Showing posts from March, 2009

Out with the old and in with the new

There's a changing of the guard going on. For a while I was going out with Jules then she decided that she wanted to have a little more space.

Or in her words, "You are such an asshole. You are mean and selfish and a pig."

Not exactly high praise, but what can I say? Maybe Julie was right. In any case there's another Julie interested in me now. Yes, that's her on the left, munching on some bruschetta that we made as a snack on Sunday while watching a few episodes of Planet Earth on Discovery Channel. We'll just have to see if the first Julie should have warned the second Julie about me.

There's another picture of Julie. A perfect way to close out the month of March. In like a lion and out like a lamb? I don't even know what I mean by that, but maybe my subconscious does. It often processes information far better than my conscious mind does.

And speaking of March ending, did you see that report on 60 Minutes about the Conficker worm? Pretty scary stuff. Ac…

Party in Pittsboro

I was invited to a party on Saturday and despite my antisocial tendencies, and much to my surprise, I accepted the invitation.

Cheryl, over there on the left holding up a truck, was the one that invited me. No doubt that was the reason I was able to overcome my natural tendencies to avoid crowds of people. She's just adorable. We've gone on several hikes together and despite a deplorable lack of chemistry (at least I deplore said lack) we're friends.

The party is held every year and is called "Trail Crawl" and involves going to a number of preselected homes in the subdivision that Cheryl lives in. This is the 10th year that it's been held. What makes this interesting is the connection the people feel to their homes and community. For the most part these are all original owners, the lots are large---over 10 acres---and the place is still largely wooded with only narrow gravel roads connecting the homes.

The Trail Crawl is so-named due to the nature of the party. …

Wine, cookies, and basketball

The UNC Tarheels made their bid tonight to move from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8. As it turned out the Tarheels breezed past Gonzaga having a lead of almost 30 points at one time. The final score? 98 to 77. Next stop? Oklahoma on Sunday around 4pm.

After the game I decided to make some cookies. A friend I was hiking with last week invited me to a home owners association party that is being held on Saturday. It sounded like a lot of fun so I said "yes" and these cookies are my contribution.

Since I had half a bottle of sparkling wine left over from Thursday night, I decided to make cookie prep more fun by drinking the wine while cooking cookies. (doesn't that sound weird? normally you associate baking with cookies) It was very tasty! I told y'all that you should have come over to watch the game with me. But not a one of you showed up! :-p

This is what the cookies end up looking like. They taste better than they look, I might add.

Since it's been raining for several …

Wanna see my pecker?

I don't know if that title will encourage folk to visit or scare them away. I think I'm quite safe in guessing that it's not the kind of title that will entice nature lovers. I guess that was a mistake on my part.

'Cause the pecker in question is a Woodpecker! I know. It's not much of a surprise now since you've got that big picture up there of a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

This is the first one I've seen visit my bird feeder. They're a little more oriented to wooded areas and I live in the middle of a huge unwooded area that used to be a cow pasture. The only woods around are trees that we homeowners have planted. Mostly Bradford pears.

Isn't that a lovely pecker? I took something like 30 pictures of it but the damn thing kept moving around so much that only 5 of them turned out okay.

She hung around that bird feeder in the top picture the most but she kept trying to insert her beak into the center section. My guess is that there were insects of some sor…

Sunday in the Park

After the hike that I mentioned yesterday, I stopped at a Sports Bar down in Pittsboro to get something to eat. The UNC game was just starting so I watched the first half there.

It was kinda nice to watch the game with people around making appreciative noises. Particularly since UNC advanced to the Sweet 16 by rolling over the LSU Tigers.

If anyone wants to watch the game with me this coming Friday I'll make the munchies. I'd invite Julie but she doesn't want to stay up that late. Spoilsport! On the other hand, the game isn't slated to even start until 10pm EST. And it could start late since the number 2 and 3 seeds are playing at 7:30pm and there's a half hour between the end of that game and the start of the UNC game against the 4 seed, Gonzaga. If the first game goes over, then UNC will start late and the game could easily last until 1am!!! So I doubt anyone will come and watch with me. *pout*

The picture above and the one on the left are from Sarah Duke Gard…

White Pines redux

My back has really been bothering me a lot. Ever since I did that work on my parent's deck I've not had a single good day.

