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Showing posts from March, 2007

Mostly Alive

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Long time, no hear. I've been living in a vacuum of sorts this week. Some lingering last minute experiments but mostly I've been running numbers from my data into graphics programs for an article we're submitting this week. Most of the graphics aren't too bad but figure 5 has been giving me fits! I can start it off in Prism (graphing software for science research) but for a variety of reasons Prism can only do the framework of the graph I need so then it goes to Illustrator for additional boxes, titles, and legends--and then off to Photoshop for some coloring.

And of course every time my boss needs a serious change then I have to scrap everything and start over again because the data aspects are only editable in Prism so the Illustrator and Photoshop work just gets trashed. I might be drinking some alcohol this weekend! Because there's been a lot of changes requested--but only one at at time. LOL I hate figure 5!

My mower is in really bad shape so I'm going to st…

cats are evil

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Cat owners, by and large, are a gullible group. They believe their cute little kitty to be all peaches and cream. So sweet that butter wouldn't melt on their little tongues. Well, I'm here to set you straight.

Check out exhibit one over there to the left. Goes by the name of Roscoe and looks harmless enough. Even pleasant, perhaps. But beneath that seemingly nice visage is the collective nastiness of the depths of Hell. Be wary!

I know this is going to be a hard sell. Too many people have been brainwashed by felines. Minds that were once sharp are now out buying catnip and little feathery toys and not clearly remembering why such things are a high priority now. I tell you, the cats are in charge of many households. Be very wary!

Here's the proof below. I caught this picture in an unguarded moment. Maybe the demonic agent was reporting back to his masters way down below--I do seem to remember smelling a faint bitter odor of brimstone--but for whatever reason the mask was off …

Ugly and Soft

The Carolina Tarheels had made it to the Sweet 16 on Friday in a very uneven game. They won it but it wasn't pretty. In contrast to that, earlier today they played a very good game against Georgetown. At least it was well played by the Tarheels until the last 5 minutes or so of regulation play. They they just couldn't get any points and Georgetown was able to come up from behind and tie--forcing overtime, which just hasn't worked well for the Tarheels all season long. This was no exception. The Tarheels collapsed in overtime. Georgetown scored something like 12 points in the 5 minutes and the Tarheels went scoreless until the last 7 seconds. A 3-pointer that was far too little and far, far too late. End of the season for the Heels. It was sweet while it lasted and there's always next year -- and for such a young team, that's a promise that will be kept.

That was the "ugly" that was referred to in the title. The "soft" was 60 Minutes. Have you eve…

Saturday and Springtime

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This morning Ren and I went to the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, just off of the NC State campus. While it's a bit early in Spring for a lot of the flora to be really pretty, there's still plenty there to take pictures of--and I did just that. I think the tree below is called a Carolina Silverbell. It's very pretty.


I like the purity of the white and the innocent look of the bell shape. Reminds me of Lilies of the Valley, one of my favorite shade plants. I don't have any shade at all at my house--and I'm a bit far south anyway--so I can't grow Lily of the Valley. Shame, huh?

I really like the exotic look of "hairy" trunked palms and I took a few pictures of this one trying to get something I could put on my laptop at work. I don't think any of the 4 pictures I took will work but this one is kinda interesting. Nice green fronds and a good view of the trunk.

Happy New Year!

I wasn't aware of it but yesterday marked the New Year (Norouz) for Iranians. The lovely Mariam over at Mariamusic posted about this so I'm doing a copycat thing here.

According to Wikipedia:

Norouz is celebrated in Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania, Georgia, the countries of Central Asia such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, as well as among various other Iranian and Turkic people in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, India, Northwestern China, the Caucasus, the Crimea, and the Balkans.

Norouz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian year. It is celebrated by some communities on March 21st and by others on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox (start of spring in northern hemisphere), which may occur on March 20th, 21st or 22nd.

A little multiculturism for the day. In other events I sold a stock yesterday for a nice gain and promptly bought more of a stock that hasn't gone anywhere but down in the month that I…

New Cow Theory or Someone Like You

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I watched a DVD tonight that I liked a lot. It was a chick flick, no doubt. Romantic in a slightly troubled way but in the end the girl got the right guy and it ended with a GREAT song.

The movie, Someone Like You, centers on the trials and tribulations--of the romantic variety--of Jane Goodale who was played extremely capably by Ashley Judd.

Goodale is a serial amour-addict, if you'll allow me the latitude of coining that awkward phrase. She adores men when she's in a relationship, and hates them when things fall apart. And Greg Kinnear's role of Ray Brown is what puts her on that roller coaster for this movie. When things end badly, as you knew they would, words like cynical and deconstruct get tossed around--but ultimately Goodale buys into the theory that human men are like bulls. They just don't like to play with the same cow for very long. She calls this her "new cow theory."

