Sunday, September 30, 2007


Fall is a time of changes. Weatherwise, the changes in Atlanta are subtle this time of year. There is not a hint of color in the trees, nor will there be frost for a long time. But it is noticeably cooler at night, more comfortable (yet still warm) during the day, and best of all - it is far less humid most of the time. We can finally turn off our air conditioners and rely on fresh air from the windows. Still summery, but with that indefinable "something" in the air that hints of things to come.

Some things don't change, unfortunately. Georgia's extreme drought conditions are projected to worsen over the next few months. The long-term forecast calls for a warmer and drier winter than normal, extending our rain deficit into next year. Usually we can count on a wet fall and winter to help refill reservoirs, lakes and streams. Not this year. The persistence of sunny days has led to a change in outdoor water use restrictions. The tight restrictions have been replaced with a total outdoor watering ban for the entire northern third of the state. I'll miss the gardening I would have done - autumn is a great time to plant new perennials - but the region needs to conserve water for drinking and power generation. We are also obligated by law to release a certain amount of water downstream, and this far exceeds the reduced inflow to the lakes. Our water sources are at historically low levels. Lake Lanier is likely to reach a low not seen since it was first filled.

Yesterday was no exception to the fair fall weather pattern. Sunny skies and a warm, but not hot, afternoon made for excellent football weather. I had low expectations for this game. Change was in the air at sold-out Bobby Dodd Stadium, where Georgia Tech was able to engineer a reversal of fortune over their previous two games. The victory over formerly undefeated Clemson was a much-needed confidence builder for us. Our passing game still needs work, but special teams and the defense were spot on! Running back Choice was back to his normal performance, gaining 145 yards in spite of his injured hamstring. The team pulled together to overcome a bad start in our conference this year and to avenge last year's loss to Clemson. Close games are exciting, but difficult to watch when you care about the outcome. The fans of both teams were rocking the house during the entire game. We were finally able to relax with some cold fried chicken and beer at an impromptu post-game celebratory tailgate party. An added bonus was the hassle free exit from campus, long after most of the crowd had dispersed.

There is more change afoot in the sporting world: TBS will no longer broadcast Braves games nationwide. "America's Team" has been canceled due to declining ratings and a changing TV landscape. We will still be able to see them on TV here in Atlanta and in much of the southeast, but for the first time since 1977, the Braves will no longer be a big part of nationwide baseball programming. I can't help but feel sad about this. During my 12+ years living in New England, being able to turn on the TV and find a Braves game helped me feel less homesick. Even when I was too busy to watch, I would sometimes leave the game on just to hear the familiar voices from back home. The Braves on TBS made me feel more at home and less alone.

And speaking of television, the changeover from summer programming to fall programming is in full swing. Monk, Psych, and Rescue Me are on seasonal hiatus. Eureka and Doctor Who end this coming week. Heroes arrived again last week, along with newcomers Chuck and Journeyman. Looks like Monday is our new "couch potato night". This week brings the return of Dexter, and new show "Pushing Daisies" looks interesting.

And last but certainly not least, there are big changes in the works at my job. It has been handled rather strangely. We have a new physics schedule starting on Monday, and all of us know what it is from the grapevine, but I have yet to see any official notice/memo/email regarding the change. They usually have a short meeting to announce big changes, but not this time. I am going back to the schedule I like most (100% at the main location, so no more switching back and forth). Because this is what I wanted, I was afraid to get my hopes up about it until getting the official word. But official or not, apparently it is a go. I can't help but cynically feel that it will change again in the future, and I will once again get an assignment I don't care for. All I can do to fight that is to work my butt off at the main location and try to become indispensable. The rest of it is out of my control.

Edited to add: Speaking of changes, I have cleaned up my links list and added some people that I have been reading for some time now. They are in no particular order, so please don't anyone get your feelings hurt. Some day I will shuffle them into alphabetical order or whatnot. Don't hold your breath. I've been meaning to spiff up the graphics for nearly a year now, and the blog is still black and plain.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Son of Return of CatBlogging

It's time to get things back on a normal track. And Fridays are perfect for CatBlogging! No matter how many times I tell Zima not to drink my water, the minute my back is turned, this is what she does.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The War

I'm a little behind on posts, but I definitely wanted to get to this one. PDM and I started watching the new Ken Burns documentary The War on Sunday night. The series focuses on four American towns and how they experienced WWII. Early on in Part I, the narrator says something to the effect that this war touched every family in America. My first thought was something like "Wow. That's quite a statement." And then the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was probably true.

