Showing posts from August, 2005

Caution: NUDE SPIDERS within

I'm thinking of starting a money making endeavor here.

This is going to be insect porn.

You ask, who in Hell would pay good money for pictures of naked bugs? Well, that does seem like a good question but I ask you this: In a world where people pay to hear Celine Dion assault their ears, is there any limit to silliness?

...and with talent like this in my studio, how could I go wrong? Just look at those legs strut their hairy stuff. What warm blooded--and those cold blooded Goths too--boy wouldn't want to get to know this beauty better?

Now I admit the size problem does exist. It's hard to cohabitate with a critter that's only a couple of inches across--but love knows no limits--or at least Hallmark says so!

In case anyone is still reading this: DO NOT TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!!

This is a bug. (actually it's a spider which is in Araneidae). Maybe a type of Orb Web Spider.

This is not an object of affection! LOL

I do like this picture though. It reminds me of a crab and those thin…

My Deck

For some reason this plant loves my deck.
It visits every year, but not early. It never seems to
really get going until mid-July. But once it starts growing....
Look out! It just goes crazy!
It's really pretty and so vibrant but it's so fast growing
that it'll often grow right in through the support arms for
my awning. It's nearly as bad as KUDZU!Heaven forbid.
This is how it looks from where I sit on my deck. This is in the back of my house. It's just on the one side but I might get cuttings and put up an arbor to grow it on. I'd have to have something that would grow early in the year also else the arbor would look barren until July--and I
don't want that. Any suggestions?
This is the outside of my deck near the
driveway. You can see one of the support
arms for my awning. The awning makes
it a lot more pleasant to be outside when
it's really hot and sunny in the Summer.
Some iced tea, cookies and a book. Great
way to spend the evening! Though the…

One night on an ill lit porch

It was on a night with little moon, when the stars were looking down on Earth in all their celestial glory that I happened upon a bug. Or a leaf. Or a bug-leaf. In any case, I decided to try to make friends.

...unfortunately the bug was either too stuck up or didn't like humans so the friendship was stillborn. Alas.

But as a consolation prize this fine fellow did let me take a few pictures as a momento and to reward him for his hearty fellowship I let him make a new friend in place of me.

However they seemed to get along not at all well. At least not from the bug's perspective. It let out a weird and LOUD noise everytime Bad Penny batted at him. Eventually the bug escaped into that starlit night and out of our lives.....

...the end...

Emotion, money and decision making

Library Bitch has a great blog today on gas prices and how the signs should read. Check it out here.

But while that's funny, and it rings true to my emotional self, in reality gas prices aren't bad historically speaking. What is happening here is a disconnect between reality and what we feel. This is largely behind the popularity of the new hybrid vehicles which cost more than they save (at least for most people) but the extra cost is at the car lot, where we're typically willing to spend money, and the savings is at the gas pump, where we hate to spend money.

I'm not the best example since I drive less than average but since I'm available I'll use myself to illustrate. I drive 13 miles to and from my bus commuting lot each day. I drive a small truck that gets about 26 mpg so each day I use one gallon of gas. 5 gallons a week. 260 gallons a year plus about 240 gallons for extra driving during weekends and vacations. So 500 gallons a year. If gas goes up $1 a gall…

Winter Carnival 2005

This is the button of the 2005 Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake, NY. Garry Trudeau has designed the buttons for quite a while now and each year they look very nice. The background is that bureau that I bought 2 weeks ago which has polished up pretty well but still looks quite rustic. I wish all the dents and scratches in my hide made me look more interesting, like it does on this bureau--on me it just looks old!

No Bake Cookies

This is a recipe that my Mom gave me when I went to college a long, long time ago. When I was at their place in SC this past weekend I mentioned the recipe and that I found the ingredient list interesting due to the lack of 'fresh' products and was wondering if that meant that it was from WW2 (or maybe even WW1). Mom didn't have a copy of the recipe anymore and couldn't answer. And so I dug out mine once I got home.

As you can see below, the role of fat is played by Crisco not butter, the milk is dry not wet and peanut butter is being used to hold it all together (as well as the Crisco), not eggs.

Wikipedia has a similar recipe though in it milk and butter are used. There's plenty of sites out there that have no-bake versions using fresh ingredients but I couldn't find the exact one I have below.

