Showing posts from February, 2006

gas tax and pork politics

I picked up some buttermilk today as well as whole wheat flour. So now I'll be able to try out that recipe for the Irish Bread that I posted about a few days back. I'll probably make it on Friday since I'm planning on roasting a turkey this weekend and the bread would be nice to have on the side.

I'll take a few pictures and hopefully it'll both look and taste good!

This is going to be my second try at this post. Firefox is being annoying today and has been quite unstable. I lost this post earlier when the browser collapsed while I was uploading a picture. I find Opera to be more stable a platform but unfortunately it doesn't work well with Blogger in the Compose Mode. Damn computers!

I read an article in the current issue (April) of Car & Driver about the pork barrel politics involved with the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The article is written by Patrick Bedard--I can't link to it since the C&D website doesn't have the April issue indexed on its s…

Prostate cancer

A few hours after I got up on Sunday I looked through the science and health news on which is very typical of me on a Sunday morning. Also typical is a story on how cancer is being deciphered one step at a time. Small steps, unfortunately.

The story that caught my eye yesterday morning related to prostate cancer and it hit my bullshit meter with a huge *clang* Here's the link to it if you're curious. The story was written by an AP (Associated Press) reporter. All I can say is that anytime you read a science story in the general press--beware!

Afterwards I looked to a website devoted to prostate cancer and that site had a press release from the University of California, San Francisco relating to this research which read quite differently.

If you got your information solely from the AP / CNN site you'd think the cure for cancer was at hand. And that the findings from this prostate cancer study was ground breaking. Well, it's anything but--as the press release from …

snow in North Carolina

Yes, that's snow you see in that picture. It really does snow down here.

On the other hand, it doesn't snow often and you sure don't see it sticking! Think about it, my neighbors in northern climes. There's still plenty of room for y'all down here. LOL

I took this picture a week ago. It was last Sunday and we had snow flurries for a few hours. Some stuck to parts of my roof and a good bit on my truck but the ground never got any accumulation. I wasn't upset--snow is pretty as Hell but still not worth keeping around. LOL

The reason I post this now is that while it's 3am on Sunday and still 50 degrees outside, we're supposed to have a high of 40 today which means the mercury is about to drop precipitously as a new front comes into town. We might be seeing more snow since there's several days of lows in the 20s for the week and possibly even in the high teens. Brrrrr!

This picture here is of my backyard a little earlier when it had just started snowing. …

Ireland and food

This is my 281st post. I'm closing in on 300. Amazing.

The topic for today is Irish food. This month's issue of Saveur is devoted to the subject. The topic fills the magaze from page 34 to 69 and there's other mentions therein as well. In fact what I'll experiment with first--probably Monday night--is on page 84 though a recipe on page 83 is interesting as well.

The two foods covered on pages 83 and 84 are Colcannon and Pint-glass Bread. Now Colcannon can refer to a traditional Irish music group but I'm referring to the food that's traditionally eaten on Halloween in Ireland. Here's the recipe:

1 pound cabbage
2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes
2 small leeks, green onions or scallions
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter
dash of nutmeg or mace

Core, quarter and shred the cabbage and place in a pan, covering with boiled salted water til tender-about 15 minutes. Peel and cut the potatoes into 2 inch pieces an…

it's a game

This little game tests your patience, reflexes, and computer equipment. I'm using a trackball that has the ball under my thumb. For many applications this works great for me. However my thumb isn't nimble enough for a game like this. I can't get past 20 seconds and tonight, needing to come up with a screen capture, I only got a bit past 15 seconds.

So just how good are YOU?!

If you want to see my score, you'll definitely have to click on the picture to get the full size version.

If you want to play, just go to this site and try it out.

I still haven't reviewed my tenant's blog site and it's a shame. I've been reading his posts and he's very, very good. I'm not sure how many of you will find his blog appealing but since I have a slight background in business and economics it's very appealing stuff to me.

He's in an MBA program over in Oslo, Norway and really seems to know his stuff. No doubt he'll be a definite contribution to the world on…

cartoons and parables

Unruly Children

Whenever your children are out of control, you cantake comfort from the thought that even God'somnipotence did not extend to His own children.

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam andEve. And the first thing he said was, "DON'T!"

"Don't what?" Adam replied.

"Don't eat the forbidden fruit.." God said.

"Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve..wehave forbidden fruit!"

"No Way!"

"Yes way!"

"Do NOT eat the fruit! " said God.


"Because I am your Father and I said so! " Godreplied, wondering why He hadn't stopped creationafter making the elephants.A few minutes later, God saw His children having anapple break and He was ticked!"Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit? " God asked.

