Saturday, August 26, 2006

Field Day and the Domesticated Moose

On June 24th, I got up, cleaned frantically and made a batch a macaroons. AE and GM arrived and we watched the movie, Gates of Heaven, which was made by the same guy as Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. It was a weird, but interesting, documentary about pet cemeteries. JH arrived and watched the last few minutes with us. We played Moose in the House, which is a simple, but fun, card game by Gamewright. The cards are extremely well illustrated and are rather cute, particularly if you are fond of moose.

Finally, we all went to the annual ham radio Field Day. It was interesting exposing three new people to the annual ham radio Field Day and my friends in the Orange County Radio Amateurs club. As usual, my mom procured the food and my dad grilled it. I had a Boca burger with a slice of swiss cheese and a little ketchup. Not bad. I saw on the radar on my phone that a squall line was coming. We all headed back to my house. I was going to wait it out and then go back to operate the radios, but the rain was extremely heavy. I heard reports that the field was quite soggy, so I didn't go back. Last year I wrote a fairly good description of what Field Day is all about.

NC and I did some Blackboard testing at a little after 6am and then around 9am, I drove back over to the Field Day site, Blackwood Farm in Orange County. Dad grilled our traditional pancakes and sausage, which was served with real maple syrup. Eventually, I went down the hill and worked the 20 meter band with RN and TH. You can see in the photo where I was operating TH's radio while RN was logging. I made four or five contacts, which was fun. Then Dad stopped by let us know that another storm was on the way. That weekend all the storms were coming from the southeast, which was weird, because the normal prevailing winds come from the west. So, I went home. Here's a beautiful photo I took of the farm, next to the field where we were operating. There are plans to turn the whole property into a park.

That evening, I went over to JJ and JA's to practice guitar with JJ and EB. Strangely enough, I had a hard time getting in sync on Brown Eyed Girl, but everything else was fine. When HB arrived, we played Country Roads and that sounded the best that we'd ever played it.

For dinner, we went to Federal. I had a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado, lettuce and tomatoes on focaccia bread, for all of $6.50. That's hard to beat for dinner. Before heading over to JJ and JA's I made reservations at ACME Food & Beverage Co. for my parents, who were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. I asked the manager if I could go ahead and pay for it with my credit card as a surprise. That was fun. They served them some wine and gave them a free dessert, too!

Predictable Gustatory Goodness

June 17th was my Dad's birthday and I got him three more 184 piece Geomag sets and packages of each of the shapes of the panel pieces. The panels are pretty cool and I particularly like the clear ones. The triangle shaped ones are purely decorative, though. I spent the rest of the day making brownies for AC's party, which I went to that evening.

The following day was Father's Day and, as has become tradition, we went to ACME Food & Beverage Co. I, as always, had eggs benedict. I spent the afternoon at my parents' house visiting FIFO and prepping for TestFest.

On Monday, TestFest actually arrived. We all camped out in the CIT lab and tested our intended version of Blackboard. My mom delivered a bunch of food from CostCo, so I think most of us actually had a good time and accomplished a lot. That night, I watched the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals. It seemed pretty unbelievable and cool that the Hurricanes actually won. I never thought we'd have any sort of professional sports team win anything around here.

Tuesday was the final day of TestFest and it continued to go well. We finally celebrated my dad's birthday at Taverna Nikos that night. I ordered yet another village salad, which was just perfect. We shared a key lime pie and a kahlua and chocolate pie for dessert. When I got home, I signed up for Netflix!

Wednesday, NC and I went to the Mellow Mushroom after our meeting. We shared a spinach, bacon and garlic pizza, since it was so good when we'd ordered it before. That evening, I worked more on organizing old photos and found several really neat ones.

Thursday, about the only thing that happened that was noteworthy was that my first Netflix movie, March of the Penguins, arrived in the mail. Friday was more exciting. I had lunch with NP and I met AE and GM for dinner at Shanghai. I had sesame tofu, which was good. AE decided to go home and GM and I went on to JB and EG's house. We'd had a lot of rain, they have ten steps in front and there was a thunderstorm going on when we arrived, so we decided to meet at Madhatter's instead. That was a quite relief and we had a very good time talking, drinking decaf coffee and eating sweets. JB told us all about being a 6th grade teacher and going to gaming conventions.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's fixed!

