Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tag! You're it!

I've been tagged by Beth, who was in turn tagged by Dr. Sardonicus, in a book-themed meme. Say *that* ten times, fast!

The rules are simple:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book.
3. Name the author.
4. Turn to page 123.
5. Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
6. Copy the next three sentences and post to your blog.
7. Tag three more lucky souls.

The nearest book to me at this moment is Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for the Angry Healthcare Professional by Joseph Stewart, MD. [Yes, I am at work. What of it? I've done all my work for the day and it isn't time to go home yet.] Turning to page 123, fifth sentence, I quote:

"The subclavian artery becomes the axillary artery at the clavicle. Near the head of the humerus, the axillary artery becomes the brachial artery. Importance: the brachial artery is the main blood-pressure taking artery."

A thrilling read, no? It is better if you can see the illustrations. This might have been more interesting at home with my collection of science fiction. On the bright side, at least the nearest book wasn't one of my physics books!

Now that I've done my part, it is time to spread the love. I tag NYPinTA, Lord Loser, and trinamick.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good times.

I'm off work for the next four days, I got my Camry back, almost all of the holiday prep work is done so now I can enjoy the fun stuff, and I'll be spending time with the people I love. I'm looking forward to eating too much, multiple desserts with each meal, the new bottle of single malt scotch we will purchase later today, watching everyone open their gifts, long winters naps, snuggling with PDM and the cats, watching holiday movies (The Ref is one of my favorites), reading, or doing nothing at all.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Some random thoughts about the winter solstice:

I've always thought "solstice" was a pretty word. It sounds quiet and peaceful.

The actual time and date of the solstices shifts from year to year.

A Winter's Solstice was the first "new age" music I ever purchased. It is the kind of holiday music that I enjoy. My other favorite is Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas . It is a welcome change of pace from all the stuff they play on the radio and in stores.

When I moved to Massachusetts back in December of 1992, I was extremely dismayed to discover that at the winter solstice, the sun sets at 4:20pm and it is dark before 5:00pm. Gack! I hated this worse than the bone-chilling cold. There are two reasons why the sun sets so much earlier there than in Atlanta. The northerly latitude (42 N) makes the day about 45 minutes shorter on winter solstice and longer on summer solstice. But the main culprit is the longitude. Massachusetts is situated on the eastern side of the eastern time zone, while Atlanta is on the far western edge of it. Local noon is around 11:45am in Southbridge, MA, but occurs at 12:35pm here in Atlanta.

In Atlanta, (latitude 34 N) the sun will set today at 5:32pm and twilight will end at 6:00pm. The sun rose at 7:38am. Length of day = 9 hours and 53 minutes. I can live with that. And that is the worst it will be. For the next six months, every day will be a little longer and lighter!

Wishing you all a happy, peaceful, and warm winter solstice.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An early Christmas gift?

I was feeling pretty negative about Georgia Tech's chances in the Gator Bowl until tonight, when I heard the "good" news. Our starting quarterback, who is a senior and would have been playing his last college game, has been ruled academically ineligible to play in the bowl game. So he's already played his last college game. And in the last two games, he was 15-for-51 with four interceptions and no touchdowns. So you can understand why I am happy to see our backup quarterback get a chance to shine, and Calvin Johnson (who is the best wide receiver in college football) has a chance to have an outstanding game. Johnson is a junior, but realistically is probably playing his last college game. He would go very high in the draft and no one would think poorly of him for taking advantage of it. He is an incredible athlete. Another positive is that there will not be much tape of Bennett (the new QB) for West Virginia to use for preparation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I miss my Camry :-(

I finally took my car to the bodyshop to get the bumper damage repaired. It was rear-ended more than a month ago. [See, I'm trying to whittle down my list of stuff I procrastinated on.] I hope they can fix it quickly, because my rental car completely sucks. It is a Ford Taurus, and if this is the kind of crap they're churning out to compete with Camrys and Altimas, it is no wonder they are losing market share. In Ford's defense, their trucks are pretty good. PDM has a Ford truck and is happy with it. But their mid-sized passenger cars need some work.

First of all, the gas pedal is so far back that I had to pull the seat nearly all the way up to reach it. So now the steering wheel is almost in my lap and I am way too close to the dashboard. I don't think it has an airbag, which is a good thing because if it went off at that distance the bag would probably kill me itself. The brake pedal is way higher than the gas, so switching my foot between them is awkward and I keep hitting the side of my foot on the side of the brake pedal. Sure hope I don't need to brake fast, because in addition to not being able to get to the pedal quickly, the brakes have much more resistance than I am used to and I feel like I have to really stomp on them to make the car slow down. And another thing... the seat is too hard. And the steering wheel material is kind of rubbery/sticky, which makes me want to break out a can of lysol seeing how this is a rental car and god-knows-who has had their mitts on it.

It is a real shame that Ford didn't update the Taurus design to keep it competitive. I remember when it was a very popular car and people seemed to like it. I rented one on a business trip years ago and didn't have any problems with it. The Ford plant in Hapeville (just south of Atlanta) used to make the Taurus. Now it is shut down and the Taurus has been discontinued. Ford should try making a comfortable car with good gas mileage and better ergonomics. I bet it wouldn't suck.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Party On, Or Not.

PDM and I are going to a holiday party tonight. We'll be dining at one of Atlanta's best restaurants and we like the people who will be there, so there was no need to weasel out of it. But if you've been invited to one too many parties this season, you might find this site handy: Holiday Party Excuse Generator.

UPDATE: Good times! Marty had beef filet, and I had the lobster & green chili soft taco. The appetizers and sides were top notch, as was the wine and scotch. Other than the horrible tangle of traffic we faced before arriving, the evening was nothing but fun.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Having trouble leaving comments here?

I switched to Beta Blogger and this seems to be the root of the problem. I don't think this issue is fixed, but Blogger posted a suggestion that may help here. I hope to see y'all back on the comments soon!

Panties on the Sidewalk.

I drug myself out of bed relatively early this fine Saturday morning in order to finish Christmas shopping, because it had to be done. The stuff's gotta be mailed on Monday. A few exhausting hours and hundreds of dollars later, PDM and I were done and treated ourselves to lunch at Thai Spice. All of this occurred in an outdoor mall. It was a great day to be outside - clear, sunny and unseasonably warm, even for Atlanta. On the way back to the car, we noticed a pair of black silk panties lying on the sidewalk. This was the weirdest thing I can recall seeing on a sidewalk, well, ever. How did they get there, and why? Did someone buy a new pair and decide to wear them out of the store (something that Jeff Foxworthy claims is very common among rednecks - buying something and wearing it out of the store)? Perhaps the lady was simply too hot in our balmy 70 degree weather and decided to shed some unnecessary clothing. Or lost a bet. I suspect there was some naughtiness involved. Someone is going to get a lump of coal in their fishnet stockings this Christmas. Santa is still watching, you know.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

At first it was cute...

...but now not so much. Moxy continues to climb into the Christmas tree and we have not figured out an effective method of stopping her from doing it. We stuffed some other greenery in and around the lower branches, but this only made it more challenging and fun for her. The middle branches of the formerly very pretty tree now have a decidedly downward slant, causing a gap between those branches and the next highest set that is getting larger by the day. Not a good look for said tree. If she was doing it when we were home, we could use a squirt gun or something to scare her off. Unfortunately all we see is the evidence that it is happening during the day. Anyone have any suggestions that don't involve felinicide?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Don't Panic!

I need a Hitchhiker's Guide to Christmas shopping. Every time I think about it my blood pressure rises another notch or two. Having to mail some of the stuff out just adds to the pressure. We're rapidly approaching the time when it gets more and more expensive to ship stuff every day, until finally it becomes impossible to get it there on time. I hate crowds and traffic, which is what malls are surrounded by on weekends and weeknights, so I keep not going shopping. I've been ultra wishy-washy about online purchases, and can't even come up with a hint for PDM about what I want for myself. Every year I tell myself that I will start earlier the next year and not go through this, and every year I end up doing half of it at the last minute.

All this holiday procrastination amplifies the guilt I feel for my ordinary, run-of-the-mill procrastination. Here is a partial list of stuff I keep putting off, in no particular order.

1. Get my notebook computer fixed. It's had a hardware problem for almost two years now that makes it a real pain in the ass to use.

2. Get a new cell phone, get a local number, and tell them my last name is different now. I moved and changed my name in July 2004. I'm just a bit behind on tying up the loose ends.

3. Order window treatments for the new house. Been there nearly a year, but the neighbors can still look straight into our kitchen and living room any time day or night.

4. Update my address books (on- and off-line). Again, more than a year behind with moves, births and deaths. I have the info scattered on little bits of paper all over the house. I can never find them when I need one.

5. Close those two Massachusetts bank accounts that have about $50 each in them. I haven't used them in over two years. Oh yeah, and they're still under my old last name.

