Showing posts from April, 2006

nature and nuptials

Click on this picture to see it full size.

Like in the last few pictures here, this is on the Duke University campus. Quite a few weddings occur here in the gardens every summer and the vine covered arbor at the top of this picture is a very common place to perform the ceremony.

The setting is peaceful and beautiful. A fitting place to begin a marriage. For the more formal, Duke U also has a Gothic Cathedral that is quite impressive in a much more formal way. It's beautiful but a little intimidating!

It just seems to me that being outside to get married makes a much nicer ceremony. Of course you do have to worry about nature and the mishaps that can happen if you go that route. A violent rainstorm can really put a damper on the ceremony!


In the meantime, feel free to visit my tenant Ribbiticus.
She's got such a nice blog.

a pretty little pond

Here's two pictures that relate to the posts from the past 2 days.

If you'll recall yesterday's picture, it was a view across a small pond towards a red azalia bush. Well, this is the view from the azalia bush back in the other direction. The picture above is the formal garden section in the Sarah Duke Gardens of Duke University. Give it a click to see it a little bigger.

The picture below is the corner of the pond that you can't see in the other pictures. It's the prettiest part of this little pond. When you're there you can look into the water and see some huge carp swimming along. They're impressive due to their size--but they're really not very attractive fish.

Touch me

Since the picture of the path yesterday was received well, here's the mother--so to speak--of that path.

[click me]

{click me}

[click me]

{click me please!}

Does that remind you of that Samantha Fox song from the 80's? Touch me, touch me please! LOL If you look at the picture above--and you might need the larger size--you can see a path that goes behind the red azalia bush. That's where I took yesterday's picture. I was standing with my back to the azalia bush just a few steps further up.

quiet but not pristine path

There's several serious posts that I've been thinking about writing up but I decided to just go with a picture instead. Mainly because I really liked it. Oh, and if you look at the top of the picture you'll see a woman partially hidden in the tree. She was on top of a guy making out. I didn't see them there when I took the picture but I most surely saw them when I climbed the stairs afterward!

Normally in a case like that you say "I don't know who was more embarrassed..." but in this case it's just not true. It didn't seem to bother them one bit. I sure did scoot along that path quickly though.

As for the other possible posts, one is about penis size--I don't know if I'll ever actually publish that one--another addresses how P/E ratios and public perception of a company can get intertwined and cause odd valuations of a company's stock (I find that stuff interesting though I realize not many others do) and also something about the history…

some old jokes

I found these just laying about and decided they'd best be out before the public and working hard like the rest of us. No lazy jokes in this joint.

The Irish Love Their Beer

A Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishman walk into a pub. They proceed to each buy a pint of Guinness. Just as they were about to enjoy their creamy beverage three flies landed in each of their pints,and were stuck in the thick head.

The Englishman pushed his beer away from him in disgust. The Scotsman fished the offending fly out of his beer and continued drinking it as if nothing had happened. The Irishman too, picked the fly out of his drink, held it out over the beer and then started yelling, "SPIT IT OUT, SPIT IT OUT YOU BASTARD!!!"

Nerd Season

A truck driver, hauling a tractor-trailer load of computers, stops for a beer. As he approaches the bar, he sees a big sign on the door that says, "COMPUTER NERDS NOT ALLOWED - ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!" He enters and sits down.

The bartender comes ove…

Amphibians accepted here

I've got a frog on my blog and that's a good thing.

Actually the frog in question has a name. She's Ribbiticus. And oddly enough, she's got 2 legs, not 4.

That's Ribbiticus over there to the left. About the prettiest frog that ever lived. Not that I rented space to her just because she's pretty--I have plenty of other reasons to rent her space. Her writing skills come to mind immediately.

I've been reading Ribbiticus' blog on and off ever since I started blogging 13 months ago. She's a regular at Michele Agnew's weekend Meet & Greet and that's how I first read her blog Pond Perspective a year ago.

Ribbiticus writes about things that happen to her and things that she does. For example the picture of Ribbiticus in the gown was taken at a friend's wedding last December and the picture below is of Ribbiticus and 2 of her closest friends when they had a chance to get together earlier this month.

Ribbiticus also posts a number of memes that hav…

eminent domain

Eminent Domain. Many of you will be familiar with this legal term. For those who are not, eminent domain is the legal way that the government can confiscate private property from individuals. Typically this is done to aquire property for the common good--to build roads on, airports, public buildings et cetera.

Of course if it's your house or land that's been confiscated by the government you're going to be upset but if it's for the public good at least there's some sense of justice, albeit cold and distant. However recently there's been a twist applied to this practice of eminent domain. In June 2005 there was a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Kelo v. The City of New London, Conn that changed the way that communities could enforce eminent domain.

According to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling the government can seize private property from individuals to boost a community’s economic development which means that seized property can be handed over to private de…

wind storm

Last week we had a windstorm blow through this area.