"If this theory is wrong, Eddie, then men don't leave all women--they le…

Apples are forbidden fruit

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I read an article today on a ZDNet blog about how Apple Computer orchestrated a smear campaign on the web, and to a lesser degree in the national media, aimed at two computer researchers and the company they worked for. The actual person behind it, according to George Ou, the author of the blog, was Lynn Fox, an Apple PR director. Apparently in an attempt to dissemble in the face of growing technical problems, Fox tried to blame a glitch in the Apple OS that allowed certain forms of wireless hacking into Apples on the two researchers that happened to first describe it.

In fact even months later Apple continued to claim that there were no vulnerabilities in Mac OS X. However, possibly in retaliation for the unfair attack on the two researchers, David Maynor and Jon "Johnny Cache" Ellch, the security research community responded to Apple's behavior with the MoAB (Month of Apple Bugs) and released a flood of zero-day exploits without giving Apple any notification.

In case y…

still alive

I know I've been quiet of late. I'm getting the data and illustrations ready for a submission to Nature Medicine and that's taking up all my computer time. Once we get the manuscript submitted in a day or two I'll be back. There's a post I've been waiting to do on food supplements but it's taking too much research time to get done right now. :-(

a new fad diet?

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Today was dedicated to basketball not food. As a result some of our food choices might have been selected more for convenience and not good health.

Let's see: I woke up my girlfriend with a diet coke and a few slices of warmed up left-over pizza from the night before. After that I made some toasted garlic bread with cheese on top that we shared--I had Pepsi to drink. Not long after that I finished off some Wise cheese doodles and then we both had some Hershey nuggets while she checked her Email.

As we started watching basketball in the early afternoon I made us some more garlic bread and Ren started working on some shelled peanuts. At half time I made some chicken nuggets with honey mustard on the side. During the game we also managed to down 3 vodka screwdrivers each. Some Oreos to celebrate UNC's win over Michigan State soon followed.

UNC made it to the Sweet 16. They play either Southern Cal or Texas next. Depends on who wins the game tomorrow bet…

My house is NOT food!

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The past few days have been rather warm so I decided to put up my screens.

I don't normally use my front porch in cold weather so I'd not noticed that there's been carpenter bee activity on one of my porch posts .

As you can see, it's quite a hole they created.

I noticed this hole as I was taking the glass door off of my porch entryway. Fortunately I had a can of hornet spray so I promptly dosed down this hole. And then, while dying bees were scrambling out, I replaced the glass door with my screen door.



Here you see one of the bees on the porch right after it tumbled out of the hole in my porch post. It's still looking pretty healthy at this point.

As bees go, this is a pretty sturdy looking species. Oddly enough that didn't help it against the chemicals in the hornet spray.

And no, I don't feel sorry for the nasty bug. Like the title up there says: My House is NOT Food!

Damn bugs!


Here you can see that the carpenter bee is starting to lose its coordination and ac…

American Oriental Bioengineering

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American Oriental Bioengineering's stock (AOB) got whacked bad a few days ago.

That's what it looked like. Pretty ugly, huh?

It dropped from $11.50 at Monday's close to $8.50 at Tuesday's close. A $3 drop which, since there's 64 million shares, means that the company lost over $190 million in value. Like I say, ouch.

I bought into the stock at $8.69 and I'm expecting to be able to get $11.50 - $12 for it in the next 2 months.

The company is interesting. Despite the name, it's a Chinese company, and it's business is selling food supplements in China. They also sell 9 plant extract based pharmaceuticals like Gujinwan Capsules and Biyanling Tablets. But their bread and butter are the food supplements mostly based on either soybean or pancreatic extracts.

There's only two analysts following this stock but they're both optimistic. One projects a price of $12.50 for the stock this year and the other analyst is projecting $16. I'd be more than happy sh…

Of weeds, Spring, and aging

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I am old. My ancient bones and muscles are creaking out groaning complaints of misuse and abuse.

Yesterday after work I got my Roundup out and made up a small bowl of it up. That and an old sponge were all I needed to do my normal Spring ritual involving Henbit and Wild Onions. Those are the evil ones over there on the left. I swear--the devil must have created those plants, and maybe mosquitoes too.

Both these plants really resist eradication so I have to coat them twice, about a week apart, in herbicide. I like to do it early before the grass becomes active so that the herbicide won't kill the grass too. That's also why I use a sponge to apply the Roundup instead of just spraying it pell-mell. That way I can place the Roundup just on the long upright leaves of the wild onions. Henbit stays close to the ground so I have to use a sprayer for it. Much to the detriment of the nearby grass, I'm afraid.

I've lived here for 3 years now and each year there's less wild onion…

Feeling lucky?

