Thursday, August 31, 2006

My dog is hoarder of rodents and pomes.

So you might think this is an odd blog picture, but there is a story here. My dog Bear is a compulsive hoarder. Those of you who are addicted to NPR, like me, may remember the story about the man in the Bronx whose rescue took three hours after magazines, newspapers, and books, he could not bear to throw out, collapsed on him.

It is not Bear's fault, when he was lost in the wilds of Oregon for who knows how long before Christine found him, he had to eat or be eaten and his survival instincts were severely sharpened. Even though we feed him well, he does not like to pass up any potential food items including ground hogs, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, voles, etc. Being that he is usually not hungry he buries them in the back yard for later. If I try to stop this behavior he gives me this look like "Dude you can count on sunny days forever if you want, but I'm going to be ready for the won't catch me starving when Pet Smart files for Chapter 7."

More recently, a wild apple tree on one of our morning routes has been dropping fruit. Bear hides one in his mouth and brings it back to the house for later. He usually only takes a nibble, but it is kind of funny to find these things laying around.

Finally, when posting a comment today the security text graphic actually spelled something. I took this as a good omen. Anagrams include: HE WENT, HE NEWT, THEN WE, TEN HEW, WE THEN, and my personal favorite THE WEN.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Biodiversity Mushrooms in the Mountains

The hot humid weather and evening rains have made it a great year for the fungi amoung us. These photos were all take within a single 1/2 acre area on the Haywood Community College Campus. (note to self: buy mushroom ID book and learn the names for some of these)

This one actually had blue concentric rings. If anyone knows the names of any of these please comment.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Well this is about as important an announcemnt as you will see on old Lollygag. Christine and I are expecting our first child February 1st, 2007. We got to see some new ultrasounds today and I thought I should share one.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Trains, Coffee, Wedding Planning, Tractors, and Two-Year-Olds

I just love Saturdays. There was a time when I used most Saturdays as workdays, but over the past few years I have come to really enjoy my weekends. First, I took the dogs for a long walk on campus. The dogs have befriended the weekend Security Guard and he brings them BACON!!! So now they run to greet him when we are done with our loop.

Then I made myself a great breakfast...eggs, toast, fresh tomatoes, and coffee. I did a little cleaning (Christine comes home tomorrow from the West Coast...she is actually staying with friends in San Francisco tonight to catch an early flight out tomorrow). Next I went shopping for a birthday present for a two-year-old. One of my coworkers, Jim Hamilton, son turned two and they had a cookout. I went to the store and actually found a real prize.
This is a scale model of a Ford 8N tractor like my grandfather used in Chesterfield on the farm growing up. I would have purchased 2 of them (one for me and one for the 2-year-old, Christian), but there was only one on the shelf. I think my Grandfather's was a 1947 model, but I can't remember for sure. The tractors had a three point-hitch and were engineered to be rebuilt forever. You can still buy parts for these tractors and they are still in use today. We had a '52 8N at the research farm in Vermont that was still used on a daily basis. Too bad they don't make cars like this. I think one of my uncle's is still using my grandfather's....It is nearly 60-years-old now.After the great toy tractor find, I went down to Panacea, an aptly named local coffee shop, and had a killer mocha. I also got to hear all about my new friend Lauren's wedding plans. Her reception will be at the coffee shop and she happened to be there measuring tables, furniture, and deciding where the dance floor would be and all that good stuff. I really can't think of a cooler place for a reception. After chatting with her I caught up on a bunch of paperwork...made easier by the coffee and then headed off for the birthday party. (after stopping to get this picture of a tanker car on the tracks near my car).

The tractor was hit and so was the puppet show that Jim put on for his son and the other partygoers. There was also a monster truck Pinata filled with carmelitos. Jim's wife Sylvi also made a great birthday cake in the shape of a race track with cars on it for the kids...I think Quinn would have loved this party based on what I have read at Statistically Insignificant Musings. There was a definite automotive theme.

Now I am off to take the 'boys' on their second walk of the day and the evening light is excellent. I will follow that up with a little work on the old bicycle and maybe a movie. What a great Saturday.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A great tune....

powered by ODEO
A little soundtrack for your Friday at work. Hope you have a good one.

A peek inside my life...

After reading Bullbunky's most recent post I thought it might be fun to post another appliance shot, or at least I think it was a refrigerator that old Monet was hanging on. One of the things I enjoy most about blogs is getting some insight into other people's daily lives.

