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Showing posts from November, 2006

Tarheels hit the Buckeyes hard

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I'm not a basketball fan and normally don't watch the games but I just happened to catch the first few minutes of the UNC versus Ohio State game Wednesday night. Wow. I was immediately hooked. These were two very motivated and skilled teams. Both teams have an unusually large contingent of young players with a lot to prove and it really showed on the court.

The Buckeyes (Ohio) were dominant in the first half but the Tarheels (NC) hung tight. Sometimes trailing by as much as 10 but ending the half just down by 4. It was anybody's game at that point but the Heels came out of the gate fast in the second half and took the first 9 points unanswered for a 5 point lead. After that UNC had the momentum though the game was never a runaway.

The final score was 98-89 in favor of North Carolina. Ohio was ranked 3rd in the nation and UNC 7th going into the game so in that sense it was an upset. Some might argue that with UNC playing in the Dean Dome, their home court, and the Buckeyes mi…

A few medical jokes

Medicare Health Insurance, in a nutshell:
The phone rings and the lady of the house answers, "Hello."

"Mrs. Ward, please." "Speaking"

"Mrs. Ward, this is Doctor Jones at the Medical Testing Laboratory.

When your doctor sent your husband's biopsy to the lab yesterday, a biopsy from another Mr. Ward arrived as well, and we are now uncertain which one is your husband's. Frankly the results are either bad or terrible."

"What do you mean?" Mrs. Ward asks nervously.

"Well, one of the specimens tested positive for Alzheimer's and the other one tested positive for AIDS. We can't tell which your husband's is."

"That's dreadful! Can't you do the test again?" questioned Mrs. Ward.

"Normally we can, but Medicare will only pay for these expensive tests one time."

"Well, what am I supposed to do now?"

"The people at Medicare recommend that you drop your husband off somewhere in the middl…

mission impossible

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I just bought Mission Impossible the other day from Barnes & Noble. They sent me a 25% off coupon and I couldn't resist. No, it's not the movie. It's the old TV series. At long last, the first season is being released on December 5th.

I remember watching the Mission Impossible shows as a kid and really liking them. However I didn't see them until around the 4th season when I was 9. In 1966, when the first season aired, I was just 5 and much too young to watch the show. What's really weird to me is that Peter Graves wasn't on that first season--in my mind I identify the show strongly with him. Instead, the lead was held by Steven Hill better known now for his role in Law & Order.

In keeping with the topic of Mission Impossible, here's your mission, should you choose to accept it:


The picture above was taken without zooming. I went as far as I could up the steam with my kayak until it was grounded. As I gazed around me I realized I could see some moveme…

60 Minutes and The Amazing Race

I'm going to mention a few spoilers about TAR below so don't read that section if it's going to ruin your day, okay?

The middle segment on 60 Minutes last night was about chemicals in the brain and how they affect memory. I thought it was very interesting but not terribly surprising though some of the implications were dicey.

The segment was titled A Pill to Forget and it described research into Propranolol, a drug currently used to treat high blood pressure, and its affect on memory. It apparently acts by blocking epinephrine (adrenaline) binding sites in the brain.

It's long been known that epinephrine acts to enhance memory. Who hasn't been in a scary situation which remains in the memory far longer than any normal memory? The adrenal cortex releases epinephrine when we're mad or scared (often referred to as the fight or fright reaction) and the resulting memories are often our most vivid. That fight in 3rd grade, or when we heard about 9/11, or the car acciden…

appliance surgery

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Today my girlfriend and I did a little surgery. Her kitchen range had two burners that weren't working and in a moment of daring we decided to fix them ourselves. Scary thought!



It actually turned out to be fairly easy though there were two episodes of minor fireworks during the troubleshooting session. The worse of the two left some scorch marks on the lip of the door from where a couple of wires fused in a moment of electrical ecstasy but all ended well. At least the house hasn't burned down. Yet.

The problem turned out to be that a wire that supplied power to the left side of her range had broken off right where it connected to the power source. We just needed to disconnect the other leads (there were a total of 5 and of course the one we needed to fix was on the bottom so they all needed to come off).

The only fly in the ointment was that we had a small arc when we reconnected everything for reasons that weren't clear. That arc fused two wires (and made me jump nearly 2 f…

a hike along a lake

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My girlfriend and I went on a hike around a lake today to try to burn off a few Kcals from a large breakfast. The water was beautiful, reflecting the blues of the sky as well as the remaining fall colors on the trees. In the picture above, a lone heron was keeping watch, ensuring the peace, as winter's inexorable approach continues abated only slightly by lovely days like this.

