July 20, 2006

Pay attention before it's too la... nevermind

The Top 10 Unintentionally Worst Company URLs.

I mean, where else would you find Pen Island other than www.penisland.net?

Thanks to Zoe Brain for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 05:40 PM | category: Links
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And you think *you've* had a bad week?

Imagine being this couple, who made it home to Washington DC after being evacuated from Lebanon, and then were immediately evacuated from their apartment building due to a broken water main.

McCollough, who joked that her bags were already packed, took the evacuation in stride.

They've since been given the all-clear to move back in, but water to the building is still out. As the newscaster on the radio said "at least in DC, nobody is shelling you as you evacuate".

Posted by: Ted at 05:29 AM | category: Links
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July 19, 2006


Over at Wegg's, I discovered that there is a remake of The Eye in the works, this time starring Jessica Alba.

Here's my review of the original. Highly recommended.

Posted by: Ted at 07:45 PM | category: Cult Flicks
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Blast from the Past

Someone visited Rocket Jones today from VoodooChild's site, which I linked to long ago. He's been inactive for a couple of years as far as I can tell, and I know he changed locations at least twice that I know of.

Besides being a serious rocker, his place also featured several great links to pinup sites on the net. So, because I'm a boob man instead of losing these valuable historical and interesting sites, I'll collect the live links here for your and mine future reference.

(obviously, these are NSFW)

Cheesecake: The Art of the Pin-Up

Hips, lips, & tits... it's Bettie Page!

Bianca's Boudoir

Domai - tasteful nudes

Dragstrip Groupies

Harlow Art

Hollywood Pinup

The Painted Anvil

The Pin-up Files

Pandemos the SecretMuse

Sex Kitten

Vintage Elegance

World of Pinup

Ok, one last thing. I have visited each of these long enough to verify that they're still there. I haven't spent any time checking everything out, so don't be whining about your free boob-shots not being of sufficient quality. Sheesh, uppity pervs. Who'da thunk it?

Posted by: Ted at 05:02 PM | category: Links
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July 18, 2006

I hereby deem this cool

I blatantly and shamelessly stole that title from BLUE.

Check this out:

Back in April of 1997, many comic artists participated in a massive swap, in that each of them did the art for a different one. Some were done by friends for each other pairing off, others were done in large "circles".

He's got many of them scanned, and you can see things like the swap between Blondie and Garfield, Dilbert and Family Circus, and chains like On The Fastrack as drawn by Sherman's Lagoon, Sherman's Lagoon as drawn by Baby Blues, Baby Blues as drawn by Herb And Jamaal, Herb And Jamaal as drawn by Broom Hilda, and so on.

Good Cool stuff.

Posted by: Ted at 04:50 AM | category: Links
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July 17, 2006

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...

My favorite vacation photo, as I jostle elbows with celebrity.

Ted and Pat at the wax museum

Posted by: Ted at 08:12 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Vegas Baby! (part 3)

Part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

Even if you don't gamble, there's plenty to do in Las Vegas. I'm not talking about things for kids, because as hard as they try to make it family oriented, I don't really think it's all that great a place for a vacation with the kids. You can run through the kiddie stuff in two or three days, including the zoo and the Leid Children's Museum. On the strip, there's the Excalibur which caters to families, and at the other end of the strip is Circus Circus with their "largest indoor amusement park in the world". Other than that, Vegas is pretty much an adult town.

I spent three full days visiting various attractions and museums using my "Power Pass". This little gem got me free admission (well, free after paying for the pass) to a whole heap of cool places, and if I went back next week, I'd get another 3-day pass because there's that much more that I didn't have time to visit. Liz got the 1-day pass, and we spent our anniversary doing things that both of us wanted to see.