My family certainly changed as a result of the war. Big Daddy's brother Johnny was killed. (Big Daddy is my grandfather on my mother's side.) From family lore, Uncle Johnny was reputed to be funnier than Big Daddy and his other brother Warren put together, and that is really saying something! Uncle Johnny looks so kind and handsome and down-to-earth in the photo of him in uniform. I wish I could have met him. My Dad's father came back a changed man, which eventually led to his divorce from my grandmother and estrangement from Dad, who never forgave him for deserting his family. He returned from the war with some very bad habits. An alcoholic, he died alone, of cirrhosis of the liver. I never met the man, even though he lived nearby when I was growing up. Such a waste, and so much sadness all around. Other family members served as well. I have vintage photos and mementos from my Uncle Robert's time in Europe, including a photo of Bob Hope performing for the troops.

It really does seem like no one could have lived through that time and come out unscathed. Surely everyone would have had a family member or friend who was dramatically changed by that war. It was such a defining moment for our country and the world. Events so enormous as to be nearly beyond comprehension, while at the same time, the effects were so intensely personal.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cancer Sucks

Big Daddy's prostate cancer has metastasized. Big Daddy is my grandfather. We celebrated his 90th birthday last month. He had prostate cancer many years ago, fought it, and beat it. It returned to his prostate last year, and now it has spread to his bones.

Once cancer spreads beyond the site of origin, it cannot be "cured". But in many cases it can be "managed" as a chronic illness. Bone mets are not fatal, but they are painful, and increase the risk of a fracture. Please keep Big Daddy in your thoughts and prayers as he fights this cancer once again.

Cancer took my father's life in 1993 when he was just 57. Cancer has affected other family members and friends. I work in Radiation Oncology and deal with it every day. Knowing more about it makes it no less upsetting when it happens to one of your own. So many sad stories cross my desk in the medical charts I work on. Babies and little kids with tumors (so brave, many of them), palliative treatments for men and women younger than I am, seeing the same folks return again and again as the cancer migrates through their bodies, seeing the worried faces of spouses, watching someone deteriorate each day, or just seeing how distressingly large a tumor is on a CT scan.

No doubt about it. Cancer just sucks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Please Stand By...

There is some family stuff going on right now. I may or may not feel like posting anything while we all adjust to the news.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wiped Out

You probably think the post title refers to the whuppin' my beloved Yellow Jackets received last night, but you would be wrong. It refers to me. I'm exhausted. We left the house yesterday at noon, and got home at 1:30am. I'm getting too old for this.

Woke up late, halfheartedly tried to do some yardwork to take advantage of the cooler temps, but I just didn't feel like it. It wasn't hard to convince PDM to stop pulling weeds and go to Waffle House for some grub.

We were at the game. It was a long night at The Flats. TV timeouts and a metric crapload of penalties (some rather dubious) stretched the game well into four hours. I stayed until the bitter end. BC looked very good. Tech... didn't. It was a long ride home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another Trip to Memeville, USA

I stole this from Kat. The idea is to answer the pre-colon words/phrases using one word.

Yourself: full
Your partner: sleeping
Your hair: long
Your mother: loved
Your father: missed
Your favorite item: cats
Your dream last night: forgotten
Your favorite drink: wine
Your dream car: Prius
Dream home: comfy
The room you are in: kitchen
Your fear: mistake
What you are great at: learning
Where you want to be in 10 years: home
Who you hung out with last night: PDM
You're not: trendy
One of your wish list items: Photoshop
The last thing you did: changed
You are wearing: PJs
Your favorite weather: fair
Your favorite book: tattered
Last thing you ate: vindaloo
Your life: mundane
Your mood: hopeful
Your best friend: PDM
What are you thinking about right now: plans
Your car: Camry
What are you doing at the moment: blogging
Relationship status: happy
What is on your t.v: nothing
When is the last time you laughed: tonight

Monday, September 10, 2007

My "One Things"

I'm finally participating in Beth's "One Thing" meme. This was a difficult assignment, because I generally have a hard time picking only one of anything. So I've done the best I can. Read it with the caveat that if I were to write this list again in a day or a week, or even an hour, some of the answers would be different.

1. If you could recommend only one book for others to read, what would it be and why?

Watership Down by Richard Adams. It is a wonderful book. If you’ve read it, then you know what I mean. If you haven’t, it sounds almost silly – a book about a bunch of rabbits – but it is a compelling adventure that will keep you turning pages. There is plenty of excellent science fiction that I could recommend, but that doesn't float everyone's boat (plus I'd have to pick just one). I think anyone could enjoy Watership Down.

2. What is your one favorite song? Why?

Oh jeez. I like all kinds of music and what I most want to hear at any given time is mood-dependent. There is no way I could pick ONE favorite. But what I can do is pick one song that I don’t get tired of and that never fails to improve my mood: "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers Band. No words, just happy music (so technically, it isn't a "song" since it cannot be sung). Makes me want to do a Snoopy dance. It doesn't hurt that it is one of PDM's favorite songs, so it makes me think of him.

