Showing posts from November, 2009

House Shopping

Today is Black Friday, the big shopping day here in the US. I didn't leave the house for anything but some paddling on the lake. Yet I did do a little shopping on the computer and bought a House.

The 4th season DVDs actually. Amazon is selling the first 4 seasons for $12.99 each which is 78% off.

The 4th season is actually the worst bargain of the 4 because that was the year of the TV Writer's strike. As a result, that season only had 16 episodes instead of the normal 24. A full third less material! But that was the "Amber Season" and as such by far my favorite. She was a true gem and not just the fossilized tree resin her name would suggest. So that's the only season I'm bothering to buy.

Over, not around

I wandered over to my parent's place in SC this morning. I left home at 3:03am and arrived at my destination in SC at 6:49am.

Even at that early hour it was quite apparent that today was going to have heavy traffic. I'm very glad I didn't wait until "normal hours" to make the 4 hour drive. It could have easily become a 5 or even 6 hour drive!

How do you like that picture? There's an island on one of my paddling routes that I usually have to go around but today I was able to go right over it. Neat.

Instead of the low lake levels I've gotten used to, all the rain the east coast has been experiencing have created unusually high levels of water. Lake Hartwell, a year ago, had plenty of areas that were completely dry. Now, instead of being 22.5 feet below full pool, the lake is 18 inches over full pool. The Army Corps of Engineers simply have no where to put all the water since the lakes downstream are full too. Usually December is pretty dry so eventually they&#…


This is a time of the year that we encounter a lot of leftovers.

Kim and I got a start on the season by putting the remaining bits and pieces of the breast meat into a pot filled with gravy along with all the meat from the thighs. This really helped moisten the meat which had gotten a mite dry from it's original over roasting and then a 2-day stay in the fridge.

Then we poured this gravy-meat mix on top of a bunch of sauteed veggies and plopped some dumplings on top. The below picture was taken just after we added the dumpling batter. Yum-yum! And we had some mashed potatoes on the side. I loved the stew and mashed potatoes but Kim preferred the dumplings. They were a little mushy for me, but the potatoes were on the salty side and Kim wasn't thrilled with them. Good thing we made both!

Birds of a Feather

I was wandering around a swamp yesterday. I was hoping to get a picture of an alligator. I know it's been too cold lately but maybe a particularly stubborn one would have stuck around---but if so, I didn't see it. Instead I just got pictures of leaves floating on stagnant canal water. And one lonely bird.

The bird blended in so well with the leaves that I had to use Photoshop to make it stand out a little better---and once I did that I decided to make a small flock of them. I guess it's kinda obvious since all the critters are looking up at the same angle. But you know, maybe they were all gazing at a UFO or something. Birds do that, y'know?


Getting in some practice for Thursday.

You gotta love some of these Thanksgiving week sales. I bought a pair of turkeys at 40 cents a pound. One is 15 pounds and the other 16, and each cost about the same as a big sandwich would have in a store.

I didn't flip over the turkey when I was roasting it. Turns out that's really a good step to follow. The meat still tasted great but it could have been a wee bit moister. Next time I'll flip it over! The potatoes, on the other hand, were absolutely perfect and the gravy was pretty good.

Eyes are staring

This is an experiment in psychology, I guess. Of the two pictures below, which one do you like best?

One shows a tortie with eyes closed and one with her eyes open. Since it's a cat, it's obviously an annoying critter but we're addressing aesthetics here, not inherent levels of evil. There's a reason, after all, that cats are traditionally associated with witches and fellow travelers.

Not that I know any witches with cats, of course. Or maybe I do! Oh, I don't know. My memory isn't what it used to be.

My choice of the photos is the one with the eyes shut. In the second picture it's just too obvious that this cat is plotting something, and something nasty, I'll bet. Which reminds me of that movie Cold Comfort Farm and "I saw something nasty in the woodshed!"

hiking in the woods

Kim came over to my place to visit for a bit and we celebrated by going hiking. Seriously.

The picture above is me adjusting my pants so Kim could take a picture of me. Obviously she jumped the gun a mite with the shutter button. Bad Kim!

The hike was in Duke Forest. We started off on the Concrete Bridge Trail but diverted soon after starting. The concrete bridge, which is the namesake of the trail, was under around a foot or so of running water. Some kids were having a great time running back and forth on it---but I'm not a kid so I opted to follow the narrow foot trail that runs alongside the river. The picture below is of a plant I thought was pretty---and the branch that it lives on.