I really like the way they taste--they're very sweet and have such a strong chocolate taste with just a hint of peanut butter--but I'm also curious about the hi…

3 pictures of me

For some reason I decided to go kayaking after sunset. I don't recall why. DQ took these pictures when I got back to the dock. The first picture was taken without the flash so you can see how dark it was. The moon was almost full so once your eyes adjusted, it wasn't difficult paddling on the open lake--but navigating in the small inlets was more interesting.

In this picture it seems like I'm contemplating some deep philosopical issue but actually I was just breathing hard and trying to stop sweating. It was so damn humid!

Just mugging for the camera in this one. What a ham!

My glasses fogged up from the humidity in the air and the heat coming off of my face due to the hard paddling at the end of my excursion. (aka showing off)


This is the younger of my parent's two dogs. She's named after my brother's 3 boys. KCB. Each letter the first initial of one of the kids. She's got a great personality though slightly needy. She always wants someone to be petting her. KCB finds me slightly annoying beause I like to pick her up--and that's not one of her favorite things.


One day on a lake in SC

Focus, focus....

It's one for the money,
two for the show,
three to get ready and...

Go! Go! Go!

Cooling off after the races...

This one works!

A few days ago I complained about the battery in my truck dying. I didn't get a picture of the old and very corruded battery but here's a picture of my new one. Given that the truck engine to the side of the battery is over 6 years old, there's plenty of dirt and grime, but I assure you the new battery is far prettier than anything else under that hood. Especially that itty-bitty 4 cylinder engine.

Bootie in SC

This is a somewhat famous landmark in Gaffney, SC. It's the town's water tower and it was made to look like a peach. A VERY BIG peach. However it also bears a close resemblance, from some angles, to a HUGE BUTT!

As you might guess, this isn't the claim to fame that the areas residents would most want to be remembered by. A giant butt at the side of the road. But it really is kind of cute, in a giant peach-butt kind of way. :-)

On account of weather

Such a lovely day in the South. The day dawned at 90% humidity and even though it was only 78, it felt like it was at least 90. By the time it was 10am--it was over 90 and felt like a sauna. I went for a few short paddles, not even a mile in length and then in the afternoon we had rain squalls that kept me out of the water due to the lightning and wind. I'm hoping for better tomorrow!

Living slow in SC

I'm in SC at my parent's house for the weekend. They live on a lake so I'll be doing some kayaking--which is also why I'm up at this hour. I like to paddle a few miles away from here before dawn to see if I can get any interesting pictures. Of course a lot of days there's too much cloud cover and the plan goes awry--but anytime you get in some paddling the plan is, in the end, a good one.

As for the living slow--that refers partly to their being retired but mostly to having a dial-up connection to the Internet. Eeeek!

But despite this stone age connectivity issue I have learned something already. I use 3 different browsers at home--not one of them IE. But IE is all I have here and I found out my Blog doesn't load the right side correctly in IE! Who knew? Well, anyone with IE, I guess. Something for me to work on once I get home. IE sure can be a pain in the bootie area.

Flash site & some changes to my blog

I dropped the size of the header a little. It seemed too big. I'm going to fool around with the colors here a little too, I think. I haven't coded that in yet tho. I think I'll shift more to blue from the current green.

On the subject of Flash, here's a site I really like the coding of. It's a photo album done in Flash and the way the photos are displayed and their transitions are quite well thought out.

On that same site there's an odd Flash game-like thing. It's got cursor-linked images that look like a bikini clad woman who is falling amid a bunch of bubbles. You can use your mouse to move her about and when she occasionally gets stuck between bubbles you can move her out. It sounds silly but it looks quite real. Good coding there.

When will cancer be cured?

Derek Lowe has a very good article on cancer in his blog today. His succinct writing style conveys information more clearly in half the words I would use.

A fairly simple concept but one that seems very hard to get across to the lay public is that there is no disease called cancer. Or to be more clear--there's no single disease. What we call cancer is actually not a disease so much as a variety of causes, some understood and some not, which result in uncontrolled growth by cells. As one of the commentators on Derek's blog points out, most of these have a common element of angiogenesis (growth and expansion of blood vessels to 'feed' the tumor) but there's little else in common between cancer types.

Why is this important? Well, often people ask me when my job comes up (cancer research) in conversation if there'll be a cure for cancer soon. But since there's not just one cancer, there can't be one cure. Each type needs to be addressed separately and that me…

It's been one of THOSE days

Do you ever have days when things just don't go well? LOL I know--silly question. We all have days like that. Well, today was my turn.

