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Showing posts from October, 2007

mowing and mantis

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That suicide pact I mentioned the other day isn't limited to just deer. Apparently bunnies want in on it also.

I was mowing the lawn this evening and that bunny you see on the left almost got run over. I was using a 6.5 hp gas mower so it was quite loud but that rabbit didn't move a muscle. I was only one row away from the furry critter before I noticed it. This time, unlike the deer, I remembered to take a picture.

Oddly enough, as soon as the flash went off that rabbit took off across my yard and then the guy's yard behind me. But think about it. This rabbit stayed put during multiple passes of my loud lawn mower, as close as 2 feet away, it also stayed there while I went into my house and got my camera--but when it knew I was taking a picture... off it went. Pretty weird.

This was the next critter to catch my eye while mowing. It was only a few minutes after I took the picture of the rabbit that I passed this lovely girl. And since I have a thing for bugs--I had to take m…

Back Home

I arrived back home in the wee hours of Monday morning, a few minutes before 4am, to be more exact. During the previous 11 days I'd been hiking and climbing in the mountains near Asheville in North Carolina, kayaking the muddy waters of western South Carolina, and then hiking a bit in the hills of north Georgia. And now I'm back to the boring flat lands of eastern NC. Oh well.

Only one interesting incident on that drive home. Just before I got to my house--say 12 miles away--I encountered a deer. I didn't hit it but it was close. The freakin' deer must have been suicidal. It was standing plumb smack in the middle of the lane I was in--and it didn't move an inch. It just watched me do a panic brake and just stood watching. A trifle disappointed, I believe. I really do think it was trying to commit suicide. However I like my car too much to accommodate the damn hoofed nuisance and so I very slowly crept into the other lane and moved around the pesky deer. I was so dis…

It's that last bit that counts

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Last week when I was up in Asheville I did some hiking. On one of those hikes I went up a moderate sized mountain and this is what the top looked like:


Lee and I circled around a little trying to find a way up. We never did find a good route, and since it was getting late in the day, we finally turned around and went back down. The climb was fun albeit strenuous but it would have been nicer to have been able to say we'd made it all the way to the top.

This particular mountain is used for teaching rock climbing techniques since with the right equipment it's quite easy and the view from the top is supposed to be quite nice. I wouldn't know of course. I never got there.

Why am I in such a philosophical mood? At Naomi's suggestion I'm watching the entire first season of Damages this week.

The acting is wonderful--Glen Close especially is fantastic--but the backstabbing and double dealing does get one a little depressed. With the exception of the Close character, Patty Hewe…

Fake It

This is a video by Seether that I saw over on RennRatt's blog. It's kinda interesting. I particularly like the revealing pull backs of the camera showing how the very real looking scenes are being created on a set. Nice blue screen dancer too.

misty morning

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A picture from yesterday morning since I've not been out on the lake yet today. Feeling lazy, and all that sorta thing. The paddling helps my back feel better so I should get off my butt and get out there--but it's kinda cold out there and....

Today marks two weeks of not working. I could quite easily get used to this sorta thing. I just don't understand people that retire and can't get used to having so much free time. Of course money would be a problem for me...

spider webs

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Today I woke up to a lot of fog and brisk conditions.

For the first time in a while I was seeing the affect of air below 40 on a somewhat warmer lake... and that makes for nice pictures. I ended up taking a bunch but what you see here is two pictures I took of spider webs, wet with dew, before I went out on the lake.

The spider webs seem like a nice theme, it being so close to Halloween.


Gloomy skies and not enough water

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We've gotten a little rain in the past 24 hours. According to the rain gauge on the deck it's been 0.28 inches. As you can probably guess, it's not enough to help much.

I did some kayaking this morning and took a few pictures.

As you can see here, it was quite overcast. There were huge rainstorms south of us but I only got caught in a few slight showers. As so often happens, the rain avoided the lake and just fell on the regions around the lake. Weird.

The picture of the left illustrates the gloomy gray sky--but it also points out how low the water is. Normally the water is up to the edge of those pine trees. Now the trees are 30 feet away and over 10 feet higher than the kayak I was in. The lake level is down 10'8" from where it was 2 years ago.

On the plus side though, this area--due to the huge lake--doesn't have any watering restrictions. A couple hours to the West is Atlanta which is down to a two month supply of water in Lake Lanier. And where I live in NC t…

leapin' lizards

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Slow day here at the lake. My back is still bothering me so I took a tentative stab at kayaking today. I only went out for a bit, though it did turn out to last 2 hours. No problems paddling but carrying the damn thing down the hill to the lake was less than pleasant. Still, the paddling actually seemed to help the way my muscles in my lower back felt. Therapy a la kayaking? Maybe.

