March 30, 2007

Rocket Launch

This weekend and next, our rocketry club will be holding two-day launches. The main reason is so that the students participating in the annual Team America Rocket Contest can have the opportunity to make their qualification launches. With thousands of dollars in scholarship money on the line, not to mention trips to the Farnborough Airshow for the winners, we're giving them every chance to succeed.

Of course, I have a box o' rockets prepped and ready to fly myself, including a UFO-style flying saucer that I'll fly as a two-stage, a couple of small rocket gliders, a couple of clusters, and several others. The trick for me will be to remember the sunscreen, because I traditionally get burnt to a crisp on the first couple of launches of the year.

I'm also hoping to pick up the last of the parts and supplies I need for my new high-power hybrid system, which will inspire me to get back to work on my Level 2 project.

The weather is supposed to be beautiful tomorrow, and I hope the wind cooperates, because I loaded up some maximum motors in most of my rockets.

Enjoy the weekend!

Posted by: Ted at 10:05 PM | category: Rocketry
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March 28, 2007

And the Survey Says...

A while back my representative to the Virginia House of Delegates sent a survey to our house, asking our views on various local issues, so as to better understand what his constituants expect from him as he represents us in Richmond.

Today we got back a nice letter showing some of the results of the survey.

85% support amending the Constitution of Virginia to require the Transportation Trust Fund be used exclusively for transportation.

Transportation is probably *the* issue here in Northern Virginia. We're barely keeping up working like mad to not fall behind faster as growth overwhelms the roads. Every new major artery proposed is delayed for years as the environmentalists pile lawsuit after lawsuit on top of it to keep it from happening. The'll only be happy if all new transportation infrastructure consists of bike paths paved with the ground-up bones of oil company executives and windmill powered busses. It's so bad that a couple of counties have passed (largely symbolic) moratoriums on new development until the local infrastructure catches up. Oh, and 94% favor giving local governments the authority to deny new development for just that reason.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of Virginia complains, with good reason, that Northern Virginia and Richmond suck up almost every available transportation dollar raised state-wide. Tell Ma and Pa Kettle that patching the pothole their tractor disappeared into isn't as important as adding that seventh lane to the expressway up near DC.

And yet, somehow, the Transportation Trust Fund gets raided on a regular basis to fund other state priorities.

In related results:

71% favor bonding to finance transportation projects.

78% favor spending the state surplus on transportation.

77% support phasing out the car tax.

I indicated that I was against the bonding. I prefer to not run up personal debt, and I'd rather my state acted the same way. Slow down the rampant growth and stay in the habit of pay-as-you-go. While we have a surplus, set it aside for emergencies because as sure as the sun rises, when the surplus disappears the programs it funded aren't going to disappear as well.

The car tax? I hate it. I love that they're phasing it out. I'd love it even more if the state were cutting spending to match the reduced tax income. Fat chance of that happening. In fact, our new govenor, Tim Kaine, has already mentioned raising taxes way too often for my comfort level. So far the legislature is fighting him off, but his first instinct for everything seems to be "more taxes".

74% support requiring public schools to dedicate at least 65% of state education funding for items related to classroom instruction.

79% oppose a taxpayer-funded, mandatory, universal pre-kindergarten program in Virginia.

The first seems like a no-brainer. Education funds should be spent where it does the most good, in the classroom. But look at that second one. "Taxpayer-funded", "mandatory", "universal"... I bet the proponents want it to be bilingual as well. That's a pretty emphatic "NO" from the people, I'm pleased to see.

68% do not believe that additional gun control laws are necessary.

If I remember correctly, the question specifically mentioned enforcing the laws already on the books instead of passing new laws to be ignored. I was slightly surprised by that number, I thought it'd be higher than that. Then I considered the folks up even norther than here, since the closer you get to DC the more nanny-staters per capita you'll find. And many firmly believe that the perfect way to live your life is to smile politely and do what the nice police officer tells you to, because the police are your friends and protectors.

87% support requiring abortion clinics to comply with the same health and safety standards as other health care facilities.