Iron Chef America and Flay / De Laurentiis vs. Batali / Ray

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Does anyone else watch those Iron Chef shows? I used to a few years back. They were so campy and fun but eventually I tired of them--and so when The Food Network started an "American" version this past year I watched the first few episodes. They were good but not good enough to watch every time so after the first 3 or 4 episodes I stopped watching.

Fortunately the other day I noticed that Iron Chef America was having a special episode in which the format was extended to 90 minutes and two guest "chefs" were added to accompany the Iron Chefs. The pairing? Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis vs. Mario Batali and Rachel Ray.

I loved the show. It was funny as Hell. It started showing on Nov 13th but I didn't see it listed until Wednesday the 22nd. It's on the schedule for another month so there's plenty of time to catch it if you'd like to see it. After I saw the competition I read a review of the show on another blog and it's hilarious. Supposedly the…

weather causes?

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Today is a holiday here in the USA. Thanksgiving. I'm not celebrating it today but rather putting it off until Saturday. As a result, instead of a thanking post, I'm going to vent a bit about the weather. Deal with it! LOL

Here in eastern North Carolina people were commenting about the weather a few weeks back. The reason for that is that for 6 weeks we had wonderful weather Monday through Friday and then we'd have cold and usually rainy weather for the weekend. It was getting to be quite remarkable but two weeks ago that trend ended. Since then we've had cold weather every day and most of those days were rainy and very windy. Nearly a third of those days had such bad weather that they received coverage on the national news.

So, you might ask, what caused this trend change? I'm glad you asked!! Sure, some people will say it's global warming, or maybe God's wrath, or even that old excuse El Nina. Some or all of those might find some resonance in your mind but …

Joe Haldeman and a dock in the mist

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I read a book by Joe Haldeman over the weekend. The title is Old Twentieth referring to the 20th Century. Haldeman writes science fiction and he's most well known for the excellent book The Forever War which was his highly fictionalized reflection on the war in Vietnam and his part in it. He won the Huge and Nebula awards for that novel. The two most prestigious awards in the SF genre.

This book isn't bad, but I'm glad I picked it up from a remainders table. For $7 it's fine, but I'd not say it's worth the list price of $24.95. In a limited way it reminds me of The Expected One, a book by Kathleen McGowan that I read last week. In both these books there's a thread running through them that is supposed to be the "extra material" but ends up being more interesting than the main plot. In McGowan's book it's the excerpts from Mary Magdalene's diary, in Old Twentieth it's the summaries of different years of the 20th century and some of t…

kayak in the mist

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I'm back home in North Carolina. I was at my parent's place in SC for 5 days and left there for home at 10:27pm Monday and arrived back here at 2:02am on Tuesday. No rain this trip though it must have been close all the way. The weather channel showed a lot of stormy weather on the coastal regions. I guess it just didn't stretch far enough inland to impact me.

It's been blustery all day today and it started raining hard around 2:15pm. 39f and dropping which is nasty when combined with the wind and rain. I'm glad I'm inside!

Here's the first of several pictures I'll put up on here from my morning kayak trip on Sunday. It was by far the best day for pictures since the mist was incredible. I'll add more pictures tomorrow when I have some time and I might make a new picture blog just for kayaking pictures. Be warned, I have many many thousands of them so if I even post a few percent of them....

docks and boats

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As it turned out, I did go kayaking on Sunday morning. While it was cold, the mist banked up and proved to be irresistable. Unfortunately it dissipated soon after I got out on the lake but I put in 2 hours of paddling anyway. Screw the mist! I'll post some pictures from that morning in a few days when I get back home to NC.

I took these pictures on Saturday morning. The pictures here were taken after I got finished paddling. The first was taken just after I pulled the kayak up on the dock. I saw the mist through the frame of the boat in the dock and decided to use that as a picture "frame". The following two pictures were taken on the bank above the lake.



kayaking pictures

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Here's 3 pictures I took Saturday morning while out kayaking around dawn. The first one is just the sun starting to shine through some trees. I took that one just before turning around and coming back. The second picture is of a stump out in the water and the picture just came out that way. No Photoshoping involved.

I liked the way the stump looked and took something like 20 pictures of it--this one is on the artistic side. Most of the others have more emphasis on the mist and shore with the stump being a focal point.

