Showing posts from May, 2010


Since I wasn't able to sleep on Friday night I headed out to go hiking while it was still cool Saturday morning, just after the parks open up at 8am. We had a lot of rain during the night so I choose Eno River Park to see just how swollen the river was.

Hell, it was so swollen the toads and frogs were staying away.

Here's a couple examples of amphibians I found hiding from that raging river.

Stormy Weather

Had a lightning strike near the house last night. The thunder roll lasted something like 12 seconds and some stuff in my kitchen was knocked off of shelves.

The electricity was only out for about 2 seconds but my Internet service was out for 9 hours and just came back online about 10 minutes ago at 7:10am. I wasn't able to sleep last night so I was checking frequently.

I finished the new John Sandford novel, Storm Prey, at 3:45am and was quite impressed with it. My favorite recent novel by Sandford was a Prey novel in which Sandford overlapped his two series (Prey series and Kidd series) but this book was close behind.

In this book the main character, Lucas Davenport, is shaken when his wife, Weather, is an unwitting witness to a robbery and the rest of the book revolves around the robbers trying to tie up loose ends. One of which, of course, is Weather Davenport, but there's plenty of other problems for the robbers as well. All of which supply a lot of dead bodies and a few clue…

Trader Pizza

When I got home from work today I made a pizza. It wasn't quite from scratch, I used some dough I bought at Trader Joe's the other day.

This is what it looked like when it was done. There's just something about a lot of melted cheese on top of red sauce that looks so damn inviting.

The pictures below kinda show what I did to make dinner. I started out by rolling out the dough on a lightly floured board with a small glass bottle. Sounds odd but it works pretty well.

Then I tossed the dough in a rectangular baking pan and baked at 350f for 8 minutes to get the crust a little crusty. After that I pulled out the pan---the dough had a lot of bubbles in it but I don't know if that's obvious in the picture below---and added pizza sauce plus a bunch of Italian seasoning herbs.

Then the cheese. Mozzarella on the bottom, a mix of provolone, asiago, fontina and Parmesan above that and then some feta on top. Yum.

I baked the pizza at 350 again for another 8 minutes and then ate it.…

Missing Memory

I got all the numbers programmed into my phone.

Well, that's not exactly accurate. I looked over the numbers in my old phone---which hadn't been used in two years---and determined how many people I still would be likely to get a call from (11 out of 74) and programmed those numbers into the phone.

Any numbers from the past two years? Oops. They're at the bottom of a lake.

Fortunately my memory is so bad that I really can't remember anyone anyway. I joyfully go through life in a world populated by strangers.

Maybe I shouldn't write posts this close to midnight...

The longest known non-relatives to make the cut is a tie between Sharon and Teresa from back around 1995 (AOL pen-pals from the early days of this Internet social thing) and the most recent is Crystal from this year. And the first two probably don't have the same phone numbers they used to so those numbers are iffy.

My advice is to back up your contact list or at least not drown your cell phone!

Cell Phone Replaced!

Yesterday I got my replacement cell phone in the mail.

After my last one drowned---kayaking incident while at Lake Hartwell---I had the folk at Verizon reactivate my previous phone. It's the one on the left in these pictures.

Now that one hadn't been used in almost 2 years and it was almost dead when I switched to a new---and now very wet---cell phone. It's no surprise the old one was in such bad shape. It was over 4 years old when I replaced it and it'd seen a lot of hard use. Poor thing.

The freaky thing is how close in appearance the replacement phone is. I bought a used and reconditioned phone but I had assumed it'd be fairly recent. From the appearance this "new" one could well be 4 or 5 years old.

That's not really a problem because I HATE all the bells and whistles on the new phones. I think that's a sign of getting old. *sigh*

Anyway, the reason I wasn't able to stick with my old phone is that while it could dial out---and even that wasn&#…

Viral Lyrics

I'm having one of those times where I can't get a set of lyrics out of my head. The first stanza from Olivia Newton John's Sam keep running over and over and over and...
I heard that you're on your own now
So am I
I'm living alone now
I was wrong
So were you
What will you do?
Are you glad to be free?
Are you feeling lost just like me?
Longing for company
The song's okay but enough is enough. Maybe if I start humming another annoyingly addictive song I can get rid of this one. But do I really want to be constantly hearing Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer either???

Maybe I could go with ONJ's version of the Rafferty song Mary Skeffington. I haven't heard it in years but I liked it when I was a kid.

