Showing posts from June, 2006

renting at Blog Explosion

About once a week I post about whatever blog is renting space from me at Blog Explosion. This week it's NewfieGirl. However today I'm going to do something slightly different!

I not only rent space out to other bloggers on my blog, I also rent space from other bloggers. So today I'll mention the 6 blogs that I'm currently renting space from just in case any of them sound like a blog you'd like to explore.

First of all is my patron, NewfieGirl. I not only rent space to her, but I am also renting space from her. It's almost incestual! I've been there 3 days now and I've had visits from 7 different people. Since I reviewed her blog a few days ago she's put up several posts, the prettiest being one yesterday that included a piture of her dog, Rudy. He's purty!

A blog that I've been on for 6 days is Scottage's Perspectives of a Nomad. This blog is run by Scott Brown, who lives in Rochester NY which is where I went to college from my undergrad d…

a damn meme

This is the meme that is currently making the rounds. As you can see, I've done a lot more traveling in the USA than I have abroad. Other than a trip to Europe when I was in college, it's mostly just been a number of trips to Canada and one trip to Mexico back when I was in my early 20s.

create your own personalized map of the USA


Caffeine is an interesting drug. Caffeine is a plant alkaloid which we extract primarily from coffee beans though significant amounts are also found in th tea bush Camellia sinensis. Caffeine is very popular due to its stimulatory affect on the central nervous system.

Most people who partake of this drug do so in one of 3 forms, coffee, tea or soda. Coffee typically delivers the largest dose with 100mg per 8 ounces being typical. Tea only has a third as much caffeine and soda has a fifth. Chocolate limps way back behind these infusion style drinks in caffeine content.

However there are some people, like me, that take caffeine in other ways. Periodically I take prescription drugs for migraine headaches. Many of these drugs contain caffeine, which is a little weird because caffeine is one of the triggers for migraines. The reason that these drugs contain caffeine is because caffeine, which is usually a vasoconstrictor, can actually increase the effect of certain vasodilators so that despi…

Happy Birthday!

The wonderful Naomi of the Hollywood Hills is having her birthday today. It's her 75th, which is quite the milestone.

Happy Birthday, Naomi!

Her blog is quite amazing and should be required reading! Naomi's been involved in the theatre since before I was born and has been creative in many other ways as well. Acting on stage and screen, singing, painting, writing... she's done it all. And done it with aplumb, I might add.

Please do stop by and wish her a happy birthday. She's quite the gracious hostess and will be glad to see you.

grinding corn with an axe

I read an article over the weekend in the July 2006 issue of Smithsonian that I found both interesting and disappointing. The article is titled What's Eating America and it's written by Michael Pollan.

If I were a Journalism professor I'd admire the writing style of the piece but make the student rewrite the piece since the conclusions don't follow the facts, and the clear writing style make that quite plain. This is ironic because the article isn't written by a student; Pollan is a professor of Jornalism at UC Berkeley.

The article relates the historical relationship mankind has had with corn. It delves into how much of a change in modern history has resulted from the cooperative effort between chemistry developed for the munitions industry and the subsequent use of that technology by agriculture.

Essentially Pollan's argument is that:
Life requires energy that is directly or indirectly derived from the sun.Corn is about the most efficient plant for converting su…

Way up North

My tenant from BlogExplosion, a blog traffic site, this week is NewfieGirl. She's from Marystown Newfoundland. Which, in case you're not familiar with the town, is in the southernmost part of Newfoundland, on the island part of the province.

I've been to Canada many times. I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains which is just a hop skip and a jump from Montreal, Quebec and I went to school near Rochester NY which is across Lake Ontario from Toronto, Ontario. All these places are considered pretty far north by most. However NewfieGirl's location makes all these places look like they're deep in the Sunny South! LOL Brrrr!

That's Taco over there to the left. Cute, huh?

NewfieGirl works from home doing design work but doesn't mention this much on her blog. However in the 4 months that she's been blogging, she's moved twice. The first time because the house she and her husband (and don't forget Taco, her dog!) were renting was sold out from under them, a…

big furry rodents found here

I've been invaded by big furry rodents and oddly enough it's not all that bad.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I put up a pile of cut branches not far from my kitchen window so I could watch the birds there. Usually I keep the grass under the branches cut short since I don't want any rats or other rodents to get comfortable too close to my house.