6. Go to the dentist for teeth cleaning. Two years behind. Nothing hurts, so why bother? Ditto for the eye doctor. Except I know I need new glasses and have for at least a year.

7. Mail birthday cards and presents. I'm usually at least three or four weeks behind at all times.

8. Housecleaning. Usually done in a panic just before guests arrive.

9. Wash and wax car. Too cold, wait for spring...

10. Order and plant spring-blooming bulbs. Too late, wait for next year.

11. Christmas cards. Should have been working on them by now, but haven't even bought any yet. Gulp.

And so it goes. Ordinarily my long list of stuff to do that is late doesn't bother me at all, but now I have gift panic and feel completely behind in everything.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Holiday CatBlogging

Bad Cat edition.

This is Moxy, halfway up the tree, just hanging out. Unbelievably, she didn't break anything. (Yet.) Hmmm, does the ten-year warranty on the tree cover cat damage?

Moxy isn't the only cat who is interested in Christmas trees. It's a rather common affliction. At least she didn't do as much damage as these cats.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lonely Hearts, British Style

I heard about this book on NPR on my way home today. Good timing -- I needed a good laugh. I might have to put this one on my Christmas list. The Brits have a special way with language, and polite candor. These personals are very different from the kind you'd read in the states.

"They call me Naughty Lola. Run of the mill beardy physicist - Male, 46."

"Most vegetarians complain about missing the taste of bacon. Not me, I complain about my liver disease. And rural postal services. Man, 40."

"Love is strange -- wait 'til you see my feet. F, 34, wide-fitting Scholl's."

More samples can be read here . Enjoy!

Cover Image

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Too slow.

This has been a long week. It seems like it ought to be Friday already. I think part of the problem is that our software has been running very slow at work. I'm always two or three steps ahead of it, impatiently tapping my pen on the desk waiting for it to frelling catch up. At my alternate work location, this is mostly because the computer doesn't have enough memory to run all the stuff I need to have open simultaneously. But today I was at the main location, with a good computer, and the software was dragging its feet all day. Frustrating.

PDM and I are still coughing a lot, which is getting old. So is feeling tired and sick. And we're still bummed out about the little cat, Squeaky. So much for holiday cheer. I'm hoping things get better soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sad news...

The rescued cat had a lot of stuff wrong with her, including feline leukemia, so we decided it was best to have her put to sleep. She was in pretty bad shape due to her lack of care. We were calling her "Squeaky" because of her squeaky little meow. I feel horrible about it, but at least she had one weekend of being warm and fed and cared for and loved.

Update: The person who rescued her just called - she found out this cat was 2 years old. She was so tiny, I thought she was just a kitten. So did the vet. They probably never got her any vaccines for anything, dammit. You shouldn't get a pet if you can't take care of it properly. There was no need for this sweet little cat to have contracted FELV. Such a waste. It makes me mad just thinking about it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Settling in.

New kitty is feeling more at home now. We even got her to play just a little bit. She's spending less time under the bed, too. I think she has cat lice, so I went out and paid retail (!) for a box of Frontline Plus because I needed it right away, and treated all three cats. My wallet still hurts. She still needs to see the vet, pronto. Her breath stinks and she sort of drools a bit - could be an abcess or something going on in her mouth. I hope it isn't anything worse than that. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Got three cats, and an albino leech.

We took the cat.

I know, I know. What can you do? The poor little thing didn't deserve being abandoned after its owner moved out. I think the vet and I have some work to do to rehabilitate the little guy/girl (still can't tell, but if it is male it has been neutered - definitely there are no visible testicles), but the cat has potential to be healthy and happy. All it wants to do is to be cuddled and petted. We can't get it to play, or do anything other than beg for affection. Poor thing. I suspect it may have worms or some other sort of intestinal parasite, because it is very skinny. I think it is pretty young - maybe 4 months or so. There may be an abcess in its mouth (bad breath and it drools a bit). But all of that is fixable. We gave it a bath today. The cat's coat looks and smells much better. That is a start.

I had a bad morning, however. Since the glass turntable in the microwave is broken, I reheated a cup of tea by putting a plastic container in there upside down and put my teacup on top of that. Well, apparently the handle was in some sort of microwave focal point, because it was about 4000 degrees when I reached in and pulled it out. Never mind that I've reheated a half cup of tea for 30 seconds several hundred times with no ill effects. This time, the handle burned my ring finger on my right hand as bad as I've ever been burned before, and I have been burned many a time. I now have a blister that is over an inch long and about a quarter inch wide, and jammed full of fluid just waiting to pop at the wrong moment. Talk about painful! Yowee! It looks like there is an albino leech sucking on my finger. This blister is huge. That really put a crimp into my weekend plans of doing lots of yardwork and housework. Kind of tough to do anything when you can't fully use your dominant hand. And I know this big-ass blister will pop soon and then I'll have to guard against infection. Nice. And I still need to do some machine tests at work on Monday. It will be just swell having to do all this with a bum finger.

Also, my football team managed to lose yet again. Thanks, guys. Very disappointing once again. Congratulations to Wake Forest for a great season and winning the ACC championship. Way to tough it out! I can't hate them for that - they played better than our team and had coaches that made better decisions than ours did. And they did it without multiple starters. And they graduate 96% of their athletes, which kicks butt! I hope Wake does well in the Orange Bowl. We'll be going to the Gator Bowl, which by the way, doesn't want us but is obligated to take us. I pin the last two losses squarely on our offense. The defense has been playing great, but the offense has been disappointing over the last two games. We've got the best wide receiver in college football, and somehow can't find a way to take advantage of that. Pitiful. And extremely disappointing. But it is almost over, and our basketball team, which is full of freshmen, is doing very well. Moving on...

Friday, December 01, 2006

New kitty? Maybe...

My neighbor stopped by this evening with a kitten she rescued from a condo for sale. The owner moved out and left his cat. The cat looks young, and is skinny, and his/her coat is not in good shape. I couldn't tell if it was male or female in the dim twilight. But the cat was very tame and friendly. I said no, we couldn't take him. We'd just got Moxy this June and had our hands full.

But all this evening, the memory of this poor cat has been working on me. Such a sweet thing, and in needlessly poor condition. He'd be so much better off with us. PDM and I talked about it over dinner. He didn't say no. I think we may be getting another cat. Stay tuned...

Holiday CatBlogging

We bought our Christmas tree this week. I'm excited. I haven't, for one reason or another, put up a tree in 5-6 years. It used to be because I lived in Massachusetts and came home to Georgia for Christmas, so I wouldn't bother doing the tree up there. Then I moved back to Georgia and lived in an apartment, and there just wasn't enough room to do it. Last Christmas, we were in the process of buying a house. Now we finally have space and time, and will be home to enjoy it. I scouted the ads and we finally found a very pretty and sort of realistic looking pre-lit tree that was for sale at a massive discount and we bought it. Now there is only one potential problem: Moxy.

As you know, Moxy has a thing for boxes. She didn't waste any time nibbling on a corner of the big tree box and then laying claim to it. Here she is napping on it. No doubt she is dreaming of the countless hours of fun she'll have destroying this box little by little. Except we are planning on reusing the box to store the tree, so we had to put the kibosh on that idea.

The next potential problem is not knowing what a six month old kitten will do to the tree. Zima, who is an old lady cat, just ignores it. Moxy showed a lot of interest in it before we even took it out of the box. She was a pest while we were putting it together, and it didn't take her five minutes to extract a bulb from one of the lower lights. We're going to wait a few more days before making the tree a more attractive target. Step one is to make sure she won't knock it over. Step two is to make sure she isn't chewing on any of it. Step three will be to see what she'll do when there are ornaments to go after. I have some cat-friendly ones to put near the bottom, and I'll probably save some of the more delicate or antique ones for later (or maybe even next year).

She passed the first test. We came home from work and the tree was still standing. It didn't look like she'd messed with it while we were at work. She really likes hanging out underneath the tree when it is lit. But since the ten year warranty is not likely to include repair of cat damage, I'll pick up some Bitter Apple to spray on the lower branches to make it taste bad, just in case.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I didn't die or anything.

Just had a bad cold, courtesy of some neice or nephew no doubt. I got it the day after T-Day. Plus the damn game had me crying in my beer for days. Best quote (paraphrased from some guy who wrote into one of the AJC blogs): "Tech would have been better off with two Johnsons and no Balls." Explanation - we have two great receivers who are both named Johnson, and one very flaky good/bad/whoknowswhatkindofQBwillplaytoday QB named Ball (who cost us the frelling Georgia game for the last four years running). Another funny gag floating around is how UGA will retire Tech's #1 QB jersey, seeing as how Ball has been their MVP for four years in a row. Hmpf. But I'm getting over it now. The cold and the football thing. We're doing well in basketball and that helps.

