Showing posts from December, 2007

Another day off

Another day off of work...

On days that I work I rarely eat anything before noon, and then it's usually just some candy and water until I get home and have dinner. But since I have today off, I had eggs and taters. And I didn't even have to prepare them! Life is good.

8 eggs and some fried potatoes. The picture was taken before they hit the frying pan, of course.

The other people that I work with have stopped eating eggs since we started using them in research last month. For some reason it's not hurt my appetite for eggs. Go figure. Dell sucks.

Medical myths

Popular culture is loaded with myths and half-truths. Most are harmless. But when doctors start believing medical myths, perhaps it's time to worry.

In the British Medical Journal this week, researchers looked into several common misconceptions, from the belief that a person should drink eight glasses of water per day to the notion that reading in low light ruins your eyesight.

"We got fired up about this because we knew that physicians accepted these beliefs and were passing this information along to their patients," said Dr. Aaron Carroll, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "And these beliefs are frequently cited in the popular media."

And so here they are, so that you can inform your doctor:

Myth: We use only 10 percent of our brains.

Fact: Physicians and comedians alike, including Jerry Seinfeld, love to cite this one. It's sometimes erroneously credited to Albert Einstein. But MRI scans, PET scans and other imagi…

Xmas Clearance

I just love candy. I just love sales. And I really, really love clearance sales.

That said, when you combine candy and a clearance sale--well, let's just say I go hog wild. And if you think that infers that I can be a pig, well--keep it to yourself, thank you very much.

The picture to the left might lead some to think I'm a candy hog, but it's more that I love good values. Really. Wal-mart had all their Christmas stuff--including candy--at 50% off or more. I picked up over 50 pounds of candy today. Including more than 40 pounds of Hershey Cordial Cherry Kisses. God I love those. Thanks here to Shephard who first made me aware of those little morsels of delight.

Even the Santa tray and bowls were on sale ($1.75 and $4.25 respectively) and the ladybug vibrator was practically free. Don't ask. I stocked up on all kinds of candy and even got some Xmas wrapping paper, programmable Xmas lights and those more practical things--but my heart belonged to the candy. As always.



I've read two books this past week. Restless, by William Boyd, which I finished on Tuesday, and The Rake, by William F. Buckley jr, which I finished just a few minutes ago.

Both books were recently published, Restless in late 2006 and The Rake in 2007. Both books are well written, which isn't surprising given the literary background of both authors. Boyd has won a number of awards despite having written only 8 novels. Quality, not quantity, y'know? And Buckley is a legend though he's more well known for nonfiction--but he's written a number of spy type novels and they're quite good.

I picked up Restless due to a strongly positive review of it in one of the magazines I read as well as it making the years best list in Newsweek. I agree that it's quite good though I might not include it in a "best of" list. In this book Boyd bounces between the world of WW2, in various countries, and suburban US in the 1970s. There's quite a contrast in time period…

Bondage most fowl

What a dark day it was...

...when bondage most fowl visited this household. That all sounds so deliciously sinister.

But in reality while delicious was an apt description, there was little sinister about the bondage--unless you're either a turkey or a PETA type person. Turkey in bondage = good eats!

This was the ultimate destiny of that turkey I bought last week before traveling to SC. Since my parents arrived back home a day early, I never got a chance to make it for them. Then there was a ham for Xmas dinner so this has been the first chance that the poor turkey has had to shine.

The fellow weighed in at 16 pounds so even allowing for giving the dog a lot of meat, we still have a long, long ways to go on this bird.

And lest I forget, Dell sucks.

Christmas in SC

I'm spending the holidays with my parents on the red clay shores of Lake Hartwell.

There's a Christmas tradition celebrated by a certain sub population of local sportsmen that can be seen to the left.

A few weeks after Christmas, the former Christmas trees are attached to something heavy--usually a concrete block--and sunk in the waters off the shore. I suspect this tradition is shared by our friends in NY and NJ though perhaps it's not trees that they sink with their concrete blocks. Anyway...

There's a belief--well founded, I'm sure-- that the trees in the lake bottom encourage the development of fish in these spots. So fishermen will sink these trees in their favorite spots, to ensure that these spots remain good ones for years to come. Normally you'd never see the trees but with the year long drought still in progress, the lake is nearly 14 feet below it's normal level which has exposed a lot of bottom-dwelling trees.

And speaking of traditions, unfortunat…

An Island

Here's a picture I took this evening, just before sunset. I was sitting in my kayak, a ways out on the lake, and a boat passed about a hundred yards off my bow. As a result, the island that I was looking at became much more photogenic due to the waves created by the boats wake. What a nice boat.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. Santa here joins me in wishing a lovely holiday season to everyone out there celebrating festivities this time of year. On Dasher, on Prancer and all that stuff--where's the damn spiked eggnog?

