Friday, December 30, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like

On the Tuesday before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, because I went to Champa with CL, JL, GA, EB and MP. We had a very good time and I got to have my pad thai with shrimp fix. It was too late at night for Thai iced tea, unfortunately. We were concerned, because Champa has started having a live jazz band play every Tuesday night and we though it might inhibit conversation, but it turned out that it wasn't that bad and we sat in the back. Afterwards, we headed over to Barnes and Noble. Given how crowded the one at Southpoint one was the previous weekend, I was surprised to see that there weren't many people at the Brier Creek one. That was good for us. I had a decaf cafe mocha with skim. Shocking.

I had been planning to make macaroons or brownies for the Duke University Library Staff Association (DULSA) Christmas party, but I got back much too late. I had to take purchased stollen instead. The party was fun. AJ helped me get through to the Gothic Reading Room, which I'd never seen before. There was catered barbecue and chicken and people brought desserts. It was all very good. There were karaoke Christmas carols and everything was very festive. No, I didn't sing.

One night when I got home, either Wednesday or Thursday, there were flowers from CL and JL waiting for me at my front door. It was 27F out, so the alstrloemarias were frozen and according to my answering machine message it had been outside for 2 hours, but it perked up amazingly well. It's a very pretty arrangement and I've enjoyed it all week.

Thursday morning I had to get up to test the Blackboard system at 6am. Old courses were moved to a different file system during the middle of the night so I needed to verify that everything was all right. It was. Around lunchtime NP and I tried out Cafe Zen at the American Tobacco Campus. While my dragon roll wasn't nearly as good as a Kurama wizard roll, it was still very good and had lots of avacado. They passed my mackerel test quite well. The service was horribly slow, but that might have been because they were short staffed so close to Christmas. NP told me all about his recent trip to South Africa, which was very interesting and entertaining.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Movies, Magnets and Macaroons

Last Saturday, I went to AC's house for a holiday party. Several people from CIT and SISS were there, so it was a lot of fun. It was also neat to see AC's beautiful new house. It has neat half-circular, circular and trapezoidal shaped windows, beautiful maple hardwood floors and a well thought out floorplan. The party was potluck, so there was a lot of great food. All of the coconut macaroons that I took got eaten, except for one.

Sunday, I went over to GM's. He, AE and I watched Gosford Park. That was a really good movie. It was a little hard to follow at the beginning, because there are so many characters and they look similar or at least have similar hairstyles. We were watching it on a 19" television, which may have made it more challenging. This is definitely a good and complicated a move that I would like to see again, just to see what I missed.

We had a minor ice storm and a lot of rain during the week, so I ended up going into work an hour late a couple of times. That turned out to be fortuitous on Friday, because I got a high priority page and would have ordinarily been driving when I received it.

Yesterday, I met GM and AE at Southpoint to see the new Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Southpoint is not a good place to go this time of year, because there were more people and cars there than could physically buy their merchandise. In fact, just getting in the parking lot at all was difficult. It turned out that they had removed the Harry Potter showing time that we had planned to go to, so we ended up seeing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe instead. I'd been wanting to see that, too, so that was okay with me. We went to Barnes and Noble, but we didn't want anything there badly enough to wait in line to pay for it. We stopped by the Toll House Cookie Store beforehand, because that was less crowded than most places and ran into LA and some of her friends. We talked to her for a bit before AE noticed that we were going to be late for the movie, if we didn't get going. In fact, we were very lucky to get seats where we could all sit together.

Afterwards, JH met all of us at Rockfish. I got my oyster fix and we had a great time. GM gave sterling silver earrings to AE and me. Mine are interesting because the earwire is effectively part of the design of the earring, because it swirls around it. Those of you who wear earrings can probably guess they they are tricky to put on. I may have to allow some extra time in the morning to put them on, but they are very pretty. JH gave me a cool belated birthday present, a Geomag set. Basically, it's 64 steel balls and 120 small pole magnets, which you can use to build geometric shapes. I've already built some structurally unsound blobs and the the design in the photos. If I don't blog much in the next few weeks, it would be safe to assume that I'm still working on a buckyball.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Must Have Been Having Fun

I forgot to mention that on November 30th, I actually escaped work briefly and went to the final DBM networking lunch at the IBM site. As you may or may not recall, because I may or may not have spelled this out, DBM was the career couseling center with which all laid off IBM employees in RTP (and possibly other sites) had the option of working. Well, Wednesday of last week was their last day, because they were outbid by another company. It was a fun, because I got to catch up with many of the members of our "job club" and see the DBM staff once again. They had a lovely spread for us to eat, too.

This week I've been taking a couple of short courses on Mercury Quality Center Test Director and Mercury QuickTest Professional. We've had a very good, enthusiastic and knowledgeable instuctor, so it's been a good class. The tools seem potentially useful, but I don't know how long it will take to incorporate them into our own processes and systems. On Sunday and Monday, the weather was rainy and cold, so travel was very unpleasant. Since then, that's been ok, too, although a little chilly.

Yesterday was my actual birthday. It felt like a big deal the whole day, even though it was quite anticlimactic after Saturday's party. 30 years just seems like a long time and the last 15 years or so have gone by incredibly fast. I haven't thought about it much today, though, so that's good. Last night, my parents and I went to Kurama where we had sushi. I enjoy having the warm wizard rolls and eel, so it's nice to get it in the actual restaurant occasionally rather than always getting takeout.

Later last night, I got a call from an old friend, RA, who used to be a babysitter (or "kid"sitter as I used to say). It was very nice to hear from her. She said she hadn't seen me in 17 years and to me it just seems like just the other day. How did that happen?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Maturity is on the Way

Tonight is the last night that I will be in my 20s. Tomorrow, I will be magically transformed and feel like an adult.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

30th Birthday Party

Last night, I hosted my 30th birthday party, which was a load of fun and quite exhausting. My mom got me the the beautiful roses in the photos.

Friday night, after I got home from work and the Duke Computer Science Christmas party, I immediately started baking chocolate chip cookies. The next morning I started making two batches of coconut macaroons and two batches of brownies in between frenzied bouts of cleaning. My parents helped me out a tremendous amount with cleaning and preparing food that my mom picked up at Sam's, CostCo, Around the World Market and Wellspring.

I think approximately 32 people came to the party, including lots of friends from both Duke and IBM. I even got to see CL and JL's new Mini. We had a nice round of juggling, but don't think JH was pleased with my progress since I believe my juggling skills have actually regressed since we had our last juggling get together. Of course, I suspect that was also the last time I practiced. Several people brought great gifts, even though my invitation clearly said that they only needed to bring their date and a return receipt.

I just watched one of the most incredible endings to a Duke basketball game in non-tournament play that I've ever seen. I was sure Duke was going to lose to Virginia Tech, but Dockery pulled it off!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

CDC and Pancakes

Last weekend had two major elements, creative fillings for our crepe style pancakes and our annual Thanksgiving weekend visit to the Carolina Designer Craftsmen show.

We made the pancakes as usual and were planning to have them with filled with ffresh strawberries and syrup. I had the semi-brilliant idea that I could melt some Baker's semi-sweet chocolate and drizzle it over the strawberries, skipping the syrup. That turned out to be a wonderful and decadent combination.

Last Saturday, I went to the Carolina Designer Craftsmen show with my dad and AE. It was great to see old friends from Womancraft and other craftsmen that I've been talking to and buying from at CDC for so many years. As always, I got earrings made by Janet Harriman and Nell Chandler. I also couldn't resist gorgeous porcelain earrings made by Tim Garvin of Blue Bus Studio and well as sterling ones by Joanna Goldberg. I coveted a lot of other jewelry, pottery, furniture, dyed silk and woven blankets.

Of course, I managed to sneak in a falafel sandwich from Neomonde's cafe area.

Afterwards, AE, my parents and I met at Nantucket Cafe and Grill. I decided to have the chicken pot pie for the Nth time. Sunday night, I decided that we should try the leftover pot pie filling in leftover crepe pancakes. It worked beautifully. Yes, you did read that right. One serving from Nantucket resulted in four dinner servings, with a little help from the pancakes. That's pretty good!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thankful for Food, Family and Friends

It was a nice having a short work week and nice anticipating a little time off. A bunch of us took off from work to go to a farewell lunch for one of our work co-workers on Wednesday. We went to the Macaroni Grill, which I hadn't been to in a couple of years, at least. For a chain restaurant, I think it's excellent. Any restaurant that specializes in pasta would have a challenge in disappointing me. I had lobster in taragon ravioli. The cream sauce had warm diced tomatoes and small shrimp. I enjoyed it thoroughly and had a great time overall.