The picture above is a reptilian visitor I saw while reading a book in the living room. I grabbed a camera and took a few shots of him--then tried to keep from startling him when I went outside for a better look at him and his scaly self.

As you can see below, he was a wonderful model. He wouldn't do that neck puffing mating ritual while I was watching but he did allow my camera lens to get within 6 inches of his face.

Slick Rock Falls

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This is the second waterfall that Lee and I visited on Sunday. This one is called Slick Rock Falls.

It was getting on to late afternoon by the time we arrived at the information center on Forest Service Road 475 near the falls. Once there we realized that we needed to drive part way up Looking Glass Rock, using Forest Service 475B, a very narrow gravel road, to access the parking lot for the mountain as well as the waterfall at the base.

For some unknown reason, my ill ease with heights, which is normally quite mild, bloomed this weekend into near acrophobia. And I'll tell you--there were a lot of sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway that nearly had me in a tizzy.

It's a good thing that Lee was driving--unfortunately I was driving when we went up the forest service road climbing Looking Glass Rock. There were two spots where the road just dropped off several hundred feet at the shoulder. Eeek.



Anyway, the first picture here is looking at Slick Rock Falls from a few hundred feet away…

Looking Glass

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I'm at my parents' house in SC now but I spent the past few days in Western North Carolina wandering along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This is a waterfall in Transylvania County, not very far from Brevard, North Carolina.

It's located on highway 276 which is a lovely but very hilly and twisty road with a number of waterfalls alongside it.

This one is called Looking Glass Falls. It's named for a nearby mountain, Looking Glass Rock, which is 3,969 feet high--and I can assure you, it's quite steep.

You can get an idea of the scale of the falls here by seeing the young fellow standing at the base.

These pictures are quite small due to my parents only having dial-up. I'm not willing to upload big pictures from here. I'm far too impatient!




This is some detail at the bottom of the falls at Looking Glass.

It's pretty the way that the water causes its own little micro-environment.

The drought here in the Carolinas has been so severe that many of the waterfalls in this area …

Mad Men and Damages

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I finally have started watching that AMC cable series Mad Men. The season is over, I think, and there's something like 12 or 13 episodes recorded now. I've seen the first 6 shows, I think, and so far I find it.... interesting. It's gotten a lot of critical acclaim but I'm not 100% thrilled by the show.

I'm not entirely sure why. The acting is just peachy. Maybe it's just that the period of time is so familiar to me but at the same time repugnant. I was born just a year after the show takes place so the time of my childhood was quite similar to that in which the show occurs. Between the ever present smoking, the frequency of illicit sexual affairs, daytime alcohol use, and ingrained prejudices and preconceptions of the characters.... it's a little icky. I must admit though, it sure does ring true when I compare the show to my earliest memories. Scary.

I bet this show is going to garner a lot of awards. It's that kind of show. In case you're not familia…

The high price of kisses

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I re-injured my back on Sunday and to help console myself I went on a candy run. The results can be seen below--but the bad news is that I discovered signs of dastardly doing as a consequence of this shopping.

I always thought Shephard over at Shephard's Alley was a pretty nice guy. No more! He's dead to me--and it's all over some thoughtless kisses.

As you might expect, there's a little history here. You see, last week I thought Shephard was doing humanity a big favor by removing a toxic substance from store shelves where it might harm innocent folk. And he tried to enlist the help of the blogging community. In his own words:

These are absolutely disgusting. Please, if you bought them, trust me, you'll hate them. Just send them to me, and I'll get rid of them for you. Don't thank me, it's the least I could do.
Well, as the more cynical and suspicious folk out there might have suspected, that Shephard had an ulterior motive! An agenda. You see, in my innoce…

Heroes and bad plants

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I finally started watching this season's episodes of Heroes. What a show. I watched the first 3 episodes in the wee hours of Monday morning and then watched the fourth episode just a few minutes ago. The show is just a little less compelling this season than last but I still like it a lot. There's a couple of new shows this season that are rivaling Heroes for quality but it's still up there near the top. That's better than Lost did going into its second season!

I watched Friday's pilot episode of ABC's Women's Murder Club over the weekend and was surprised to find that I liked it. It was very familiar, seeming like a cross between Bones and Crossing Jordan, but it wasn't all that bad. Certainly better than those two shows. And given its roots in James Patterson's books, I didn't have much hope for it. It's not easy to rise above bad material. But it started off pretty well. On the other hand, Jimmy Smits and his show Cane are starting to grow…

Blog Action Day: Solar Energy

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Blog Action Day?

On October 15th - Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyones mind.

In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment. Click on the image to learn more.

Al Gore just recently received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the environment. Obviously there's some momentum building here. When I was in grade school, back in the early 1970s, the teachers often had us write letters to politicians decrying the state of the environment and pleading with them to "do something about it". That was over 30 years ago and solar is finally hitting the big time now.

