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Showing posts from January, 2008

Satellite and tidying up

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I was going to miss about a half day of work today. We're in the middle of finishing up a paper and submitting a grant proposal but I really, really needed satellite installed now that I have a high definition tv set.

Unfortunately while the installer did make it to my place on time (scheduled for between 8am and noon) by arriving at 10:30am, I totally underestimated how long the install would take.

Over to the left you can see my old satellite dish from 4 years ago on the roof, the new one is down there on the metal post being installed.

Since the dish for HD is a lot bigger--apparently it uses 5 different satellites instead of the mere one that my old one used--and since it was a very windy day, the installer opted for installing on the ground. This added a lot of time since he needed to dig a post hole and then allow the concrete to harden enough so that the sight line of the dish wouldn't change after he set it.

All in all, the installation took over 4 hours so it was 3pm befo…

Satellite

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On Saturday I ordered up satellite service for my lovely new television. The appointment for hooking up to the service is between 8am and noon on Wednesday, which is just in time for the season premiere of Lost on Thursday night (season 4, if you're counting) and of course the Super Bowl (XLII, if you're counting) on Sunday. Not to mention the Tarheels next game which occurs Thursday, against Boston College on ESPN HD. That'll be the first sporting event I'll watch on high density!

I didn't watch the last season of Lost and I don't expect to watch it this year either but I will check out that first show just to see how much trouble the old crew is in. Preceding the season premiere at 9pm is a overview show at 8pm for folk like me that got too bored with the damn show. Season 3 just didn't grab me at all.

TY Guide, after each show description these days, has a brief mention in red print of how many new shows are left. I guess it's a good time for me to ha…

Unusual News

There was an odd item in today's paper. Apparently over the weekend a local business man, Byron Unger of Apex, was attacked as he was leaving his place of business. The attack left him with a black eye and facial scratches. The attacker also made an attempt at Unger's associate Chris Cox.

The attack was caught on a surveillance video but police give little likelihood that the perpetrator will be brought to justice. He flew off without leaving any incriminating forensic clues. According to Unger the large gray owl's attack felt like being struck on the back of the head with a baseball bat.

Freaky. Reminds me of that Alfred, Lord Tennyson quote: Nature, red in tooth and claw, though it seems more like a quote that should have come from Hobbes. The philosopher, not the tiger.

Tele and tidying

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With the exception of a few hours I had to put in at work yesterday I've been either watching tv or cleaning up the clutter in my house this weekend.

My de-cluttering goal this weekend is mostly getting rid of bunches of magazines all about the place. Yesterday I brought two 19" CRT monitors in to be recycled which really helped the clutter situation but not so much my lower back. The damn things weigh 75 - 80 pounds each. Contrast that to my new 56" television that weighs about the same amount but is 3 times bigger. And my tv is a DLP, a non-projection unit would weight 20 pounds less. Not having those two 19" monitors hanging around helps appearances. The house looks tidier already. :-)

On the watching tele front, I managed to watch the last 8 episodes of Deadwood, season 3, this weekend as well as Transformers (from the library) and 300. I'm really sad that they only went 3 seasons with Deadwood. The characters in that series seemed so real. Often obnoxious…

Competitive Shopping

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My name is David and I'm a shop-oholic. Is there a 12 step program for his? LOL

I'm good for most of the year 'cause I just don't spend much money and don't go shopping. But.

Every year at Christmas time there's no choice so a shopping I go--and that jump starts my nasty habit.

It's not as expensive as you might think 'cause most of the fun in it for me is trying to get the lowest price that I can (as long as it's not a lot of trouble 'cause I'm also lazy).

This shopping takes many forms. I even look up prices of gas stations, as can be seen to the left, before filling up my car. I happen to live in a unusually expensive gas area and by driving 8 miles out of my way I can usually save 20 - 30 cents a gallon. Since my car gets about 35 mpg it takes me about a half gallon to save that money. Is it worth is? Well, based solely on cost, not time, if I get over 5 gallons I save some money. I usually wait until I need over 12 gallons so I save around …

Speaking of bargains...

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Here's a great offer from AMC Theaters, which unfortunately isn't available where I live.

AMC Theaters is offering See all Best Picture Nominees (5 Movies + Unlimited Popcorn + Collectible Pass) for $30 at select Theaters.

Michael Clayton There Will Be Blood Atonement Juno No Country for Old MenIt's on Saturday February 23rd. If you're interested in going, it'll keep you busy all day long.