I thought I would post an interesting corner of our refrigerator (I saved you from the coupons, dental hygenist appoint reminders etc.) You can tell a lot about someone by what is hanging where they keep their perishable food ;-) ...or at least it will generate a lot of questions.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cool Specialized Bicycle Ad

This cracked me up.

I want the rain to stop just for a little while...

I really am glad that we are getting rain, but enough is enough. Except for this past Saturday it rains in the morning, the sun teases during the work day and there is a downpour about the time I leave work. It is a great time for mushrooms though...the critters are springing up everywhere.

For those of you who have asked...yes the Bicycle Commute-O-Meter is stuck for the remainder of this week. Between the rain and Christine doing a mussel survey in Tahoe the bike commute had to take a hiatus until Monday. It is really driving me crazy not to ride this week, but with classes starting (I am teaching 4) and everything else I just couldn't get my act together...I know excuses excuses ;-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rainy Day in the Mountains

So I was just playing around with Photoshop for the picture above...I had so much fun at the velodrome could have only been more fun if I actully rode instead of just watching and taking photographs. I would have gotten lapped, but I would have been lapped quickly by some of the best.

Today it is raining again, but I did get the dogs out before it started to pour and did see some interesting news. Apparently, many comics use the phrase "Timmy has fallen in the well again" as an allusion to a contrived situation in a T.V. show or movie.

They interviewed Jon Provost who played Timmy (Lassie's boy) in the late 50s and early 60s and it turns out that the character Timmy never once fell in a well, but did fall into a lake twice. Interestingly (to me anyway), Lassie who was always a female dog on the T.V. serial and in the movies was always played by male dogs. I bet that left poor Timmy a bit confused about gender specific anatomy :-)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fixed Gear Fun

It was another muggy Saturday, but I had a great time watching racers at the Mellowdrome. These amateur (and some professional) riders were pushing themselves to anaerobic threshold limits on the converted auto race track that is now part of the local park system. I went with Pete K. and his pup Bowski (a mellow New Foundland / Chow hybrid named after The Big Lebowski)
For those of you who have never seen the sport. Fixed gear bicycles have no brakes and only one gear ratio. If the rear wheel is turning the pedals are moving. The rider slows down by resisting the forward turn of the pedals.
These folks really get going. The racers in the elite men and women's events must have averaged over 30 mph for minutes at a time.
The riders are often inches away from each other as they fly around the velodrome.
Look how close these women are to each other at near top speed.
The race over, this rider is using a few laps to slow down the fixed gear, cool down her muscles, and get some oxygen back into her system.
Standing up to sprint and catch the rider in front.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The problem with big backyards...

Sure they look good and the dogs get an awesome place to chase rabbits, but the problem is that lawns have to be mowed. I have almost an acre of grass and I just refuse to buy a riding lawn mower (we will see how long my resolve actually lasts). I just figured that mowing this bad boy with a "walk behind" would force me to either get in better shape or do something like plant more trees.What I did not anticipate was how much faster the grass grows here. We get relatively cool nights and hot humid days and the grass just grows and grows. It seems like I have to mow every 4-5 days and it takes over 2 hours. That white stuff on top of my hat is salt from SWEAT!!! I may have to break down and get a rider or just let the backyard turn into a field. I could probably actually let the lawn to return to mother nature without too many complaints since there is only a farm behind us...

I am stoked for tomorrow...fixed gear racing in Asheville, so hopefully my blog will be a little more exciting.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Danger Men Gardening

This sign was on a door that rarely gets used at the far end of the campus greenhouse. It just cracked me up and made me think of John and Jeff out there in San Francisco. Not a direct connection (my brain definitely fails to work in a linear fashion...always has), but they are avid gardeners and anyone traveling in John's company is in imminent danger of being hit in a car driven by a crazy woman.
Bloom in the Japanese garden. I also just love Lemna, duckweed is one of my favorite plants in the whole world. There is a good reason, but it is a post unto itself.
The butterflies were just going nuts over the Zinnias today...the Buddlea is nearly finished, so maybe the Zinnia is looking much more attractive to the butterflies these days.
The color in this butterfly's tail reminded me of winter and snow...a harbinger of things to come.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Here Comes the Rain Again

Well the morning commute was wonderful, but during the day the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. When I left work at 6 pm it was a down pour. Normally, I would have called Christine, but she is doing work in Lake Tahoe, so I just sucked it up.

I really don't mind commuting in downpours once the first 3 minutes is out of the way. Being wet isn't so bad, but the process of getting soaked is not so much fun. At least I got to enjoy the looks of motorists who thought I was completely nuts.

