Showing posts from December, 2008

Back Home

I'm back in North Caolina again. I left my parent's place around 8:40pm yesterday and arrived back home at 12:30am. It was a little windy but otherwise a pleasant drive.

Today, while at Wal-mart reprovisioning my larder, I picked up a few bargains in the Christmas area. I love these two mugs. They hold 16 ounces which is perfect for hot chocolate and they were 50% off which dropped them from $1.50 each to just $1.50 for the pair! That's a bargain for such cute penguins.

I also got a couple of rolls of wrapping paper, some gift tags, tissue paper, "holiday" scented candles, and some neat Xmas lights that look like bells and have 25 different holiday music selections that play while the lights twinkle.  So cute! (and only $6 on sale)

Even with those low prices I managed to spend over $80. Mostly on food, of course. Why I don't weigh a ton, I don't know. I actually lost weight over the holidays. Before Thanksgiving I was around 218, before Xmas I was 210 and n…

Lurking just Beneath the Surface

It's kinda spooky realizing just how much exists beneath the surface impressions that we readily perceive. In the case of the photo below, the revealed "lurkers" are the remnants of a forest that's been buried beneath the surface of Lake Hartwell for generations. This area of SC and GA was flooded back in the 1950s to provide the area with hydroelectric and nuclear power as well as a dependable source of water for drinking and recreation... but that's a different story.

The drought that this area has been experiencing for well over a year now has caused the water level to drop as much as 21 feet below normal. Right now it's 15.5 feet below full pool. Having water levels this low means that things are revealed that haven't been seen in generations. This includes small things like arrowheads but also large things like house foundations, roads, and bridges--plus lots and lots of trees like the ones in the picture above.

It's weird and more than a little sp…

Corn Cob Tail

Mister Squirrel, why does your tail look so much like a corn cob???

Kayaking and Dying

I have two kayaks here at my parent's place. One is for moving quickly and the other is a very stable fishing kayak. Since the water is so low, many stumps and other obstacles are lurking around wanting to tip me over so I've been using the fishing kayak. The problem is that it's a lot more effort to paddle that one and it's killing me.

However despite that figurative dying from the paddling, the dying that the title refers to is my camera. It had a brief bath today in the lake and the next few pictures looked like that one to the left. Not good, huh?

After that the camera wouldn't retract the lens for a while. It was just sitting there dead and looking like Pinocchio with its lens all the way out. Fortunately it finally fired up and was able to shut down properly.

I guess it's not good for digital cameras to take baths. Especially in really nasty clay filled water. The poor thing looks a little like a blackened clump of clay right now. I'm going to give it…

Xmas Foot

Another Christmas celebration come and gone.

The Church-thing on Christmas eve wasn't the best service I'd been to. The soloist in my parent's congregation is getting a little old and while she sure does still have volume---to the point of hurting everyone's ears---her control is fading. It was like watching a train wreck---and nobody wants to see one of those. :-) She kept missing notes and having flat ones. And the new pastor at the church was VERY long winded and kept going on and on about some silly story that everyone's seen on the Internet a dozen times (as well as in that short book back in 2001). Something about getting two baby Jesus' in a manger package and a mom that was obsessing about the extra figurine.

Fortunately, after getting some of our money, the pastor let us all go back home. *whew* That religious stuff just isn't my cup of tea! And after a little bit of drama and one person storming out of the house, things settled down and everyb…

Arrowhead Expedition

Today, after opening presents, we went out on a arrowhead hunting expedition. Sound like fun? Since the lake levels are so low due to drought, shoreline is exposed now that hasn't been seen since the lake was first flooded.

In the picture above you can see what the terrain looked like. Lots of stumps from trees that were drowned when the basin was flooded in the middle of the last century.

In the picture below, you can see part of our expedition party: my father, brother and two of my brother's sons.

And in this final picture you can see the closest thing to an arrowhead that I could find. It's got a similar shaped point but otherwise fails to look much like an arrowhead. Oh, well. I don't think I'd have the patience to be an archeologist.

