Monday, July 31, 2006

Bicycle Commuting Experiment Begins

The commuting experiment has begun. Today I rode to and from work on my bicycle. It went much better than I hoped. In general people were much more friendly to me on the rode than when I lived in Vermont. I did get one yell from a bypassing truck, but it was a friendly enough yee hawww, that it didn't really bother me.

It is about 8 miles door to door, so it will mean 16 additional miles a day that I will get fresh air and 16 miles a day that won't go on my car. There are quite a few hills; none are too long, but there are a few short steep ones.

I had forgotten all the additional sounds you are able to hear on the bike...of course when cars are passing you can't hear much, but inbetween you can hear birds, streams, the wind...kind of nice.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Rainy Weekend

It was a pretty slow weekend here. Some bicycle maintenance in preparation for the big commuting experiment which begins this week and some well deserved down time relaxing. Christine and I went out to breakfast on Saturday morning and passed this sign on the way into town.

We thought Oh boy, another pork eating many of these can one town have ??? HAMFEST is such an awesome combination of does spark the imagination doesn't it. Well imagine my surprise when I did a little Internet search and discovered that it is an event put on by WCARS (Western Carolina Amateur Radio Society). The HAM was as in Home Amateur Radio.

Any pork involved in this event was purely incidental. Hmm... incidental pork sounds like federal government fiscal vernacular doesn't it ??? Made me think about how often I have had mistaken first impressions of people, places, events, and things.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I'm in the Eye of the Beholder

I am a tinker. I really like Photoshop CS2. Manipulating layers has always been fun, but CS2 makes it a lot easier than it used to least to me anyway. This image is a result these two and photoshop magic by a novice.
You may remember this one from a few posts ago.
My wife's eye. She does tolerate a lot of nonsense doesn't she.

In other news, I went to the eye doctor today and things are pretty much the same. Contact prescription was a little stronger as were eyeglasses...still no need for Bifocals, but they have started having me hold that card at reading level to see if I need them. The Dr...said probably not for ten to 15 more years, but they like to start checking around 40. Forty !!! I am only 38 and a few months...then I thought about it....won't be long now. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but my brain has played a trick on me. Until I look in the mirror I still feel like I am 25...but things have been changing in that old reflection.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Bear

THEN. Christine was out in Oregon doing a survey a couple of years ago and while they were down by the river something wandered out of a burned out forest. The thought from a distance; it was a bear. ...turned out to be a half dead mutt. He was dehydrated, cut dirty, and very hot. They gave him water and he spent the rest of the day under the truck. When they got ready to go he was so tired they had to lift him into the back. Specifications: 47 lbs, one working eye.
NOW: Well after an unsuccessful attempt to find him a home he was placed on a plane bound for his New England. We got a call threatening to charge us for a kennel since he broke out of his during a lay over. Our house in Vermont was soon free of chipmunks and squirrels and now Sesame Street is short a few rabbits and the college campus is minus one groundhog. Despite the apparent lack of depth perception he is lethal on the rodent population. The only bad thing is that if you aren't around when he catches something he will bury it. His favorite spot is by the airconditioning unit next to the patio. We believe that he is half Border Collie and half NewFoundland.

He really is a fantastic dog. Fast, agile, intelligent and loveable. He is also amazing with children. His one downfall is that he is the alpha-male. Several dogs have attempted to teach him a lesson and all have failed. Most of the other dogs look at the gnarly bad eye and leave well enough alone, but there are always those few that can't leave well enough alone.

Specifications: 80 lbs, one working eye.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's that time of year...

Well it is that time of year again when Christine does a lot of freshwater mussel surveys out west (Lake Tahoe this year!!). Just so she doesn't forget about me I mail her a lot of pictures like this. She can run, but she can't hide :-)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

James Tiberius Kirk and Elvis...the Connection

NPR had a great story this morning on a New Yorker who has funded a fan film series based on the original Star Trek series. The notable part was that this New Yorker has funded 90% of the project out of his own pocket through his salary earned as one of the Top Elvis Impersonators in the country. How can the world really be going down the toilet when there are cool dudes like this around?

My favorite Star Trek was the original. The formula was so comfortable: A problem to solve, a fist fight to win, a couple of ensigns to perish, and a hottie alien mamma for Kirk to make his moves on. Not notable theater in the historical sense, but grand week in week out entertainment. The Kirk character was indeed a cowboy. Maybe they should have kept one of the original suggested titles "Wagon Train to the Stars".

The website where these 'new' episodes can be watched for free is Star Trek New Voyages. Apparently, this group does such a good job that the 1960's actors from the original series have been heading to the set build in old used car dealership to appear in epidodes for free.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Is it the end of the world as we know it? ...I feel fine.

