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.