Well, I've fallen behind on the mowing under the pile and look what's marched in! Big nasty furry rodents!

Here's one of them now, looking all alert as he scoots across part of my backlot. Just look at those beady eyes and nasty fangs!

Here's the fellow looking both ways to make sure that he doesn't give away the location of his hideyhole. He's secretive and astute but we have his number!

A-ha! There's the entrance to his new home.
The damn critter is so cute that I tossed some old carrots over there just in case he's hungry. I know, I know. I shouldn't encourage the damn rodent--but he is awful cu…

moving furniture

According to one story I've heard, thunder is the sound made when the gods are moving furniture. If so, there's a whole lot of rearranging going on right now.

I've taken two days off from work, yesterday and today. The main reason was a bunch of official and unofficial stuff regarding my truck. The official involved getting it inspected, an annual event here in NC but it's mostly exhaust emissions. I know some of the Northern states have a serious inspection where they make sure tires are good, brakes, lights, etc. In any case, once that was done I also treated it to an oil change and wanted to get a new gas filter but unfortunately they didn't have any in stock for my type truck. Bummer. It's not bad yet, but there's been two times in the past week and a half where the engine was having trouble sucking up gas.

I was able to get my registration renewed on the truck after the inspection so that official stuff is done for the year. The unofficial stuff was th…

capital punishment

There are two articles in the June 26 issue of Newsweek that present an interesting perspective on justice and politics.

This week, The Last Word, an article on the last page of every issue of Newsweek, features Anna Quindlen and an essay attacking the death penalty. Her basic argument follows two lines. First, that capital punishment is too cruel and that it thus smears the reputation of the USA since almost all executions are held by China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. She also argues that too many people on death row aren't guilty. Her number is that since 1976 123 people have been exonerated out of about 1,000 executions. In other words, 12%.

Also in that issue is an analysis concerning the Durham County DA's case against members of the Duke Lacrosse Team and how it's falling apart. Apparently DA Mike Nifong brought the charges against the players with very little evidence against the players--yet made broad accusations of guilt despite the lack of evidence. Some might…

hot, hot, hot

I desperately need air conditioning! The A/C here at work hasn't worked well this year and right now they're tearing it apart so it hasn't been on for the past week.

It's over 90f outside here and around 88 in here in the lab. I'm dying! My work requires RNA free conditions which means gloves at all times and often a mask as well. It's amazing how much warmer you get when you put latex gloves on. *whew*

When I get home I'm just going to lay down under a ceiling fan with the A/C on high! *sigh* At least until I have to go outside and mow the lawn...


I live near Raleigh NC so I was obviously going to root for the Hurricanes in the recent Stanley Cup playoffs.

Last night's game was quite amazing, especially when contrasted to Game 6, played in Edmundton Saturday night. Game 7 was dominated by the Hurricanes from the first goal, 90 seconds into the game. Game 6, on the other hand, was dominated by the Oilers to the same degree. It's weird to see such disparate play from the two teams in subsequent games.

In any case, Game 6 was the perfect game to watch if you were an Oiler fan, and likewise Game 7 was the perfect game for the Hurricane fans. It was lucky for North Carolina that we ended up with a 4-3 advantage at the end because the Oilers really played better. And this is the first and only national championship that has ever been won by a NC team. The Panthers, based in Charlotte, almost took the championship last year but second place just doesn't count.

North Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Gotta love it.

Forget the Cockroaches, it'll be Ferrets

In this week's issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases the Elena Govorkova group at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee reported that lab-engineered bird flu vaccine protects ferrets against several strains of H5N1 avian influenza.

It's good to know that after Avian Flu kills off enough people so that our civilization collapses there'll be something left to pick up the pieces. Ferrets. Well, that's better than the cockroaches that would survive a nuclear holocaust, I guess. At least ferrets are fellow mammals. Pretty small boobs though.

