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.