While nothing like those that have been ravaging Kansas the past few weeks the one that hit me did take down a number of trees near me. It also tore part of the lid of this silo away.

The subdivision I live in used to be a cow pasture and there's still farms, mostly dairy, surrounding me. These silos are at the edge of my subdivision and I took the picture from my front porch.

I can't imagine how much damage a huge piece of steel, edges sharp from where it was torn from the top of the silo, would do if it went sailing with the wind. And to think that in a tornado, considerations like that would be commonplace. Scary stuff!

TGIF and all that, everyone!

a vitesse lesson

This is one of the products of a company named Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation. They're a leading designer and manufacturer of innovative silicon solutions used in the networking, communications and storage industries worldwide. Vitesse is headquartered in Camarillo, California, and is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol "VTSS". Vitesse completed an initial public offering in 1991 and has been a very volatile investment for much of the time since then.

This is a chart I printed out at the end of trading today. It shows todays trading, yesterday's non-trading, and the trading on Monday.

The non-trading part of my statement should get some attention. That's the gap in the chart to the left. It doesn't happen very often but occasionally when news occurs that really affects the value of a company, Wall Street will halt trading of that stock until the dust settles a bit. That's usually an hour or so. In this case they shut down trading for over a day. V…

steroids and sports

The whole Barry Bonds controversy tickles my sense of amusement. There seems to be a lot of outrage that Bonds would resort to steroids to play at his level. And this outrage seems to spill over into baseball in general--and there's some reason for that with the allegations regarding Canseco, Caminiti and Mark McGwire among others.

The reason that this all amuses me is that while steroids certainly help performance quite a bit in some sports--particularly ones where strength or mass are of primary importance--in other sports the extra strength is offset by the decrease in flexibility and endurance that often accompanies increased size. Baseball falls more in the sports domain where flexibility and speed are the key to success. Witness Bonds himself. His best years were when he was a svelte 185 pound outfielder in Pittsburgh.

Since (allegedly) starting steroid use, Bonds has had the worst homerun to at bat percentage in his career. Of course this is more a testament to time than to s…

Blame this on Moo

Blame this on Moo Alex. She Emailed me this Frap Map thing. I've seen it on other blogs but have managed to steer clear of the nonsense--but she caught me in a weak moment, so here it is. I've not decided if I'll add it permanently to my side panel yet. Maybe if enough folk put their locations in--so I don't look like some dweeb with no friends!--I'll toss it over there.

I've been meaning to do a blog makeover anyway so this'll give me an incentive to do so. The app is too big for my side area as is...I had to reduce the size of the map about 15%. Now I just have to decide on what picture to use as a masthead for a new design...

DVD reviews

I saw two movies on DVD over the weekend. The links lead to movie reviews by Roger Ebert so if the movie interests you and you want to see an expert review, just give it a click.

The first movie was The Forgotten, starring Julianne Moore and Dominic West with strong assists from Anthony Edwards and Gary Sinise. I liked this movie quite a bit but it's very odd. I don't agree with Ebert's review at all and think he missed the point--but even with my interpretation there are problems with the ending of the movie. Still, the premise is very interesting--a woman remembers her son, who she believes to have died in a plane crash, but nobody else is aware he ever existed--and the middle sequences of the movie are riveting. There was one point where the subsonics they used had me jumping out of my chair in near panic. Funny now--and sounds quite silly but it was a very effective moment in the film.

Moore is totally believable in her character and reminded me of Nicole Kidman in how w…

lowering prices drastically

...and the other dog said: "what's the difference?"

I've got a butt load of points over on Blog Explosion these days so I lowered my weekly rental rate dramatically. I used to charge 200-350 points and this week I only charged 40 and as a result I had 8 people apply that afternoon. The following 8 blogs are the ones that applied and Rocky Jay over on the left is the one I picked. While not for everyone--he's got a sexist and at times offensive writing style--he's very entertaining and one of my favorite blogs to read at Blog Explosion. While many women might like his insights and writing, he strikes me as appealing more to male readers. But I do hope that women will go over and check out his blog--Rocky would never forgive me if I only sent men over there. LOL

Rocky Jay.Com: Like I said above, one very funny and acerbic blog. I'm never sure how much to take seriously and how much to take with a grain of salt. Or an entire salt cellar! Rocky has an origin…

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to everyone out there. I'd share some of my chocolate with y'all---but you'd have to pry it out of my cold clenched fingers! LOL Sorry about that but I get a little protective of my chocolate.

So far, my favorite Easter post is the one over at Netchick's place. It's very cute but a little violent and probably not for young children due to it's depicting the Easter Bunny in a very unconventional way. No naughty stuff, just a little kick-ass.

tasks for Saturday

I've got a few things to do today.

