Showing posts from August, 2010

Grave Matters

I went on two hikes this morning. One, the Quarry path at Eno River I did with a Meetup group and the second, Cox Mountain at Eno River West, I did by myself.

All told it was around 7 miles---less than I walked yesterday at the zoo but I also did it in a lot less time. Today I was only hiking for 3 hours as opposed to yesterdays six and a half hours.

While hiking on the Quarry path I noticed an interesting looking dead tree well off the path on the east side. I wandered back in the woods to get a picture of it. That's it over on the left. And from there I could see an odd clearing off in the distance, further to the east.

Imagine my surprise when I found that the clearing was actually an old abandoned graveyard.

It's not really old, the most recent gravestone I saw was from 1925 but many of them were dated in the mid 1800s. While the graveyard didn't look like it was visited very often there were signs of care so some people must visit every now and then. I never knew it was t…

Zoo Day

I went to the state zoo in Asheboro today.

I wanted to play with a new camera and what better place to take pictures than a zoo?

I invited a friend to go along since I have a 1+1 membership. We were there from when they opened at 9am to 3:35pm---almost their closing time---and we never stopped walking the entire day.

Her shins were hurting and my feet just ached. Dehydrated? Sure, as well as being a little sunburnt where sweating and wiping cleaned the sunblock off, but it's great to see so many animals and their respective environments in just one day.

I took 510 pictures with my Canon, I'm not sure how many Nancy took with her camera but she was snapping away the whole time too.

The morning was misty and somewhat overcast but the afternoon was sunny and peaked around 86f. Beautiful weather to be walking around for us. Though by noon a lot of the critters were holed up and unavailable for photoshoots.


My parents have a hummingbird feeder on their deck.

Which provided me a great opportunity to play with my camera a bit. Tomorrow I'm going to work on getting some wings without blurring, but it'll have to be very bright out to allow me to use that fast a shutter speed.

I had to be very patient to get these shots because there are 3 hummingbirds nearby and they're so territorial that whenever one would fly near the feeder, at least one of the others would swoop over to drive off the one that wanted a drink. It was only once in a while that one of the hummingbirds made it to the feeder without being noticed by the others.

They'd be a lot less hungry if they'd just cooperate but I guess that's not how hummingbirds are built.

At least this one is willing to share his food with some ants though I suspect the bird isn't aware that it's sharing.

Speaking of sharing, I took a bunch of pictures of a waterfall today but the chip I used wouldn't work with my parent…

A Few Days in SC

In the wee hours of the day I did my normal 3am -- 7am drive to my parent's house.

My brother joined us for a few hours in the morning but he wasn't able to stay away from work for long. The excessively hot weather this summer has wracked havoc on his golf course (he's a golf course superintendent), especially the bent grass greens. They're just burnt right up.

After Craig left to go back to Atlanta, Dad went to church and Mom and I read for a while. Due to my late night and all it was very difficult to stay awake so finally I figured that hitting the water for some paddling might wake me up a bit.

It would have been better to have been on the water in the early morning but any time of day is better than no paddling at all. :-)

So I went kayaking for a bit in the afternoon. Since it was so hot with lots of direct sun I kept it down to an hour and a half out on the water. Still, I was soaked with sweat by the time I got back as you can see in this picture.

Good exercise th…

One Decade Apart

I watched two movies last night that I had recorded off of TCM this past week.

Yeah, a very exciting Friday night, don't you know.

Anyway, the first one was made in 1961, the year I was born. The second one happened to be made one decade later in 1971. There really seemed to be a huge thematic difference between the two and it was partially due to the times in which they were made.

The first movie was a Disney flick named The Parent Trap and starred Haley Mills, twice. It was kinda funny watching how clumsy they were dealing with using one actress in two parts on the screen at the same time. Lots of body doubles with the face obscured and in cases where they used Haley on both sides of the screen, the interaction was really forced. Actors today spend a lot of time "interacting" with people and monsters via green screen and they've gotten a lot better at it. Watching Parent Trap was an interesting way to see how they did it way back then.

Social values (or at least the Di…

Cookies on the Water

Here's a picture from last Sunday when I was kayaking.

One of the other paddlers snapped this picture of the group while we were resting near the shore, on a cookie break.

That's me in the blue vest bobbing up and down in my new kayak.

I didn't bother using my rudder last week but I'll probably give it a try next time. It'll be interesting to see how much of a difference it makes. Normally you don't need one in good weather but when the wind picks up it can really make a huge difference.

Nuclear Paddling

On Sunday I went paddling with a Meetup kayaking group. We went to Harris Lake which serves as a water reservoir for a nuclear plant.

Here's the Wiki on the place:The Shearon Harris Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant with a single Westinghouse designed pressurized-water nuclear reactor operated by Progress Energy. Located in New Hill, North Carolina, in the United States, about 20 miles (30 km) southwest of Raleigh, it generates 900 MWe, has a 523 foot (160 m) natural draft cooling tower, and uses Harris Lake for cooling. The reactor achieved criticality in January 1987 and began providing power commercially on May 2 of that year.
I've got two pictures that juxtapose paddlers with the nuclear plant.

