Showing posts from September, 2006

more damn animals

More pictures from the NC Zoo. These are the first ones I took that day.

These giraffes were the first animals we saw. We arrived just after the park opened at 9am. The giraffes shared their enclosure with...

...a small herd of zebras who were hiding over a hill when we first got there. We spent about 15 minutes at this section and gradually the zebras came closer to us--that's a termite mound that the zebra is behind

The third group of animals to appear were several ostriches. They looked kinda silly but very big!

And below is a photo of them all grouped somewhat together. We left right after I took this picture and went off to see a warthog next that wasn't very cooperative and then the lions.

Nitroflex at home

I mentioned a few days ago that I'd purchased off of Craig's List an exercise machine. A Nitroflex, to be more specific, for the grand sum of $75.

The boxes you see to the left were bought by the seller as discontinued merchandise over a year ago and stored in his back yard storage shed. You might be able to see some of the bugs and such that had made their homes on these boxes. I left them out on my deck for a few days before opening them to allow the insects to leave gracefully or die in the sun.

The picture to the left is the pieces from the box, unboxed, and up in one of my upstairs bedrooms. For the most part it wasn't difficult to move it around though two pieces were heavy and a number of them were kinda long and bulky to be wandering about the house with.

Surprisingly, this kit didn't require any extra tools. There were two allen keys and one combo wrench included in the boxes and that was all it took to put it together.

The whole thing only took about half an hour…

book and television commentary

Last week I read most of Lisa Scottoline's book Devil's Corner. I took nearly 5 days to bother with the last 3 chapters but finally did finish the book last night. I've read 3 other books by Scottoline and have found her to be a decent writer. This book doesn't merit that designation though. I was quite disappointed with it and don't recommend it. Most of the reviews I've seen of the book on the web are positive, so if you like her as an author--feel free to give it a shot but don't say I didn't warn you!

Okay. This is a stand alone book by Scottoline though it still takes place in Philidelphia like her other books. The protagonist is Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA as it's referred to constantly in the book) Vicki Allegretti and she's an overly earnest and emotional caricature. Seriously, this struck me many times as a book written by a man since the depiction of Vicki Allegretti was so often just sketchy and 2-Dimensional.

Here's the …

hiking umstead

I didn't do all that much this weekend. On Saturday I picked up a piece of exercise equipment that I saw advertised on Craig's List. It was only $75 and I thought that was a good deal--we'll just have to see if I actually use it! Anyway, the person I bought it from lived fairly close to Umstead Park so I went there afterwards with my girlfriend. Neither of us has hiked at Umstead Park in over a year which is a shame since there's some nice trails there. Here's a map of the place.

We did the Company Mill Trail but half way through my girlfriend was getting a bit overheated--it was in the low to mid 80s by the time we got there--so we cut off the last bit of the loop and came back across the trail using the Reedy Creek Trail. So instead of doing a 5.8 mile hike it was more like 4.8 miles. The only bad part was I twisted my ankle a bit. It's swollen and tender but not sprained. I've hurt my ankles so many times that they're both kinda loose so they turn ove…


Saturday Siesta at Utenzi's

kitty comfort

This post is for Oreo. His mom is kinda hurt. Her knee is having problems and I thought a few pictures of kitties from the zoo might cheer him up--and maybe his mommie too.

I'm sure Oreo's mommy would appreciate it if you'd stop by and say hi. I don't think she's moving around very well right now.

This picture is of a shy lioness. Or maybe she's sad and wiping tears...maybe she's sad 'cause of the hurt knee too, Oreo.

The next picture down is of a cat that just wouldn't wake up to have his picture taken. Go figure. He was in one of the caged sections so he probably wasn't all that happy anyway. Does that happen to you, Oreo, when you're sad? Do you just sleep?

The third picture is of a mountain lion (aka cougar). They had a pretty big outside enclosure and there were two of them but both were hiding. The other cat was way up on a cliff like rock and you could only see the rump and tail, this one was hiding behind some bushes. I kinda suspect he…

gorilla in the grass

I'm in a rut here. More pictures from the NC Zoo, I'm afraid. Here's two pictures of a gorilla. There were 4 gorillas, I think, in the enclosure but this is the biggest one.

Here's a shot from a distance so you can get a feel for what the place looked like. It was pretty big--big enough that I couldn't be sure if I had seen all the gorillas in there--and looked well designed. Not that I wanted to move in there or anything, but they did have a "jungle gym" thingy that looked like a lot of fun.