FedEx delivered my new digital camera yesterday. That's it over to the left. It's smaller than I had expected and my hands seem large and awkward when I use it. But I still like it a lot!

So one of my tasks is to read the manual--or at least start it. The damn thing is over 130 pages and there's a second one for the computer applications though that manual is only 30 something pages long.

By the time the battery was charged it was dark so my first attempts to use it were taking pictures of stars and the moon. I can't say I had a lot of success. I guess that I'll have to get in more practice with it. And that's a good thing. :-)

Over there to the left you can see my truck. In my Thursday post I had a load of wood mulch in my bed, today I have decorative gravel. Even though it doesn't look like a lot of gravel--it's half a cubic yard--it weighs a LOT! The load limit for my truck is 3/4 of a ton and this amount of gra…

a little more chemistry talk

A few days ago I did a post about chemistry and at the end I posed a question. Well, the answer to it is that oxidative reduction is critically important to us because it allows for a dramatic difference in energy production. The trade off for this efficiency is that to use the process you have to take in a nasty poisonous gas--which also causes you do die early.

That actually brings to mind the first serious pollution crisis on Earth. A lot of people assume that we people are the first polluters of the planet. Not so, not by a long shot. The worst pollution crisis on Earth happened a good long time ago and almost wiped out all the life on the planet. The pollution was in the form of a deadly gas--one that's very chemically active and tends to end up creating chemical havoc. The nasty gas was, of course, oxygen and those first polluters were cyanobacteria, sort of like primitive algae. This all took place around 3.2 billion years ago. Ancient history even in geological terms.

The pr…


This is a picture I took over the weekend. I'm using it now in a 1600x1200 size for my desktop wallpaper. It is a little busy--I have trouble seeing my desktop icons now.

Click on the picture if you want to see it bigger.

This is what I was doing today. I took a day of vacation and went to a landfill in the next county over and picked up some mulch. They charge $18 for a 3 cubic yard scoop and my truck holds a little over 2 yards so after the backhoe dumped the mulch, there was a huge pile all over and around my truck.

It took forever to get my tarp secured since I was stumbling over the left over mulch that was all around the truck. By the time I was finished I looked like a piece of bark--it was all over my clothes and skin! Of course by the time I got home and shoveled all the mulch into a pile just off of my driveway, I looked even worse. Nothing like mixing sweat and bark dust to make you look funny. :-)

more neat stuff

My former tenant, Tech Snack, has more cool stuff this week to look at.

How about a chair made out of grass? The chair is self-assembled with 14 cardboard frames and 100 gram pack of grass seeds. All you do, is to find the right spot and fill the 'chair' with 240 liters of soil. In 10 days, you will have your own 'natural' arm chair that is an made out of grass!

And these are all USB keys that you can buy. The ducks seem perfect for Easter but I don't see any bunnies there. Pity.

I don't know if I'd want a USB key that looks like sushi, but I guess if you really love sushi it might be something you'd want. Maybe.

I need to get a bigger USB key to move pictures about with, but I think I'll stick to the boring type without all the frills. I think these are best just to look at. Or maybe as a gift for a kid.

oxidative reduction

Sexy title, huh? Yeah. Chemistry really gets people's attention. That's why chemists get all the hot chicks. LOL Not so, you say? Well, maybe you're right. Chemistry's pretty important though--even if it's not very effective at getting dates.

What you see to the left there is a graphic representation of cellular respiration which is a series of oxidative reductive steps which strip atmospheric oxygen of two electrons each and in turn add some hydrogen atoms to it to replace those electrons in the outer most electron shell. The resulting molecule is two hydrogens and one oxygen. H2O, also known as water.

Why am I whining about respiration to y'all? Well, this past week a very interesting paper (okay--interesting to some people!) was published in Nature regarding this subject.

It seems that researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology of the University of Helsinki, headed by professor Marten Wikstrom, have for the first time identified an internal electron transfer…

off the fence

I love toys. I also hate spending money. Obviously the two impulses bump heads a lot. My usual solution is to deliberate so long on purchases that often they become moot. If you think about a certain model long enough--the manufacturer will stop making it and then you can't buy it. Neat, huh?

Well, I've been thinking about a new digital camera for 2 years now and I finally bought one tonight. It's a compromise. No surprise there! Instead of buying an expensive digital SLR I bought a compact ultra zoom. It's a little noisy at higher ISOs (well, even at 200) but otherwise pretty nice.

This is a picture of it. It's a Panasonic camera. The DMC- FZ7K. It's a 12X zoom (36 - 432mm equiv) with a 6 megapixel imager. It's got a 2.5" LCD screen but they cheaped out a bit here and it's very low res. Only 114k pixels. Their similar camera in their nicer line of cameras, the FZ30, has over twice as many pixels on a smaller screen. But it's several hundred doll…

avoid these

Sunday night I watched a movie. It was a movie I'd heard about ever since I was a small kid. It was made in 1971 when I was 10 years old and had some culture significance since it was the first self financed movie made by a black man. Or so goes the quasi-legend no doubt originated by the director (who was also the star, writer, producer--and he even co-wrote the score!)

