Showing posts from January, 2009

Hot Heads

I watched the season primiere of Hell's Kitchen today. The show appeared on FOX on the 29th but I wasn't in any hurry to see it. The first few episodes are always the same. Ramsey losing his temper and the chef-contestants not finishing service.

As you might guess, Gordon Ramsay qualifies as a hot head. So too, by reasons of coloration, is the cardinal at left. I got the picture of him today as he was eating some seeds on my deck rail.

If you watch Hell's Kitchen, this season does seem to have picked some chefs with talent and experience. In the past two seasons it seemed the producers were picking contestants mainly for being "colorful" and that was just annoying. Most of the 16 chefs this season seem to know what they're doing. But only time will tell...

And speaking of knowing what they're doing, I watched a movie last night that was quirky but very interesting. Gone Baby Gone is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane and is directed by Ben Affleck and stars…


The other week Amazon was having a sale on HBO series on DVD. Each day they had a different series on sale and I ended up buying two of them. The first one I bought, Deadwood, arrived today.

I'd not bought anything on Amazon since before Xmas and it's an amazing contrast. During the holidays items are shipped in a day or two and you receive them within days of ordering. Deadwood didn't ship until 10 days after I bought it and since they shipped via the Post Office, it took another week to arrive. The other series I bought, 6 Feet Under, hasn't shipped yet and it's been over 2 weeks. Pretty sad!

Anyway, back to Deadwood. What an amazing show. The actors were riveting. And the sets and scripts were just as good. It's really unfortunate that HBO only had it go for 3 seasons, I'd have loved to watch it for many more years. At least I can watch all 36 episodes again in their gory violent gritty glory.

The other night a new series, Trust Me, debuted on TNT. I liked…

Losing Weight

This weight loss ad campaign has been on the web for a while now.

Every time I see it I cringe. The picture on the right looks horrible to me. Skeletal and emaciated. What do y'all think? Is she better looking before or after the weight loss?

Taking a Trip

Yesterday I posted about how age was causing aches and pains. Actually, not so much.

As I discovered in the shower today, there's a bit more to the story than mere aging. Y'see, somehow I forgot about this trip I took.

When I go hiking with a Meetup group I usually don't spend a lot of the time socializing with the group. I'm not very social, you see, and like to do group hikes more for the expanded opportunity for photographs. That's the real reason I go hiking, after all. So when I'm hiking I typically find myself taking pictures, getting behind the group, then catching up by running to the front so I can take more photos. Well on one of those runs across the trail I snagged my foot in a vine that didn't let go. So that foot stayed in one place and the rest of me swung quite quickly to the ground. That's what wrenched my lower back. Poor me!

The shower reminded me of all this because the right knee is one big black and blue mark. Oddly enough it doesn…

Getting Old

I went on a 3 hour hike today with a Meetup group. The temperature hovered just over freezing the entire day.

While the hiking was enough to keep me quite warm, as you can see in that picture to the left where I'm sweating like a pig, it didn't help my bones much. By that I mean that by the end of the hike my knees and lower back were screaming. They really don't like cold weather at the best of times and especially not when you're scrambling over rocks and trees.

The picture over there was a candid taken when I'd just crossed a stream and then dropped down the bank to try to get a better angle for a photo. Had I known he was taking my picture, I'd have at least closed my mouth!

The picture below is the dam across the Haw River just above highway 15/501. It's where our hike started. Damn but I feel old. After a hike like that I really think about buying a hot tub!


I've been unusually productive so far today. I hope to continue the run, but knowing me---I'd not bet on it.

The picture below is from a Meetup hike I did today in the Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. I'd not been there before though I've done many hikes in Duke Forest, just a few miles away.

I woke up quite early this morning and watched some television while it was still dark, and then once it was light out I put out some seed for the birds and also gathered up all the garbage around the house and put it out in the bin. One of the many domestic tasks that I tend to put off.

Once that was done it was about time to depart for the 10am hike. It's about a 30 minute drive and I was trying out a new route across the county. It turned out to be a lot shorter though not much faster. What the map didn't tell me was that some of the roads I needed to follow weren't paved and that slowed things down quite a bit. You'd think online maps would mention details like tha…

Snow on Thursday

There's still snow on the ground today but I doubt it'll last much longer. It's supposed to get up into the mid 40s today though it was in the low 20s during the night. Brrrr.

Burn Notice Returns

After a long 4 month break, Burn Notice is continuing their 2nd season tomorrow night at 10pm EST on USA Network. And it's about time!

I've missed Michael Westen and Sam Axe. Fiona? Well, I could survive quite well without her. I don't mind the character, I've just never warmed up to the actress that plays the part.