Despite that nagging pain, I decided I wasn't going to spend another weekend not doing anything (which is what I did last weekend). So I went hiking on both Saturday and Sunday!

All 3 of these pictures were taken Saturday at White Pines Preserve in Chatham Co, NC. The picture on the left illustrates just how wet it is. It rained 4 out of 7 days last week and the trail was flooded out in a great number of spots. The upside was that there was a lot more green around than usual this time of year. By the end of Winter seeing green is a very wonderful thing.

This picture shows 3 of the women I was hiking with trying to decide where to cross a stream. It wasn't very deep but some people just aren't willing to get their tender feet wet! *sigh*

I had several encounters with the H2O and its fellow traveler, mud while doing jumps across wet areas so upon r…

Green Grass at White Pines

I was hiking down south today and took this picture of the verge grass on the side of a river. Isn't it pretty?

Now that Spring is started it's nice to see that the grass is greening up so nicely to celebrate. The only downside is that my yard is going to need mowing within the week. *sigh*

The picture up there was taken in White Pines Preserve and is the Chatham County side of the Deep River. On the other side of the river is Lee County but I never got over there.

I Melt for You

The first thing I think of when I hear those words is that song by Modern English back in the 80s though the title was actually I Melt With You.

However in this case the phrase "I melt for you" refers to activities in my bedroom yesterday. Now don't get your mind all in the gutter over this. It's a bloody candle I'm referring to not... well that other thing.

You see, I was trying to get a couple of loads of laundry done and I started a candle to get that smell of mustiness out of the air. I was only going to let it burn 10 minutes or so---and since I had set it down on the curved top of my television I couldn't leave it in the holder since it'd slip off.

Well, to make a long story short---I left it burning quite a while and the damn thing leaked all over the television, dresser, and carpet. Maybe I should have left it in the holder on a flat surface, huh?

In other news, it's the first day of Spring. Yippee!! And I even received an Easter card from Janis t…

Life and the lack thereof

I just read a couple of days ago in TV Guide that the NBC show Life has been canceled at the end of the current season. I found this quite disheartening since Life is one of my favorite shows.

The star of the show, Damian Lewis, is really great as Detective Charlie Crews. Sarah Shahi plays his partner and her acting is certainly up to the task---and my god is she good looking. Did I say that out loud?

In these final few shows there's a replacement partner, played by another beautiful actress, Gabrielle Union, as Shahi's character is working with the FBI on a task force that might be targeting Detective Crews. Wheels within wheels, y'know?

This is only the second season for the show and it just breaks my heart that I won't be seeing a third one. I hope this doesn't happen to my other favorite show, The Mentalist! I don't know if it means anything but both shows are headlined by foreign actors. Lewis is from England and Simon Baker (he plays Patrick Jane, an ind…

Titles for Sale

Do you want to be a Duke? Services like Elite Titles allow you to buy English titles but I'm actually referring to a lame 70's TV series.

That's right. At Amazon today you can buy the entire run of The Dukes of Hazard for 65% off. A "mere" $94 can reward you with hours and hours of grim horror on the tv screen as a series of bad actors and actresses torture you with their inadequate thespian skills.

I watched that show on occasion when I was in my early teens but fortunately grew out of it. But if you liked the show, or have masochistic tendencies--by all means, wander over to Amazon and pick up this "bargain".

Of course in this area the word "duke" is associated with a certain school and their annoying athletic teams (Blue Devils). Believe me, Duke is a bad, bad word. So bad that I'd not want to buy that title of Duke. I'd hate to hear that word "duke" follow me all around.

AIG and Just Politics?

I rather enjoy playing on the stock market and prefer politicians to stay out of the process as much as possible. Laissez-faire, you dig?

Of course I realize that the financial markets aren't a level playing field. That the "big boys" have a lot of advantages but to me stocks are like buying lottery tickets--so I don't worry about the political stuff.