"Uh huh," Adam replied.

"Then why did you? " said the Father.

"I don't know," said Eve.

"She started it! " Adam said.

Survey says.....

I got this survey quasi-meme over at Ciera's blog. Feel free to give her a visit.

Name:utenziBirthdate:may 1961Birthplace:upstate NYCurrent Location:Triangle, NCEye Color:blueHair Color:brown/grayHeight:6 feetWeight:215Piercings:a resounding NOTatoos:nopeBoyfriend/Girlfriend:girlfriendOverused Phraze:babe...FAVORITESFood:ham and cheese sandwiches, honey butterCandy:chocolate, butterfingers, licorice, wintergreen mintsNumber:I do both number 1 and number 2 *blush*Color:gray-blueAnimal:dogsDrink:pepsiAlcohol Drink:amaretto/kahluaBagel:no thanksLetter:"take a letter, Maria, address it to my wife"
Body Part on Opposite sex:nose or feetThis or ThatPepsi or Coke:pepsi or lime cokeMcDonalds or BurgerKing:burger king despite those nasty adsStrawberry or Watermelon:ewwwwHot tea or Ice tea:ice tea--sweet, pleaseChocolate or Vanillavanilla onlyHot Chocolate or Coffee:hot chocolate--the drink, not the sexKiss or Hug:who's asking? LOLDog or Cat:dog for petting, cat for eatingRap or…


Thalidomide is a name that could scare the bejusus out of me--and many other kids as well as adults back then. I was born in 1961--the year that Thalidomide was linked to thousands of birth defects in Europe. Now, after a long absence, thalidomide is being sold by Celgene.

I remember as a small child seeing news reports on how the Thalidomide Babies were doing as they grew up. Seeing images of kids the same age as me with horrible birth defects was scary. I can't imagine how horrid those images would be for the parents of that time period.

We didn't have many cases in this country due to the FDA stepping in and exerting authority at a time when that was not its usual role. Had it not been for Thalidomide, the FDA probably wouldn't have nearly the power it does have now. History is full of these little moments when the future is altered by one event.

Here's the definition of Thalidomide Baby from MedicineNet:

Thalidomide baby: An infant affected by prenatal exposure to the …

one hit wonders

I did my Federal and State taxes this weekend. The only thing I've not decided yet is whether or not to do an IRA. I only qualify for $1,500 this year due to my pension contribution at work. I'm not sure if I want to bother with that since it won't save me that much on taxes ($375 since I'm in the 25% bracket)--but until I decide I can't enter my info into the electronic forms. I do have it done on paper tho. I also cleaned my two downstairs bathrooms. The tub was soooo bad. I'd forgotten it was white. Seriously, I was thinking it was beige. Ewwww!

I was watching a countdown show on VH1 this weekend. It was 5 episodes showing their compilation of the top 100 one hit wonder songs in US history. William Shatner hosted it. Here's a list of the songs on the last episode, the top 20 songs. For the entire list go to their site.

What do you think of the songs on the top 20? My favorites are "She Blinded Me With Science", not surprisingly because I'm a…


The weather sure has been weird this winter. I received my last months power bill a few days ago and it was 45% lower than the same time last year.

The past two days it got up to 70 degrees--that's almost unheard of in mid February. Or even in March! And tomorrow it's not supposed to get over 35 degrees and we'll probably get a dusting of snow. Maybe even a few inches if the front moves a little more south than expected. The next county north is predicted to get 2 inches and that's only 30 miles away.

70 degrees on Friday and 35 on Saturday. You gotta wonder! I actually opened up all my windows when I got home after work and turned off my heat. My girlfriend is annoyed with me because I've not turned the heat back on yet. Right now it's 44.6 out but by morning it's supposed to be around 30. LOL I'm always the first one up so I'll turn on the heat in plenty of time so that her delicate toes don't get cold.

Maybe the cold wet weather will keep me ins…

An Apple a Day

The old adage, an Apple a day keeps the doctor away, insinuates that apples are good for you. I might try that idea out soon. So many of the kids on campus have the Apple iPods that I see them all the time and I've been quite curious about them. Now that the prices are so low, it's getting hard to resist buying one.

NEW YORK ( - Apple Computer unveiled a lower-priced iPod nano Tuesday and said it will sell shows from Showtime Networks on its iTunes Music Store.

The 1GB version of the iPod nano, which sells for $149, comes in black and white and holds up to 240 songs or 15,000 photos, the company said in a statement.