Way Down South

I guess "way down" isn't quite accurate since I'm just in South Carolina, the Palmetto State, but that is a little further south than North Carolina, where I live.

About 260 miles further, in fact. I usually make the trip at 3am so I can avoid the traffic but this time I was too tired, and instead slept a few hours and left at 6am. *whew* Holiday traffic starts early!

I'm visiting my parents who usually are well stocked with cookies. Witness the evidence to the left. This makes visits very, very pleasant since I can put away prodigious amounts of cookies.

Christmas is tomorrow and I wish one and all a merry Christmas--unless, of course you don't want one of those in which case you're perfectly welcome to have a merry December 25th instead. Just ignore the presumptive birthday celebration of a certain Galilean Jewish rabbi of ancient vintage.

I think I'm going to go take a nap!


All day today I'll be shopping for Xmas presents. Yes, I've put it off to the last minute since I'm leaving for my parent's place in SC late tonight, around 3am, about 24 hours from now, and I want everything bought and wrapped before I leave.

They say that the early bird catches the worm. Just look at that thing up there! Who really wants a worm anyhow?

Always shop around

In this season of holiday shopping many people shop around looking for bargains, trying to get the most bang for their buck.  Why didn't the government do that with this financial bailout?

Perhaps instead of the government injecting its (our) money into a number of troubled financial companies and auto companies it could have looked around for better things to do with that cash. After all, we're not the only country that is experiencing hard times. I wonder what Canada would charge for a province or maybe look to the south and do a price check in Mexico. They have 31 states in their federation---maybe they could spare one for a quick influx of money.

Everybody wins. We get to move our borders out a bit and give lots of jobs to sign makers and sign painters. They get much needed hard (well, as hard as the dollar is these days) currency. Baja California would probably be too expensive but maybe Baja California Sur... you might even be able to generate some cobranding synergy here.…

My Weekend

I was more productive than usual this weekend. First off, I did a lot of cleaning and tidying around the house in prep for leaving the house for a week or so at Christmas.

I don't know why people tend to clean when they're about to leave for a while---you'd think it'd be more important while you're there---but everyone seems to do it. I guess it's like washing the car before a big trip. While I don't do that, I know a lot of people who do---and the damn car is just going to get dirty while driving so by the time you arrive, it looks just like it did before you started on the trip. Go figure.

I also went hiking with Julie on Sunday. We did that hike along Morgan Creek with all the sewer pipe crossings. That's Julie waving at the camera on top of one of the pipes. It was a great day for the hike despite the wet conditions---it was raining pretty hard on Saturday---and slightly cold temperatures. Between the sun and the fresh scrubbed creek banks everything…


Miracles come in all sorts of sizes. I think we all know that. And one of the small variety happened at my house today. Somehow, and I suspect supernatural powers would have been required, I saw the tops of my dining room table, server table and my kitchen island counter.

Now I'm not saying that there's no clutter still around and about. As you can see over there to the left---there are still bits and pieces around that should be put away. But anyone that's been to my house can attest---those countertops have never seen the light of day before. Maybe it was elves?

Dammit! They'd better not have taken my candy as payment for their services! I like candy a lot more than clean, uncluttered surfaces.

In other news, I'm supposed to go hiking tomorrow with Jules but it's been raining all day and more is forecast for tomorrow. The hike might have to be canceled---and if so, what else could we do together? Maybe if we go to one of the wide-open trails like Duke Forest...


Officially Old

I think I had a post by this title earlier but if so, it bears repeating. This time the diagnosis of old-ness is due to my ophthalmologist telling me that I now need bifocals. The trouble spot where I can't focus is pretty far out still but no doubt as I get older it'll get closer and closer. *sigh* The infirmities of age.

I've been rather quiet of late due to working longer hours than usual and being sick with a cold. Yesterday I was doing surgeries on mice for over 3 hours and thought I was going to die near the end. Yes, I'm being dramatic but I really was getting desperate for something to drink near the end. The end! Having a sore throat isn't good when you can't de-glove for a few hours.