For Thanksgiving dinner, this year, we decided to experiment with actually going out to a restaurant. Since the whole family is on the ACME Food and Beverage Company mailing list, we each got the menu in our in-boxes and it sounded delicious. ACME, as I may have mentioned before, is my favorite restaurant and it certainly followed that they would have a Thanksgiving meal worthy of our celebration. That was correct. Our first course, pictured on the left, was a salad with greens, crumbled bleu cheese, small croutons and pomengranate. My dad tried the pumpkin and apple soup instead, which was delicious, but I suspect it would have been way too filling for me. For our entrees, we each had tender deep fried turkey with ham and wild mushroom gravy, oyster dressing, southern style green beans, yukon gold mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens, and cranberry ginger compote. I apologize for not having a picture of that, but I dove in too quickly. I have to confess that I skipped the sweet potatoes and the collard greens, but that's good, because I would have popped otherwise. For dessert, I had apple and dried cherry cobbler with cinnamon whipped cream. By the we got to dessert, I was ready to take most of it home.

I've been washing lots of dishes and doing many loads of laundry. I believe I'm at least caught up in the laundry.

Today my dad and I went to the Rudino's at Northpointe and he made the made the mistake of allowing me to make a recommendation. When they served the two Spinach Sophia grinders, he sounded panicked when he asked, "It's vegetarian??!". Oops. It was great having one of those again.

For dinner tonight, I made tuna salad with about 6 oz of macaroni, one can of tuna, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, grated parmesan, red grapes (cut in half), dried cranberries, about 2/3 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, three stalks of semi-diced celery, a spoonful of ginger preserves, at least a tablespoon of dried orange peel, black pepper and I think that may be it. I liked it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

JARSfest in Benson

Today, my dad and I went to the Benson hamfest, also known as JARSfest. Benson is a little over an hour away and we left home just after 8. It had been raining there, but we inadvertantly timed it such that we didn't get wet. If I had known rain were a possibility, then I would have worn different shoes. Given that we've been having a drought lately, it's sometimes easy to forget about precipitation.

In any case, there weren't a lot of tailgaters there, presumably due to the weather, but there were a few. We spent most of our time inside where it was crowded and difficult to get around. I swear that most of the Orange County Radio Amatuers were there, at least the people who go to the OCRA breakfasts regularly. We also probably had a quorum for the Durham FM Association board.

There weren't any major dealers there, so I wasn't tempted to go home with a new handheld radio. I, of course, had to sample the food. I had a very good country ham biscuit and a rice krispy treat. In addition to his meal, my dad bought some connectors. I looked for a cable to connect the headphone jack of my Ipod to the line in jacks of my stereo, but my dad assured me that it the hamfest was geared to the wrong generation for that. I wasn't convinced, but I didn't find one either.

After several hours, we followed DT, JH and P to the Cracker Barrel near Clayton, where I decided to have a second breakfast. An egg and two strips of bacon, with biscuits and cornbread was just perfect. For $3, I'm not sure you can beat it. You can see how carefully my dad avoided the UNC painted rocking chairs on their front porch.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Catching Up

One weekend, my dad tested my whole house generator by cutting the power main and it kicked in after a minute or so. That was a major success.

I made brownies before GM and AE came over one day to watch Edward Scissorhands, which I'd never seen before. The movie wasn't bad and the brownies were very good.

A couple of weeks ago, I started carrying the pager at work! I was very excited about that, believe it or not. I've always wanted to carry a pager. I think it's mostly because my brother started carrying a pager when I was a teenager. Note that one key factor is that the pager only goes off between 8am and 5pm. I might have a different opinion if I'd experienced a page at 3am. There are a lot of responsibilities associated with carrying the pager in addition to responding to the pages for open problem tickets. For example, I have to respond to Blackboard course creation requests, answer questions e-mailed to us, and fix links to e-reserves. So far it's all still fun and the problem tickets have been interesting.

Mad Hatter's Bake Shop opened in the Pavilion attached to the old Perkins Library. They have boxed lunches for $10, which is expensive, but it comes with a large sandwich, a salad, a large brownie or lemon bar and a drink. Everything is delicious and it's enough for multiple meals. I also got a Cafe Mocha there and it was one of the best I've had in a long time. The also have regular coffee, but they gave it away for free for a month before it opened. That makes it hard for me to hand over $1.25 now.

We had more beautiful weather. It was starting to be alarming considering it was mid November.

I forgot to be net control for the Durham FM Association last week. I made up for it this week.

On November 11th, they had the dedication of the new Bostock Library. I was able to attend the morning talks, titled "Scholarship in the Digital Age". They served lunch catered by the Catering Company. I chose salmon, which was delicious. It had an herbed cream sauce and was served with orzo. I ordinarily don't like orzo, but this was good. I had to go to a meeting at the American Tobacco Campus, so I missed the actual dedication, but I was back at the library in time to go to the reception. One of the most interesting hors d'uevres was dried apricots with dollops of blue cheese. That was a great combination. They also had square pieces of salmon sushi, crystalized nuts and fruit on brie, little potatoes filled with cream cheese and roe, crab pastry cups and several other things. Needless to say, I did not need to eat anything else that night, after I left the reception.

That Saturday, my dad and I picked up AE and we went to Easter Lights. AE ordered orange chicken, which we hadn't tried in a long time. I really liked it. Afterwards, we went to see the violinist, Hillary Hahn, in Page Auditorium. I thought it was ok, but not spectacular. One of the strangest thing was that Hahn was completely expressionless throughout the performance. If you've seen many live classical concerts, you know that is highly unusual. I'm sure that her technique was flawless, but didn't enjoy it as much as some concerts I've been to recently.

On Sunday, I watched a Doctor Who episode, the City of Death, at GM's, with AE. That was a fun episode, because the 4th Doctor and the 2nd Romana run around Paris through much of the episode. Afterwards, JH joined us and we went to the Cracker Barrell. We had lots of good conversation and some excellent corn bread.

At work on Monday, all of us went on a field trip to CIEMAS, where we got to play in
the DiVe Tank. That was truly awesome. Basically, you go in this room with screens on all sides, including the floor, wearing 3-D glasses. Five people can go in at a time and one person can hold the joy-stick equivalent at a time, in order to move around. That way you can wander around in a molecular structure, ride a rollercoaster, or wander around in the forest. When I moved us right into a tree at high speed, I noticed that I braced myself slightly, which is a good test of how real it seems to our subconscious. I've never seen a 3-D movie before, so it was a particularly interesting experience.

Yesterday, I got a flu shot! Duke was giving employees shots at the American Tobacco Campus. AE went with me, so I would have someone to talk to while I waited in line. Plus, she knew where to find it. We got coffee at Starbuck's there, before I headed for work. Once I got to the parking area in front of the Chapel, there were 6-8 Durham school buses waiting for me. My mom saw me on the PoliSci Quad Cam and felt my pain. I had to wait a while, but it's a lot easier when one has a Cafe Mocha in one's hand.

Last night, I met AE, EG and JG at Chai's. I had one of the best meals yet there. I ate a bowl of udon soup with tofu. It was perfect. Afterwards AE and I went to Shade Tree Coffee, where we talked for a while. I drank a delicious decaf cappuchino with lots of cinnamon.

The Secret to Happiness is Owning Purple Shoes

Last month, on Halloween night, I went over to JJ and JA's house for a Halloween party. Like last year, we sat on their front porch and greeted the hundreds of Trick or Treaters that visited. This year they had approximately 509 kids. That's quite a few. One thing that was interesting is that there were a lot fewer teenagers this year. DS, AP, MP and EB were also there. We celebrated by eating lots of goodies, including JA's Thai pumpkin coconut soup and Sicilian cheesecake. It was a chilly night, but JJ had his propane heater to warm us up.

We had some beautiful weather that week and I ate outside as much as I could.

