Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Winter Storm Warning

Looks like it's for real this time. Our storm watch is now a warning. Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain... you name it, we got it on tap in the overnight forecast. I know it isn't a big deal to many of you in the un-southern parts of this country, but this kind of dire prediction causes all hell to break loose down here, and that's before we see one speck of whatever-it-is that they're predicting. You couldn't pay me to go near a grocery store tonight. Pure pandemonium.

It won't bother me at all if we wake up tomorrow to an ice storm. In fact, as long as we don't have a tree fall on the house, I'd welcome the chance to turn the alarm off and go back to sleep.

Update (6:20am 2/1): Wrong again! Woke up this morning to 33 F and heavy rain (which is high on the list of my least favorite type of weather). The weather people aren't doing so great this winter. So far, they are 0-for-2 with the winter storm predictions. I guess I have to go get ready for work now.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Inside the Box

This is what I found inside my old desktop computer when I opened it to install the wireless card. Makes me wonder what's inside all the other electronic crap I've owned for a long time...

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Day Off, Sort Of

I took the day off, but it was because I worked on Sunday (so it wasn't a "real" day off). I got lot of stuff done. It is so much easier to get around during a weekday when everyone is at work. Bank, post office, that sort of thing. As soon as traffic started to become a pain in the ass, I made a beeline back home.

I got a 1GB memory card for my new camera, and a wireless network card for my old desktop computer. Wireless cards are cheap, so why not? The memory card was pretty cheap also, after discount and assuming I don't procrastinate away my rebate (which has happened before). Anyone who has seen my Flickr photostream lately knows that I've been having a lot of fun with my camera. Now I can make many more lame attempts at creating 'art' before I have to stop and download because the camera's full.

I also took my notebook computer to the shop. Why is this noteworthy? Because it hasn't worked right in over two years and this was one of my longest-running procratinated tasks, that's why. Maybe they can fix it, and maybe they can't, but after 2+ years I am fairly certain that it ain't gonna fix itself.

I forgot to pick up tax software (oops), decided not to get my oil changed because I didn't bring a book with me (technically it is not due for another two hundred miles or so, and I don't think I have ever in my life taken a car in for service *early*), and left a few other things not done. I didn't want to cause a cosmic rift (or something worse) by emptying my "to do" list in one day. That would be most unnatural! So you can rest easy knowing that my desk still has piles of stuff I need to file, my yard is still full of those sweet gum balls, and my flowerbeds are still buried under dead leaves. The yardwork was the easiest thing to put off for later - it was still below freezing at noon today, so forget that. [Yes, I can hear you westerners, mid-westerners, and yankees laughing at me. Say what you want, but if it isn't at least 55F, the dang yardwork can wait.]

Friday, January 26, 2007

57 Channels and Nothin' On?

Friday CatBlogging: No matter how big your TV is, your cat will always find a way to obstruct the view.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Quiz That Asks The Right Questions

Yankee or Dixie?

My score? 87% Dixie.

Glad to know my 12.5 years in Massachusetts didn't seem to have any permanent effects. I still think THEY talk funny, not me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Time to celebrate.

It’s our “house-iversary”. One year ago today we spent the afternoon signing a metric crapload of documents and the house we chose was ours. Well, sort of ours, you know. We still have to finish paying for it. After the closing, we changed into work clothes, and spent the evening ripping up all of the nasty old carpets and padding. Underneath was very good quality hardwood flooring and about a million staples. Turns out, pulling up the carpet is the easy part. Removing each staple one by one… that part sucks. [Sanding and refinishing the floors no doubt sucks as well, but we paid someone else to do that.]

We’ve had house projects going on ever since that day. Some hellishly big. Some very minor. And there is a long list of projects we have yet to begin. I don’t think you ever stop wanting to improve things, at least not when you live in a vintage 1965 home. It is sometimes frustrating, often a pain (literally), and usually expensive. But there is something very satisfying about the process, especially on projects that you do yourself.

This weekend we’re taking a break from home improvement. Tonight, we’ll have our friends over to enjoy this home with us. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our first year.

Here is what the kitchen and breakfast area looked like about a year ago:

Here is what it looks like these days (we got rid of the old eat-in area to make one much larger kitchen out of the whole space). The big window is still there, you just can't see it because I was standing too close to the 'fridge when I took the picture.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blue Law Blues

