Friday, December 29, 2006

Planes, Trains, and...Well, Just Planes

I guess I was feeling like I didn't take enough pictures on vacation, so I went a little nuts on the plane ride home. I couldn't take any pictures on the way over there because it was dark. On the flight back it was a very clear day. Let the snoozing begin!

Here is a look at Huntsville, Alabama right after we took off. Approximately in the middle of the frame is the full-scale Saturn V rocket at the Space and Rocket Center (you can see a larger view if you click on the pictures).

This is the Mississippi River. I liked the way these oxbow lakes looked. They are formed when the river changes course and the old channel gets cut off. And while looking up oxbow lakes on Wikipedia, I learned that they are called billabongs in Australia. I'll be damned.

This is also the Mississippi. I thought that was a really cool bridge in the center of the picture. I haven't figured out what city it's near but I want to try and figure it out.

Downtown Dallas

The building where I work is visible in this shot.

Getting ready to land.

That's Fort Worth off in the distance.

A couple of variations on my by-now standard sunset shot.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Even Steven?

It’s probably best to start from the end of my vacation. Yesterday after an uneventful flight home, I claimed my suitcase and caught the shuttle to the parking lot way too quickly. Actually, there was some good on the flight too – due to a family wanting to sit together and a not-completely full flight, I got to move 5 rows up and away from a small child hepped up on goofballs. This kid was out of control. His screaming was oh-so-much quieter after I moved. Anyway, I was due for some karmic correction. When I got to my car in the parking lot I noticed that the dome light didn’t come on when I opened the door. Not a good sign. The car wouldn’t even attempt to start. Hey, no problem, right? I’ve been here before.

I walked up to the office to see if I could get a jump start. They sent someone out with a jumping gizmo and hooked it up. Nothing. That battery was deader than fried chicken. Very providentially I was planning to meet Criss for dinner nearby. Not having a cell phone, however, could have been a problem. I asked the guy about using a phone in the office, but he let me use his cell phone. Criss was enroute to our appointed meeting place, and happened to be very close by when I called. So, luckily I had someone to help me get a new battery within 15 minutes of discovering I had a problem.

Criss talked me down from my panicky Wal Mart ledge, and took me to an auto parts store. The battery was procured in painless fashion, save for the pain to my bank account. I thought it would be good to eat dinner before attempting the minor car surgery just in case the patient developed complications. At least the evening would include a nice dinner, right? After being informed of the hour and forty minute wait at PF Chang’s, we ended up at this place. The enchiladas were OK, but the sautéed vegetable side was excellent. Unfortunately they botched Criss’s order.

After dinner it was time to tackle the car. Criss braved the wind and somewhat cold temperatures to hold the flashlight while I changed the battery. There was a tense moment when the positive terminal (that’s the red one :D) didn’t want to cooperate with the wrench, but luckily it pulled off without need of a loosened nut. And no, that’s not a double-entendre. With the new battery in place the car started right up. My post-mortem analysis indicated that I had left the dome light on when I parked the car. D’oh! Criss departed to attend RSK. Unfortunately I couldn’t go this week since I used up all my vacation time for Christmas and I don’t function well on two hours of sleep. Hopefully the karmic balance is restored at this point.

P.S. – To the person who brought 2 boxes of truffles to work today: You suck.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

SPC - Red #4

Since I've been out of town I'm posting a shot from the "chile pepper sessions". It was taken on a separate day though!

Seeing this wondrous contraption called a computer is quite a shock. I have plenty of vacation tales to tell, and maybe the most interesting part is what happened to me when I got back to Texas. But that's going to have to wait until tomorrow at this point. I'll be catching up on everyone's blogs as I can!

See more red here.


Thursday, December 21, 2006


Forgive me if this post is a bit discombobulated, I’m so tired that my effective IQ is currently about 50. I’m walking around very zombie-like today.

OK, so here’s what went down last night. The lovely Criss is quite the karaoke aficionado, and she was planning to go to something called Rock Star Karaoke. Rock Star Karaoke differs from regular karaoke in that you sing with a live band which plays the tune you have selected rather than performing to a recording. RSK doesn’t start until around 10:30, so I knew it would be a late night. I got there around 11 and the place was pretty packed.