According to an article in the October 15 issue of Forbes, The Future's so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades, the market capitalization of solar energy companies has increased from $1 Billion in 2004 to $71 Billion in 2007. Capitalists tend to be realists. If they're buying shares of solar …

Kataifi

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Way back, maybe 20 years ago, I went to Greece for a few weeks. While there I developed an intense relationship with a wonderful Greek treat, Kataifi. In my opinion this pastry, usually made for kids, should be the front running candidate for ambrosia, the mythical food of the gods.

The picture to the left is kataifi. It's very rare when I can find it in the states. Even in Greek restaurants the wait staff frequently say they've never heard of it. So all I can do is make it myself. It's a fairly simple dish if you have the ingredients handy.

I'm thinking of making some for my parents when I go there later this week. As they grow older they've become very fond of sweets--and I've always loved them. Honey is a close friend of mine and I have intense feelings for confectioners sugar and chocolate. Kataifi is a lot sweeter than baklava, if that gives you any indication of just how much of a sugar punch this confection can pack.
1 lb. shredded phyllo dough1 lb. chopped…

vacation of sorts

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Today's my last day of work for 2 weeks, maybe 3. That third week has been granted to me but it's revocable depending on circumstances here in the lab. Since we have a med student working here who's only had minimal experience in the lab, I doubt very much I'll get that third week.

This is the first vacation time I've had this year for just that reason. My boss keeps bringing in temporary folk like our med student who are only here for a few weeks or months. Workers like that are very high maintenance since they have to be trained, which is time intensive, and also need to be supervised pretty much all the time. This means that I can't take a single day off.

However after having 4 vacations canceled on me during the course of the year I finally put my foot down and insisted on at least two weeks off. This coming Monday is the start!

I plan on spending a few days in the mountains of Western NC, around 5 days at my parent's house doing some errands and home main…

vegetarianism is almost the most efficient diet

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There was an article on Cornell University's website last Thursday (October 4, 2007) that I found rather interesting. It's regarding a study that was published in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

As far back as I can remember one of the reasons people have espoused adopting a vegetarian diet is to save resources. It takes less energy to raise vegetable sources of food than to produce meat--so by eating a diet purely sourced from plant, you'll be more Earth friendly.

That's pretty common sense and I've always accepted that rationale while at the same time happily stuffing pork and chicken in my mouth at every opportunity. What results? Cognitive dissonance. But no more!

It appears that, according to Cornell's study, that food production that includes meat and dairy is more efficient than plants alone. Here's the reason from their article:


The reason is that fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland, Chris Peters, a …

Rivers and pagans

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The picture below is my new desktop paper. I'm not sure what size it'll be after Blogger uploads it, but the version I'm using on my computer is set to 1680 x 1050. The resolution of my LCD.


Click on the pic to see it full size. It's one of the better ones I've taken this year. I took the picture on Saturday at Eno River Park which is near Durham, NC.

The last month has been kinda weird for me. A number of former girlfriends, all of whom broke up with me, have gotten back in contact. Romantic interests aren't prevalent here, of course, but just the coincidence of being contacted like this by several women all at once is statistically freaky.

The longest gap since last contact, and in my consideration the least likely to have ever contacted me again, is Jan, a woman I dated for about 4 years when I lived in Atlanta. We even lived together for just over 2 years, I think. Or maybe one year. My memory isn't very good with dates.

The picture there to the left is Jan…

A gift

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A few weeks ago I received a gift in the mail.

I was quite surprised and gratified to receive it. The unexpected gift, as you can see in the picture to the left, was a shower curtain.

There's a little history behind this. Chris, my last girlfriend, has remarked on a number of occasions that my master bathroom really needed a new shower curtain. The one that was in there was really the wrong color for the room, you see. And Chris, having a good eye for decoration, told me that I needed a deep red shower curtain and then to add some metallic paint as a layer over the red paint already on the walls.

I've not done the painting yet but thanks to Chris' gift, the shower curtain part is done. What made this so surprising is that Chris had broken up with me nearly a month before.


This is what it looks like hanging up.

Chris even bought it on sale, which is rather uncharacteristic for her, and something I tried very hard to encourage in her. I do hate paying retail!

Since I just put the …

Sexist Jokes

These are examples of those horrid nasty sexist jokes that I, like most men, absolutely deplore. They have no basis in reality and I only provide them here as a negative example of humor at its worst:

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How many men does it take to open a beer?
None. It should be opened when she brings it.
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Why is a Laundromat a really bad place to pick up a woman?
Because a woman who can't even afford a washing machine will probably never be able to support you.
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Why do women have smaller feet than men?
It's one of those 'evolutionary things' that allows Them to stand closer to the kitchen sink.
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How do you know when a woman is about to say something smart?
When she starts a sentence with 'A man once told me...'
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Mushroom

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I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of Bionic Woman. It sucked. Totally sucked. I taped the second episode and I think I'm just going to delete it unwatched. This show, despite what seems like a very sizable budget, can't muster even one likable character. After seeing that first show, all I could think is that all those characters really deserved one another.