The third picture is of my kayak heading into the sun while the lake was still shrouded in mist. It looks about the same out today but I don't plan on going out until it's warmer. Yesterday was around 30f when I went out on the lake and 37f when I came back. I can wait until tomorrow before I face cold water like that again!





deer at lake

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So, what do you think about President Bush in Vietnam? It took him nearly 40 years to find the place but it's nice that he finally got there. Just like a guy--he probably was never willing to ask directions. That also would explain Iraq.

Here's three pictures of a deer I took yesterday while kayaking. I came up on it pretty quiet but scared it off when I made a little sound while unstrapping my camera from the front of my kayak. I waited it out and you can see the deer in the first picture starting to climb back down to the waterfront. In the second picture the deer had moved down to the shore area and was looking around cautiously, and in the last picture it had started to graze.



Friday in SC

I departed my house in NC at exactly 3am on Thursday but I should have been more flexible. There was a terrible electrical storm raging at the time and the roads were really loaded with water. I slid around a few times on secondary roads before getting to the Interstate. It was raining the entire 4 hour trip which made things less than pleasant--and I find that as I get older, having headlights on wet roads makes it harder to get a quick read on what's going on around me. Fortunately since I was driving in the wee hours of the day things were pretty quiet.

I spent most of the day talking to my parents. Normally I'd spend part of the day kayaking but the wind was so bad that the State had put out an advisory telling people to stay off the lake in small to medium size boats--so off I stayed. I did go out for 3 hours today and it was okay. I like it when it's really cold because then there's lots of mist rising off of the lake in the hour or so before dawn. Today it only …

This and that

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I'm leaving for my parent's place in SC in a few hours. When I can, I prefer to avoid driving in heavy traffic so I time multi hour trips so as to avoid rush hour. In this case, I'm leaving at 3am on a 4 hour trip and will arrive at 7am which just so happens to be a great time to be out on the lake kayaking. Neat, huh? I'll probably say hi to the Parentals and their dogs before launching out tho.

I watched that new CBS show 3 lbs last night. It started out quite good but faded a lot before the end. I'll watch the next couple episodes but I'm on the fence right now. The main thing it has going for it is two really good actors. Stanley Tucci plays the lead, a crusty but talented doctor --do you think they're aiming at House with this?-- and Mark Feuerstein is his new attending. They're both highly talented neurosurgeons. After all, if you want to go after all the other medical shows, you're not going to use run of the mill GPs, are you?

I don't kno…

The Expected One

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The Expected One is by Kathleen McGowan. I'd heard about it from Nancy on her blog Crazed Mom. I posted a pre-review of sorts last week when I'd read the first 80 pages and didn't like it at all. However while I still hold to those criticisms I think the book is quite interesting and for some people it'd be a great book to read. I'm very glad I read it and might well buy the sequels that are sure to follow.

While many of the standard writing devices don't work well in McGowan's hands, her novel is a very interesting one. Working in soil already tilled by Brown's wildly popular and poorly written book, The DaVinci Code, McGowan makes a much more interesting case for historical oversight. In this book McGowan hypothesizes that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, which is pretty safe territory these days, but also says that Mary was first the wife of John the Baptist before he lost his head in politics.

I'm agnostic so I only know the ins and outs of C…

the big picture and the small

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This looks pretty gross, doesn't it?
Well, there's a little more to the story than meets the eye. I included the tire in the above picture to increase the sense of abandonment and the trashy aspect of the green over the pond. This just looks like an expanse of nasty algae filled water that nothing could survive in.

The close-up picture below shows that the pond's not choked with algae, but with Duckweed. While duckweed can also be bothersome, it's a great source of protein and doesn't choke out aquatic organisms the way that algal blooms can.

This particular bit of water is a somewhat stagnant area off of Beaver Creek near Apex, NC. The creek supports a wide assortment of life including, as you might guess from the name, beavers. I went there trying to get pictures of the beavers since I'd heard that you can make money on the Internet from beavers shots. I did find two, but the two I saw were never close enough for me to focus on quickly enough. With my 12X zoom …

turkey breakfast

Good morning, everyone.

No work for me today. Or tomorrow. Or et cetera. Some of our normals from breast reductions didn't work well so while the pathology core is generating new ones I'm taking two weeks off of work. There were some other things I could do, but I'd built up way too much vacation and this was a good time to take 8 days off. What with the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US being next Thursday and Friday, I don't go back to work until Monday 2 weeks from now. Nice, huh?

So right now instead of going into work I'm relaxing here in the study eating a big turkey breakfast (cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy and a glass of wine plus turkey, of course) while writing this post.