Splish, Splash

The old line goes "there's always something" and this holiday season it's a plumbing something in this household.

Exhibit A is over there on the left. Pretty ugly, huh?

I was kayaking in very windy conditions today and came back all cold and covered in nasty lake water. I wanted to jump in a hot shower and scrape off the germ-ridden gunk off me as well as warm up. That didn't work out so well since it was a cold shower--no hot water available at all.

After a bit of analysis--and me blaming my mom for turning on the washer while I was showering--it came to light that the hot water heater had sprung a leak. Given the amount of rust on the outside this probably happened a number of weeks ago.

When my dad and I were looking it over, before we shut off the water and power to the unit, there was water coming out of both of those blue metal covers in a torrent. I hate to imagine what this month's water bill will be!

As you can see on this closer shot, the inner containe…

Dell Sucks

At 10:25pm tonight Dell sent me the following Email:

This note is in reference to your recent order for a Fuji Photo Film FinePix S700 digital camera.

Regrettably, we had to cancel your recent order for the Fuji S700 digital camera as we are unable to ship your order. Due to an internal system error, your order included discounts that should not have been applied.

Dell specifically indicate on our web pages, catalogs, and advertising that Dell cannot be responsible for pricing or other errors, and reserves the right to cancel orders arising from such errors. In addition, our email documentation provided to customers as they place orders states: Please note that Dell cannot be responsible for typographical or other errors, and reserves the right to cancel any orders resulting from such errors.

We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. We truly value our relationship and reputation with our customers. Please be assured that we are working hard to try and prevent similar issues goi…

Hershey Kiss wallpaper

Chemistry and chocolate. Add in cherry cordial flavor and you have heaven! That's the wallpaper I'm using on my laptop these days. I took the picture in my lab last week.

I'm now in South Carolina. I arrived at 12:35am after a rather fast 3.5 hour drive from NC. I usually don't leave until around 3am but this time I had to do some Xmas shopping on the way out of town and one of the stores closed at 9pm so that dictated my departure time of 8:25pm. I managed to make the stops at Lowe's (car thingy for my Dad and gift certificate for my brother), Food Lion (turkey for Sunday dinner and 2 pounds of butter for making honey butter), and Smithfield's (2 dozen hushpuppies for eating on the drive and 2 pints of Brunswick Stew for eating breakfast once I got to SC) very quickly and was on the Interstate by 9:10pm.

Next up I'm eating some Brunswick Stew then going kayaking. Later today I'll start getting things ready for the Sunday turkey meal I'm making. My pa…

Nexus Radio

Just last week I started using this site, Nexus Radio, and I love it. From what I've read about it, I think it's been around for something like 6 months

What is Nexus Radio?

Well, you can go to their FAQ page for that answer--but I'll give you their short version answer:

Nexus Radio is a free full featured radio player for listeners who want to
record their favorite radio content for playback on their PC, or any portable
device that supports MP3s. With over 6000+ radio stations and support
for thousands more, Nexus Radio delivers the content radio listeners yearn for. Search through a rich variety of radio stations with a straightforward interactive guide that can be updated daily with more content than XM and Sirius radio combined. Whether you are at home or on the road, Nexus Radio
can record your favorite songs or radio shows automatically with TiVo style
recording for later playback. MP3s recorded with Nexus Radio can be
automatically named and tagged with ID3 tag information, …

Of Deals, Dell, and DealsEa

There's lots of great deal sites out on the web.

The one I usually use is but there's no particular reason for it. I guess it's just the first one that I ever used and I'm in the habit of going there now.

This morning I checked in with the site an hour or so after I got in to work and I'm glad I did. Usually the deals you find on this and similar sites are just nice sales or special coupons--but occasionally you find pricing mistakes and that's what happend today. Dell Home had mispriced two of their digital cameras as you can see over there to the left.

I quickly ordered the $30 Fuji--wishing that I'd not just purchased a digicam the other day for $200--and sat by my computer hoping to get a Email confirmation of the order, and not an Email explaining the price mistake.

Lo and behold, Dell honored the $30 price. Isn't Dell swell? (yes, that rhymes)

The Fuji FinePix S700 retails for something like $300 and commonly sells for around $200 on sites…

Christmas Lunch

My boss took me out to lunch yesterday and a few people that consult with us went also.

Roti Canai: Crispy Indian style pancake and curry chicken dipping sauce.

We had lunch at a local Thai restaurant that my boss really loves. She's really into Thai food but neither her husband nor daughter likes it so she doesn't get to go very often.

