Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Day At The Smithsonian

Mookie and I went to the Smithsonian Museums today. She had a few specific exhibits that she wanted to see, so we did.

First up was the Museum of American History. They have an exhibit on First Lady Fashions, including several gowns and outfits worn by various First Ladies over the years. I really enjoy listening to Rachael talk about a subject that she loves, and at one point we were overtaken by a guided tour. About half of the people taking the tour were listening to Rachael talking to me rather than the tour guide. They got a complete explanation of late victorian dressmaking techniques, including the tidbit that the hoop skirts and trains were in style to show off that one was wealthy enough to afford that much extra fabric.

After that we visited the Star Spangled Banner. The original flag that flew over Fort McHenry has been restored and is on display. I identified a Congreve Rocket (of the "red glare" kind), and they had a big iron fragment from one of the bombshells fired by the British that night.

Next up was the Natural History Museum. A leisurely stroll through the Oceans and Mineral exhibits (missed the Hope Diamond though), the Insect Zoo and Reptile section, and we finally got to the Western Culture exhibit (Origins of...).

Finally we headed across the Mall to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. It was chilly but we enjoyed it, tagging several "wtf" sculptures with new names as they struck us. My favorite was "Deboned Chicken".

Before we headed back to the metro, we walked around the building to see "Crouching Spider". Whoah. I do believe that I could spend a day doing nothing but watching people's reactions as they come across this 9 foot tall spider-ish figure. Amazing piece of artwork, and I'm sad that it will only be displayed until March before being returned to the museum that owns it.

We're home now, planning on a pot of homemade soup for dinner and wondering how much snow tonight's storm is gonna dump on us.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Seems Plausible

A new element has been discovered:
Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

I've Eaten Vegemite, So You Can Trust Me On This

That Kentucky Jelly is nasty stuff on a peanut butter sandwich.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I'm sorry, but if your product is found in a public restroom and goes by the brand name of "Life Guard", then it better be an air mask filter and not some lame tissue paper seat cover.

Resurrected Rocket Goodies

A long long long long time ago, I linked to Ray Dunakin's site. Ray builds camera rockets, then launches them in the California desert to produce some wonderful and beautiful photos. Aerial photos of interesting topography and old ghost towns. You really should go see them. Most of his photos are available for sale too.

Check out his new place.

Another cool pointer from Dick's Rocketry Dungeon.

Not What You're Afraid Of

If you're thinking that the new administration has come up with yet another cost saving measure for our military, by deciding to combine all the planes in a squadron into one big one.

More monstrous aviation pictures can be found here.

Thanks to Dick's Rocket Dungeon for the pointer.

Truth Is Always Weirder Than Fiction

Imagine, a fish with tubular eyes. Great to collect available light, which is perfect for a deep-sea dweller. Problem is, tubular eyes are extremely limited in field of view. So this critter, the barreleye, must be effectively blind, right?

Not if scientists discover that the eyes can be rotated and the fish has evolved a transparent head.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Pyromaniac's Dream

We bought our season ticket package to the Potomac Nationals (minor league baseball, single A), and this year's plan includes about 90% of the games that have fireworks. Cool.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For LeeAnn*

Boris creeped her out. Maybe she likes clowns.

*She doesn't capitalize her name that I can recall, so I'm being creative. If I'm wrong, it's with good intentions.

Since Nobody Does The NY Times Crossword Anymore


*wiping tears from my eyes*

Funniest Prank Call Ever.

Thanks to a commenter over at LeeAnn's for the pointer. Yes, I'm too lazy to go digging for exactly which commenter.

T-Shirt Idea

I HOPE Dubya
knew what he was doing,
cuz Obama ain't gonna

a thing!


Rendition... China... Enemy Combatants... Afghanistan... Iraq... NAFTA...

Apparently the answer to "What would Barack Obama do?" is usually, "what Bush did."


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seattle to Honolulu

With Google Maps, you can get anywhere!


I love Sharpie pens. Between my Fisher Space Pen and my Sharpie, I can write damn near anywhere at any time. And now, the Sharpie is about to get even better. Stainless Steel case, refillable cartridge... Ooooooooo.

Schoolhouse Shock

The classic "I'm Just A Bill", updated for how it works today.

Thanks to Hot Air for the pointer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Typical Letdown

I am talking, of course, about a Stephen King story. Damn near any one of 'em. Starts off gangbusters, grips you with icy fingers right until the end, where it's "huh?" time. The man cannot finish a story, and that makes me sad. Especially when the story gets translated into a movie, piling extra fail on top of the original dead end finish.

Over the weekend, I watched "It". After all of the build up, all of the evil, all of the supernatural, we are presented with the ultimate horror.

A giant spider. *yawn*

This creature has murdered hundreds, if not thousands over the centuries that it preyed upon the area. It can alter reality, manipulate matter, make your worst nightmares come to life, and then...

