Showing posts from March, 2008

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The lovely Nina over at Reader had this on her site.
She scored 28% of her pages--she's awful naughty!

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Rainy Day

Most of the today it's been around 41f. That's cold. And rainy. Just not a nice day.

So what did I do? I went hiking!

Yeah, I know. Dumb! Well, it's not much of an excuse but this was a hike with a few people that I know and it had been prearranged so I didn't want to skip out on it. Almost everyone showed up too--7 out of 12, anyway.

This picture is of us marching out along a highway towards the end of the hike. By this time it was coming down pretty hard. It started sprinkling just as we started but the serious rain didn't hit until we were over 2 miles from the parking lot.

This picture is of us near the beginning of the journey when we were only facing the occasional drop or two of rain. Ahhh, those were the days.

We used sewage pipes to go over the stream we were walking along. They were pretty easy to walk over---but they got a lot slicker as the rain increased. That's why we were walking along the road and not the stream on the way back to the parking lot.



Today I had a nasty experience and a somewhat good one.

First the good, notice the bag of jellybeans open there on the left? It's co-branded by Lifesavers. Lots of times there's really no meaning or difference behind co-branding, expect of course the slightly higher price. However in this case it means a lot. These jellybeans taste exactly like Lifesavers! It's uncanny.

I only bought two bags since I had no idea how they'd taste and there's some jellybeans I really don't like. Now I wish I'd bought a few more bags. They're on half-price Easter clearance so I doubt they'll stick around long. The malted milk balls were good too. Yummy, in fact.

The bad part of the day was at a gas pump. Ouch. The last time I filled my tank, 2 weeks back, was the first time I'd ever paid over $40 at a gas pump. Well, that record got broken pretty quick: today I spent over $50! Scared the bejesus out of me!

The gas was $3.21 a gallon and normally my tank doesn't ho…

Oily Hands

I had rather oily hands (actually it was just my left hand) this evening and a somewhat oily shirt too. The shirt actually was the recipient of some of that left hand oil--it was easier than going inside to get a rag or paper towel.

This past Sunday was my first bout of lawn mowing of the year. It lasted less than an hour and what terminated the session was my running out of gas. Or so I thought. Today when I commenced session two (it normally takes me 3 sessions to mow my lawn though this early when I'm not used to it, it'll take me 4) I found that I couldn't start the motor. The pull cord would not even budge---I nearly tore out my elbow discovering that little gem of information. When you're expecting to move your arm 2+ feet in a smooth motion with a lot of torque and you only actually move it a few inches... let's just say that it's not good for you.

Anyway, it turns out that the reason the mower quit on Sunday was that a huge clod of dried grass from last…

A Mossy Monday

Here's a few more pictures from my hike along the Haw River on Sunday.

Some sphagnum moss that I saw on a branch. There's just something about an organism that just lives on air that fascinates me. (yes, I know that it doesn't really just live on air but indulge me here)

This picture is just a quarter mile in from the road. At this point the Haw River is split in two by a large island, seen in the background. I liked the way that the dead tree seemed to be stretching out to touch the island...

Here's some phlox looking all spring-like and pretty. We came across it in a meadow where the trees were cut down to accommodate some underground gas lines.

Haw River Hike

I went on a hike along the Haw river today. It was organized by Ching, a research scientist at UNC. She's the one on the right side of the picture who is taking off before the picture was taken. Two people didn't show up so just the 6 of us went.

The picture below is Daniel, a mechanical engineer in RTP, crossing a stream on a log. It looked like fun so I went next--but nearly froze half way across so I scrambled across the second half quickly before I could do that freeze-thing. I have a touch of acrophobia, I'm afraid.

This is the small damn that is at the beginning of the trail we took. Isn't it pretty? The day was perfect for hiking. The temp was just below 60f and the sun was steady and felt warm on the skin. What a great way to spent Easter Sunday. We never saw a rabbit tho.

Leather and cushions

The furniture I mentioned in the past post or so has arrived--to much rejoicing.

This picture symbolizes my state of anticipation. I rarely have my door open like that since I tend to be very private. (did I hear anyone say "paranoid?")

Dorothy and her husband had a few changes in their plans so the furniture that was originally going to be delivered around 6pm didn't actually arrive until after 9pm. She kept me apprised of the changes in timing but I really wanted to get everything in the house. :-)

This also means the end of my being a "couch potato." You see, my high def screen is quite sensitive to viewing position (damn LCDs!) so that's why I was so eager to get these chairs. I hate to sit up on a couch yet that's the best viewing height for my television. These chairs provide a much better vantage point for tele watching. So now I'll be a "chair potato." A much better breed, or so I've heard.

This is the assembly of furniture rig…

Google Maps and obsessions

I love Goggle Maps, especially the satellite ones. They make finding places so much easier--and they also make determining geographic relationships a lot easier too.