I spent one morning visiting the very cool and highly recommended Atomic Testing Museum. Did you know that the US has conducted almost 950 nuclear tests? Not all were for weapon research either, as there were tests done for medical research (as in "nuclear medicine"), for business and industrial research, and of course for pure scientific analysis. One interesting test happened in the 1980's when a tower was erected that was the height of the detonation of the bomb over Hiroshima. At the top of the tower was placed an unshielded nuclear reactor that mimiced the radiation output of that first bomb, and underneath a series of Japanese structures were built using WWII-era construction techniques and materials. The objective was to measure the level of radiation protection provided by the various buildings in order to help Japanese doctors treat the long-term health effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors.

If you look here, every crater is the site of an underground test, where the surface collapsed onto the dome of the chamber where the device was detonated. The engineering and geology behind the test chambers is explained, and the resulting radioactive leftovers from the tests wind up buried hundreds of feet underground in brilliantly conceived and designed self-sealing pits.

The museum wasn't all rah-rah and "go team". All in all it was a fairly balanced look at the testing done in the area, both good points and bad. There was a section on the local indigenous peoples and how the testing affected them (they were forcibly removed by the government when the test range was created) and what the land means to their cultures. This part of the museum was created with the cooperation of the local tribes (Shoshone and one other I can't remember offhand).

You learn the what and the why, but also the how. They put a lot of history out there to experience, and place it in context of the times. Did I say highly recommended? It's worth repeating.

Our hotel, the Luxor, offered free admission to the King Tut Museum and the In Search of the Obelisk ride as part of the Power Pass package. The "ride" was ok, if a little hokey. Most of it is a movie shot with a special technique that makes it look very real to life. It was difficult to distinguish between the actors on the screen and the live people who're part of the show.

The King Tut Museum is a recreation of King Tut's tomb. You get one of those new audio wands that all museums seem to be in love with nowadays, and it tells you interesting things about what you're looking at, which is good. It also tells you when to move along and look at the next thing, which is bad. These were nice because they had a pause button. When they don't, I get fed up quickly and ignore them.

Anyway, the tomb exhibit shows the four rooms of treasures found back in the 1920's by Howard Carter. A lot of details are pointed out, so you really get the significance of what you're looking at, rather than just the jumble of Egyptian stuff. Interesting, but very quick to go through.

Fifth Vegas Tip: Most attractions are not worth the admission price, but they are worth seeing. Either remind yourself that you're on vacation and don't sweat it, or get one of those discount packages.

The Luxor also features an IMAX movie theater (at single ticket prices cheaper than the Air & Space in DC). I plunked down twenty bucks for a three show package and saw "Journey down the Nile", "Magnificent Desolation" in 3D, and "The Sea" in 3D. The first movie was excellent, the second (about the space program, how could it be bad?) was pretty damn good and the IMAX 3D was wonderful (no funky red/green glasses, these used some sort of polarizing effect). The last movie though, gave me a headache. Maybe it was just too much movement for 3D or my glasses didn't fit right or something, but I could've done without the fish. It also got preachy about ecology and conservation, which I'm sure everyone pondered that evening as they wolfed down lobster and crab legs at the buffet.

Let's see... what else...

The Venetian and Bellagio both have museums built into the premises. At the Bellagio was a fine exhibit of and about Ansel Adams, again with the annoying audio wand (completely ignored by me).

The Venetian had a display of Ruebens and Van Dyke oils, amongst other contemporaries. I was given an audio wand for this one, but I lucked out and caught on to a live tour. Unfortunately it didn't last long because although the guide had interesting things to say, her voice made me want to stick pencils through my eardrums. I finished seeing the exhibit sans guide and almost completely without the use of the magic talking stick.

The Venetian also features Madame Tussaud's Celebrity Wax Museum. Unlike any other wax museum I've ever been to, here you are invited to touch and pose with the figures for photos. Mookie saw the one in London and said it's the same way. I wish I'd been forewarned, so I could have taken a sign that said "Noo-Klee-Err" and held it up while posing with President Bush at the podium. Oh well. Spilt milk, eh? They also offer a side-trip through a mini-house of horrors that isn't very scary.