3. What is the one thing that is the biggest time saver in your life?

My dishwasher, because it actually cleans dirty dishes, which means that there is no need to wash (or even rinse) them before loading. Messy, sloppy, dried on, caked on, baked on… all of it comes off in the wash. Love that!

4. What is one gadget you couldn't live without and why?

My notebook computer with wireless internet. I love having portable, battery-powered access to all of the information available on the internet, plus all the cool stuff on my computer. Neat!

5. If you could recommend one film for others to see, what would it be and why?

Serenity. Because it was a great movie, and did not get enough attention (or attendance) when it came out. It got rave reviews for the most part, and also good audience reviews. Good plot, lots of action and suspense, some morality and ideas to think about, happiness, sadness, and a satisfying end. What more do you want in a film?

6. What is the one cure or preventative measure you believe in and for what ailment?

You can nearly always prevent a hangover if you drink copious amounts of water before going to bed. A pre-emptive aspirin doesn't hurt either, but it won't help without the water. Rehydration is the key.

7. What is the best advice you've ever received and from whom?

"Don't get married until you are at least 30." Mom. I was 29 the first time, and apparently that wasn't old enough not to make a mistake.

8. If you could introduce the entire world to just one band/musical artist, who would it be and why?

Kelly Joe Phelps. He is a fantastic blues musician and songwriter and deserves to be much more widely known. I discovered his music by chance, through one of those end of year "best of..." lists on Amazon when I was exploring blues artists. I bought Shine Eyed Mister Zen on the strength of the reviews it had. His slide guitar playing and honey/gravel voice hooked me. Loved that CD, and then went to see him live at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. What a great experience! That was enough to induce me to buy the rest of his stuff and to keep an eye out for new releases and any performances in my area.

9. If you could convince others you meet or know of one thing, what would it be?

Don't get into credit card debt. Ever. Be very careful about borrowing money in general. Getting out from under credit card debt was one of the best things I ever did. The only debt I have now is my fixed rate, 15 year mortgage. Develop some patience. You don't need to have everything right away. Save first, then buy.

10. What do you believe is one of the greatest ways of wasting money and how do you combat it?

Recreational shopping. I just don't do it. We shop when we need something. It is OK to shop for something you want as well, if you keep it within reason and stick to your list. But shopping "just to look" is bound to make you want more stuff, or make an impulse buy, and before you know it you are spending real money. It is a lot easier to not spend money if you stay out of the stores!

If you like the meme and want to do it on your blog, consider yourself tagged.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Limenitis Arthemis

I was lucky enough to be charmed by this little guy for about an hour on Tuesday evening. It was crawling around the birdfeeder slowly opening and closing its wings when I got home from work. It was so perfect, I think it had probably recently emerged from its cocoon. There was a second one flitting around in my flower beds. After taking a few dozen photos, I went inside to fetch my field guide, because I always want to know what it is that I have observed. This is a brushfoot butterfly, limenitis arthemis, commonly known as a "red-spotted purple". This species mimics the coloration of the poisonous pipevine swallowtail butterfly as a protection against predators. I love the latin names for flora and fauna, thus the fancy-pants post title.

I am fascinated by the ordinary world of the suburban back yard. You don't need an exotic location for a photography safari. All you need is some patience and a good eye for finding the wonder in your surroundings, wherever you happen to be. There is a ton of life around you, and interesting discoveries to be made, whether you are in an exotic locale or in your own yard.

And who says mother nature doesn't have a sense of humor? This photo makes me smile:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Stardust is Magic

It was a beautiful late summer day yesterday, but we've had so many of those lately we decided to spend this one sitting in a dark movie theater. When you can't remember exactly what you saw last, you are way overdue for going to the movies again. I think maybe it was Spiderman 3, or possibly Waitress...

This time we were choosing between the latest Bourne movie or Stardust. I pushed for Stardust in spite of the negative reviews it garnered. I was in the mood for a good fantasy. It turned out to be an excellent choice. We both loved it! It was a good story, with lots of pretty visuals, adventure, magic, romance, and plenty of humor mixed in throughout. If you have been on the fence about seeing it (possibly put off by the lukewarm reviews* as we were), you can hop down on the "gonna go see it" side now.

*It currently has a 74% (fresh) rating on the Tomatometer, but it has a 90% user rating. Our newspaper gave it a "C". We give it an "A", and plan to buy the DVD when it comes out.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Georgia Tech 33, Notre Dame 3

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Unexpected, but oh so nice. Win or lose, I really thought this game would be close. I'm happy to have been wrong about that.

Edited to add: This was the worst opening day loss for the Irish, well, ever. And I added the photo of the newspaper, because I am damn proud of my Yellow Jackets. Yahoo! Go Tech!