Showing posts from May, 2006

If you ever wondered how you make a kayak

I was walking in the woods near the shore of the lake and I came across this scene. Needless to say, I was a little shaken up. I hope they love each other...

Email-type list

I know, I know. You've probably been Emailed this list at least a few times but I liked it, read it over at Tanya's blog, and decided to post it on mine. So there! :-p

The International Rules of Manhood

1. Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.

2. It is OK for a man to cry ONLY under the following circumstances:

(a) When a heroic dog dies to save its master.
(b) The moment Angelina Jolie starts unbuttoning her blouse.
(c) After wrecking your boss's car.
(d) One hour, 12 minutes, 37 seconds into "The Crying Game".
(e) When she is using her teeth.

3. Any Man who brings a camera to a bachelor party may be legally killed and eaten by his buddies.

4. Unless he murdered someone in your family, you must bail a friend out of jail within 12 hours.

5. If you've known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off limits forever unless you actually marry her.

6. Moaning about the brand of free beer in a buddy's fridge is f…


This was a damn hot weekend. I got back to my house at a bit after 1am (Wednesday) after a 4 hour drive and I figured I'd give a quick update before getting to bed. I have to go to work later this morning and some sleep would be nice.

Every day I was at my parent's house it was over 90f. I got cooked! I didn't do as much kayaking as I was hoping due to a mixture of it being so hot, my poison ivy rash on the lower back interfering a little, and my parents having lots of projects for me to do.

The projects were interesting to a degree. My Dad wasn't sure how to get the irrigation system to work so I troubleshot it and helped him get everything working. Normally my brother does this since his line of work uses irrigation but he's been too busy this Spring to get there. In addition there were lots of little techy type things that they wanted me to do including programming the numbers and names into a new cell phone. Scary, huh? I also programmed a new time thingy for the…


For those of you not from the South, this might not look familiar. It's a bloom from the Magnolia tree in my side yard.

It's a small tree, maybe 11 or 12 feet high, and it's only been developing a lot of blooms the past few years. The blooms only last a few days but they're very pretty while they last and the scent is wonderful. It looks like there'll be over a hundred blooms this year so I hope to be able to get a picture with dozens of blooms at once in the next few weeks.

hot, hot, hot

I hate it cold and like it hot as long as I'm just sitting on my deck reading a book. However when I'm paddling, temperature doesn't really bother me much. I kayak in the winter in below freezing temps for hours and in summer 90+ is fine also. Except--I really don't like high humidity. Since I wear glasses, having a lot of sweat on my face is really a bother while kayaking. Since you can go over fairly easily when you push things a bit, you have to wear a strap on your glasses and that means you can't wipe the sweat off easily.

Which brings us to this weather chart. I'm going to my parent's house for Memorial Day weekend and it's going to be the first hot weather I've paddled in this year. I'm just going to melt!

Fortunately I tend to do my hard paddle from around 6am to 9 or 10am and after that I'll just lounge about. My parents only have dial-up so pictures will probably be in short supply until I get back home on Tuesday.

Here's one from…

Noi: the blogger from Singapore

I've been reading Noi's blog for several months now. I've only visited occasionally because until recently she was on Xanga, a blog system that requires registration and has lots of pop-up ads, and it was very annoying. Fortunately Noi is now on Blogger, she moved her blog over on May 14, and it's easy to go see her so I'll be visiting a lot more often. Promise!

Noi is a very positive upbeat woman. She takes her profession and religion seriously and tries to do her very best at both. She teaches children in Singapore though she's soon to be changing jobs. While in some ways she seems normal: she hates her boss, worries about weight and money; in other ways Noi seems quite special. For example, she prays 5 times every day, worries about money because she wants to be able to help her parents stop working, bathes twice a day, and even kisses her students when they're bad to gently admonish them to be good. I'm thinking Noi is just too good to be true!

By th…

runners up

This week when I put my blog up for rent on Blog Explosion I waited 12 hours before selecting one but I liked the other 5 blogs so much I'm running reviews of them all as well.