At the Mirage is Seigfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, which was pretty cool. They don't do shows, per se, because this is a research facility that allows folks to watch and help pay the bills. The staff has frequent "interactions" where they feed fish to the dolphins and the dolphins do all kinds of tricks and stunts. You know, just like a show. You can get very close to the action, and there are several underwater windows to see what's going on from below.

The Secret Garden half is full of tropical plants and several large areas full of sleeping lions and tigers and alpaca (!?!?!?!).

Hey, you're a Star Trek-lovin' geek, right? If so, you're in luck! The Las Vegas Hilton features the "Star Trek Experience". It's chock-full of memorabilia from all the various incarnations, and as you go through it you're accompanied by a long-ass timeline that ties events from the whole shebang together. When you're done with the static displays, you get to choose between two exciting adventures, something about the Borg, and something about the Klingons. Your admission gets you into either and both (it's an all-day pass), but I only had time to do the Klingon side. It was hokey but not too bad, and did have some funny bits and actual thrills. In our group were two ladies who had no idea what the hell was going on, so they were cracking jokes about how stupid everything was. I contemplated putting on my earnest face and becoming the "dedicated Trekkie" to explain the error of their ways, but they were pretty funny and I could tell that they were already annoying the real trekkies in the group, which I enjoyed.

My shining moment came at the end when you're offered a chance to buy a photo where your face is placed into a group shot of the Star Trek crew of your choice. When they asked which crew was my favorite, I said "original series" and quicker than you could stomp a Tribble, there I was with Kirk, Spock, Sulu and the rest. Only one problem... I complained bitterly that I was in a red shirt, and there was no way I was buying a picture of me knowing that I was nothing more than "the guy that dies".

That brought some laughs from the other folks, and I noticed that after me everyone picked "next generation" or one of the others.

Before you leave, you can stop in at Quarks bar and restaurant and have a bite to eat. If I have to explain, you wouldn't get it.

So far, everything I've mentioned here was free with my power pass (except for the IMAX movies). Among the other things I could've seen for free was the Las Vegas Zoo, the top of the Stratosphere tower, Elvis-A-Rama, the Liberace Museum, a half-day tour to Hoover Dam, the Museum of Natural History, the Las Vegas Art Museum, "Lost Vegas" Gambling Museum, the Circus Circus amusement park and much much more.

The limiting factor for most of these (besides time) was transportation. I got ripped off by a cab driver who stuck me for eleven bucks for a six dollar ride, and after that I was leery about using them. More than one local warned me about them as well. Almost all of the things I did were on the strip, so you could walk or take the monorail.

Sixth Vegas Tip: Make sure you have plenty of ones and fives on hand for tips and taxis. The scumbag cabbies will claim they can't make change.

Seventh Vegas Tip: There are two monorails on the strip. The first is at the extreme south end and connects Mandalay Bay, Luxor and the Excalibur. These three are all right next door to each other and are also connected by covered walkways. You never need to ride this monorail.

The second monorail starts at the MGM Grand (south end of the strip, across from Excalibur) and goes north. The last two stops are a block east of the strip at the Convention Center and the Hilton. Rides are five dollars, two for nine dollars (up and back), or fifteen bucks for the all day pass. This is a nice system, and worth the money if you don't feel like walking miles up and down the strip in the heat.

Eighth Vegas Tip: From the Hilton, you can grab a shuttle bus to the Freemont District, which is like a mini-strip. This was where all the action was when Vegas was just getting started.

Other things to do include (as Shank mentioned in previous comments) renting a machine gun for some quality time on the target range, learning to drive various high performance vehicles (both racetrack and off-road), and Madalay Bay has a wicked-cool Shark aquarium.

And that's not to mention all the free stuff you can do...

Next time.