For some reason the appearance of the large cooling tower in the back with the kayaks and paddlers in the foreground is appealing to me.

Some might find alarm in that "scary" image of the cooling tower, billowing hot steam, or maybe in the smaller but potent…

AT & T

I've got a project to do.

Either tonight or tomorrow I'm switching out my broadband connection. I've had Roadrunner for several years and it works fine. But.

But I don't have cable, I have satellite. However to get Roadrunner I have to pay for nasty cable even though I'm not using it.

So recently AT&T finally allowed coverage to my area and I quickly signed up for it. It's only going to cost a quarter of what I had been paying through Time Warner.

I just hope that it works. I don't have a whole lot of faith in AT&T.

Kissing is Good

Or is it? The photo below brings the entire "kissing is good" situation into some controversy.

Believe me, I didn't start out trying to make waves. I was just playing with a friend's puppy. She's had it for about a month and this was the first time I'd been by. He seemed like a nice puppy. Not one to get fresh or take advantage. Little did I know!

These days I'm a little less trusting, and you can take that to the bank. Just don't kiss any puppies on the way there. Really bad breath!

PS Just for the record, that pink thing in the picture between our mouths is Barney's tongue not mine. I don't kiss like that the first time I meet someone.

Another Kayak

I bought another used kayak off of Craig's List today. I'm going to have to stop looking at that site 'cause it ends up costing me too much money.

As you can see, this one is bigger than my car. I bought it in Greensboro so it was an hours drive away. I'm signed up for a short paddle tomorrow morning so I'll get to use it right away.

This kayak is a Prijon Seayak. It's a 16 foot long sea kayak, which is a very short length for that type of kayak. They sell for around $1,600 new but this one is 15 years old. Pretty damn old for a big piece of plastic. It's only 24" wide which gives it a nice sleek line to slip through water with less resistance. Or so they say!

I hope that it works as well on the water as it does on top of my car. It didn't even shimmy at 75mph though I did try to keep it at 70mph or under. It'd have been really bad if it popped off!

4 from last Weekend

Here's 4 more pictures from the hiking last week that I appear in.

They were just uploaded today. Juliet, who took the pictures, used a film camera thus the delay. Film! WTF? I guess there's always going to be a few Luddites around.

BTW, I'm the one in the green t-shirt. I'm just a minor player in most of these pictures but the background is very pretty. Hanging Rock Park has a lot of very pretty spots, especially the waterfalls that are in the park.

I'm planning on doing a lot of yardwork this weekend as well as buy another used kayak off of Craig's List. I'm supposed to go look at it on Saturday afternoon. It's a very old kayak (1990s) but still pretty! I have to go into work for an hour or so on Saturday or Sunday. That's bad but on the good side, I'm signed up to go on a kayaking trip Sunday morning and that'll be fun. And I might go to lunch afterwards with a buddy I have in Pittsboro---which is near where I'll be paddling.

And then …


I just finished reading a book by the lovely Kate Mosse (English author born just a few months after I was). Apparently Labyrinth was an international bestseller back in 2005. I missed it then but happened to pick it up in a used bookstore last month and just got around to reading it these past 3 days. I really enjoyed it quite a bit.

It's background is religious since it explores the Cathars, a gnostic Christian sect, and how they were brutally suppressed by more mainstream elements of the Roman Catholic Church in the 13th century. The book explores the situation by having a murder mystery / love story to engage our interest. Mosse does this by superimposing a modern storyline over one from the 13th century time period and running them in parallel. It works very well---but I do have a strong liking for that sorta thing.

One of my favorite series of books is by Katherine Kerr where she does a similar thing using ancient Celtic culture as her backdrop. The theme of love conquers tim…

Hot Hiking

I went hiking after work today and nearly got poisoned for my trouble.

That sounds weird---maybe I didn't say it right.

In any case, the hike was very hot. The weather was steamy---the humidity was through the roof---and temperatures were in the mid-90s most of the day. *whew* As a result, I only went on one loop at Occoneechee and afterwards joined the other members of the group at a nearby restaurant.

That's the location of the poisoning! Well, poorly executed, at least. I ordered grilled tuna because this place tends to overcook their burgers for health reasons. Believe me--after what they do to a dead cow there's not a bacteria in the world that would stick around. Scary.

Oddly enough, the problem was the other way for the tuna I ordered. It was frickin' raw and not very good quality. Canned tuna is a big step upwards from the crap they served me. Nasty. Had it been grilled a lot of that taste would have been hidden but not when they serve it raw.

I should have done …

Tubing on the Dan

Sunday morning we were hiking at Hanging Rock park from 10am to 1pm and then we drove 10 minutes away to go tubing on the Dan River for 3 hours.