PDM and I went out and got our Christmas tree tonight. An artificial one. Real trees are nice, but I just can't see wasting a once-live gorgeous tree to sit in our house for a month and then go to the chipper. We don't have a place to plant a real one with a root ball, which is what my Dad used to do every year. He had 16 acres. I have 0.5 shady acres that are already loaded with hardwoods. Moxy is already eyeing the big box it is in. She loves to eat boxes, and the bigger the better. Since we would like to keep said box for future storage, we are trying to discourage the little monster. Dang cats.

I'm pretty much over the cold (except for being a walking phlegm factory). But poor PDM woke up with my symptoms from last Friday, and he has to work this week since he is a hardworking college physics instructor. Awww. I tried to be helpful - I made my version of chicken soup: hot and sour soup with chicken. Apparently, I made it a little too hot for someone with a sore and irritated throat. Oops.

And in late breaking news, Stellar has finally updated his blog. It's true. Go check it out.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Big Game

Not so big. And I don't want to talk about it. Next...

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Have a great Thanksgiving Day and enjoy the feast. I'm in the north Georgia mountains with PDM and his brothers and families until Saturday, and they're firing up the deep fryer to cook the turkey. See you in a few days!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Guess who's coming to dinner?

No one.

My sister and her husband and son were going to be coming over for dinner yesterday, and she and the nephew were set to spend the night. My bro-in-law and nephew are already in town visiting his dad, and sister was due in on a 6:30 flight from San Diego. They’d all rendezvous at my pad and we would have dinner. PDM and I carefully planned a menu during Sunday’s craziness and had the house and guest room clean and ready to go. We started working on the meal as soon as we got home from work.

The phone rings as expected at 6:30. It was my sister, calling from San Diego, not the Atlanta airport. ARGH! This was approximately five minutes after we passed the point of no return on the meal prep – it had to be cooked no matter what. Turns out, she’d left a message for me on my voicemail at work about how she couldn’t get on the flight. The problem was that I now work at two different facilities , and I won’t be at my main office until Wednesday, so I never got the message. [My sister did finally make it to Atlanta, but got in at 5:30am after spending all day in airports trying to get on a flight and then all night on a plane. She’s a furloughed flight attendant, and traveling on standby during Thanksgiving week, and there were some canceled flights and other problems with the San Diego flights to ATL, which is why she was getting bumped.]

We called everyone we could think of who lives close by, but only two friends were home and they both had other dinner plans. So PDM and I were left to eat all that food ourselves. Beef satay, chicken tikkas, and cumin potatoes. About two pounds of each. The food was delicious, but we had way too much of it. We thought about taking a couple of care packages to the bartenders at our pub, but by the time we’d eaten and cleaned up it was 9pm and we were beat. So tonight when our next houseguest arrives (hopefully!), instead of the beer cheese soup and BLTs that we had planned on making, we’ll be eating reheated leftovers. Except we will have to heat them the old-fashioned way, since our stupid microwave is still out of action due to the broken glass plate that I can't find a replacement for that costs less than $42.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Explain this to me

We broke the glass dish from our microwave this morning and I looked at several sources on the internet to find a replacement. What I found defies logic.

Average cost of replacement dish: $50

Average starting cost of a similar-sized, brand-new microwave: $50

Grrrrrr. So after work, I get to go to the frelling store to buy a whole new microwave, because I am NOT going to pay $50 for a stupid piece of molded glass. If you built a microwave oven from scratch using replacement parts, it would cost you more than $1000! Bastards. And because of this little experience, I will NOT be buying another GE model.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sore Muscles, and a Sense of Accomplishment.

We had a busy day today. Georgia Tech football consumed most of the day yesterday, and we just gave into it. We left for the game at 10:00am and got home at 5:30pm. I did exactly thirty minutes of yardwork (leafblowing!) when we got home, until it was too dark to see what I was doing, then we went to the bar for the evening. It turned out to be a good idea -- a lot of our friends were there and we had a good time and watched several football games simultaneously, plus one race.

That left a lot of work to be done on Sunday, on a limited timetable (yardwork during daylight hours but not too early with the noisy stuff, and most stores will close at 6). We know better now than to skip a weekend of leaf removal (it makes the next weekend's job nearly impossible), so we both got out there and bagged leaves until mid afternoon. Then we got cleaned up and did some Christmas shopping for relatives we will be seeing at Thanksgiving. The idea is that we'll just give them the stuff during the Turkey Day get together and save us a trip or some postage. We had a plan and were able to knock that out with time to spare. Came home, growled on some leftover Chinese and then made the grocery list for the dinners we'll feed our Monday night and Tuesday night houseguests (separate guests each night). In between all of this stuff, we were cleaning up the house like mad and getting the guest room ready. We're both pooped. But we got a lot done, and it feels really good to have at least a portion of the Christmas shopping off our plates. I've still got to come up with ideas for my gi-normous family, but we got almost all of PDM's people taken care of.

I'm looking forward to seeing PDM's brothers and their families for T-Day, but man, it sure is a lot of work getting everything ready for it. One last loose end is finding a cat-sitter for the Moxinator. My old cat could be left to her own devices for three days, but I don't think Moxy is ready for that. I know that house isn't ready for it!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Until next year...

Today was our last visit to "The Flats" until next fall. We had perfect football weather: sunny and clear, cool without being cold. This game was an easy victory. We took our starters out at halftime and still went 49-21 against winless Duke. I'm not quite ready for the season to end, but I have been unable to convince PDM to take the trip to Jacksonville on December 2 to go to the ACC title game. It looks like I'll be watching the remaining three games on TV. One more to close out the season, then the ACC championship, then a bowl game to be determined later. It's been a fun ride this year.

And now we're down to the week of the big hate match, so I just have to say: "To Hell With Georgia!"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's wiki fun!

How many of you get completely absorbed wandering through loosely related articles in Wikipedia? I suspect I’ve just branded myself a major geek, but I just can’t help clicking on those links to other articles. It begins innocently enough. I find my way to Wikipedia through a Google search or go there directly looking for info on a specific topic, and before I know it, I’ve spent hours exploring and have completely forgotten my original mission. Wikipedia is like crack for people like me: people who are curious about things, enjoy tangents, like to get in only so deep, and cover a lot of ground. It is bizarre where you can end up sometimes. It’s “the six degrees of information”. My wiki trails are odd. I’ll bet yours are, too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just sayin'

This multiple work location thing kind of sucks. Busy here, busy there. Hard to keep track of things when keeping tabs on two different places. And I can't drive in on autopilot anymore - I have to think about where I'm supposed to be for the day. I'll get over it. Just needed to vent a little.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Breakroom Bandits

What kind of person steals other people’s food from the office refrigerator? Before you answer that, let me clarify exactly what kind of theft we’re talking about here. The lunchroom looter(s) don’t just take “new” food. Oh no. They’ll consume anything, whether someone else has already eaten part of it or not. Writing your name on the package in big bold letters doesn't stop them, nor does adding a "please don't steal my food you pathetic loser" note. My co-workers have had all kinds of stuff disappear from there, including partially consumed drinks (backwash and all), half-eaten sandwiches, condiments, frozen dinners, you name it! I stopped using that particular fridge after the time I put some leftovers from lunch at a local Thai place in there, and two hours later when I went to retrieve it, it was gone. I was pissed!!!! Mostly because it had taken a lot of willpower not to eat the whole thing at lunch. It was so good that I wanted to bring a little bit home for PDM to taste, so I saved about a quarter of it and got a to-go box. I hope the jerk who stole my leftovers got the surprise of his or her life when they discovered the “Chinese food” they stole was extra-spicy Thai basil leaves and pork.

But seriously, who does this kind of thing? I’d never dream of stealing someone else’s food, mainly because it is wrong, but also because I don’t want to eat anything that might be loaded with cooties. Plus, you don’t know if the person left their mayonnaise out of the fridge too long, or how long those leftovers have been sitting around, or how clean their kitchens and hands were when they fixed it, or whether they let their dog take a lick or two. And eating something that has clearly already been chowed down on is just gross. It's tempting to fix up a little something "special" for them to steal, to discourage them from trying it again. A bout of severe intestinal distress might make 'em think twice the next time they are eyeing some vittles that belong to someone else.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fat Cat in a Bathtub, With Water.