Public Service announcement:

H5N1 avian flu outbreaks have been confirmed in more than 48 countries and territories, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

The virus almost exclusively infects birds but it has killed 128 people in nine countries and has infected at least 225.

Experts say a pandemic of some kind of influenza is inevitable and that H5N1 looks closer than any other virus to causin…

Laci of Long Slow Beautiful Dance

Laci, whose blog Long Slow Beautiful Dance is quite beautiful but not all that long yet, is my tenant this week on Blog Explosion. She started her blog in mid April and has had several template changes already. I never saw the original design but her two most recent ones have been beautiful. The title of her blog is well deserved on the design side! I don't know how well it dances tho--maybe that refers to her life, not her blog.

Laci and I have a few things in common. We both love The Amazing Race, have trouble sleeping and like Mustangs. Unfortunately whereas Laci just purchased a 2005 Mustang, I doubt I'll ever own one. I'm just too cheap to spend that much on insurance--but it would be a lot of fun to drive! Especially corners. I love to hit corners really fast! The old truck I drive, however, is less than thrilled to find itself deep in the pocket of a corner with its tires squealing a bit. Like they say, if you can't take a joke...

Oops. Back to Laci! I get sidetra…


I'm at my girlfriend's house but neither she nor her son are awake yet so I get to pick breakfast solely on the merits of what I want to eat.

Oddly enough, this is what won over my stomach. 3 slices of buttered bread with some Sweet Vidalia salad dressing to spread on top. Yum! Of course there's a little onion breath afterwards, but it's actually not that strong. And since my girlfriend had a lot of trouble sleeping last night, I have a feeling it'll be hours before I see anyone else awake!

The task for me this morning is to fix that code I mentioned yesterday. Since it works in the preview feature of Blogger, I'm just going to compare the two versions. Preview and what's actually published. That should do it.

Later today, when the light is better in here, I'll be rehanging 2 ceiling fans and making the electrical connections. Apparently they'd gotten a little off balance. Maybe some hiking in the late afternoon but this part of NC really got flooded l…


I implemented a javascript menu system tonight that I modified from Dynamic Drive. Unfortunately it's not working correctly thus the troubleshooting title on this post.

I hate troubleshooting!

The menus work in Opera and IE, but don't in Firefox. I've not tried it in any other browers but I view working in Firefox as critical so I'll keep troubleshooting this. For the moment I'm leaving things as they are--and maybe they're working in some builds of FF but just not mine. Maybe.

Making the whole thing even more puzzling is that when I previewed the new template from within Blogger, using FF, the menu works just fine. It's only after I publish the new template code that it won't work in FF. It really makes you wonder...

Well, if you can't see them--what is supposed to be appearing below the "previous posts" section is the drop down menus for my blog list and archives. This is where I got the code, and it's a nice script. I must have made s…

random thoughts

This isn't looking to be a good day. I went to sleep at 2am but woke up at 5am so I'm sleepy. Then it won't stop raining, dammit. And to top things off I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder which is really annoying. *I like to whine*

At work today I'm finishing up a staining procedure. We're trying to verify the presense of a gene in some tumor samples. Nothing terribly exciting. Once we get the protocol so that it works really well, I'll be doing this everyday for several months. I might kill myself from boredom before the Summer is over!

After work, I'll be watching the Stanley Cup finals tonight. It's game 5 and the NC Hurricanes lead the series 3-1 over the Edmonton Oilers (it's a best of 7 series so you need 4 to win the Cup). It's been a pretty good series and despite the lopsided record, the two teams are pretty evenly matched.

My girlfriend is objecting to that question mark that appears after her name on the side of my blog. She just not…

stormy weekend

We had some really active thunder storms roll through the area over the weekend. I lost power 4 times though never for more than a minute or so.

This sequence of photos illustrate my attempts to take pictures of lightning. I spent over 40 minutes doing this. My method was to use a 30 second exposure with my digital camera, handheld, just at any random area of sky. After the exposure, the camera takes 30 seconds to process the shot then I am able to move onto the next exposure.

So it just came down to luck and perseverence. Most of the shots came out like the one below. Nothing. Just dark sky.

