commision), plus I get to be a condescending jerk while I deal with the mental defectives at the original place. Believe me, if I see the salesguy who made the first screw up, he will be referred to as "that idiot" frequently and to his face.

Mistakes happen. This one could have and should have been prevented. And their version of "customer service" made what should have been a minor thing into a huge deal to me. It's personal.

3. The rocket launch this weekend was rained out, for me anyway. I know Russ went on Friday and saw some cool flights (and shreds), but Friday was "experimental" day when the guys who make their own motors fly, and I couldn't take the day off. Saturday rained like a mother all day long, and since the field is a plowed farm field, there was no way I was going to go on Sunday. I prefer music with my mosh pit.

4. Robyn and her new boyfriend and another friend were up on Saturday. Nice guy, she's happy.

5. I used the smoker again on Saturday. Yes, in the rain. I did a whole chicken (which cooked faster than I thought it would), and a roast (which cooked slower than I thought it would), and grilled zuccini, asparagus and pineapple. Toss a loaf of home made bread and home made mac & cheese on the table, and it was some pretty damn fine eatin'! We sent a good bit home with Robyn, and we still have a fair amount of leftovers.

6. Other stressful happenings which I'm not going to get into. These collectively could be filed under "no hilarity ensued".

More later. I mean, more posting... I'm done bitching. I think.

For now.

Posted by: Ted at 05:20 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 22, 2006

Fall back on the ol' reliable, and thinking about making it it's own category

Zombies, of course.

From Mookie, the agenda driven ZombiesDontRun.com.

And one from my personal bookmark collection: Zombie Astronaut.

Recommended.

Posted by: Ted at 12:18 PM | category: Links
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April 21, 2006

You can find most anything on the 'net

Via Mookie, who writes:

They got Bub!!!

Horror and monster masks of many famous (and gruesome) faces. Including Bub, official zombie of Rocket Jones (you'll have to scroll down a ways to find him).

Posted by: Ted at 05:01 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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April 20, 2006

My apologies

I use Firefox at home, and the hockey playoff table in the upper right hand corner of the page looks great. This morning I looked at it using IE, and it's a mess. The bad news is that I don't have a lot of time at the moment to muck about with it. The good news is that all of my legally blind visitors will be able to keep up with the scores.

Posted by: Ted at 04:58 AM | category: Square Pegs
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April 18, 2006

Did you hear the latest buzz?

Teledildonics!

Sometimes I just crack myself up.

But this could be huge. Imagine handcuffs where the lock is remote controlled like OnStar! Oh man, I can picture the commercials now.

I'm claiming first credit for publicly linking the ideas of teledildonics, bondage, and OnStar-style services. Anyone wanna invest?

Posted by: Ted at 05:11 AM | category: Links
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I've always said,

Surround yourself with interesting people, and you'll never be bored.

Doug Pratt tells a great story about his family history and where he grew up, a place called Robin Hill.

Posted by: Ted at 05:02 AM | category: Links
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April 17, 2006

Teledildonics? Seriously?!?!?

From a news story about future trends in sex:

A field dubbed "teledildonics" already allows people at two remote computers to manipulate electronic devices such as a vibrator at the other end for sexual purposes.

"People who use it are just blown away," [*snicker* - RJ] said Steve Rhodes, president of Sinulate Entertainment, which has sold thousands of Internet-connected sex devices over the past three years. "This is not something that just the lunatic fringe does."

"The Iraq war...was kind of a boom for our company."

Teledildonics. Rocket Jones, on the cutting edge once again.

Posted by: Ted at 06:19 PM | category: SciTech
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Mundae or Monday or some sleep-deprived hallucinatory nonsense

Our older dog, Sam, is terrified of thunderstorms. Last night, we had a doozy of a string roll right over the top of us, and the light and noise show went on for several hours. I know this because I checked the weather radar at 11pm. And midnight. And 1am.

Poor dog, it's not his fault. But when he's in a panic there's just no calming him down, so the best I could do was to lead him into the other room and just be there with him so that Liz could get some sleep. Things finally calmed down, but it's been a long time since I've been pissed off at my alarm clock just for doing its job.

