Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mama, Nobody Mentioned Growed-Up Cowgirls

Clever name: The Wailin' Jennys.

If you don't get it, say it out loud.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Resisting Mightily

Sheri asked where I've been getting these goofy pictures that I've been posting. I've been cruising Tumblr, and trying hard not to let it become a new timesuck. It's like a micro-sized copy of the internet, in picture form, where you can find damn near anything you can imagine. And some things you'd rather never, ever again.

So here's another batch of Tumblr funny.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

First Overnighter of the Year

Back in January, I posted about Rachael and I making a camping quilt for me.* The quilt is designed to be good down to about 40 degrees, and since last night's forecast was for lows in the low 30's, it was a perfect chance to see if my quilt could be used comfortably below the rated temp.

There are several ways to extend the range of your sleeping bag or quilt. The first is to add layers such as socks, long johns or a coat. There's an old saying: if your feet are cold, put on a hat. It's true. You can add a light layer outside the bag, like a poncho (as long as you're not compressing the all-important loft of the insulation. Another way is to increase the insulation under you, by adding another pad or even a thick pile of leaves under your tent. Some recommend a hot water bottle: pour boiling water into a stainless steel bottle, slip a sock over it to keep from burning you, then put the whole thing into a gallon ziplock (in case it leaks) and slip it down at your feet.

I set up 'camp' in my backyard. After putting up my tent I laid out my sleeping pads. For cold weather I use a blue closed-cell foam (CCF) pad from WalMart under my Thermarest pad (extra ground insulation). I also spread out my quilt and let it rest for a while and reloft after being packed up in my backpack.

Around 9pm I headed out for the night, dressed as I would be for a regular backpacking trip; long sleeve poly shirt, light windbreaker pants and wool socks. I woke up a few times during the night (normal for me) and checked the temperature, which was falling steadily.

At 45 degrees I pulled on a fleece hat. At 40 degrees I pulled on my field jacket liner and bundled a little deeper under the quilt. Still toasty. At 35 degrees (5am or so) I woke up and, although not cold, I wasn't really warm anymore either. My usual work wake-up time is 4am, so I came on inside, well rested and satisfied with the results.

I still had a lightweight thermal top and bottom I could have put on, so I feel pretty confident that my setup will take me comfortably down to freezing, and survivable well into the 20's. I don't Winter camp, but this should be good enough for most early Spring/late Fall surprises that Mother Nature throws at us, especially since I've got a trip planned for the end of April up into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

* Bou asked for pictures, so here's a couple shots of the quilt.

The first one shows the quilt spread out, showing its semi-mummy shape. It's made of ripstop nylon with synthetic insulation inside.

Here's the footbox. The bottom 18" or so is sewed together to make a cozy little cave for your feet. You can kind of see the draft-stopper, which is a fringe of nylon that runs all the way around the quilt. It's perfect for tucking under you when it's really chilly.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Veteran And His Dog

A man who figured it out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Treat For You

I know, after all of the garden blogging of late, how can I spoil you so? Trust me, Amigos, you are well worth it. I have before me a couple of movies to watch, and you know the kind. I thought I'd give y'all an old-fashioned Rocket Jones review as I watched.

You lucky devils.

Sins of the Fleshapoids

Kuchar. If that name doesn't make you shiver (trepidation or excitement, either/or), then you have never seen one of brothers Mike and George Kuchar cinematic... I almost said masterpieces, but couldn't keep a straight face. Their movies suck. In that good way, mostly, that I love so much. For most of you, they suck in the bad way.

Five minutes into this one, and we've learned that it takes place a million years in the future and that humans live in a true paradise (accompanied by a slow camera pan across a platter of plastic fruit.) We know this because the only dialog so far is from the narrator, who sounds suspiciously like Elmer Fudd. As for visual evidence, Mardi Gras beads are still in. Paradise, don't'cha know.

The fleshapoids are robot slaves to the humans, and in a million years of progress, humanity has managed to make them look like dorky geeks in silly hats and black lipstick.

Humans mostly lie around, eat fruit, ice cream cones and Clark bars, and get back rubs from hunchback fleshapoids. There's no nudity here, the humans all have enormous cardboard cutout flowers and fig leaves covering their dainty bits. The humans also spend a great deal of time admiring and exchanging Mardi Gras beads.

I'm guessing here, but fleshaoids are created without a sense of humor, because they keep a straight face even while the humans do some seriously lame-ass dancing.

Dialog! Well, no. One of the characters speaks to her fleshapoid, but rather than going to all the effort of moving her lips, a cartoon balloon appears next to her head with the words she says. Uh huh.