HDTV

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Today at 10:30am my life became complete.

My first love was named Betsy. I met her when we were both 5. While it's true that I've long forgotten what Betsy looked like, I think that's what I'll call my new television. Anything this big deserves a name. Hell, it's bigger than Betsy and I were when we first met 40 years ago.

These are the two fellows from Best Buy delivering the set and unpacking it. Such nice fellows. Santa-like, except for not having that white beard and all.



They even carried the television into the house--just like Santa would. Maybe they're real big elves?

In any case since the tv is 70 pounds it's more bulk than weight when you carry one of these sets. 56 inches. Oh how lovely.

All that service for just $60. Personally I'd rather have picked it up at the store and then I could have used a 10% off coupon as well but there's no way I could ever fit something this big into my car. Of course since I'd have saved something like $150…

Meme

5 Things About My Life That I Never Thought I'd Have or Experience Back When I Was 25.

9 days ago Shephard tagged me with this meme. I admit I've been a wee big slow in taking it on but I've finally written it up. Thanks, Shephard!

I've got a few years on Shephard seeing as he's 43 and I'm 46 but we're both a good bit younger than Naomi who tagged Shephard. She turned 70 a few months ago.

When I was 25 I was in grad school at UGA working on a PhD in philosophy. By the time I was 27 I'd left the school with a MA instead and went back to work in research biology.

1. Geography is one thing, I guess. I knew I didn't like the snow and cold of upstate NY but it is a bit surprising to find myself still living in the southeast 21 years later.

2. I never thought I'd experience so many ups and downs in the employment area but that's the way things go in academic research. If a grant doesn't get funded, you hit the road looking for a new job.

3. As a ki…

Snow and Cardinals

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She looks so concerned and vigilant whereas hubby, there below, just looks like a greedy pig.

To be fair, maybe they just have different ways of dealing with the snow and cold. I must admit--and maybe it's the male in me--that I also would rather go for the muffin than the bird seed.

Snow in NC

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Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we got some snow on Saturday.

This here's a picture I took at duck DUSK on Saturday. I used the flash to capture reflections from the snowflakes. Being crystals, they reflect quite well.

Below there's three more pictures taken earlier in the day. I'll probably sprinkle more snowy pictures in over the course of the next week or so. I've just not downloaded the ones from my other camera yet--and am feeling too comfy sitting here with my hot chocolate to get up and go get it. :-)

Outside, on the other hand, it's decidedly uncomfortable. It's 23f at 10am and the overnight low was 10f. That's way too cold for folk living this far south. Brrrr! I had to drip my faucet all night long to make sure my pipes didn't freeze. :-(

In other news, Lee scooted out of here yesterday afternoon. Apparently some people make like migratory birds and move further south when the weather gets cold. :-p





Weekend activities

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This hasn't been, for me, the most ambitious weekend in history.

Originally I was slated to participate in a science blogging conference this weekend. It was the second annual NC Science Blogging Conference and was held on Saturday. My trip to the Lemur Center on Friday was associated with the conference.

I participated in the conference last year, as you can read about here if you're really bored.

Unfortunately two things interfered with my attendance this year. First, Lee decided she needed to visit my house--finally. Since this weekend is a 3-day affair it was the best time in January to come over. As you can see here, Lee doesn't like to wake up early. I don't understand the need to sleep at 4am but she does it anyway. Weenie.

The other problem was snow. We here in the south really aren't well equipped to drive in snow. And since it was supposed to be snowing almost all day Saturday on my end of the Triangle--I live way over on the Piedmont side--and I had no desir…

Suzanne Pleshette

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It's a sign of getting old when the women you found sexy while growing up are dying of age related health problems.

Late yesterday evening Suzanne Pleshette succumbed to respiratory failure, perhaps related to her bout with lung cancer in 2006 for which she'd received chemotherapy. She'd recently been treated for pulmonary infection and had developed pneumonia as well. She was 70.

My youth was spent admiring her as the wife on The Bob Newhart show where Pleshette portrayed Newhart's practical and sardonic wife--a sharp counterpoint to all the odd characters that played off of Newhart's dry wit.

Pleshette's beauty and husky voice certainly kept me riveted to the show and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. There's no denying that Newhart was an exceptional comic, but it was due to Pleshette that I watched the show every week.

The photo on the left is Pleshette and her last husband (they were both married 3 times) Tom Poston, who also acted in both Bob Newhar…

More Lemur pics

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Here's a few more pictures that I took on Friday at the Duke Lemur Center.