WARNING ::: Geek Talk about to be spoken

First of all today was one of my days at work when both an LCM (laser capture microdissection) and a RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) were scheduled for the same day. It makes for a busy day and that's often nice--but busy. I do the staining and such on the LCM until around noon and then hand off the samples to my coworker Tach (he's a MD and they prefer MDs to do tissue dissection even when they're just tissue slices on a slide) and then start up the RT-PCR which takes a few hours to set up. Unfortunately I only have one RT machine available to me and it's shared with a dozen or so labs so I can't afford to miss a slot I've signed up for. I only get one or two chances a week, and I need to sign up a week in advance, so there's no way to know how it's going to af…

Speaking of ugly (and Disney Movies)

One of my long standing peeves is how things are judged based on appearances. People, possessions, places, ad campaigns, pets, and even church pews. Yeah, believe it or not I recently saw an article talking about how pews could be designed to be more appealing.

Now don't get me wrong--I judge based on appearance all the time. We all do. It's a fact of nature. I just don't like it!

I was thinking about this due to the redesign of this blog but the concept is always near the forefront of my thoughts. It began with the Disney movies of my youth as well as the lessons of parents and educators. They all droned on about how you can't judge a book by its cover while at the same time it was obvious in the world about me that everyone did just that. The pretty books sold well and the plain ones (never use the word ugly!) just sat on the shelves unread, unappreciated, dusty and alone.

My pet peeve on this subject is Disney movies. Like the GOP, they profess one thing but practice …

Looks aren't everything!

I know, I know. I'm changing the format of this blog and it is REALLY ugly right now. Please forgive me. I hope to pretty it up during the course of the week. Really!

Used Furniture

Yesterday on my way home from work I picked up a few piece of used furniture. I could have saved some money just by throwing some old stuff out--but since I hate doing that I needed to buy things to store my old stuff in. Hence the old--and very CHEAP--furniture.

I got a small chest for the bedroom, two medium size rolling file cabinents, and one small buffet table for the kitchen. All told it was $175 including tax. Not bad but they certainly aren't pretty-- which is why they were cheap! See what you think...

One of the file cabinents has been dusted off and the other is still dirty. The buffet has some kind of copper thing on top and it's pretty solid wood. The other pieces are very light and cheap.

Ads on Blog posts

Those ads that are popping up on Blog comment sections lately are really annoying. I just had to remove two of them from a blog I posted less than 10 minutes ago. And that's in addition to the 4 other ads that have appeared the past 3 days--they were all for some free software site. I never had one before that.

Jeeze. Politicians and dicks that spam incessantly. What is the world coming to?

two pictures

To lighten things up a bit from the political ramblings, here's two pictures. Neither is thrilling; sorry about that. The first is an example of what I do at work. It's a long process to get to that point but at the end of it all we do statistical analysis on how our RNA Microarrays cluster and this picture is one of our results from last year. Hell, it usually doesn't interest me all that much so I can't complain if you're all yawning. *shrug*

The second picture is of a corner of my front yard. The sun was low in the sky and I thought the effect on the grass was interesting. The contrast is fairly dramatic and it's more interesting then political discourse--to most of us, anyway.

Politics, politics, politics.

We have a pretty screwed up political system here in the USA. At least from the individual's point of view. Money controls the entire system and we have almost no voice--elections are essentially meaningless, just a 'choice' between two candidates that are variations on the same theme. Almost always lawyers with the occasional partied-out frat boy with an MBA for comic relief.

My solution, you ask? Why, sure I'll tell you! LOL

Anonymous voting in legislative sessions. I know, I know. People always say that politicians need to be accountable and the only way to do that is if you know what those polecats voted for. That's true--but who are they accounting to? Special interests, of course.

When a Special Interest Group (SIG) spends money on a politician they use his or her subsequent votes as a measure of what they're getting for their money. Sure, they're mostly interested in a few key votes but they will be able to monitor everything else as well. So if a SIG …

New header for Blog

Here's a picture that I adapted a little for a possible titlebar for my blog. Eventually I'm putting a custom look to this thing and leaving the generic format behind. I don't seem to be in much of a hurry tho...