Mary Skeffington, close your eyes
And make believe that you are just a girl again
Go to sleep tonight, dream of days
When you had something there to light the way

Remember a holiday in a north of England town
You slept in a room upstairs on a bed of eiderdown

Mary Skeffington,…

You gotta make friends

Sometimes you cross paths with folk that you don't have much in common with but just instantly like.

That was the case for me when I met Hissy here when I was hiking out of Eno River Park last night around twilight. I don't think my admiration for him was returned and soon we departed and went off in different directions.

I'd like to think that both our lives were enriched by the experience but in the end I think Hissy just learned to stay away from hiking paths.

You might note that I was very sweaty. For some reason, even on relatively cool days, I just shed water like it's going out of style. It's a wonder I don't just melt away.

BTW, in case you're wondering what in 'ell that is around my neck, that's the keyless do-hicky for getting back into my car. I don't like the noise that car keys make jingling around in my pocket so I wear my "keys" around my neck while hiking.

Southern Belles

There's a cultural stereotype of southern women that they're sweet and demure. Well, having lived here in the south for over half my life now, I just don't buy it.

Take the example found below. I was hiking in Eno River Park after work tonight and taking pictures as usual and check out the reception I was given by someone passing by. The new generation of southern women are a far cry from those in former times. *sigh*

In case you're having trouble "reading" the picture---I don't think she's counting to one.

Wine on Thursday

Actually the wine was bought on Monday but I was rather slow to upload the pictures.

As you can see, I went to Trader Joe's to pick up the wine. I like them for their wine and cheese. I also bought a LOT of cheese. The total bill was over $60 and the majority of that was cheese, not wine---as you can tell by the prices of the wine, seen below.

Back a year ago, when I was dating Julie, she bought me 6 bottles of wine for my birthday. Now that I've managed to drink 4 of them I decided it was time to renew my store of wine. So I bought these 4 bottles. Two of them are types I've not had before so I'll just have to see if I like them.

Since I'm not going through them very fast---back when Julie and I were dating we'd go through 2 bottles with almost every meal, now I'm drinking a bottle every 3 or 4 months---these 4 bottles will probably last me a while.

PS Julie would be very disappointed in my buying frozen basil

toys on Wednesday

My birthday was a few days ago but it was today that I got toys. Wheee.

After work I went to Occoneechee Park to go around the mountain twice. That's around 5 miles. Even though it was only around 70f it didn't take long before I was soaked with sweat. This getting old business isn't good for ones health. Of course being dead is no picnic either.

Anyway, the first trip around I saw 5 snakes and was upset that I didn't have my camera. I generally don't bring it with me these days because I go slower when I'm carrying it 'cause I keep taking pictures.

So on the second loop I had retreived the camera from my car and carried it with me. Of course I didn't see one damn snake. The bastards! At least I saw this deer as a consolation prize. But I can't pick up a deer and take a picture of it so it's just not as good as a snake.

Back to the topic of toys...

When I arrived home I found that I'd gotten 3 packages from Amazon, all ordered at different times.…

Weekend Farming

Maybe "farming" is a bit of an exaggeration.

Really what I did was drop 3 veggie type plants into the ground after clearing said ground of the ground cover and invasive grass that were already growing there. Sorta farming but on a very small scale.

As you can see to the left, I have two tomato plants and one bell pepper. I bought them nearly a week ago but was waiting a bit to plant them. You see,the area I wanted to put them already had ground cover growing there and a lot of invasive wild grass had made its home there too.

This is what the area looked like this morning just before I started hacking away at it with a hoe.

The prep work that I had done was spraying the area 3 times in the past week with herbicide of the Round-up variety. As you can see, it worked better on the ground cover than the grass. That grass was VERY well established.

But after waiting a week, I wasn't going to wait any longer. Hopefully the roots are full of nasty herbicide so once I hack off the top…

Dead Panasonic

It's official now. The new Panasonic camera that went into the lake last weekend is indeed dead.

I waited a week before trying to turn it on. Plenty of time for it to dry out. But to no avail. It's dead as a doornail. A very lifeless and relatively expensive doornail.

I really liked that camera and was going to replace it with the same model but I got too good a price on it last month. I paid $120 and the best price I can find now is $150 and I can't justify paying 25% more right now.

As a result, I went with a $70 special that was on Amazon today. It's a 10MP entry level camera. It'll do for a while. I'll try to not dump this one into a lake.