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to get a picture of Moxy today. Here is what happened: I took a nice, hot bath this afternoon after another hard day of yard work, because my back and hamstrings felt tight. Moxy took great interest in this event. She sat on the counter and watched for a long time, then hovered on the side of the tub and stuck her paw in a few times. I finally got out, started to drain the tub, toweled off and left the room for a minute or two. When I came back in, I didn't see the cat at first. Until I looked in the still-half-full tub, where Moxy was standing there with a dumbstruck look on her face. Just standing in the water, not freaking out, not doing much of anything! I called for PDM to come take a look. We couldn't believe she was just standing there in 3-4 inches of water and not trying to get out. I opened up the opposite side of the shower door and she immediately jumped out onto the toilet seat. I guess she just didn't want to wade around in it to get out. Did I mention that this was extremely HOT bathwater? Yeah. It was very, very hot. Crazy cat. Poor thing. But that was just weird, that she didn't try too hard to get out. I've had other cats jump in to a full tub, but they jumped back out right away. This one, she's different. I'm not sure what she was thinking, but obviously she wasn't that upset about it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An ugly win, with benefits and lots of leaves

Our not-so-glorious 7-0 win over the Tar Heels today clinched a berth in the ACC title game for the Yellow Jackets. It wasn't pretty, but I'll take the win over a loss any day. And U(sic)GA whalloped #5 Auburn in a surprise upset. I almost always root against the Dawgs, but it was a great win for them and should make the annual grudge match more interesting this year.

I celebrated by raking and bagging leaves in the rain until it got too wet and dark to continue. I tried out the leaf blower in the morning when the leaves were drier. It worked good in some places; less so for the monkey grass areas. Oh well. I told you that monkey grass was trouble. The leaves were falling like big orange snowflakes today, so by tomorrow it will look like we didn't do a thing. Remind me again why we wanted a big yard with trees?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging, Sort Of.

Danny John-Jules as "Cat", a creature (Felis Sapiens) evolved over millions of years from Lister's stowaway cat.

Never watched Red Dwarf? You don't know what you're missing! Cheesy sci-fi special effects meets British humor. With lots of curry.

Red Dwarf is sometimes aired on your local PBS station. Look for it there, or try the DVDs. They're worth it! (Especially late at night, with plenty of beer.) Red Dwarf is far from new, and there haven't been any new episodes for years. But if you missed it the first time around, you might want to check it out.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Voicemail Hell

Guess what I did at work today? It was one of my days at the satellite location where I've been reassigned 2-3 days a week, and I have been trying to get things caught up there. I noticed that the voicemail light has been on since I started there last week. Today, I finally had time to deal with it. And found out that there were 31 old messages! And the only way to deal with them was to listen to each one in its entirety. Argh!!!!! They ranged from July to October, and I was unable to delete any of them without listening to the whole thing first. I felt compelled to write the stuff down, just in case it was important or something. I ended up with three pages of utterly useless crap. And the only reward for all this is that the stupid "message" light is no longer on. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I've joined the dark side...

Yes, I caved in and bought a leaf blower. What? You thought this would be about yesterday’s elections? Nah, I’m over it now. Anyway, back to the dark side. I think burning fossil fuels to move leaves around is stupid. And leaf blowers are noisy and obnoxious. And they’re for people who are too lazy to rake leaves. That is why I made it to age 40 without ever having owned a leaf-blower. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need one now, after trying several different non-blower methods of leaf removal. Problem number one is that I have a metric crapload of monkey grass beds (and ivy patches, and vinca vine) in my yard, and I have been unable to get the leaves out of these areas using a rake or any other gardening implement in my rather large collection of gardening tools. Problem number two is that most of my back yard is covered in moss. Some people try to get rid of moss, but I think it is beautiful so I try to be nice to it so it will stay. When I rake the mossy areas, I do a lot of damage to the moss. Problem #3 is that there are leaves stuck in some shrubs and I can’t get them out, other than picking them out by hand (which sucks).

So I reluctantly went to Home Depot and bought a stupid leaf blower. I got an electric one, so it will be slightly less obnoxious than the gas-powered kind. And it is significantly lighter weight. Also, I’m too wimpy to be able to pull-start a gas one and I don’t want to have to get PDM every time I want to use it. We got the kind that will chop ‘em and vacuum as well. Now I just need to get a gargantuan extension cord to use with it. Hopefully this thing will fare better than the electric string trimmer I used to have. I burned out the motor on it last February -- while cutting back the monkey grass. That monkey grass is trouble, I tell ya. Anything that has "monkey" as part of its name is bound to give you problems.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote, or shut up.

Even though my voting in the state of Georgia is often an exercise in futility, I am still going to go add my drop to the big damn bucket. If you don’t vote, you shouldn’t complain later about what a mess things are. You may be happy with how the country is being run, or appalled at what is going on at home and/or abroad. Either way, get out there and vote!

Monday, November 06, 2006

One holiday at a time, please.

I stopped by the mall last week and was horrified at the wall-to-wall, excessive, tacky, awful Christmas displays. Stores that are already playing Christmas music put me over the edge. I realize that a few people are already doing some Christmas shopping, but most of us haven’t even thought about it yet, other than a vague feeling of dread and procrastination guilt. Do we really need such an ‘in your face’ reminder of a holiday that is two months away? It makes me want to quit shopping until they put all that crap away. Or do it all online, where I might have to look at a few holiday-themed web pages but at least I don’t have to listen to cliché Christmas tunes while I shop.

At home, I like to take the holidays one at a time. I’m not much for going whole hog on the decorations, but when I do put some holiday stuff out, there are a few rules I follow. The stuff doesn’t get out of the box until a few weeks before the actual event, and must be removed promptly. Ideally, no Christmas decorations will leave my basement until at least December 1 and they will all be returned by January 1. We don’t do any yard displays, but if we did we would not leave them there until June, like some people do. I don’t do much outside because I don’t find removing the stuff on a cold day in late December to be much fun. Plus, you know, there is the whole tackiness factor. This will be our first year celebrating the holidays in this house and neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what the neighbors do, in terms of cringe-worthy, massive yard displays that would make Tim Allen proud. If I find any really awful ones, I’ll post pictures here for a good laugh.

Obligatory football update, because I am such a fanatic: Once again, Tech won and Georgia lost. Happy, happy, joy, joy!!! One more ACC win and we are a lock for the championship game. Not taking anything for granted, but our chances look very good. You’ll have to excuse the exuberance – Tech is having one of its best football seasons in recent history. It is not what we’re used to, but we’ll take it! Next year, our star player is sure to go pro, and other colleges are already drooling over our assistant coaches. I’m guessing we won’t see a repeat performance.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Work, A Wreck, and New Links

The new work assignments and schedule are kicking my ass this week. I hope it gets better when things settle out. Part of it is me -- I like to be really on top of things, and the stuff that got assigned to me was a little behind because the people who were doing these things before had too much on their plates. A lot of the work was catch up work. Once I get things squared away, it should be less hectic. I think.

I got rear ended on my way to work this morning. Apparently the other driver had no idea I would stop for a yellow light and was caught off guard. I was going to be turning right, which I can do on red, so I stopped to let the car coming the other direction take a left in front of me before the light turned red and left him stranded in the middle of the intersection. See what happens when you try to do the right thing? Your bumper gets all messed up and you have to sit around waiting thirty minutes for a cop to show up and write up an accident report. Then you're late for work.

I've added a few friends from SciFi Straight Dope to the blogroll, so check 'em out if you're looking for something new to read. They're sandwiched between the Surf Report and Whedonesque.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Flyover Part II - Cockpit Footage

This short video clip has some simply excellent cockpit footage from Saturday's F-18 flyover of Bobby Dodd Stadium: view from the cockpit

Monday, October 30, 2006

Another flyover

There was another flyover before the Tech-Miami game last Saturday. This time they had cameras in the cockpits and showed the pilots (both GT alums) on the big screen in the stadium as they approached. And because they did this, I was ready and didn't miss it this time! If you haven't seen one, well, flyovers are extremely cool. And fast. And loud.

I'm late! Only not. And everything's different.

I finally had a couple of weekends that were about 10% as busy as one of trinamick's. Weekend before last, PDM and I painted a couple of rooms and he did some drywall repair while I raked the entire yard and bagged all the leaves. This weekend, the Tech vs. Miami game took up our whole Saturday. We had friends over for dinner on Friday, and on Sunday PDM painted another room and reseeded our lawn while I did my usual chore of once again removing all the dead leaves. I also stripped the ivy from some trees, except a few vines that were as big around as my forearm! I'm gonna need a hacksaw for those.

I couldn't get over the feeling that I was late for work this morning. It was hard to convince myself not to rush. Before we switched back to standard time, I was driving to work in the dark. Today, the sun was up and shining, and it felt all wrong.

And in another disruption of my usual routine, today is when my new work schedule takes effect. Not only was it light and not dark driving in, I also had to go somewhere different. I'm still settling in to the place I will be spending 2-3 days a week for the forseeable future. I've filled in here before, so it isn't completely unfamiliar. The people are great, and they are slowly upgrading their equipment and procedures. But I don't like having two different work places. I always feel behind at both, and it will take a long time (if ever) for this second place to feel like home. I'm going to try to make the best of it, since this is how it is now and there isn't anything I can do to change it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Definition of a "Good Football Weekend"

Any weekend in which Georgia Tech wins and University of Georgia loses. Like this one. Ha! [Beating the thugs from Miami two years in a row is an added bonus. Letting all those suspended players come back after their one game (against winless Duke) suspension didn't do it for the 'Canes. And takes away any excuse they might have had for the loss to Tech.]

