Showing posts from December, 2006

a walk across UNC

Yesterday Ren and I walked across the UNC campus, which she once attended, and took in the sights. Since the kids are still on Winter Break it was pretty quiet.

To the left is a picture of an old goat. It seems an odd statue to have around but according to Ren it's actually a male sheep (who would pick a sheep for a team mascot???), not a goat. That's the football stadium that you can see behind the goat Ram.

The picture below is from the Arboretium. It's a Chinese Fir and was quite striking. I'm afraid the picture just doesn't do the tree justice. Sorry, tree--I tried.

These next two pictures are of Ren and I at The Old Well, which is a landmark at UNC. I'm the one with the camera bag on my back. :-)

This last picture is here due to Carmi. He likes to post pictures of grungy industrial looking pictures so here's an example of that sort from UNC. It's the air treatment plant behind the hospital at UNC. The Belltower, another famous landmark, is just 100 y…

Cars and Disney and 24

This seems to be a DVD weekend for me. Last night into the wee hours of this morning my girlfriend and I were watching the tube. First was Cars, the Disney animated movie, and then we watched the first 6 shows from Season One of 24. We plan on watching the next 6 today.

Am I the only person on Earth that didn't like Cars? It seems every reviewer was loving it--but I gave up on it after 20 minutes and then didn't return until just before the overly sentimental final race. To me, it just seemed like very standard Disney fare. Great for kids but without the emotional nuances of some of the other animated movies like Shrek, Monsters, Inc. or Toy Story. I don't understand why Cars was so well received. I love Shrek and Monsters and have watched both several times but I'm staying away from Cars. Just too predictable for me. Renee did give me some background into the "inside jokes" that involved NASCAR culture after the movie was over but since I've never had any…

donkeys, Republicans and ER

The year is almost over and the death of former US president Gerald Ford is bringing all sorts of secrets to light. Taped conversations from the former president as well as conversations with reporters that had not been made public during his lifetime are sure to have dramatic impact on many public figures like President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Kissinger and the events surrounding Nixon's presidency. It should make the beginning of 2007 very interesting for historians.

How do you like those eyelashes??? (you might need to click on the picture to see them clearly)

These two pictures are of some donkeys in SC. They belong to a neighbor of my parents. My Dad feeds them when the neighbors are away.

I went with him on two days, December 25 and 27th, to take pictures of the critters. The mini-ranch is about 15 miles away from their house and they have 9 donkeys and some chickens there.

It's quite surprising how little odor surrounds the donkeys. Other than the manure pile, there&#…

developments in North Carolina

Two interesting news items out of North Carolina today. One has national relevance and one is more local but both interest me.

First, Former U.S. Senator John Edwards launched his second bid for the White House today by calling on Americans "to be patriotic about more than war" and backing a grassroots effort to rebuild the country and its global reputation. He did this from the Ninth Ward of New Orleans for the symbolic impact.

Now Edwards just needs to shed the image of John Kerry and the implicit rampant liberalism that carries. It's political death in a national election to be seen to be that far to the left. I think some good marketing can put Edwards in the White House but as things stand right now, the election will be influenced more by the ineptitude of the Bush team than as it is by the Democratic Party.

Edwards was born in South Carolina and has lived most of his life in North Carolina so he's definitely a candidate with Southern roots. Given his strong push …

may the wind be at your back

The temperature overnight has been too warm lately.

If it gets below freezing I can get great pictures of fog on the water. But since it's bottomed out around 40 the past two nights all I've had is gray skies and that's just boring!

This picture I took today when I went out for a brief paddle. It was so damn windy that even 45f felt cold and between fighting the waves and wind, I just lost interest after a mile or so. I took this picture just before turning back. I'd used an island to help break the wind and waves by coming up on its lee side but once I was in the main channel I decided I just wasn't interested in paddling upwind. So home I went and it was one Hell of a lot faster paddling with the wind at my back!

A number of waves broke over the kayak so I was quite soaked and that helped me decide to return. Paddling keeps your upper body pretty warm, even in windy conditions, but if you're sitting in several inches of cold water your legs and butt just get num…



Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from rainy ole South Carolina. Overnight we had 0.7 inches of cold rain come down and it's still raining hard. I'm glad to have gotten in some kayaking yesterday since I'm probably not going to bother today.