One night, my dad and I ate at Grasshopper, at the corner of 9th and Hillsborough Road, in Durham. It's another new Bakatsias's offering. We had pork and shrimp dumplings to start. Then, I tried a dish with hoisin pork with cabbage and wheat noodles. My dad had soy fake chicken with tofu, pumpkin and ginger. We both thought his dish was the best, but my mom didn't like the leftovers at all. For dessert we had a green apple crisp, which was delicious.

One day, for lunch, I ate outside with my lunch from Twinnie's, in CIEMAS. I thought my fruit tart, for dessert, was rather pretty.

I've determined that the secret to happiness is owning a pair of purple Birkenstocks.

One Saturday morning, I was listening to the radio as I was getting dressed and the DJ on 102.9FM said that everyone would be wearing tie dye that night, because Joan Baez would be playing at the Carolina Theatre, in Durham. I knew that meant that I'd blown in again. I hadn't kept track of her schedule and I would miss yet a 3rd concert. I called the box office throughout the day, even though it said on the website that on the weekends they were only open an hour before each event started. I'd planned to call them at the beginning of that hour to see if they happened to have any seats left. My dad suggested that we might actually want to just go there if we were serious about getting in. I initially thought he was crazy, because I didn't think we had a prayer of getting tickets. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. As we pulled into the parking building, I asked the women taking money if they knew whether or not it was sold out and they didn't know. Once we got out of the van and to the sidewalk, we could see the sign that said clearly: "Joan Baez - Nov 5th - SOLD OUT". Well, that was it.

My dad thought we should keep going and talk to the ticket office. It turns out that they did have a seat for each of us, but we wouldn't be able to sit together. That was fine! While we were waiting, we got to talk a bit to MO, our old friend from bbsing days, who works there. When the usher took us to our seats, she said that of course we could sit together, so we did.
It was a great concert, particularly because she performed everything accoustically and played a lot of her older music. I was very impressed, because I thought that her voice would have detiorated a lot more over the years. As someone pointed out, if you actually know how to sing properly, that's a lot less likely. It was a lot of fun and she sang many of my favorite songs. My parents played me Joan Boaz songs probably even before I was born and I became an avid fan when I was a teenager. I've been wanting to go to a concert ever since.

I didn't take any pictures within the concert hall, because we were right next to a very large, albeit friendly, security guard. They stressed that absolutely no pictures should be taken during the performance. Since the Treo 650 doesn't have a flash, it's not as crazy an idea as it may sound, but the screen would still seem bright for whomever would sit behind me. I did take a really neat picture of the sold out sign with the beautiful yellow Carolina Theatre behind it, but, alas.....


My absence of late has not been due to my desire to lose all my readers to blogs that post more frequently. I know you're surprised, but I've just been busy. After coming home from work, eating dinner and watching an old Babylon 5 episode with my parents, I'm often ready for bed.
At least, I'm not ready to think in coherent sentences. Perhaps coherent and tangential are orthogonal notions, but getting proper sleep reduces the amount of drool between the keys.

Before I relate all my wonderful adventures, I must provide you with another installment of image storage angst. Last night, I attempted to copy about a month's (since my last blog post) worth of pictures directly from my Canon SD500 camera to the laptop, using the USB cable. This had worked fine on my laptop at work. It didn't, however, seem to be working this time. I then moved the Sandisk 1 gig SD card to the little USB SD card/compact flash/other stuff drive that I've been using for years. It couldn't read the images. I put the card back in camera and it displayed a "Memory Card Error" message. Naturally, if you've read my previous post, I was thrilled. I tried four, yes four, different software data recovery tools and was not able to recover anything. I tried F-Recovery for SD, PhotoOne Recovery, RescuePRO Demo and PC Inspector Smart Recovery. I liked PC Inspector Smart Recovery best, but that's largely because it's fully functional freeware, rather than a trial version. Of course, I have no idea how these things work when they actually find something on the card. The plus side of this is that I have a whole bunch of floppies that have images from my old Sony Mavica camera and now I should have something to help me with the disks that can no longer be read.

One very important thing to note is that I did not have the drivers installed on the laptop for connecting the camera directly. The camera box actually warns against connecting it without the drivers. That didn't appear to be a problem at all on my work laptop, but perhaps it installed a different driver. In any case, should that have corrupted by entire SD card? Is there something wrong with my SD card? Is there something wrong with my camera? I really don't know, but it's very disturbing. I'd very much like to have done something wrong, because I don't want to send these things back. I wrote to Canon Support and hopefully they will provide me with an unbiased opinion of what's really to blame, based on my description.

At least I can still rely on my trusty .3 megapixel camera in my Treo 650, which I've only had to replace once. It really does handle low light conditions better than anything else.

In any case, I won't be able to share my Halloween pictures or some of the gorgeous fall color photos taken around my house, because they appear to be gone forever. I took some good pictures of FIFO last weekend, but he should be willing to pose again.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Faulty Memory

Today I spent more time that I would have liked agonizing over corrupted data on my 1 GB Sandisk Ultra II SD card for my Canon SD500 camera. From googling, it looks as if suddenly having an unusable SD card isn't unusual. Earlier in the week, I'd had problems copying images to a desktop, but I blamed it on the desktop. Then, while taking pictures of a chrysanthemum, the the camera started saying that certain images were corrupted. According to the manual, if you have a non-Canon formatted card, you should use the camera to format it first. Unfortunately, this was not in bold flashing text and I have no way of knowing whether or not this might be the problem. With any luck, I will never know and hopefully I won't have problems with card again. Interestingly enough, I had to do a low level format several times in order to get rid of everything. Fortunately, from the looks of the pictures I took, the camera is now working, for the time being.

How can I blame a poor defenseless sliver of an SD card when I can't even remember what day it is? Yesterday I was planning to go see the Durham Community Concert Band perform in Oval Park, in Durham. Well, that's all well and good if the concert is today. I knew that the concert was on the 30th, but somehow I had not put together that the 30th is not two days before Halloween. Earlier in the week, I attempted to attend a meeting that was on the following day, but at least then my calendar was wrong, too. In both cases, I ended up not attending the actual events themselves.

I've been up to a lot lately, and that's the reason I've been remiss in posting. I saw the new Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit a couple of weeks ago. AE, JH and I went to Champ's afterwards, which was pretty good. We waited quite a while at Rockfish before they explained that they were "having trouble getting stuff out of the kitchen", so that's why we ended up at Champ's, which could seat us immediately.

One weekend, my parents attended a dinner for the retirement of Dr. AB. That was fun, because I got to chat with some of his former graduate students, like MF, and I attended technical talks by them in the afternoon.

I discovered after trying to wash several new sweaters in cold water that the cold and hot water hoses have been reversed on my washing machine for about a year. Fortunately, the sweaters didn't shrink noticeably.

I attended a Duke Symphony concert that included a particularly nice selection of works by German composers, including an oboe concerto by Handel. I also got to meet AE's dad afterwards.

Last weekend, AE, JH, GM and I watched a very strange movie, π. It's about this guy who is effectively losing his mind while searching for patterns in the world that would relate to π. While it may be interesting on certain levels, I wouldn't recommend it. It's certainly not a movie that I would describe as pleasant to watch. We ordered pizza and I contributed macaroons that I had made that afternoon.

Last Monday, I had to go over to the American Tobacco Campus and I got to eat lunch at the Mellow Mushroom with AE afterwards. We shared a jerk chicken pizza and a half order to parmesan pretzels. They were basically just extra pizza crust shaped into a pretzel, but they were still very good, since they have good crust.

Tuesday night, JH met my dad and me at Duke Chapel to see the King's Singers and Sarband. That was excellent. They also had dervishes that twirled around and round. We originally selected seats in the front row and when I found out that there would be dervishes right next to us, I thought it might be best to move back a bit. Beware of dizzy dervishes.

Friday was the Duke University Libraries Staff Association Halloween party. They certainly know how to throw a holiday party! There were tons of decorations, a huge spread for making tacos, and individual candy filled bags for everyone. I donned my deely boppers and bright green glitter face paint. It takes years to get all the glitter off again.

It's been cold here lately. We've had three nights of frost in a row, which is too early and too often. Fortunately, this week is supposed to be really nice.

Another recent accomplishment is that I got my Treo 650 to sync with my Lotus Notes calendar this afternoon, using Intellisync. Maybe now I won't be in doubt of where I'm supposed to be and when. Don't bet on it. I still have to rely on my memory to sync.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

New Sushi, New Shoes, New Location

Thursday, all our stuff was moved to the new Bostock library building. My new cubicle gets a lot of light, because it has an off white interior and the front is glass or some kind of polycarbonate. The nicest thing is that our entire department is now in the same area.