Tomorrow I'll post a review of my tenant Noi who lives in Singapore. She's got a great blog and she just recently moved it to Blogger--which, believe it or not, was a move up for her blog. Her prior host required registration and all sorts of annoying forms to be filled out. Now she's in the mainstream of blogging--and she too can experience the aggravation that is Blogger!

Yoga Coffee Outlook : Kelly runs this one and I like the look of the blog and she's not bad either. Kelly's got a very attractive picture of herself leaning against a fence on the upper right of her blog. Unfortunately she's also got a little advertising on the upper left side of the blog but I guess commercials are everywhere these days.

Kelly's blog has a lot of personality to it with an occasional meme. A blog…

plate tectonics and time dilation

To continue the thread from my last post, there's two big areas of difficulty I had with 10.5 Apocalypse. Plate tectonics and time dilation. There were plenty of other problems but those two bothered me.

Now time dilation is a problem with lots of movies and TV shows so it's not much of a surprise that it popped up here but I mention it because it was integral to the plot. When I say 'time dilation' what I mean is that in the show it took less time to do something than it would in the real world. We see this all the time in TV shows where they drive across a city in 20 minutes when we know it takes an hour--if you're lucky.

In 10.5 Apocalypse there were scenes important to the plot like where Dr Jordan Fisher noticed the hot spots in Lake Mead and flew there to investigate personally and found temperatures to be rising quickly just as they had noticed via satellite. However, the Hoover Dam is 750 miles away from where they were in Denver and if you assume they were …

10.5 Apocalypse

Well, let's start with my conclusion. I liked this movie. 10.5 Apocalypse was very entertaining. However...

I bet you could guess there was a however coming. As a scientist I did notice a few slight flaws. LOL Like huge gaping ones far larger than the sinkholes that were opening up all over the western and midwestern states.

Still, I did like the pacing of the movie, most of the dialogue seemed real, and the special effects were quite impressive for a movie on a television budget. But that underlying science was really quite silly.

On the other hand, this movie was a HUGE improvement over the original movie 10.5 (also on NBC a few years back) in which California was beset by an enormous earthquake. One that measured an all but impossible 10.5 on the Richter scale (the San Andreas fault is a strike-slip fault and that type rarely gets quakes over 7--the really big quakes happen in subduction zones which occur when one tectonic plate is forced to move under another plate).

I'll add…


I've got a small section of my yard near my storage shed that I let the grass grow out so it's more meadow like. This picture of a few daisies is taken in that area with my well seen to the side. I dialed the f-stop way down so that only the one daisy would be in focus.

Work-wise things were pretty quiet today. My itching was so bad I told the guy I work with that I was taking off early so I just stained a bunch of slides for a LCM (laser capture microdissection) he was doing and took off before 1pm. Tuesday I'll be staining a new breast sample --not a tumor this time-- for a LCM and hope to try out our new microtome. Our blades were backordered so I'm waiting for them to arrive to allow me to start slicing paraffin sections.


I love Dynamic Drive. They're a site that posts snippets of DHTML and CSS code to enable web pages to do various things. As you can tell by my title, my interest today is menus.

My tenant this week, Andrea of Paranoia and other Pleasant Things has a very pretty menu system and it's based on code from Dynamic Drive. Their Switch Menu, in fact. I'm not sure which version though--there's two of them.

The reason I'm posting on this subject today is that they just posted a new system today and it's really neat. Go take a look if you're interested. I doubt I'll implement this new menu system, but I do admire it quite a bit. By the end of the month I hope to implement the Switch Menu but only if I scoot over to Wordpress. I don't think I'd bother with it if I stay here at Blogger.

sinister scratching

This is the header I mentioned that I'd work on yesterday. It's a little dark for me so I doubt I'll ever use it but it was kinda fun to work with the image of the grackle and put it into a color scheme that would reflect the color of the feathers.