Again, to me this is a no-brainer. The clinics are legal according to current laws, so requiring them to conform to modern medical standards is sensible. The thirteen percent dissenting probably would rather the clinics be razed, leveled, and the ground salted so that nothing will grow for a hundred years. That'll keep the weeds down around the feet of the giant statue of Billy Graham that they'll want to erect next. Of course, construction on that will be delayed by lawsuits from the tree-huggers who would rather put in bike paths. Snark aside, if you want the clinics gone, then debate, make your points and change minds to eliminate them, but in the meantime make them as safe as possible for the women who use them.

82% favor amending the Constitution of Virginia to prevent local governments from taking away a person's property through eminent domain and using the seized property for private commercial development.

I still do not understand the reasoning behind the 18% who favor that one. What good are property rights if someone richer than you can come along and convince local officials that he can make "better use" of your land than you can. Come to think of it, how is this different than the government taking more of your money as taxes because "they know better than you how to spend it"?

91% oppose giving illegal aliens in-state tuition rates at Virginia public colleges and universities.

90% believe that businesses which hire illegal aliens should be penalized.

Yes, yes, a thousand times YES!

And finally:

73% support requiring that family life education courses in public schools which include discussions of sexual intercourse emphasize that abstinence before marriage is the accepted norm and the only guarantee against unwanted pregnancy.

Re-read this one carefully. First off, I don't think schools should be in the sex-ed business. But, pragmatic man that I am, I realize that many parents either cannot or will not provide proper guidance to their children. As much as I hate it, I know that if the kids are getting at least the basics in school, then they won't be running around with a vial of gypsy tears around their neck to prevent AIDS.

Note that word "emphasize". Despite the alarmist cries, that doesn't mean "teach exclusively" and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in Christian cultures (and America *is* primarily a Christian culture) "abstinence before marriage is the accepted norm". That statement is absolutely, completely and 100% factual. Don't confuse reality with "accepted norm" since you'll just sound shrill and idiotic because even the clergy knows that there's a lot more pre-marital sex going on than they would prefer.

As for "guarantee against unwanted pregnancy", no form of birth control is foolproof, yet other than one notable exception some two thousand years ago, abstinence has by far the best track record in that regard.

So those were some of the survey results. I found them interesting, especially the ones I don't necessarily agree with. I like the way he ended the letter too, with "I am here to serve you."

He's started off on the right foot as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Ted at 09:50 PM | category: Politics
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Playground

I've been spending time over at the new Minx beta test site. Stop by, leave comments and pings, and let's all give this puppy a serious workout.

Posted by: Ted at 10:49 AM | category: Links
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March 27, 2007

Forest? What Forest?

Paraphrasing a radio commercial I heard this morning on the radio:

An important piece of the news that lets you understand the whole story, that's information. At Washington Post Radio, we only give you what you need to know, to understand the world around you.

No pretense there. They'll tell you everything you need to know. Too many supposedly well-informed people get all their "information" from one source, because it's easier and faster than dealing with contrasting viewpoints or hearing both sides of a story. That thinking stuff is hard.

Posted by: Ted at 05:13 AM | category: Square Pegs
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A Literal Description of my State of Mind

I was surprised last weekend when my wife explained to one of the kids that Rocket Jones meant I was "jones'n" for rockets and my daughter claimed that never knew that. Hmmmm. I've sometimes been referred to as Mr. Jones around here, but I thought that the Cheech and Chong reference was pretty self-evident. Maybe not.

Thanks to YouTube, here is the original Jones. Basketball Jones!

Posted by: Ted at 05:00 AM | category: About Ted
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March 26, 2007

Big Warm Fuzzy Secret Heart

Me Code Monkey too.

Thanks Pixy, that's awesome.

By the way, I've watched all three versions, and although the sound quality isn't as good as the first one, I like the video of the girl dancing the best. I just think she captured the song, and I loved her facial expressions.

Posted by: Ted at 03:49 PM | category: Links
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Snippet

Rachael: You need a polka dot tie. Polka dots are in.

Dad: I do have a polka dot tie, but the dots are very small.

Rachael: How big doesn't matter, just the fact that they're there.

Dad: Kind of like a penis.

Rachael: Growing up in this house has already psychologically scarred me, you can stop now.

Posted by: Ted at 05:05 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 24, 2007

What Hockey Goalies Do During the Off Season

Clark, the Canadian Hockey Goalie. A short but very funny film.