This past week USA has been reprising the first half of the second season (shows 1 through 9 as well as the 2-part season 1 closer) and they're going to have a Burn Notice marathon on Thursday from 6am to 5pm with all those episodes aired again for those who want to revel in the story line once more before the new shows start up again.

Don't forget to program your DVRs to record the new episode "Do No Harm" at 10pm wherein Michael is paid a large amount of money to protect a family who is being targeted by international assassins.

And since we're on the topic of TV shows, I really enjoy that show The Mentalist. It's mostly due to the …


This snowperson is in front of the building I work in. It was constructed by several grad students. Apparently not enough supervisors made it into work today and the natives got restless. Cute "hair", don't you think?

This is my house. I took the picture a little after 8, just before I went into work. Everything looks so pretty when it's covered in white. However I soon regretted just how much "white" was covering my car. And we had a bit of freezing rain to start this off so under the snow, my windshield and windows had a good amount of ice that needed scraping off. Wonderful, wonderful snow!

These are two versions of the same photo of my backyard. I took these around 7am and it was still kinda dark. As you can see, I used a flash to illuminate the snowflakes.

In the picture above I just made it smaller to fit into the format of my blog and then adjusted the contrast a little. In the picture below I used the "auto color enhancer" filter on GIMP (th…

Snow Day Anticipation

Today's a big day. There's the MLK aspect which allowed me to stay home. There's the anticipation of President-elect Obama being inaugurated tomorrow at noon--finally! And there's also the anticipation of the Triangle area getting 2 inches of snow tonight.

Which of the three excites me the most? Well, I do love taking pictures of snow but getting the country out of the greedy hands of the corrupt GOP does rank number 1.

Besides, President Obama is a definite reality whereas Eastern North Carolina getting the snow that's forecast is a long shot. The year I first moved here there was a forecast of several inches of snow. Instead, that night over 2 feet came down and parts of the area didn't recover for a month. I wasn't able to leave the apartment complex I lived in then for over a week. There's just not very much snow removal capability here---there doesn't have to be. It's an unusual year that sees a total accumulation of over 2 inches. The 22&quo…

Morning Hike

I was going to go for a hike early yesterday morning but it was just too damn sunny. I know most people like that sorta thing--but strong sunshine tends to give me headaches and that combined with the temps being around 16-20f made a migraine a sure thing. No thanks!

Today, on the other hand, had temps hovering just below freezing and nary a sign of the sun anywhere to be found. Perfect! The picture below illustrates the austere beauty of the gray skies as well as the quarry I was hiking around.

The picture below is of some greenery growing on a log. I'm not sure if it's a rather advanced lichen, a small scale moss or something else entirely. My knowledge of botany is quite rudimentary, I'm afraid. I did think it was pretty though.

Time to Take a Poll

I saw a program on changing attitudes towards sex the other night and they were saying that pubic hair was coming back. Y'know, I didn't know it ever left. Sure, I've seen some porn on the web and almost none of the girls there have pubic hair. However I've never seen that sort of thing on a real person.

So, my faithful readers, I want to poll anyone who is willing to answer on just what type of care they give their own little patch of hair, way down under.

Personally I don't even trim but I don't exactly have an extremely hairy body so it's probably not much of a problem. And, btw, in case you're curious---I don't particularly like pubes bare. I think it's that I don't wear glasses to bed and really need something to aim at. ;-)

The poll is over there on the right and it'll be open until the end of February.

Artic air is bad air!

It's damn nippy down here in North Carolina tonight. The Tarheels are lucky they're up in Virginia...and finally beating up on someone in the ACC. Their 0-2 record in their conference up to this point had dropped them from #1 to #6 in the standings. And it's probably the fault of that damn Artic Air. Jesus it's freezing tonight. Literally. It's 24.8f on my front porch and supposed to drop into the teens tonight so I'll have to leave a faucet dripping. Grrrr!

I finally received the Blu Ray DVD player I ordered on December 27th. It was listed as in-stock and then the next day they sent me an Email saying it'd just be a few days. Dicks! I finally wrote them 4 days ago and canceled the order---and the next day they sent me an Email saying that they couldn't cancel the order 'cause it had just shipped. LOL Sure, it did. Nothing like canceling an order to speed up the pace of delivery, huh?

Anyway, I did get the DVD player today and the company that sol…

Just look at those whiskers!

I received this in an Email today. Interesting story.

Each year, a few people will be drowned mysteriously in Huadu's Furong Reservoir. It was not until recently when the son of a certain official went swimming in the reservoir with his friend and were drowned that the secret was unravelled!

It's a 3 meter long man-eating catfish whose head alone is 1 meter wide! After cutting up the catfish people were shocked to find the remains of a man inside!