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song - Melvin Van Peebles

It was a movie that was ahead of its time here in the United States and copied many of the mannerisms of European avant garde films of the time. Not very well, I might add. I suspect Van Peebles knew what he was doing as a director though I didn't see any directing talent in this movie, just knowledge of what he should do. The execution wasn't impressive.

However directing isn't even the beginning of the story here. Van Peebles, at least in this movie, really sucks as an actor. There were times when I suspected he only made this movie so he could…


I hope you'll forgive me but I was out most of yesterday afternoon looking at genitals. Hell, I wasn't just idly gazing--I was pointing, staring, and even taking pictures.

When you think about it, it's a little odd that when we look at human genitals we get all sorts of odd feelings--both good and bad--but when we look at the genitals of a plant, almost without exception we only get good feelings.

How can you look at the lovely purple folds over there to the left without thinking, or even saying, "awwww"? You can't. Plant genitals are just too damn pretty to avoid that sorta thing.

Of course the purple color isn't very human looking but the plants above and below, using a more pinkish palatte, might remind you more of the genitals of another species--but if so, don't say anything. I'm trying to keep a "G" rating here.
Did you notice that inchworm on the pansies? Or the aphid? It's amazing how many things can grow on a genital, isn't …

dogs and cancer

Like the old commercials for Fruit Loops, a Kelloggs' breakfast cereal, would say: "A nose, it always knows". While that commercial was referring to Toucan Sam, I'm just using this as a lead in to talk about how sensitive dog noses are and how they can be used, perhaps, to detect cancer.

There have been a number of mentions of this in the media recently. Here's two items from CBC news this year. One story that ran on 60 Minutes and another from the Early Show.

Both of these stories refer to a study run by Dr. Bob Gordon of the Scripts Clinic in La Jolla which used urine samples of cancer patients and healthy people to determine how well dogs could detect differences in odor between the two.

That study resulted in the conclusion that a trained dog could detect cancer to a degree that was 3 times greater than could be accounted for by mere chance. Pretty good but not great.

A much more interesting study has been just released:

In the small world of people who train dogs…

Katie Couric

Couric is my favorite newsperson on television now that Ted Koppel has retired.

Sure, part of my reason for liking her is that she's cute--even at 49!--and perky. And yes, that grin--as shown to the left--is just infectious. But Couric has demonstrated over the 15 years that she's been with The Today Show that she can hold her own when interviewing people.

I grew up with Walter Cronkite being the premier newscaster. All the other news anchors were also male. I never really liked any of them. Partly it's a gender thing--I just trust females easier--but it's also personality. Too many of the male journalists are too "tough" for lack of a better word. Someone like Sam Donaldson just makes me disgusted and Dan Rather is close behind. My girlfriend really liked Peter Jennings but I didn't share her feelings though he didn't annoy me either. Jennings, for me, was in a category shared with Brokaw and Reasoner--inoffensive but nothing I wanted to watch. Barbara…

random musings

My tulips are really coming up now. Several are in bloom and a few dozen are soon to pop out. I love tulips. I might wander around campus for a bit at lunch and take pictures of the ones here. It's a little warmer here where I work and their flowers come up a week or two before mine do at home. BTW, the red font is due to most of my tulips being RED!

My tenant, Tech Snack, has a new post today that might be of interest to parents of young kids. It's a lie detector! Now tell the truth (*giggle*), isn't that something you wished you could apply to your kids from time to time? Not to mention bosses, coworkers, spouse, and the occasional friend as well. Well, this is your chance. From now on it's nothing but the truth--and this gadget will ensure it! LOL

My allergies are killing me! I've been mowing my lawn the past few days and it's really doing me in. *sneeze, sniffle* I use lawn mowing as enforced exersize and go out for an hour each time. I'm very out of …

Tech Snack

This week's tenant is Tech Snack. For some odd reason I keep thinking of the site as Tech Shack. That's odd because "snack" is a good description. Many of the items that are featured there are just delicious--at least to tech toy lovers like me.

Today's toy isn't really very high tech though it does look it. It's a metal wall with places that plants can grow through so you get the high tech metal look with greenery too. Very slick!

One of the odd things about Tech Snack is that it doesn't look like a typical sales oriented blog. Sure, it has the typical google ads that those places do, but the featured items don't really seem like they're usually for sale. It's more like the blog owner loves the concept of the techy items so much he just wants others to know about them.

My favorite item recently has been the Tempra Tech Self-Chilling Can. It's a commercially sold can that can go from room temperature to 35-40f in 3 minutes. Freaky!