Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bowling for dollars

After several years of crappy football teams, we finally see a bit of an up tick. NCSU started with a terrible 2 and 6 record. Then they came roaring back with four good wins in a row, making them bowl eligible.

Julie, my cousin Sara and I went to watch NC State beat the thugs from Miami. As always, we were picked to lose, but ended up winning by 10. Note the numerous layers of attire required.

Oh yeah, and like almost every football Saturday this year, it rained. Not much, but enough so that you had to dress for it.

Bowl invitations should go out after next weekend's championship games are all played.

Turkey with the family

We were able to gather all of the local family and some remote members for a nice Thanksgiving dinner. In addition to Julie and I, we had Julie's mom, my mom, my dad and his wife, my aunt and uncle and my cousin.

Chef Julie put on the meal with a lot of help from the mom's. It was wonderful! The surprise for the meal was going to pick up the 13 pound turkey and the six pound turkey breast, only to discover that they had a ten pound breast for us. That was one well endowed bird! More leftovers for all of us!

Martha (my aunt) and Joan (Julie's mom) chatting it up.

Sara (my cousin), Julie (wife, of course) and Sam (my uncle).

Not to be left out, Colleen brought the dogs for a play date with Jasper. Hard to tell the size differences from this angle, but the are very cute together. From the left: Sedona, who was recently rescued from the Chatam County shelter, Zoey, and Jasper. He's always easy to spot with his white paw and red ball.

It was great getting to have the family all together. I think this is what makes Thanksgiving special.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bald Head in November

My mom (Emily Joyce) and Julie's mom (Joan Fernane) came into town on Friday. On Saturday morning we packed up and headed south to Bald Head Island. It's an island just down from Wilmington, NC. You take a car to Southport and then take a ferry to the island. Once you are on the island, all transportation is by golf cart.

This is the Bald Head marina. We stayed here the last night on our way boating back from Florida.

The mom's and Julie on the beach. The island has ocean on two sides, shipping channel on one and marsh on the last. Yes, it was that cold.

We saw lots of wildlife including two red foxes. The only disappointment was not seeing any alligators. They were probably starting to hibernate,

Lots of tracks in the sand. I thought these bird prints were pretty cool.

The most impressive plants on the island are the Live Oaks. They are big sprawling trees with twisting branches. "Live" is their real name, not a condition of being alive versus dead.

Then, add some spanish moss to give it more interest. Bald Head is the northern-most semi-tropical climate on the east coast.

Joan and I went up to the top of Old Baldy, a 190+ year old lighthouse. You get a great view down through the marsh.

The house we were staying in was right on the marsh. If you walked down a boardwalk you got some great scenery. I tried to capture some. The reflections on the water gave this picture an almost ethereal look.

Early morning looking down at Old Baldy (left) and the buildings at the marina (right). You can canoe or kayak through the marsh but have to be very aware of the tides. It can be like riding down a mountain on a bike and then having to pedal home.

My favorite picture of the weekend. There is almost always a good bit of wind at the beach. This makes ripples on the water which screws up the reflections. Here we have evening sun on the marsh grasses. The air was dead still and the reflections were like a mirror. Some storm clouds are just coming in from the right.

It was a great weekend. Very restful. Lots to see and do. Now we are back in Raleigh, begining to prep for Thanksgiving with lots of family.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What a game

Didn't have tickets for the game at UNC but I wish I could have been there. A 41-10 blowout is like an early Christmas. State's coach said this rivalry game was critical. UNC's coach said it was just another game. Hmmmmm.......

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NC State vs UNC

NCSU is not having a great season, but has shown some recent glimmers of hope. Today is the opportunity to upset the UNC Tarheals (11 point favorites). I can't watch the game because were driving to the coast, but at least I can catch it on the radio.

You have to love those Tarheals. They sure know how to throw a tailgate party!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Infrared photography

Just one more funky Infrared picture. This one is looking out over Falls Lake. The tint is weird, but I think the contrasts are dramatic. Double click on it to get a bigger view.

Update your software

I am a big fan of Google's free software for handling photos, Picasa. They just released a new version with some pretty significant improvements. If you are a Picasa user, you should update. If not, why not? The new features can be found here.

Also, the nice Apple people posted 2.2 for the iPhone with some cool new features and some quality fixes. Just sync your phone and it should ask you to update.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LIFE Magazine's photos

Google is a pretty cool company. They just keep doing interesting things, many of which don't seem to have immediate financial value. Good for them.

They recently posted a huge collection of LIFE's photos going back to the 1800's. It offers an interesting look through history and some phenomenal photography.

Click here to explore.