However a few times there was lightning behind the clouds so the clouds were lit up but no picture of the lightning. Some of those shots were neat looking--lots of drama!

You might have to click on this shot to enlarge it to see this, but there's a little bit of lightning there in the middle of the picture. Limited success!

Now in this one we get some lightning going sideways. Interesting! The lim…

Now THAT's a huge party

Oreo hosted a party this weekend.

That's him to the left. His Mother, Heather, helped some and on Friday she posted 12 times about various aspects of the party.

You see it was a joint party--NO! not that kind of joint. It was a joint birthday party for a number of cats (6 plus Oreo) with birthdays coming up soon.

Was it big, you ask? They had special areas for dogs to keep them out of the way, the pool was set up for the more adventurous felines, there were places for playing, sleeping, and even for hunting down a nasty ole snake. One Hell of a party, no doubt.

Heather has almost 1,000 comments just on those Friday posts. Now that's a lot of well wishing!

Of course when you're as personable as Oreo is, you expect that kind of attention.

Happy Birthday, Oreo.

ants and worms

A spectacle of nature at its most savage. The post-rain drama of worms versus ants has another chapter.

If you want greater detail, just click on another picture. If you're queasy at the thought of insect on invertebrate carnage, then you'd best hit your "back" button on your browser post-haste!

There were two worms involved in this. The one to the left and one below. Sights like this aren't for the faint of heart so I'll understand if you flee.

I mainly put these up because Carmi commented yesterday that he liked looking at the small world of insects via the macro setting of a camera. So here's another glimpse but a little less pastoral. Of course ants probably have a different take on the drama. For them it's lunch!

This is a picture of the second worm to meet the mean old ants. This one didn't do any better than the one up above.

Below you can see the whole tableau and how both worms met with diaster within a foot of one another. Tragic.

I took all …


*yawn* I didn't get much sleep last night either. I slept for a bit in a post-coital haze from 1 to 2:30am then some snoring woke me up. Once up, I decided to go back to the Tickled Pink book. I'd only read the first 2o pages and was curious about it.

I'm happy to say that it's not just a good start. The book reads quite well past there. I'm now half finished and I really like it. It helps that I've long admired the author, well known standup comedian Rita Rudner, but you don't need to be familiar with her to enjoy the book. It's quite well written.

We had quite a thunder and lightning show roll through here around 5am. I lost electricity for almost a minute so there's a lot of clocks that need to be apologized to so that they'll stop blinking. Drama queens!

It's still raining pretty hard but that's okay. We need the water and it's a nice break from a few days of hot weather. It's just under 65 now and it feels pretty good. I opene…


I've not been sleeping well for over a week now. I think it's largely related to work and the issues I was airing out on June 2 here on my blog. Sinus stuff is also contributing but I think it's mostly work. As a result of the lack of sleep, today was a "Bed Day". I didn't go to bed until around 3am Saturday morning and got up at 4:30am but I never gave up. By 1pm I think I had gotten at least 6 hours of sleep by going back to bed at least 4 times.

I feel a lot better though I'm sleepy again. Between taking pictures of bees, flowers, and an occasional ant plus watching the Braves for a while and then seeing the Carolina Hurricanes go down to a close defeat (2-1) in a hard fought and quite engaging hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers I managed to stay awake the rest of the day. Now it's a bit past midnight and I should get back to sleep! Eventually.

I finally finished the last 20 pages of the Misquoting Jesus book I mentioned the other day and now I…

Wicked Water is just the start

This week I have the honor of hosting Matt Urdan of Meltwater. Torrents. Meandering. Delta. His blog is dedicated to enjoying the outdoors. He's been blogging around for about 6 months and I happened upon his blog just a few weeks after his first post.

Since then he's done a lot of work on his template to improve the aesthetics and his content has always been first rate for anyone interested in the outdoors. As the title of his blog suggests, Matt takes a strong interest in sports related to rivers such as rafting, kayaking and canoeing. He currently lives in Ohio but spent most of his life in Michigan.