I never knew there was a history behind the term "hoser" (maybe). Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the pointer.

Posted by: Ted at 08:10 AM | category: Balls and Ice
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Alzheimer's Gardens

While googling about for garden-related information (spring is in the air!), I came across this site about designing a garden for those aflicted with Alzheimer's.

Good garden design can be part of a treatment plan for people with Alzheimer's who are very restless or agitated and who like or need to walk a lot...

You can plan a garden that allows access outside but always leads the wandering person back to their house or building.

Think about visibility and observation so caregivers can relax if they use the time for separate pursuits.

I'd never thought about it before, but it makes perfect sense. Or maybe I have thought of it before, but it still makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Ted at 07:26 AM | category: Links
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Anti-Zombie Rifle Project

Now here's a man who takes preparations for the undead apocolypse seriously.

Thanks to Random Nuclear Strikes for pointing this one out.

Posted by: Ted at 07:18 AM | category: Links
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March 23, 2007

Either I'm Dog-Sitting, Or My Dogs Are Having A Sleepover

No matter, the universe is in balance.

Daughter Robyn came home for the weekend yesterday and brought along her new dog, Army (short for Armando). That makes three dogs running around, which matches the current number of rabbits in the house (Fred, Java and Ozzie). Now that Rachael is on her way home for the weekend, I will have all three kids underfoot as well.

Three. Three. Three. Half the number of the beast. Satan light.

Posted by: Ted at 05:59 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Comments

Mu.Nu has been swamped the last couple of days with comment spam, which means that our filters have been working overtime to defend the virtual ramparts. Unfortunately, this means that quite a few of you have been unable to leave comments, and I appreciate the emails I've gotten with feedback and letting me know that there's a problem. My apologies for the frustration, and know that we're just as sick of it as you are.

Minx will be up and running soon, beta test-wise, and I've been working on a new XML <Electrocute Spammer> tag, but it's not quite functional yet.

Posted by: Ted at 05:20 AM | category: Square Pegs
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The Mortgage Crisis (Updated and Bumped!)

I feel sympathy for those folks who are starting to lose their homes because they took out adjustable mortgages. That's a bad situation to be in. I just didn't realize that they were all stupid. I figured that they had gambled that rates would stay low, and lost that bet. Or maybe they miscalculated just how much rates would rise and how it would affect their ability to pay.

Today I heard a news report that actually told me that these poor people were in the position they are because they didn't understand how an adjustable mortgage worked.

So these unfortunate borrowers - who, by the way, initiated contact with these evil lending institutions - were forced to sign enormous documents in multiple places in the presence of lawyers without anyone making an effort to explain what the conditions were in order to borrow tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

See what I mean? These folks were stupid! They didn't know enough to ask questions. They didn't *understand*! They're victims.

Like I said, I feel sorry for them because it's a lousy situation to be in. But not sorry enough to think we (as in the taxpayers) should bail them out. And if their credit is ruined for a while, then maybe it's better that way because they're obviously not ready to play with the adults in the real financial world.

Update: Over at Wizbang!, new contributor Jayson Javitz provides an insider's look at the looming "Mortgage Tsunami". It's worth checking out.

Posted by: Ted at 04:57 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 22, 2007

Choice

When the World Trade Center collapsed, not quite 3,000 people died. That's a big number, but not really inconceivably big*. It's human nature to generalize when the scope of death is that big. It's easier to get our minds around it when the numbers are rationalized into "a whole lot". But by doing that we collectively dull the pain and outrage by reducing it to a statistic.

Benton City, Washington. Population 2,790.

Could you make the decision to kill every man, woman and child in that town? The terrorists on 9/11 made just such a choice.

The victims that day weren't all American citizens. They came from more than a score of countries. They all contributed in their own way to the modern world, from the executives in the boardrooms to the illegal alien bussing tables in the restaraunts.** They shared one trait, they were collectively hated because of where they lived and worked.

Holden, Maine. Population 2,827.

Can you even conceive of something that would make you so angry that you would be willing to murder thousands? Not thousands of soldiers or another group of people who've wronged you, just several thousand randomly selected innocent targets.

Sedgewick County, Colorado. Population 2,747.