Amtrak accident in Mebane

As many of you probably have seen on the news, yesterday an Amtrak train derailed in Mebane NC, which is close to where I live.

Oddly enough, I was taking pictures in that very area just last Friday.

The derailing took place in the middle of town, at the intersection of 5th street and East Center St (highway 70). That's the intersection you can see in the center of the picture at left, near the top. The picture below is a closeup of that area of this picture.

I wasn't actually interested in the railroad intersection though. I just was using the tracks as an easy and picturesque way to walk from the tire dealership (where I was getting 4 new tires put on my car) to the intersection where the Amtrak train was derailed.

You see, there's a great old factory on the other side of Center Street from the railroad tracks. It was the White Furniture Company and it closed in 1993, taking over 200 jobs with it. You can see the factory on the right side of the picture above. The pictures f…


The little nestlings outside my dining room window got a lot bigger during the 3 day weekend I was away at my parent's house.

This is the first time I've seen them really standing up on their own.

The parents squalk a lot when I take pictures of the chicks so I try to only do it once in a while. But you'd think they'd have picked a better spot than 4 inches away from my window if they really wanted privacy!

BTW, they're cardinals though it's a little difficult to tell at this stage of the game.

Another Camera Bites the Dust

These might be the last two pictures ever to be taken by my NEW CAMERA. Only had it a few weeks.

As you can tell here, we had some boat troubles. Motor just wouldn't get the gasoline it needed. Air bubble? Flooded? Bad fuel filter? We just couldn't figure it out.

More later. Time to go out to dinner...

Back from dinner. We all shared a 28 inch pizza. It was HUGE. My brother has 3 boys and they all have huge appetites so that pizza didn't stand a chance. Not even one piece was left over for later. :-(

Anyway, back to the camera story. The motor wouldn't work so my brother hiked back to where the truck was left at the boat launch. Another boat came by and they agreed to help tow us (Kyle, Corey and I were with the boat) back to the boat launch. And part way there, that boat stalled out too.

So we were all in the water trying to tow both boats close enough to shore to tie them up. I was wet up to mid-chest and unfortunately my camera was with me. The screen in the back is co…


I am now in the underclass of society, a leper, one of the unclean. You see, I don't have a credit card!

It all started with the picture on the left. My tires were quite well worn. I'd put almost 48k on my original tires, as you can see by the wear shown in the picture below, and it was well time to get new rubber under my car.

But when it came time to pay... the credit card machine said "declined." Well, it didn't literally say it. Just the word appeared on the readout but that was enough to send me into the depths of the underclass of humanity. Someone without credit! Yikes. (and I don't mean it in the way that the word was used on The Big Bang Theory either)

As it turns out, the identity theft feature was activated on my card and as a result, they automatically inactivated the card until they could verify the purchases.

When I called about the card being declined, and couldn't identify the last 20 purchases (which might be my memory, not actual fraudulent …


I ride into campus to work each day on a bus. Sure, it's the "green" thing to do but that's not really why I do it.

The real reason is because there's virtually no on-campus parking for regular workers and what is here is extravagantly expensive. Why, you ask?

Because the entire time I've worked here there's been at least 5 buildings going up at any one time. And since there's not much open space on a campus this old, those buildings are frequently going up on what used to be parking lots.

But at least the top administrators, doctors, and students have places to park. Thank heavens for that. ;-)

Nothing green about all that damn construction. Hell, it's not even easy to walk across campus. You constantly have to take short-cuts through buildings to avoid fenced off areas.

Seeing such a large amount of construction makes it difficult to believe that the state is in such a budget crisis.

Of course it's a lot easier to remember when you glance at your…


On Saturday I went on a tour of Duke University's Lemur Center with 14 other people on a Meetup event.

There's one of the lemurs over there on the left. Cute fellow, eh?

I'd done the tour once before, a number of years ago, as an extracurricular activity during a science conference. It was a lot better that time. Maybe because we were scientists, they really gave us good access that time. On Saturday we just got a brief tour of the tourist version of the nocturnal and diurnal cages.

It was interesting, particularly because Keith, the guide, was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. But it just didn't compare well to the tour I had back a few years.

Still, it's always interesting to see other members of our extended biological family. Particularly ones as well suited for their natural environment as lemurs are.

The next two pictures were taken in the nocturnal cage. I took around 20 pictures in there but none came out well. It wasn't so much the lack of light, as you …