If you don't understand college football rivalries, don't worry about it. There are areas of the country where pro football is a much bigger deal (I lived in one of them for a long time and had trouble finding out about college scores for teams that were not in the top 20, until the internet came along and made it easy). I have plenty of friends (and family, for that matter) who are UGA people and we treat each other with respect. But where the games are concerned, it is "clean, old-fashioned hate". We do it well down here in the south, where college football is a religion.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Medical Miracles

I was in the OR this morning because we were doing a prostate implant procedure (implanting radioactive seeds in the prostate gland as a treatment for prostate cancer), and I am just getting started learning the physics end of how this is done. After we were finished, the senior physicist and I visited another operating room, because the doctor in there is a neighbor of hers and we saw him on our way in. He was doing a heart transplant. We got there right as they were unpacking the donor heart from the bucket they transport it in. It was really amazing to see in person (as opposed to the times I've seen this on TV), and also very sobering (knowing that someone had to die for that donor heart to become available). We had an excellent view of the two doctors preparing the donor heart for the procedure (cleaning up the artery and vein connections). Then they let us peek over the surgical drapes at the patient's open chest as they got ready to take the diseased heart out. We were standing where the anesthesia cart is, near the patient's head. You could look in to the surgical site and see his heart beating as the doctors worked on the nearby great blood vessels. It was a unique experience, and I am thankful that these doctors let us take such a detailed look. The mood in the OR was different than what I am used to -- no chatter, lots of respect for the donor heart, and confident precision on the part of the medical staff. (For less life-threatening procedures, the mood in the OR is more lively.) I didn't stick around for the rest of the procedure. I wanted to get out of their way, plus I was tired from standing up for hours and very hungry. Seeing the opened chest was not as gory as I imagined it could be, and I felt more respectful than grossed out. But... wow. How many workdays include something like this?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Dad

Today would have been my Dad's 70th birthday if he had lived this long. He's been gone almost thirteen years and I miss him every day. I was 27 when he died, and not ready to be without a father. There are still a lot of things I wish I could talk to him about. I wish we had had more time together as adults. I hadn't been out of grad school a year when he died, and had not established my adult "completely out on my own and self sufficient" self. I probably would have made fewer mistakes if he had been there through the years.

I think he would be pleased with how things eventually turned out for me. A lot of the things I have been able to accomplish are due to qualities that he encouraged when I was younger, and some of it is because he set a great example for me to follow. He would have been happy that I established my independence on my own, sad to see some of the mistakes I made, felt better when I turned things around and "cleaned up my own mess" unassisted, and glad when I moved back home to Georgia. He would have liked my current husband and enjoyed spending time with him. He would have approved of my going back to school two years ago, and definitely would have been proud of my grades this time around. I wish I could trade all of these "would haves" and still have my Dad here with me.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hooked on Heroes

Thanks to NBC airing a "catch up" marathon of Heroes last night, I have seen all the episodes and am thoroughly hooked on it. Usually if I like a show it gets cancelled, but maybe this one will be different. I'd be more worried if it was on the Fox network. Fox prematurely killed the following excellent shows: Keen Eddie, Wonderfalls, Firefly, The Tick, Arrested Development, etc..

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Aches and Pains

Hmmm. Something hurts this morning. My arms and back (from massive amounts of yardwork yesterday) and my pride (thanks for nothing, Georgia Tech, and I really do mean nothing).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A few more

Here are a few more pics from Jekyll Island:

Surely they're joking! This was at the edge of the South Dunes picnic area. We didn't see any gators.

The bike trails were lovely, and spanned the island. This rail runs through the center of the island. Development is strictly limited on Jekyll, so there are plenty of beautiful and wild areas like this one.

I've never seen a maple tree with spanish moss hanging in it. Looks weird.

I almost ran over this little creature on the bike trail near the driftwood beach.

There were a lot of monarchs flitting around the island.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


It wasn't a long trip or stay, but it was relaxing. We spent a couple of days on Jekyll Island, GA. Former winter home of rich industrialists, lately state-owned nature preserve. We like Jekyll because it is mostly undeveloped. If you go off-season (like we do), you will have beautiful, pristine, driftwood beaches mostly to yourselves. Plus bike and walking trails spanning the island. Lovely. Here are a few pictures.

The view from our room.

The view from our room half an hour before sunrise. Click on the pictures for more detail.

The best sunrise picture -- just for LL! Fortunately, sunrise happens very late in Georgia in October. Sunrise was at 7:29am. We got up at 6:45 and didn't miss a thing.

On the nature trail.

Another bird on the nature trail.

A driftwood beach.

More tomorrow! I've got to wind down now and try to get some sleep! Getting up for work means getting up much earlier than it takes to get up for a sunrise in October on the beach.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Road Trip!

It's fall and the college where PDM teaches is on fall break, so we're taking a mini-vacation. Since everyone else goes to the mountains during fall, we're going to the beach. We'll be on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia for a couple of days. See you when we get back! Hopefully I will have some decent pictures to post.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wake Up And Smell The Bergamot

Woke up this morning and discovered that it had gotten cold, literally overnight. This “cold” I speak of is a relative term – by “cold”, I mean it was 50F. We’re in the southeast, not the midwest! But it felt darned chilly when I stepped out of the house this morning. The high will be in the upper 60s today. Not quite cold enough to break out the wool sweaters, although I did contemplate it briefly. For those of you who are scoffing and rolling your eyes, 68 will feel quite cool compared to the 80+ it has been lately. So there!

Anyway, it is a good day for hot beverages. One of my favorites is Earl Gray tea (yes, just like in the “White & Nerdy” song). I cannot resist sniffing the tea bags when I make it. (I’m glad no one has caught me doing this! They already think the physicists are a little weird here at work. No sense fueling the fire for ‘em.) The bergamot scent would make a great candle, but no one ever seems to come up with this product. Yankee Candle will make nearly everything else into a candle scent, including some smells that are tragically unsuited for scenting up an entire room, but so far – no Earl Gray candle has been forthcoming. I’m still mad at them for discontinuing their “Fireside” candle scent a few years ago. Maybe it wasn’t a best seller, but it probably would have sold better if they had made it a prettier color than charcoal gray. It was my favorite. Until they killed it. I've been hoarding my last fireside votive so long, it probably doesn't smell like anything anymore. :-(

Sorry I don’t have more for you today, but I spent the last two days experiencing the migraine from hell. My usual drugs didn’t work on it, so I was unable to stop the “ice pick stabbing me behind my right eye over and over” sensation for two whole days. So far today I am pain free and feeling almost giddy about it. Have a good weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stupid people in the local news

The newspaper is always a goldmine if you like tales of the stupid. Here is a smattering from today alone:

A woman managed to get a DUI while riding a horse. She steered the poor beast into the traffic lanes of a highway and caused a car to hit them. The people in the car were treated and released. She is in intensive care. The horse reportedly survived, but there was no word on his condition.

And just when you thought she couldn't any more tawdry, Jennifer Wilbanks, the infamous "runaway bride" is suing her now ex-fiance for $500,000. She claims he made off with the money he made by selling her story while she was "hospitalized and under medication". He bought a McMansion with it. She apparently lived there with him until they broke up and he kicked her out. In addition to the money, she is demanding that he return a whole crapload of specific items - a list populated with things like "gold sofa in parlor", "ladder belonging to my dad", and "all the wedding and shower gifts given to her by family and friends". By the looks of it, if she gets all that stuff, he'll be living in an empty house. Point of order: shouldn't both of them have returned all those gifts to the people who bought them, as the well-meaning purchasers were under the mistaken impression that they would be getting married?

Even the sports page did not escape the stupidity. Our governor, Sonny Purdue, was unhappy with this headline in Sunday’s sports section: “Dogs get put in their place” (referring to the 51-33 drubbing that UT gave UGA on Saturday night). He was so unhappy, in fact, that he couldn’t wait until after church to act. He dictated a letter to the AJC by telephone on his way to church, accusing them of frothing at the bit to write bad things about the “good people of this state”. I guess he's pandering for the Bulldawg vote (he's up for re-election). For the record, I was very pleased with the AJC’s choice of headline and briefly considered framing it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Indian Summer

We had another one of those perfect early autumn days today. Here in the southeast, fall is a different kind of season than in other places. Early fall is much like summer, except it's comfortable instead of hot, crisp and dry rather than humid. At night it is chilly enough to light a fire if you want to, but mild enough to keep the windows open all night without getting too cold. Fall color is more muted than in higher elevations, but it starts later and lasts longer. Our trees won't be bare until late November. I miss the fire and intensity of the fall display in New England, but I don't miss the early end of summer or the cold, cold nights, or it getting dark absurdly early. I much prefer to spend my autumn here in Georgia. Besides, the north Georgia mountains aren't far away if we get a hankerin' for some bright fall foliage.