That night, we went to Mt. Fuji, at Brightleaf square. D, our favorite waiter from Nikos, has started working there. Their sushi was excellent. It's nice that there is finally a good sushi place in a convenient location. D served our sushi in a gigantic wooden boat, which was somewhat embarrassing, given the size of our table. They used dry ice in the center of the boat, so it must have been a steamer.

We've been getting a lot of rain from Tropical Storm Tammy. Unfortunately, I left my raincoat and hat in my cabinet at work. As I was leaving last night, the library was closing for fall break. They ring an extremely loud bell and dim the lights every few minutes to encourage people to leave. Once I got all the way to the Perkins lobby and saw that it was raining, I didn't want to go back in to get it. I decided to dash to the van and got soaked in the process. I did take the opportunity to whine to both GM and JH on the phone first.

Dripping, I met AE, GM and JH for dinner at Chai's. I tried the Thai Tom Yum soup, which was quite good. I think I had a mild MSG reaction to it, but a glass of water took care of that. I don't know how many of my readers have experienced MSG reactions, but I feel pressure at my temples and at my neck, at the base of my skull. It's something I experience only every several years, so I don't bother to go out of my way to avoid it. I also had an order of gyoza and a green apple flavored jelly drink. It is accompanied by a huge straw and little jelly pieces at the bottom of what tastes like a liquid jolly rancher. It's really not something that one wants to accompany a meal. In fact, I'm not convinced I would ever want, period. It looks cool, though. JH got one just for the straw, but I think they would have given him one if he had asked.

Afterwards, we went to Shade Tree Coffee. I had a latte and the guy who made AE's and my coffee drew faces in the foam. Of course, when AE showed me her coffee, I thought it was some freak accidental pattern. I think it would have be hard to sell a cup of coffee on E-bay, though. Doesn't the female one look just like the Virgin Mary?

Today, my mom and I went to Eastgate Shopping Center to go to the Birkenstock store. It's really hard to find shoes that fit me, so I was very excited to get some very comfortable shoes. I got a pair of Arizona's and Boston's in taupe. Now that I know the best size for each style, I can order a purple pair on-line. This is the first time that I've bought myself any shoes in several years. We ate at Bruegger's beforehand and one of the ceiling vents kept dripping on me every few minutes. My lox and cream cheese plain bagel was very good, though.

While I was at Eastgate, I was happy and surprised to see that Womancraft Gifts is open. A couple of weeks ago, my dad saw the old Womancraft website, which said they were closed. After over 25 years of business, it seemed odd for them to close. I worked there as a member from 1994 to 1998, to sell my jewelry and paintings. A year or two ago, they moved to Meadowmount, which seemed to me like a fairly inconvenient location and they moved when very few other stores were there yet. I'm curious to find out more about the move back to Eastgate and see who is still working there.

Do Not Press the Unmarked Button

When I don't write for a week, sometimes I jot down some of my activities as I go along and it's often interesting to see how they bubble up in levels of significance to me.

The Friday before last I got my work Ipod. That seems like an oxymoron if I've ever heard one. Since it's a photo Ipod, I'm convinced that it could be used to teach math, but so far I've only put fives songs on it. I'll have to put Tom Lehrer's "New Math" on it.

That night, my dad and I went to an alumni dinner for Duke employees. The food was incredibly good. I ate lots of chocolate covered strawberries. I seem to be making that a habit. They also had an excellent salmon dish, a nice cheese selection and many other goodies. Other than meeting interesting fellow alumni and eating great food, the coolest thing was the path we took to get to the location of the reception, which was the Hall of Honor in Cameron Indoor Stadium. To get to the elevator, we had to take a lengthy route that went by the training area, so I got to see Johnny Dawkins on a stationary bike.

Saturday, AE, GM, JH and I went to see Corpse Bride. Afterwards we ended up eating at the food court, going to the Apple store and Barnes'N'Noble. The Nano is just as small as everyone else has said.

Sunday, my dad and I spent five years at Sprint. It was really only and hour and a half. They looked at the non-working touch screen on my Treo 650 and replaced it. The new one works so much better. That night, I went to JJ's surprise birthday party. That was loads of fun and JA cooked some wonderful things, including shrimp etouffe and tres leches cake.

One day this past week, I discovered that it's very important to press the correct button on the coffee machine at work. When I was specifying how much hot chocolate I wanted, I accidently pressed the button under the one for 8 ounces. I discovered, after the fact, that it was for a carafe. As you may imagine, I now have a new "most embarrassing moment". Fortunately, they continued to let me get coffee and hot chocolate later in the week.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Pictures Galore

I'm going to make up for the fact that I haven't been putting up many pictures lately. I'm sure that's been surprising since I recently announced that I bought a canon sd500. On the left is what I thought was a particularly gorgeous picture of an oak tree in my yard. On the right is an example of the crepe-like pancakes, also known as "Dad's pancakes" from my dad's recipe. I think the pattern on this one is quite beautiful. We've been making them fairly often. This was using his version calling for only six eggs rather than a full dozen.

The clouds were above GM's apartment building a couple of weeks ago. We thought they were quite lovely. The photo on the right is the view from the CIEMAS Engineering complex. On the left is the cafeteria that I've been frequenting. In the distance you can see the arch and the connector between the new Bostock library building on the left and the old Perkins building on the right, where I'm working now or at least for three more business days, until the move.

These show some of the beautiful plantings between CIEMAS and the new Divinity School building, which is to the right of the chapel in the picture on the left. It's hard to tell from these photos, but that path is definitely uphill. I cut through the new Divinity School building in order to get to CIEMAS from the main quad.

In the left photo you can see more nice plants as well as the CIEMAS on the left and the new Bostock library building on the right. In the right photo you can see the back of the old Perkins library. With the exception of Perkins and the chapel, all of these buildings are new. From these pictures, you can probably see just how well all the new construction fits into the rest of campus.

On the left are some really nice caladiums near the chapel. On the right is my new 15kW generator! It's still needs to be hooked up and the natural gas connectecd, but it's definite progress. When it's connected, it will run the whole house and come on automatically. After weeks of not having power after Fran and during ice storms, this was really important to me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Technology Coolness and Annoyances

It's hard to believe that I've been working almost 3 weeks now. Can that be right? I'm still enjoying it.

Over a week ago, we went over to see what sort of things that Fuqua School of Business has to over with regards to technology. They have this amazingly cool "telepresence" video conferencing room, made by TeleSuite, which projects the person and the room in which they are sitting such that they are life-sized. It appears as if the person is sitting across the table from you and it is far more engaging that any other sort of video conferencing that I've seen. The cameras are in the center of the screen, so there is no need to look at anything other than the people with whom one is talking. There's actually nice little video that shows it off, but it's still not the same as seeing it in person.

Friday, there was a staff party at the head librarian's house. That was a lot of fun. MG made wonderful chocolate-covered strawberries.

At some point over the weekend, the touchscreen on my Treo 650 quit working. It's been acting kind of strangely for a while. It will just decide to start scrolling by itself. That's most annoying when you're trying to do something or look at something in particular. Well, I made sure that there weren't any crumbs underneath the edges of the screen, as was recommended on Then it quit working all together. Soft resets don't seem to help and I guess I'll probably want to try a hard reset before I take it into the Sprint store.

While I'm complaining, I should probably say a few things about the phone, now that I've had it a while. While I love the integration of the Palm with a phone, there are some things that are annoying. For example, the screen comes on when the phone rings. The case touches the screen when it's closed, so that means that it stops the phone from ringing or vibrating. Generally, I think that means that it either won't send the call to voicemail or it doesn't say that there's been a missed call, or both. One nice feature of my Motorola Timeport was that it had a very short beep or vibrate when there was voicemail waiting. It was annoying if I were driving and I didn't want to pick it up, but it was actually extremely useful. Several times now, I've not seen that I had voicemail until I looked at the phone 5 or 6 hours later. Now, it's possible to disable the touchscreen during a call. (Now it's not like that's even necessary, since it doesn't work at all.) It's possible to get software to just disable specific things during a call. It's also possible to get software to beep and/or vibrate at certain intervals. The thing is, if you're paying several hundred dollars for a phone, it just doesn't seem right to have spend a lot more on software to bring it up to the level of an ordinary phone.