Because this was a huge incident, and the local government was afraid of the impact on local tourism, they imposed an embargo on the news. However people came away with these pictures taken on their cell phones of the man-eating fish!

Swimming in the reservoir is now forbidden because it is feared another similar man-eating catfish is still lurking in the waters.

Now you must admit that finding a catfish that big would be very scary, however if you change the name to "Whale Shark" then the fish look pretty normal.

According to Wi…

24 Sheets

The 24 in the title refers to the television series on FOX. Jack's back!

I recorded the movie 24: Redemption when it was on late last year but I never watched it. Until now, that is. I wanted to wait until I could transition right from the movie to the new series. Tonight I watched both the movie and the first two hour episode of 24 from Sunday night. Tomorrow I'll watch the second two hour episode that aired tonight.

To break that train of thought for a moment, the "sheets" in the title refers to this wonderful new set of flannel sheets I bought from Overstock. Actually, they're made in Germany so maybe I should say "wunderbar!" Anyway, that's them over there---and the box they came in. *Ba-ba-boom* I washed them right away and man those sheets are the best ones I've ever had. And even on sale, the most expensive ones too. Anyway...

That Jack is pretty amazing. I thought the movie was a little slow compared to the television series but it was sti…

The Lather Effect

I watched this DVD last night after the Steelers game. And even though I'm not a big football fan, the game was a lot better.

The Lather Effect is promoted as an Generation X version of The Big Chill with a soundtrack full of 80s music instead of the 60s classics pushed in The Big Chill. It definitely works as far as the soundtrack goes. Nice tunes though some of them weren't being done by original artists. I guess they had a strict budget. The actors were all pretty good too though they didn't do much acting. Not their fault---the script just called for angst and posturing. Supposedly these were the grown up versions (mostly mid-30s) of SoCal teens from the late 80s. Ha! They were still acting like teens and believe me, they were far too old to pull off that act.

Blame the producers, I'd say. This was the pet project of Eric Stoltz, who I think is incredibly likable as an actor, but as a producer it just seems like he's trying to recreate an adult form of the John …
I went on a group hike this morning at 10am. It was surprisingly warm with temps hovering around 50f and the rain that was forecast fortunately stayed away. Yay!

The trail we hiked was in the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, a bit northwest of Durham, NC. It's only 15 minutes from my house but I'd never been there before.

This picture here is of the face of an old abandoned quarry that the trail circled around. We didn't approach it any closer at the bottom but later on we did get closer to the cliff face while up above.

This is what it looked like looking down from the top of the quarry. It was quite a ways down and given my general lack of interest in heights, I stayed well away from the edge.  *shiver*

It's difficult to see, but there's water there down below. A little stream and a series of small ponds. We had hiked alongside the stream on the way into the quarry.

About this time I realized that I'd not had anything to eat yet today and was getting quite…

Friday Night Out

I ate out at Carraba's Italian Grill last night, 6 hours ago actually. It's only the second time I've eaten at that chain. The first time was with Chris back in August '07 and that was one incredible meal. This time wasn't as good, but still very nice for a chain restaurant.

I don't know if this second time wasn't as good due to the location, the first Carraba's was in Roanoke this one is in Durham, management, this is a new restaurant whereas the Roanoke location was well established, or just bad timing. Regardless, the entree was quite good. I didn't taste Elle's dish since it had alfredo sauce and I just didn't feel like eating anything creamy, but she said it was great, and my Chicken Bryan was very nice too. The appetizer wasn't thrilling though Elle liked it a little better than I did. The drinks were a mite rough. Mine had too much lime in it and Elle's was like rocket fuel. They forgot to put in anything but the vodka. *whew*…

USA Network

I still think of USA Network as being kinda lame. Just syndicated runs of shows that stunk to begin with. It just shows how long it takes a person's impressions to change.

While the pay cable sites like HBO and Showtime have been cranking out quality programming for around a decade, the commercial cable networks are finally starting to catch up. USA Network is a good example of this. Tonight has two of their home grown shows, Psych and Monk, premiering new seasons. While I don't watch either of those, in 2 weeks one of my favorite shows, Burn Notice, begins its third season on USA Network (January 22 at 10pm EST). I just can't wait!

And USA Network has plenty of company. Shows like Damages, Leverage, Mad Men, Damages, Top Chef, Souoth Park and The Shield are all on commercial cable television. It makes me so glad I have a DVR 'cause it'd be a nightmare to keep straight just what channel each show is on and what time and day. And since most of these shows are broadc…

Short Term Goals

This weekend I hope to get my bedroom sorted out. For years it's been cluttered but with potential. I'd like to finally get it all tidied up. My plan is to move my 27" television out of the bedroom since I never watch it anyway, and then move some stuff around.