I drove home from work with sunroof and windows open, and a warm, gentle wind in my hair. I wish my commute would always be this pleasant. Of course the nice weather was only half the story. The other cool thing was how nearly every signal was green and traffic was light - maybe because of Columbus Day? And I filled up my tank for $1.999/gallon. That hasn't happened in a long time.

Hope your day was just as pleasant!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


It was ugly, but we won.

PDM and I gave our tickets away so we could attend a memorial service and dinner for our friend Larry on Saturday. Sounds like it would have been a frustrating afternoon, being at the game. But any day that Georgia Tech wins and Georgia loses is a good day in my book.

I still like the AP poll the best: #13 (and ranked higher than #16 UGA!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Return of the Toasters

That's right! After what has seemed like a very long wait, Battlestar Galactica is back on the air tomorrow night. We get a two-hour double feature to start the new season, following an all new ep of Doctor Who, which premiered last week. [I'm still getting used to the new Doctor, but I think I will like him. "New Earth" was a good episode, and I loved what they did with the ending.] And Battlestar has far exceeded my expectations in its first two seasons. I've managed to stay spoiler-free and can't wait to see where they take the series this time. I'm just glad to have real "Sci-Fi Fridays" back, because the summer sci-fi fare was weak and we ended up just watching Monk and Psych most of the time. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

While I'm being an unpaid PR rep for the SciFi Channel, I might as well mention the fact that they have ordered thirteen more episodes of Eureka, to air next summer. I thought Eureka was fresh and fun, so I'm happy it's coming back.

Everyone have a great weekend, and don't forget to watch all the new sci-fi!!! [Or if you're not nerdy enough to stay home and make an event of it like we will, don't forget to program the recording device of your choice.]

One last thing: If you don't understand the post title - it's because you are missing out on one of the best science fiction television shows that are currently in production. The "toasters" are what you see standing behind the humans and/or human-looking Cylons in the image above. The jury's still out on some of 'em.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Product Design 101: Don't do this. Ever.

I have a Dell computer at work. Every time I need to plug in a USB device, I get angry.

What's wrong with this design? It is a tower computer - usually people will put these on the floor. Yes, really. The USB hub on the front (read:semi-accessible) side of the computer is near the bottom on the unit. There is a cover plate that hinges outward from the top. The actual USB port is a few inches from the bottom of the front panel, under this cover that hinges upward (blocking your view from above), and the port is angled 45 degrees so your device must be inserted from a downward direction. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH! Every time I want to plug something in, I have to crawl down under my desk, put my foot under the front of the tower to raise it up, and struggle without being able to see what I'm doing to place my USB device into the slot at an angle. I never get the orientation correct on the first try, nor do I find the slot on my first attempt. Bulky or long USB devices don't fit at all, unless you keep the computer tower tipped back the whole time. This is STUPID product design, plain and simple. Why not put the USB slot near the top, in an easily visible position without the angle?!? I guess that would make far too much sense! Grrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Work Stuff and The Nerd Bowl.

I finally made it to a monthly staff meeting this morning. They happen infrequently enough that I don’t usually remember – it seems like it gets cancelled every other month or so. Also, the meeting starts half an hour before our normal arrival time. Usually I remember there was a staff meeting when I get to work at the usual time and wonder where everybody is. Whoops. But I am trying to be a good employee, so last night I set my alarm earlier and got here with 15 minutes to spare. One of the physicians was giving a talk that had lots to do with DNA and gene markers and stuff like that, but nothing to do with physics. I understood about 2% of it. I had to make an extra cup o’ caffeine when I got back to my office to unglaze my eyes afterward. But hey, I was there.

And speaking of work, last Friday they finally published that new schedule that was supposed to start yesterday. They’ve postponed it until the end of the month, and as I expected, I will be splitting my time between our main facility and an off-campus site. I’m not exactly thrilled with it. But there is nothing like spending time working on three or four patient treatment plans that are all palliative cases, for people who are younger than you, to give you some perspective. Don’t like your work schedule? Hmmm. It doesn’t seem that important when you’ve just worked on the charts for several people who have metastatic cancer and won’t live to be your age.

Let’s move on to something cheerier, shall we? After winning the “Nerd Bowl” with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech has moved up to #18 in the AP poll. The other polls still have the team we beat ranked higher than us, so they suck and I will ignore them. We had people over to watch the carnage. I mean, game. The refs tried their best to help VT out, and the announcers spent the entire fourth quarter talking about ways in which VT could try to make a comeback, instead of talking about what a great win it was for GT. It was funny how many times the phrase “most important down of the game” was used in a fifteen minute stretch. The announcers seemed greatly disappointed in the outcome. But in spite of all that, we had fun watching it happen. PDM made us a batch of chili that could easily have won a chili cook-off. It was *that* good. Unfortunately, he never uses a recipe and each batch is unique. I think the key was that he made his own chili powder. And there is a “secret ingredient” but if I blabbed it on the internet, it wouldn’t be secret any more. You’ll just have to guess what it is.

I’ll finish off today with a mini-rant. Why oh why do people pay for their $5 lunches with a credit card? And why are they always in line in front of me? Sigh.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A buffer

There is nothing I could write about that is anywhere close to as serious and meaningful as my last post, so this post about nothing is merely a buffer. I am still very sad about my friend, but life must go on and that is what he would want. Actually, if he were still here he would probably make some kind of joke about how absurd things turn out. Really. I think he would. None of us knows what lies ahead in our futures, and that is probably for the best.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Goodbye, Larry.

A good friend of mine has died. It happened on Monday and was sudden, which makes it all the more difficult for me to process - it seems so unreal. It had been about a month since I last talked to him, and the last time we saw him was when we had him over for dinner back in July. Larry didn't have any family here. No wife, no kids. So there hasn't been a funeral or memorial. He was cremated and the ashes were sent out of state. I think this makes it more difficult to come to terms with the loss. There is no sense of closure. He was here, and now he is just... gone. I'm hoping that writing this will help in some small way. And maybe later there will be some sort of remembrance. I hope so. He had a lot of friends here and we are all probably feeling this way.

I met Larry in 1988 when I was a graduate teaching assistant. Larry was in charge of the "quiz system" that administered the quizzes for the large sophomore physics classes that all the engineers have to take. I was assigned to work in the quiz bank under Larry's direction and we became friends. Back then, Larry's office sort of doubled as a hangout for a few of the older professors. They were interesting guys, and funny. Everything was laid back and casual, and we all had a great time getting the work done. Larry was as cool a boss as I've ever had. As long as you got your work done correctly and on time, he didn't care how or when you did it. Even though it was not part of his job, he was always willing to help students who were struggling. Larry really knew his physics and had a talent for explaining it to others. When he finally got to teach one of those classes he got the highest reviews in the department. He retired last year.

Before he went back to school (he dropped out of Tech and came back later to finish his degree), Larry was a whitewater rafting guide. He was also an expert canoe paddler and took me on many outings. He taught me everything I know about paddling and how to be safe on a river. He made whitewater canoeing so easy. All I had to do was follow his instructions (I was in the front, Larry in the back of the canoe) and everything always went according to plan. Even big, scary rapids and dropoff waterfalls were no problem to navigate with Larry as the guide. We paddled the Chattooga, the Nantahala (that was some COLD water), and the 'Hootch. I also went on a three day canoe camping trip through the Okeefenokee Swamp with Larry and some of his friends two times -- once in the spring, and once in the fall. Those times on the water are a big part of how I will remember him. Good times... The pictures I've posted are from the swamp trip in the Fall of 1992.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

White & Nerdy

Usually by the time I find this stuff, everyone else has already seen it, but if you haven't seen "White & Nerdy" yet, you should click that link. It hits entirely too close to home for us, which just adds to our enjoyment. See my list below:

*Didn't go to MIT, but did go to GIT and graduate with honor.
*Like MC Escher art.
*Also like Earl Grey tea.
*My rims never spin (and never will).
*Only have one action figure (but it’s cherry).
*Stephen Hawking's in my library.
*I know pi to a thousand places (well, just five actually).
*I'm a whiz at Minesweeper, yup.
*Do vector calculus just for fun (not really, but I don’t hate it).
*I ain't got a gat but I got a soldering gun.
*I always have 2-3 pens in my labcoat pocket, but no pocket protector.
*I edit Wikipedia (not yet, but tempting).
*I memorized "Holy Grail" really well. And the Star Wars movies. And Lord of the Rings. And Farscape, Firefly, etc.
*Bubble wrap is irresistable fun (pop pop).
*Whiter than sour cream (unfortunately, yes).
*I was in some geeky clubs, and band.
*Kirk or Picard? Yes, tough question.