A million years of progress. She threatens the fleshapoid with "I'll wet you so you rust!" The robot looks frightened. I could probably see the same thing on Alt.Binaries.Watersports. I made that name up, by the way. Really, I did. If it actually exists (and I wouldn't be surprised), then my question is, how did you know that?

Murder. More cartoon balloons, most bearing no relationship to the head speaking. Mardi Gras beads. Narrator. Robot abuse. False eyelash abuse.

With names like Tar, Malenka and Arbundi, the Queen's secret lover is named Ernie?

I'm sorry I keep coming back to this "million years of progress", but you'd think they'd have better teeth.

"Put out the candle" (thought balloon). Queen throws a glass of water at it rather than just blowing it out. I think this is the sequel to Idiocracy, in some odd time warpy fashion.

Finally, something to smile about! This movie is only 43 minutes long! There are two other Kuchar flicks on the disk. I'll spare you, because I care.

It just dawned on me that I haven't heard the narrator in about 10 minutes. Still smiling!

Bath scene. Ernie and two male fleshapoids (NTTAWWT).

Ernie just got dressed in a hurry because King found out about him. He's dressed in a full football outfit, including shoulder pads and helmet. And Mardi Gras beads. And a flower garland. Queen tries to kiss him through the cage on Ernie's helmet. It looks as stupid as it sounds.

Ernie learns, never piss off a Queen.

Narrator is back. Dammit.

King gets pushed down a flight of stairs, then catches two robots doing it. "Doing it" means electrocuting each other every time they try to touch.

I'm almost pissing myself laughing. After a long, drawn out scene showing the female fleshapoid writhing around on the ground, she finally calms down and smiles. Know what's coming? Yep, she gives birth. Hilarious. She's laying there on the floor, knees up and legs spread, and out from between under her skirt marches a little wind-up robot.

Final annoyance from the narrator, and Finis.

I didn't give away all the plot surprises, because maybe someone will want to get this to see for themselves, although I can't imagine why. Unless it's for the lady wetting the robot, or robot sex, or... ew.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Warning: Content May Cause Elevated Heartrate

Yep, here's the threatened promised photos of this year's foray into Square Foot Gardening.

Two four foot square boxes, a modest start for sure. If this goes well though, I'll be harvesting an amazing amount of home-grown goodness out of here.

This is a better view of the mason line I used to grid the boxes. The wet area in the upper right is where I've already planted. Eight snow peas are in the two grids straddled by the trellis, and the two cornermost grids have four spinach seeds each.

Here's a detail of the trellises that I put together. Made of 1/2" steel electrical conduit, what annoyed me was that 40' of the conduit was less than $9.00, but those corner pieces (I needed 4) cost almost $16.00! I got the nylon netting from Amazon and tied it on myself (I have lots of leftover too). All told, those trellisi cost about $45.00 but should be good for many years, and they're strong enough to hold up anything I might want to grow.

I was hopeful, but I doubt this will live up to NogWatch.

That's What She Said

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thrilling Update

Today was a busy day, garden wise. I built trellises for the cucumbers, tomatoes and peas out of electrical conduit and nylon netting. Once that was done, I planted the first of the peas and spinach.

Later I'll try to get pictures, but for now, just imagine boxes of dirt with string stretched all over the place.

Edge of your seat, innit?

Friday, March 18, 2011


I don't tweet on twitter, but I may go to the short, pithy format here on Rocket Jones). Mayb

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thumbs Up

Those curved shower curtain rods that give you extra space? Freakin' brilliant.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Best Website Ever

Evangel Cathedral.

I stole the title and all from Minor Perfidy.

Randomness - Employed Edition

Another week starts at the workplace. According to Liz, I really need one of these. Actually, my boss thinks so too. My kids probably do, but they're all afraid to talk to me, so I'll take that as agreement.

One of these would help wash down the pill and do double duty to calm my hyper self down.

If I had a company laptop, this would be the skin I had for it. I am *the* anti-Apple Fanboy.

A little practical joke to lighten the mood.

I'd get a pad of these, but people wouldn't know if I was joking or not. I hate having to explain that yes, you are my bitch in the office.

What's more annoying in the workplace: atheists or preachy Christians? I suggest scheduling them together for a long meeting in a conference room far away from everyone else, so that I can get some damn work done.

I would promote the creative thinker that did this.

I don't get nearly as many co-workers dropping in to bullshit since I got this new Visitor's Chair.

This is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Let The Weirdness Begin

Liz: What are these eggshells doing on the counter?
Me: Drying.
Liz: Let me guess, you're going to use them for some weird gardening thing?

Why yes. Yes I am.