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I watched an interesting movie on DVD tonight. Lucky Number Slevin. Has anyone else seen it? Here's the summary from IMDb: A case of mistaken identity lands Slevin (Josh Hartnett) into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city's most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.

As you can tell from the cast, there's a lot of great acting here. Yet. Somehow the entire thing came across as empty to me. Too much motivation, I guess. Not the acting, but in the prime moving element of the plot. I just can't see it playing out the way it did. As a result it seemed empty to me. I'll put the my reason in the first comment on here. I don't want to give away the plot element out in the open here. So d…

shopping for a camera?

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I watched a DVD last night and also saw last night's episode of The Amazing Race. I really liked the movie. I was quite disappointed in the outcome of TAR. More about that later...

I really like my Panasonic DMC-FZ7 camera. I bought it a year ago soon after it was introduced. As you can probably guess by that time span, Panasonic is now releasing the update, the LumixDMC-FZ8. This means that there's clearance sales around on the FZ7 and if you're in the market for a good 12X zoom digital camera --and don't want an SLR-- this is a great buy. There's one site I found (Vanns.com) that has it priced at $230. Hell, the lens is worth more than that!

And isn't it pretty? I like the way the SLRs look more but there's a couple of features of SLRs that I dislike enough to keep me from buying one. First, I don't like having to open the camera up, and possibly letting dust in, while changing lens and secondly, I really like having a live preview on the back of the ca…

Of signs and airplants

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My girlfriend and I were out walking the other day. We started at the NC Museum of Art, off of Blue Ridge Highway, not far from Meredith College and Rex Hospital. We ended up at the edge of Umstead State Park. Just before we got to Umstead, while on NC State University land we saw this sign:

Now, do tell. Does this make any sense to you?

I mean the "no dogs allowed" part I can understand but "trespassed from the forest" just strikes me as a mite bizarre. I'm not sure what it would entail to be "trespassed" but I doubt it'd be pleasant. And why would some NC State official do that to us? Are they nervous about their imminent basketball loss?

And if I do this dog thing a second time, I'll be physically arrested? What other kind is there? Can one be metaphysically arrested? "My spirit and mind were incarcerated --it was a bad trip" How about metaphorically arrested? "I was like... arrested, man"

Do you get the impression these s…

Whuppity Scoorie Day

I'm sorry I'm a bit late in mentioning this. Apparently in parts of Scotland there's a cute little holiday called Whuppity Scoorie Day. It's celebrated from March 1 to March 7. I'd not heard of it until today when I read about it on Wikipedia. Here's the link to that page.

This is the gist of the article from Wiki:

Whuppity Scoorie is a traditional festival dating from the early 19th century observed by people in Lanark, Scotland on March 1 to celebrate the approach of spring. Local children gather around the local St. Nicholas kirk (Kirk can mean "church" in general or "The Church of Scotland" in particular) where at 6 pm the bell is rung. This is the starting sign for the children to run around the church in a counterclockwise direction, making noise and swinging paper balls on strings above their heads as they run. After three laps, the kids scramble for coins thrown by members of the Community Council who host the event.

While the origins o…

Producing ethanol from biomass with bacteria

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The following post was derived from the University of Rochester (NY) website for press releases. You might ask why I think it might be of interest to you--and if you do, my answer is that ethanol is the wave of the future. Not because it's a good idea, but because the government in all its glory and wisdom is backing this energy play. Already ethanol production is having strong effects on the price of corn and it's only going to get worse--the research detailed here might change all that by allowing ethanol production to be shifted to waste biomass like sugar cane pulp and grass.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have identified how genes responsible for biomass breakdown are turned on in a microorganism that produces valuable ethanol from materials like grass and cornstalks. This is very important since most ethanol is now produced from corn which isn't very efficient and also drives up the price of corn--and any animal or food "made" from corn.

On the ot…

Are you better off?

Ronald Reagan struck a nerve during his 1980 Presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter when he asked Americans: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

I was reminded of that political quote today when the Fed came out with their quarterly net worth report. Here's a portion of it:

The net worth of U.S. households climbed to a record high in the final quarter of last year, boosted mostly by gains on stocks, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

Net worth — the difference between households' total assets, such as houses and bank accounts, and their total liabilities, such as mortgages and credit card debt, totaled $55.6 trillion in the October-to-December quarter. Stocks gains helped fuel the increase in net worth, although real-estate gains played a role, too.

For all of last year, households' net worth rose by 7.4 percent, a slower pace than the 7.9 percent increase registered in 2005.

Household debt, meanwhile, grew by 8.6 percent in 2006, down from …

Tibbie

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My parent's Tibetan Terrier died yesterday at the grand age of 13. His death wasn't any surprise since he'd been suffering from heart problems for nearly a year. Congestive heart failure did him in and had been seriously limiting his mobility and quality of life for several months before he died.