This picture is a little closer in and you can get a grasp that this fellow could tear one of us apart, limb by limb. That is one sturdy fellow.

I watched a few more new shows tonight after doing some mowing. I liked Studio 60 quite a bit and think it has a lot of potential to continue a high quality level across the entire season. Smith was pretty good but the characters weren't very cuddly and lovable--to say the least--so I'm more likely to drop that one if …

Steve Irwin

I was watching coverage of Steve Irwin's Memorial Service tonight on Animal Planet. It was a nice tribute, touching at times though too upbeat for my taste. No doubt it was in line with the way he would have wanted it. Celebrate life and not mourn death.

Perhaps the most touching part was when his friend and coworker (I can't remember his name) gave an eulogy and broke up near the end--they'd been together since the fellow was 14 and Irwin was only a year or two older, next would be when Irwin's daughter, Bindi, read off a brief memorial statement about her dad. It's quite obvious that she loves to be in front of an audience so I have little doubt that she'll be willing --and able-- to take his place in a few years. Russel Crowe's remarks were also quite obviously heartfelt and moving.

To me, the Retrospective Special that Animal Planet showed immediately before the Memorial Show was even more moving. The special was made a few years ago and really summed up …

Arrrrrr, thar be lions to starboard, matey

My digital camera, while not an expensive SLR-type does have a fairly good 12X optical zoom lens. So I'm able to get close ups like the one to the left of two lions easily despite their being far away.

This is the royal couple with the male leading, as it should be.

LOL I know, I know. It's the females that do the hunting while the male just lays about getting ready to screw a lot (male paradise?)--so I guess the female should be leading, huh?

And the queen in all her glory. That is some stare she has! I'd hate to be the antelope that she takes an interest in!

In non-zoo matters, I've recovered enough from that nasty cold to do my mowing. I did the front of my yard last night for a little over an hour. Even though it was only in the upper 70s, I was sweating to death. I guess having a cold for a week really diminishes ones endurance.

I watched a few of the new season TV shows last night but not the two I should have: first episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC) a…

bare and bear

Last night was the first episode of the 10th season of The Amazing Race (TAR). I really liked the teams this time around. While I really liked the teams in the first season of TAR, more often than not since then I've found the contestants boring and often annoying. Frequently you can't even remember who's who until half way through the season. But not this time--I like every single team to one degree or another. And that's a bit of a problem because--well I can't say up here 'cause it involves spoilers--so read on below the polar bears if you've seen the show...

The picture below was taken on Sunday when my girlfriend and I visited the NC Zoo for a very long day. We got there at 9:30am and stayed on our feet until we left at 4pm. That was a lot of walking and my feet were very sore by the time we got back to the car.

I ended up taking 307 photos and my battery was redlined in the display it was so low on juice. It's a good thing I'd recharged it jus…

sex can be beautiful

Sex can be beautiful--but not this time. Sorry. We're talking about slug-love here today and it's not a pretty sight, unless maybe you're another slug.

The two parties are aware of each other here and slowly look around. They're slugs so it's a VERY slow look, y'know?

Oh, ho! There's some interest going on. The little horns are coming out and you know what that means. Two horny slugs. And they're on the prowl!

Up above only one was showing active interest with the "nose" in the others butt, but here we see the interest is mutual and now there's two slugs with butt-noses. Ain't love grand?

Eeeeek! I went inside for 20 minutes and when I came out the foreplay must have finished. Look what's going on now with those two love-invertebrates! They're slimed together and in quite a clinch. I guess slugs aren't slow at everything--no doubt female slugs blame male slugs for the speedy performance and lack of foreplay.

Now they've thr…

men in trees and birds that aren't

I watched the second episode of Men in Trees last night--the new ABC show starring Anne Heche--and liked it a lot better than the debut I saw on Tuesday. I don't know if it's got the legs to last the season but it's getting off to a pretty good start here. The supporting cast, which is slowly being introduced, is interesting and should add enough substance to the show to keep the momentum going.

As a contrast, here's some birds that aren't in trees. They're attacking the seeds on a plant that's just off of my back deck. I took the picture yesterday when I came home after work.

breast cancer

Enough about television and my damn cold that just won't go away completely (down to just a cough now, thanks for asking!), now it's back to something more serious. Breast cancer. In case you've not been here before, research on breast cancer is what I do for a living. I use molecular biological techniques, particularly DNA microarrays, to determine what effects, if any, drugs have on the proliferation of breast cancer cells both in vivo and in vitro.