Artsy day in Duxford

I was playing with my old Nikon D70 yesterday. Always good to take time and focus on a particular aspect of photography, hoping that you have the skills when the great opportunity presents itself.

The first shot was 20 second exposure shot in infrared. The D70's sensor is pretty receptive to infrared, so all you need is a very, very dark filter. I did nothing to fix the parallax problem (all the trees seem to be leaning in) because the picture just isn't that good and I'm lazy.

Notice the blurred trees and clouds. This is one of the challenges of very long exposure shots.

Given the blurring on the preceding picture, I thought it would be fun to try some intentional blurring. I always like shots of grass with the seed heads blowing. Again, not a great picture, but you can see the softening of seeds caused by the breeze and a half second exposure. Compare that to the sharpness of the blades of grass.

Oh well, just some camera fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter gone bad

Weather just doesn't seem to get it. I want golf in North Carolina and skiing in Utah.

Today, it is 52 degrees in one place and there were snow flurries in the other. Unfortunately, the snow is in Raleigh where the wind chill is in the low 30s or high 20s. It is 52 degrees up at 8,000 feet in Park City, and it is only noon there.

Can someone please straighten this out? Thanks.

The fall harvest

When most people think of the fall harvest, they picture something like the grape vineyards of California or a field of pumpkins. Not here in the community of Duxford. Our fall harvest is pine straw. A good bit of our neighborhood was a farm 75 years ago, but it has been overtaken by pine trees. These are now quite large and are prodigious producers of pine straw. So why pay $4 per bale for a ground cover when you can rake your driveway for free?

I finished harvesting my driveway in the morning. I come home that afternoon to find one of our neighbors harvesting in the street. I am kind of bummed that I hadn't thought to mooch the "street straw". Oh well, perhaps today will be windy.....

Monday, November 17, 2008

Football Saturday

How does it know to rain on football Saturday's? We seem to keep running into these, even though the weather has been drier than normal for late October and November. Julie and our friend Liz Hervatic wisely decided to blow off the opportunity to sit through rain and watch the game.

Mark Reid (neighbor) and Darrel Baber (college roommate) had no such fears. With beer, Bojangles and football, we are invincible. For those of you outside the Southeast, Bojangle's is like KFC only better. The chicken is quite spicy and the biscuits are delicious. If you are hungry and see one, give it a try (but don't think about your health).

NC State was playing Wake Forest, who was ranked in the top 25 and favored to beat us. But even a Baptist school can't stand up to such a clear mesaage from God. This is our practice field tower at the bottom of a rainbow.

Sure enough, NC State wins in the last few minutes of the game. Wake has two opportunities to try and retake the lead, but amazingly, State's defense held them both times.

Again, I think this was God telling us that all was right on football Saturday. What a gorgeous sunset.

One parting shot. If beating Wake wasn't enough, here is a picture of a SUV with a Wake Forest sticker. They had parked right next to us at the game, but without one of the magic parking passes that says that it is OK. The heavy set man on the left? That would be Mr. Tow Truck driver. Bye bye!

Now it gets more important and harder. Our last two games are Carolina (at UNC) and Miami (at home). The main goal is to beat Carolina and screw up any hopes they have of making it to the ACC Championship game. If we beat them, then a win over Miami would make NCSU bowl eligble with 6 wins. I'm not counting us out, but I'm sure not holding my breath either.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

I came. I ran. I conquered (sort of)

Sunny, 50 and a light breeze. Perfect!

Went and ran my 10k, sore calf and all. The goal was to do it under 8 minute miles. My normal habit is to start way in the back and pass people. A great motivator. It's easy in the beginning but eventually you catch up with people running your speed. My miles:
  • 8:22, hampered by having to weave through too many people
  • 7:39, oops. Too fast, too soon
  • 8:04, much more reasonable
  • 7:47, like a horse that can start smelling the barn
  • 7:41, downhill, following a cute girl
  • 7:28 pace for the last 1.21 miles
My chip time was 48:40 (give or take a second). That's about 7:50 miles, so I am happy. Your chip time is different than the clock time. The clock time starts when the gun goes off, but with a few thousand runners, it takes you a good while to get to the starting line. The chip (attached to your shoe) measures starting line to finish line for each runner.

I'll be walking with a limp for a few days from two very tight calves. One was injured before the race. I think I favored it today, therefore screwing up the other one a bit. Ice and advil are my friends.

Now all I have to do is keep the same pace up for another 20 miles and I have a Boston qualifier!

I haven't run in a big race for a few years. It was exciting to be around the crowd of people. Such a mix. The collection of 2% body fat strings that seem to glide the course. The people carrying enough extra weight that it is amazing that they finish. Good for them. The collections of social runners (women mostly) who chat and giggle the entire run. It hurts to know that some of them finish ahead of you, talking the whole way.