I've been catching up on the TV show ER this weekend. I'd not watched the last 5 shows of the season so I was pretty out of date. Now I've only got the season finale to go. I must say that while bringing more attention to Darfur is good they certainly did a pretty silly job of it. With 10s of thousands of refugees in the camp, these 4 doctors were always haring about and leaving the camp. It's hard to believe that would be real-life behaviour but I guess there's not much reality back in Chicago at County General either.

I heard a few days ago that Invasion, a first year show on ABC, won't be renewed. It was one of my favorite shows of the new ones. (I felt it was similar in writing quality and drama to Lost…

more headers coming

I'm in a Photoshop mood today so I think I'll be making a few more headers and footers for the blog. Here's the first one I've done...

This is the photo I started this set with.

I extracted two elements from this picture--taken on my back deck a few days ago--and used them to create a new header. The elements, as can be seen below, are the main bloom and one of the buds.

I used the magnetic tracing tool to carve out these items and then copied them into new files which I then resized so that they'd fit my template. After that was done I was ready to move the various elements onto the template and then add my "utenzi blog" title.

It looked a little plain so I then added stylized butterflies. A little too cute, I admit, but that's the mood I was in when I did this. Maybe a defense mechanism to cope with all this damn itching!

Click them to see the larger image. You know the drill...

Next I think I'll do a more sinister one, with the picture of the grackle…

I itch all over!

Holy Moly, I itch all over. That damn poison ivy, which I thought was on the way out, has spread a lot more in the past 24 hours. Just in time for the weekend!

Doesn't this guy look sinister? I caught the Grackle just as it was landing on the birdhouse off of my back deck.

Click it to see the big version to get the full effect of that chilling gaze and the odd effect of the wings movement as caught by the camera.

I really like the way that light reflects off of the Grackles but I have few pictures with them because they're so "nervous". They're a big bird, nearly the size of a crow, but they fly off at the slightest hint of movement so I can't get a decent shot even with my zoom all the way out. Shame.

I'll try to get a few more pictures of them this weekend since I doubt I'll be going out much.

Here's why I'll be staying close to home.

This is what my elbow looked like this morning when I was getting ready to go to work.

And the handful of spots on …

Andrea, my new tenant

Isn't that a beautiful header? Andrea's had several on her blog lately but this one is my favorite.

Paranoia and Other Pleasant Things is a blog written by Andrea, a psychologist in Romania. The design is simple and clean but very appealing. Since her husband, Rob, is a web designer, she's got professional help a step away so it's no surprise her blog looks so great.

Even more impressive is the engine beneath the blog. Her menus and the other techy adornments are great. You can sort the posts by catagory and just look at the ones that appeal to your interests. Since Andrea just started her blog in March 2006 there isn't a lot of content yet but what is there is interesting and well organized. Speaking of content...

Andrea blogs about her job, country, family and other subjects that interest her. She's recently changed the header of her blog and she talks about the Photoshopping experience that was involved. This is definitely an interesting blog and well worth a v…

A joke and a birthday

First, the joke:

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away.

The undertaker told the Husband "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land, for $150."

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?"

The man replied, "Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."

It's here. I've made it to 45. At this point, even by the most optimistic of estimates, I'm middle-aged. Egad!

I'm not doing anything special for the day. Just going to work, putting on anti-itch ointment and taking actifed. The normal activities for Spring in NC, especially when you have poison ivy.

a few changes

My arm looks even nastier tonight than it did this morning. I have entered the seeping stage with my elbow area--which was the first part to break out--so the spots on my chest and back will probably start seeping on Wednesday. Oh, joy.

I've got a gauze dressing on the arm with an ace bandage to hold it in place for overnight so I won't ruin my sheets. Tomorrow it's off to work, which I had skipped today, and hopefully the itching won't drive me insane.

That's the medical side of my changes, the blog side involved some format changes that I implemented today, and some I'll need to do soon.

