Archive for March, 2008

Season Compare – Caldwell Fields

Continuing my tradition of season comparison shots, here is Caldwell Fields:

Caldwell Fields – March 24, 2008

Caldwell Fields – May 14, 2007

The above combination I architected on purpose, but when I was going through my pictures, I had a bonus season compare at the creek.

Rock and Creek – March 24, 2008

Rock and Creek – May 14, 2007

More pictures from Caldwell Fields can be found on my Flickr site:

Fields in May

Fields in March

Finally, if you yearn to read more about the fields, I have written about them on this blog before. 🙂

March 31, 2008 at 9:01 am 6 comments

Gunfire at Jefferson National Forest

On Friday, I took the dogs out for a quick hike. We explored an old fire road off of Craig’s Creek Road that is marked for “Foot Traffic Only”. It was a pretty nice outing. The only downside was we were very close to the Blacksburg Shooting Range, so we could hear a lot of gunfire.

Henry in particular was bothered by the noise. Anytime the shooting started, he’d crouch real low to the ground and look around nervously. A couple of times, he started to run back to the car.

Now, I think that is probably a reasonable reaction for most animals. But Henry? Henry’s a beagle. What were beagles bred for?

Eating everything in sight?
Attacking other dogs over toilet paper rolls?
Cowering from the Hokie Bird?
Running away from Donkeys?
Arooing at doorbells?
Getting sticks caught in their mouth?
Cowering from balloons?
Rolling in feces?
Pissing on the floor?
Taking mini-dumps?

NO!!! Hunting! BEAGLES WERE BRED FOR HUNTING!!! Hunting, you know, as in… with guns.

As a hunting dog, Henry fails on so many levels.

But… as a trail dog, he ain’t half bad. And our outing on Friday afternoon was quite nice with plenty to see:


Horticulture experiments

Dead things

Exclamation Points (HT Clint)

More pictures from our impromptu trip to Jefferson National Forest can be found on my Flickr site.

March 30, 2008 at 8:08 pm 4 comments

False Advertising: Maneater

Bah! Today I got roped into watching a bad movie. I knew it was going to be bad. I’m not an idiot. It stars Gary Busey and it was on the Sci-Fi Channel on a Sunday afternoon. But look at the Tivo description!

A wild animal goes on a bloodthirsty rampage on the Appalachian Trail

Amazon’s description of the DVD elaborates:

The hunter becomes the hunted when the forested shadows of the Appalachian Trail are stalked by a wild animal out of its element hungry and born to ravage. After Sheriff Grady (Gary Busey The Firm) finds a dismembered body in the area he quickly discovers a print near the scene that identifies the predator as a Bengal tiger. Six hundred pounds twelve feet from nose to tail it s one of the most powerful cats on Earth. Now it s loose and there[‘]s no man on the Appalachian Trail with the skill or the courage to take it down.

Well, heck! The Appalachian Trail in a movie? I’m in!

I watched the whole thing. I’ll overlook the fact that it was filmed in Winnipeg and the terrain* didn’t look right. But here’s an oddity. In a movie supposedly taking place on the AT, there was no mention of the trail. The tiger managed to keep a hiker-free diet…and there wasn’t even a single white blaze.

I know my conclusion may be controversial. And I know! It’s risky to take on the corporate giants like Amazon and Tivo. Tivo is especially scary since we are in the middle of a new season of Lost. But…I have to stay true to myself and my beliefs, right? So… here we go:

This movie had nothing to do with the Appalachian Trail.

That’s right, Tivo, YOU’RE WRONG. Now please, if you don’t mind, still record that new episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight tomorrow night. Please?

*If you are saying to yourself, “Oh darn. I was really hoping to see a movie with terrain similar to the Southwest Virginia section of the Appalachian Trail”, then I know of two movies to refer right off the bat. Last of the Mohicans (filmed in North Carolina) is filled with familiar scenery and I couldn’t help but notice last time I watched Ned Betty‘s famous scene, that Deliverance (filmed in South Carolina and Georgia) features rhododendrons.

Heterosexual men– you now have an excuse to not look at Ned Betty’s ass. “Huh? What anal rape? Oooh! Sorry, I was too busy looking at the rhododendrons!”

March 30, 2008 at 6:38 pm 1 comment

Good for Gillie’s

This evening I was finishing up another home project. With moderate haste, I was removing excess grout from tile faces with a sponge and every so often, I’d yell downstairs, “HOW MUCH TIME?!?!”

Sean would look at a clock and tell me how close it was to 8 PM.

I finished my work at 7:52 PM… which gave me a good eight minutes to get ready for Earth Hour!