Criss’s sisters Marcy and Jen were there, as they are all planning to travel to Austin today for Christmas. I have to say, you all are a great-looking family! Criss rocked things ‘80s style by singing “She Bop” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. Oh, and her outfit? Very nice. Criss, I think you wuz robbed. Too bad I wasn’t a judge. Criss also had quite the posse of friends too, who all seemed very nice. I loved the songs Free did. “I Wanna Be Sedated” was great with you all doing your best to distract.

Overall I would say that the level of talent in this contest was pretty impressive. There were only about 3 or 4 people who were not very good. This includes the one that I called the “female Iggy Pop”, who took to lifting her shirt and smacking herself upside the head. She attempted “Just What I Needed”, but she didn’t seem to know the song very well. The Dennis Hopper doppelganger did a pretty damn good version of “Suspicious Minds”. I was surprised that someone did the song I would have tried if I could sing worth a damn – Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom”. The guy did a pretty good job with it. He actually won second place for the night. Since audience participation is a part of the judging, I’m convinced that Criss and Marcy’s rump shaking helped put this guy over the top. He didn’t even say “Thanks”! Pfft. The final performance of the evening was “Purple Rain”, and all I have to say about that is Da-yum! Really good. And the night was topped off very nicely I must say.

I’m tired enough that I may actually sleep on the plane tonight, which I generally don’t do. I hope everyone has a merry Christmas or happy Hanukkah!


Sunset 12-05-06

Today will be my last chance to post for a few days. I'm leaving after work for my grandmother's house, which is tragically without Internet access. My aunt and uncle have a computer, but I'll have to fight about 6 other people for access to it, so my time will be limited I'm guessing. Damn I need a laptop. I'll put that on the list right behind a cell phone!

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago. It's weird to see leaves on my tree, they're all gone now. And I am working on a recap of last night for later this afternoon.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sunset 12-20-06

I'm not 100% sure, but this may be a first - 3 posts in one day. I'm currently packing for my Christmas trip to Alabama tomorrow.

Also, oddly enough, I'm getting ready to go out and paint the town brown this evening. Someone has lured me out of the batcave on a dark and dreary night at an hour when I am usually fast asleep (on a weeknight at least).

We had a pretty nice sunset this evening.


Weird News For Your Wednesday

I'm bored, and I know that some of you get all of your news from blogs, so let's kill two birds with one stone.

* Ever eaten a seven-legged hermaphrodite? This guy has.

* You need a test for that?

* Just reading about this restaurant makes me hungry! I wonder if they do franchises?


Xmas Lights

This year I did get my Christmas lights put up, unlike last year. I had also planned to put my tree up this year, but that kind of fell through the cracks. It seems a bit too late for the tree at this point. Putting up my lights is fairly easy, but there is a small amount of white-knuckle time when it's time to come down from the roof. The only ladder I have is a 6 foot step ladder, which means that to get on or off the roof I have to stand on the very tip top of the ladder. Which you're not supposed to do. It's not bad when I'm getting on the roof, but coming down off the roof can be a bit tricky because it can hard to know exactly where the ladder is. The scare-mongers in the local news widely reported this story about 2 men who were paralyzed putting up Christmas lights. I think they fell from two story homes, though.

Some of the people in the neighborhood go overboard (as you'll see below). There's always a contest each year for the best Christmas display, and some people take that stuff way too seriously. Especially since the prize isn't that great - a gift certificate to Home Depot, not more than $100 I think. Whoopee.

This is my very modest display of Christmas lights.

As opposed to the Griswalds of the neighborhood, across the street from me.

Time to break out the star filter...

Please be so kind to notice that the light at the highest point is burned out. Hey, it was working before I put them up! I decided not to replace it, seeing as how a death-defying climb is involved. Must keep death-defying climbs to a minimum, you know.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

SPC - Red #3

No lipstick this week! I have these chili pepper Christmas lights, and I thought it might be interesting to see what it would look like if I draped them over myself.

See more Red here.