I changed my template to a 3 column design though the third is purely ornamental. It's the blue stripe at the right side. The color is the same as the text and I think I like having it over there. I also killed the box around the blog content and also made the content the same width as my header. Before I had the content size vary with the size of the browser window it was o…

nasty ole ivy

This is going to be short 'cause I hate typing one-handed.
The poison ivy I was exposed to via Pippin's furry bod has spread acoss my chest, belly & back though it's not very bad in any of those places. Just very, very itchy!

The only bad spot is my inside elbow area as seen to the left. That was taken on Saturday afternoon soon after pustules started forming.

While the elbow itches a lot it's pretty easy to avoid scratching it since I'd have to reach across my body with my right arm to do the scratching--and by the time I do that, I come to my senses and resist the scratch urge. I wish I could say I was doing that well with all the other areas--but I can't. Especially my upper chest. I need to stop scratching there!

This picture is my elbow taken this morning. I think that's about as bad as it should get. Since I've been avoiding scratching, the skin integrity is good even if it looks kinda gross.

I'm not going into work today 'cause I can't…

bath time in the yard

It's bath time at the Utenzi Ranch. Not me--you don't want to see me naked. Especially right now. I've got a touch of poison ivy and parts of my hide really should be hidden (hide --> hidden) as a result. Gross, y'know?

This is the drying rack, so to speak.

I keep this pile of brush around for birds to alight on while they dry their feathers from their bathing session. Birds don't fly too well when their wings are wet so this is important for their safety from predators. Like that mean cat in my header. (sorry, Oreo)

As you can see, there's quite a few birds in the dry cycle right now.

The bath in question--seen over there on the left-- is for my bird population. I keep this turtle that I inherited from the previous owners of the house y'know around so that it can be used as a large and somewhat unclean birdbath.

They seem to like it and turtles and birds get along great. Cats? Not so much!

By the way, I suspect it was a cat that gave me the poison ivy when I …

New look for the old blog

Well, here it is. A very new look. I made the template a lot simpler though for some evil reason the CSS gave me all sorts of problems with the color definitions. I finally had to wipe all of the CSS and just rewrite it.

I doubt I'll keep this version of the blog very long. Maybe until the end of May. No longer than that. I like the template and might keep it with just slight changes but the picture will be changed soon. I might even make 5 or so headers and cycle through them on a frequent basis. I've never written a CSS based theme but I might go that route if I can figure out how to do it. I'm getting to be a pretty old dog to be learning new tricks, y'see. I might not be able to wrap my head around it.

The old look is over there on the left. It was only 800 pixels wide which was too narrow. The current one has a header that is 960 pixels wide but the table underneath isn't limited to that size, unlike the old format that was set at 800 pixels.

The old format was a…

go see someone else

Here's a plug for two other blogs.

Lois over at Homefires has a GREAT post today. Funny as Hell. She describes how she tortures a paranoid neighbor, but I'll let her tell the story. Go give her a read.

Also, if you're into chick lit, Erin over at Pupsickle is posting on that subject today!

other header choices

So what do you think of these two choices for a blog header?

I'm apparently enjoying playing in Photoshop a lot more than coding in Dreamweaver so I'm stuck in the art stage. It's a little silly since I think I'm going to go with a VERY simple template for the moment. I'll just place a header at the top and then have two columns underneath with my doo-dads (profile, Danish flag, etc) over to the left--maybe 120 pixels wide-- and then all the regular content in the central column. I haven't decided if I'll define a background for the main blog or not but the page will just have solid color. Or that's the current strategy. Like I said, Dreamweaver isn't calling my name yet...

(the ducks are a little silly but they looked like they needed crowns)

A Puppy Tenant

My new tenant from Blog Explosion this week was an easy choice. I'd promised Erin my next spot last time she applied.