I have been thinking a lot about our petroleum based economy these days. Like I lot of you I suppose. Don't get me wrong, I like cars. I am beginning to wonder what price the world is going to pay for the many of us like me who like cars, like air conditioning, electricity, electronics, etc. etc. I am as guilty as the next guy of overconsumption. I have way more than I need and sometimes I revel in it. Maybe its time to make a change before the nasty consumption monster gets us all.
See I like bicycles a lot to...and unlike my former address in Vermont, here I could conceivably ride comfortably ten months out of the year and slightly uncomfortably for the other two. Maybe instead of complaining about fuel costs I should just ride my bike more. I think I need to do more than just complain all the time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Word of the Day

I like to be exposed to new words, so for a couple of years I have been getting the free word of the day from's word was especially interesting. Here are the contents of the e-mail I received today.

schadenfreude \SHAH-dun-froy-duh\ noun, often capitalized

: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

Example sentence: "There is simply no higher level of schadenfreude than when the rich or famous stumble." (John Gonzalez, Boston Magazine, August 2005)

Did you know? "Schadenfreude" is a compound of the German nouns "Schaden," meaning "damage" or "harm," and "Freude," meaning "joy," so it makes sense that "schadenfreude" means joy over some harm or misfortune suffered by another.

"What a fearful thing is it that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others," wrote Richard Trench of Dublin, an archbishop with literary predilections, of the German "Schadenfreude" in 1852; perhaps it was just as well he didn't live to see the word embraced by English speakers before the century was out.

My addition: I experience schadenfreude every time I hear a new Bushism on NPR.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Two oddball but interesting movies.

What I like about Netflix is that movies get recommended based on what you have been renting. I always scan them and look for things that sound interesting. Winter passing is a good flick for a rainy night when there is nothing going and you feel a bit depressed to begin with. It is dark, moody, and I must say interesting. Plot: Girl returns home after famous mother dies to find famous father nearly dead of grief and cohabiting with 23-year-old Shelly and lost cause Colbert (Will Ferrell)...everybody learns a little bit about themselves.What I don't like about Netflix is I think they pay somebody to sit on my movies for two days before they send them out. When we first joined movies came it seem like about 5 days between the mailout and the next movie arriving. Anyway, Undertaking Betty was another neat flick that the magic of netflix algorithms sent my way. Plot: two lonely souls find each other over death and funerals; comic relief is provide by Christopher Walken who plays an American mortician that wants to put the 'fun' back in funerals. Great movie when accompanied by 2-3 good stouts. Good movie with diet coke.

Camouflaged Moth

Or at least I think it was a moth. This critter looked like a bird dropping on a shrub outside my office...but then it moved. I went outside and the dropping was alive!!!
Of course old habits die hard, so I touched it (couldn't resist) and then it flew away. Anybody know what this is???

Monday, July 17, 2006

Misc. Greenhouse Shots

This was not something I expected to find at the greenhouse. Along with glass spheres they also had a ton of yard art (this place wasn't that big). The Ten Commandments ornament was huge. You got to this one area of the garden center and you thought maybe your time was up :-) ...but then you saw the price tags and realized it wasn't your time yet.
I can't resist another orchid shot, even though I have a million pictures like this.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Beautiful Balls

OK, so I probably had a little too much fun with the title of this post.What can I say, at 38 I still have a crass sense of humor ;-) I am also still fascinated with shiny objects. I went to the farmer's market in Asheville with my wife and in-laws who were visiting from Gainesville, Florida (Go Gators!). The retail garden center had a collection of the spheres for sale. I really didn't even know they made these anymore. I remember seeing them pop up in gardens around Richmond in the mid '80s.

Friday, July 14, 2006

How does your garden grow ???

Every week I work on taking some shots at our campus Horticulture Garden for teaching, a student activity blog, etc. Today I was presently surprised by this little guy (ok, so I don't really know if it is a guy) that I believe to be a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. Pretty Cool.
This picture is fuzzy, but just look how that proboscis curls when in flight. The moth was off to locate more nectar. Apparently, some other species of Hummingbird moths are large enough to make the occassional birder look twice, but this one was only about 5 cm long.
Interesting texture on the side of a weeping willow with a recently killed vine.
Summer flowers! Who can get enough ???

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Moose Can't Read

I have been trying to organize my photos before they get away from me. Adobe Bridge is wonderful!!! Came across this photo from a few years ago and I remembered how funny I thought it was. Don't leave the trail and damage it silly human...but huge moose had walked all over the place crushing everything and leaving moose poop all over the place. It is still puzzling to me that such a huge creature has a terd only 5 times larger than that of rabbit. Ah...the mysteries of nature.
However, one group found a very creative way to market this concept. Who would buy that??? you say. Plenty of on the image, the company is currently out of inventory.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

License Plate Screws and Sunsets

Well we finally registered the Honda Element in North Carolina today. Christine did her time at the Vehicle Tag Office, while I lucked out only having to change the plates when I got home, or so I thought. Seems 3 winters of Vermont salt and extreme weather conditions froze the screws. It was one of those little jobs that steadily got out of hand. Eventually, I was able to rip the rear Vermont tag in half with some needle-nose pliers and then use channel lock pliers to remove the completely rusted (screw drivers were useless at this point) screws that formerly held the tag in place. At this point sweaty and nearly defeated I drove to the local auto-parts store 5 minutes before they closed and got some new screws. It is these little car engineering details that drive you crazy...knowing the conditions cars are in, why not devise a better system for mounting plates...or better yet just use a corrosion proof bolt...I would have gladly paid the extra $2.50 on top of the 18K I paid for the vehicle :-)
Anyway, to calm down I looked through some old beach photos of a trip Christine and I made to Sanibel Island, FL. Some of the sunset pictures were nice and soothing. I got started down the beach nostalgia road after checking out some more of James' posts at SIM.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Random Ohio Folks

