February 28, 2007

Heads Should Roll

Someone, somewhere along the line, seriously screwed up with my laptop. I took it in to the repair shop today because it no longer recognized the CD-ROM drive. I should get it back, good as new, in two weeks.

The warrantee doesn't expire for another month and a half.

Posted by: Ted at 08:28 PM | category: Square Pegs
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It's As Hot As The Surface Of The Sun, Perfectly Suitable For A Spot Of Culture!

In Nevada, the Goldwell Open Air Museum.

Ignore the pretentious bullshit such as:

[a] group of prominent Belgian artists created a self-described art situation

Just follow the link, check out the photos, and bask in the cool.

Posted by: Ted at 11:59 AM | category: Links
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You Can't Hit What You Can't See

At least, that's what they used to say, now you can't even hit what you can see.

"I can't see the [expletive deleted] thing," said RAAF Squadron Leader Stephen Chappell, exchange F-15 pilot in the 65th Aggressor Squadron. "It won't let me put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it visually through the canopy. [Flying against the F-22] annoys the hell out of me."

Your tax dollars at work, and apparently delivering what was promised.

Thanks to QandO for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 11:15 AM | category: Military
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February 27, 2007

Doom, I Tell You, DOOOOOM!!!

I laughed my ass off during my commute home today. Newsradio breathlessly announced, "Stock Market Crumbles".

Holy shit! I needed to hear more!!! I mean, China had a bad tumble overnight and just yesterday Alan Greenspan said the "R" word in a conversation.

After the commercial break, "upcoming stories" told me that the market had been down 500 points today, which is a big deal. Less than two minutes later I'm given the details that the 500 point loss was the low point of the day, and that currently the loss was 340 points. Still bumpy, but not the end of the world.

Five minutes later, the loss was reported as 305 points. Now I'm chuckling, especially when they remind everyone that today's "3 percent drop" pales in comparison to Black Monday in 1987 when the market dropped 22%.

Two minutes later and the loss is less than 300 points. This is comical.

I realize that the market will rise and fall (last week it set a new record high). I also know that over time, the stock market always goes up. I have a 401k and hardly ever pay attention to the market, other than in a general way. For instance, I've known that for weeks there have been warnings about a sell-off being long overdue. Today was the excuse everyone needed.

I don't even know what the final figures for the day are. I do know that it's not the panic-inducing event those nitwit broadcasters tried to make it out to be.

Posted by: Ted at 04:19 PM | category: Links
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OJ Might Have Lots of Company While He Searches

The highest U.N. court cleared Serbia on Monday of direct responsibility for genocide against Bosnia. Serbia argued an obscure point that the court agreed with, which means that the Srebrenica massacre, targeted entirely at Bosnian Muslims (and filling more than eighty mass graves), was technically genocide, but not really Serbia's fault even though it was commited by Serbian troops. Or something nuanced like that.

Small comfort.

Posted by: Ted at 11:56 AM | category: Links
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Cool New DooDad

Over at QandO, I learned about this nifty little add-on for us Firefox users called CoolIris. Simple to use, when you hover over a link, a small icon appears next to it, move the cursor over the icon and a preview window appears that shows what's at the other end of that link. Move your mouse away from the window and it automatically closes again. It does much more, but that's the foundation of the app. I've found it easy to get used to, fairly customizable and unobtrusive. Check it out.

Posted by: Ted at 05:15 AM | category: SciTech
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February 25, 2007

Perfect... Bah!

Although the forecast has been changing constantly for the last couple of days, what was supposed to be sleet and rain turned into over four inches of wet, heavy snow.

Power was out for not quite two hours (I took a nap), and it looks like it's warming up a little bit now. Not a good thing, if it all re-freezes overnight. Tomorrow morning is looking to be a lovely commute.

Posted by: Ted at 02:49 PM | category: Square Pegs
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February 22, 2007

Maximizing Your Sports Entertainment Dollar

Last night my beloved San Jose Sharks were in town to play the Washington Capitals. You may recall that my wife had gotten us a pair of tickets for the game and gave them to me as a Christmas present (quite kick-ass, I must say).

In the extended entry is the low-down on the evening, for those so inclined to read all about it. But here I'd like to point out the odd coincidence that of the last three hockey games I've gone to, each has gone to overtime and then a shootout, and each time the team I wanted to win did just that.

If you'd like me to attend a hockey game for your favorite team, I'm sure we can arrange something. more...

Posted by: Ted at 11:32 AM | category: Square Pegs
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What The Hell Was That About?

This morning in the parking garage, I'm walking towards my exit when a young man in a little car pulls into an open space in front of me. I don't know if he's showing off or what, but he hits the gas halfway into his turn and smacks head-on into the concrete wall behind the parking slot.

I asked him if he was all right and got glared at for my trouble. I was tempted to ask him where his mental handicap hang tag was.

