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Showing posts from April, 2007

Demolition Sunday

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This past weekend my girlfriend decided that she'd waited long enough--it was time to begin work on her front yard and the garden glen that she'd always wanted.

The first step was going to be new walkways and that required a little planning. Below you see the string that is marking the paths-to-be. Also you can see the concrete sidewalk that soon won't be. This was on Saturday.


This next picture was the beginning of the end for the concrete sidewalk. Sunday was the big day for demolition and my girlfriend's younger son and I started the work--this first corner, which started the project, is one he broke off--and after we broke up the first two sections of sidewalk, Ren joined in. It's really amazing how therapeutic swinging a sledgehammer is!


Talk about venting aggression! *whew* The picture below is after the first two sections were smashed up and then levered out of place. This was about when Ren started working with us. It took her a few minutes to get her swing d…

Saturday colors

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I took these pictures at the NC Zoo last Saturday... Pink, Red, and Brown.

First Pink


then Red


and finally Brown

migraines and research

I've suffered from migraines since I was around 12. I rarely get the visual affects like auras but I sure do get plenty of pain. While I can be induced by loud sounds and some foods, most of the time my migraines are induced by sinus headaches. The sinus headaches don't usually induce a migraine but the longer the sinus head goes on, the greater the chance I'll get a migraine.

Fortunately mine are treatable and I usually use Midrin. It's really amazing how well drugs like that work. It's not that they treat the pain--they prevent the migraine from happening. Most people with migraines have a little warning that one is going to hit--typically for me it's 30-45 minutes--and if you take meds for it in that window the migraine just doesn't happen. It's like magic!


Study: Migraines may help memory loss

WASHINGTON, April 24 (UPI) -- A U.S. study finds that people who suffer from migraine headaches appear to have less loss of cognitive function as they age than …

Jokes with flies

Speeding Farmer

A farmer got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding, and the trooper started to lecture the farmer about his speed, and in general began to throw his weight around to try to make the farmer uncomfortable.

Finally, the trooper got around to writing out the ticket, and as he was doing that he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head. The farmer said, "Having some problems with circle flies there, are ya?"

The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said "Well yeah, if that's what they are, I never heard of circle flies."

So the farmer says "Well, circle flies are common on farms. See, they're called circle flies because
they're almost always found circling around the back end of a horse."

The trooper says, "Oh," and goes back to writing the ticket. Then after a minute he stops and says, "Hey...wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horses ass?"

The farmer says, "Oh no, officer. I hav…

back to work

I returned to work yesterday after taking off 7 days. It's amazing how many things can happen in just over a week! LOL

Fortunately that just makes you feel wanted and needed, doesn't it? Hmmm. Not so much actually--it makes me feel like running away. Fast. Far. Not returning. Ever.

Things are settling down a little bit today and since it's only a partial week I can't do some of the more complicated experiments that I have planned so it's only some IHC (immunohistochemistry) staining this week and a little bit of RNA extraction for some DNA microarrays next week. Maybe I'll get caught up with my accounting this week since I have a little free time. It's very easy to let those invoices slide but if I don't pay the vendors they'll eventually stop sending me supplies...

I wasn't very impressed with the episode of Heroes the other night. After a 5 week hiatus I was expecting something more interesting. I hope that the show isn't sliding downhill!

WKRP

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I suspect most people my age--over 40 and let's leave it at that, ok?--have fond memories of the radio station WKRP. Sure, it never really existed. It was just a tv show. But the characters were so easy to like and the 70s aspect lends itself well to camp these days.

The backstory of the show was quite funny though it took a while to build since it was relayed via a number of flashback episodes during the show's run. I'm sure much of this history wasn't "known" when the pilot was made but was written up in later seasons. It was a good technique to add depth to the characters and to the radio station itself.

The reason I mention the show is that the first season is finally available this week on DVD--nearly 30 years after it was originally broadcast. But, and it's a bigass BUT, the shows aren't intact. Dammit. Apparently 20th Century FOX, which owns the rights to the show, didn't want to or couldn't get the music rights to many songs that aired …

green and blue

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I was watching one of those amazing Planet Earth episodes on Discovery Channel last night and they showed a bird on there that looked remarkably like the one below. My picture is of a Fairy Bluebird, a species native to southeast Asia, which I took on Saturday at the NC Zoo. On the BBC program it was identified as one of the many species of Bird of Paradise. They're probably just birds that look similar.



Oops. I forgot to correct the orientation on this fern when I was cropping the picture. Sorry! I took this picture in the same aviary as the picture of the bird above.

Aren't those greens intense? Notice that this one hasn't unfurled in the foreground and all the others around it are grabbing any sunlight they can get. I think it's a very nice thematic contrast. Too bad the picture is lying on its side.

