Showing posts from February, 2009


None of us are getting any younger. That case came home to me yesterday while I was driving away from home in the rain.

My car hit the 30,000 point and since there wasn't any traffic around, I pulled over and took this picture.

I've had the cute little thing for just over two and a half years. I bought it on August 3, 2006 and it had a few hundred miles on it, mostly from the delivery since it was in a Charlotte NC dealership on the other side of the state. I'm scheduled to have it paid off in October but since I only owe $2,180 on it now I might pay it off sooner.

Since I usually keep cars for around 6 years, put something like 75,000 miles on them, that means that a significant amount of this car's life with me is gone. Odd, it still seems practically new to me. Oddly enough this makes me think of women too. My longest relationship is less than 5 years, my marriage was less than 4---I keep cars longer than girlfriends. Usually a lot longer. I don't know if that&#…

Welcome Back

There's two television series returning next week after a long absence and it's time to say goodbye to Burn Notice for a while. The last episode for the second season is next Thursday, March 5th.

Reaper is starting season 2 at long last on ABC, Tuesday, March 3. It was absent from the airwaves for nearly 10 months. Ray Wise portrays the Devil on the show and is very believable, as long as your version of the devil has good hair and no hooves. (see picture on left)

The other show returning next week is Rules of Engagement which is starting its 3rd season on CBS, Monday, March 2. I really enjoy the single guy and primary couple but the younger couple annoys me. These roles are played by David Spade, Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price, Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich, respectively. Spade and Warburton are particular good playing off of one another. And Megyn Price adds a delightful element of sexy comedy to the show. Price was the mom on Grounded for Life. Hudson and Kajlich, on t…

It's two in a row

After being absent from these pages for a while Janis is getting motioned twice in a row.

This time is because yesterday when I got home from work there was my first issue of Bon Appetit waiting in my mailbox. Janis had given me that subscription quite a while back and magazines are so slow at processing their orders that I'd not received the subscription until now.

While the cover didn't do much for me (Eggplant Shephard's Pie) there are much more appealing pictures inside. And more than one dish that I'd like to give a try. Right now I'm on a quesadilla kick but once I get back to eating more varied meals I'm going to give several recipes using Yukon Gold spuds a try. There's one on page 54 for making Cinnamon Rolls with potatoes that really has me curious. I've heard of using potato flour but this recipe uses regular Yukon Gold potatoes directly. Freaky.

The article on cheese has the best pictures. Cheese is sooooo good. I think I might go in the kit…

Great Big Penis

I just finished watching TAR and I'm glad to have been vindicated by the married couple from Virginia. Even though they lost, the husband was very supportive of his wife just as I thought he'd be. I can sense these things, you know? The episode was pretty good and seemed short. I've still not decided on a favorite team and yet again the show contained a challenge that I'd not want to do. Last week it was the bungee jump and this week it was paragliding.

According to Janis, who did the paraglide thing last year off a mountain in Tennessee, it's great fun---but with my lack of love for heights, I doubt I'll ever do it. Running down the mountain would have been more my thing and I've have not even stopped to look over the precipice, let alone jumped off of it. *eeek*

Switching gears a bit, Panopea abrupta, also known as Geoduck is a species of very large saltwater clam. These clams are featured in a March 2009 article in Smithsonian Magazine. And they're al…

Carolina Blue

I hate to mention the phrase "carolina blue" on a day when the unranked Maryland Terrapins defeated the #3 nationally ranked and #1 ACC ranked team UNC Tarheels. And that's 8 out of the last 11 games that the damn turtles have prevailed. But since the phrase describes the picture below so well, I'll use it anyway.

I took this today while hiking in Eno River Park, west side.

I metered the shot off of the sky and then pointed the lens at the sun to overexpose that part of the sky. As a result, you get to see the rich blues that we had today in the sky and give the trees lining the bank of the Eno River a lot of brooding character. I love how those branches just seem to be stretching out and grasping at the sun.

It was supposed to get up into the mid 50s today but I swear it never got much past 45. I was wearing a fleece pullover while hiking and I never took it off. I was expecting to be hiking in my t-shirt and sweating. Nope. Not today. But it was very sunny and a beau…

Research and Emotions

This has been an interesting week or two. We've been on the point of publishing some of our research for a number of months and just recently two lines of work showed really interesting results--as a result my boss decided to pull the trigger and get our results into print. So the past couple of weeks have had me chained to my laptop, carrying it with me everywhere I go, and endlessly making and remaking graphics in Prism (presentation graphics for research), Illustrator, and Photoshop. Gotta love it. My limited chance to link back to my "arty" days when I did some design work at dot com companies. Not as much creativity in science graphics but you take what you can, y'know?