Our state legislature is in session and once again, a bill to change Georgia’s “blue laws” has been introduced. The bill, if enacted, would allow local jurisdictions to let voters decide whether or not beer and wine can be sold on Sundays. I purchase beer and wine, and don’t have any problem with drinking it on Sundays, so naturally this is of interest to me. Currently, the statewide rule is that on Sundays, Georgians can only purchase beer and wine at restaurants, and they must consume the beverage on the premises. If you want to drink alcohol in your home on Sunday, you must have the foresight to purchase it before midnight on Saturday night (or you can drive to another state and get it, if that floats your boat). We are one of only three states with this restriction. This particular state law is intended to force people to conform to the religious idea of Sunday as a “day of rest” or some such. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes want to rest with a tall, cold one or a nice glass of shiraz. And some days, having to get cleaned up and go out to a restaurant to get one is not particularly restful. Plus there is the whole driving home afterward thing to deal with…

I don’t give this bill much of a chance for survival, even though a majority of Georgians are for it. Heck, in the metro Atlanta area a whopping 80% of citizens in a recent poll were in favor of letting voters decide. The bill doesn’t force a change on anyone, it merely allows local people to arrange things to the satisfaction of the majority of voters. I’m sure some communities would keep the ban. I haven’t heard any completely rational arguments for why we need blue laws. Most of the arguments center on religion, not rationality. I believe that if respecting the Lord’s Day is important to you, then you are free to do that on any day of your choosing. What you should not be free to do is to demand compliance from others. People can do just about anything on Sunday that is legal to do on any other day of the week. It makes no sense to arbitrarily restrict this one thing. And yet, every time an attempt is made to change the law, it fails. This time will be no different. Even if the bill manages to make it past the legislature, the governor has already not-so-subtly hinted that he’ll veto it. Clearly, in this case he feels that his opinion trumps the will of the people who elected him.

Why am I ranting about this? It isn’t very important in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t a total ban, but is more of an inconvenient limitation. It isn’t a rule that I spend much time thinking about, and if I want a drink on a Sunday, I find a way to legally get one. Basically, I am ranting because in this case, our representative government is failing its citizens. Clearly, the majority of people want the blue laws to change, and the government continues to stifle their wishes in order to please a small minority. It is frustrating and wrong. And kind of stupid.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who turned the heat off?

Our high of 73 yesterday set a new record. Today it is back to work, and back to winter. Well, “winter” such as it is in the Deep South. If the forecast is accurate, we are due for some rain, freezing rain, and sleet on Thursday morning. I can’t wait to drive to work in that.

Since PDM and I both had a long weekend, we planned to do some stuff around the house. If we’d known it would be in the 70s all weekend and not raining two out of the three days, we might have made other plans! We tackled the crappiest chore first – painting the ceiling in the kitchen. I don’t mind painting walls, but painting a ceiling (especially a vaulted one like ours) is literally a pain in the neck. No one notices when it’s done, but they notice when it needs doing like ours did. You spend all your time awkwardly standing on a ladder with the roller on a stick held way over your head, craning your neck to look straight up. Makes me cranky.

The good news is that the kitchen renovation we started nearly a year ago is finally complete! This project deserves its own post some day, but in a nutshell - we completely gutted the tired, old kitchen and cannibalised the attached eat-in area to make one giant, modern kitchen. The old ceiling fan (blades long since removed) was the last original item left, and it was taken down before we started painting. After the paint was dry, PDM installed the last of the new light fixtures and now the kitchen is finished. Until we change it again...

We spent Sunday and Monday painting our living/dining room. We also bought PDM a suit (he needs it for the fancy-pants party my employers are throwing tomorrow at the High Museum of Art), watched four hours of 24, and visited our new local Trader Joe’s to stock up on "three buck Chuck", beer, and appetizers for the shindig we’re hosting on Saturday. I feel pretty good about all the stuff we accomplished this weekend. Nothing like a deadline (hey, lets have a party!) to light a fire under your arse.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Insert witty blog post here.

Writer's block attacks. One blogger slightly wounded. I think she'll recover, but not today.

I did make some template changes today. The nightstand has a new resident, I've added a link to tacklingmonkey's blog, and inserted a Flickr badge. Check 'em out!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Meet Fermi

This is my favorite photo of Fermi (1989-2000), my online namesake. She was named after physicist Enrico Fermi. Her sister was a solid gray cat named Pauli, who was killed by curiosity at the age of two. This photo was taken in the summer of 1990, when I was a graduate student in physics (thus the naming scheme).

She is stretched out inside a hollowed out branch of a gnarled old peach tree. The tree bore delicious peaches in spite of its aged condition. You can see another hollowed out branch behind her, propped up on a sawhorse and loaded with healthy-looking offshoots.


Georgia Tech just beat #11 Duke in basketball. Oh hell yeah!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Last Thing Your Car Needs Is More Windows.

Remember those old jokes about what would happen if cars ran like Microsoft Windows (TM)? If not, let me refresh your memory:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT." But then you would have to buy more seats.

6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five per cent of the roads.

7. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation" warning light.

8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

9. The airbag system would say "Are you sure?" before going off.

10. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grab hold of the radio antenna.

11. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50% or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.