These holiday lunches are a good chance for her to eat Thai and since it's a business lunch the department picks up the tab. Thanks, department!

Penang Satay: Marinated chicken or beef, grilled on skewers, served with peanut sauce.

The dishes at Penang are very tasty though I avoid the spicier ones. The two dishes pictured above and to the left are appetizers that we had. We also had two others but they weren't as pretty. :-)

The picture below is the main course that I had. I didn't take pictures of anyone else's lunch though Peter's did tempt me. He had some squid in his dish and they seemed very photogenic. But I decided tha…

toys are wonderful

I love my 6 MP Panasonic digital camera. I've had it almost 2 years now and I'm still very happy with it. But. I might be replacing it tonight. The camera I have, you see, is the Panasonic DMC-FZ7, a six-megapixel digicam with a high-quality Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT 12x optical zoom (35mm to 430mm equivalent) on it.

Amazon is putting the successor to it, the Lumix DMC-FZ8, on sale tonight at 11pm and they're selling it at $200. That's practically free for a 7 MP with a high quality 12X optical zoom. At that price I'm willing to buy it just for the new lens aspect.

Isn't it pretty? Mmmmm.

I do love toys!

Update: I bought it last night at 11:12pm for $199.99 It uses the same size battery as my old camera so that's nice--now I have two and can shoot twice as long.

Cookies on Sunday

Yesterday I responded to an odd invitation.

A friend of mine that I go hiking with--when I'm not being lazy, I've not been hiking in over a month!--asked me over to bake cookies with her and her daughter.

The picture over there to the left is the 2 pans of cookies that we made. They were going out to the various teachers involved with the daughter's classes.

I was told that the cookies came out quite delicious but since there was a fair amount of ground up coffee in there for taste I thought it wise to abstain.

Anyway, despite my fairly well known allergy to kids and cats (not to mention social sitations) I actually went. And then the freakin' woman was nearly 2 hours late! Which resulted in yesterday's wait on the deck with the evil cat. Fortunately I had a book with me so I was able to keep entertained.

To the left you can see some of the kitchen devastation that was caused by the baking debacle. Pans were dirtied, one small burn resulted, and numerous spoons, forks, …

Cat Scratch Fever

Cats are evil. That's one of my basic premises in life. However, that said...

...sometimes you have to placate the evils of life. Here's one example:

At left you see the exhibit, known as "Buzz," a moment before he jumped up on the chair in front of me. I was waiting on a deck Sunday around noon, you see, and the owner of the house had not yet arrived.

In that annoying way that cats have, he insisted--with some volume--that I scratch his head and stroke his neck and back. Given that the evil critter is a predator that is well equipped with teeth and claws I saw little wiggle room in the negotiations. Yes, I gave into evil and did its bidding. Wouldn't you have done the same???

This is the face of evil after it's been placated. Look upon this visage and shudder--and hope you never have to face such a horrible choice yourself.

cookie exchange

I had my first holiday season social visit today.

Chris, my former girlfriend, stopped by on her rounds and dropped off some homemade cookies and Hershey chocolates with me. It was hard to believe I'd not seen her in over 4 months. Time does have a way of winging by, doesn't it?

In any case she was looking quite lovely as you can see below. To the left you can see the tin of cookies she brought me, as well as the bag of Smarties that she was getting ready to grab and run with. While Chris isn't overly fond of sweets--unlike me--she does like the occasional Smartie. Of course that 19 ounce bag will hold her for a couple of months but would only last a couple of days with me. That probably also explains why she's so much thinner than I am.

I don't know what happened in this picture. Something weird with the flash, I guess. But even with that weird light effect over Chris' head, it's her smile that really lights up the picture.

You can see that she was clutching t…

silly laws

The image below is of a t-shirt design at Threadless, which is an online source for original t-shirt designs. I've ordered from them and they're pretty good and periodically have sales when most of their shirts are $10 each. One of those sales is going on right now, as a matter of fact.

The main problem with the place is that the designs often sell out quickly. Periodically they re-release the more popular designs that have sold out so that's helpful.

The reason I mention this is that when I saw the design here it reminded me of a story that Lee mentioned to me last night. Apparently in Georgia, the emissions test that is required of most cars in the more populated counties has a little problem. You see, people that drive hybrids are failing the test. It seems that when a hybrid car is idling--like when it's being tested for emissions--it shuts down the gas engine and switches over to the battery. Unfortunately with the way that the Georgia emission tests are designed, …

What about Santa?

Here's an excerpt from a science item in today's news:

Scientists think they have discovered the energy source of the spectacular color displays seen in the northern lights.