And right on time, the house went dark. With my contribution taken care of, I rushed outside to marvel at the global effort! It almost had the same feel of Halloween or 4th of July. That’s how excited I was.

Only… everything looked just the same. Across the street, my neighbor’s dog laid in the driveway. I could see this clearly because the floodlight above the garage was still on. To the left, I saw houses dotted with lit rooms. To the right, I saw houses dotted with lit rooms. The street lights were still on. Even the neighbor who religiously walks or takes the bus to work had light emanating from his upstairs.

And it wasn’t a fluke with our street. Sean and I leashed the two dogs and walked through adjacent neighborhoods. We found only one house that had the distinctive faint flicker of candlelight from within. What happened? Don’t these people use Google?

I was pretty bummed out, but not so distraught to ignore my grumbling stomach. With half of Earth Hour to go, Sean and I ditched the dogs in the completely dark house (ha ha suckers) and set out to find some grub. The drive downtown only served to dampen my mood. I looked out the window and watched the lights of various franchises whiz by.

Lights on North Main Street

And even MORE lights on North Main Street

BUT– on College Avenue, amongst all these blaring lights there was a glimmer of hope! Gillie’s was dark! And as you got closer, you could see they were still open for business. They had turned out the lights in the dining area. Patrons were eating by candlelight!

Gillie’s dining area, lit by candles

Candle at Gillie’s

Well, I joined those patrons! I had salmon with blackberry sauce, fresh asparagus and some cream of broccoli and asparagus soup. The meal was delicious. But tonight, Gillie’s served me up something better.

They saved my Earth Hour.

March 30, 2008 at 12:47 am 6 comments

links for 2008-03-29

March 29, 2008 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Gwyn vs. the Volcano

I was cleaning off one of my SanDisk cards for my camera and I ran across some pictures I never processed. These are from February 22nd, when Ann, Larry, Sean and I took Penn and Gwyn to Kabuki for supper.

For the most part, the evening progressed normally. The kids oohed and ahhed at the fish tank while we waited for a table and after that they oohed and ahhed at the chef preparing the meal. Then it came time for the ONION VOLCANO!!!

Both children lean in with great expectations:

Let’s take a closer look at Gwyn’s face:

Gwyn excited about the volcano

BUT… when the volcano was actually lit, Gwyn was no longer happy:

And let’s take a closer look at that face:

Terrified Gwyn

Once the terror subsided, she watched the flames with worry:

Gwyn worried

Finally she just covered her eyes:

Know what the best part about the picture above is? That kid in the background (a stranger) is laughing at her!

Sympathetic Stranger

And in the end, it was Mama to the rescue:

Ann consoles Gwyn. Brother doesn’t look so concerned, does he?

March 28, 2008 at 7:24 pm 4 comments

Easiest Lent Ever

Well, it turns out Lent 2008 was my easiest Lent ever.  The leap to giving up red meat wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated and I adjusted well to the text messaging restriction. 

Courtesy of text messaging, 2008 was also one of more amusing Lents.  I allowed myself to read text messages, but I wouldn’t write back.  This opened the door for a series of taunting messages.  When they knew I was on the road Derek, Sean and Larry all found it fit to send messages like this one:

From: Derek
Mar 17, 12:35 pm

Haha you can’t reply 🙂

Meanwhile, one of my old co-workers took a very different approach.  He simply sent text messages to tell me when HE was driving.

From: Mark
Feb 21, 6:44 PM

I’m driving.  🙂

Giving up red meat, on the other hand, has been educational.  It taught me just how effective ad campaigns are.  You have no idea how many people approached me, insisting that pork is white meat.  It’s not!  The National Pork Board can use its slogan all it wants, but nutrition-wise PORK IS RED MEAT.  From the USDA Fact Sheet on Pork:

Why is Pork a “Red” Meat?
Oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Pork is classified a “red” meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish. When fresh pork is cooked, it becomes lighter in color, but it is still a red meat. Pork is classed as “livestock” along with veal, lamb and beef. All livestock are considered “red meat.”

As far as post-Lent, I’ve sort of had quite a reunion with red meat (including that deceptive pork).  A Pot Roast Burger from Red Robin, Meatball Sub from Substation II, Pork BBQ from Due South and a Victoria Filet with Horseradish Crust from Outback have all been ingested in just this week.  Hopefully, this reunion is brief and I’ll settle down to substantially less red meat.

But on a positive note, chriggy and ClintJCL may be happy to learn that I’m still not typing away while driving.  I’m aiming for that change to stick!  🙂

March 28, 2008 at 10:51 am 4 comments

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