That said, when the touchscreen is working, I love it. In fact, I love that you can actually get new software to change the behavior. I love being able to chat with people when I'm waiting somewhere. Being able to read on-line books anywhere is pretty nifty, too. Checking my Gmail account is wonderful. It's generally worth all the annoyances in order to play and utilize the cool features. Now, I may have a different outlook after I visit the Sprint store, so stay tuned.

Sunday night, I met CL, JL, EB and MP at the P.F. Changs near Southpoint. That was fun getting to see them again. Dinner was great, too. We had lettuce wraps, honey shrimp, ginger chicken with broccoli and sweet and sour pork. For dessert we had banana spring rolls and the Great Wall of Chocolate cake. Both were very impressive, but I liked the banana spring rolls best. I tried to take pictures, but I wasn't able to get my Treo to go to the camera software without the touchscreen in a reasonable amount of time.

Yesterday I went with the department over to the new Bostock library building. The upper floors look beautiful and they are putting in gorgeous solid cherry furniture. It was just wild to see the results of all the construction noises, which some people there have been listening to for years. It was fun to see our cubes and imagine what it will be like to work there.

I've been wandering around West Campus during my lunch hours and I've gone over to the CIEMAS cafeteria several times now. Today, I had lunch there with GM. They have very good quiche.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Looks like a Giant Slug

At lunchtime on Thursday, I met my dad outside the library and we went over to CIEMAS, which is the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences. I'm going to a meeting there tomorrow, so I wanted to make sure I knew how to get there ahead of time. They also have a cafe there, called Twinnie's, which seems to have good food. I had a wrap with smoked salmon, cucumbers, spinach and capers. The cafe is run by Fares, who ran the cafeteria at the LSRC, where I always ate as a student.

Thursday night, my parents and I went to see a performance by Lily Tomlin, which was part of this season's Artists' Series concerts. It's kind of strange that they included a comedic routine in this year's season, but she was very funny. The audience was very different from most of the concerts and I suspect that many seacon ticketholders turned in their tickets. Fortunately, that meant that there were a lot of people who appreciated her political jokes.

I had lunch with NP on Friday. He actually works in Perkins and even on the same floor as I do, but you have to go to the first floor before you can go from one of our offices to the other. He works in the old part of the library and I work in the newer part. In any case, we went to Rick's Diner, in Eden's quad. I'd never been there or to the original restaurant in Durham. It wasn't bad and it was fun talking to NP again, after three years or so.

Friday afternoon, my coworkers and I went to Tyler's for a celebration. Tyler's just opened in the American Tobacco Historic District. It's basically a bar and the original one is in Carrboro.
The food was pretty good and I had a great time, meeting yet more people and watching them play pool. JM was also there and I got to tell her how much I like her stereo, which I adopted.

Yesterday, I went over to GM's apartment. He, AE, JH and I ate pizza. We were pretty much laughing nonstop, particularly when we came to the conclusion that it was Pick on JH Day. Then we watched Pleasantville, which was a very interesting movie. It was both entertaining and thought provoking, which is fairly unusual.

I'm beginning to think that maybe I do need new glasses. There's a praying mantis on the window and it looks like a giant slug from here.

Adhesive Removed

My goodness, I have been busy. I know you all assumed as much.

A week and a half ago, I started my job. So far it's been great! I've been scheduling appointments and meeting with all the people in CIT and the people that interact with the Blackboard team. So, I've been having lots of fun getting to know everyone. I've also been reading a good bit of documentation, listserv traffic and have been attempting to get accounts on all the appropriate systems.

It's wild being back on campus. Things have changed in the last five years. Students still wander around campus, oblivious to the world around them, particularly to things like moving vehicles. Now, however, they have things piping sound into their ears that makes them look as if they have an excuse. Most students walk around with cell phones or are using Ipods. Students did not have cell phones when I went to Duke. At least, if they did, they didn't turn them on and use them. Ipods didn't exist. I was one of the very very few students that took notes in class using a laptop and I only did that my last year and a half. Now I believe they are ubiquitous.

Another wild thing is the very fact that I am driving now. I didn't have my van or a driver's license when I was a student. Consequently, I didn't know where most things were on campus in relation to one another. I've been having to learn that very fast. In addition, several times I've had to go over to the American Tobacco Campus, where Duke's Office of Information Technology is located, so I'm much more familiar with Chapel Hill Street, Buchanan and the infamous Duke west campus traffic circle than I used to be.

My first day, I was assigned a "buddy" from a different department in the library. She is from Preservation, which is located in the basement of Perkins. She gave me a tour of many parts of the library that I never knew existed, where they have a lot of very large and cool looking equipment.

Most of the campus food venues have changed. There are so many new buildings that have popped up, too. They are all built using the traditional Duke stone, so they fit in beautifully.
One of the new buildings that is in the process of sprouting is the new library building, Bostock, which will be opening and we will be moving to in early October. There are still many very loud construction noises emanating from it. From my cube, you can hear what I believe is a hammer drill fairly often. I'm very excited that CIT will be moving in there soon.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Still Glued

I've continued to be glued to CNN and Eschaton for the past week. There have been times when I've been truly impressed with the CNN coverage, which I never expected. The highlight was when Anderson Cooper interviewed Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and told her that he was sick of politicians thanking each other while dead bodies were being eaten by rats on the street. They've actually been accusing people in the administration of lying. I guess when the situation is so obvious on everyone's television screens, that becomes possible. Unfortunately, some deaths and distress were probably caused by delays due to politicians staging photo opportunities.

You all may have read about this organization on other blogs, but Noah's Wish is rescuing pets that have been orphaned by Hurricane Katrina. They rescue pets that have been displaced due to disasters and conflicts around the world.

Otherwise, I've been enjoying my last full week of vacation. It truly has been a vacation since I know I will be starting a new job next Wednesday

Our neighbor/landscaper and his crew cut up and hauled away the dead tree that was cut a couple of weeks ago. I also got to eat with friends at Pizza Hut and the Mellow Mushroom again.

I ate many locopops.

Late Friday, I got a temporary parking permit for work and I'll get a permanent one once I get a Duke ID. There I found out that Duke will be accepting 75 Tulane students. I found out later that Duke was actually one of the first two universities to volunteer.

Then I went to a picnic at the Duke Computer Science Department and got to talk to several faculty and students that I hadn't seen in a while. It was catered by Bullock's barbecue, which was excellent. I'd forgotten how good their lemonade and fried chicken were. I've always been a fan of their barbecue and coleslaw.

Today I met JJ and JA at Guglhupf Bakery, in Durham. While I'd had their bread and pastries before, I'd never been to their new cafe. It's a very nice location and my eggs benedict were very good. There were many things I would have liked to try on their menu, but I was hungry so I needed to make a decision. Once we had our food, we spent most of the time discussing the situation in New Orleans, since they lived there for many years.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Aftermath

Hurricane Katrina resulted in a disaster, as I imaged while writing my previous post, but it played in a way that I never imagined. I certainly envisioned destruction and flooding, even levee brakes. What I did not imagine, however, was the slow response from the government. Some readers know about how little faith I have the current administration, but I honestly had no idea how much that would be a factor in this kind of situation. I suspect that almost everyone, from all political viewpoints, is shocked. I expected several people to be starving or dehydrated, but I only thought those would be ones trapped in attics or under derbis with no way to get out. That's how it was when Hurricane Floyd flooded eastern North Carolina. There may be similar cases, but we also have to be worried about the thousands of starving, sick and dying in full view. I don't think anyone could have imagined that.

I've been spending a lot of time watching CNN. Even they, who generally broadcast with a heavy conservative slant, seem angry. I guess it takes a something like this to achieve bipartisan support for the poor. Unfortunately, unless something is actually done to save these people, sentiment is not enough.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Food and Camera

Monday, I had lunch at Moe's Southwestern grill with a bunch of former co-workers. That was fun and my Art Vandelay burrito was very good, albeit messy.

Wednesday, I went to the DBM career center for the last time. I went to "job club" and got to tell everyone about my new job. I also went to the networking lunch where they toasted my "landing" as well as the landing for three other former IBMers. The DBM career center has been a tremendously beneficial aspect of my severance package. Everyone that works there is incredibly friendly and they had plenty of advice. Anyone who has an opportunity to take advantage of their services should certainly do so. That afternoon I went over to the new job site to check out the facilities there to determine what modifications need to be made.