For example, back when I was seeing Renée we looked on Google Maps to see what was behind her house. It seemed to be forest but it was so vine entangled that we never drifted back further than her property line.

Well, when we looked at the satellite images it was apparent that instead of a boundless forest there was only about 150 yards of trees before a bunch of new subdivisions. Since the roads accessing those houses were on the other side of the "forest" we had never guessed that they were there.

In the picture above, you see the house where I bought the 3 chairs---they're being delivered tonight by her husband---and you can even see her red SUV in the driveway. Amazing. And the two sheds they have out back---one for storage and one for their 3 dogs when they're outside.

While I was there talking, we cou…

Craig's List again

Here I go again.

I found some more furniture I like on Craig's List. This time the price is a little higher but the location is closer.

Last time it was a leather couch, this time it's either two leather recliners and / or one leather chair with ottoman. Decisions, dammit!

The ad was posted this afternoon on Craig's List and I'm going to go see the furniture tomorrow at 11am. Maybe this time I'll have some "new" furniture to enjoy in my living room. It'll make watching my tele a lot more enjoyable.

Staring Birds

This seems to be the time of year for staring contests. Witness the grackles above having a meaningful moment before enjoying their dinner. The one on the right really has a "hairy eyeball" thing going on.

This mockingbird is usually in charge around here. He rarely eats any seed but often guards the area and keeps other birds away. Unfortunately for him, larger birds have been hanging around recently and he's not able to bully them away from the food. That might be why he looks a mite sad in this picture.

Usually size is the main factor in bird face-offs. But this song sparrow doesn't seem to realize this as she gives the mourning dove a serious glare. It didn't work for long, but she did get a few more seeds before the dove finally asserted herself.

Bridge to Terabithia

Lee and I watched a number of movies this past week while she was visiting. For me the most memorable was Bridge to Terabithia. I'm too old to have been familiar with the book as a child, but I was quite impressed with the movie. For a while it seems just like standard fare for the 10-15 age group but around the middle the film starts to show its legs a bit and when Bridge to Terabithia takes a serious turn near the end you can tell it's in the home stretch--and it's a winner.

The cast did a wonderful job. Josh Hutcherson and Anna Sophia Robb played the two kids at the center of the movie and they were just fantastic. The portrayal of the Aarons family, with their warts and blemishes quite evident, was inspired. This movie did not settle for mere saccharine sentimentality. That crap was left up on Walton's Mountain.

We also saw a movie she liked a lot, Little Miss Sunshine, but that one didn't grow on me at all. There were a number of times in the movie when I laugh…

Redheads and St Patrick's Day

St Paddie's Day is traditionally associated with the color green. And definitely not orange. And while we could go into the historic reasons for that--I prefer not to get into divisive religious discussions--especially when money enters into it. Nasty stuff.

Instead why don't we consider that St Patrick's Day should also be linked to redheads. (notice the picture of the redhead to the left) What brings to mind the lovely image of the Emerald Isle more than someone with a head of red hair?

Okay, I'll grant you the leprechaun idea. And limericks, clover, Notre Dame, potatoes, and even freckles--but red hair is on the list too.

Happy St Patrick's Day.

BTW, I have no idea what Lee is doing in this picture. It looks like she's trying to decide which finger smells better. Odd, huh?

Murder and Mayhem

Lee has been here nearly a week and things are getting a lot better.

My new chainsaw has arrived. Yee-haw!

No more getting fussed at if she knows what is good for her. I put this sucker together as soon as I opened up the box.

She has 9 hours to get used to the new order of things (that's how long it takes for the battery to charge before the first use--this is a battery operated chainsaw, y'see) but after that "grace period" it's toast.

Damn woman is giggling behind me as I type this. No respect, I say!

Seriously, it really is cute but not a lot of power. It is battery operated, after all. But despite some of the worst directions I've ever encountered from Black and Decker, it's is put together and at 11pm I can use it. But I think I'll wait until tomorrow afternoon. In the morning I have to go to work--but that way it'll give the dew a chance to evaporate off some bushes that are in for a very bad day. Lee isn't really in any danger.

Tomatoes and basil

I'm back to obsessing about food here.

There's something about bruschetta, and redheads in general, that's just so damn appealing. Witness that picture on the left.

Lee and I had these a few hours ago as a late night snack after watching a movie for a couple hours on the high-def tele.

Just some French bread cut on the bias with garlic butter (very heavy on the garlic--I nearly had half a bulb in a stick and a half of butter) and cheese melted under the broiler, then topped with a tomato / olive oil / basil mixture. A light but very tasty repast. Perfect for late at night.

And we ate every last bit of it.

I do admit I had almost twice as much as Lee. She had 4 of them and I had 7. But that's mainly 'cause I'm bigger and stronger. These were very tasty and I never learned that "share with others" lesson very well.