Right now we are waiting for two teenagers to wake up so that the presents can be unwrapped. Their 12 year old brother is having some trouble containing his impatience. LOL

Pictures to follow if I can deal with this dial-up connection. That's where my impatience is focused. It's nearly impossible even to check Email let alone post pictures!

Have a merry Christmas everyone.

A hearty meal before I go

One of my favorite meats is sweet Italian sausage. I love it on pizza, on a bun, or like below, as the base for a pasta sauce.

In this case I used a little butter to saute the sausage and once there was a little color on them I added half an onion and half a Bell pepper. Once the onions were translucent I added the jar of tomato sauce you can see in the upper right.

Sure, it's not as good as real home-made sauce but I'm lazy and it's good enough for me. I only add a little spice to the sauce after that since the sausage adds a little zest already. Just some paprika and thyme.

I'm looking forward to some kayaking over the next few days but it'll be wet since there's a lot of rain forecast. Nothing like cold rain to make sure you paddle fast--just to keep warm!

Christmas shopping is finished!

From 8am to noon my girlfriend and I were out at the stores south of Raleigh doing that last touches on the holiday shopping. I am now finished--and not only finished but I have a few generic extra presents just in case.

This is one of the extras. It was on sale at Amazon for one day and I couldn't resist. I might keep it for myself--or to scare the bejesus out of cats!

We ended up going to a bunch of stores in just 3 hours this morning. Let's see, first Home Depot, then Target, Kohl's, Circuit City, Borders, and a quick lunch at Burger King where I had their Angus Beef sandwich and it was tasty, and then finally an ABC Store.

I'm scooting over to my parent's house in SC on Sunday--probably my normal 3am departure to get there around dawn, 4 hours later--so that means a lot of present wrapping tomorrow. My girlfriend is going up to her parent's place tomorrow morning. I was going to go with her but my belly has been a little precarious of late so I'm just goin…

Beta Blogger finally works

I was quite shocked when I checked Blogger online this morning. My original account here, Utenzi, that I'd moved over to Beta Blogger a few months back is now working again. Ever since they screwed up the transfer to Beta Blogger I'd not been able to access the account so I couldn't publish new posts nor access or publish comments to my blog. And something like 5 months of posts were "deleted" from the address but not the account itself.

My solution was to publish to a new address, Utenzi2, and so that's what I've been doing these past 5 months or so. But now I can finally get back into my original account. There were 12 spam posts in there and over 40 comments from people that'd gone to my original address not knowing that Beta Blogger had screwed me over. That last post on the Utenzi address was one on Quasars, as you can see below, and had originally been published in March of 2006. Something like 80 posts before that had just disappeared. Very odd.

Beta Blogger

I was quite shocked when I checked Blogger online this morning. My original account here, Utenzi, that I'd moved over to Beta Blogger a few months back is now working again. Ever since they screwed up the transfer to Beta Blogger I'd not been able to access the account so I couldn't publish new posts nor access or publish comments to my blog. And something like 5 months of posts were "deleted" from the address but not the account itself.

My solution was to publish to a new address, Utenzi2, and so that's what I've been doing these past 4 months or so. But now I can finally get back into my original account. There were 12 spam posts in there and 48 comments from people that'd gone to my original address not knowing that Beta Blogger had screwed me over. That last post on the Utenzi address was one on Quasars and had originally been published in March of 2006.

I doubt I'll go back to the original Utenzi name since it's too much damn trouble to as…

slutty Miss USA

For readers not familiar with the current crisis in the US, the title refers to a mini-scandal that's taking place here in the USA now. Apparently the reigning Miss USA (it's some silly beauty pageant thing) who's underage by a few months has been out to dance clubs drinking and partying. This behavior is causing consternation and there was talk about stripping the title from Tara Conner.

Personally, I think the whole thing is silly because I think most kids, if they suddenly become famous, would likely do exactly what Conner has. That is, party 'til they puke. I know that was pretty common behavior when I was in college and we didn't get free drinks. I can't imagine what we would have done in her shoes (okay, we'd get pinched toes)

Anyway, here's David Letterman's Top 10 list relating to this "crisis":

Top Ten Miss USA Excuses

10. "Thought a slutty Miss USA could help make America popular again"

9. "Haven't been myself since…

dilated pupils

It's been 4 hours since my eye exam and my pupils still haven't gone back to their normal size. My appointment was at 3pm and afterwards, when I went to drive home, I had to use sunglasses despite it being a cloudy day. Usually the drops don't have that much of a lingering affect on me. Maybe they're using a different brand these days at the clinic I go to.