The chest of drawers that the television is currently placed upon would move a foot towards the door which would allow me to put a shelving unit between the chest and the window. And that, ladies and gentlemen would be where all the clutter would end up. Off the floor and bookshelf where it currently is malingering---and onto ugly resin shelves. I never said the plan would end up being a positive decorating experience, y'know? I just want to de-clutter. I can make it all pretty later on (ha!).

I'd also like--and this surely is a pipedream---to organize my two bedroom closets and that forementioned chest of drawers. It'd be great to have all my clothes organized in a logical fashion, but it's very unli…

Sick as a Bird

I don't have a recent picture of a dog so I had to go with the fall back quote "sick as a bird."

I know it's not as catchy but you go with what ya got. In this case I have a picture of two birds cuddling in my bird feeder this past weekend.

As for me, I don't what what's going on. It doesn't feel like a cold or flu. Just headaches and the side effects of fever---sore muscles and twitchy bladder. It could be a lot worse but that doesn't make it feel any better to me! At least I was able to leave work a few hours early---and I was able to score 3 DVDs at the library as well. They're not due until Monday so that's probably what I'll be doing this weekend. Watching The Bank Job, The Lather Effect, and Kung Fu Panda. If I live that long...!


I've been starting to see this new person of late. Let's call her Elle, though as usual, the name has been changed to protect the innocent. In any case, up to now we've only been on one date. I thought it was two dates but I was recently informed by the prementioned innocent party that only meetings in public are considered dates. So the evening we watched a movie on my couch wasn't a date. Let's call that an incidental occurrence.

So up to this point we've had one date and one incidental occurrence. I love how those words just flow, it's like poetry, isn't it?

So this Friday the second date is tentatively scheduled. Lord only knows what this means but at least it's not an incidental occurrence. I can be thankful for that. Dancing has been mentioned. Given my two left feet, the entire dancing public in the Triangle area hopes that particular plan doesn't go to fruition. The other thing mentioned was Greek food. Not so many places around here for t…


In the 4 days that I've been back in the Triangle I've gone hiking 3 times. That's a lot more than usual and added to all the kayaking I did in SC, it should help keep those holiday pounds from accumulating around my waist.

Today I went hiking with Julie in Duke Forest. Usually I go in on the Concrete Bridge Trail but instead we went the way that she usually does, along the Wood Bridge Trail. And yes, I have noticed a certain lack of imagination in the trail naming at Duke Forest.

The picture to the left is near the trail entrance, looking back up the hill towards the road where the Fire Station is located.

It was pretty chilly this morning and very foggy. I live near a moderate sized stream and the fog was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife... but as I drove away from home and towards Duke Forest all that mist disappeared. Pity, it would have made for great pictures. Still, you can see a touch of "fogginess" in the picture here. I'd say the temperatu…

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

This isn't some complicated fru-fru dish that you'll just use once in a blue moon. It also doesn't taste all that much like bruschetta, but it is hearty and fairly good tasting. Most of all, it's so easy you could do it every day and not mind one little bit.

The recipe comes from the back of Kraft Stove Top Stuffing Mix boxes or the Kraft web site, if you prefer.

The ingredients of this dish are all easy to work with, inexpensive, and readily available. Great, huh? Oddly enough, the Kraft mix was less expensive at Wal-mart than their store brand. I rarely ever see that.

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stuffing Mix (Stove Top for Chicken from Kraft)
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 or 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix the tomatoes with the stuffing, garlic and water until they're moist and hold together. I do this before I cut up the chic…

Moon transit of sun

There's a rather impressive video (you need JAVA to play it) on Wiki of the moon transit of the sun which originated with NASA and was taken by the STEREO-B spacecraft in February 2007.

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2009. The economy is tanking, that idiot is still inhabiting the Oval Office (but not for long), many of our jobs are iffy (including mine), and who knows when things will improve. But I've got plenty of books and a high-def television so I guess it'll all turn out. Bread and circuses, y'know?

And added to all that, we're getting older every day. Wow. That used to be a good thing. Now it just means another new ache added to the list every few months or so. Right now I'm in pretty good shape. Paddling for the past 6 days straight really helped me out. For some reason that rythmic arm movement really helps out my back and shoulders. Now if I only lived on a lake...

Well, for what it's worth: Happy New Year. Maybe it'll be a good one. At least we're out from under the Shrub. And for a personal resolution, I'll use the old standby: lose some weight. I'm at 207 now, I'll try to end the year at 195. I'm signed up to go on a hike at…