Later on I'll be going out to pick up some gasoline. We've had so much warm weather lately that my lawn is still growing. Damn it to Hell! LOL Actually I don't mind since it's such a nice way to be outside in the lovely weather--but I'm totally out of gas so I…

this weekend

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It's been a quiet weekend so far. Yesterday was a lovely day, as was Friday. Unfortunately it's been raining since about 11pm so I don't think Sunday will be a good day to be outdoors. It was pouring much of the night but it's sounding a little quieter outside right now.

Yesterday we did a little shopping and wandering about. Harris-Teeter was doing a turkey sale so we got a 19+ pounder for $3.63 (19 cents a pound on sale) which was a good start for a big dinner. It's been thawing ever since and we plan to have it later today. Yum!

I also picked up something at Eckerd's Drugstore. A hair removal kit thingy. This is a bit weird but my nose hairs drive me nuts 'cause my mustache hairs are constantly tickling my nose. I finally decided to try one of those chemical things like Nair to see if it'd work. So I did that last night. The first nostril I treated for 6 minutes and it didn't do very much. The second one I used the chemical for a bit over 8 minute…

there are 15 others out there

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Angela-Marie over at Rocks and Garbage has an interesting online site-game mentioned in a post. It's a site that searchs out how many people exist in the US with your first and last name.


HowManyOfMe.com

There are:
16
people with my name
in the U.S.A.
How many have your name?



If I run this with my first name being "David" I get the number above. 16. However if I run it with the first name of "Dave" then I get ZERO! So I guess it's very sensitive to variations in spelling and nicknames, etc. It's my last name that narrows things down since there's only 1,350 people--according to this site--that have my last name. Over 3 million have my first name--even more if you include the variation "dave".

So, how many people are there with your name out there? Inquiring minds want to know!

Murder By The Book

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Murder by the Book is a new television show on Court TV. It starts up on November 13th, at least here in the US. Murder Mysteries and their origins is what it is all about. What it consists of is interviews and such with famous mystery writers. The initial shows are with James Ellroy, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Michael Connelly and Lisa Scottoline. It sounds very interesting to me. I especially look forward to Connelly.

Here's the description of the show from the Court TV website:

Using documentary footage, first-person accounts and the author's own insights, each one-hour episode sheds new light on a particularly intriguing crime. With alarming new facts combined with suspenseful storytelling, riveting developments are the rule in each dramatic opening and every shocking conclusion.

The first show features James Ellroy. I'm definitely going to record these since I don't trust my memory enough to be sure I'll remember to watch them.

writing devices and Kathleen McGowan

I read a review of the book The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan on a blog a few months ago. I think it might have been Nancy's but I'm not sure. In any case, it took a while for me to get it at the library so I just started reading it 3 weeks ago. It sucks! At least so far. I'm only 83 pages into it and I've already had to take two breaks from it and read other books to clear my mental palate.

This isn't a review of the book The Expected One. I'll wait until I finish it. What I'm going to discuss here is a writing device or two. For an inexperienced author or a bad one--and I'm in both those categories--the easiest way to get a plot that moves along and doesn't bog down is to do a variation on a Scavenger Hunt. You have your protagonist in danger and he or she finds a clue that forces a change in location, followed by more clues and more travel. Of course this isn't really a plot--but it seems like one while you're reading and it's quit…

Election results

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The Democrats took the House, which was expected for the past month or so, but it looks quite possible that the Democrats might also take the Senate, which is quite a shock. In all liklihood, Virginia won't be decided until after a recount which might not be decided until the end of the year.

Of course the big mover here is the war in Iraq. The country finally joins the rest of the world in voting against this military action. Late to the party but nice to finally see. Supposedly also a factor is the "atmosphere of corruption" that has recently surrounded the GOP. I don't think that's really true, though 3 out of 4 people said corruption was an important factor in exit polls--so it's interesting that the double standard of the Republican Party (saying they're for high moral standards and family values but not practicing what they preach) is finally being noticed. Personally I think most people with power--political or otherwise--have a lot of temptations a…

Rozerem: dreams, lincoln, and a big squirrel

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What advertisements annoy you? For me, the two right now that piss me off the most are one for zits (I guess, I'm not totally sure) and another for sleeping.