Posted by: Ted at 04:48 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Because rabid animals aren't enough

Every year, after the number of exploding manhole covers eases off a bit, our area goes through a wave of rabid animals, both wild and pets. Oh, and plenty of Lyme-ridden ticks. Can't forget them.

This summer, just for fun we've added mosquitos with West Nile Virus. Confirmed.

Oh joy.

Posted by: Ted at 11:41 AM | category: Square Pegs
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July 16, 2006

You can't rush some things

Translation: I finally got around to swapping in the new style sheet.

Still some tweaking to do.

Posted by: Ted at 02:57 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Vegas Baby! (part 2)

Part 1 is here.

The question was, if you don't gamble, what the hell are you doing in Vegas?

Three words, my friend: Shows. Food. Attractions. Shopping. Sightseeing.

That was more than three words? Yes it was, and it's the perfect demonstration of why I don't gamble. I'm smart enough to know I'm not smart enough to handle the math. And Las Vegas is built on math.

As a quick aside, I love the psychology and social engineering of casinos. One of the easiest table games to understand is the "Big 6" wheel. It's a giant vertical wheel, with dollar amounts on each click. On the table, you place your bets on matching dollar amounts. Maybe half the wheel is populated with ones and pays 1:1 - bet a dollar, win a dollar. A third of what's left on the wheel is twos and pays 2:1, a third of what's left is fives and pays 5:1, and so on with tens and twentys and sometimes the dreaded "0" and "00" like roullette. So you plop your chips down on what you think will come up and they spin the wheel and money is won and lost. Very simple to understand and very fun to play.

This table also features the worst odds in a casino.

That's the math part, but I also mentioned the psychology. I once watched several busloads of tourists unload and enter a casino, each with a voucher for ten or twenty bucks in chips as part of their tour package. As they came through the bus entrance, the first thing they saw was the Big 6 table, staffed by two friendly, engaging people who were more than happy to exchange those vouchers for chips. I kid you not, more than half of that "free" gambling money was drained off of an incoming group by that table before the folks ever set foot into the actual casino. Sometimes the percentage was even higher than that, and eighty percent would be a reasonable estimate. And the people had fun, and what the hell, it was "free" money that they were losing. Brilliant.

Aside over.

One of the highlights when you visit Las Vegas is the shows. We'd already gotten tickets to see Penn & Teller, who're most recently noted for their cable TV show Bullshit.

Their Vegas show actually starts an hour earlier than all the billboards state because when the doors open an excellent two-piece combo - piano and upright bass - plays for the first hour. After every song, the piano player asks everyone in the audience to come up on stage and sign this giant envelope which is later used in the show. He's got this perfect breathy MC voice thing going, and the pitch is sly and funny.

"If you don't come up and sign this envelope, you will feel disappointment, and that's a sad, unhappy feeling. Please, because we care about your mental health, bring a friend or loved one up and participate in the Penn & Teller Envelope Signing Experience."

The actual show is very cool and of course, everything has the wicked twisted humor that they're famous for.

You may have heard that after the show Penn & Teller come out into the lobby and talk to the audience and sign autographs. It's true (Teller speaks too). They autographed one of our tickets for Liz, and the other they signed "Happy Birthday Rachael" with a little birthday cake on it. We also bought Rachael this shirt.

We also saw Splash, which has been running since 1968 at the Riviera. They update it every year, and it was more your typical Vegas variety and review show, with dancing (sometimes topless) showgirls (in fact, the tits are trotted out about 45 seconds after the opening notes are sung), comedians and more. We saw those crazy-assed motorcycle riders who do their thing inside the steel mesh ball. They actually had four going at once in there, their helmets almost touching at the center point as they demonstrated the beauty of spatial geometry when combined with internal combustion engines.

A former US Ladies Freestyle ice skating champion did a strip tease on skates, while twirling multiple hula-hoops around various parts of her body. There were ice dancers and acrobats and a guy gymnast (eye candy for the ladies!) who put on an pretty amazing show of his own.