However this recent bailout has made it matter to each and every one of us. With the government tossing around a couple of trillion dollars (over $10,000 in dept to every taxpayer if you assume around 200 million people pay tax in the US) one has to wonder how it'll ever get paid off.

Having management at companies like AIG use part of that largess to give bonuses (of over a $ million to some individuals and totaling 165 million at AIG), vacation retreats and raises just seems like an open insult to every taxpayer in the country. Kinda makes Clinton and that BJ thing seem petty in comparison.

In that vein, Representati…

New Toy

I left my parent's place in SC late on Thursday, after they went to bed. Arrived back at my house in NC in the wee hours of Friday morning and discovered a new toy when I got there.

That's the cute little thing over there on the left. A new keyboard!

I know, what's there to be excited about with a keyboard? An admittedly pedestrian piece of equipment. Well, anyone that knows me well realizes that I have a love-hate relationship with light. Mostly hate. And when I'm playing (or even working) on my computer I prefer the lighting to be subtle at best and absolutely dark usually. Unfortunately my limited typing skills often require me to glance at the keyboard. And with no light that just doesn't do much good.

So when Amazon had a daily special on a Logitech keyboard that had internally lit keys---I bought it immediately. I think the retail is $80 but Amazon was selling it for something like $45 that day. Sweet! LOL

The keys feel great with just this slight amount of tra…

Email Issues

Has anyone else been having problems with Yahoo?

The past few weeks I've noticed that Yahoo has been quite slow, and often it loads weird and such. But the past 2 days it won't load at all. Nasty Yahoo. That message below is what I see when I try to check my Email now.

Sorry for the inconvenience my ass. I want my Email to work! Of course since it is free I can't complain quite as much as I'd like. Damn, I don't want to have to go through the bother of switching over to my Gmail account. :-(

Update: And Yahoo's suggestion to try again in a few moments wasn't very helpful. It took almost 48 hours before it started working again.  Bah!

Sick as a Squirrel

This concerns a tree that sits behind my parent's rear deck. It's the tree in the middle of the picture, around 50 feet off of the ground. The exact location is kinda hard to see in this picture but if we go a mite closer...

12X, to be exact, we see a pair of squirrels. Eastern Gray, in fact. And they seem to be squirrels that are recovering from one hell of a hangover. Do squirrels have spring break just like college students? If so, these two look like they've had one serious bender.

Unfortunately it wasn't something that light and frivolous. I checked back several times over the course of 4 hours and the one squirrel never moved more than a few inches. I think that's one very sick squirrel. Poor squirrel.

Another possibility is that it's preggers. According to Wiki, the first litter is born in February to March. I hope babies and not dying is at hand here.

Two from Monday

These aren't really pictures of a sunset but at least it was late in the day. I metered off of the sun, low on the horizon, to give the pictures a "sunset appearance." I was getting hungry and didn't want to stay out on the water for another 40 minutes just to get "genuine" sunset pictures.

More Maintenance

Today was my first day of vacation. Hooray!

And you can see what I was doing on my first day of vacation. Installing replacement boards in my parent's deck. And who would believe that we'd have temps in the low 80s this early in March?!

Let me tell you, I have a lot of concerns about construction workers. Are they nuts?! They do this stuff in the stifling heat of summer--and not for just a few hours. They do it all day long. Yikes. I was tired of the task within the first 30 minutes. But unfortunately it took a little over 3 hours. In case you're curious, the last 2 plus hours weren't so fun.

These boards really needed replacing. About one in four screws didn't even come out. I had to pry the board out due to the screws breaking off while I was trying to unscrew them. The damn things were so rusted that they'd just break apart. Then once the board was off, I'd have to go back with a pair of vice-grips and unscrew the bottom fraction of the screw.

See that nice…

One Way Stream

Most of the day my father, brother, and I were busy doing home maintenance tasks that required more than one set of hands so by early evening I was more than ready to hit the lake in my kayak.

A couple of miles from my parent's house I found this stream. I tried calling Julie while I was there but to no avail. It was a windy day and by the time I had found this isolated bit of calm water I was quite willing to rest a bit.

But after a few minutes of looking around I decided to continue on into the narrow section of the stream to see how far up I could go before it got too shallow.