Too quiet

I know I've been quiet lately. We're still in the dark about the new work schedule that theoretically starts on Monday. The uncertainty has spilled over into other areas - sucking the life out of my motivation to do, well, anything. I don't want to start anything new at work or at home. I shouldn't let it get to me like it has. I'll get over this funk sooner or later and go charging off to do good things. Or buy some shoes. [Always an option for how to handle any problem - new shoes usually help. Really. They do. Try it sometime.]

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Georgia Tech is #24 on the latest AP poll. This may not last past next weekend, when we face a tough Virginia Tech team on the road, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

More TVs than people

The average US household has more TVs than people. Half of US homes have three or more sets, while only 19% have one television. The article didn't even bother listing a percentage of homes with no TV at all. The "average household" (which consists of 2.55 people) has one of their 2.73 TVs on for more than 8 hours a day. Individual people are watching more than 4 hours a day. While I believe the statistics, I have to wonder -- just what the hell are all these people watching? There are a few standouts in the TV lineup, but I'd rate most of the content somewhere between banal and craptacular. Even when I want to watch TV, it is difficult finding something on that is worth watching.

We're in that small minority of people who only have one TV, and that suits us just fine. We only have the one TV, but we have four computers. You have to have your priorities straight. I think music (or silence) makes a better sonic background than some inane sitcom rerun you've seen six times before, or some vacuous airbag of a news anchor sensationalizing some insignificant tidbit of a soundbite. Instead of using the tube to lull/dull yourself to sleep every night, try opening a window and listening to the crickets sometime. You might like it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lackluster in Limbo

Today has been a very long, slow day. With little new work calling for my attention, I was able to get completely caught up. It has been tempting to start some new projects. I have a couple in mind, but I am unwilling to expend much effort on this kind of thing until I know what my new work assignment will be. If I go through all the trouble to start up something new, I would like to be able to keep working on it longer than one week. We're still awaiting the new work schedule and location assignments that were announced two weeks ago (without any details of who and where), and we're only one week away from the start date. Word was that we were supposed to find out by the end of this week, but it is Friday afternoon at 4pm, and we have heard nothing. I don't think I'm gonna stick around holding my breath. This day has been a total downer. I prefer to be busy at work. The only time I was busy today was during lunch when I had access to one of our accelerators and was able to get a lot of testing done. The uncertainty isn't any fun and has contributed to a weird sort of vibe around this place. We're all pretty sure we won't like the new schedule, but none of us knows how bad it will really be.

I'm about to call it a day and officially enter weekend mode. I am sure that dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant and socializing with our friends at the pub will brighten my mood. Hope the rest of you have a good weekend, too.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

GT vs. UVA Quick Summary

Overall experience = fun night out

Tailgating menu = chili cheese dogs and onion rings from The Varsity = very yummy, especially the rings!

Tailgating company = always top notch!

Score = resounding victory for Tech

Fermicat's pick for player of the game = Calvin Johnson (#21)

Halftime show = groovy

Throwback Thursday Theme = lots of laughs

Throwback uniforms = surprisingly good looking for stuff modeled after the 70s

Attendance = not quite a sellout, but big crowd for a weeknight

Greatest weakness = special teams, again. Kickoff return coverage SUCKS!

Greatest strength = our defense is rock solid

Officiating = fair (and I mean that in a good way)

TV coverage = ?? (I was there for most of the game, so I didn't see it on TV except for the last couple of minutes)

Weather = perfect night for football

Getting to leave work early to go tailgate = priceless

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Throwback Thursday

"I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer!" Or medical physicist. Whatever. Our fight song was adapted from a drinking song ("Son of a Gambolier"):

I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer,
A helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer,
Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear,
I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.

Oh, if I had a daughter, sir, I'd dress her in White and Gold,
And put her on the campus, to cheer the brave and bold.
But if I had a son, sir, I'll tell you what he'd do.
He would yell, "To Hell with Georgia," like his daddy used to do.

Oh, I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three thousand pounds,
A college bell to put it in and a clapper to stir it around.
I'd drink to all good fellows who come from far and near.
I'm a ramblin', gamblin', hell of an engineer.

My dad had a daughter, and she does wear white and gold, but she also yells "To Hell With Georgia" with all the guys. And a bunch of other stuff that makes me glad there aren't any small children sitting near us at the games. Things have changed a lot since 1911!

Thursday is the "Monday Night Football" of College Football. Yes, the ESPN Thursday night game this week is Georgia Tech vs. Virginia, and PDM and I will be there at the game. I'm leaving work early to join the tailgate party. You gotta have your priorities straight. This week we're planning on sending the guys over to The Greasy V to pick up some glorified steaks and heavyweight dogs all the way, ring one and strings, and maybe even an F.O. or two. Tech has dubbed the game "Throwback Thursday". The team will be wearing uniforms similar to what they had in the late 60s and early 70s. Lets hope they play better than they did in that era, because with the exception of one very good year in 1970 when they went 9-3, they were pretty mediocre back then. I would say look for us on TV, but (a)you don't know what we look like, and (b)they never film people in our section.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pimp My Camry

I drive a 2006 Camry LE that I bought last fall. It is by far the nicest car I've ever owned (not that there was serious competition from any of my previous cars). It is roomy and comfortable, powerful enough for anything I have to do on the road, gets good mileage, looks good, and drives like a dream. From past experience with four other high-mileage Toyotas I know that it is unlikely to have any serious mechanical problems until I've driven it at least 100K miles. I've only got one problem with it: there are a metric crapload of dark gray metallic Camrys on the road that look just like it. It looks great, but isn't exactly special. I haven't done anything significant to personalize it. (Besides bonk the back bumper on a concrete support post last month, making a vertical dent in it, dang it. And I'm still planning on having that fixed.) My drive to work is only nine miles, so I almost never leave stuff in the car. It doesn't have that "lived in" look or feel. I keep a few CDs tucked away out of sight, and am forced to have a parking permit hang tag that precludes hanging anything else from the rear view mirror. I'm not a bumper sticker person, and have just a small Georgia Tech logo on the rear window above the brake light. Sometimes I feel like I'm driving a rental car. For a car that I've been driving almost a year now, it still lacks any meaningful marks of ownership (again, I am not counting the bumper damage). Any tasteful suggestions on how to make this car feel like it is mine?

I took it in for service a few weeks ago. Why is it that my owner's manual recommends an oil change every 5000 miles, but when I take it to the dealer for service they will invariably put a sticker on the inside window that says I need another one in 3000 miles? Don't they read their own manuals? The last time I brought the car in, they didn't even add the 3000 miles correctly. 10,089 + 3000 does not equal the "11,389" they put on the sticker. I don't think I'll be bringing it in that soon guys... sorry. Oh, and another thing - they put the sticker on extremely crooked which led to me having a "Monk Moment" about it. I was going to fix it, but since they got the mileage wrong I tossed it instead. On the way out, they told me that I would be contacted with (yet another) customer survey, and sort of coached me on how their managers interpret the results. Grade inflation is not limited to schools, people. It applies to customer service surveys as well. Which means I will be sure to ignore it, since the results are meaningless as a true measure of performance. They all want to be like Lake Wobegon, where everyone is above average. That drives me crazy! I'm not giving out an A+ for B- work, even if your manager regards anything less than perfect to be a failure.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Passed!!!

Got the letter from the ABR today. I passed the Clinical and General Physics exams. I felt pretty good about the tests right after taking them, but it is nice to have confirmation. Hooray!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Saddest Tailgate Party, Ever.

Saw this on game day and felt sorry for the poor bastard. What a sad and lonely sight amidst all the revelry.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Elvis Isn't Dead

He's at our tailgate party every week. He likes Georgia Tech, except when they play Carolina.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cheap Cat Toys

Friday CatBlogging edition:

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a toy your cats will love. Moxy is in and out of this box about a thousand times a day. It makes an excellent lair.

Here is an earlier model of the toy, with both cats getting in on the action. Moxy later chewed the edges of this box until it slowly disintegrated and we had to get her a thicker one (pictured above). It was a tough job drinking all those Coronas for her, but we managed to empty the new box in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rain, Funny Headlines, and Monk Moments.

A gentle rain fell all night long. It was the first time in months that we got a nighttime rain that didn't involve thunder and lightning. Listening to it (ahhhh!) got me into a good mood. I didn't even mind (much) the heavier-than-normal traffic this morning that resulted from the rain.

A day of work has turned my good mood into a goofy mood. Example? This headline sounds vaguely naughty: Scientists Remove Hunley’s Rear Hatch. If your brain interprets "Hunley" as a person's name, and not the name of a sunken Civil War submarine, this statement is kind of funny. Or is it just my warped sense of humor at play here?