Third Vegas Tip: Do your research! Some shows sell out long in advance, so you've got to get your tickets early. Go to Vegas.Com and look around at the shows listed. There's something for everyone in all price ranges, and discounts abound for the second and third tier shows. We used a "buy one, get one" coupon for Splash, which saved us quite a bit of money.

We also purchased a "value pack" before we left which allowed us to print coupons and special offers for some shows and restaurants. Using the coupon for Splash paid for the package by itself, and we used quite a few others in the stack of possibilities that we'd printed and taken along.

Now a few words about food in Vegas.

Every casino offers a steakhouse, various fine dining choices, a buffet and a cafe. A lot of them have added food courts, like you'd find in a mall.

We don't do fine dining. Liz is a picky eater and not at all adventurous when it comes to food. I'm a barbarian, I can be just as happy with a good meal as a great meal. That said, there's a cuisine and style for everyone on the strip. Once again, do a little research ahead of time on the internet, because after all these years and with the number of Las Vegas entertainment publications, every damn eatery can truthfully claim to be selected as "Best on the Strip", and they all do.

That goes for most of the restaurants too, not just the fine dining.

There are some damn good buffets available in Las Vegas, if you know where and when to go. We visited a few that ranged from mediocre to fair. Disappointing, actually.

Fourth Vegas Tip: For about the same money as the buffets (and get used to it now, eating is going to be pricey), the cafe's in each casino are your best bet.

On our first night in town, after a day of flying and not eating much at all, we were starved. We wound up at the Pyramid Cafe in the Luxor and ordered dinner. Our bill was around forty bucks for the two of us, and we quickly learned that meals for two would run between $35-$50.

But the food... mmmmmmmmmm. I'd ordered the Monte Cristo, which is about the dumbest sandwich ever invented. For those that don't know, it's ham, turkey and swiss, dipped in egg batter and fried, dusted with powdered sugar and served with strawberry jam (but I think raspberry is traditional). Liz ordered some kind of club sandwich that was excellent as well. On the side, I had the best potato salad I've ever eaten in my life. I want my homemade potato salad to be this stuff. I'm pissed because I never went back just for an order of potato salad, it was that good.

At other cafe's, we had Cobb Salads, Chicken Parmesian, an enourmous "appetizer" of nachos with steak and guacamole that overwhelmed a platter bigger than anything in our kitchen, and so on. A slice of cheesecake was big enough for two, covered with sliced fresh strawberrys and real whipped cream. One morning we had breakfast in a deli near Ceasar's Palace, and I had homemade corned beef hash that was excellent. Again, figure around twenty bucks per person and don't sweat it.

One of my "strategies" to combat the heat was to order a soda or beer with my meal, and get a water on the side. And keep the water coming. It was well over 100 degrees there every day (closer to 110 usually), and I did a fair amount of walking outside, so at mealtimes especially I'd rehydrate like crazy.

Bottled water or soda is going to run $2.00 and up. You can occasionally find an enterprising young man on the street who has a cooler of bottled water for a buck a shot. Drinking fountains are few and far between. So even though you're going to have to pay out the nose for water, you can still save a little by doing what I did and drinking mostly water (and lots of it) during mealtimes.

There are food values to be found, if you look and are willing to go a little out of your way for them. Things like $10 steak dinners and jumbo hot dogs for a buck and such. Once again, do your research beforehand, because they're listed online and often you have to ask the waiter for them as they won't be on the menu. Las Vegas McDonalds is priced mostly like McDonalds at home, but I didn't go to Vegas to eat Big Macs.

A new addition since I last visited are Krispy Kreme donut shops in a few of the casinos. Most just take delivery from the main stores and sell for a buck a shot, any kind. The Excalibur has a big shop, with the entire donut making assembly line behind a glass wall so you can see them go from raw dough to finished glazed perfection in minutes. These are good options for a late night sweet tooth or early morning quickie breakfast.

