Showing posts from March, 2010

White Monday

A couple pictures from Sarah Duke Garden that I took yesterday with a white theme to them.

Chilly March Day in Sarah Duke

It's been a rainy and windy day on this side of RTP but over by Durham it was considerably nicer. As a result meeting up with a few folk at Sarah Duke Garden turned out to be a great idea.

Because of the cold winter we've had, the flowers are a week or so behind schedule so not much was out but I did get some nice pictures of flowering trees and early bloomers like daffodils.

After wandering around the SD Gardens for 90 minutes some of the group hit the cafe for lunch when it opened at noon. I, being the sociable creature that I am, instead took off for Eno River Park and did the Cox Mountain Loop. Cloudy and overcast but it never rained until I got back home at 3pm.

Volatility and small stocks

I've owned 1,000 shares in a small biopharmaceutical company named ARCA biopharma (ABIO) for 9 months now.

The company's principal focus is developing genetically-targeted therapies for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases.

I bought during a downturn in their fortunes. As you can see in that graph on the left, of the past of the stocks performance, things were rather bleak last June. I saw the stock fall and bought when it leveled out at $5 a share (see asterisk).

Unfortunately the slide soon continued and the stock went down to $3 a share, eventually getting down to $2.20 in mid-July. At that point I was down $2,800 --- at least on paper. As you can see from the graph, the stock didn't move much for quite a while.

Today is a different story. ARCA Biopharma announced a patent issued to it for treating heart failure patients with Bucindolol. This has caused the stock to surge.

I sold during a momentary lull early this morning and made an $800 profit. The stock immedi…


Yesterday a fellow posted the following to one of my friend's accounts on Facebook where the subject was margarine:
I was watching a television program that was talking about modified fats and proteins, etc.. They had mentioned that margarine is one molecule away from plastic. If you were to put margarine in the shade outside, and check it in two days, the chances are that you probably wouldn't even find a microbe on it. They said that margarine has... absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever.
My retort was:
I think John is teasing us. The "similar to plastic" and "no nutritional value" mentions are taken verbatim from one of those popular Emails that get forwarded around. Everyone knows that margarine is typically made from a combination of vegetable oils and animal fat. Just like butter, it's about 80% fat and 20% water. In some ways butter is better for your health and in some ways margarine is. Especially if you go for the types with healthier polyun…

Cholecalciferol to the rescue

The more common name for the above chemical is D3 as in Vitamin D (D3 aka cholecalciferol is the active form of Vitamin D).

Why is it "to the rescue," you ask? There's been a bunch of studies over the past decade that have found that if people take more vitamin D, they have 25 percent less cancer and heart disease. As a result, doctors, mine for example, have been prescribing megadoses of vitamin D in their patients with low serum levels of cholecalciferol. Sometimes as much as 50,000 units per dose. The FDA, by contrast, is 400 units per day.

What happens if you don't get enough? Well, a recent study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood are 26 percent more likely to die from any cause (heart disease and cancer being the headliners but even routine infections are more likely if you're deficient in vitamin D) than folks with respectable serum levels.

A lot of these benefits are due to the upregulation of the P53 gene, which helps check…

Hiking under cloudy skies

Yesterday was a mite chilly an the skies were very overcast with occasional sprinkles but I was able to fit in a hike after work with a Meetup group.

There were only of us so we made pretty good time. As you can see below, we scrambled over rocks and sometimes were gazing up at them (in the quarry) and were able to enjoy some spring blooms along with the drab wintertime surroundings elsewhere.

That's Juliet, Catherine, Lauren, and Janice. (from left to right)

High Def

My girlfriend updated her viewing experience.

She went out and bought a high definition television set. About time, huh?

Sure, it's only 42 inches but you have to start somewhere. At least it's a great brand: Panasonic. (said not so much for technical accuracy as because that's what I have also)

And since Kim's television is plasma and mine is DLP, her picture is a lot brighter and more vibrant than mine. And mine being more than 2 years old, and as such kinda dated in this fast paced digital world of ours, doesn't help either.

So this is the woman and her new high tech television. What a pair!

Kinda looks like a supernova on the television---and so very near the Earth. But have no fear, it's just the reflection of my camera flash on the screen. The Earth is safe... for now.

I donated a DVD player to the cause since Kim's didn't have upscaling and I had an extra player hanging around. The upscaling really helps regular DVDs look like they were shot in high de…

Dog Begging for Cookies

Too bad they were cookies with a lot of cocoa in them. :-(

Duke Forest at Night

My doctor told me to lose weight and get more exercise. Unfortunately it's difficult to squeeze in a hike after work. You end up in dark woods, hoping to find your way back to your car.

I'm really looking forward to that time change later this month.

The Pain of Cold

This has been the coldest winter since I moved to the southeast 23 years ago. Brrr! As a result the electric bills have been quite high (down here most of us use heat pumps with auxiliary electric heating when it's really cold).

Until this heating season, I'd never gone over a hundred dollars in a month, and despite the hot summers down here, it's rare to go over $85 in the summer. This winter is a different story though. Check out my electric usage the past few months:

Actual Bill (including taxes and other extra costs)

Kilowatt Hours

Fortunately it's starting to warm up and the next few months will cost a LOT less.

A Hike along Jordan Lake

I wasn't planning on being home this weekend so I lucked out that there was room for me on this hike. Meetup hikes are frequently solidly booked weeks in advance.

In any case, this hike was along the woods on the west side of Lake Jordan, between Apex and Pittsboro.

Above you can see the lake from the vantage of the parking lot. Below is a picture of some of the hikers in the group crossing a small bridge.

The two pictures below are linked. One of the trails leads to an old tobacco curing shed. When we got there we found that it was inhabited by a pair of vultures. As we looked inside the shed, the vultures vacated the building in a burst of noise and decided to watch us from the branches of a tree, way up above us.

More Snow

I scooted out of work at 4:15pm, as soon as I'd finished up my tissue culture and IHC work.

I wanted to get some pictures of it snowing and it might not get cold enough in Chapel Hill. But just a mere 13 miles west, where I live, it's always a few degrees colder and voila, snow.

Pretty, huh? I had to take this picture at a very slow shutter speed to get it to come out like this. The picture below is what happens if I speed it up a lot. I think they were taken at 1/4 and 1/250th of a second.

This faster speed is kinda boring. Just flakes that are difficult to even see. The streaking flakes in the picture above are more dramatic. :-)

Click on the pic if you want to see it a mite bigger for better detail.

Baby Got Back

I like big butts and I can not lie...

Actually these are kinda small as pig butts go but the price is great. Maybe I should say that I love well priced butts?

These have expiration dates in the near future---March 5th, to be exact---and so they have dramatic markdowns in price.

And to make it even better, I had a Food Lion coupon for one dollar off any 5 dollar or more purchase in the meat department so that means both hams cost me 50 cents less than marked. That's around an additional 15% off!

I got a pair of 6-7 pound hams for barely more than what a single ham sandwich costs at the cafeteria.

Unfortunately I'm on a diet so both hams went right into the freezer. I'll tell you, with those hams joining the two turkeys already in there, that freezer is looking quite full.