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I've had this annoying chunk of whitespace before my posts and will remember all the times you've had to scroll down past my archives. I fixed it! I finally took the time to thoroughly go over the template and discovered that it needed another closing div tag below the blogger tag. Other than the my blogger template, I basically have had no experience with css, so it was very exciting to figure it out. Actually, if someone else had figured it out, it would have been quite exciting too, because all that whitespace was really annoying.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Flooding, Flowers and Fans

On June 14th, Tropical Storm/Depression Alberto came through central North Carolina. There was flooding all over the place, in the usual places, such as Crabtree Creek, and in some areas less prone to flooding. Some places had 6 inches of rain. In Hillsborough, we probably had about one and a half inches. A road in Apex washed away. I ate lunch in my cube that day. Imagine that.

Around then, I played a great deal with Netvibes, but I couldn't determine that it was really any better than the Google Personalized Homepage. I created two almost identical pages in each aggregated just to make sure, but while Netvibes looked prettier, I thought the Google Personalized Homepage looked easier to read and I like embedding the Google Reader. Google also announced Picasa Web Albums, but I wasn't as excited about that as I had hoped. The maximum image resolution is 1600 x 1045 and, even if you pay $25 a year, the maximum storage space is 6 GB. It really is convenient to have uploading built right into Picasa, though.

While I was watching the end of Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals, a raccoon got up on the window sill above my television. That was the first and only raccoon I've seen on my deck or anywhere around my house. There are tons of them around my parents' place. I grabbed my camera and got a nice shot as he was peeking in the door to the deck. Raccoons are so adorable.

The next evening, my parents and I met our neighbors, TD and CD at Kurama, for dinner. That was particularly cool, because I'd never met CD before. You can see how the building where I work, Bostock (part of Perkins Library) looked that day. with liatris and rudbeckia below. Here's also shot of the stokesia that was blooming next to the ramp up to the library buildings.

I spent much of the following day prepping for the Blackboard Test Fest. I ate lunch with NC at the Armadillo Grill and continued to be amazed at the crowds that gathered around the televisions. All the young kids on campus for various camps and TIP programs were completely captivated by the World Cup. I had no idea that it had become that popular, but I had to realize that most of these kids grew up playing soccer. The infamous soccer moms had soccer children and all those children were glued to any TV they could find, particularly flat panel displays.

That night, I went to guitar practice and Indigo Girls' "Gone Again" was actually starting to sound good, even when I played along. We went to the Thai Cafe afterwards and I had Shrimp Massaman again. JJ and I ordered potstickers, which were excellent and served with a curry sauce.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Great Iguana Distribution and Meeting Dr. Bob

On June 10th, I had to get up at 4:15 am to do a sanity check on the Blackboard system and then I went back to sleep. Twelve hours later, I picked up AE, GM and met JH and AB at Southpoint. We saw the movie, Cars. It did have a plot and the computer graphics had improved even more since the last Pixar movie I saw. Overall, I found it entertaining. We ate at Champps afterwards, which was extremely noisy. They were showing game three of the Stanley Cup Finals. We had the Great Iguana Distribution in the parking lot afterwards. Several months prior to that night, we had eaten at Chai's and decided that we wanted to submit a group order of iguana manikins from the Dick Blick catalog. They were out of stock of the small size for a while, so it took a while for me to order them. They were just as cool as we had imagined.

Two days later I observed that I suddenly had spiders in my house that were slowly dropping from the ceiling. Ick.

The next day, I met KS, MS and Dr. Bob the Dog on the main quad. This was my first opportunity to meet Dr. Bob, who lives in Richmond She was adorable, soft, sweet and very friendly. We went to Twinnie's to pick up sandwiches and then ate our lunch on the library patio. I got to show KS my cube, too.

That night, SE gave an excellent talk on the Duke iPod Project at the Durham FM Association meeting. I had worried about how a talk would work at Shoney's since the room we had was pretty cramped. It worked out fine, because SE didn't use a projector. Shoney's has since closed, so we won't have to worry about that anymore. It sounds as if we're going to be meeting at the Mayflower seafood restaurant, in September, at least.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Flickr, Flowers and Food

I know I'm probably the last person in the blogosphere to say this, but I really love flickr. I first started really liking it when I added a flickr feed of photos tagged "weimaraner" to my Google personalized homepage, inspired by the default feed on Netvibes. There are so many zany photos and seeing one of them, particularly this one, really brightens my day. I've finally started adding my own photos to my flickr site. I still think smugmug is cool and technically lets you upload more, but I like the interface and community on flickr more.