Today, after my boss and I uploaded her article and my graphics onto the publisher's server, we had a little international incident here in the lab...

You see, we've been in this room at UNC for a bit over 4 months. The MD that was located here in this room previously had left for another u…


The premiere of season 14 of The Amazing Race was broadcast on Sunday night, February 15. I liked the participants this season much, much better than any other season within recent memory.

The past 7 plus seasons of TAR have been characterized by casting driven by network needs for controversy and colorful participants. People like that often do not make good contestants so this season is a welcome change. At least that's the way I perceived the teams so far.

Favorite team? Typically I have decided on my favorite team or two on the first show---but that was because there were so few good teams. This time I really didn't have a favorite team, and there weren't any that I strongly disliked either. Several people I know have denounced the "Hillbilly team" from Virginia and the deaf son and his mother but I don't have any problem, yet, with either of those teams. The husband, Steve, was rather intolerant of his wife's physical limitations but he also, at least …

Occoneechee Mountain Park

Occoneechee Mt is in Hillsborough, which is about 12 miles northeast of where I live.

It's not a very big mountain, as mountains go. But oddly enough when you're walking up, down, and around it---it seems to gain some stature.

Funny thing how the legs seem to measure things a little different. Especially old legs!

And did I mention that it was steep at times? Well, it was. Just look over there on the left. You'll see!

This was the part just before we got to the rock quarry. I hiked this route around a month ago, January 11, 2009 to be exact, but we were going faster today so it had me breathing a lot harder. *whew*

It's still steep, in case you didn't notice!

The new season of Amazing Race starts tonight after 60 Minutes. All this hiking around reminds me of the folk in that show. They're always having to haul themselves up some mountain, glacier, building or tower. Even if you don't win the million dollar prize for finishing the race in first place you're g…

San Lee Park

I wandered a ways to the south for a change when I went hiking today.

I usually head north towards Hillsborough or Durham when I go hiking. Today, however, I headed south towards Chatham and Lee counties.

I had considered hiking at Raven Rock but decided that was a bit too far afield for today. I got a late start due to a very dire need for a haircut. After having shed a pound or so of hair, I scooted down to the 4 miles of trails in San Lee park.

While the hiking trail winds around two lakes and is pretty, the true attraction of the park is the 5 miles of single track bike trail. I didn't have a bike there so I just walked. Pity, huh?

I like the way the leaves pop in this picture.

Tomorrow I'll be hiking Occoneechee Mountain again up north in Orange County. It's good to get some hiking in this weekend 'cause it helps get my mind off of the troubles that we all face.

If it's not the stagnant economy, then it's rising costs (I just got the highest electric bill on Fr…

A Ring on Valentines Day

This isn't the type of ring typically bandied about on St Valentine's Day. You're not going to catch anyone slipping one of these rings into a piece of cake for some unsuspecting young thing to chip teeth on.

This is the kind of ring that we test angiogenesis drugs with. It's in the bottom right hand corner. (By decreasing angiogenesis---the formation of new blood vessels---you can control the growth of cancer tumors)

One of the ways we test these drugs is using a CAM (Chorioallantoic Membrane assay) model. The drugs that are developed using this, as well as mouse models, might one day go into human clinical trials---and eventually be marketed as breast cancer oriented chemotherapy drugs. That's our goal, at least.

In the meantime, it's a neat picture. If you're into pictures of blood vessels and chicken eggs. I hope it's not bad luck to show chicken parts on Friday the 13th!

Darwin Day is today

Even though it's old and faded, this is one of my favorite T-shirts. It commemorates the day of Charles Darwin's birth, 200 years ago---and that just happens to be today, February 12th.

Darwin Day

UNC on Top

Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough lead Number 3 UNC past Number 6 Duke. Again.

Lawson scored a game leading 25 points in a game that was dominated by UNC at the start. Unfortunately Duke grabbed control and overcame a 10 point deficit to gain the lead through the nasty middle of the game but UNC finally took back the lead to silence the Cameron Crazies with a score of 101-87.

It was a good game, well illustrating the intense sports rivalry between the two schools. A rivalry that HBO Sports is exploring in their new documentary BATTLE FOR TOBACCO ROAD: Duke vs. Carolina. The show premieres Monday, Feb 23rd at 9PM EST. Be there or be square. And don't forget to watch the next UNC game either. It's an away game at Miami and starts at 7:45 pm on Sun, Feb 15.