The 1GB iPod nano sells for $149.

The 1GB iPod nano is the same size as the other iPod nano models, which are designed for ultra-portability.

Apple (Research) also announced new pricing for its iPod shuffle, with the 512MB model costing $69 and the 1GB model priced at $99.

In a separate statement, Apple said that it will sell television shows from Showtime N…

Whale sighting

Holy Moly. The whale is me. I had intended on launching a low key weight loss thingy in March. What bodes ill about this is that today, on my way home from work, I stopped at Food Lion and dropped almost $100 on food. And people, if you don't know me here's a hint--when I spend a lot on food it's not on stuff that's good for me!

A few dozen bags of clearance Valentine's Day candy at the entrance of the store was the start. From there I went on a rampage with a green pepper and 2 bags of potatos being the only things not filled with chemicals. LOL

If you want frozen pizza, kid cereal, chocolate to the tune of 20 pounds, or soda--come on over!

I guess this means that I'm not committed to the concept of weight loss just yet. Maybe if I increase my level of activity instead of attacking the food consumption side. LOL After all, it's pretty easy to increase from nothing to something. Perhaps a little walk around campus at lunchtime...

I need my grass to start growin…

John Frum Day

February 15th. Here in the United States it's a day like any other day, but on the other side of the world there's an island named Tanna in the nation of Vanuatu, and there February 15th is a holiday. John Frum Day.

This holiday is named for a World War 2 era sailor who visited the island back when Vanuatu was known as New Hebrides--an island nation under joint rule by France and Britian. This nation is located between Fiji and New Guinea and is comprised of over 80 islands. Tanna Island is 20 miles long and no more than 16 miles wide with about 28,000 inhabitants.

John Frum Day is a religious holiday. It's believed by members of this religion, a form of "cargo cult", that one day John Frum will return and bring with him vast quantities of consumer goods or cargo just like he did when he visited back in WW2. John Frum is believed to live in Yasur, an 1,184 foot high active volcano on the coast of Tanna near the aptly named Sulphur Bay.

My post today about this lesse…

Saint Valentine's Day

Happy St. Valentine's Day, Renee

This heart is something that Renee might like 'cause she likes dolphin pictures. They're a symbol of a group she's associated with. More-or-less.

Should I buy her a tattoo like this one then? LOL It's colorful and she does like color...

And the heart that the dolphin is jumping out of is pretty.

Of course the next question would be where to put it. *giggle*

Here's another possibility. Roses are pretty and she likes greenery...

I often, in my imagination, compare her to a rose. Nasty thorns and not much use in the winter when it's dark and dreary. She blooms when the sun is out, y'see.

Maybe I better edit this a little before publishing...

Republican humor?

Let's start off with a joke.

Question: What happens when two long standing Republicans go off into the brush, using their Constitutional right to bear arms, and one says to the other: You know, maybe we shouldn't be in Iraq after all?

Answer: Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter in Texas

Okay, that was a cheap shot. My apologies to Harry Whittington, who certainly didn't deserve to be hit with birdshot. Did that story remind any of you about that scene in The Wedding Crashers?

The thing I didn't like about that scene was that it was so cheap. It belonged in some dumb movie that just had silly sight gags. I suspect it was added at the last minute since it didn't fit in with the flow of the movie. Did anyone notice that the next morning, after having had birdshot cut out of his butt, the fellow sat down to a huge breakfast. Yes, he dropped his butt down hard onto a chair so he could eat--just hours after dozens of pellets were cut out of his flesh. That guy was tough…

digital cameras

I did a quick estimate of my federal taxes last week while cooking breakfast. I should be getting about $600 back. The NC State return is another story--they're not hard to do but difficult enough that I can't do them just standing around waiting for some eggs to cook--but I don't expect them to be more than $50 off what's already been taken out of my pay.

In any case, I think I'm going to get a new digital camera with the money. The one I've had for the past 4 years still works. Most of the time. LOL It's been dunked in water a few times while kayaking and the damn thing can be very finicky. On a number of occasions it's quit for a few days only to start working again. It's an Olympus D-550--that's it over to the left.

It retailed at $500 when I bought it though the discount price I paid was around $350. Today I can get a better camera for $150. Neat, huh?

There's one camera I might buy for that kinda price just for kayaking and hiking around …

Jeremy C. Shipp

I think this is going to be the last time I host a Tenant for a while. I almost didn't advertise this time but once again I fell victim to the siren song of those easy credits. LOL Not that you can really do anything with those credits once you get them. Just play more battles on Battles of the Blogs. And that's what I do with them.