I had a "Monk moment" today at work. I was putting a label into the clear pocket on the spine of a binder, and couldn't get it in there straight. It nearly drove me crazy... a little askew, overcorrect, overcorrect the opposite direction, overcorrect again, oh no - it is just a tiny little bit crooked now. Must fix. Argh! Overcorrected! And so on. A normal human being would have left well enough alone the first time. PDM has his share of "Monk moments" as well. Actually, we both have a lot of "Monk moments". Enough to dedicate an entire post to. Look for it as a coming attraction!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When it rains, they let us water.

No more waiting up ‘til midnight to turn on the hoses. No more collecting rainwater. No more getting up an hour early (after staying up until midnight) to water the rest of the plants in the pre-dawn darkness. Why, you ask? Because my county finally decided to drop their absurdly tight watering restrictions. We’ve gotten a bit more rain in the last month so the trees are not dropping leaves anymore and we have to mow the grass again. Now we will follow the statewide Stage I Drought schedule, which allows watering three days a week, any time of day except 10am-4pm. Hooray! I’ll be able to water stuff in the evening after work if I need to. Hopefully we will continue to get some rain and I won’t need to do too much watering. My wallet can breathe easier as well – one negative consequence of the previous watering restrictions was a higher water bill (because I ended up leaving the water running all night). Yes, the previous restrictions resulted in doubling our water use, at least for my household.

Now my nosy neighbors can finally stop fretting about my water collecting and find something else to worry about.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Real life intrudes, a blowout, and a very bad cat.

I'm not worried about work anymore, because now I'm worried about Big Daddy (my grandfather). He has been in the hospital this weekend with stroke-like symptoms, but they haven't figured out what is going on with him. Everybody think good thoughts, please. I'll let you know what happens.

After spending a few hours with Big Daddy at the hospital on Saturday, we headed over to Tech for the game against Samford. It was a very different atmosphere than last week. We joined our fellow tailgaters late, scarfed down some sandwiches (but no beer, because we didn't bring our own and didn't want to be leeches), then went to the game. The team had a shaky start, going 3-and-out. But things quickly turned and the game went about like everyone expected. We pulled our starters after halftime and played a total of 69 different guys! Four quarterbacks, four tailbacks... pretty much anyone on the bench who was wearing pads got a chance to play. I started to wonder if they would start grabbing kids from the stands. We left a bit early since neither of us got much sleep the night before. Unlike the hell we encountered trying to away from campus last week, getting home was a breeze and we caught the end of the game on the radio.

Now it's Sunday afternoon and I'm still sitting around in my PJs. A nap might be in order later on. Or shopping. I haven't decided. For the past two nights, Moxy has gone on a tear and kept us awake for hours starting at around 2am. I hope this is just a phase. Please, someone tell me it is just a phase! Otherwise, it means that we have adopted Satan's spawn instead of the adorable kitten that we thought we were bringing home, and we will never get more than 1-2 hours of continuous sleep again.

So how was YOUR weekend?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Impending Doom?

I'm learning to reflexively dread staff meetings. Every time we have one, our schedules and clinic assignments get shuffled around. Usually just as everyone has adjusted to the last batch of changes.

Today we had a staff meeting and guess what? Our schedules and clinical assignments are going to get changed as of October 1. Only they didn't tell us who was going where. Nice. The only change they did tell us about leaves an opening at the satellite location that I usually cover when their physicist is only there part time. I have a bad feeling that I'll end up getting assigned there full time. The people there are nice and everything, but there isn't enough to do and it is very dull. Plus the types of procedures they perform are limited in scope, so I will get zero opportunity to learn anything new. Since I am a junior physicist, training opportunities are extremely important.

Sure, I haven't heard anything official about it, and maybe I am getting upset for nothing. I hope so. But my gut says differently. I have that awful feeling of impending doom.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Healthcare Ain't Like Engineering

I've been working in my new career just over a year now. I like it most days. It can take a lot out of you. It can be heartbreaking some days, and wryly humorous the next. One thing is for sure: it isn't like my old career of being an engineer toiling away in a cube farm. For one thing, some of the things you overhear are funny, especially when taken out of context. Want an example? "That is the biggest rectum I've ever seen!" If you hear that on an engineering job, it would most likely be referring to someone's dominant personality trait, but in healthcare it would literally mean someone was, um, "full" when they were scanned. I used to pore over blueprints, but now I gaze at CT scans. Let me tell you, nobody looks good on a CT scan! Not even people who look darned cute on the outside.

Speaking of medical images, did anyone else notice that during tonight's episode of House there was a weird imaging mixup? They used an endoscope to check out the patient's stomach and you see the nice color video image of the esophagus and then the stomach, then all of a sudden we're looking at an ultrasound image of something unidentifiable. The scope is still down his throat and there wasn't an ultrasound probe anywhere in sight. Strange. But interesting episode. I'm not sure I like the "new and improved" House, but from the looks of it the old House is going to be back sooner rather than later.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


I have never seen so many people on the Georgia Tech campus, ever. Not even at a Tech-Georgia game. It was, as Jeff Foxworthy would say, pandelerium. PDM and I spent all day tailgating and then watching the game. We tailgate next to Yellow Jacket Alley, not even a block from the north stands of the stadium. It is prime real estate. There were 3-4 times as many people in this area than on a normal game day. People were setting up tables in areas (like the mudholes) that normally go untouched. You could't walk two steps without running into someone.

High points of the day:

- The incredible sense of excitement on campus as all of those thousands of fans partied all afternoon.
- Getting to soak up all that college football atmosphere for the first time this season.
- Terrific food and company.
- Fireworks and a flyover during the pregame show. The flyover was very cool, but blink and you'd miss it!
- Tech going up 10-0 in the first half.
- Staying in the game until the end. We ain't no pushovers, y'hear. ND never took their starters out, and they didn't beat the spread either.
- The sea of gold in the stadium warmed my heart. I was worried our beloved stadium might be full of ND fans, but the Yellow Jacket faithful were out in force, and LOUD!
- We enjoyed the funny guy in the stands behind us. He was a riot! I hope he's still there next week.
- The Notre Dame fans were the nicest crowd we've ever hosted for a game. There were a metric crapload of them on campus, and they were generally very polite and well-behaved before AND after the game. A real class act. I still don't like your team and never will, but you've earned my respect.

Low points:

- The final score, obviously.
- The incredibly bad call by the refs that led to ND's final touchdown. Their guy was inbounds when he was hit, and our guy didn't hit him with his head. Pathetic. It was a legitimate tackle and they should have had to kick a field goal. Thanks, refs. /sarcasm
- Port-a-potties. Suck. So does the long walk over the hill to the student center to use a real restroom.
- It was hot, but that's just part of college football in the south. We got over it. Beer helps.
- Crowds. Heavy foot traffic. No one left early, so getting out of the stadium and back to the car was challenging.
- Regular automotive traffic. It took us 30 minutes to get out of the parking deck from level 3. [Hey Tech! perhaps hiring a few extra cops to direct traffic out of a sold-out game might have been a decent idea. It's not like you didn't make any money yesterday.] Another 30 minutes were spent getting to the interstate, which is right next to campus. Spit out of a dorm room and you'd hit it. We got home at 1:15am.
- Did I mention The Score?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Overly Hyped

I'm dismayed at all the hype about today's Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame game. Yes, ND is ranked #2 (preseason, so it is just speculation). Yes, it is on national TV (ABC 8pm). Yes, it is a big game. But it is NOT the be-all, end-all of Georgia Tech football. Get a grip, people. I care a lot more about the Georgia game than this one.

Tech is unranked this year. We're playing #2. We basically have nothing to lose. If we can just manage to stay in the game, it will be a moral victory. An upset would be sweet, but too many people have been talking about this possibility and I fear they have jinxed us. I'm just going to enjoy the tailgating parties and soak up the college football atmosphere and drink a lot of beer. It's a great day for some football - mostly sunny and not nearly as searingly hot as it has been lately.

And just for the record, the last time Georgia Tech played Notre Dame was January 1, 1999 in the Gator Bowl. Tech won 35-28.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Are you a Shatnerd?

Take the test and find out. I'm Shat-tastic!

Hunter, Prey.

Friday CatBlogging edition: Moxy has developed quite the appetite for chasing/eating buglike critters of all shapes and sizes. I don't have a problem with her hunting and killing creepy crawly things in the house. Last week she dismembered and then squashed a daddy longlegs. There wasn't much left of it to eat, but she did play with the severed legs until they stopped moving.

She had a lot of fun playing with this cricket yesterday.

I checked on her a few minutes later and all I found was one lone cricket leg. It wasn't moving.

I've got to get a decent digital camera. There is no reason for the cricket to be that out of focus. Also my camera has a very long delay betwen my pressing the button and the shutter actually opening for the picture. It is difficult to get an action photo this way. I was trying to be patient until Christmas, but I think I might be buying myself a present in the near future. I need more pixels, better optics, zoom capability, and it should all come in a smaller package than the dinosaur digital camera I am using now. Anyone have any recommendations?