My behind was dragging this morning.

I've talked before about the giant maple tree in my backyard who's sole purpose is to provide enough shade to make growing grass impossible. Keep that in mind, I'll be getting back to it.

My wife, sweetheart that she is, brought a new DVD that she had burned into the den this weekend. She "tivo's" stuff from the satellite dish ("tivo" is quickly going the way of "kleenex" and "aspirin", genericized until the brand name loses its specific meaning), and then burns them to disk.

This DVD was lovingly crafted for me. On it was Thunderbirds, SpiderBabe, and Twenty Million Miles to Earth. Thunderbirds is the recent live-action movie based on the original SuperMarionation series of the 60's. Twenty Million is one of the better Sci-Fi monster movies of black-and-white days, full of Harryhausen stop-animation coolness and a plot that actually makes you care about and feel sorry for the monster. Plus, he's stomping Rome, which is a nice change from Tokyo. Lileks mentioned the movie once, and used a still from it as his banner.

The third movie, SpiderBabe, was a mystery to me. I knew that Liz did channel searches for things like "hockey" and her favorite shows. It turns out that Liz also does a regular check for any Misty Mundae movies coming on (gotta love a woman that'll do that for you). SpiderBabe is one of her latest, very much in the same style of Lord of the G-String and Play-Mate of the Apes: softcore porn featuring plenty of girl on girl action in a low-budget flick that closely follows the plotline of the original movie that it's parodying. Parodying? Is that even a word?

I had the movie on in the background while I was doing some other things, and noticed some familar faces from other movies. I noted something of a trend here too, because Misty gets bitten by a radioactive spider (of course), which is similar to her getting bitten by a mutant spider in Bite Me! Keep that in mind, I'll be getting back to it.

Remember that tree? Ok, good.

Liz also burned all twelve episodes of Showtime's series Masters of Horror onto three DVD's for me this weekend. I was kinda ticked off because there were thirteen episodes, and I didn't get the last one. I recently saw in WalMart that they're releasing them in pairs, one episode per DVD, but I think the price is kinda outrageous. Still, I'll have to get that thirteenth episode, just for completeness' sake.

Then in an email, Blue casually mentioned that the missing episode really was missing. I did a little googling and discovered that the thirteenth episode never aired in the US because it was a little too intense. It did show in the UK, and word is that it's pretty good and yes, pretty intense. I hadn't heard about that before, so thanks!

And on Sunday, Liz calls me into her sewing room (where she does her DVD magic) and tells me that Misty Mundae is in one of the Masters of Horror episodes, billed as "Erin Brown". It's definitely her. She plays a lesbian (natch) who gets bitten by a weird bug (definitely a pattern here). I absolutely loved the nod to her "other" movie career because in this her character's name is "Misty". Good fun.

Note to Blue: Misty Mundae appears in the episode "Sick Girl", about the entymologist and the odd package from Brazil.

Note to everyone else: This series rocks. Being Showtime, you get major gratuitous nudity plus fairly gruesome gore, and the stories themselves aren't terrible.

In other news, I waited for someone to happen by and hand me my sign because I did something Pretty Damn Stupid on Sunday morning (yes, that's capitalized on purpose). I was up early so I let the dogs out into the backyard. I started some laundry and then wandered out back and checked on the new smoker, wanting to bring it under the eaves since it looked like rain. I took it apart and felt the charcoal pan for heat (it was cool to the touch), so I carried it out behind the house and dumped it at the base of the holly tree near my back fence. I've been using that tree as my personal compost heap for 16 years. Turning the pile, adding to it, and putting the rich end-product back into my flower beds.

A little later I went down to throw the laundry into the dryer, and saw smoke come pouring over and through my back fence. I knew immediately what was going on, so I quickly put on some shoes, grabbed the back yard hose (on full blast), and dragged it out the back gate.