Normally in a kayak you don't need much water beneath you, but this kayak is built for someone 185 pounds of less---and I haven't seen that weight in a number of years. With my 215 pounds aboard, this kayak wallows like a sick hippo. I like the color though. Carolina blue, y'know?

Anyway, the kayak also has a rudder so that gives it even less draft. But I continued up the stream 'til I got to …

On the Lake

I arrived at my parent's place in SC at 6:50am this morning after a pleasant and uneventful 4 hour drive from my house in NC.

After a bit of reading while I was waiting for everyone to wake up, I talked to Mom and Dad a bit then hit the lake for some paddling.

I took this picture about a mile from their house. My arms were kinda lethargic, no idea why, so I didn't go that far but still managed to stay out for 2 hours. No interesting pictures. The sun was too bright and washed the texture out of the landscape. I like taking pictures on gray overcast days a lot more. Everything looks more "artistic" when the light is subtle. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Now it's time to do some errands with my dad to earn my keep.

cardiopulmonary resuscitation

There was an interesting editorial in Wednesday's Daily Tarheel (the student newspaper here at UNC) by Andrew Moon, a first year med student.

My knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation has largely been formed by what I've seen on television. But according to Moon this is a very false impression and one that is held by most people in this country. After all, virtually everyone watches television.

According to the editorial, 75% of people receiving CPR on TV shows survive. In reality it's less than 10%, a number I find daunting. And also the people who survive due to the CPR often suffer neurological impairment. Lack of oxygen to the brain, y'know?

All in all it adds up to a much scarier situation that I'd ever have believed. On the tube it looks like some person pushes on your chest for a minute or two, maybe does that kissy-kissy thing and then you get up and dance a jig or at least get moved to a hospital that has really cute doctors and nurses---but occasionally…


---Caption This---

What do you think of this picture?  I can think of a few lines of thought but feel free to add your own:
We're mourning doves not bashful doves
Does it smell good in there?
If you'd just carry a hanky then you'd not have to get snot on your wing!
You're on a diet! Stop snacking on lice.

Bird Fight

In a world of limited, sometimes scarce, resources, is it any wonder that on occasion we fight a little bit?

Take these two birds, for example. I put out plenty of bird seed knowing that they could find little food with all the freshly fallen snow.

I placed the seed in numerous locations on and about my deck and bird feeder. But often the birds would leave the seed they were eating so as to scare other birds away from the seed they were eating in their own locations. And in that, excuse the phrase, round-robin process they'd be leaving their seed behind which would quickly be worked on by other birds.

This social mayhem is one of the things that makes watching birds fun however it also arouses within us a feeling that fair play isn't being followed. We get annoyed at the "bully birds"which is funny 'cause the behavior is quite common up and down the food chain. Certainly we humans follow similar strategies, but so do many other species. In any case, the birds on my …

Snowy Monday

We ended up with a fair amount of snow in the RTP area, 3 to 4 inches, though my location didn't appear to get that much. Mostly due to the wind keeping the snow drifted deep in spots and almost bare in others.

The snow shouldn't disappear too quickly 'cause today's high is projected to be a windy 32 and it's in the high 20s now.

At least it makes for a pretty view. I can't say that I find it all the enjoyable but it's a good reason to go back to bed for a while!

Since they're saying the overnight low will turn out to be around 14f, my heat is going to be on quite a bit.


I was a little disappointed in the outcome of The Amazing Race tonight. One of my favorite teams was eliminated. It illustrates one of my pet peeves about the show---too often airport schedules dictate how a race will turn out when I think it should be the competitive games within the race. Of course usually the airport serves to allow teams to catch up, cases like this when a team is eliminated due to a lost connection are rare.

As you can see over there on the left, we have snow here in eastern NC today. Supposedly we'll have 4-6 inches by commute time which is why I brought my laptop home from work earlier. Research doesn't quit because of a little snow, but I might well not feel like driving in.

My brother lives near Atlanta and according to him, while they got more snow there in Georgia, it was early enough in the day that the sun burned off most of the white stuff by evening. And strong winds tonight are supposed to take care of the rest, but it made for pretty pictures …