So that covers shows and food. Next time it'll be attractions (or how I spent 90% of my time), shopping and sightseeing.

Posted by: Ted at 12:34 PM | category: Square Pegs
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July 15, 2006

Happy 18th Mookie!

All together now:

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Dear Rachael,
Don't you dare get tattooed!

Posted by: Ted at 03:21 PM | category: Family matters
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Vegas Baby! (part 1)

On July 11th, Liz and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. As a special treat to ourselves, we planned a trip to the neon desert out in Nevada.

I've been to Las Vegas before. Liz has been to Las Vegas before. But we never had been at the same time. I'm going to post this is sections, because I've got plenty to talk about.

The first day was an odd series of minor annoyances that edged right to the brink of pissing me off, and then somehow, someone would manage to completely defuse my temper. Our daughter Robyn stayed at the house for the week, taking care of the dogs (Fred went to a bunny-sitter because Robyn's allergies won't let her deal with him) and she dropped us off at the airport.

Outside the terminal, you check your bags before you even go in, and it costs $2.00 a bag. I don't know what the deal is, but the line for that was way shorter than the ones inside, so I consider it two bucks well spent. On top of that, the guy gave us the goofiest directions I'd ever heard for what we should do once in the terminal. I asked him to repeat them twice, because he had a helluva accent, and they just didn't make sense. Lucky for us, I listened to the guy and we found ourselves checked in after another brief wait in some out of the way desk with an almost non-existent line.

By the time we got to our gate, Liz was hobbling pretty badly because of her hip. I let the airline desk folks know so that we got to slide in near the beginning because Liz was slow. On top of that, one of the stewardesses got our info so that there would be a wheelchair waiting for us in Vegas. Good deal.

The flight was a non-stop, from Ted, which is United's economy service, on an Airbus 319. I'll tell you now, I'd fly them again, the folks were great in every way. They also did something I'd never seen before. Once we took off and got to cruising altitude, the Captain came on the intercom and announced a game that everyone could play. Pretty silly, I know. Except that the prize was a pair of tickets to see the Blue Man Group, which runs a couple hundred bucks. The game was simple, the Captain gave some clues to consider, and everyone wrote down their guess as to how much our aircraft weighed at takeoff (pounds and ounces). Some of the clues were pretty specific, like:

"We loaded 1,655 gallons of fuel."
"Fuel weighs about 6.71 pounds per gallon."
"Total baggage weight was 1,280 pounds."

Some were a little less specific:

"There are 151 passengers on the flight."
"There are 7 crew members on this flight."

And then the real curve ball:

"A typical short-hop plane that holds 50 people weighs about 120,000 pounds at take off."
"A 747 weighs about 830,000 pounds at take off."

All those numbers are more or less pulled out of thin air, I don't remember specifics. So everyone calculated and guessed and turned their cards into the flight crew. Just before landing, someone way up front was named the winner, missing the real weight by less than 70 pounds I think.

When we got to the Vegas airport, there was no chair waiting. The ground staff claimed they never got the word, and the air crew called BS. After 10 minutes I asked the ground staff to call again, and again 10 minutes later. By now I'm doing a slow simmer, and after 30 minutes on the ground and not seeing the promised wheelchair we decided that we'd just walk to the baggage claim and our shuttle bus to the hotel. As we made our way slowly along, one of the stewardesses from our flight caught up to us and got pissed because the chair never showed up. She snagged someone from the airport staff and made him call directly and let them know where we were. Me, I'm appreciating all the assistance, but would more appreciate some actual results. Liz's hip is just hurting badly. We waited another few minutes and I saw a lady pushing an empty wheelchair go by. I called her over and asked if she was looking for us, but nope. I told her what was going on and she let her supervisor know that she was going to give us a hand. This lady was a joy, and twenty minutes later we'd collected our bag and were sitting at the front of the line for the shuttle bus.