Thursday the main events were getting a panorex and going to Penang. G and DM saw us there and joined us, which made it more fun. That's the second time that's happened in the past year or two. I ordered chicken pineapple, which was way too hot for my tastes. My dad ordered the Penang shrimp curry that I had last time, which was still delicious. We also had roti canai for an appetizer.

Friday I got to have lunch at Pizza Hut, coffee at Shade Tree and take out from Chai's. You can see the chocolate tartlet that AE and I shared at Shade Tree. Friday was also exciting because my new Canon Powershot SD500 Digital Elph camera arrived. So far I am very pleased. Getting it to focus the way I want it to is somewhat challenging in part due to having more information. With my S300, if it was out of focus, I just tried again. With the 9 point auto focus, you can see exactly what it's doing so you can try to adjust it in such a way to increase the likelihood that it focuses on the subject. It is possible to switch it to manual most and make it just focus on the center. I'm still waiting for my 1 gig SD card to arrive, but I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this camera. My previous camera, the s300 that died, was only 2 megapixels and this one is 7 megapixels. One may think that it's not necessary to have such high resolution if one isn't planning to print posters, but it does give you a lot more flexibility with cropping and therefore one's ability to select the composition. It's almost like being able to zoom with the lens. Here you can see my chives and a few other plants in my front yard.

Saturday, I went to the OCRA breakfast and then headed over to my parents to see FIFO and eat dinner. We also used my van to haul the matt board box that my dad recently finished building. It now lives in my studio.

This morning, my dad and I made a modified version of his crepe pancakes. This time we used half the number of eggs, six, 2 cups of milk, 1 1/3 cups of flour and a tablespoon of sugar. They were extremely good. If I recall correctly, his original recipe uses 1 dozen eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of oil . We actually just forgot the oil in the modified version, but we probably had to add more to the pan due to that omission.

Today, I've been spending a lot of time watching the live coverage from WWL, in New Orleans. It looks as if there is going to be a complete catastrophe due to Hurricane Katrina. I can't imagine what it must be like for the people who did not have the means to evacuate.

One more news item is that my start date for my new job was moved to September 7th.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Celebrations with Food and Locopops

After all the decision making was over last week, it was time to celebrate. Thursday night, AE, GM, JH and I went to Chai's. I tried the Shrimp Chow Fun, which was ok. Afterwards we went to Shade Tree Coffee where we shared a delicious key lime pie from the Guglhupf bakery. It was very sour. I also tried a decaf cafe mocha smoothie, which was delicious.

Friday, AE, GM and I went to the Mellow Mushroom in the American Tobacco Historic District. They have extremely good pizza. We had a barbecue chicken pizza and a "Kosmic Karma", which has lots of good veggies and feta. It's a chain, but I was impressed. The district has changed quite a bit since I was there for the concert last October, because a lot of businesses have moved in, including several restaurants.

Later in the afternoon, I had to go to the bank and my father and I stopped at Locopops. Regular readers will know that I've been wanting to go there for a while. I bought a whole bunch of popsicles in all the flavors what I wanted to try. I'm relying on my memory, but the selection I bought included tamarind, hibiscus, mojito, peaches and cream, avacado, chocolate rosemary, nectarine orange, asian plum and lemon blueberry cream. I think I also got a coupe of others.
So far I've had the hibiscus (pictured here) and the mojito, which are both out of this world. I am a big red zinger fan, so I could easily become a hibiscus popsicle addict. Locopops was very popular on that hot afternoon. It's fantastic that they are doing so well and I hope they keep it up.

That night, CL met my parents and me for dinner at Taverna Nikos. That was a lot of fun. They had extra oysters from lunch, so I had fried ones over a village salad.

Saturday, GM, AE and EG came over. We watched four episodes of Doctor Who and two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Doctor episodes were from the Pirate Planet, which was written by Douglas Adams. It had to have been over fifteen years since I'd seen any Doctor Who, so that was great. EG's husband was at the Pokemon World Championships, so she got to spend the whole day with us. Afterwords, we went to Vinny's for dinner and the Coffee Cafe for dessert. I tried a decaf iced cafe macchiato, which has espresso instead of coffee. I think I like a regular cafe mocha better, but it was good.

Sunday, I met JJ at Fowler's for lunch. We talked for several hours while eating huevos rancheros. It had eggs, tortillas, black beans, salsa, large chunks of perfectly ripe avacado and piles of shredded white cheddar cheese. It was an excellent meal. Surprisingly enough, that is a dish that I'd never ordered before.

Finally, that night, my parents and I went to ACME Food & Beverage Company. I had crab cakes and French fries. My mom had chicken with a wonderful blackberry sauce. I stole a spoonful and it was a surprisingly good dipping sauce for the French fries. For dessert, we shared peach cobbler. We hadn't been there for a while and it was nice for it to be my treat.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Search is Over

Last Tuesday, I had an on-site interview with SlickEdit and I spent much of the weekend prior to that preparing in some way. Of course, some of this preparation involved reading camera reviews and going out to eat, but if you've read much of this blog at all, that shouldn't be suprising to you.

SlickEdit really is a wonderful and very small company. They have a great product, which I used the entire five years that I was at IBM. I was certainly very impressed with them during my two phone interviews and I continued to be impressed in person. They were incredibly sharp, sensible and professional. One of the cool things about the interview was they had rapid fire technical questions, but I never felt once as if I were being interrogated. It was fun.

Then, on Wednesday, they made me an offer. Of course, I was thrilled! After barely over a month of unemployment, I finally had an offer! Then I found out that I had to make to make a life changing decision in a little over 24 hours. Unless you have been in a similar situation, you cannot imagine how stressful that was. It also put things in perspective. As much as I liked SlickEdit, I was then absolutely certain that I wanted to work for the Duke Center for Instructional Tecnology, where I interviewed at the beginning of August. Unfortunately, I was not expecting to hear of their decision until almost two weeks later. That evening, the Duke hiring manager called me back and said that he could let me know by Thursday whether or not I would receive an offer. I wouldn't know, however, how much would be offered. I wouldn't actually know whether or not I would be able to pay my bills. Minor detail.

Thursday, I had another on-site interview. Given the turmoil, I didn't feel nearly as prepared as I was for other interviews, but that was ok. SAS is simply gorgeous. They have a bunch of very modern buildings which are spread out and surrounded by trees. Their R&D building is more incredible than I ever imagined. It has a giant atrium with more than two story tall palm trees in it. It was full of all kinds of tropical plants. I have never seen anything like it. All the elevators have glass backs so you get a view as you are going up. I found a picture of the atrium on the web, but it doesn't do it justice. Between interviews, we had lunch in the atrium. Since we stayed there, I didn't get to see the infamous piano player, but that was perfectly ok. The food is highly subsidized and very good. I had pre-packaged chicken salad, fresh fruit and a jello cup. The chicken salad was excellent and the fruit was perfect. This normally costs a mere $2.25. Note that I did not photograph my meal during my interview.

Early Thursday evening, I was in the process asking for an extension on the SlickEdit decision when my call-waiting beeped. I then had an a definite and specific offer from Duke, which I accepted. I was so unbelievably happy.

I took this picture with my Treo 650 immediately following the on-site interivew for the position I accepted.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sounds from the Mystery Rodent

On Monday, a crew came out to cut down my dead oak tree. It was a very stressful experience. Originally, the plan was to remove some plants in my flower bed, they would drive their bucket truck into the yard and then they would cut the top out of the tree. They decided it would be easier if they took out a small tree and they would pull it into the woods. It probably made sense, because it's been a little hot to move plants and the tires in the soil probably wouldn't have been too good. They attached the ropes using this giant slingshot type tool, which would be great for puttting up antennas.

Well, as you can see from the picture, the trunk slipped some off the base, making it a little trickier. Plus, the top got hung up in some of the other trees. The man in orange was definitely brave to be cutting when it was in such a precarious state. They ended up pulling it down using their truck. You can also see how well my eucalyptus tree is doing now.