Oceanic Change

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the oceans they are a changin'

Two papers are coming out this week that radically change our conceptions of early oceans on Earth. Both papers are being published in Nature which gives them a lot of credibility.

In one paper, two Stanford University researchers have concluded that the planet's oceans cooled a billion years earlier than previously thought. Instead of having oceans around 85c around 3.4 billion years ago, Michael Hren and Mike Tice have postulated, based on the hydrogen and carbon ratios, that the oceans were actually no more than 40c. That's a change from near boiling hot to just warm bathtub water.

One of the reasons for this change in analysis is that traditionally researchers just use the oxygen isotope ratio to determine temperature and they assume that the oceans of yesterday (and 3.4 billion years is a lot of yesterdays) had the same chemical composition as the ocean do today. Hren and Tice, on the other hand, decided to challeng…


Kim and I are near the NC Coast this weekend attending a Pecan Festival. What can I say? Kim likes pecans.

As for me, I think all nuts taste like tree roots. The nuts hold no appeal to me but who can pass up a parade?

As you can see here, the tractors were enrolled in the event. Since we're talking about a farm-oriented event, you have to have some agricultural participation. There were even a bunch of men and women on horses near the end of the parade. I guess they were there in case a bunch of pecans broke loose. Sometimes the only way to retrieve errant pecans is to rope them up and drag them back!

There were also the traditional parade items like Shriners on little motorcycles, kids on choo-choo trains, politicians in fancy cars, and local school bands. The band pictured here is the high school band from Whiteville. The girls walking backwards never tripped. Not even once. I found that amazing. I doubt I could walk backwards more than a hundred feet or so before landing on my but…

Sugar Kills

Even more data out there indicating just how bad sugar is for your health.

A study published in the November issue of Cell Metabolism focuses on information gleaned from the worm C. elegans by Cynthia Kenyon's lab at the University of California, San Francisco.

I think pretty much everyone knows the dangers of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both associated with consuming too many calories, a danger frequently encountered by frequent sugar consumers. The difference here is that it's the specific use of glucose that spells the danger. Apparently the life stretching benefits of a low sugar diet are partly due to the increased use of the aquaporin channels that transport glycerol, one of the ingredients in the process by which the body produces its own glucose.

If your diet has lots of glucose, then the aquaporin channel is rarely activated because the constant intake of sugar negates the need to retrieve glycogen from the liver to convert into glucose---and that can erase years, even …

Movies at Wally World

I know a lot of people have a bias against Wal-mart. My message to them: Get over it!

For those of you that don't mind doing business with good ole Wallyworld, they have some movies on special right now. There's 10 pre-release films that they're selling for $10 each with free shipping. Pretty sweet. I bought 4 of them as you can see to the left. At 10 bucks, why not?

I also bought Season 1 of The Big Bang Theory. The second season is a better deal 'cause there were more shows (17 episodes versus 23) and it costs the same but I saw each episode at least twice due to all the reruns last year. The show wasn't as popular the first year, so less reruns, and so those episodes will be a little fresher for me.

The cost savings versus on Big Bang was only something like $2 but the 4 movies cost about $7 more on Amazon, so the total savings was $30 minus the$4.48 for local taxes. And each movie is shipped free as soon as it's released. Sweet.

If it wasn't for…

Chicken and my little Dumpling

I wanted to make a meal large enough to supply a dinner plus some small meals later on.

As a result, Kim and I made chicken and dumplings for dinner (and lunch the next 2 days) this weekend. I was inspired by two things. A Food Network show with Tyler Florence (Tyler's Ultimate) in which he made the dish, and also that whole chickens were on sale at Food Lion for 59 cents a pound.

We ended up using this recipe for the Chicken and Dumplings though we poached the chicken instead of roasting it, as you can see in the photo below. The main reason for poaching was that the Food Network show did it that way---even though the recipe on the website said to roast it. 

That's a 5 pound bird (less than $3!) so we let the bird poach in simmering water for 90 minutes in a dutch oven, uncovered. That's me lifting it out of the water in the picture below.

The chicken's meat was still tender but the bird was sufficiently cooked that the spine broke in two while I was lifting it out of the…