Occupation Movies Tag

Occupational Oriented Movies (Utenzi: Science Research)

*** My Favorite 14 Science Research oriented Movies ***

Absent Minded Professor (the 1961 Disney classic)

Fantastic Voyage (1966, based on a book by Issac Asimov it featured Rachel Welch in a wetsuit)

Colossus: the Forbin Project (1969, interesting movie about a computer that took over the world)

The Andromeda Strain (1971 movie based on the Crichton novel)

Young Frankenstein (1974, Mel Brooks--that says it all)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Indiana was a working archiologist so this qualifies)

Back to the Future (1985, A Time Machine in a... DeLorean?)

Project X (1987 Matthew Broderick movie dealing with animal experimentation)

Stargate (1994, more anthropologists at work)

Jurassic Park (1995, everyone knows this movie, especially lawyers!)

Outbreak (1995, very bad science but what can you expect from a movie based on 'The Hot Zone')

Independance Day (1996, the research part wasn't until near the end but it qualifies--and is a k…

yet another personality test

This one is based on 5 different criteria: Openness to Experience/Intellect; Conscientiousness; Extraversion; Agreeableness; and Neuroticism.

My highest score was 'Openness' which will surprise some of the people that know me. And my lowest score (a 3!) is 'Extroversion' which will surprise nobody at all.

This is the link for my results:
Utenzi's results on the Big Five!!

And this is the link if you want to take the test too: The Big 5 Test

3 pictures


Time for more pictures

I can't remember if I've posted a picture of my house, but here it is in any case. The picture was obviously taken in the winter. Fortunately North Carolina only sees that vile stuff sporadically a few months a year. Not like where I grew up where we had blizzards in May and even on the night of my HS graduation in June it snowed a little. My college grad ceremony was cut short--that was around May 13--by a sudden squall from over Lake Ontario that dumped freezing rain and a couple of inches of snow with no warning at all. FREEZING! And that was a lot further south than where I grew up. Let me tell you--I was in quite a hurry to move SOUTH where it was warmer. :-D

Pittsburg Test

I came across a link to this test on Liz's blog site. I'd have rather scored lower though. Folk in Pittsburg are truly a breed apart.

The Transplant
You are 90% fluent in Pittsburghese!
You're new to the city, or at least know people who live here. Your use
and knowledge of Pittsburghese may or may not be ironic. My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:You scored higher than 99% on yinzernessLink: The Pittsburghese Test written by jlouise on Ok Cupid

Movies Meme

This came to me via Liz at Library Tavern.

Favorite Movies

Childhood (1960s)

The Magnificent Seven: A movie I enjoyed as a child and as an adult. I must admit I don’t like 7 Samurai--just find it boring as Hell.

Animated Disney Movies: Since it was pre-video these were only viewed once in a great while. I don't like Disney movies anymore--they're too prejudiced against the 'cosmetically challenged'. Shrek is great because it ends the way it should-- unlike Disney films.

Teens (1970s):

A Little Romance: I saw this in college when I was 18. I fell in love with Diane Lane then and she’s still beautiful now! It’s a very sweet and romantic movie of 2 kids falling in love.

Annie Hall: One of the best movies ever. Especially if you’re neurotic! "What are you sad about? What did you want me to do? Capture 'em and rehabilitate 'em?"

Goodbye Girl: Very romantic and sweet. Dreyfuss was perfect and Mason a good (neurotic) foil. The slow way they worked into each other’…

Roe v. Wade & Judge John Roberts

President Bush nominated Judge Roberts for the Supreme Court on Wednesday July 20. Many Democrats are worried that this will mean that Roe v. Wade will be struck down. Personally I feel that Judge Roberts was selected for exactly the opposite reason.

Conventional wisdom holds that the left wing wants Roe v. Wade upheld and that conversely the right wing wants that decision struck down. For reasons of innate personality and disposition I tend to evaluate these matters financially first and then in terms of political demographics. To be blunt, Republicans need abortion to be legal. It's a huge issue for them to raise money on and one of their primary planks in political campaigning. In national politics the Republicans hold both the Senate and the House but not by large margins. Should Roe v. Wade disappear as something to rally the GOP troops against--there's a good chance that Democratic majorities would soon result. Less money coming in and the loss of their biggest scare t…