Sonuvabitch if that compost heap wasn't merrily smouldering away. Like one of those peat fires that burn for years, I didn't see any actual flame, but there was lots of smoke. My neighbor had spotted it too and beat me there by less than a minute, so we stood there and bullshitted and put out the fire I started. When I mentioned the new smoker, he said it was a good one, "big enough for a whole tree".

After a bit we heard sirens in the background. I was hoping that someone hadn't seen the smoke and called the fire department because I felt dumb enough already. When they sounded closer I told Mike that he should head back inside so as not to be there when the firemen came around behind the houses.

The firefighters never did show (sorry Susie), so I drenched the pile thoroughly and turned it a couple of times with a pitchfork to make sure everything got a soaking.

Later, I told Liz about it. She asked which tree it was that I tried to set on fire, and when I told her she only said "wrong tree". Referring to the maple. You did remember, right?

Posted by: Ted at 06:15 PM | category: Square Pegs
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It's Monday, have a laugh

Les Jones. No relation.

Posted by: Ted at 11:08 AM | category: Links
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April 15, 2006

Lucky for them, I'm a nice guy

I logged into CPanel this evening, which I haven't done in quite some time. We Munuvians have all these fantastic tools and toys available via CPanel, thanks to superhost Pixy Misa.

So I started poking around, confirming that I do indeed have access to PHP and MySQL here on Rocket Jones, and I got curious about the various stats counters and routines offered. Looking at the last 300 visitors, I quickly realized that a *lot* of people are hotlinking to my San Jose Sharks logo, and most of those bandwidth thieves are MySpacers. One bozo even hotlinked one of my graphics and was using it as his forum avatar, and this chucklehead was a prolific poster on some, ah, interesting, forums.

Luckily, we have hotlink prevention tools here at Munuviana, and I arranged it so all those dOOdz get the ol' red-X from her on. They're lucky I didn't redirect their links to something, ah, interesting.

Posted by: Ted at 08:02 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Oh. My.

Today was my first chance to fire up the new smoker.

Like sex. With BBQ sauce.

I whipped up a batch of my homemade sauce, which is never the same twice in a row. Today's version started with a base of ketchup and balsamic vinegar, and to that I added onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, sweet paprika, black pepper, chili sauce, horseradish, crushed fresh garlic, dehydrated minced onion, and honey.

Sometimes I want it sweeter, which means I'll add some brown sugar and/or molassass. Adding some soy, fresh ginger and lime juice makes for "oriental" style.

Anyway, today's sauce was liberally slathered over a big package of country pork ribs and a pack of chicken legs. I let them bathe in the sauce for a couple of hours.

When the time was right, I fired up about 10 pounds of charcoal in the base of the smoker and let the coals get ready. In the meantime, I wrapped a big double handful of hickory in aluminum foil and poked it full of holes to let the smoke escape as the wood smouldered. Once everything was ready I filled the liquid pan with water, put the chicken on the lower level, the ribs up top and let it alone for three hours.

At the start the fire got too hot and I had to take the cover off a couple of times to let heat escape, but after the first half hour things settled down and I watched the thermostat cycle between 225 and 250 degrees. I added another small handful of wood chips halfway through.

Man oh man oh man, was that good. The ribs came out falling apart tender, and after slathering more sauce on them they were incredible. The chicken was moist and smoky, just like you want it. Is it really that simple or did I just have beginners luck? Doesn't matter, I'm doing it again, real soon.

On the side, I saute'd a couple of zucchini. Also, I took the crispy ends from several ribs and chopped them up for flavoring for my next pot of black beans.

One thing I very much like about cooking with the smoker is that you get it going and then leave it alone. I did some yardwork, worked on my big rocket project and sat in the sun, reading and enjoying the nice afternoon. No fussing with the food. I will definitely use my meat thermometer next time, because I think I could have taken the food off the grill a half hour earlier, or at least have started the veggies so everything would've been ready at the same time.

I think me and the smoker are going to become very close this summer.

Posted by: Ted at 06:01 PM | category: Recipes
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An exellent day, although no rockets were involved

Yesterday was my wife's birthday. Liz and I both took the day off and we spent the day together.