We stayed at the Luxor, the giant pyramidal Egyptian-themed hotel on the strip. Once inside, our first stop was the bell desk to pick up Liz's scooter. We rented a power-chair for the week, because it would make things so much easier for her. It was supposed to be waiting for us at the hotel. When they claimed they didn't have any record of it Liz was trying to calm me down while not losing her own cool. After a short wait, they found the scooter, under the correct name. Turns out the bell clerk had given the wrong name to the people who fetch the chairs which is why they couldn't find it.

First Vegas Tip: If you have any kind of mobility problem, rent an electric wheelchair or scooter. This will be the best spent money during your stay because you'll be doing a *lot* of walking, and there's no point in being miserable while getting around.

At check in, there was a line which was long but moving along nicely. Before we knew it, the floor manager was taking down ropes and signalling Liz to come on through. We were given a little perk because of Liz and the chair and headed right towards the next available clerk.

A word about the Luxor. The lobby is magnificent, with enourmous "stone" obelisks and sphinxes and other statues. Very "Egyptian". I was very much looking forward to our room in the pyramid, with the slanted window wall looking out over the city. One drawback was that the Luxor rooms only have showers, not bathtubs. Very big showers. We figured we'd ask for a shower stool for Liz and call it problem solved. Instead, the check in clerk offered us a free upgrade to the a "handicap equipped" room with a bath and shower, plus it's bigger too (more room for the scooter to get around in). The downside was that the upgrade was in one of the towers. That seemed well worth it to me, trading the slanted window for the tub for Liz. Once in the room though, we quickly discovered that there wasn't a tub, just a built-in shower stool and lots of handicapped bars all over the bathroom. That's ok though, because it was still a big room with a nice view.

Second Vegas Tip: Relax and enjoy the cheesiness. I had been to the lobby and casino areas of the Luxor before. All of the various casinos on the Vegas strip are pretty much alike, but the lobby and shopping areas are where each resort expresses it's "theme". The lobby area of the Luxor is stunning, and I guess I expected the hotel areas to be done up in understated colonial elegance from early-20th century Egypt. Instead you get everything except Tut-on-black-velvet in the rooms.

An hour later, I was trying to figure out what this one handle on Liz's chair did, because it was just hanging there at an odd angle. It came off in my hand, and Liz called the wheelchair place to find out what to do. It turned out to be the locking mechanism for the seat and was supposed to keep it from rotating freely, and had nothing to do with the mobility. I later found another piece of the handle mechanism on the floor of the room. When everyone understood what the problem was, it was agreed all around that the chair was usable as is. Liz and I just wanted to make sure that they were notified so that there wouldn't be any later problems. Once again my temper was defused by common sense and folks who cared about making things right.

I won't talk about the gambling, because I don't gamble. Liz did, mostly the slots, but I personally didn't spend a single cent on games of chance. That's just me.

So if you don't gamble, what the hell are you doing in Vegas? I'll cover that in part 2.

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July 08, 2006

See you in a week


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July 07, 2006

Where the heck did I leave that thing?

Real-time tracking of the Space Shuttle and the ISS.

Posted by: Ted at 04:47 PM | category: Space Program
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July 04, 2006

Local Boys Done Good

Every year, our rocketry club NOVAAR does a high power rocketry demonstration at a big 4th of July show at Great Meadow. This is what the club does as payment for the use of the facility all year round. The club loves doing it, the crowd loves the rockets, and the Great Meadow folks love it all.

I don't go. Crowds, traffic, heat. I spend a quiet 4th with the family at home.

Meanwhile, down in Amarillo, Texas, at the annual LDRS launch...

As of today, between Virginia and North Carolina flyers, we have burned over 261,900 Ns of propellant! *

The Phoenix Project was a complete success. 20,000Â’ flight on a Q13,500.