While they were there they also got some branches down that had been hanging down over the parking pad. They had been swinging in the wind and I knew they were planning to fall on top of some unsuspecting visiting vehicle.
Afterwards, my mom and I went to Lubrano's, in Morrisville. It was good. I had their spinach ravioli in pink sauce, which included six large ravioli pieces, containing spinach and cheese. I'm a big ravioli fan, so it's hard to go wrong there.

After that, we went on our search for a Fidelity Investment Center. It was foolish of me not to check with something other than my phone to make sure that there actually still was an Investor Center somewhere in this portion of the state. I later found out that the closest one is in Charlotte! They used to have one in Durham and Raleigh. We did get to explore a nice section of Research Triangle Park, though. Actually, I also found out today that Fidelity is planning to consolidate their centers and one is opening in the vincinity of where I was looking, sometime in September. Unfortunately, that's a little too late for dealing with my retirement rollover.

That night, I went to an Orange County Radio Amateurs meeting. That wasn't too eventful, but we had a good crowd.

Last night I went to the Durham FM Association meeting. Both JH and GM came, which was great. I was elected secretary, which is hopefully a good thing. The other newsworthy item was that it was decided that should start meeting somewhere other than an eating establishment, because Fuddruckers is just too noisy and we don't have a room to ourselves. So much for milkshake dinners, but I think it's a step in the right direction.

A couple of nights ago, I heard this weird scrabbling sound in the guest bathroom. I guess I have a mystery rodent, either in the attic or the crawl space. I actually called my parents and suggested that my dad might want to come over. That's the first time I've done that since I moved in over a year ago and I think that's pretty good.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

No Levitation this Evening

I neglected to mention a few things in my last post.

We had a lightning storm during my phone interview on Friday and I seriously wondered if I were going to be struck by lightning while on the call. One strike even provoked me to say "yikes!". I did survive, as you might have noticed.

I also forgot to write all about my radiator problems. For the past several months, my dad had been noticing that he's had to provide my van with extra beverages. He thought perhaps there was a leak in the reserve tank. When I visited JJ and JA a few weeks ago, my van actually leaked anti-freeze over their new concrete. I was horrified. It was like my baby had spit up all over a new silk blouse. My dad took the van into Braxton Tire and they did a pressure test on it, but they didn't see any problems. They suggested that there was a part that expanded in the heat occasionally, but was perfectly normal. Well, last Tuesday, on the way to Oishii, we smelled a strong coolant smell. Sure enough, there was a leak in the radiator itself. I had my dad take it to Bull City Radiator the following day and they fixed it immediately.

Tonight JJ, JA and I went to Penang, in Chapel Hill. It's located where Pyewacket used to be, in the Courtyard, on Franklin Street. Pyewacket used to be my favorite restaurant and I still miss it a great deal. It just occurred to me that I should take a look at Anotherthyme, a relative of Pyewacket's. They do, indeed, have the same salad dressings! They are even for sale. I've missed the Lemon Tamari and the Umeboshi Plum. I haven't been there in a while and I don't know why I don't think of it more often.

So, Penang completely gutted the old Pyewacket location and it's barely recognizable. It does look cool, but it's not quite as elegant as it used to be. The food, however, was very good. We started off with roti canai, which was a big pancake with a delicious chicken curry sauce. We also had pork, chicken, shrimp and tofu pancake things with hoisin sauce and a sweet and sour type sauce. That was good. For my entree I had Penang curry with shrimp. That, too, had a delicious coconut curry sauce with large shrimp and vegetables. I have lots of leftover sauce to add to something in the next few days. The rice is not included with the meal, but it's recommended, which is odd. Of course, that gives you a choice and the coconut rice is better than the plain steamed version.

We debated what to do for dessert, because we could easily get something there or we could go somewhere else. We decided to use my Treo 650 and Google Local to find a dessert cafe. We saw the Inside Scoop and thought we knew where it was. After we drove there, we determined that we, in fact, did not. Ironically, this article mourns the loss of Pyewacket and announces the going out of business of the Inside Scoop in the same paragraph. I actuallyed passed its old location on my way to the erroneous one. We decided head to Caffe Driade.

We had a good time sitting on their back patio among their beautiful trees while drinking milkshakes and, in my case, a decaf cafe mocha with skim. I hadn't been there in many years. The last time I was there, I had my first and hopefully only experience with two shots of espresso in mocha coffee. I uncomfortably levitated back home that day. Decaf is much more enjoyable by comparison.

Where do you plan to be in five years?

What a week! I had four interviews. Considering the time and energy I put into preparing for them, it was a lot of work.

Sunday, I went over to Duke campus check out the location of an interview. That night, I went out to dinner at George's Garage with JJ, JA and EB. I had a dragon roll and gyoza dumplings. Their gyoza dumplings were rather small and not nearly as good as Chai's or Oishii. Afterwards, we went to Francesca's for ice cream. I got lemon sorbetto, which was nice and sour, as always.
Monday, I had an interview with a small local company. It went rather well and lasted two hours.

Tuesday, I had an on-site interview at the Duke library. I had a great time, but it sure was exhausting after four hours. As much as I like interviewing, they are still stressful. I got to go through Special Collections to avoid using an ancient elevator, which I appreciated tremendously. That night, my parents and I went to Oishii and I had exactly the same meal as at George's. It was excellent.

Wednesday, I went over to the career center for "job club" and a "networking lunch". They provide lunch and this week it was interesting, because we had all sorts of mayonnaise based dishes, including chicken salad, potato salad, coleslaw and something with cheese that I couldn't identify. This was the first time I'd been to one of the networking lunches, although I grabbed pizza at the end of one several weeks ago.

Thursday, I had a phone interview with SAS. Everyone at the career center was excited about that when I told them the previous day. It's just so hard to get an interview there, especially without a referral.

Friday, I had yet another phone interview with same company as Monday and that went really well, too.

This morning, I went to the Orange County Radio Amateurs breakfast. We had a good crowd.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Rampant Silliness

It occurred to me that I should blog now, because I won't have time early in the week. I'll get the sad news out of the way first. One of my oak trees died this week. As you can see from the picture, it's quite large. Our neighbor/landscaper thinks that it was from all the dirt piled on the roots during construction. Plus, the weather has been extremely hot. This is the hottest July in over fifty years and we had several days over 100F this week.

Monday, I went to RTP for an interview with a recruiter for a particular job with a startup. That went well and the building was very nice. I've been amazed at some of the interesting architecture in the buildings that I've gone to recently.

I don't really remember Tuesday, but I know it involved lots of phone calls and e-mail. That might be the night that my dad and I went to Vinny's for dinner.

Wednesday, I went to a recruiter's office in North Raleigh for no job in particular. That was interesting and the building was even more impressive than the one I went to on Monday. This one had glass and marble, rather than just glass.

Thursday, I went to the career center. I originally went there solely to prepare for interviews with the instructor of the workshop I took in June, but then I found out that a bunch of the former IBMers were going to have lunch in the break room. How could I not participate? I grabbed a surprisingly good egg salad sandwich from the vending machine and joined them. I met some interesting new people nad participated in some interesting discussions about resumes, business cards, and just what categories of people got laid off.

Thursday was probably the night that I made faux jambalaya. In fact, since I left out the tomatoes, onions, peppers, hot sauce and added curry, it wasn't really like jambalaya at all. It was, however, good. I had two packages of pre-cooked Jimmy Dean sausage, which I cut up in little pieces. I sauteed a lot of minced garlic and then I added the sausage, shrimp, thyme, curry, parsley, chives and eight ounces of chicken broth. That was all served over basmati rice, with peas on the side. It turned out quite well but, in hindsight, it would have been better in a bowl than on a plate.

Friday night, my parents and I went to Nikos for dinner. They actually had fried oysters! I've been going there since 1992 and I have never seen oysters there. Apparently, they've been having them for lunch periodically. I almost always go there from dinner. Of course, my regular readers probably know that.

Saturday, I met GM and AE at SouthPoint and we saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, I've never seen the original version of the movie, but I did read the books forever and a half ago.
Johnny Depp seemed somewhat creepy to me in this movie, but I think this was primarily because they must have done something strange to his teeth. Parts of it are quite funny and clever and overall it's a very good story. It was well done.

Afterwards, we went to Rockfish. JH, back from Princeton, joined us with a friend of his. That made it an evening of rampant silliness. I had fried oysters, for the second night in a row. They were different, though. Really. Then, we headed over to Marble Slab Creamery and I had a cup of coconut with pineapple and shredded coconut. Finally, we wandered over to Barnes and Noble for a while.