It's that time of year again, when my thoughts turn to gardening. I have a green thumb, although I don't always apply myself. Mostly I grow flowers, but will occasionally get the urge to grow something edible.

Like this year. I've decided to do a little Square Foot Gardening. I've planned out two four foot square beds and have started to get things together.

The fundamental bit here is that you use raised beds, lined with landscaping cloth on the bottom to prevent weeds. Then you fill the boxes (mine will be framed with 2x10's) with a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and compost. Notice what's missing? Yep, no dirt. No topsoil. No "potting mix".

The other important thing is the "square foot" bit. You plant the beds in one foot plots. So for my first try, I'll be planting 4 squares of lettuce (16 plants), 2 of carrots (32 total), 2 each of spinach, broccoli and green beans, snap peas *and* snow peas (trellised), cucumbers (ditto), plus more! The idea is compact and intensive growing and harvesting. When a crop is done (for example, carrots), then you immediately plant the next crop, whatever it may be. You can add compost or a little fertilizer as needed, and because of the growing medium there is very little weeding to be done.

And y'all get to share in my little gardening adventure.

You may recall a few weekends ago, Liz and I travelled four hours to buy bags of vermiculite. In the gardening world, that counts as adventure.

Oh, and the eggshells. You see, you collect them until you have a dozen or two's worth (rinsed, of course), then soak them overnight in a five gallon bucket of water. Use the water to give your peppers and tomatoes a drink. They love the calcium. Then you can crush the eggshells and spread them around your plants. Snails and slugs hate to crawl over them.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sad That It Even Needs Saying

From Dustbury.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Living Up To The Moniker

My son TJ and I went out to Great Meadow Equestrian Center today for a NOVAAR rocket launch. The weather was grey and windy, but not quite breezy enough to cancel. It was a chilly 40-ish degrees out there.

There was the usual crowd. At least one cub scout troop making their first ever flights with Alpha 3's (a classic beginner rocket). There were several groups of students and mentors present, making practice flights for the upcoming Team America Rocketry Challenge. There were also some competition flyers, putting up gliders and rockets for duration contest points. All in all, a very busy day for the club working the pads.

I caught up with some old friends I hadn't seen in awhile, including Ken Allen of Performance Hobbies. I asked him to bring me up to speed on the current high power rocket motor regulations. You may recall that the organization I belong to, the National Association of Rocketry, sued the BATFE over their insistance that rocket motors were the same as explosives. Well, we won. Not only that, but we also won back some court costs incurred during the multi-year battle too.

Bottom line: no government regulation! Woot!

So I've got some high power rockets that have been doing nothing but hanging on the wall and looking cool as shit, that will be returning to the air in the near future.

But that's another day. Today was windy, so to try to limit the drift on the way back down we stayed with streamers instead of chutes. Here's what we flew:

1. Der Red Max - C6-5 - a classic, built from plans at Jim Z's amazing site.* Perfect flight, but as expected, lots of drift.

2. Saturn Wannabee - 4x A10-3T - this is an original design that uses a cluster of four mini-motors. All four lit, she got great altitude, and it sounded like popcorn when all four ejection charges went off almost simultaneously.

3. Groove Tube - C6-5 - another classic built from plans. This tube-finned rocket made her usual arrow straight boost, but the nosecone and streamer separated when the ejection charge fired. This demonstrated something aerodynamically odd about tube fins, namely that in a breeze they produce lift and the rocket body essentially glided to the ground. TJ recovered all the pieces, which landed very close to each other. I'll replace the shock cord and she'll be good as new.

4. Sparrow - A10-3T - this was my very first rocket, the one that started it all for me. Almost 20 years old and looking just beat up enough to have some character, she lifted off in a hurry and, because she's so small, most of the crowd lost sight of her. I knew what to expect, so I had no problem keeping track. People just don't expect the smaller rockets to go that fast or that high. I usually fly this one once a year, just to keep her in the logbook.

That was it. We were getting cold, so we headed home. I'd been neglecting the fleet lately as other interests had my attention, so the day did what I was hoping it would, it reignited my excitement (pun intended) about flying rockets again.

* Jim Z contacted all the old rocket companies like Estes, Centuri, MRC, etc. and got permission to post scans of the original plans and decal sheets on the internet. Every company agreed without hesitation (because they rock), and for years now rocketeers have been scrounging in their attics and basements for forgotten boxes and rocket kits. I'd guess that about 90% of everything ever released has been found and posted online, for free and open use.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Spring Isn't (Quite) Here (Yet)

Seemingly overnight, Crocus have sprouted and are blooming in the front flower beds.