This is me at 7pm with the pupils still dilated somewhat. You can also kinda see the haircut I was complaining about a few days ago. It's so damn short!

Not much else to comment on today. Oh, what do you think about the rescue efforts for those 3 lost hikers in Oregon? I know it's callous but every time I see the coverage I wonder how much all that rescue effort is costing. It's very unfortunate that the one fellow died and the outlook is bleak for the other two. While mountain climbing is inherently dangerous, no doubt these experienced climbers were done in by the fickle weather and not their own mistake…

Back to work

Not all that much happened this weekend. Friday night I begged off going x-mas shopping with my girlfriend and we stayed in. Just had some simple pasta with sauce from her Mom that was in the freezer.

Saturday morning my gf made us both breakfast and we discussed the plans for the day. X-mas shopping would have to be done today so that made the top of the list. We decided to go later that day since of course watching the UNC b-ball game at 2pm was a top priority. We headed out shopping around 7:30pm and made the rounds at Crossroads Shopping Center (REI, Bed Bath & Beyond, Circuit City) then across the street to Kohls then across town to Wal-mart. We finished up at 11pm and then went back to her place. *whew* We managed to fill the back of the car with goodies though we didn't do the grocery shopping that my gf wanted to do. She doesn't like shopping and finds it less annoying when I'm with her. Go figure!

Sunday was a day for sneezing. Wheezing too. Her younger son is …

Isolation Ward

Book Review: Isolation Ward

Isolation Ward, a debut novel by Joshua Spanogle, is a good effort. Published by Delacorte Press earlier this year (2006) it strikes me as a book that was green lighted at a high level with less editorial oversight than usual. As a result the first few chapters seem unpolished and the ending is a little strung out but the writing after the first few short chapters is quite good. I definitely recommend it.

Spanogle is a medical student at Stanford and his experience in the field shows. The writing about science and medicine in the book are first rate and that's quite important because the plot revolves around Dr Nathan McCormick and his investigation into the possible outbreak of a new infectious disease, possibly a hemorrhagic fever like Ebola.

This disease presents like flu at first but quickly escalates into a lethal hemorrhagic-like disease. Dr McCormick, a junior doctor with the CDC who's stationed in Baltimore, is called in to consult when a secon…

Steamy topics: sex and boiling water

Today's post is largely for visitors from Michele Agnew's blog. It's got two parts and you can comment on either side, depending on which you prefer. The topics de jour are sex and science.

The sex thing is desire. How often do you actually want to have sex? Now that sorta thing varies on all sorts of variables but still there's a base level that most people rotate around. It can go up or down depending on age, medical condition, season of the year, or more to the point--who you're sharing a bed with. LOL?

For me, twice a week seems to be the sweet spot but I'm adaptable. Most women I've known in that way--with the notable exception of someone I shared my last name with temporarily--have been more "lively" so that adaptability has been stressed a number of times. How about you? What floats your proverbial boat?

The picture at left is from some survey that compared how many times a year a person had sex with the variable being country of origin. Here&…

sunrise on a foggy morning

The sunrise was really beautiful this morning. The temperature was hovering right at freezing and there was a thick blanket of fog all over. The fog had actually started accumulating the night before--I first noticed it just a little after midnight and it just kept getting denser during the wee hours.

I took this picture through my bathroom window looking out into my back yard just before 8am.

I finally got a haircut today and the lady that did it apparently went nuts. I'm nearly shaved! Eeeeek. Well, eventually it'll grow back but this time it'll take a while. I'll probably get a picture of it in the next day or two and post it. It's scary! I'm way too white to have my scalp showing through my hair. The glare will no doubt be blinding.

I'd been reading two Tom Clancy books and yesterdayI just finished the second one. I might put up a short review this weekend. Even though a lot of people don't like his writing--he's got oddles and oddles of technic…

chocolate covered cherries and Flash

The past few days I've had a Flash header in place that I received from FlashBannerNow. I put my old header back up but I have it the Flash there below if you didn't see it when it was up on the blog.

I liked the way it looked but not the advertising on it. Of course to get it without advertising either I have to pay for it (ha!) or I have to program one in Flash. We'll have to wait and see if I'm going to bother to do that. The native language in Flash--Actionscript--is very similar to javascript so it shouldn't be very difficult to work with. Somewhere or other I have the programming version of Flash around since I used to work with it a bit when I was doing some work for dot coms. Of course it's pretty out of date--it's been 6 years since I've done any programming. To say I'm rusty is an understatement.