Just above is a Black and White Ruffed Lemur. This cutie is a Blue-Eyed Black Lemur--you can see by the eyes where it came by its name.

I think this is a species where the males are one color and the female another. If so, the males are black and that's why they're called Black Lemurs. If not, then it's odd that they named them this way. :-)

Below you can see the long canines that this type of lemur has. While lemurs are almost entirely vegetarian, they do need long canines to tear into tough skinned fruits that are native to Madagascar.

The profile picture reminds me of a meerkat.





Duke Lemur Center

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Friday afternoon I left work a few hours early and went to the Duke University Lemur Center.


This is the sign that greets you to the center. Until recently it was called the Duke Primate Center. The name change is apparently a PR push that Duke is making for a more visitor-friendly approach.

The logo seen above on the T-shirt is quite cute and plastered all over the place. Since lemurs are often cute and always fascinating I'm sure that funding will jump now that Duke is pushing for a more public image.



The education portion of this program.

Lemurs developed from one common ancestor, a small mammal that hit Madagascar around 65 million years ago.

Since there was little competition from other species, a common circumstance on islands, this mammal developed into a large variety of species over the years to take advantage of available food sources and habitats.

Had Darwin spent time in Madagascar instead of the Galapagos, no doubt his theories of speciation would have used lemurs as their …

Snow in the South

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Down here in the southern states we don't cotton to snow.

Sure, we think it's pretty. And there's a vague pleasantness to that biting cold--as long as you don't have to experience it often. But that snow and ice is also slippery--and therein lies a serious problem. We just can't drive on the stuff.

The two pictures up here on top were taken around 5am this morning.

The mountains to the west of me had received 3 - 4 inches but here in Alamance we'd been given less than an inch. A half inch where I live. And after that came freezing rain, and these pictures are testament to that. By the time I went out to take the pictures it was just ice crystals on everything.


Where I work, in Chapel Hill, they didn't really get anything that sticked. While I was getting freezing rain they were just a couple of degrees warmer and got rain. By the time they woke up it was just wet outside.

Sure, you northern folk can make fun of us if you want. At least we're intelligent enou…

No Bake Cookies and more

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A couple of years ago I posted about some no bake cookies that I'd made.

That's them over on the left.

Recently I noticed that my post was linked to on this page dedicated to just "no bake" style recipes.

Some of the items look very interesting and I think I'm going to try some of the recipes out. These are great for people with kids since the recipes are usually a lot easier to follow and you don't have the high temperatures in the oven to deal with. Of course the contents of a pot on a burner are still dangerous so adults should still be supervising the cooking!

Maybe I'll give one or two of these recipes a try this weekend since it's a 3-day weekend in which the weather is supposed to be nasty!

Of bosoms, money and deadwood

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Since the sweet bosom of sleep no longer interests me, I decided to spend my evening reading The Templar Legacy and commencing to watch the second season of Deadwood. With the occasional thought of my new television purchase occasionally dancing in my head.

According to Amazon's reviews, The Templar Legacy isn't a very good book. It was compared to The Da Vinci Code somewhat favorably and that's damning praise to my way of thinking. Nevertheless, so far I'm enjoying it though I suspect eventually the cock will come home to roost and the book will show its true colors. In the meantime, I engage in a fool's paradise and am enjoying the novel. Some of the scenes in the book remind me slightly of a movie I watched this weekend, Constantine, starring the ever reliable Keanu Reeves. He's never met a movie he didn't fuck up. I'd be concerned even if he was just in the audience. Bad acting of that sort is highly contagious. In case you're curious--yes, I am …

high def

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I finally made the plunge after watching prices for a year.

This set has been on sale at Best Buy a few times since Thanksgiving and I can't resist it any longer.

The set I really wanted was a 50" LED projection (DLP) TV from Samsung but this Panasonic is $400 less and it's 6" bigger--that's a very persuasive combination.

I decided to go with a projection set 'cause I'm too cheap to pony up with the cash required to get a big set with either direct view plasma or LCD. I had decided not to spend over $1,500 but that largely restricted me to projection sets. And that's okay -- they're very pretty too.

The price is pretty good. Amazon.com currently has the set priced at $1,699 though they offer free shipping. The shipping at Best Buy is $60 which seems quite reasonable given the size of the set. To save the $700 I'm more than willing to cover the cost of the shipping! And speaking of shipping--I'm supposed to get the set on the 22nd. They call th…

Bye Jennifer. We don't miss you.