Oswald and Danny

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SPOILER ALERT: don't read if you haven't see the episode from tonight!

This post concerns the TV show The Amazing Race which here in the US is showing season 11, the All Star edition.




I really liked tonight's episode of The Amazing Race but I bet there's a lot of people pissed off at the Beauty Queens. I actually like them--they have so much enthusiasm for the competitive spirit of the race. In fact, I like all four remaining teams though Charla and Mirna do annoy me frequently. They're often so self-riotious it's quite annoying. And Mirna is always whining!! (oh, I always have to drive)

That said, the team I'd like to see win the most is Danny and Oswald. And they nearly blew it tonight. It's being labeled as karma getting back at you but that's silly. The Beauty Queens (BQs) were the instigators so they're the ones in the hot seat and they finished first. Karma? LOL Personally it's not the BQs that I think are the most underhanded--they'…

giraffe coming this way

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Isn't this critter pretty? I wonder what giraffes think of NC winters? It's got to feel unnatural to them. Today was very sunny and in the high 70s so I'm sure Mr Giraffe was much happier today than last week.



There were two things on my agenda for today. Going to the NC Zoo in Asheboro and picking up a new lawn mower. I only got one of those things done.

As you can probably tell from the picture above, I did make it to the zoo. Ren and I got there late due to someone oversleeping--apparently she had a bad reaction to BSE and just didn't want to wake up--so we got to the zoo, which is an hour drive from where I live, at 10:45am. We stayed until closing at 5pm so we were on our feet continuously for 6 hours. Our aching dogs! My feet were killing me and Ren was feeling the same way. The accumulated sun exposure from the 6 hours also sapped our endurance. Getting old!

This is also why that mower stayed in the store. We just didn't feel like stopping anywhere on the way …

broadband is great

I'm back in NC again. I managed to finish most of the tasks that my parents wanted me to do while in SC so that was good. Due to the wind advisories the first few days I was there, I didn't get much kayaking done. I just went out on the lake 3 times and only on Tuesday morning was I able to get in a long paddle--I was out for a bit over 2 hours that time.

I really missed having a broadband Internet connection. My parents have dial-up and it was killing me.

Nothing too interesting on the fix-it stuff except that when I was replacing an outlet in one of the bathrooms I managed to turn off the wrong circuit breaker. Let me tell you, I soon realized my mistake! Those lines carry quite the jolt! I bet my hair stood on end--it felt like my eyes were going to pop. I assure you, I was much more cautious on the subsequent two electrical tasks that followed. *whew*

Speaking of errands, I don't go back to work yet so today is going to be spent getting some chores done around the house.…

Avanir soars on Zenvia clinical results

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Here's another chapter in the story of volatile biotech stocks. I bought Avanir (AVNR) at the end of February when bad news pushed the stock down drastically. I paid $1.52 a share and since then it's been even lower--as low as $1.07, in fact.

But as you can see to the left, Avanir has become more friendly to investors as a result of the positive results of their drug Zenvia. Here's an excerpt from an article in BusinessWeek:

Drug developer Avanir Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday that a clinical trial showed its drug Zenvia significantly lessened nerve pain in diabetic patients.

Avanir shares surged $1.08, or 85 percent, to $2.35 in electronic premarket activity, after closing at $1.27 Tuesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Shares traded as high as $18.14 in February 2006 but have fallen sharply since, dropping to a low of $1.07 last month.

In a late-stage clinical trial, patients with diabetic neuropathic pain were given Zenvia or placebo and asked to make daily journals entries ra…

a little plumbing

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Yesterday I tackled a small plumbing project for my parents.

The faucet set you see to the left is about 12 years old and came with the house. My parents wanted to replace it with something a little prettier and they enlisted me to do the work.

I don't have much plumbing experience and had only installed one faucet set before--and that was around 10 years ago--but for some odd reason I had a sense of confidence about this project. LOL

As it turns out, that confidence was ill placed. I spent near 6 hours--albeit some long breaks were contained within that time span--trying to remove the original faucet set. Between corroded metal, frozen screws, improper tools, and an unusual original installation I really got frustrated!

This is what I removed from the sink. At least most of it. I had to tear apart some metal flanging from each knob with visegrips to get at a hidden screw--I couldn't figure out the proper way to get at it--and those metal shards aren't on the towel.

In any case…

Plumbing

There's still a high wind advisory for today so no kayaking in the morning. Maybe the stormy winds will subside by afternoon. I hope so. It feels weird to be here for 3 days and not to have been paddling on the water.

The task I have for today is to install a new faucet set in my parent's bathroom. First, of course, I have to take out the old set. I looked it over yesterday afternoon and suspect there will be a lot of swearing going on before the day is over. I'm no plumber and while I expect I'll be able to get this job done, it might be more of an adventure than I'd like.