A Riddle

What do you get when you add 4 home brewed beers and a baby to an empty nester?

~~~Sleepy contentment!~~~

Book reviews

These are the books I've read this past week.

Deadline in Athens: Petros Markaris

This book is an English translation of the original Greek novel. It explores the death of several Albanians and the media circus that soon follows. When several members of the media wind up dead, events become more chaotic and intense. Themes of prejudice and class structure are also explored with the detective Costas Haritos caught square in the middle. I enjoyed the book but I don't recommend it since there are too many structural problems, many I suspect due to the translation from Greek to English. In many ways the book reads like a book written in the 1950s not 2004 when the book was copyrighted in Greece.

The Laws of Invisible Things: Frank Huyler

This book was written by an ER physician in New Mexico. It revolves around the quiet and understated life of a young infectious disease physician, Michael Grant, in North Carolina. He's in this small community to escape elements in his past an…

An ode to Leta

For all you parents out there, especially Moms, Heather Armstrong's ode to her daughter Leta's 18th month is quite touching. If you go to the Flicker account to see the pictures be sure to mouseover on Heather's mole. I know that sounds very weird. LOL But you'll understand if you read her post for today.

Mrs Armstrong's webpage is at times an odd one but one of my favorites. Her voice is singular and quite amusing--when she wants to be.


On average 36,000 people die of influenza every year and more than 200,000 are hospitalized in the USA. Each year, depending on how contagious it is that year, between 5% and 20% of the US population gets the flu. We maintain limited immunity from one year to the next but since influenza mutates so rapidly that immunity is limited and rarely lasts more than a year. The best way to prevent getting the flu is to be immunized against it, however since the vaccine generally has limited availability, people most at risk--children under 2 and adults over 65--are given priority.

What I described above is what happens in an average year and it's based on information from the CDC. But there's occasionally years that are anything but average. In the past 200 years there have been a number of pandemics of influenza. They have occured in 1833, 1836, 1847, 1889, 1918, 1957 and 1968. The infamous pandemic of 1918 killed approximately 50 million people, more than died in WW1 which wa…

A blossom break

After that heavy post, I thought maybe a little flower color would help. This is from the Crepe Myrtle in my front yard. I think I took the picture on Friday.

Negative Posts

I rarely ever post negative comments on blogs. What's the point? Blogs are for posting feelings and opinions and if you don't like a particular blog--move the Hell on down the line. But today I posted a negative comment on a blog, probably needlessly now that I've settled down a bit. The blog is a good one and consistant and the post I objected to was just a quote, not the blogger's own writing. Here's the post in case you're interested: Sweeter than Ever

The post is based on the comment by Anne Graham, Billy Graham's daughter.

Essentially my objection is that I find statements like this to be narrow minded and mean. When someone takes their opinion of what the world should be like, then uses a tragedy like 9/11 to justify their opinion that God is punishing us it trivializes the tragedy and makes God seem like a petulent child that hasn't gotten his own way. I truly doubt God is petulent. But someone like Anne Graham using God to justify the death…

The Joys of Home Ownership

A few weeks ago I realized I had a number of tenants (pests, vagrants, fellow travelers, call them what you will) that hadn't been invited in. Or at least I suspected I had them.

It started when I heard an odd sound when I was up in one of my second story bedrooms. Now I don't go up there often, frequently not for several weeks at a time, so I'm not aware of changes in atmosphere up there. Other than it's freaking hot up there in summer! Anyway, the sound was coming from the ceiling, near an air vent, not far from my front window. It was an odd sound, like a lot of small folk digging or scraping. When I went up into the attic (beyond freaking hot) I saw some evidence that at some point in time a bird had spent time in my abode. Wonderful. But nothing to explain the sounds. I concluded it was bugs and took measures to "make their day" as good ole Clint would say.

Apparently I was too late because a few days later a small hole appeared in my ceiling. I …

My night with crawfish

To a great many people crawfish are a delicasy--or at least a treat. I must confess I've never considered them in that light before nor did I find out on Saturday night. I decided they were too spicy and chickened out. Sad but true. I regard it as a good decision since even the grilled potatoes were making my tongue bleed but nobody else over the age of 5 was bothered by the spices. And even the 5 year old took a swig of milk and soldiered on. LOL

These 9 pictures chronicle the crawfish party. First you start off with a crawdad (or mom, I guess) ably held up by Chris' son. Then we move on to Jed packing them into a temporary holding cell--there was one escapee who Jed is monitoring closely. The next stop is the cooker--and then the crawdads in the cooker. Ouch!! Don't let PETA know about THIS step!

After that we dumped out the cooked crustacians into a ice chest, Chris added some spices he blended together, and then the mixture was shook around a bit and allowed to flavor a …