I did take a car to the grocery store tonight. A word of advice to other bicycle commuters: If you aren't going to drive your car for a while make sure you remove that last 75% finished Mocha Latte from your car (in this case my wife's car). Something about high humidity and warm temperatures in car with the windows up can turn a Mocha Latte into something a little higher up the food chain. It couldn't crawl out of the cup yet, but I don't think that evolutionary step was far away. The odor can only be described as pungent, death like and sticky....I could still smell it on my clothes in the grocery store. On the way back the rain stopped so I could roll down the is a little better now I think ;-)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Prepster Rock

This is especially funny after living in Vermont for 6 years. They even had a name for these folks...Trustatarians. Trust as in trust fund. This was posted over at a recent blog of note Tip or Tat.

What are we doing?

Today a student asked me "what are we doing?".

I replied "we are talking."

"No, no...we the human race...not we the me and you"

I hesitated "I don't know?"

She replied "I don't think anyone does and that is a problem!"

...and off she went.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Talk about Gall

I had to mow the lawn today. One of my least favorite jobs...especially since I live on a good size hill and have close to an acre to mow. As I was mowing along the farmer's fence line and donating blood to the Blackberries I spotted this fantastic gall. I had seen these before, but never at such an early looked like a fruit that didn't belong. The cause is a wasp.

I am always amazed at the cool biology that can be found right in my own backyard...and I am easily distracted while walking behind the mower in hot weather ;-)

From Ohio State Extension:
Blackberry Gallmaker, Diastrophus nebulosis (O-S.) and Related Species
The blackberry gallmaker causes the formation of large knot galls on the stems of brambles. The galls are first green and later red or brown. The causal agent is a tiny wasp in the family Cynipidae.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My Motivational Entry

...well, I did not want to be left out of the fun.

Too Much Fun With Muppets

OK, so when I was hunting around for the original Menomena clip I found this cool Sesame Street Clip on the Letter "Z" by ZZ Top. Who else ??? If anybody ever deserved to get a direct ticket to Heaven, Valhala, or Valinor for that matter it was Jim Henson.

The Mechanical Trouble Flim Flam and Back Home

I was glad to get back home to Christine and my dogs. I just love coming to the door and getting ambushed by Tucker and Bear. I was only gone since Tuesday, but you would think they were under the impression I was gone for good. Dogs rock.

Now despite all the new airline security measures this week my return flight out of Canada when well in the beginning. In Ottawa the Canadian security was very nice in during the extra screening and the customs folks were apologetic for the extra questions. BTW, if you ever go through customs at the airport in Ottawa there is a 9 ft tall plastic Statue of Liberty by the office door...probably not what Bartholdi and Eiffel had in mind ;-)

However, when I got to Philadelphia things changed. Nothing to do with the terrorist alert mind you...just the old airline game (I know this sounds more like something from Travels and Tribulations but it is too good not to share). The step by step process happened like this (I am sure most of this sounds famililar).

1. They board the plane at 3:15 for a 3:45 departure like we were actually going to take off.
2. At about 3:40 they close the door to the aircraft.
3. The stewards huddle up at 3:45 and whisper and the leader then phones the pilot.
4. We are informed that there is mechanical trouble.
5. At 3:55 pm the door is reopened an a mechanic carrying a single blue bucket (empty) with no tools goes to the back of the plane and disappears behind the rear galley/lavatory area.
6. At 4:15 luggage arrives and the cargo hold is reopened, cargo is loaded and door closed.
7. At 4:30 more luggage arrives and the cargo hold is reopened, cargo is loaded and cargo door closed.
8. At 4:45 pilot announces that mechanic should soon have the 'systems' problem resolved.
9. At 5:00 one additional airline employee arrives to travel to Charlotte.
10. At 5:10 mechanic leaves...bucket still empty and not a tool in sight.
11. At 5:15 we taxi out to the runway.

What 'systems' problem can you solve on a 757 with a plastic 5 gallon bucket and no tools? I suppose he could have had a leatherman or something.

Needless to say I missed my connector from Charlotte to Asheville so I made this movie in the airport.