I have been trying to get my nerve up to get more candid images of people. It is a lot harder than I thought because most people don't want their picture taken by some goofy dude wondering and wandering around a city his doesn't belong in....and those who do volunteer --- pose...which ruins what I was after. The polished stone and steel of the theatre were built for people other than this man out front, but his outward appearance makes a statement. I doubt many people would ask him to leave. I took his picture from a moving car and he gave me a small, definitely friendly, wave afterwards.
These four were sitting on the bench outside Schmidt's while we waited for a table to be served the Best Wurst in Ohio. The three to the right are obviously daughter, mother, and grandmother (not sure about the girl on the left). Sitting their, they seemed like they had known each other for a million years.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Columbus, Ohio

So i am in Columbus until tomorrow at the largest Floriculture grower meeting in the country. Around 10,000 will show up during the conference.
Columbus is kind of a neat town. Lots of odl and new meeting all over the place.
Lots of attempts to make the downtown area a bit more colorful. I wish there were more murals on all buildings.
There were also a lot of old cars around for some reason...maybe a show ???
Now that is a Cadilac !!!
Schmidt's is a long time fixture in the Germanville section of Columbus. I had what was described as the Best 'Wurst' in Ohio.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Trout Festival

A couple of weekends ago Christine and I went to the annual Trout festival in Maggie Valley. 'Maggie' as the locals call it is a bit higher up than Waynesville and apparently colder. There is actually a small ski lift there! It is a bit touristy, but the folks are real nice.
The trout festival had a clogging stage which was kind of interesting. These people really go at it. I think my fillings would fall out if I was able to actualy move my legs and feet that fast (which I am sure I can't).
To commiserate with John and his litter story...there was a beautiful little creek in Maggie that unfortunately was touched by the hand of man and a force mightier than any country...the multinational Coca Cola. It just doesn't take that much effort to find a trash can...even public ones are fairly common. They are outside of every convenience store and fast food joint afterall.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bang, Boom, Crackle

Christine and I attended the fireworks display for Waynesville which is held over Lake Junaluska. A really nice show. Must have been 2000 people there around the edge of the lake. The rain held off until about 3 minutes before the show finished.
I took about 75 shots. Used a tripod and remote to try to eliminate as much shake as possible. Timing seemed to be everything though...too early and the pictures were washed out.
Too late and nothing but faint streaks. Got a few shots I am happy with though.
Enjoy....I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ready !!!

So we went to the big tent in front of Wal*Mart today and got the biggest fireworks they sell here. Unfortunately, they only allow things that shoot sparks. Couldn't even buy a Roman Candle. How am I supposed to get any good stories with these things.
At least it has a white chrysanthemum (whatever that is) and two (count'em) doses of crackles. When I was a kid we used to always get good fireworks from somewhere...I thought it was N.C., but if it was the laws have changed, cause there wasn't anything too fun here today.

I remember when we were kids we use to aim the Roman Candles at each other and shoot those flaming balls around. I distinctly remember being hit in the forearm and getting almost all the hair singed off (it grew back). Those were the good old days.

Anybody remember BB-gun wars? I am still carrying one of those copper BB's around in my chest. A few years ago I had to have a chest X-ray and it turned up. I don't even remember it happening. I remember those things stinging, but I guess one must have stung more than the others :-)

Looking forward to seeing some fireworks shots posted over the next few days. HAPPY 4th of July!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nostalgia and Blog Updates

Well after a substantial search this is it...all the photographic evidence I have of years 1993-1998. This photo is from Bandon Beach in Oregon just a few days after Jeff's wedding. After attending that great event in Seattle we took a little tour of the Northwest. I am not sure how John talked me into smoking the cigars (always the devious influence) but here we are.

Many memories I hold dear from that time and they emerge at the strangest times. Some quick examples that come to mind. (1) I can not help but see Jeff B. sprawled out on the rode and his bicycle half way up an embankment whenever I a making a scary descent on my road bike. I still don't know how he walked away from that one in Blacksburg (but I am glad he did). (2) John wearing a bandana made of paper with Jack-O-Lanterns on it during his 19th birthday. (3) Keith beeping in the dark as we dragged a bottle of tequila, salt shaker, and lime around the dunes of Cape Hatteras.

On other fronts I have finally followed proper blog etiquette and posted links to all these other fun blogs I have been reading. Some of you I know and some of you I don't, but I am glad John posted the links on his site so that I knew about them. It has been great to see what all these different creative active folks are thinking about. I also threw in a couple of others in the update that I keep up with.

Have a great 4th of July!!!