2-methoxyestradiol (2ME) is my main focus these days and it's in the body of almost every woman already. That's because it's a natural breakdown product of estrogen. Using 2ME clinically requires higher doses than normally appears in the body and its use is still experimental with clinical trials taking place in several places in the US.

But that's all beside the point since my topic for today is the difference in cancer outcome across ethnic groups. I was just giving some background up there.

African American wo…

Bones and my health

Bones made it's second season start tonight. I wasn't there to greet it though. I've watched 2 episodes and parts of 2 others and each time I find it very annoying. I almost recorded tonight's show just in case I wanted to see if it'd gotten any better...but why torture myself? The actress that plays the lead sucks...she's so whiny! And the "banter" between her and that FBI agent...irritating as Hell. It's hard to believe that this show --which technically is a disaster, making a mockery out of forensics-- is based on the excellent books by Kathy Reichs.

Yes, I do like to complain. What about it? LOL

Speaking of complaning, my cold is starting to slink out the back as we speak. I've still got a slight fever and scratchy throat but I'm much improved over this afternoon. Only a nasty cough and headache remains. I went into work for a half day today and tomorrow I presume I'll stay all day.

I watched the third episode of Justice --the crimin…

Men in Trees

Last night a new ABC show debuted. Men in Trees. The premise is a relationship self-help author is signed up to go to a very small town in Alaska to promote her new book--I know, I know - the bullshit meter is running high already-- and while she's there she decides all men are scum but decides to stick around in Alaska and forgo an appearance on Oprah to study men and try to decipher them. Now, I grant you that almost anything would be better than being on Oprah--but maybe this is that "almost anything" that is worse. LOL

I didn't like the first episode all that much but I think the show has potential. I found the writing to be uneven with a good scene here and there and stupid stuff all around them. Having a raccoon raiding a closet for clothing in winter seemed odd to me--you'd think the little furball would be more interested in food and besides, the clothes probably won't fit. I thought the standup routines in the show were much better written than the ou…

am I dying?

Am I dying? At this point I don't care. I picked up a bug --probably from Peter, the guy that runs the lab that I work in-- and it's really a bothersome thing. The two people that work under him were out 3 days last week and might have been out yesterday as well--I didn't see any of them. While I went to work in the morning, I gave up on it around noon and came home. I won't be going in today either. My voice barely works and every time my fever breaks I start sweating to death . The same thing was happening to Peter last week but he was there at the lab anyway. Spreading his viruses to the rest of us, I might add!

This has been a bad week for my poor head and bod. Friday I was out from work due to a migraine that unbeknownst to me at the time presages a sinus infection. Friday night and Saturday I was suffering the symptoms of a mild Gall Bladder mishap and then this cold made its presence known around the same time as the sinus infection started draining. At first I …

new television season

The new shows are getting started for the Fall Season. FOX has several shows started and most of the other networks are staggering the start of their new shows and returning shows over the next 3 weeks.

So far I've seen 3 new shows, all on FOX. One episode each of the half hour comedies 'Til Death and Happy Hour and 2 episodes of the drama Justice. The two comedies had some funny lines but at least for me they didn't seem worth bothering with. Brad Garrett, who played the older brother on Everybody Loves Raymond, is the main reason to watch 'Til Death---but that's not enough to carry a show. On the other hand, I really liked both episodes of Justice which surprised me. I wasn't expecting to like it due to the slimy nature of the premise. The show follows the backroom workings of a law firm that specializes in defending high profile celebrity cases.

What I'm looking forward to most this season is the return of The Amazing Race. That show will make it's re…

pet peeve

I'm going to sound like Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes here but I hate it when I get short changed when I buy a book.

The book in question is Janet Evanovich's recently released Twelve Sharp, the newest novel in the Stephanie Plum series. It was published in June and retails at $26.95 though most of the chains routinely discount it 30-40%. I bought it at Amazon sight-unseen. If I'd actually looked at it before buying, I'd not have bought it.

The content of the novel is good if you like the Plum series. It's familiar territory and Evanovich doesn't do anything startling here but if you've liked the other books in the series you'll like this one as well. It's a light frothy read with the sex tease aspects as usual, this time going as far as several purchases in a "marital aids" type store for some humor. Of course the Morelli/Ranger triangle is going as strong as ever but in this book Stephanie must be a little frustrated. I think she only gets l…

farting can kill us all

Neat title huh? A little misleading though. It's the farting of the earth that I'm referring to. Little "e" here since I'm not talking about the planet but rather small portions of it in artic regions.