I realize there has been discussion on Movie Making software in our little blog circle: Since I was traveling with the College laptop all I had was my digital camera (which takes so so movies) and Microsoft Movie Maker. Turned out OK an only 2.5 MB before the google magic took place.) UPDATE: The music in this clip may be from The Muppet Show originally and not Sesame Street. I have been unable to confirm for sure, but JamesF pointed out that he thought it might be from The Muppet Show. If anyone in our blog circle could be considered an authority on T.V. it is James ;-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Leaving Ottawa ...I hope

Well I am definitely leaving tomorrow, but I am not sure how the whole flight thing is going to go down. I certainly won't be taking my mocha on the plane...which is part of my travel routine. I drink my coffee, flip through Sky Mall and wait for everyone to get situated before I crack into my book.

I am going to allow lots of extra time at the airport since I am a US citizen, although Canada is really sort of like the 51st state isn't it ? :-)

I am not too worried about not being able to bring shampoo along. Those of you who are familiar with me know that I use about 1 hotel size container every six months :-)

Above is a sculpture that was completed in 1967 and placed on the banks of the Rideau Canal. Looked kind of primitive Celtic to was quite interesting.
Ottawa last evening before heading back to the mountains. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Evening Photos in Ottawa

Funny sculpture. I only realized tonight that I had accidentally caught the roller blader in the background.
Ever feel like this is your job at work? :-)
Yes, I like bicycles.
Goofing off in the hotel. Posted by Picasa

Lunchtime in Ottawa

I took a stroll during our lunch break at the conference today and took a few shots. For the most part Ottawa is a nice place. The city has a lot of history and definitely a European feel to it.
The officer barracks along the Rideau canal. The Rideau canal was finished in 1832 and connects the lakes and river between Kingston and Ottawa. The locks still all function and pleasure boats still regularly make the traffic. It is run by the park system now and has some great trails along its edges. Arches under a bridge over the Rideau Canal.
Edge of bridge. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Airports, Skyline, and The Tipping Point

Today's flights went off with out any issues which made the trip to Ottawa nice. I flew from Asheville to Charlotte to Philadelphia to Ottawa. All flights on time and for the most part the seats were fine...a little too close to the lavatory from Charlotte to Phily, but that happens once in a while.

The Westin Ottawa is great and I got a room on the 15th floor with a great view of the city. I got out a bit tonight...but not too far since I have to be up early for the conference tomorrow. The image above is a view from the room.

The in flight read today was The TIPPING POINT How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcom Gladwell. I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot. It will be especially interesting to those in education or training professions. It was another book in my stack that I had been meaning to get to for some time. It was a Bestseller a few years back...and as usual I am arriving to the text behind the masses.

Gladwell's basic thesis (as I see it) is that many biological and social phenomena occur due to similar factors. He spends a lot of time describing and explaining the Law of the Few, Stickiness, and the Power of Context. He also describes three archetype personalities that can drive change...the Salesperson, the Connector, and the Maven.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the in depth description of the testing and development of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues. I had know idea how much effort the creators of these shows put into research and experiments to come up with their 'formula' for success. This section alone is worth skipping the nap on the plane. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 07, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane...

On my way tomorrow to Ottawa for the International MERLOT conference. It will be a cool meeting, but not as cool as the name suggests. In this case MERLOT stands for Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching.

I have been to quite a few places in Canada from Vancouver to Prince Edward Island, but never to Ottawa. The quick image search on Google makes it look promising for some nice maybe I'll have something good for this blog or Strangers Among Us.

Only time will tell. This shot popped up on Google (not mine)...I hope I get to this place in Ottawa...but since I will only be there until Friday I can only hope I will make it, ay.

The Conference Hotel is the Westin downtown, ay. It is supposed to be on the edge of the historic district, ay. I am practicing my Ay's to help transend the cultural barrier once I am there.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Freddy Fender Project

So remember when you where a kid...hopefully :-) If your bike had fenders you probably took them off...cause they weren't cool. Well, after the first week of daily commuting as an adult, I have decided that fenders are cool. They keep that cool wet stripe of road grit off your front and back.
I have decided to make my very affordable Bianchi Volpe (pseudo entry level cross/tour road bike) into my daily commuter. It is basically a road bike with some mountain bike components and beefier wheels. Note shameless plug for IMBA above. If you mountainbike...check out IMBA.COM it's important.
Fender installation was fairly straightforward. Wheels off...fenders on.
Except when I put the rack back on over the rear fender. I use the rack for a trunk and panniers to haul my crap around. There was a metal extension at the end of the rack for a rear light and it wasn't compatible with the fender set I got to use the Dremmel...cut through aluminum like butter! Power tools rock. You can see my less than craftsman level skills where the raw aluminum shows on the cut marks.
The finished I can stay a little drier and spend a little less time cleaning grit out of all the nooks and crannies on my bike.