This is where we put into the river after a 10 minute bus ride in VERY cramped seats. We were stuffed on that bus like sardines. (but not as smelly as sardines despite all that hiking)

The following pictures are from the slow journey down the Dan River. It was about 3 miles and the river just moves along gently in most places with a few mini-rapids just to keep it interesting.

The river was packed with people from start to finish though it seemed more locals than tourists given the amount of alcohol consumption going on. I sure hope these people weren't driving afterwards!

Hiking and Paddling

On Saturday I hurt my back. I was leaning over my mower, trying to adjust the wheel height when I got frustrated and lifted the thing off the ground to get better leverage. Kinda heard/felt a *pop* sound and that wasn't good.

Unfortunately today was the day for a Meetup activity that I had signed up for several months back. Hiking in Hanging Rock state park, which is about 80 miles away from me, followed by 3 hours of tubing down the Dan River.

Of these activities, driving, mountain hiking, and tubing, none are very helpful to a back that's hurting. Real bad timing here. I have to work on that.

In any case, these three pictures were taken by others in the group. The first two are on the hike up Hanging Rock mountain and the third is a picture at a pool beneath a waterfall, near Hanging Rock park. I'm the one in the green shirt (the first of 3 shirts I was to wear that day)

There's no pictures of me tubing since I was usually near the front and nobody else up there had a c…


It's weird. My legs don't look all that bad. The poison ivy is very mild. The chigger bites I've gotten are bothering me more than the ivy.

Helping in this fight is using better drugs.

For the first time I actually went to a doctor right away. She prescribed a strong steroid based anti-itch cream and also advised me to pick up a over-the-counter foam type cleanser designed for poison ivy contact. It really helps.

A factor for the future is a bug repellant I can leave in my car. I usually use sprays but due to the heat this summer I wasn't willing to risk leaving a pressurized can in my car. Having a DEET 40 pump spray just for the car solves the problem---and will hopefully keep chiggers away and insects too.

Since I'm going to be going tubing down the Dan River this weekend with a local hiking group (apparently we should call it a hiking and floating group now) I'll be able to give the bug spray a try in just a couple of days. Before we do the Dan River we'll …

Food Shows

This past Sunday I watched The Next Food Network Star (and isn't that an awkward name?) and was quite disappointed. When the season started around 3 months ago there were 3 contestants that I immediately liked. Those three were tough competitors and have stayed on the show through thick and thin---at least until this week. Brad, my favorite of the three, just got booted off. Now there's only Herb (who I don't like), Aria, and Aarti (adorable!) left.

Aarti has her own website. Aarti Paarti. See what you think. Of the three that are left, she's by far my favorite.

On Hell's Kitchen there weren't any chefs eliminated last week so this week two got the axe. The lovely Autumn was no surprise since she'd been sent up for elimination more often than anyone else on the show---I think she was victimized due to her being the prettiest one on this season but I'm sure there's other opinions on that---but Ben's elimination was more of a surprise. His skipping …

Special Effects

More GIMP effects on a picture. The pic below is a modified picture of my knee with poison ivy. The same one from the post earlier tonight. They sure don't look the same, eh?

I'm using it for my desktop wallpaper. At least for a while.

***It's odd but you can see the commonality of the two pics on here a lot better than on my computer screen. Must be the small size of the pics. If you look at the bigger version, you'll see how unlike a leg the modified picture truly is.***

Poison Ivy again

This is the second time this year I played around with poison ivy. You'd think I'd learn.

But no, I keep on doing this. Last time it took over a month for everything to clear up. This time, and for the first time in my life, I'm calling in medical help. Or at least I'm trying to. I called my doctor's office this morning but never got a call back. I'll give it another try tomorrow morning.

I went hiking on Saturday night and also Sunday morning so I could have been exposed on either hike but the evening hike at Eno River Park is the more likely. My symptoms, which at first I thought were just bug bites, first appeared on Sunday afternoon. By evening it was obvious that it was poison ivy and not just insect bites.

And now these pictures were taken just 10 minutes ago. Most of the rash is around my knees in front and ankles all around. A lot more on the left leg than the right and only a few spots high up on the thigh and butt. Since the thigh and butt spots were co…

Where do you draw the line?

Below is a picture I took while hiking at Occoneechee Mountain Park this morning.

The picture is okay but I took a similar one that was better so I decided to play around a bit with the lesser of the two pictures.

The picture here was my first attempt. I used a filter named "cartoon" in GIMP (a Photoshop-like program that is available for folk using Linux OS) and kept the settings on the mild side.

I like the overall effect more than the original picture since it adds a little more "oomph" to the aesthetic. Or something like that. But I wasn't satisfied yet so....

I used the "basket weaving" filter and that might have been a little too much. I actually like the effect of the filter but not on this picture. I think it'd be neat on something more... abstract. Anyway, I should have drawn the line at using the cartoon filter, I guess. Maybe if I add a few solar flares?