This week Matt's enlisted a number of other bloggers to guest host at his blog, including yours truly, and the resulting mix of interests really creates a spectrum for the reader. Today's post is by Tricia (of Tricia's Musings) and relates to an Environmental Studies course she took in high school that involved significant exposure to the wilds of nature. As you can p…

Bees go Bzzzzz Bzzzzz Bzzzzz

I've been taking a lot of pictures of bees these past 4 days but most of them have been out of focus. It's not my camera, it's those damn bees. They don't stop for more than a second or two on each flower due to lack of nectar.
The damn bees don't seem to be able to unnderstand that with so many bees around, they've totally depleted the stock of nectar in the flowers around my house.
Silly bees. (that go Buzzzz Buzzzzz, Buzzzzz)

By the way, I read 4 books this past week or so. I'll probably write somethng up about them in the next few days. They're:

Dead Watch: John Sandford
In the Shadow of the Law: Kermit Roosevelt
Heartstone: Phillip Margolin
& Misquoting Jesus: Bart Ehrman

Tina and the Magnolias

Doesn't that sound like the name of some obscure band that does Bar Mitzvahs and kiddy birthday parties? Tina and the Magnolias...

Well, if you thought so then you're going to be disappointed because what you really have is two pictures of magnolia blossoms and a plug for Recommended, a very nice blog run by Tina, a young woman living in Germany.

I ran a review of her blog earlier in the week but since then she's posted a number of times so here's an update.

On June 1st she pointed to a really neat program that graphically illustrates the code of a website as well as the web interconnections it makes. The graphic really looks good. Then on the second there was a post that pertained to Macs (boo, hiss!) so I skipped over that post!

On June third was the post that really interested me the most. It was an explanation and link to a site that showed how to grow plants upside down. This would mostly interest someone growing vegetables or maybe decorative vines. Perfect for tomat…

Cam Ward for President

Historically Hurricanes aren't welcome in the state of North Carolina. They kill people and damage property left and right. However right now the damage from NC Hurricanes is being shifted to Edmonton, Canada.

Coming from a 3-1 deficit after two periods in the first game of the Stanley Cup playoff, the Hurricanes went on to win the game 5-4 in an exhilirating, nay shocking, 3rd period. Cam Ward, the 22 year old rookie Goalie for the 'Canes, was instrumental in the win. He saved goal after goal, often by the last gasp defence of using his catching glove, allowing NC to come from behind and win the game. 34 saves in the game!

The offence was led by Ray Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour, who scored two goals each, for the 'Canes but that came late in the game. The Oilers dominated the game through the first two periods. Rod Brind'Amour, who plays Center for the 'Canes, was quite honest in an interview between the 2nd and 3rd periods and admitted they had little chance to …

Money in the Netherlands

This is the first time I've recieved one of these SPAMs that supposedly originated from the Netherlands. It's much better written than the typical Nigerian SPAMs. The originating Email and the response Email addresses weren't Dutch though so they might have covered that angle to be more complete.

All-in-all, it's a pretty good hook though. What do you think?

Dear Beloved Friend,

Let me first of all inform you, I got your email address from a mail Directory in my late husband's private library and decided to mail you for a permission to go ahead.

I am Mrs. Susan Brown from Holland. I am married to Dr. John Das Brown an London who worked with a construction company in Asia for twenty years before he died in the tsunami disasters, we were married but without Any children.Since his death I decided not to re-marry and presently I am 61 Years old.

When my la te husband was Alive he deposited the sum of 15.5 million dollars (Fifteen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) with …

yet another header set

I took this picture Sunday. I was trying to get pictures of bees and they were being their normal annoying flit everywhere and not stay still selves so I switched to some flowers and I just happened to get a nice--and quite accidental--picture of my house in the background here. I like the out of focus effect. I wish I could do that in real life then I'd not have to repaint my porch every other year.

The Magnolia tree I've posted a picture of a bloom from is just to the right of these bushes. I took some more pictures of them also and might post a few later on if I can't think of anything else to post. These are in my side yard, just up the hill a little from the road I live on.