...four middle aged members of the prozac club shoot it (once!) with a slingshot, run up to it and push it over and then use their hands to rip its heart out (done in shadowy pantomime theater, ferChrist'ssake!).

Why do I do this to myself?

Monday, February 16, 2009

That Crazy Cal

Over at Q&O, they've posted a couple of anecdotes about "Silent Cal" Coolidge. Most of you have already heard the one about the dinner conversation about more than two words. If not, follow that link and enjoy.

This one, though, I'd never heard.

President Coolidge and the First Lady were visiting a large chicken farming operation, and were being taken on separate tours. In the breeding area, the manager mentioned that each rooster was used to service a hen several times a day. The First Lady told the manager to please tell that to President Coolidge.

The manager did so. President Coolidge replied “Same hen every time?” The manager said, “No, different hen every time.” Coolidge then said “Make sure you tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

Made me chuckle, it did.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cinematic Musings (updated)

People at work and here on Rocket Jones often wonder how I can watch the kind of movies I do. Naturally, tastes differ and I do truly love the oldies and B-grade stinkers. Even so, there are times when I must watch something "mainstream" (or at least closer to). For every few films like Satanico Pandemonium or Virgin Among the Living Dead, I also watch a movie like Hatari or Zulu.

Tonight I have a stack of movies to choose from. In that stack are Bare Behind Bars, House II, Fulci's Zombie, Steven King's It and 300. Decisions, decisions.

Update: I started with 300 last night. I'd seen it before and enjoyed it again. Then I started Bare Behind Bars, but fell asleep halfway through. I'll finish that one tonight. This morning I watched House II, another one I'd seen before. Good fun.

Update again:
Fulci's Zombie. Zombie vs. Shark. 'Nuff said.

Mental Note

If you're going to go to the trouble of toasting slivered almonds to top your chicken and apple curry, you shouldn't forget to actually use them.

Then again, it was kind of a nice surprise to find them while I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner. Yum.

Happy Valentine's Day

Spread it around a little, will ya?

More wonderfulness can be found here, and it's not just for your valentine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Banner (if I still had rotating banners)

From the Bus Slogan Generator.

Thanks to the Flea for the pointer.


Thanks (I think) to Zoe Brain for pointing out this little gem (empahasis mine):

A supercomputer capable of running a software simulation of the human brain doesn't exist yet. Researchers would require at least a machine with a computational capacity of 36.8 petaflops and a memory capacity of 3.2 petabytes -- a scale that supercomputer technology isn't expected to hit for at least three years.

Leave your own politician joke in the comments.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shrine of the Mall Ninja

This link leads to one of the funniest things I've read in a long, long time, The Shrine of the Mall Ninja. Here's a little setup for you:

This is a collection of the wisdom posted on the internet by a guy calling himself Gecko45. It all started back at the end of the halcyon summer of 2001, and his posts have created a certain urban legend that many refer to as the Mall Ninja.

Gecko45 lived in the exciting and dangerous world of Mall Security.

As I said, my orders go far and while my reasons for protecting this mall remain a matter of national security, if the above does not convince you that I am employed in a capacity that goes above and beyond halting shoplifters, nothing will.

Later in the exchange, as Gecko45 deals with people doubting the veracity of his claims, he gains an ally. What's that they say about "with friends like this...?"

There are many stories like yours, I have personally saved the ass-virginity of several young boys in my days. But there are many brave men like myself out there who risk their lives daily, so that boys like yourself can live a normal heterosexual life.

Please do yourself a favor and click that link. It'll take a little while to read through everything, but it is falling down funny. One more tidbit to tempt you:

But then again I think of the mayors nephew, his face distored with tears and terror, the GAP employees who asked for my autograph, and had to settle for a cover identity’s signature, the flashbangs, and their acrid scent, the small of napalm in the evening breeze, as I crouch behind a shopping cart in the parking lot...

Pure gold.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Welcome to the Clue Bus

Over at Q&O, Bruce McQuain toured Chevron’s Kern River Basin oil fields in Bakersfield, California. Chevron paid for the trip for four bloggers in order to get their side of the story out. And what a story it is.

Give all of that, however, there was something else I learned that just blew my mind - while they’re producing that 80,000 bpd of oil, they’re also pumping up 555,000 bpd of water. In fact they joke about really being a water production facility which produces oil as a by-product. That’s more true than you might imagine. But it also means they must process a half a million barrels of water a day, separate the oil from it and do something with the remaining water. This is where it gets interesting. You heard Jane mention they process and purify some of it through walnut shell filters for agricultural use. In fact, they have about 272,000 bpd in excess that they send through that process and then is sold to California for use in growing all those luscious veggies Californians are so wild about. My guess is that most of California has no idea that’s the case.