Speaking of HBO, I was watching one of thier "free weekends" a month ago and was quite impressed with their series Big Love. Not so impressed with the series Flight of the Conchords. Both were rolling out their new seasons…

An Apple A Day

I was reading the March '09 issue of Popular Mechanics while on the bus to work this morning and one of the shorts at the front of the magazine grabbed my interest. But it had nothing to do with apples.

Apparently there's a company in Florida, ONI BioPharma, which has engineered a strain of bacteria that it has named SMaRT. So what, you ask?

Well, tooth decay, as you probably know, is caused by bacteria in the mouth gobbling up sugar and excreting lactic acid. That's called lactic acid fermentation, in case you were curious. The acid causes a change in pH which allows calcium to dissolve. Pretty much the same idea as acid rain causing marble statues to erode in Italy---marble being composed primarily of calcium carbonate.

So what this new SMaRT bacteria does is out compete the normal bacteria in the mouth. You see, SMaRT bacteria are engineered to not be able to excrete lactic acid. Instead they poop out an antibiotic that targets the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Pretty n…

Flight 1549 and Silhouette Factor

Tonight's episode of 60 Minutes was quite moving. I was misting up at times.

The main segment, concerning Flight 1549, was doubled to 40 minutes. The first half was a well paced one-on-one interview between Katie Couric and Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the US Airways jet on the Hudson River, January 15th. The pilot was very well spoken and in control but you could see the passion behind his words. It was compelling. The second part of the segment concerned the rest of the flight crew and later on the passengers meeting the crew in Charlotte, NC. Very emotional and intense.

The final segment of the show was about Coldplay. That's what inspired me to use the picture here, which I took yesterday in Eno River Park. You see, Chris Martin, the vocalist for the group, mentioned in his interview that he measures the effectiveness of their song set by how many people leave the stadium for hot dogs or other refreshments. According to him, Martin keeps his eyes on the exits a…

Sunny and Warm

Blogger and Opera apparently aren't getting along. I've tried uploading pictures a number of times this weekend and just got error messages. This time I used Firefox and it worked. I don't know if the problem lies with Opera or Linux but there's something about my system that Blogger is pissy about.

In any case, I took this picture Saturday afternoon in the Eastern trail section of Eno River Park. I'd been hiking in the Western section of the park most of the afternoon and just spent a brief hour and a half on a trail alongside the Eno River in the Eastern side.

The day was unseasonably warm with temperatures briefly touching 70f. I was sweating like a pig! I'd gotten used to hiking in sub-freezing temperatures and the 40 degree swing was more than my body could take without protest. As you can see, the sun was blazing and the scenery was beautiful though the trails were mainly a muddy quagmire. What a great way to start February!

Key Paranoia

There was an interesting albeit brief writeup in the February Popular Mechanics about a program developed by a pair of computer scientists at UC San Diego.

Apparently when keys are cut, they use very discrete shapes and depths. And so this program is able to take images made of a key and use the image combined with its knowledge of how keys are made to make duplicate keys. And get this... those images can be grainy and low res.

According to the article, pics taken with low-res cellphones work and so do regular resolution telephoto shots from rooftops 195 feet away. How's that for scary? I guess you'd better not leave your keys anywhere that they're visible anymore. Well, not unless you want uninvited guests, that is. You leave your keys on a counter for a moment while you search a pocket for something and that person next to you with a cellphone? Snap a quick pic and he's got your key. Scary. Or think about those security cameras in stores---how easy would it be to sell …


Congratulations to Pittsburgh. The Steelers certainly ended the first half in grand fashion. Then, after having held the lead for almost the entire game, it looked like they were going to be beaten with less than 4 minutes on the clock. Yet they came back in the last minute to steal (Steel?) the game from the hard luck Arizona Cardinals.

There were too many game affecting penalties in the game but just watching that 100 yard interception run (#92 James Harrison), by a linebacker of all people, made seeing the game worthwhile. Having the back-and-forth dynamics at the end of the game was just a bonus. A big bonus. And thank god 'cause there certainly weren't many commercials worth watching this year.

I liked the first half of the Scottish immigrant Budweiser commercial (Clydesdales Generations) but then it dissolved into their typical saccharine "dogs and horses" shit. My favorite commercial was Alec Baldwin's one for where he pretended to be an alien --- …