December 10, 2003

You Asked, Ted Answers

Ted, aka Rocket Jones, has answered your questions.

He defends poodles and talks about rockets (of course). He also has some great advice.

Very good interview, read it!

Can you tell us why the police dog was standing on your chest? If so, will you?

Well, you may have noticed that I like to tell stories. And I had been planning to tell this one eventually. For now, the important points are:

1. I woke up with the dog standing there, breathing into my face.
2. The attached policeman was reading me my rights.
3. My roomie, who I’d known for less than three hours, jumped out of his bed and helpfully proclaimed that any drugs found in the room were his.
There were no drugs, but my roomie did get busted.

From reading about you on your blog, it seems you may well be one of the most content persons on the planet. However, I'm sure there's one thing about your life you'd like to change. What is it, and why?

This one surprised me. Content, really? Wow, I kinda like that… Thank you, to whoever said that, it made my day.

Well, there’s always the ‘more money’ thing, because I never have enough to give my family all they deserve. But I’ll say it in a word: sex. Without going into details (no kiss and tell, remember?), that would be the one thing I’d change.

Think you'll return to finish a degree? Just for the heck of it?

Nope, not for the heck of it. I’ll finish it if I have to for my teaching credentials, and I’ll probably take classes here and there just because a subject interests me, but I don’t feel the need to complete it.

Has Mookie picked up the doggie-doo in the backyard yet?

Yep. She’s good about doing that daily chore. Every time I remind her.

Poodles aren't very manly. I'm just saying.

I’ve had all kinds of dogs, and I have to admit that I felt the same way about poodles until I met this one. He has the soul of a lion, absolutely fearless and protective of the family. He loves to rough-house with me, and bites hard enough to let me know he could rip my arm off if he chose to do so. And just because I love this little guy so much, I’ll also let on that he’s half Chihuahua too.

How long is Mookie going to see dead people?

She’s about run the course of that I think. She’ll find something else that she thinks is weird enough to get a reaction out of people and move on. I’m hoping that she’ll become obsessed with cleaning her room or picking up dog doo. Or using a spell checker.

You link to adult sites and cover adult topics now and then. Do your kids react to that?

My kids are used to that. I’ve never tried to shield them from the facts of life. Kind of hard to do when they see mom and dad constantly smooching and holding hands. It’s no secret that I’m a perv, I like porn, and know lots of dirty jokes. I have also had constructive talks about sex with my kids.

You can pick one Munuvian to live with on a space station for 5 years. Who is it and why?

Just one? Didn’t I say I was a perv? I can imagine all kinds of interesting gravity experiments

Instead, I’ll list a completely non-comprehensive list of reasons I’d consider for a few Munuvians:

Tim – to see if I could make him an atheist in that time. The debates would be wonderful.

Pixy – He deals with technology like I deal with twisty ties – deftly and skillfully. Very handy. Plus, he’s got lots of dirty cartoons to watch.

Daniel – talking to him would never be boring.

Spork – same reason as Daniel. The conversations we could have to while away the time...

LeeAnn would keep me laughing. We could sit at the porthole and make fun of earth for weeks on end.

Victor – null-grav hockey and cuisine. Life couldn’t get much better. Plus, we’d get the bonus of watching blood in zero-g!

You can take 5 cd's with you to the space station. What are they?

Pablo Cruise – World’s Away

Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life

Earth Wind & Fire – Spirit

Glenn Miller – Greatest Hits

Those were simple enough, the last one is tough. Any of the following (and probably ten more I didn’t think of right at the moment):

Molly Hatchet – their first album

Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Not Fragile

Jethro Tull – M.U.

Alan Parsons – Turn of a Friendly Card

Chicago II

Something classical or jazzy

The Sopranos. Over-rated? Forgotten?

I’ve never seen it. I know it’s about a mob family. That’s about it. I’m a History/Discovery/DIY Channel kind of guy. Old horror movies. Hockey or football.

I don't get the hype over The Matrix. Do you?