In early June, most of CIT went to the Refectory for lunch to celebrate the arrival of two new employees, AN and HC. I had quiche lorraine and a side salad. It was delicious. They had the gorgeous flower arrangement above, displayed near the entrance, which I just had to photograph.

Later that week, almost all of CIT went to lunch at George's Garage for a farewell party for MG. As you can see in the photos on flickr, we showered him with some excellent parting gifts, including a pound of butter. MG believed that butter could be eaten as a main course and we teased him about this on a regular basis.

That Friday, I went over to JJ and JA's for guitar practice and afterwards we went to El Corral. I tried their pork carnitas, which were flavorful and moist. I had sopa pillas for dessert and they were better than what I tried at Casa Ibarra many years ago. Their corn flake based Mexican fried ice cream is probably a better choice, though.

Here are a couple of other photos that I took in my garden that week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Wild Salmon Couldn't Drag Me Away

At the end of May and beginning of June, I had a pretty bad sore throat. I actually took a few sick hours from work. At that point in time, a huge percentage of people had come down with it or something similar. I put up my bio-hazard sign up on my cube to warn people. It was the sickest I'd been in about four years. That said, it really wasn't an awful cold, as colds go.

Around then, I started playing Wild Horses, by the Rolling Stones, on my guitar. It's rather fun to play, although I still find shifting to a B flat difficult. It's really my first attempt at a barre chord. It's such a great song, though.

The Duke University Library Staff Association hosted a luau out on the CI quad. They had a dunking booth and I unsuccessfully attempted to dunk one of our sysadmins, EL. It was a fun event, with lots of food and lots of people.

The next day, I went with AE, GM and we met KL at a euphonium recital, performed by a friend of theirs in the Durham Community Concert Band. It was in a Presbyterian church on 54, close to 751. The altar had these tall arched windows and the peak of the vaulted ceiling had several skylights and each skylight had two pieces of glass at 90 degree angles from each other. I liked the effect. We went to Southpoint afterwards and called JH, because we figured he might be there, too. He wasn't, but he and AJ met us at Firebirds Rocky Mountain Grille. Beforehand, we went to Barnes and Noble and I bought the metallic blue and leather blank book that I'd been coveting since Christmas.

At Firebirds, I made the mistake of ordering my sesame crusted salmon "rare". As regular readers will know, I like salmon sushi. This salmon, however, did not seem as if it were meant to be sushi, but it was certainly raw. I microwaved it for 2 minutes as soon as I got home, before I put it in the fridge.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Skating Scallops

I know many of you are anxious to hear all about my road trips to Arkansas and to the Blackboard Developer's Conference in D.C. You will have to wait. I need to write about the end of May and all of June first. Patience is a rare virtue.

On Memorial Day weekend, I baked 48 brownies and 56 coconut macaroons for the annual Durham FM Association hamfest, to raise money for the club. The hamfest was a success and I had fun selling tickets most of the day. That Sunday, I went to LA's 30th birthday party. That was a tremendous amount of fun. She had a roller skating party at Skate Ranch, which is located on the other side Raleigh. NP and I ate at Yamazushi beforehand and it was quite good, although I was surprised at how little rice they provided with each nigiri piece.

The party was supposed to have an 80s theme, but the DJ only played hip-hop. That was ok, because everyone else at the rink really knew what they were doing when they were skating to hip-hop. Their fancy dance moves were highly impressive and entertaining. I really enjoyed photographing the event and fortunately there weren't any injuries. We ate pizza and cake that AT made and smores (courtesy of AT's smores kit). There has to be some good, easy and cheap way to get still jpegs from an avi file. I'm just not seeing it in the software I have on hand, so you will have to be content with a picture of the cake. It was memorable.

The day of the party, May 28th, was also the second anniversary of the day I moved into my own house.

The following night I went to guitar practice and played Long Black Veil while singing for the first time. I've always been reluctant to sing in public, so the fact that DS and AP were also there made it an even bigger deal for me. JJ and EB picked it up very quickly, even though they'd never heard it before. Afterwards, we had a wonderful dinner with grilled bison burgers, grilled eggplant and scallops. I did kid JJ and JA about the possibility of my contracting Mad Bison disease. JJ grilled the best scallops I've ever eaten, because I've never liked scallops and these were absolutely delicious.