I think I'll make this again later today. I've got another container of grape tomatoes that I can use. I diced them up with that Wolfga…

An Advance in BioFuel Production

I saw an interesting press release from UM today. According to it:

University of Maryland research that started with bacteria from the Chesapeake Bay has led to a process that may be able to convert large volumes of all kinds of plant products, from leftover brewer's mash to paper trash, into ethanol and other biofuel alternatives to gasoline.

That's pretty exciting since, if commercially viable, it'll allow "cheap" plant materials to be used to produce ethanol. Using corn, as we do now, is silly since the energy you get out isn't much higher than what you put in to grow and process the corn.

And then there's the really annoying side effect of raising prices to consumers on corn and all downstream products (farmland, cows, meat, soda, popcorn, and on and on and on---everything uses corn!). Making ethanol from switchgrass won't cause these economic difficulties.

That process of making ethanol from cellulose was developed by University of Maryland professor…

A little too late

There's times when you just shouldn't hurry...

But buying a decently priced leather sofa isn't one of those times.

I was interested in buying this sofa off of Craig's List. The couch was listed late Friday night and I contacted the owner right away. I was going to look at it after work on Monday since the owner is located in the town where I work.


It sold today at 5pm. The owner called me just a few minutes ago with the bad news.

The reason I wasn't in a hurry is that I don't like this particular style of couch, but I definitely want leather and I really like the color.... I should have acted on it quicker. The area I'm in rarely has anything of this nature listed--Raleigh has them all the time but I don't want to drive 75 miles just to get a sofa. I'd be better off buying one new and having it delivered.

Damn. Pretty leather.

In other news, Lee is coming over to my place today. She's recovering from some surgery and isn't going back to work …

Sunday Dinner

In a very slight change of gears, I'm making lasagna today. You can see the ingredients arrayed on my counter below. I let them warm up slightly before I start cooking.

I like to make my lasagna at least a day ahead of time since I find that the flavors develop over time and that a day or two afterwards the lasagna tastes a lot better.

Not much else going on here though I might be buying a used leather couch off of Craig's List this weekend. That would be nice. I like leather.

Yet Another Pizza Post

I know, I know. I'm in a rut. A pizza rut, in fact.

This time there's a slight difference though.

Instead of going back to last Sunday's pizza class this time I'm posting about a pizza I just made.

I didn't use the starter that I have bubbling away in my fridge though. Instead I used one of those Jiffy mixes to make my crust. What can I say? I was hungry and in a hurry.

This first picture is what it ended up looking like.

This next picture is the ingredients I used on my pizza. There was pizza sauce (out of a jar, I'm afraid) of course, as well as lots of cheese (Gouda, mozzarella, Parmesan, feta and some Mexican brand) plus some diced onions and garlic.

This is the Jiffy mix instructions. Just in case you want to try it for yourself. LOL

Mostly it's just flour and yeast. It doesn't really save any time or effort. The only reason I can see for getting the mix is if you don't want to bother with keeping yeast on hand. I have several packets in the 'fr…

pizza pics

Since I've not been feeling like posting of late, I'll just put up some more pictures from the pizza class. These were taken by one of the organizers and I'm in all 3. As you'll see, that's not such a good thing.

pizza class

Those of you that know me probably think I never leave my house (cave) at all on weekends. Now I'm not going to argue that point, but I do offer the following evidence that at least on occasion I do socialize. I went to a pizza baking class today!

The object above that looks like a typical backyard barbecue is anything but. Chris, an engineer in RTP, modified a BBQ to make a pizza oven. It seems that some time in culinary school made Chris more interesting in cooking and he soon realized that making professional quality food was difficult on home equipment.

So he used his engineering skills to modify a barbecue to allow it to reach pizza oven temperatures--over 700f!

In this oven it only takes 4 minutes to bake a pizza pie to perfection. And the dough tastes so good.

Over there on the left you can see our first attempt. While it was supposed to be a pizza it turned into a calzone 'cause the dough was a little too moist and wouldn't slip into the oven easily.

It tasted wonderful…

Border Collie?

Your Score: Border Collie
You scored 75% Loyal and 72% Independant!

You are most like this breed:

Border Collie: Originated in Scotland/England border areas, this breed is intelligent, determined and brave, this dog forms a close bond with its family and is also eager to work. If not given work to do, the Border Collie will become badly behaved. It needs ample exercise, and its origin as a sheepdog and cattle-herder means that it is only happy when given specific tasks on a regular basis. They can't sit still and they want you to be right out there doing their task with them. They are the leaders and motivators of the dog world.
With a little of this breed mixed in:
Alaskan Malamute: Originated in Alaska, USA, this breed is friendly, affectionate, and loyal, but can have a mind of its own. The malamute is built to work well within a team, and its friendliness makes it unsuitable for a watchdog, but brave enough to pull 110% of the load. Once set in a direction these dogs will contin…