All in all, a lot of fun.

UPDATE: Now that the results are posted, I can see I finished 290th. Lots of room for improvement, but I was in the top 25%. I noticed that I would not have won the Males, age 70-99 category. The one entrant beat me by about a minute. I hope I can run 7:45 miles when I'm 71. Go Neville Wood!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Lots of visits with friends:
  • Lunch with Wayne Riley (from IBM) who I haven't seen in about a decade
  • A weekend visit from Jim and Kathy Covaleski. They came down from DC and hung with us for what turned out to be lovely weather.
  • A quick visit from Tim and Jenny Huntley and their incredibly cute little boys.
  • Tongiht, a weekend visit from Liz Hervatic. She was coming in from Santa Monica for something else, but is staying with us.
  • Dinner tomorrow with John and Patty Steigerwald
  • Football game on Saturday with Liz and my college roommate Darrell

On Sunday I am supposed to go run the Old Reliable 10k race. I had been training quite happily for a few weeks when some form of old age and stupidity got in the way. I had been so careful to avoid my old problems with my knees. Instead, I get some strained/sprained/tight muscle deep in my right calf. Looks like between massage, staying off it, Ibuprofen, and ice, I am ready to run again. Just the same, it stinks to lose a week of running when I was so poorly prepared any way.

Here is a picture of the last time I ran this race. I had a leg injury, so I couldn't run it competitively. Instead, I dressed in a grandma Halloween outfit and a pair of steel-toed hiking boots. I still managed to finish in something around 7:30 miles. Ah, to be young again.

The cane seemed appropriate. If you double click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see my knee brace sticking out from under my gown.

If you are wondering, no, this isn't a race that people get dressed up for. It was pretty much just 3,000 people in running singlets, and me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The economy is still ok

You hear stories about how people are cutting back on their non-critical purchases. It seems to be showing up in some of the market statistics, but I'm jut not buying it.

On election day Starbucks was offering a free tall cup of coffee to anyone who said they voted. (Tall, of course, is the smallest size.) I was at a store nearby so I went in for my cup. The place was busy. No surprise. The surprise came as I watched everyone get to the cashier and order the normal mix of $3-5 beverages.

Not only do we have people still lining up in the middle of the afternoon to pay $4 for a fluffy coffee, they will do it even when a normal coffee is free. The economy must not be too bad. Yet.

What a nice day

First, the elections. I am very happy that Barack won last night. He was my choice as the best candidate, but I am also proud that the US would actually elect a black man as president. It wasn't that long ago that blacks had their own bathrooms and were forced to sit in the back of the bus. We do a lot of stupid things in this country. It's nice to see we can make progress at the same time.

Also very happy to see Elizabeth Dole lose. I thought she was useless for NC as a senator. Right up there with John "the useless cheater" Edwards. I thought she was a poor senator to start with, but when she started running attack ads questioning her opponents religiousness (not a word?), I think she lost a lot of support. I was really hoping she would fall.

And not quite as important, but still exciting, is this mornings picture from Deer Valley's Empire Lodge. I'm pretty sure this is how it is supposed to look.

Interesting tidbit: This is just a few hundred yards from where they are building the new high-end Montage Hotel. A few weeks ago, they had to stop construction because they uncovered a store of 19th century dynamite used for silver mining. Seems there was over a dozen cases of very old explosive. Very lucky they didn't set it off with the heavy equipment. It was safely removed and work has restarted.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Golf for the ego

A big thanks to Darrell Baber, my college roommate, apartment roommate and best man at our wedding. Darrell, Jim Saunders and I went out to golf this weekend. Darrell suggested a course just down the road from me that I had never played, Brevofield Golf Course.

Where the hell has this place been all my life? What a great place for your ego! The course is short and open. The greens are flat and mostly easy. I was playing my normal mediocre self and managed to shoot an 89. This is great! I hope to get back there again before returning to Utah.

Oh yeah, it's also cheap.

Non-election stuff on election day

First, it is finally snowing again in Park City. It's about damn time. They've been having record heat for the past few weeks. Think cold. Think snow. Steve wants to ski!!

Next, you know how the American car companies took such a beating for a decade or two because the foreign cars were built better? Now they hold their own quite nicely in all the quality surveys. One little irony. We have a Ford Explorer with over 100,000 miles on it, some of which have been dragging a boat that was well beyond the towing capacity. What piece on the truck holds up better than any other? The engine? The drive train?

Try the "check engine" light. That little bugger has been on every second the truck is running for the past 3 or 4 years. I keep expecting it to finally die an stop bugging me. And for you naggers, yes, I do check the engine every month or so. It's always there. Nice reminder though.