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.