The acne one is probably familiar to most of us in the USA--I don't know if it's shown in other countries --because it's so loud and annoying. The product's name is Head On and that name is repeated multiple times in a strident loud female voice, followed by the command "apply directly to the forehead". It's EVIL. Feel free to watch the You Tube video of it if you want to be tortured. The other commercial I find annoying is for Rozerem, which is a prescription sleep medicine, and it's the one with a sleepy guy staggering into his kitchen and talking to Abraham Lincoln and what looks like a giant groundhog but apparently actually is a beaver.

The website for this product isn't bad but the commercial is annoying and silly. For anyone that hasn't seen it, the theme is that the critters th…

humor, of sorts

This list came via Oreo, who shows amazing insight into women despite being a cat, and male to boot.

NEW DRUGS FOR WOMEN


D A M N I T O L
Take 2 and the rest of the world can go to hell for up to 8 full hours.


E M P T Y N E S T R O G E N
Suppository that eliminates melancholy and loneliness by reminding you of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn't wait till they moved out.


ST. M O M M A'S W O R T
Plant extract that treats mom's depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to two days.


P E P T O B I M B O
Liquid silicone drink for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and prevents conception.


D U M B E R O L
When taken with Peptobimbo, can cause dangerously low IQ, resulting in enjoyment of country music and pickup trucks.


F L I P I T O R
Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.


M E N I C I L L I N
Potent anti-boy-otic for older wome…

Family Reunion

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I went to a family reunion this weekend but I wasn't related to anyone. No, I wasn't crashing it just to get some free food--I was brought to it by my partner (as she wants to be called). This group of folk are her paternal relatives and many of them she'd not seen in over a decade.

The second oldest woman in the family--as she proclaimed herself--is in the picture above carrying out a platter. She married my girlfriend's oldest uncle nearly 60 years ago and they're still together. Which is amazing on a number of levels.

The man on the right side of the picture is my girlfriend's father and the cluster in the middle are of a closely related group. It's a mom and her 3 kids, and another mom and 2 of her 3 kids. The oldest grandkid--who's the one not in the picture--is just a year younger than her uncle--the guy in back in the camouflage shirt. I've always found the idea of having an uncle (or aunt) the same age as you to be strange. Most of the famil…

sunrise

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This picture was taken very early Friday morning out of my kitchen window looking across my deck towards the rising sun. You can see the bird feeder that I often take pictures of from my laundry room window.

Genographic Project

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Mapping the Origins of Human Migration

The Genographic Project is a collaborative project with The National Geographic Society, IBM, and the Waitt Family Foundation being the principal backers. The purpose is to establish what the routes were by which humans populated the planet.

As you've probably noticed, we humans can be found pretty much anywere you look--for better or worse--but at some point in time we were in just one place. So, how did we get from that one place to being a plague on the planet everywhere?

This project, initially funded with $40 million(US) of private funds, takes buccal samples (swab of cheek cells) from indigenous populations worldwide. The project started in April 2005 and is slated to finish in 2010. Unique to this project is the ability for private individuals to add their buccal samples to the database albeit at a cost of $100(US).

These collected cheek cells will be processed which involves DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, and bioinformatics ma…

Hubris and Kerry

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The philosopher Aristotle, of Classical Greece, defined hubris as follows:

Hubris consists in doing or saying things that cause shame to the victim,
not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has
happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the
requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its
cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own
superiority the greater.
I give Aristotle's definition due to hubris being a Greek word and a powerful theme from the performing arts of ancient Greece. Greek tragedies were often based on a character's hubris --typically a politician-- and the gods giving an attitude adjustment.

In the past few days Senator Kerry has been accused frequently of hubris with the more simple-minded among of us bleeting out the Republican Party theme of "traitor". As an aside, every time I think of this I see in my mind the sheep in t…

halloween candy

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Halloween was last night and it went fairly well. I had prepared a bowl with 4 pounds of candy in it to hand out. I had a bit over 2 pounds of Tootsie Pops, and a 12 ounce bag each of Hershey Nuggets, Butterfingers, and York Peppermint Patties.

There were only about 21 kids that came to the door tho--which is the smallest number I've had since buying this house. Even though I was giving out big handfulls of candy--I had something like 12 pounds more candy in the kitchen so I wasn't worried about running out--I've still got about a pound of the original candy left over. Typically there's around 40 Trick-or-Treaters so this was a really slow year.

I didn't do well with post-Halloween candy either. I just went to one Wal-mart since there's nothing else anywhere near me and that store had their candy at 50% off. Not bad but it was mostly chocolate type candies or things that I don't like. Since it's going to be 75f today I couldn't leave chocolate in the …