On the Christmas front, I've still not bought a single present. It's getting close to crunch time! I wonder if it's permissible to just hand out IOUs?

Addendum: several people here have suggested getting the progressive (no lines) type lenses for my glasses…

New Species of Kiwi

I discovered a new species of Kiwi yesterday. And on the railing of my deck, no less.

The picture above shows what the kiwis already known look like.

According to the webpage where I found that photo, all three kiwi species are restricted to New Zealand, with the great and little spotted species found only on South Island. They prefer a forested habitat with high rainfall.

Below you'll find two pictures of my new kiwi. His beak is a wee bit small but I figure that he's young and it'll grow in eventually. Given the terrain near here, I'd say this species doesn't need New Zealand or forests and especially not high rainfall. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things. :-)

I've not decided on what I'll name the species---any suggestions? BTW, dissenters are not welcome. And that means YOU!

The people across the street from me seem to have moved out---I've not seen them in over 3 weeks---but they left their cat. So, I suspect that soon the …

Hiking along Morgan Creek

That's Morgan Creek up there above. Due to having some rain recently, the creek is almost up to its normal levels and a lot higher than we're used to seeing.I like how the leaves in the picture above break up the nearly monochromatic picture with just a little flash of subtle color.

You can see how high the water is on the sewer pipe. Occasionally after a rainstorm the water will flow up to a foot above the pipe. I don't cross them at that time, though I have occasionally crossed them when there was a little water flowing over the top.

...and in this picture there are people flowing over the top of the pipe. The water was quite cold---the air temperature was just a bit below freezing when we started out on the hike at noon---and that was strong incentive not to slip off of the pipe! 

I just loved the way these weeds looked against the backdrop of the bamboo leaves. So puffy and beige against that vibrant green.  Purty! 

Here's the group I was hiking with crossing a bridge …

Poetry in Motion

The title of this post is a wee bit sarcastic. You see, I went out to hear some live music tonight and actually was persuaded to dance. This was probably the first time I did that in over a decade---and I can assure you, it was anything but poetry in motion.

The background on this goes back half a week. The person who invited me to hear this group, Saludos Compay, was supposed to have dinner with me this past Tuesday. But it didn't happen. At first it was shifted to lunch, but that day I worked non-stop until 7pm so both the lunch and dinner time slots wouldn't work and had to be canceled. Wednesday was attempted but also fell through, this time due to her schedule. Thursday was a no-go almost from the start---and up to this point we'd not even talked on the phone. Things were looking grim until a phone call with an invite to go to Open Eye Cafe and hear a Latin music band came through and saved the day.  *whew*

Despite my lack of grace on the dance floor it was a lot of fu…


Leverage, a new television series, has started on (TNT Turner Network Television). The first episode was December 7th and the second started airing on the 9th. Don't worry about missing them--they're going to be repeated dozens of times---this is TNT, after all.

The production values on the show are pretty good. The pilot, The Nigerian Job, ran commercial free, which was certainly nice. Sponsored by Hyundai. Thanks, Hyundai!

The series follows a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who act as modern-day Robin Hoods, taking revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others. The show stars Timothy Hutton as Nate Ford, the team leader. The premise of the show is that all the team members except Hutton are lone-wolf type high caliber thieves and Hutton is a guy that used to work tracking them down. However due to a setback in Hutton's life---his son died--he's emotionally distraught and on the sidelines. In the first episode events occur to glue these dispa…

Sex on the Beach

This post isn't about Elizabeth Frisinger. Well, it wasn't supposed to be. Oops. Yet another urban legend gaining notoriety, I guess.

Sex on the Beach

1 1/2 oz. Schnapps, peach
1 1/2 oz. Vodka
2 oz. Cranberry Juice
2 oz. Orange Juice
2 oz. Pineapple Juice

Actually it's hard to resist a story like that. Even when it's obviously fake it's rather funny.

Dinner when you're Single

I made these cookies as soon as I got home from work and have gone through almost half the batch already. I guess the goulash I made yesterday will have to wait another day... chocolate tastes better!

First Attempt

Trial test of Zolpidem, a type of generic Ambien, 10 mg.