According to Dr Katey Walter, lead author of a study being published in the Thursday, Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature, "The effects can be huge. It's coming out a lot and there's a lot more to come out." Dr Walter is referring to the methane embedded in the soil beneath lakes in the tundra regions of Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada.

That's her over to the left. Kinda cute, huh? She's testing for released methane over in Siberia in that picture. Looks too damn cold there for me!

The reason this is a concern is that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane traps 23 times more heat per molecule. Until recently the ain source of methane in the atmosphere was assumed to be rotting vegetation and cow farts.…

television meme

I'm moving this one from Naomi over at Here in the Hills onward across the Internet. Feel free to do it on your blog also...

Instructions: Bold (or change the color) of all of the following TV shows which you've seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime. Bold and Italicize a show if you're positive you've seen every episode of it. If you want, add up to 3 additional shows (keep the list in alphabetical order).

3rd Rock from the Sun
7th Heaven
Aeon Flux
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Allo Allo
American Idol/Pop Idol/Canadian Idol/Australian Idol
America's Next Top Model/Germany's Next Top Model
Arrested Development
Babylon 5
Babylon 5: CrusadeBattlestar
Galactica (the old one)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Beavis & Butthead
The Ben Stiller Show
Beverly Hills 90210
Bosom Buddies
Boston Legal
Boy Meets World
Brady Bunch
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bug Juice
Chappelle's Show
Charlie's Angels
China Beach

Stephen Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter

Stephen Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter (February 1962 --September 2006), died on September 4th when a stingray off the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, pierced his chest with its stinger. While stingray injuries are rarely fatal, there's often an allergic reaction to stingray venom and being exposed near the heart can be fatal.

Irwin owned and operated the Australia Zoo at Beerwah in Queensland. He was quite famous internationally for his role in the TV show The Crocodile Hunter which initially began in 1992 with filmed footage of his honeymoon with his wife Terri in which they trapped and relocated crocodiles.

Due to his enormous amount of energy, enthusiasm, and 'good guy' appeal, Irwin's death affects me more than any other celebrity I can recall. His being only 44 has some influence but it's mostly because he just seemed to love life so much. His enthusiasm for his zoo and tv show as well as his family imbued everything he did with a sense of immediacy. …

is my potato breathing?

Is your potato breathing? Yes it is, but very slowly.

I was reading an article on Thursday by a science reporter and he wrote a line something like: "Unlike animals, plants don't breathe oxygen or exhale carbon dioxoide instead..."

That mistaken notion is one of my pet peeves and I've seen it made many times. Sometimes even by biologists. Let's set the record straight. Plants breathe oxygen just like you or I--they just don't use lungs. We're all descended from the same unicellular creature billions of years ago--but don't expect a tree, bush, or head of lettuce to attend your family reunion. We have been drifting apart from plants for quite some time.

In case you're wondering why in frickin' Hell you should care that plants breathe (actually the correct term is respirate as in respiration), it's because it changes the way we should treat them. If you want to slow down a plants internal processes, just deprive them of oxygen and slow down the…


I watched March of the Penguins tonight for the first time. Yesterday evening I watched the supplementary material on the DVD.

I enjoyed the documentary though I didn't feel myself all that affected by it personally. I've been told by others that they cried at parts--but after watching I can't figure out where. Maybe it was Morgan Freeman's voice--he was very matter-of-fact about it all--or maybe it was the funny way they walk, but I never felt emotionally connected to the cute buggers. In one of those smaltzy Disney movies they follow one family and you connect, but here it's a real documentary and that personal involvement is missing. At least it was for me.

Regardless, it was a very good picture just not as emotionally moving as I was expecting. I guess I shouldn't believe all of what I hear and read, huh? If I'd watched it not having heard about it beforehand I'd have been delighted, I'm sure. As it turned out, I liked the documentary Of Penguins …

bush and midterm politics

While I was getting ready for work this morning I watched some of President Bush's speechifying to the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City yesterday. I was quite impressed with his technique, actually. Usually his public speaking skills make him seem more like a bad standup comedian instead of a world leader but I thought he came across much better yesterday. His delivery was stern, direct, and most of all serious. Normally he seems to be trying to tell jokes with pauses for laughter--but not yesterday. It took 6 years in office but he's finally able to deliver a speech.

The downside is that the content was just the same old bullshit. The war in Iraq is the only way to stem the tide of terrorism--whereas the rest of the world recognizes the Iraq conflict as the world's training ground for incipient terrorists as well as a huge recruitment tool for said terrorists.

"If we give up the fight in the streets in Baghdad, we will
face the terrorists in the streets of…