That previous time I'd rented to Rocky just because I'd read his blog for a long time and was amused at his tongue-in-cheek badness but Erin was the other side of the coin. She's the angel to Rocky's devil. LOL

Erin's a 25 year old Grad Student in Fairbanks Alaska and as you can see to the side, she's cute as a button. (where in Hell did that expression ever come from? Cute buttons???) The name of her blog is Pupsickle and it derived from, in her words: the name of my blog came from the little icicles that stick to my dog's fur when he plays outside, which he loves to do. Erin's married, which I fortunately noticed before I booked tickets for the grand state of Alaska, and her husband Ian is one of the topics on which Erin blogs. (He also apparently makes a very good Asian Chicken Salad) Other topics are her studies in geology, her bel…

the blame game

Even cats do it--if they're smart...

[click to see detail please]

So, who's to blame here? The bored blonde one, pretending he doesn't have a care in the world. The female Tortie who's got the "Oh my God! How did that happen" attitude?

This reminds me so much of kids that it's hard to believe that it's cats playing the blame game here. Just goes to show how much we have in common with our pets. Even nasty ole cats. (Sorry Oreo)

alaska baking in the sun

I woke up this morning with that phrase in my mind. I had no Earthly idea why. The only connection I can think of to Alaska I have right now is that I read Erin's blog Pupsicle fairly regularly but I'm quite sure that had nothing to do with my waking thought this AM.

Baked Alaska, maybe? Oddly enough I've never had one. I don't think that lack is something I'd dwell on but you never know. Alaska baking in the sun--weird.

I was working in Photoshop and Illustrator along with some side ventures with Excel and Prism for 9 hours yesterday at work. And I brought some of it home to work on this weekend. I seriously doubt I'll have the stomach to put any extra time into those programs for a blog redesign until I'm finished making the graphics for this paper my lab is publishing. I love working with Photoshop but there is a limit! Besides, I've decided that the two pictures I posted about on Thursday are crappy and I'm going to go with something more feminine…

new design coming

I'm going to revamp the design here again. Here's a couple of possibilities for a header. One is going towards research, the other nature. Of course there'd be supporting graphics like the one below, on the left, in the body of the blog--that is, I'd create a theme consistant with the header.

What do you prefer?

The picture on top was of a hornet visiting me while I was reading on my back deck earlier this week. The metal you see is the chair I was on and the blue is my jeans. The picture below I took today while Tach, the fellow I work with, was slicing some tissue for LCM work we'll be doing next week. The metal objects on the dry ice are tumor sections that have been embedded in OCT to allow us to make very thin slices--sections--with a microtome. We then use those sections, mounted on slides, to isolate individual cells so that we can remove the RNA for microarray experiments. Science is so thrilling.

Politics on the Left

My tenant this week from Blog Explosion is Megan. Her blog is named C'est Moi...C'est The Anti-Right and despite the French title, she's from the US and works in marketing. LOL I know, that's almost as bad as being from France! However she's got a very interesting blog and that's why I rented her some of my real estate.

Megan's blog has a slant towards the political left which I share. Her current post relates to gasoline and oil prices and private enterprise. Megan shows her depth here by not having a liberal kneejerk reaction of wanting to restrict oil company profits but rather takes the mature and measured attitude of blaming prices on the real culprits. Us. People that are using too much oil--which basicly is me and you. Oh, and she tosses some blame at the Bush administration but they have broad shoulders--they can handle some blame.

Other recent posts relate to the EPA, the Bush Administration and their attitude towards responsibility, Megan's cha…

Da Vinci Code

I'm thinking of rereading The Da Vinci Code (by Dan Brown in case you've been living in a cave in Tibet these past 3 years). All the hype surrounding the movie release has been getting to me and I'd like to refresh my memory.

I don't take this decision lightly since this is one of the worst written books I've ever finished. Usually when writing is this crappy I just toss the book aside, but the plot--can I call it that?--was sufficiently interesting in the first half of the book that I was hooked. I say "first half" because by the second half my reason for finishing the book was more a fascination to see just how bad things would get. The same reason people slow down to look at car wrecks, I guess.

I read the book in May of 2003, a month after it was released and well before the landslide of publicity. There's a lot in the book I like, I just wish someone who could construct complete sentences had written it. Or knew what the word "plot" means…