So, that's what I'll be doing once the market opens at 9:30am. I like to check out how my stocks fare at the opening bell before I do anything else. This way I know what my basic outlook on the day should be. Exuberant or depressed, y'know?

Monday morning

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Both yesterday and today have been very quiet here in SC. The storm that's hitting the Northeast US made my drive down here in the wee hours of Sunday morning quite interesting but while my trip was delayed several times by traffic accidents, nothing untoward happened to me or the cars near me.

The rain from the storm is long gone from this area of the East Coast but unfortunately there's still a lot of wind, and severe enough to force the state to issue Wind Advisories for the lake here and that's keeping me from kayaking.

I don't mind some wind out on the lake but possible 50 mph gusts just aren't anything I want to deal with. I hope to spend some time on the lake Tuesday morning...

I've been working some on a few projects around the house but most of those have hit stumbling blocks. It's almost like some malevolent force doesn't want me to get anything done! Have you ever felt that way about things? LOL

vacation of sorts

*whew* The paper my group has been working on has just been uploaded to Cancer Research. I had a few last minute requests this morning for changes to my graphics so it's been a busy day. I'm just starting on my lab work now at 1pm. It's all worth it though since now the last minute changes are at an end.

The secondary effect of this is that I can take some time off since once the next project starts I'm locked in for several months. So I'm taking off 7 days and won't be returning until April 23. Whee! The "of sorts" in the title refers to my using the time to go to my parents house and make a number of repairs that have been piling up since my last visit. It's not all one-sided though since I spend plenty of time kayaking out on the lake near their house. And when I get back from that, I've got plenty of issues to deal with at my own house. And since the state is garnishing my already puny wages these past few weeks, I guess I'd best take …

Some things are just wrong

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A few nights ago I was reminded of my short exposure to kiddie porn many, many years ago. In my defense, while my viewing of the movies was intentional--I had no idea the main actress was a child. For that matter, millions of others weren't aware either.

The show in question was Andy Barker, PI over on the NBC Network and the 4th episode had Traci Lords as a guest star. Lords, in her early days, was one of the first mega-stars of the porn industry. I saw two of her early movies when I was in my early 20s, a few years out of college. I wasn't aware at that time that she was just 15 or 16.

Her underage status wasn't revealed until shortly after her 18th birthday--and by that time she'd been in over 100 skin flicks. All of which had to be pulled off the shelves since they were now declared to be illegal due to now being classified as child pornography. According to the Wiki entry on her, Lord's and her step-father were behind the deception with forged documentation mak…

Gotta love those biotech stocks

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Case in point: Adolor Corporation (ADLR). This is a development-stage biopharmaceutical company that is engaged in the discovery and development of prescription pain management products. Adolor has a number of product candidates in various stages of development, ranging from preclinical studies to pivotal clinical trials. Their main drug candidate, Entereg (alvimopan), selectively blocks the unwanted effects of opioid analgesics on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

That sounds pretty good and that explains why the stock was valued at $25 last Summer. Since there's 46 million shares, at one time this company was valued at over a billion dollars.

Too bad that's just a fond memory now. After 3 price corrections--as can be seen in the graph to the left--the stock is now trading around $3.70 a share which puts Adolor's valuation around $170 million. Ouch!

I bought some shares today just in case Adolor recovers some of it's old pizazz--but this stock might just be a goner. Too b…

Am I rich?

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You want to talk about conspicuous consumption? Or at least an attempt to encourage it?

Well, if you do then this offer I was Emailed by Chase Bank under their Amazon.com co-branding is for you.

I like the card since you earn 1% back on all purchases which is paid off in Amazon gift certificates. I can ALWAYS spend money on Amazon! When you buy stuff on Amazon you get a better rate but I can't remember what it is. 2% or 3%, I think.

This ad they sent me makes it sound even sweeter. DOUBLE the point earnings! How can you not like that, I ask you.

Well, when you get to the second paragraph you see that you have to spend more than $450 in a month within one of 5 categories. Hell, I don't like to spend more than $450 a month in ALL categories. I can't imagine spending more than $450 in a month on just groceries, for example, or dining out. *whew* I suppose someone in sales might easily make it in the dining category if they're putting meals on their own card, and a big fami…

Happy Hippity Hoppity Easter

Happy Easter out there to all of you who celebrate it.

I'm wimping out today and not following through with my plan to go to the NC Zoo. It's 30 degrees outside now (7:30am) and it's not supposed to really warm up that much for a few hours. The zoo is about 90 minutes away from here and this is the time we'd be leaving to get there when it opens at 9am. Brrrr!

By the way, since putting up the post on Friday about me not being a Christian I've gotten a few supportive Emails from Atheists. While I like the support, I'm just not religious. That includes Atheism. I know Atheists like to say they're not religious but I'm afraid I have to point out to them that Atheism is a religion. At least in the Western sense. To me, any group that uses an article of faith as their foundation ("there is no God") for which there is no definite proof is a religious group. Sorry!