New data from NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun.The energy is then abruptly released in the form of a shimmering display of lights visible in the upper latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, said principal investigator Vassilis Angelopoulos of the University of California, Los Angeles.

I think the scientists have overlooked the obvious. Santa's workshop, of course. Think about how much energy is expended there and the obvious need to entertain those hard working elves. You gotta figure television reception is lousy up there so Santa came up with those pretty lights in the sky to keep…

December Weather


This was the weather thingy on my computer this morning. I live in NC, my parents in SC, and the third town on the list is where we all grew up in upstate NY.

On days like this I just love to look at the difference in temperatures. A high of 29 degrees? Love it! LOL

I came to work today in a t-shirt.

Some quizzes

I took a few quizzes tonight on a University of Pennsylvania website. I found the linkage to it on Nina's blog, Reader. The site is run under the auspices of Dr. Seligman, the founder and director of the Positive Psychology Center at Penn.

There's a number of quizzes there that relate to how you think and react emotionally to the world and other people. Be warned, you have to register on the site but it's free. I took the PANAS Questionnaire which measures positive and negative affect. To no great surprise I had equal scores (21 out of 50) on both positive and negative affect but since people in general are more positive than negative, relative to the population I'm very negative. Like I said, no surprise there. :-p

There's a "Jealousy" test link on Nina's blog also. That one is located here. I was a little surprised to find that I scored a 38 since I tend to think of myself as being a lot less jealous than average, not just somewhat--but this test go…


Anyone that knows me is going to find this hard to believe, but I just this morning uploaded my Thanksgiving pictures from my camera. 2 weeks of just sitting in there. That's just one more indication that I'm just not clicking along right. In addition, I've not gone hiking since I've returned from SC. I've just been doing the couch potato thing. Now, I can be very lazy, it's true--but it's not usually unrelenting like this. Maybe if I eat more candy I'll feel better...

Anyway, the picture above is a waterfall that I hiked to over Thanksgiving weekend. In the picture is my brother in the center and his youngest son over there to the left. In front of them, of course, is the waterfall. It's on the SC / GA border and must be quite impressive when there's plenty of water. Given the drought we've been experiencing here in the Southeast, the waterfall is but a shadow of its normal self, I'm afraid.

And below is a picture of Lee that I took on …


I watched some television tonight to catch up on a few shows. One of the ones I watched was the season final of Heroes. Most of the episode was good but that summary near the end was really lame. It ended okay but this was definitely not a season to remember. I hope they plan a little better for season 3.

I still haven't started watching ER. I think I've got 11 episodes recorded. Maybe between now and Christmas I'll find some time to watch them. For some reason I have trouble getting myself to watch ER each season for the past 5 or 6 years but once I dive in I like watching it. Another show I've got a lot of episodes recorded for is Journeyman. There's something like 9 of them. I only say the first 2 or 3 shows before tabling the series for a few months. I love being able to store these shows on a hard drive but it does lead to large numbers of shows piling up.


I made a run last night to Wal-mart around 8pm. There were a few items I needed and the gas station near there has lower prices and my tank was near empty. It gave me something to do while waiting for Life to come on at 10pm.

Unfortunately I was seduced by the dark side once I entered the store. Chocolate specifically and candy in general. I just wasn't able to withstand that powerful siren call of sugar.

Just look at what I got! Talk about a potential sugar rush. And some nice prices too.

Those Hershey bars are 8 ounces, not the typical 5 ounces and Wally World has reduced the price recently to $1.25. That's only $2.50 a pound! I bought 8 but I suspect before the week is over a few more will find their way into my candy storage area. Like 20 or 30. *shiver* I don't like chocolate all the time but when I go through a chocolate phase--I can eat a pound everyday for a week or so.

Food Lion had a 2 for 1 sale on the 5 ounce bars last week and I picked up 6 and went through the…


Not the prettiest wallpaper I've ever created...


I've not been posting very much lately. Part of the reason is that work is so boring right now. I'm just doing endless Westerns with some IHC mixed in. Boring and repetitious. And that sort of thing bleeds over into everything else eventually. Maybe next week when I start doing some microarray analysis I'll perk up a bit.

I woke up a few hours early this morning and as a result watched the last two episodes of Dirty Sexy Money. I was going to wait until the next episode on Wednesday so I could see 3 in a row but I didn't have any other sets of 2 shows recorded right now. That show is beginning to grow on me. Peter Krause, who portrays lawyer Nick George, is perfect in his part. His lack of expression when the Darlings, his employers, do outrageous things is priceless.

The addition of Peter Strauss as Dutch George in the November 28th episode is nice. He's got a face with a wealth of character and is a great addition to existing cast members Donald Sutherland and Jill…