I liked the picture so much that I decided I'd use it for my blog for a week or so. Do you like the picture--and do you think it looks good on the blog? Heaven knows I have plenty of other headers I can be using. I suspect Oreo will prefer one with a cat in it. LOL

The Header up above and the Foo…

A video and other tidbits

Panthergirl, aka Marian, has this video featured on her Blog and it's well worth a look. She related to it particularly due to her young son, Lucas, missing his father.

The video is quite good, as is the song also. It's entitled JCB Music Video and is by Nizlopi. It's executed in Flash 8, the screen capture to the left is the credits from the vid.

The song relates the feelings of a 5 year old boy as he rides along with his father in a tractor going down a highway.

As for Nizlopi:

Luke and John have been making music together since the day they first met on the school bus at the age of 13. In a world of manufactured pre-packaged artists these two young men represent the freshest most original sound imaginable. They take just about every genre you can imagine and blend it into the most compelling sound in the UK today. No wonder the Grammy award winning LA producer Bob Marlette says of them, "The UK's most talented and exciting live acoustic duo - these boys have someth…


I had a bit of a scare a few minutes ago. I saw a ghost from the past. Booo!

After I finished mowing the front and side portions of my yard I picked up my mail by the road. Two magazines were in there (Fortune & Saveur) so I decided to glance through them on my deck while I was cooling off from the mowing. So far, so good.

Well, on the cover of Fortune there's an old photo of the original Mac team at Apple Computer. There were only 7 people in the photo, sitting and standing around a piano, so I quickly glanced at it then dismissed it from my mind. That picture was the lead-in for an article about some of the great corporate teams in history and obviously the Apple team that created the Mac was one of them. Indirectly I knew quite a bit about the team so I was curious about what was in the article.

Inside the magazine there was a more complete picture of the team that created the Mac and lo and behold, my ex-wife was in the front row. I didn't think I'd ever see that fac…

science story

The following is a story off of the science section of the Reuters Newswire service. It's an interesting story but I don't think the conclusion necessarily follows the evidence. It could be valid, but there are other more likely explanations.

Since I doubt the researchers being quoted are foolish, the fault probably lies in the reporting not the research being done--and this is often a problem when reporters convert science work into marketable stories for widespread distribution.

Here's the situation: a discovery of some mutant figs, according to the story, pushes back the origination of organized agriculture nearly 5,000 years--almost double the current estimate. Now, in my mind that's a huge change and as such quite likely wrong. So the first thing I'd do is see if there's an alternate explanation.

Of course there is an alternate--the figs were gathered from a wild tree that the village folk fortuitously found. To hypothesize that organized orchards were develo…

no longer Friday

We're a few minutes into Saturday and honestly I'm not sorry to see Friday in my rearview window. You know how some days just get under your skin and annoy you like a tick's head?

Well, that was Friday to me. A tick head under the skin.

I guess it didn't start off bad but I woke up very tired and I suspected things weren't going to get any better. I don't put much store by premonitions--but the hair on my arms was standing up on this one, baby. LOL

In retrospect, the day wasn't bad enough to warrent a premonition. No car wrecks, no failed romances, no bad medical diagnosis, not even a stubbed toe befell me. Yet I didn't like the day from the first minute and I'm glad it's gone. Weird.

In case you're curious about what did happen in my day--prepare to be bored to tears. For the most part, I don't do very interesting things.

At work I juggle 3 projects and the one I think should have the highest priority isn't topmost on the list for my bos…


I had a bumper crop of potential tenants this week. 14. The most I've ever had, I think. Too many to review so I'll just mention the one I picked, Recommended,which appears over there at the top of my left column and the 3 runner up blogs.

Recommended is a blog run by Tina, a 28 year old woman in Berlin, Germany. I chose her due to the content of her blog. Tina's blog is filled with things that she's found on the Internet that she likes or is interested in. Her design isn't so great--at least not to me--and when you first go there you might think you're on an advertisement blog but that's just the look she has going there.

Tina started her blog in January of this year and the first recommendation she had was for a photo blog "daily dose of imagery". This is a photo blog focused (sorry--bad joke) mainly on the city of Toronto but also has pictures from France, the UK and Iran. Almost every day, Tina has a new recommendation for something you can do,…