There are three things that Liz loves to do: travel, gamble and shop. Me, not so much, but since it was her day that was the plan.

After sleeping in, we headed north a couple of hours to Dover, Delaware, home of Dover Downs racetrack and slot machine casino. We made a couple of stops before gettting there to check out a craft store on the way (Liz bought a couple of small items) and an Atlantic Books Warehouse (I think that's what it was called). Liz was excited to find it, says they're not very common in our area but have excellent prices. We browsed there for quite a while and I scored a couple of computer reference books (tax deductable, yay!) for half price.

After a very nice late lunch, we pulled into the casino parking lot and found a parking spot right in front. Would that be the extent of our luck? Or just a precursor to a run of good fortune?

As a gambler, Liz plays for entertainment. She's happiest on the penny and nickel slots, because her money goes farther and she can play longer. She has a set amount she's willing to lose, and the longer it lasts, the better. Personally, in my life I've probably dropped less than fifty bucks into slot machines, maybe not that much on casino gambling of any kind. Mostly, I wander around and people watch, or stand there and watch Liz play. I enjoy that.

I saw two things worth noting. First, there is a slot machine called "Winning for Dummies", with the standard yellow and black motif and graphics. Pretty funny. Secondly, there was one small area partitioned that contained the high-value slots. In there, I watched a guy drop at least $1500 into a machine at $50.00 a pull. It took him about 20 minutes to blow through that, although when he walked away he didn't seem upset. I guess he's a gambler.

Anyway, back to Liz. She was having a good day. What I did was every time she'd get way ahead, I'd make her cash out and start with a fresh twenty while I would go to the cashier and put away her winnings for "birthday" money. I did that four times, and when we left that evening, she was up over $130.00, playing nickel slots!!!

Next stop, the mall. Liz isn't used to buying for herself, she'd rather spend her money on the kids and I, but this time I was insistant, and she bought some things she's been wanting but couldn't bring herself to spend the money on before.

Traffic behaved on the way home, and for much of the ride we were treated to an amazing light show as a line of thunderstorms was slowly rolling towards us from the Southwest. We started seeing the lightning a long long way off and for a good hour our conversation was punctuated by frequent "oooooooh, that was cool" comments.

One last thing (I won't pretend that this was at all interesting to anyone), one of our local radio stations changed formats (last week?). Big 100 is now playing music that sounds like they're picking from my personal collection, with 60's and 70's rock. The most interesting part is that they've gotten rid of all their DJ's. You get canned commercial breaks and station identification segments, but other than that, it's all music. Considering some of the annoying nitwits that're on the air in this area, that's a very good change.

Happy Birthday, my love. Here's to many many more together.

Posted by: Ted at 06:57 AM | category: Family matters
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April 13, 2006

The inherent relevance is staggering during this holy season

I mean, there's that giant rock that was rolled in front of JC's tomb, and then there's rock's giant moments. And in today's world JC might've called his apostles "peeps".

Check it out: Great Moments in Rock and Roll History - as reenacted by marshmallow peeps.

Thanks be to Dustbury for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 09:38 PM | category: Links
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Good thing the Ninja left his Pirate friends at home

My buddy Russ sent this link to me:

ATF agents are always on alert for anything suspicious — including ninjas.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents, on campus Tuesday for Project Safe Neighborhoods training, detained a “suspicious individual” near the Georgia Center, University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said.

Jeremiah Ransom, a sophomore from Macon, was leaving a Wesley Foundation pirate vs. ninja event when he was detained.

After being held in investigative detention, he was found to have violated no criminal laws and was not arrested.

The story is pretty funny, after the fact. It's easy to see now that the agents overreacted, but given today's environment I'm glad to see that they are paying attention.

Just in case though, I'm working up a list of people I suspect are secretly Ninjas and I'll be forwarding that list to the BATFE.

Posted by: Ted at 05:04 AM | category: Links
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April 11, 2006

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Check out the Rocket Jones Skunkworks and see what the future might look like around here. Let me know what you think.

Thanks.

Posted by: Ted at 07:44 PM | category: Square Pegs
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