Monday, December 18, 2006

D*%# In A Box

I heard about this on the radio today. This video was on Saturday Night Live last weekend and it's pretty funny:

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That's Mr. Bunyan To You

I took Anne's advice and made like Paul Bunyan with the tree in my back yard. I had to borrow an axe from my neighbors. I already knew this from past experience, but chopping wood is hard work! The key is gripping the axe as close to the end of the handle as you can and letting that leverage work for you. It was a nice little workout.

In other news, I had a date this weekend. I had a good time and I think the person I went out with is really smart, cute, and funny. Unfortunately I botched the end of the date, which won't come as a surprise to at least a couple of you. Hopefully I will get another chance...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

World's Tallest Man Saves World's Sickest Dolphins!

* I can't get over this story. It's just so damn weird. Who came up with this idea? It sounds like a sitcom plot or something. "Hey, I know, let's get the world's tallest man to stick his freakishly long arms into the dolphins' stomachs, and he can pull out the plastic they ate!" "Yeah!!" WTF???!!!!!

* If you want to hear some of the Aimee Mann Christmas songs, this link has audio or video from a radio show last Monday. There's also a couple of non-Christmas songs and a couple of interview segments. Good stuff. And by the way, Aimee Mann has 2 other shows in the KCRW archives, and they have some really great other stuff in those archives.


Head In The Clouds

I took these pictures two weeks ago on Saturday. I was locked inside working on one of my papers and I stepped outside to take a break and get some fresh air. The clouds looked really cool that day. My head is frequently in the clouds.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

OK, I can finally wrap-up my Thanksgiving trip.

On the same day that we went to the Lemur Center and Duke Chapel, we went to eat at an Indian restaurant for dinner. The funny part was that the restaurant was named Dale’s Indian Cuisine. I had this picture of some Carolina redneck making tandoori chicken. Although once we got there no rednecks (at least among the restaurant staff) were to be seen. My sister is one of the youth sponsors at the church she goes to, and the dinner was an event for the church youth. It seemed like mostly junior high kids that showed up. They were nice kids for the most part, although the know-it-all that sat next to me was a little annoying. Most of the kids were unfamiliar with Indian food, so she took it upon herself to explain what everything on the menu was, including to me. Honey, I’ve been eating Indian food since long before you were even a blastocyst. I had the chicken bahaar, and it was pretty good. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep from getting hungry later. We were so busy that day we hadn’t eaten lunch.

The next morning we planned to go to the first North Carolina opening of my favoritest grocery store in the whole world – Trader Joe’s! I was keeping my expectations low because I thought it might be super crowded and not even worth messing with. On the way to Trader Joe’s we stopped by the state park where my brother-in-law works so my sister could drop off some papers he needed. I got to hold the corn snake that they have in their office, which was pretty cool. Snakes don’t bother me. I think the snake liked how warm my hands were, he seemed a little cold.

We finally made it to Trader Joe’s and it was pretty much a mad house. The line nearest to the door was extremely long. Since we knew it would take a while to get through that line, we decided that one of us would go ahead and get in line while the other shopped, and then we could switch. When I took my turn shopping I noticed that the other lines were about half the length of the one we were in! But I figured by that time we had moved enough to not make changing lines worth it. I think that turned out to be a mistake, but what are you going to do? It took us an hour and a half to get through the line and check out. The fact that this didn’t give me a coronary tells you how much I like TJ’s.

This was a local beer that I tried. It was very good. I liked the label too.

More beer. Tusker is from Kenya. I had heard of it but they don't carry it in Texas. It was pretty good too.

My sister ganked (does anyone still say "ganked"?) this sign from work because they were going to throw it away. I like how the lemur is riding a skateboard. Just like real life!

This is my new favorite TJ's trail mix, since they quit carrying my previous favorite.

These chips are awesome.

Love the chile spiced mango!


This was good, but the dish turned out soupier than I was expecting. Maybe don't add as much water as they recommend.

Frankly this cereal was a bit of a letdown.

This is my sister's dog.

He's a good dog, but not the sharpest pencil in the box. But give him a break, his brain is about the size of a walnut!


He likes to perch on the couch so he can see what's going on outside.

He barks a lot. And every morning he would forget that he met me the day before, so he would go crazy when I would emerge from the bedroom in the morning.