And if you want to go beyond unlikable characters, the plot premise is pretty slipshod, special effects are second rate, character motivation and personality realism are quite lacking. Anybody like the show?

damn statistics

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The lovely Tiff over at No Accent Yet got me to thinking about Blog stats today due to her post about that very subject. Yes, I wasn't making a huge cognitive jump there.

So I looked up what's been going on with my blog over the past 2 years. I seem to be losing the interest of the masses! Am I getting more boring with time?

As I recall from when I was a kid, adults often do that. By the time I hit 50--and that date is way, way too soon--there won't be anybody left that's willing to listen to me. Uh-oh.



In case you're curious--and to Hell with you if you're not!!!--that huge change in stats around July first of 2006 was when Blogger screwed up my blog and I had to start publishing to a slightly different address. As you can see, page loads dropped around 66% at that point. It happened again to a lesser degree this summer when I was forced to migrate to Beta Blogger and yet again Blogger screwed up and I had to publish to a new address again...

Toffee Brownies

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I watched the pilot episode of ABC's Pushing Daisies last night. I liked the second half but thought the beginning, where they explain the premise of the show, was quite long and almost tedious. And I'm rethinking the "almost".

The show has good writing and I like all the peculiar personality issues the various characters have. I think the basic plot engine is sustainable--private investigator teams up with guy who can temporarily reanimate the dead so they can pursue bounty rewards on murder victims--albeit quite off the wall. This sustainability is good since it already looks like one of the shows I like, Journeyman, is headed for the axe.

I didn't like the impossibility aspect of the dog being alive but given the premise the rest held together pretty well. I like all 4 lead actors--5 if you count the dog--and for me to like all the actors in a show is quite rare. Anna Friel is particularly interesting though the only place I'd seen her before was in that awf…

French Toast Bake

Karen, a beautiful woman up in the wilds of Nebraska, posted a recipe a few days ago on her blog Condiment Kitchen. The recipe is for Blueberry French Toast Bake. I was thinking of making it this past weekend but got lazy and didn't do it. I'm hoping to be a little more motivated this weekend.

In any case, here's the recipe and let me know what you think if you try it out before I do!

BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST BAKE
Ingredients:
1/2 cup flour1-1/2 cups whole milk2 Tbsp. sugar1 tsp. vanilla6 eggs10 slices french bread, cut into 1" cubes3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, diced1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw)1/2 cup chopped nuts2 Tbsp. sugar1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Preparation:
Generously grease 13x9" glass baking dish. Beat flour, milk, 2 Tbsp. sugar, vanilla and eggs in large bowl until smooth. Stir in bread cubes until well coated, then pour bread mixture into prepared pan.

Top evenly with cream cheese cubes and blueberries. In small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. sugar, ci…

sugar, free radicals and your health

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There's a story on Reuters Newswire that really impacts me. As anyone who knows me realizes, I live for sugar. Soda, candy, cookies, kid's cereal---any source will do.

Well, according to the story, taking vitamins and eating foods rich in antioxidants is BAD for you. Go figure. There is a justification for this unexpected finding. Here's the story from Reuters:

Life can be sweeter if you cut out the sugar
Tue Oct 2, 2007 12:53pm EDT
By Michael Kahn

LONDON (Reuters) - Giving up sweets and avoiding vitamins could help you live longer, German researchers said on Tuesday.

They found that restricting glucose -- a simple sugar found in foods such as sweets that is a primary source of energy for the body -- set off a process that extended the life span of some worms by up to 25 percent.

The key was boosting the level of "free radicals" -- unstable molecules that can damage the body and which people often try to get rid of by consuming food or drinks rich in anti-oxidants such …

television

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I finally watched the pilot episode of Chuck, a very offbeat spy spoof on NBC that uses a self proclaimed Geek to save the world. Oops, wrong show. Well, at least to save various US agencies like the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI. It seems that Chuck's old Stanford roommate, Bryce Larkin, who by the way stole the one girl Chuck could ever love, became a spy for the CIA after college--and then went rogue. But in a creative twist, just before dying Bryce Emailed good ole Chuck the secrets of all the US spy agencies in one very wacky bunch of images that secretly convey massive amounts of data directly to the brain stem.

Or something like that. (that technique was actally a plot device in a cyberpunk novel, Snowcrash, quite a few years ago)

I thought the show was great. Chuck, along with Journeyman, are the only two shows I've seen pilots for this season that I've liked a lot. I hope both shows maintain high standards. Given its setup, Journeyman needs particularly deft writing.

I a…