Posted by: Ted at 05:44 AM | category: Square Pegs
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February 21, 2007

Early Spring? (Updated)

This morning on radio traffic, I heard about an exploding manhole that had traffic blocked downtown. This is unusual for two reasons. First, this normally happens in Georgetown, not downtown proper, and secondly it's too early in the season for exploding manholes. This isn't supposed to start until springtime.

I've never heard of such a thing happening in any other city. Is this just a local phenomenom?

Update: Rob, over at Left & Right, is the man to see about DC's 'sploding manholes.

Posted by: Ted at 05:50 AM | category: Square Pegs
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February 20, 2007

The Final Word On Tim "Homophobe" Hardaway

A side-splittingly funny smackdown delivered with style.

Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer.

Rocket content only peripherally related: One of the funniest rocket names I've ever seen was "Spock's Johnson". Straight up, it was.

Posted by: Ted at 07:20 PM | category: Links
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February 12, 2007

Ozzie Is In The House

On Saturday we picked up our first foster rabbit. We'll be taking care of Ozzie until Bunny Lu Adoptions can find him a permanent home. He's still in the settling-in stage and rather jumpy, but so far he's eating and using his litter box normally, so it looks like it'll be ok. As you can see, Ozzie is pure white with haunting "ruby" eyes.


Ozzie, photo courtesy of Bunny Lu Adoptions

Rachael fell in love with Ozzie when she was home for Christmas break, and would like nothing better than for us to bond him into a group with our other two, Fred and Java.

One thing is certain, Ozzie is a lovable guy. If you hold your hand out to him, he'll put his head under your fingers so that you can scratch behind his ears. He wasn't too sure about the dogs at first, which was driving Trix crazy. Trix loves the rabbits even though they don't act like dogs, I believe that he thinks they're retarded puppies. Because Ozzie was so skittish, tonight was the first night that they've been in close contact. We expanded the pen so there was some running -around room, then Trix and I went in and lay down and waited quietly. Before long Ozzie came up to us to check things out, and he and Trix sniffed each other a bit. Trix mostly stayed on his belly, dragging himself around by his front legs so that he was on the same level as Ozzie. I've never seen anything like it. Within an hour Trix and Ozzie were laying side by side on the floor, just chillin'.

So far, this foster bunny thing is working a-ok.

Posted by: Ted at 07:16 PM | category: Links
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I'm Kinda Proud Of My County

Unlike some of our neighboring counties, Prince William County, Virginia has decided that they want to be unfriendly towards illegal aliens. And how would they go about it?

The idea is for officers at the county's Adult Detention Center to become trained as ICE, (immigration and customs enforcement) officers, which would allow them to deport dangerous criminals who are also illegal aliens.

I like. The deportation proceedings begin after the sentence is served.

Meanwhile:

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has asked county staff to complete the study by Jan 16. The county, where about 20 percent of residents are foreign-born, is one of several local governments grappling with a wave of new residents, many of them illegal immigrants. Supervisors said the problem is driving up costs for schools, health care, law enforcement and social services.

The study has been completed and the Supervisors are expected to sign a detailed invoice tomorrow, after which they'll send it to the federal government.

"I really think they should pay, but it is more symbolic," [Supervisor] Covington said.

The study will include the impact on the police department and jail and court system. Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan requested that the county's hospitals and health clinics also be reviewed.

Additional education costs are not part of the study. So far, even the Hispanic organizations are supporting this effort because of the lack of detailed analysis on the impact of illegal aliens on local economies.

Posted by: Ted at 12:23 PM | category: Links
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February 11, 2007

Pole Dancing Craze Sweeps China, Rocket Jones Blamed

Well, not blamed actually, but the possibility* is there.

So China has discovered pole dancing. I'd like to welcome any and all Chinese visitors looking for pole dancing music. In fact, while you're here, I'd like to correct one misconception you seem to have about the west.

Celebrities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are said to be followers of this trend.

The above statement outrageously overstates America's give-a-shit factor when it comes to those two (it's measured in mille-fuckits). Don't pole dance because nitwits like that do it. Pole dance for yourselves, pole dance for your boyfriends and husbands. Pole dance for world peace. Oh look, another one of those "possibilities".

*About as much possibility as me being elected Pope.

Posted by: Ted at 07:58 AM | category: Links
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February 10, 2007

The Bat

While I was recuperating the ol' back (a while back), I had the opportunity to watch a few movies, back to back (ok, I'll stop). There were some very forgettable ones, but I found a gem in the stacks.

The Bat (1959) is a tight little thriller starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. The plot is quite intricate, and the cast is very much up to the challenge.

Agnes Moorehead plays an author who writes murder whodunnits, and she's rented a mansion for the summer. The mansion is owned by the local banker, who's away on an extended hunting trip with his doctor (Vincent Price). Price gives a wonderfully understated performance, unlike some of his later scenery-chewing roles where his inner-ham shines brightly.