This week I tried a diet avoiding all vegetables in the solanaceae or "nightshade" family. That includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers. My mom read on Eschaton that a doctor told the writer of a comment that many people with symptoms of arthritis are actually allergic to those vegetables. Avoiding those foods has really worked for my mom. I, however, didn't really notice a difference after almost a week, so was I back to eating waffle fries with ketchup for dinner tonight. I'm sure I will try it again sometime, although it's very hard to avoid tomatoes.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Love Sponge

I forgot to mention that probably the highlight of yesterday's party, aside from seeing all my friends, was MC's dog, Anna. She is a beautiful Chow and Beagle mix, with a wonderful personality. She wasn't hyper at all and enjoyed petting like a love sponge. She was sized somewhere between a Chow and Beagle and her coat length was probalby somewhere in between as well, but she was Chow colored. She had droopy but shorter than Beagle length ears. I thought she was absolutely adorable.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Unstructured Diligence and Food

You would think that my not working would mean that I would be relaxing and saving money on gas. No, I'm afraid not. For one thing, looking for a job is full time, plus overtime. Secondly, I've been out to Durham or RTP every day since my last day at IBM.

Wednesday, I met CL, JL and SH for lunch at Rudino's. I, of course, had the Spinach Sophia grinder. That is the ultimate meal. It was fun to see them. I went to DBM afterwards to pick up more resume paper and meet with MB.

Thursday, I met JJ at the Baba Ghannouj Bistro for lunch. I hadn't realized until just now that it's a local chain. It's at Erwin Square, which is the same building as Parizade. I had a veggie platter and the food was excellent. It came with three falafels, baba ghannouj, hummus, "cucumber sauce", a huge portion of salad, and a big bowl of warm pita. I ordered tabouli for my salad.

I forgot to mention in my last post that when I went to JJ and JA's house that they had Locopops. Their neighbors recently opened a popsicle shop on Hillsborough Road, in Durham, next to Don Hill's Lock Shop. They have very unusual flavors, including avacado! I tried the Lavendar Cream and that was delicious. I really want to try Tamarind, Pineapple Mint, and Chocolate Orange. I'd like to try them all, but that's just a start. I need to go to the shop and take my cooler. Considering the hot weather we've been having, that would be the only way to get them home. From what I've heard, this is the hottest July on record since 1948.

Friday, I had a phone interview, which I felt went really well. I should hear something next week. I'm very excited about that particular job, so I hope I get it. That night I made an interesting concoction for my parents. I made sauteed onions, orange juice, honey, pine nuts, rasisins and cinnamon with barely warmed smoked salmon pieces over rice. It was good, but I think it would have been somewhat better with chicken or shrimp. I also think it would be good with toasted coconut and pineapple chunks added to it.

Today I went to MC's party, in Creedmoor. It was great to see everyone from work that I hadn't seen in a week and a half. The food was great, too, particularly KC's potato salad. They have a pool and it looked as if the kids and a couple of the adults were having a great refreshing time. They have improved I-85 considerably, so it wasn't a bad trip at all.

Tonight, my parents and I went to Nantucket Cafe & Grill and I tried their chicken teriyaki kabobs, which I hadn't noticed on the menu before. They were good and had huge chunks of grilled breast meat. Normally I prefer fried dark meat, so it's saying a lot that I liked it. The meat was very tender and flavorful.

I've also spent lots of time sending e-mail to various people I met at the job fair and interviewers. I've been looking at job sites and applying to places. It's very time consuming, but it's kind of fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Job Search Underway

I finally feel as if I have time to take a deep breath, but just one. I've been extremely busy since last week, when my job search truly began.

I spent the early part of last week packing up the oodles of things I'd collected in the four years that I lived in my office. Lived isn't too much of an exagerration, even though I never even napped there.

Wednesday was my last day at IBM. We went out to Taverna Nikos for lunch and I got the impression that most people enjoyed it. There were approximately twenty people there and everyone signed a card. It was funny how many people referred to my gathering up people to head to the cafeteria every day. I wouldn't surprised if they've quit eating since I've been gone.
GA gave me a bag of going-way gifts, including a beautiful book with photographs of flowers.
She also gave me a box of adorable mini-cheesecakes that people could have when they stopped by to say goodbye. They were really quite delicious.

Thursday I started my preparations by going to the DBM career center to work on my resume, a cover letter and order some business cards. I also attended a workshop on How to Work a Job Fair.

Friday, my mom and I met GA at Champa, for lunch. That was a lot of fun and I, of course, had Pad Thai with shrimp.

Saturday, I went over to JJ and JA's and saw their beautiful new garage and shop. They are very good at design. After cooking an excellent meal, including grilled duck, they gave me a mock interview, which was very helpful.

Sunday, I continued to prepare and we went to Oishii for dinner. This time I tried the Teppanyaki shrimp. Like everything else I've tried, it was delicious.

Monday I had an interview with a local startup. It looks like a great company, particularly because they seem so optimistic about the future. I enjoyed being interviewed, but that's not unusual in the least.

Today I went to a career fair for former IBMers. Like most of these things, I find going to a career fair to be a blast. I didn't pick up too many toys this time, so it must be the opportunity to accost strangers.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Secret's in the Sauce

I have now switched to Blogger comments. The good thing about that is that now I will actually get notified when there are new comments so I can respond to questions within the same decade. The bad thing is that now all the previous comments are gone. In the long run, I think it will be worth it.

During my job search, I decided to look up one of the startup companies that I interviewed with over five years ago, when I was looking for my first job out of college. I interviewed with Metagenix, which was based in Durham. It turns out that after selling their first product for 4.5 million and the second product didn't go so well, the owners started selling barbecue sauce instead. That's just not what I would have expected when I interviewed, but it definitely looks like a good and saucy site.

Last night, GM and AE came over. I made shrimp and bacon pasta and we had Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers for dessert. I love those things. Yesterday afternoon, I made AE a pair of sterling silver and malachite earrings for her birthday, so I got to give those to her. We also watched another episode of Hitchiker's Guide to Galaxy and watched a movie, The Russians are Coming. It was entertaining and funny.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Long Weekend

On Friday, my parents and I went to Oishii, in Chapel Hill. Just as we arrived, the fire alarm went off at the dry cleaner's a couple of doors down. The sprinkler system had turned on at there was water pouring out onto the sidewalk. There's nothing like a little excitement before a meal. After dinner, we looked and everything looked fine inside. Dinner was excellent. I had an order of shrimp shumai dumplings and a dragon roll.

Saturday, I mostly cleaned the house.

Sunday, GM, AE and FT came over. We ordered pizza, watched an episode of the Young Ones, and several Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy BBC Miniseries episodes. The pizza was great, because AE and I got one with anchovies and onions. I've been slowly discovering that I like anchovies. When I was about five or six years old, I had an anchovy pizza when we were in Indiana for my uncle's wedding. They also have anchovies on the Village Salad at Taverna Nikos. For years I didn't eat them at all, but I've been eating more and more of them each time and gotten to like them. So, this was the first time I've had them on pizza in 24 years and I rather liked them. The Young Ones is very strange.

I didn't really do much on the 4th, but my parents and I went to Nantucket for dinner. GM is letting me borrow the 5th season of Babylon 5, which I missed when it moved to cable. We watched the first episode.

Tuesday night, I went out to dinner with JJ and JA to El Corral, in Durham. I had grilled shrimp in fried flour tortillas covered with melted white cheese and guacamole sauce. It was quite good.

Wednesday, there was a frog crawling around on my windows in the great room. That's pretty high up. Since my camera died, I had to use my Treo 650. It's pretty dark, but hopefully you can make it out. Speaking of my phone, I downloaded some cool software from for it. I got VolumeCare so I can actually hear using the earpiece, rather than always relying on the speakerphone. I also got Volkeys which allow one to scroll with the volume buttons on the side. Like most Treo software packages, they are shareware, so I'll have to decide if they are really worth it. I'm guessing that VolumeCare definitely will be.

Today I went back to work, checked on the status of things and packed up a few other things. I went to out to lunch to Rudino's with BO. A few other friends of mine had planned to go there today, but that was cancelled. I still wanted a Spinach Sophia grinder, so I thought that would be a good place.