Christmas is going to be quickly upon us and I've done virtually no shopping yet. My guess is that I'd better get my wheels in motion this …

gotta love those peanuts

These cartoons are all from Mark Parisi. I often like the odd point of view he uses when penning a cartoon. Kinda like Far Side but not as disturbing. He's also got an affiliate program for bloggers to make 20% on sales if you join a weekly cartoon post program but I don't like that much structure. I just like to read the cartoons.

In a way, you have to feel sorry for the Nut.

This one is a little silly.

This one had me blushing! That Nut is quite a cad.

holiday movies

My zaftig girlfriend and I were discussing holiday movies Saturday night, partly due to having just watched Love Actually, which took place during the 3 weeks before Christmas. She wanted to know my favorite holiday movie and I said Lethal Weapon followed up by Die Hard. She informed me that those weren't "real" holiday movies and she said hers is A Christmas Carol, one of the older versions but I don't recall which one. Can you say nudnik?

I really like Groundhog Day also and I've seen it on a few holiday movie lists but I don't get it. It's not at Christmas, it's obviously on Groundhog Day.

In case you're wondering why I think Lethal Weapon and Die Hard are holiday movies, it's because both take place during the week of Christmas and both include references to the holiday in multiple places in the movie. In fact Jingle Bell Rock is the music that opens Lethal Weapon. Oh, and as we all now know, Mel is really, really into Christmas. Not so much…

an iconic presence

The lovely Tiff over at No Accent Yet designed an icon for her blog and posted about it yesterday. She inspired me to do one myself as you can see up above--unless you're using some old nasty browser. [hint: UPGRADE!!]

Tiff used an icon service that's free to do her picture hosting but I just drew up a 16x16 pixel image in Photoshop and uploaded it right onto Blogger. I just posted it as a draft so it can't be seen. This is the line you add, below the HEAD tag and above the TITLE tag:

link rel="icon" href="" type="image/gif" /

Of course you need to put brackets around that line but I can't do it here without your browser interpreting it as HTML. And you'd put your own location for your graphic. I've got a rude image of a Danish flag on there as of now--but I suspect I'll be changing it as the whim strikes me until I get bored with the process.

Drop a note here if you…

Wikipedia Meme

Here's a meme I came across on Claire's blog. She's a sweet British lass with a great love of music, both live and recorded.

1. Go to Wikipedia
2. In the search box, type your birth month and day (but not year)
3. Choose 3 events that happened on your birthday
4. Choose 2 important births and 1 interesting death
5. Post it!

So, my birthday is May 17th:


1590 - Anne of Denmark is crowned Queen of Scotland.
1814 - The Constitution of Norway is signed and the Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik is elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.

...and for a big change in theme...
2004 - Massachusetts becomes the first state in the United States to legalize Same-sex marriage


1682 - Bartholomew Roberts, AKA Black Bart, Notorious Welsh Pirate (d. 1722)
1903 - Cool Papa Bell, baseball player (d. 1991)
...and me!


1987 - Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish economist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1898)

chewing on a pig's ass

There's a number of religious and ethnic groups that don't eat pigs. Presumably a historical thing due to Trichinosis or diseases endemic to pigs. To my mind, that just means more meat for the rest of us. Pigs just plain taste good.

A few days ago I posted about making a Boston Butt in my crockpot. I got several Emails about that so I decided to pick up another butt (that sounds naughty, doesn't it?) at the grocery store since it was still on sale (almost 50% off!) and this time take some pictures of the process.

First I lay down some aromatic veggies for a bottom layer to keep the meat from adhering to the crockery. I don't use onions at the bottom, just carrots and celery and I use fairly big pieces.

Next I dice up about twice as much as I used in the bottom layer. These will go above the meat and on the sides. They add taste and provide moisture during the cooking process.

Here's the butt itself. This package has 7 pounds of meat which is way too big for my crockpot…

where did it go?

Have you ever lost something? No matter where you looked, it just wasn't there?

I can just see it: "Honey, where did we leave the house? It seems to be missing. I coulda sworn it was here when we went to bed last night..."