Took one tablet at 1:50am, read uintil 2:27am, turned lights out and went to sleep soonafter. I woke up with a smooth transition at 8:22am. This was slightly odd for two reasons, I usually wake immediately, it's like I have an onn\off switch, and also 6 hours of sleep is out at the very edge of what I normally get. As a result, I'd say that the Zolpidem did work though not with the exterme action that I've often heard ascribed to Ambien. I'll give it another shot tonight and see how well I sleep Sunday morning. Up to this point, a placebo would probably give similar results.

I'm going hiking in 4 hours so I'll probaly post a picture of two from that later on. Or maybe some cooking/baking experiment should one of those seem photo worthy.

Weekend Plans

Last night I had to work past 7pm but I compensated today by leaving by 4pm. As a result, I was able to drive to Wal-mart when it wasn't terribly busy and score my prescription drugs with a minimum of waiting. I'm probably going to try the generic Ambien tonight and see if it works for me. It'd be great to be able to stay asleep for more than the 4 or 5 hours I usually get.

I picked up a couple of DVDs from the library this morning. While someone else took out Chaos Theory between the time I looked it up online and when I got there, I did get American Gangster and Mad Money. Gangster stars Denzel Washington so no doubt it'll be quite good--and it's almost 3 hours long! Mad Money probably won't be that good but I do like the cast (Diane Keaton, Ted Danson, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah) so it was worth checking out.

I did something at Wal-mart today that I'd never done before. Never, ever. Curious? Well, it's not all that earth shattering. I bought baco…

Cookies and Candy

I seem to be thinking about sweet things a lot lately. Must be the holidays, huh? Yesterday's post about the wintergreen patties was just the tip of the iceberg.

What do you think about this recipe for Molasses cookies? I don't have any molasses on hand but since I need to make a run to Wal-mart to pick up a prescription for two drugs that my doctor prescribed for me yesterday, I can grab the molasses while I'm there. And look for some wintergreen flavoring too. And since I've already bought the fixings for no bake cookies, it's shaping up to be a very sweet weekend.

In my defense, somehow I managed to lose 5.5 pounds during the 8 days I was wondering around the southeast last week. I can't explain the weight loss since I certainly managed to eat a fair amount of food.

Hmmm. I weighed in at 207 yesterday morning whereas I was 212.5 before I left. Maybe driving burns a lot of calories? That must be why all those long-haul truck drivers are so svelte. LOL


Culinary Plans

I'm going to be working a mite late today. I had a doctor's appointment today and I need to make up the time. The appointment was mostly to check out if a cholesterol drug I was just put on (yes, age is making me fall apart) is doing anything. I've been taking it for 2 months now and they drew blood today to see how I'm doing.

Anyway, on the way home I'm planning on picking up some soda (yummy yummy soda) and sweet potatoes and while the soda is getting cold I plan on using my pretty mandoline to slide up those taters and then I'm frying them. Sweet potato chips! That's a rather time consuming task so I'll probably make some eggs and sausage for dinner at the same time.

Wednesday I hope to make a stew that'll last me the rest of the week and maybe even Saturday too. And on Saturday I'll be doing a hike with Meetup where we cross a bunch of sewer pipes during the afternoon and in the evening I'm planning on making some mint patties. Wintergreen…

Kitchen Toy

I love toys. Since I'm a guy, that's no huge surprise. So when I got the new Williams-Sonoma catalog the other day, I knew I'd have some fun.

Here's a picture of one of the cuter toys. The Professional multi-chopper! It cores, slices, wedges, and dices too. But you know what? I don't like it.

Much as I like toys for the cooking and such, I enjoy the mechanics of food prep. I don't want a toy that makes it easier to chop and dice. I want to do those things myself with a sharp knife. In fact, being able to play with knives is half the reason I enjoy cooking.

Much as I like to eat good food, I'd be just as happy snarfing down candy and chips. It's the actual process of cooking that I enjoy so this toy is just not for me. It is kinda cute tho. Maybe I can find someone who wants one...