Anyway, my new client runs the blog Haunted House Dressing. His name is Jeremy C. Shipp and he's a published author with this being his official website.

To the left is art from the featured artist on Shipp's site this week. It seems very appropriate for St. Valentine's Day. The person in the drawing is willing to give up their heart. Literally. I guess we've all thought our heart was being torn out from time to time--I guess Morten Bok was trying to illustrate that idea. It's an arresting piece!

Jeremy's got such a pretty site and so much original content that he's great to visit. However after reading a lot of that cont…

Adventures in Cyberia

I'm really at a disadvantage here. My tenant this week is Panthergirl with her group website Adventures in Cyberia. As you can probably tell from the pictures, it's based on a computer game. Sims, of course. I've never played Sims so a lot on this blog is Greek to me.

This is the opening screen of the blog back on June 30th, 2005. The Wonderful Family were the first denizens of Cyberia but were joined by many others in the course of time.

A visual summary of the beginning of the blog can be found here.

While Panthergirl, henceforth known as PG (which is how she's known in Cyberia also), is the chief architect of Cyberia she's got a lot of collaborators as well as temporary guests. As you can see in the photo next down, I'm one of the guests--making my first appearance this week. By the way, despite the look I'm not gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. *giggle* There's something about that vest that is just sooo wrong!

On the Cyberia blog I ha…


I think I'll take a moment to do some complaining. Stephanie's weekly rant posts struck me as a good idea so here's my rant-post.

Actually it's more of a complaining session. It'll focus on the idea: what don't you like in other blogs?

Personally there's a few things that annoy me and a few that just piss me off. For example, I hate it when the entire post isn't in front of you. It's very rare that I'll hit one of those "click here to read more". I feel like Andy Rooney, on 60 Minutes, when I see one of those. That fellow sure likes to complain! And I bet he'd say something like: I wanted to read more until you made me hit that damn button. I'm not going to do it just because you told me to. Either have the words there or don't. There's no excuse to tease your readers.

Probably the thing I HATE the most is when there's some annoying song or video playing when you load the blog. Why do these people advertise their lousy…


So what's the deal on that Superbowl? Several blow calls on the part of the officials. If you switch out that asinine call against the Seahawks in the first quarter and the touchdown by the Steelers that was obviously short you have a 17-14 game in which the Seahawks win.

I was expecting the Steelers to roll right over the Seahawks but that wasn't the game I saw at all. Hell, the Seahawks outplayed the Steelers early on then lost their way after those two bad calls. It's impossible to say what would have happened if the calls went right but it's certainly a shame that the Steelers can't claim a clean win. There were some very good plays in the game.

Speaking of shame--what was with the Rolling Stones' halftime show? That was the lamest I've ever seen them perform. Maybe they are ready to retire. That was the kind of show you'd do at a retirement home! **don't get too loud, granny needs her sleep!**

What did you think of the commercials? I suspect the f…

Genes and knowledge

There's an article in the February 13th issue of Forbes about the Gene game. It's titled "The Giant Genome Fizzle". It's quite interesting and lots of that is due to this being my job area.

While I've often worked in less technical areas of bio research, right now I'm at the medical forefront by analysing genes for ties to angiogenesis and breast cancer. It's very interesting work--more so lately because we've had some very intriguing results on the angiogenesis side.

The Forbes article, however, is about how the field of Genomics has let us down. Their lead example is the hoopla that followed the discovery of MTP (Microsomal Transfer Protein) and it's vaunted link to longevity. A team of researchers at Harvard Medical School had determined in 2002 that this gene was linked to the incredible longevity that some people exhibit. Not surprisingly this finding was heralded in many magazines, news shows, and even Good Morning America. What wasn't…

weekend purchase

This is what I bought on Sunday. A not-so-brand new kayak.

It's a Riot Booster 60. This is a picture of it in my storage shed in my back yard. As you can see, it's home to many things. The kayak is perched on my riding mower and rake storage rack. You're not supposed to store kayaks on the ground so I have mine suspended upside down to prevent oilcanning. I took it down for the pictures.

The Booster line comes in several sizes and 60 is the biggest. You could say that it's the fat man version--but please don't say it around me. I'm sensitive, y'know?

This is a picture of the bottom of the Riot. You can see a lot of scratches. That's the life of a whitewater kayak. They scrape a lot of rocks as they shoot down rivers. Poor little kayaks.

Getting back to the size of the kayak, actually it's only partly that I'm big--it's also due to kayaking being a small person sport. Kayaks are built for people around 5'4" to 5'10" and under 17…