Imagine waking up one morning knowing that you were going to commit mass murder. How perverted is your worldview to even allow consideration of such an act?

The people who died in the attacks that day represented many varied belief systems and religions, and no doubt more than a few were followers of Islam. Not that it mattered, because the object was mass destruction and death, and the who that died mattered less than the why of it to the terrorists.

Today, followers of that same perverted vision of religion are intentionally murdering civilians in Iraq. Somehow, it's gotten all turned around that it's America's fault. If you can, please explain to me how anything America has ever done can make it morally acceptable to choose to walk into a crowded public place and detonate explosives strapped to your body.

And if those numbers are too large and impersonal for you, how about the latest car bombing in Iraq, where terrorists detonated a car bomb with two children inside it. The children were there to lure the checkpoint soldiers into letting their guard down.

Godless, subhuman savages. Anyone who believes that it is possible to negotiate with such as that is a fool. The terrorists have been clear about what they want, and you can make the choice for yourself. You can choose to live under their twisted form of slavery, or you can fight and keep fighting so that you and your children can live as free people. You cannot choose compromise, because the terrorists do not recognize the possibility.

* That number seems even less threatening considering the number of dead in the last tsunami, but that natural event points out that on our worst days, mankind is a piker compared to what Mother Nature can do to us.

** I guess the politically correct term would be "undocumented immigrants" but "illegal aliens" is more technically correct. There are substantiated reports that at least a few lost their lives that day. I mourn for them as I do for everyone who died in the attacks, but I'm not going to sugarcoat their legal status.

Posted by: Ted at 04:54 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 21, 2007

No Spitting Either!

China has unveiled their official Olympic logo:
OlympicChina.jpg

Image stolen from the Jawas, who got it from somewhere else.

Posted by: Ted at 07:46 PM | category: Links
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March 19, 2007

Precisely!

A Promise Made Is A Promise Kept.

Posted by: Ted at 11:36 AM | category: Links
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Unknown Kadath Mountaineering Club?

It's no secret that I am a huge Lovecraft fan, which is why I dearly love this shirt.

Thanks to the Flea for this link and others of a Cthulhu bent.

Posted by: Ted at 11:28 AM | category: Links
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This May Only Interest Victor

Y'all might want to re-read the chapters of my story, "Zombies of Autumn", just to refresh your memory of what's already been posted.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Ted at 05:29 AM | category: Square Pegs
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March 18, 2007

Google Chumming As Hard As I Can

Warning: Indelicate Language Follows.

Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks!

Ok, so remember when I said that my DVD drive went kaput a couple of weeks ago? The laptop was still under warranty, so I took it in to the "Geek Squad"* and they had it for two weeks. It came back in a reasonable time, called me when it arrived and when I picked it up the itemized receipt showed that they had replaced the DVD drive.

Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks!

There was also a note saying that the DVD drive was not accessable from "My Computer" (or anywhere else, as it turns out) because of a software problem. You know what the software problem is? They didn't bother to install the fucking device driver for the new goddamned drive!!! They booted from the drive to ensure that it worked, and that was it. Installing the driver is my problem because the warranty doesn't cover "software".

Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks!

Of course, finding and then installing the new driver from the internet turned into a bit of a hassle (translation: major fucking ordeal) that corrupted the Windows bootup, so I had to restore back two days to get back to normal. I still don't have a DVD drive working - yet - and once I calm down I'll try again.

Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks!

*"Geek Squad" gets their own special rant. What is it with this juvenile cutsie bullshit? Do they think anyone is impressed with their psuedo-military codenames on their paperwork? C'mon... "Tactical Analysis"? I fucking told you that the goddamned DVD drive didn't work. If this is the best you can do with your mad computer skillz then I suggest immediate suicide, because you're a goddamned loser and there is no fucking hope for a dickhead like you.

Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks! Best Buy Sucks!

Posted by: Ted at 04:28 PM | category: Links
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March 17, 2007

I Don't Ever Want To Hear That Crap Again

Yesterday at an office luncheon, I was sitting at a table with some coworkers and they spent a good part of the time talking about American Idol and other reality TV. And people think *I* watch weird shit.

Posted by: Ted at 09:17 AM | category: Cult Flicks
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