So what do they do with the remaining 231,000 bpd of the water they pump up? They make steam. Lots and lots of steam. And that brings us to something else of which I’m pretty sure the average Californian isn’t aware. Part of that steam powers up to 20% of the Californian electrical grid. It’s called ‘cogeneration’, and Chevron has actually built plants on the field which are plugged into the California power grid and provide on-demand electricity. They use the waste steam generated in the steam injection process to power these plants. Clean energy and highly efficient clean production.

Electricity and water are two things that California needs more of, and here we have a big ol' evil corporation providing it. They probably put dozens of electricity fairies and dryads out of work doing it too.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Those Crazy Italians!

Giant octopus attacking a rocket in space.

And for more pulpy, campy, octopussy *snicker* fun, check out Vintage Octopus Pulp Covers! I love that you can find stuff like this on the internet.

(I linked to that site back in 2005, but it's worth a second look)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Overdue For A Zombie Post

This one is a natural for Rocket Jones.

Ten Classic Films That Would Be Better With Zombies.

Thanks to Ghost of a Flea for the pointer.


Details: The Tank Cartridge, 120mm, Canister, XM1028, is a tank round comprised of 1150 (est.) tungsten balls, which are expelled upon muzzle exit. There is no fuse on this round. While the dispersion pattern increases with range as the velocity of the balls decreases, the dense tungsten balls are used to minimize the velocity fall-off.

This round meets urgent requirements to provide effective rapid lethal reaction against massed assaulting infantry armed with hand held anti-tank and automatic weapons at close range (500 meters or less) thereby improving survivability. This additional capability will give the Abrams Tank the ability to survive RPG ambushes and to fully support friendly infantry assaults.

Launch Report - 2/7/2009

First rocket launch of the season for me, and it was pretty doggone good. The sky is sunny and the temps are an unseasonably warm 50-ish. If only there was less wind (10-20mph), not that it stopped anyone.

As I drove up to Great Meadow, I saw that the launch range was on the back side of the field. I understand this is probably a permanent change, but no matter, the new setup works just fine with plenty of parking.

So what did I fly?

1. Estes Snitch - D12-0/C6-3 - This is the plastic ready-to-fly UFO from Estes. I CHAD-stage (CHeap And Dirty) the D12 to give it a swift kick, and then the second motor lights when it's up there. Always fun, and I almost landed the saucer in the trash can near the range head.

2. YJ-218 - 2x C6-7 - My oldest and most-flown cluster rocket, very reliable. Once again, perfection.

3. Zen Doggie - 3x A6-4 - Three little Quest motors in this cluster, making another proving flight after I modified the fin geometry. Nice launch, not very high, but a perfect flight. I think this rocket is ready for more power.

4. Barenaked Lady - E18-7 - Ultralight rocket and big honkin' motor (for this rocket) equals big altitude. My longest walk of the day, maybe 300 yards, right to the edge of the field. Oh yeah, the copperhead igniter worked first time (wonder of wonders).

5. Angel - D12-3 - This ring-fin did a little tail waggle on the way up. I knew the delay was too short, but it was all I had. Not that it mattered, because the chute got tangled and never opened. I have some minor repairs to do, but she'll be ready to fly again in no time.

That was it for me. I talked to old friends, caught up on some East Coast rocket gossip, and helped a kid and his dad put a new shock cord on their rocket. For some reason, they thought that it would be a good idea to use hot-melt glue. Oh well, they now know better, and I set 'em up with a good length of kevlar shock cord.

These launch reports may bore you, but I use them to document my flights over the years. As always (well, except for this time because I forgot), y'all are invited to attend our club rocket launches. Spectators welcomed, low-power (Estes-sized) flies for free, and it's a good chance to do something interesting with the family.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Baby Wolf!!!

This is why I read LeeAnn.

Justice Ginsburg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer yesterday.

She's one of most liberal members of the Court. I sincerely wish her a speedy recovery, and may she continue to infuriate me with her decisions for years to come.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cheap Entertainment In These Tough Economic Times

Long-time readers may fondly recall the famous 42 rotating banners on the old Rocket Jones. New readers may wish to devour the original Rocket Jones archives (including the legendary "Cornucopia of Ted"). Either way, I've got you covered. Over up top of the sidebar, or, for a short time only, this super-convenient link:

Rocket Jones

Life Isn't All Crap. It *Can't* Be.

My first embedded video, because as a former boss used to say, "you can't rush into these things."

Anyway, cool video. Especially cool is the response from the troops.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Admit It, You Want One

Pocket Grappling Hook. I don't have one.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Change You Can Believe In

Proficiency training (i.e. target practice) would be a lot more fun with these.

Thanks to Buckethead of the Ministry of Minor Perfidy for pointing (heh) these out.

Sad News Indeed

LeeAnn passes on the word that T-Shirt Hell is shutting down.

Like their shirts, this is wrong on so many levels. Unlike their shirts, it's not funny at all.

Because You Never Know When Someone Might Need Smiting

Unleash a can of biblical-grade whoopass on your personal Goliath. Details at