12. Everytime GM introduced a new model car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

13. You'd press the "start" button to shut off the engine.

Today, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft has partnered with Ford to offer a dashboard operating system for some 2008 vehicles. Aside from the easy jokes (see above), this seems like a bad idea. The OS will drive all kinds of personal computing devices, such as cell phones and MP3 players. Aren't drivers distracted enough? Isn't this just a spate of accidents waiting to happen? I have very little faith that it will all be so easy to use that drivers will be able to answer their email in traffic. How can they operate their vehicles when they'll need both hands to press control-alt-delete?

Monday, January 08, 2007

A movie, impatience, and my take on the news.

PDM and I finally went to see Casino Royale yesterday. Yes, I know it has been out for months, but hey - no line and no crowd! The lack of gadgets and cheesiness was totally refreshing. I liked it!

I noticed today that when my work computer is running an application slowly, or appears to be hung up, I can't resist moving the mouse around in circles. As if the computer is going to wake up or something. I'm not sure why I do it, but the longer a task takes, the more furiously I wiggle that mouse around. I just about hit light speed if the stupid little hourglass disappears entirely.

There wasn't a lot going on this morning at the alternate work location where I am obliged to spend my Mondays, Tuesdays, and some Thursdays. I amused myself by reading the news online. Here are a few snippets that caught my attention:

The American Dialect Society has chosen "plutoed" as its 2006 Word of the Year. Ironically, being chosen as the Word of the Year is the exact opposite of what the word "plutoed" actually means.

If you're going to kill someone and eat his heart, you might want to review basic human anatomy first. I don't think you gain much of the warrior's spirit by eating his chest muscle and part of a lung.

As cosmopolitan as Atlanta tries to be, it still can't escape being the subject of headlines like "Another Hogzilla Caught Near Atlanta". I can't imagine Brussels, Paris, or London ever being included in the same headline as the word "hogzilla".

And sadly, Calvin Johnson announced today that he is leaving Georgia Tech early for the NFL. I knew this was coming, and it is the best thing for him, but I can't help feeling let down by the news. But Tech's loss is the NFL's gain. Some team will be very lucky to get him and I wish him well.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Return of CatBlogging

This post is dedicated to Jasmine.

Santa Claus left this toy mouse for Moxy in her stocking. She has had it for less than two weeks and has already given it a fuzzy mohawk.

This type of picture would not have been possible with my dinosaur of an old digital camera, but PDM got me a shiny new 8MP one with lots of bells and whistles for Christmas. Hopefully enough features to overcome the limitations of the photographer. I'm having a blast experimenting with the settings.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To The Moon, Alice!

In honor of the first full moon of 2007, I am blatantly ripping off today's Astronomy Picture of the Day because it was so cool. [OK, not a total ripoff - I used a different image of the moon and I'm throwing in some extra links.] The moon orbits the earth in an elliptical orbit, not a circular one. Since the distance from the earth to the moon is not constant, the full moon varies in apparent size. This can be easily seen in this series of images showing twenty consecutive full moons. The slight wobble you see is called libration. Each Full Moon of the year has a traditional name (or two, or three). Once in a blue moon, there is a blue moon, like the one we'll see this spring.

I enjoy looking at and photographing the moon during all of its phases. One of the quiet pleasures of winter is to take a walk in the woods under a full moon. Without the leaf canopy, the moonlight filters through the bare branches and lights your path. Everything is still and quiet. The stars twinkle in the cold, crisp air. Lovely.

Enjoy the Wolf Moon, y'all.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a safe and fun New Year's Eve. We did what we usually do, which is to stay in and watch something on DVD. We just got a 42" flat screen TV on Friday (Merry Christmas to us!!!), so it was a bit like being in the theater, except no crying babies or idiots talking on their cell phones. We watched our new DVD of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries - very cool. PDM cooked his "New Orleans Shrimp" meal, which is messy and yummy all at once. We don't particularly like champagne by itself, so we wait until New Year's Day and have mimosas. This year, I made "peach-mosas" - your basic mimosa with a splash of peach liqueur, just because we had some. Dee-licious! I've got a big pot of red beans cooking on the stovetop for some red beans and rice. I'm trying to duplicate the time I made the best red beans and rice EVER. Unfortunately, I did not use a recipe and was drinking while cooking (for 3 hours or so), so I have only hazy memories of what exactly I did to make it so wonderful. I have this vague memory of using fresh oregano from my garden, using hot Italian sausage instead of andouille (which I could not find in Massachusetts), and putting a whole lot of stuff from my spice cabinet in there. I bought some Italian sausage and harvested two varieties of oregano (still green!) from our herb garden. It sure smells good, so I think I'm on the right track. I started it early, so we could have some while we watch Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

Wishing all of you a great new year. And many more.