Here's a few pictures of the fellow. He loved to wade in the lake behind my parents house and then roll in the leaves. Can you imagine their floors after this mass of fur, dripping water, clay, and leaves everywhere wandered through?






As you might be able to tell in this last picture, Tibbie didn't like to have his picture taken --but he was also too lazy to move unless he was really annoyed-- so I have a lot of pictures of him laying on the floor and giving me looks like this.

walking across campus

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On Sunday my girlfriend and I decided to do some walking for exercise and to look at the lovely scenery that a blustery day in early March so readily provides. LOL Well, this might not be the best time of the year for scenery but we dressed warm--it was 40f and very windy--so it wasn't so bad.

We first went to UNC in Chapel Hill since I had to drop off some things at my lab. We parked on one end of campus--and parking was already becoming difficult due to a HUGE basketball game being played later that day. The game was between the UNC Tarheels and their crosstown arch rivals the Duke University Blue Devils. In the spirit of things, after Ren and I walked across the campus of UNC, we drove over to Durham and walked around on the Duke campus. Ren, being a UNC grad, shivered a bit here and there. I think it was the prospect of actually walking in the land of the damned--but maybe it was just the blustery wind.

Here's a picture of a duck we came across in the Sarah Duke Gardens. For…

Switzerland invades Liechtenstein

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They might be two small countries but that doesn't mean that they're not willing to tussle a bit. I read this story about Swiss troops "accidently" crossing over into Liechtenstein this weekend and wondered if this is going to be the new trend in international diplomacy. Hell, the US has been doing it for years. "What, this isn't Kansas?" could be the official line as a few brigades cross the border into Canada.

Think about it. Canada has lots of natural gas, coal, trees, hydroelectric energy and even caribou. If Bush is willing to spend a good part of a trillion dollars (yes, kids, that's trillion with a T: a million millions) getting Iraq, what would Canada be worth? It's a lot prettier in Canada, plenty of energy resources and the residents know English already--though some in Montreal pretend to only know French. It's even a lot easier to get to. Just go north and eventually you'll hit it.

By the way, I'm just kidding about invadin…

heroes wallpaper

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This is a wallpaper I did for my laptop at work the other day. It's really little more than a blending of two wallpapers offered on the NBC website. I was going to embellish it a little more but then things got busy again and I forgot to do more work on it.



As always, click on it to get to the bigger image.

flowers in Spring

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Sure, it's still Winter here. But it's 52 outside and the Winter's been a mild one. Even in my exposed location here, the bulbs are starting to pop up. Soon I'll have blooms to take pictures of and that'll keep me out of trouble for a few days.

I took this picture last Spring over at Sarah Duke Gardens on the campus of Duke University. I hope to go back there in the next week or so since I suspect their bulbs are coming up early this year.

Between the mild Winter and the early arrival of Daylight Savings Time (3 weeks earlier than usual this year), March is going to be very confusing on us humans. Of course plants just care about temperature and light levels so they won't realize anything has changed. How would you like to have such a simple outlook on life?

A little later I'm going to make a few batches of muffins. I've not made any since late in January so it'll be nice to have the house filled with smells of baking quickbread--not to mention eating …

politics and cats

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For some reason the Bush Administration is making me edgier than usual today so I'm posting about this picture of a kitten as my way to avoid pissing people off by ranting about treasonous behavior and dereliction of duty.

Isn't it a cute kitten? My girlfriend's youngest son brought the little tyke home one day. He'd found it out behind a gas station all dirty and starved looking. Not long after that he became Mom's cat--otherwise he'd have been all dirty and hungry once again, just in a different location. LOL

I took this picture because I'd never seen a cat eat a sandwich before. The novelty of the action was enough to get me to go retrieve a camera to take a picture instead of the more logical activity of tossing the damn cat out the door. It's amazing how far a little cute fur can get you in this world. Maybe if Bush had fur I'd appreciate him more.

Of course he'd still not be cute--he always reminds me of a leprechaun that just got away with s…

a heart, mints, and a cat

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Nothing too serious today. Just a couple of pictures I took this weekend.

This first one is a heart that I made out of peppermints while laying in bed bored. My girlfriend was on the computer playing some silly game. So, I--left alone with chocolate--just did what came naturally. I played with it.

I hadn't been eating chocolate for most of February due to that diet restriction I was on and so the bargain candy I bought after St Valentine's Day was languishing in a drawer. This was the first bag I attacked. Chocolate!

But I did pause long enough to make pretty shapes with the mints---the shiny red foil was too gosh durn pretty not to play with--before stripping those covers off and eating them. :-)





Here's a picture of a black... cat. Ha! I bet you thought I'd use some other word but you're wrong! (I did think the other word tho)

It's a boy and the most recent adoptee by my girlfriend. He's something like 5 years old and the people that used to own him (assuming…