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Next week is the final show of the season. I'm rooting for TK and Rachel. They've been my favorites since the first episode.

Jennifer is Lucifer in human garb. Witness the sinister beard as proof. *shiver*

Not much was happening today. Tried to sleep in the AM, didn't work, made muffins, ate muffins, watched some TV to free up room on my hard drive, and did a few loads of laundry. My bed needed changing and those linens take up so much room in the washer. Fell asleep for a few minutes at a time about 4 times during TAR.

Ugh. Back to work in 8 hours!

Dawn is over rated

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I need some sleep!

The past week I've been having a bit of insomnia so I've seen, but not quite welcomed, the dawn each day. Several days I've captured very pretty pictures but the last two days have been so nasty looking that even the birds have stayed away from the birdseed that I have out on my deck. I wish the weather would be better for pictures--after all, hopefully I won't be seeing the dawn that many more days (I'm not dying, I just hate mornings) and I'd like to get some pictures out of this if I have to be wake at this nasty hour.

The picture here was taken yesterday morning under nasty skies with rain threatening but not delivering.

Save Santa

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** think of this as having an Ed Woodstyle voice over **

At what point is the price of our bloated yuletide holidays too dear?

How about when you wake up Christmas morning and find that dear old elf's feet dangling from your chimney.

Apparent suicide. Tragic? That's the question we all much ask ourselves. Which one among us is totally innocent? Each year we ask for more and more stuff. And that poor old guy, an obvious cardiac case if there ever was one, must cope with hauling all that loot around the world.

It's no wonder his feet are swaying in the breeze. And what's up with the dog? Is he hoping that someone will light those logs so he can have some roasted elf?

From this grisly scene we should all take a lesson. Before it's too late. Take it easy at Christmas time and don't end up like that poor fellow dangling there. Despite having marvelous boots he apparently didn't have enough to live for. Maybe if he'd tried a cashmere sweater (Glen or Glenda refere…

Deadwood

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I finished watching the first season of Deadwood on Thursday night. I was very impressed with it. I've never seen a show before that had such depth of acting. There wasn't a weak link in the show and I can't think of any other show that I've watched that I can say that about.

Ian McShane, as Al Swearengen, has received much attention and deservedly so. He plays the hard living owner of The Gem Saloon, a bar and brothel in Deadwood. The real life Al Swearengen did indeed own the Gem as well as several other businesses in Deadwood and according to what I've read, David Milch's version of Swearengen is very close to the historical truth. Milch being the creator of Deadwood as well as executive producer and head writer.

For my part, I really enjoy Robin Weigert's portrayal of Calamity Jane. It's an odd part and I don't know why I enjoy it so much--but she's great in the role. William Sanderson, famous as Larry, the senior brother in the Bob Newhart Sh…

Jala Neti

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For some odd reason, the fellow below reminds me of an English butler in one of those old movies from the 1930s or 40s. I think maybe it's the jaw (beak?).

Yesterday Carli brought up a subject that I'm thinking of exploring further. Oddly enough, Shephard also wandered by to comment and he's the one who originally started me thinking about this subject a few months ago when he referred to a post on Jessica's blog about jala neti.

In case you're not familiar with the "therapy," jala neti is the practice of pouring warm saline solution in one nostril, while your head is canted to the side, and letting the saline drain out of the other nostril. The purpose is to clean the nose and sinuses of all the nasty stuff that might be contained within.

The link above goes to a Yoga site which has a short article about the practice--and here's an even shorter article on Wiki about something more disturbing sounding: sutra neti. Here's what Wiki has to say about …

Of migraines and hair cuts

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I got more sleep today than I have in the past 4 days but it really didn't count. What a pisser.

My ever present sinus headaches have been more ornery than usual the past few days and last night I wasn't able to sleep at all as a result. I went in to work but was only expecting to be there for a few hours--just getting essential stuff done than I'd go home and mope.

Unfortunately that didn't happen. Within a half hour of getting in my sinus headache triggered a migraine and nothing was keeping me at work after that. I have about 40 minutes from first feeling symptoms to get Midrin into me and hide under the covers away from all light. If I can't do that there's consequences! Due to the timing of the bus system here, it took me a bit over an hour to get home and I wasn't happy towards the end. :-(

One thing weird about my migraines. Even though the sinus headaches keep me awake, the migraines--which are far worse--I have little trouble sleeping through (thank …