In case you didn't notice, there's a house missing in that picture to the left. Seems kinda strange. Speaking of strange, did anyone watch that two hour episode of Las Vegas last week? I just saw it tonight and what a load of carp. That show has jumped the shark so bad that all I could smell during the entire show was seafood. And very ripe seafood at that.

Ed Deline's daughter gets kidnapped, buried alive. My obvious thought is that she's such a horrible actress that this was their way to finally write her off of the show. No such luck. Good ole Ed just stole $50 million from the casino and had his favorite employees help him. All in a days work, I guess. Oh, and Mary Connell (played by Nikki Cox and the twins) fills in for every bloody e…

that damn global warming

There was a news story yesterday about global warming and how this year has been very close to the warmest since reliable temperature records initiated around 1850.

According to the story:

Autumn and early winter temperature records have been set from the Alps to Moscow this year, hurting ski resorts but extending growing seasons. Arctic sea ice shrank to near record lows in the summer.

"This year is likely to be in the top five, probably about the fifth warmest worldwide," said David Viner, senior climate scientist at the British University of East Anglia.
Looking at my yard this is easy to believe. Usually I can stop mowing around the beginning of October but this year it looks like I'm going to have to mow at least once in December. DECEMBER! That's just nuts.

On the other hand, it seems that climatologists are just a little too quick to blame global warming. After all, it's only supposed to warm a few degrees on average in the next century. 3 degrees divided by 1…

Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Nexavar

Nexavar is a drug taken orally that targets both the tumor cell and the tumor vasculature. Nexavar targets members of two classes of kinases known to be involved in both cell proliferation and angiogenesis, the processes that enable cancer growth. These kinases include RAF kinase, VEGFR-1, 2, and 3, PDGFR-beta, KIT, and FLT-3.

Several of those genes are ones that I find pop up when I run microarrays on my tumor samples so the action of this drug interests me. However my work is on breast cancer and Nexavar is used to combat advanced kidney cancer. But that's all beside the point--the reason for this post is that I bought a thousand shares of Onyx today.

As you can see in the chart to the left, there was a huge drop in price between last Friday and today.

You see, Onyx had some bad news last week. After the close of the stock market in NY it was revealed that the Phase 3 clinical trial of Nexavar in patients with advanced melanoma did not meet its primary endpoint. As a result the pri…

moon over utenzi

I took this picture last night. The sky was very weird looking. You only get some of the effect in this picture. The whole sky was filled with these little puffs of cloud. Oddly enough, the clouds caused me to think of the Isles of Langerhan, a type of endocrine tissue in the Pancreas

I took the picture around midnight on my back deck, you can see my roof-line on the right side.

This was taken hand held so it's a little blurred. For me to have gotten a good exposure with so little ambient light I'd have had to have used a tripod but I didn't have one in the house last night.

visiting relatives bearing a gift

Renee's parents came over to my house to visit with her and also bring her a gift. The present was a Christmas decoration that her mother had made using some Xmas lights inside a glass block with a big wire rimmed ribbon on top.

Yes, that's it over to the left.

They came over around 11am and then at noon we watched the UNC vs U of Kentucky basketball game and a little of the Wake Forest Football game against GA Tech afterwards. In both cases the NC teams won. Naturally. LOL There was much rejoicing when UNC won though admittedly it wasn't one of their better played games--and Tyler Hansbrough (6'9" Forward) kinda sucked, which is rather unusual since he's one of the top players in the country.

Towards the end of the football game dinner was ready and we sat down to eat. I put a Boston Butt Pork Roast into my slow cooker in the morning so it was ready around 3:30pm and we had that with sides of mashed potatoes, Japanese snow peas, and a bowl of the aromatic veggi…

holiday economic disaster

Sure. It's the holidays and you're feeling ebullient. You want to feel good and spend freely.

You buy a lot of stuff you don't have money for and it's okay 'cause you got this loan at a really great rate. Of course you won't have the money to pay it off when it comes due--and there's no telling what the new interest rate will be, but that's far off in the future so why worry now? Let's spend!

Does that sound like Christmas for a lot of people? Probably. Unfortunately it's also the relationship between the USA and China. We in the US are buying Chinese toys and durables in quantities that boggle the mind and this trade inbalance is funded by US consumers with the Chinese government using the profits to buy up US dept in the form of Treasury bonds. This keeps the ebullient feelings going by keeping interest rates low. However should China stop buying bonds, then the interest rates will quickly pop up to more realistic levels. Talk about coal in the …