I liked the first one because it was something new and original. Not the story, but the effects and where they went with it. I never saw the others, because it was just more of the same. I’m always leery of the Dune progression, where a wonderful story is ruined by later, lesser efforts.

What's your favorite adult beverage?

Dewers White Label scotch, but I can be very happy with rum, tequila, Ausbach brandy, or even a beer. Wine on occasion, but I’m a barbarian and easy to please.

Pizza...thin or thick crust?

Thin. Sorry Heather, but to be a Phipps is to love cheese. Extra.

Denim or khaki?


How did you come to have this fascination for rockets?

I did the usual stupid shit as a kid with rockets and fireworks, stuff you aren’t supposed to do. In the Air Force I teamed up with another guy and we built a working bazooka that used rocket motors and beer can missiles. It worked well enough that one New Years Eve we sat in my front yard (on-base housing) and shot flaming beer cans over a warehouse and into the parking lot of the base police station.

Years later my oldest daughter had to do a shift in front of a grocery store selling Girl Scout cookies. To keep from dying of boredom, I went into the adjacent craft store and eventually wound up looking at the model rockets. Thinking it would be a great way to spend some time with the kids, I did some reading over the next few weeks, then bought a few rocket kits. We built them, launched them, and I was hooked.

What's the highest you've ever launched something?

Around 4000’ feet (~ ¾ of a mile). Going higher isn’t the problem, getting it back is. My level 2 certification rocket (parts acquired, construction not started yet) should easily break a mile. Altitude and speed really aren’t that hard to do, and not that expensive. A rocket that will break the speed of sound can be built and flown for less than $50.00. The trick is verifying the actual speed. A lot of people just run computer simulations, deduct 25% off the numbers, and call it done.

Ever get injured by a rocket?

Nope, although I have had to holler for a kid to come into the workshop to debond dad’s fingers from something when I used a bit too much superglue.

You can have lunch with 7 people, dead or alive. Who are they?

My best friends Paul and Dave, because it would be so cool to watch them interact with:

H.G. Wells. What a visionary!

Douglas Adams – I’ve gotten a whole new appreciation for him after reading his last book, Salmon of Doubt.

Zarathrustra – because Paul is fascinated by him.

Gene Cernan – astronaut from Apollo 17, and last man to walk on the moon. He’s fun and interesting and a little bit off the wall.

Copernicus – who turned the entire universe upside down.

What is the most important thing you ever learned how to do?

Count my blessings. Stop and smell the flowers. Appreciate the little things. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the ability to see the good and not be bummed by what you don’t have. There’s always something that could be better, that’s just life.

What is the most important thing you ever taught someone else?

To my family, it would have to be how to communicate honestly and openly, in every sense. We can talk about anything without (much) embarrassment, although privacy is respected. If someone is being stupid, they get told, without name-calling or malice. Praise and support is lavish when called for. We are also a very affectionate family, where "love you’s" are common and hugs, kisses, and holding hands are frequent. My wife didn’t grow up in that kind of family, so it took her a while to get used to me.

Posted by Jennifer at December 10, 2003 07:22 AM


Lovely. :)
And thank you, Ted, for including me on the space station.

Posted by: LeeAnn at December 10, 2003 09:26 AM

Nice interview, Ted. And thank you for including me, too, on the space station--tho you may regret it once we've had some beans for dinner.

Posted by: Victor at December 10, 2003 09:47 AM

I enjoyed the interview, Ted. Thanks for the compliment - though, every once in a while, I do have my boring moments.

Posted by: Daniel at December 10, 2003 12:09 PM

Outta sight!

Posted by: Tiger at December 10, 2003 05:30 PM

Excellent interview! "Learning to count my blessings" brought a tear to me eye. *sniff*
All of us Munuvians hanging out on the space station (for a long weekend, though, not 5 years) would be cool. See if you can re-fit Air Munuvia to get us there! (I'll bring the beer!)

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 10, 2003 06:03 PM

Good interview. viva Munu.

Posted by: Simon at December 11, 2003 12:55 AM

Having lunch with dead people is good because they don't eat much. More for me!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 11, 2003 01:05 AM