SpinalTap complete success. 22,011Â’ on a P9911.

Mike McBurnett showed how to earn his L3 with a near 10,000Â’ flight on a M1297.

Mike Showalter flew his Patriot Missile on a baby N2400.

Ben Russell flew Ringworm on a N2300.

Ron Rickwald flew the Block 3 Standard Arm on a full O.

Dave Morey and Dave Hash placed 1st and 2nd , respectively, in the Bowling Ball flight duration contest.

Check the ROCKETS magazine [online site] for current photo coverage.

We still have one more day to go!

Needles to say, LDRS is rockinÂ’!!


When you're out to impress the rest of the country, this is the way to do it.

*261,900 Newtons equals 58,877.5 pounds of force. Yowza!

Posted by: Ted at 09:13 PM | category: Rocketry
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Another good reason not to blow your fingers off

Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm talking about poker chip tricks! Sorted by difficulty, with complete descriptions and video showing you how to do each trick.

Posted by: Ted at 03:16 PM | category: Links
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Wish I were wrong

But I don't think I am (naughtyness in the extended entry). more...

Posted by: Ted at 10:44 AM | category: Square Pegs
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July 03, 2006

Remember that big-ass tree?

I'm talking about that maple in my backyard. I've had a love/hate relationship with that tree for years. It tried to neuter me, I scalped it halfway up. It's a beautiful tree that totally screws up my yard by where it's at and its massive and shallow root system. Filthy thing too, raining shit down - leaves and/or monkey balls (spiny seed pods) - all year round. Because of this tree, I can't grow much beyond mossy dirt and hostas.

Last night, we had a pop-up thunderstorm sit right over us for a good hour. The sky looked like God's own disco with the strobe effect, and plenty of visible lightning from my front door. Once the torrential rains started in, I watched a couple of huge trees across the street to see if they were going to come down. The wind was impressive. They survived, but my backyard maple got topped.

We discovered it this morning. About 30' of the very top came pretty much straight down into our backyard. The very tips landed across the fence, but not enough to do any damage (thank heavens).

I've already been out toe survey the damage. It's cut up into manageable pieces and dragged out into the back meadow, ready to end up down by the creek.

I like this. Now, if the next storm can take another 30' off, I can call the tree removal company and all they'll need to do is the bare trunk and stump. Yay!

Posted by: Ted at 08:25 AM | category: Square Pegs
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Steven Wright once said

"When I die, I'm donating my body to science fiction."

A while back I saw a television program about something that makes such perfect sense, but is so utterly revolting, that you want to retch and say 'doh!' at the same time.

There's a forensics research lab in Tennesee where they study human remains. I'm not talking about sterile anatomy and such, although some of that is done. This facility takes donated bodies and examines them as they decompose within the framework of an outdoor crime scene. In other words, they bury them in shallow graves, or cover them with leaves, or toss them into small streams, or wrap them loosely in a tarp. And leave them there. Then they watch and take notes. And by doing this under controlled conditions, law enforcement can better determine the facts when partially or wholly decomposed bodies are discovered.

Fascinating stuff, but not for the squeamish. The website is user-friendly, meaning it doesn't look like a documentary of "The Making of 'Jason the SlasherCamp Chainsaw Cannibal'". It's all rather polite actually. Positively mature.

Posted by: Ted at 08:12 AM | category: SciTech
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July 02, 2006

Cleaning Day

I started going through a bunch of old papers this weekend, throwing most of them out (I'm a major packrat), when I came across my printed archives from the old blogspot version of Rocket Jones. A lot of the original stuff didn't get imported from there because, frankly, it sucked (worse than now). But there were some good posts too, so I'm going to occasionally repost some of them again here.

I'm not going to make a big deal out of it, no announcement about repost or anything, so just enjoy the deja vu if you'd seen it before way back when.

Posted by: Ted at 09:18 PM | category: Square Pegs
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