In the story, the banker has embezzled a million dollars from his bank and figures that his head cashier will be blamed. Before you know it, the banker winds up dead and the scramble begins as several people have figured out what must be one of the worst-kept secrets in movie history, namely, where the money is hidden.

Mix in a mysterious serial killer nicknamed "The Bat" who's terrorizing the town, an outbreak of actual rabid bats, murder on the side, greed, embezzlement, and a missing million dollars, and you have a whole lot of possibilities to consider. The movie manages to juggle all the details in such a way to keep you guessing and not confuse the basic story.

Agnes Moorehead's character is refined and well-to-do, but she's no pushover. In fact, all of the women in the movie are strong.

Doctor: Do you know how to use that gun?

Agnes Moorehead: My books are full of guns, and I only write about what I know.

You may remember Darla Hood of Little Rascals fame. She appears here, all grown up in what turned out to be her final movie role.

I'm not sure why, but the servants always seem to get all the best comic lines. In this case it's the maid, and she's a hoot.

Something else that I saw that amused me no end is that the men all wear suits, which is normal for movies in the 40's and 50's. The funny part is that even The Bat is wearing a suit while he prowls around looking to murder again.

This one is worth looking for, especially if you're a Vincent Price fan. Recommended.

Update: Victor points out that this is a remake of the original 1926 silent version! Cool. Now I'll have to look for it.

Posted by: Ted at 08:10 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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February 09, 2007

Someone's in the kitchen with Diiinaaaahhh!

It's been colder than a witch's you-know-what in a brass bra. Highs in the upper 20's and single digit nights. Perfect soup weather.

I started a pot of Beef and Barley soup last night and let it cook all night and all day today in the crock pot. Basically, I tossed a bunch of things into it that we had on hand, and it came out good enough to fool people that I might know what I'm doing in the kitchen.

Beef & Barley Soup

Ingredients
1 lb stew beef
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can V-8 juice
4 cups beef stock
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tsp rubbed sage
2/3 cup barley

Brown the stew beef in a hot skillet with the olive oil. When done, toss it into the crock pot and set the heat for high.
Add the tomatoes (with juice), the V-8 and the beef stock.
Stir in the worchestershire, vinegar, paprika and sage.
Add the garlic, carrots and corn, then let it simmer for an hour or so before turning the heat down to low.

Let it cook for several hours (overnight in my case) and then add the barley (about 5am as I was getting ready for work). Either leave it on low to cook for the rest of the day, or turn the heat up to high and cook for another hour or until the barley is done.

If I had had them, I would have added onions and celery, but I don't know that those would have been an improvement. The vinegar and tomatoes give a nice tang, balanced by the brown sugar. The broth was rich and savory, and by dinner time tonight the meat was falling-apart tender.

We've got quite a stretch of cold weather in the forecast. I think I'll keep the soup pot out.

Posted by: Ted at 05:26 PM | category: Recipes
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Not That There's Any Chance Of It Happening...

If I were elected Pope, I'd change my name to Methusela I.

It couldn't hurt.

Posted by: Ted at 11:08 AM | category: Square Pegs
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SciFi Books Meme

Found over at Texas Best Grok.

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club.

Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.


The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson (this is on my 'get to someday' list)
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

You'll notice no "love" asterisks nor "hate" strikethroughs, mainly because people's tastes vary so much. I'm not a big fan of fantasy, and yet I've read most of them on the list. I also own almost every bolded title on the list. I discovered SciFi early and read everything I could get my hands on.

I don't care for Anne Rice (except for "Ramses the Damned"), and I've never read a Harry Potter book. I love Farmer and Zelazny and have read "Gateway" multiple times, but my first recommendation from the list which you've probably never read is "A Canticle for Leibowitz". Powerful story.

There ya go. If you want to take it and run with it, leave a link in the comments.

Posted by: Ted at 05:47 AM | category: Links
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February 08, 2007

A Bet Is A Bet

Somehow, I'm not surprised that this happened in a bar.

Wiese, a die-hard fan of the Chicago Bears, signed a pledge in front of a crowd at a Decatur bar last Friday night that if the Bears lost Sunday's Super Bowl, he'd change his name to that of the man who led the Indianapolis Colts to victory.

As the loser of one of these silly bets (I wound up doing laundry for five years after a "can't lose" bet with my wife), I can appreciate the confidence that he felt when he made that wager.

So Tuesday, Wiese went to the Macon County Courts Facility and started the process of changing his name.

You've kept your honor, Scott... er, Peyton.

Posted by: Ted at 06:07 AM | category: Links
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Valentine Tip

If you're planning a quiet evening watching a movie together, don't pick War of the Roses.

Posted by: Ted at 05:49 AM | category: Square Pegs
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