If I was going to be religious I think I'd go with the Greek gods. I think they real…

Cavemen and zoos

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We decided not to go to the zoo today. Between the light dusting of snow and the lasting chill, it just seemed likely that the critters would be holed up and not into the whole posing for pictures act. Tomorrow, while still chilly, won't be nearly as cold and a lot more sunny. Easter at the zoo? Maybe the bunnies will be missing since they'll all be out delivering eggs. (have you ever wondered why it isn't ducks doing that? Why would rabbits have eggs in the first place?)

Since I mentioned Evolution yesterday, I thought I'd mention cavemen today. It's a slight stretch as transitions go, but not real extreme. But I'm not going towards the "cavemen as progenitors of us" theme, but rather the Geico version of cavemen. Not exactly cute and cuddly, but still appealing in a very sarcastic way.

The reason I bring the Geico cavemen up is that there's an article in this weeks Newsweek Magazine that states that ABC is thinking of creating a half hour sitcom t…

I don't get it

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Easter is almost upon us and I have to admit I just don't "get" Christianity. I'm too rational, I guess, and Christianity isn't rational--to put it simply, Christianity just doesn't make sense.

Now I'm sure that kind of statement is going to piss some people off. After all, that's at the crux of the entire Evolution versus Creationism controversy. For anyone out there that "thinks" that Creationism makes sense--you're frickin' nuts! LOL

Christianity is a Faith. It's not supposed to make sense. If it was rational, then you wouldn't need faith. To wit, I don't need faith in Gravity. If I fall, I hit the ground. It happens every time. No faith needed. You need faith for things that don't make sense, that are beyond the realm of reason and rationality. Like Kierkegaard said, there's a "Leap of Faith" involved in accepting Christianity and I've never been willing to make that leap.

Easter involves one of tho…

3 day weekend

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A 3 day weekend is upon us and the cold weather that is hitting the area has caused me to change my plans. I was going to put in a bunch of pretty annuals and maybe change out the shrubs in the front of my house. Due to below overnight freezing weather the next few days I've put that on hold. Instead I'm going to go to the NC Zoo and take pictures of the animals. I went there last September during an unusually hot day and now I'd like to see how everything is during a different season and in cool weather.

That cute fellow below is called a Fennec, AKA Desert Fox. I took that picture back in September and look forward to seeing him again.



Tonight I'm going to start a new book. I've been reading several books a week lately but haven't felt like writing any reviews. Just the other night I finished The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais. I understand it's not one of his better books but I thought it was quite good. I hope to get a few books by him out of the library…

Barbecue

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I watched a program on The Travel Channel last night that was kinda interesting. I saw it in the listings and since I was having NC style barbecue for dinner, and the title of the program was Food Wars: Barbecue, I decided that it was a good fit for dinner time viewing.

The program pitted what they declared to be the 4 basic styles of barbecue against one another. Their choices for styles were Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, and North Carolina.

Despite living in North Carolina I immediately eliminated Texas and North Carolina in my mind since those just aren't types of barbecue that I like. Deciding between KC and Memphis is a lot harder and I'd have to actually have been in the taste test to decide.

Here's a 3 minute vid clip of the actual judging, if you're interested. It's hosted on Google Video.

The show did the normal song and dance by giving some history of barbecue itself as well as the regional differences across the US. Then the show went on location to some of t…

April Showers

Not much happened with me this weekend. I wasn't feeling well on Saturday so I just hung around the house. My only venture out was to go get 5 gallons of gasoline for my mowers. A little while after that I mowed a small segment of my yard with my old mower. I was quite surprised it still worked--but it did. The poor thing is so beat up the wheels are all "bow-legged" due to metal fatigue in the mowing deck.

Friday night I went to Lowe's and Wal-mart to compare lawn mowers. I think I'll get a self propelled model from Lowe's that costs $340 but I haven't actually bought it yet. It'll certainly make things a lot easier on my lower back and probably decrease the time it takes to mow my lawn by around 45 minutes. It currently takes me over 3 hours and I'd really like to drop that down closer to two hours. Mowing a lawn is really great exercise but as I get older I seem to crave exercise that involves lots of sweating in sweltering weather less and less…

April Fools Day

RJL Software has some silly software for use on others, and perhaps yourself, for April Fools Day--or any day that you feel like playing a prank.

I tried out "The Finger" which is a program that changes your cursor, every seconds, into an extended middle finger. It stays that way just long enough to register then returns to your normal cursor and repeats this in 5 second cycles until you kill the program. (this is done by moving the cursor to the topmost left corner of your screen)

There's over 40 prankish programs that they offer so give them a try if you're feeling like making someone your April Fool.