Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What I want for Christmas

This is what I want for Chistmas which will hopefully stop whoever keeps breaking into my Jeep from doing so...

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Fever

Ya know, the biggest drawback of working with my travel photos for the Flickr site is that I'm now suffering from an acute case of Travel Fever, the only cure for which is to hop on a plane and go somewhere.

I feel another adventure coming on....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Travel Photos

Hi all. Just wanted to let everyone know that I've set up a Flikr page where I'm posting images from my various travels here and there. It's a work in progress, with photo sets being added when time and motivation allow. Feel free to post comments about the pics should you desire to do so. I'm finding this whole Flikr thing rather the addictive pastime....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Deck the Halls

As it looks like I'll be home for the holidays for the first time in a few years, I'm giving some serious thought as to putting up a Christmas tree. I have not done this in a long time... 1997 was the last time I believe.

Of course the great question is how the cats are going to cope with it. I'm rather sure they will see it as a new toy and begin attacking it the moment I begin to set it up. I'm considering a small live tree and am very curious as to their health should they decide to eat it. Hmmm.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Form vs. Substance

It has been quite some time since I last posted anything of substance. I've been curiously reflective lately, though a worn journal book and favorite pen has been the medium of choice instead of the blog. Just in one of those moods I guess. There's nothing of any real consequence going on, it's just that I've been more inclined towards the processual creativity of putting pen to paper. Something deeply comforting about this and personal in ways beyond the mechanical limitations of a keyboard.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From the Local Paper

A random obituary from last Friday's edition of The Virginian Pilot begins as follows (and I'm not making it up): "P------ A-- H----, 69, died November 8, 2006 at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital from one damn thing after another..."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just a brief note....

...to let everyone know that I'm alive and well. And still smoke-free (will soon pass the 12 week mark).

Perhaps this weekend I'll gather fortitude enough to sit down and hammer out an update. Nothing too exciting to report, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Freedom

With the removal of the last patch early yesterday morning I completed the ten week non-smoking regimen and have supposedly broken the habit. I feel better overall and can breathe so much easier, but the cost of this is continued lack of mental clarity/focus, recent bouts of anxiety, and chronic mood swings (ok, perhaps "swings" is not accurate as there has been little variation in my mood beyond the parameters of "bad" and "worse" and it must duly be noted that I rarely ever in a foul mood prior to quitting. Now I am just evil). I suspect both of these will improve with time. I will give it another week.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Manager of the Year

Despite rumors to the contrary, the clip below is NOT footage of me at work. I don't work retail and I'm not named Chad. Some might say the differences end there. Judge for yourself.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Step Down Day

Today I step down to the 7mg patches following the requisite two weeks on the 14mg. I removed the old patch early this morning but decided to wait a few hours before slapping on the new one, mainly out of curiosity as to how my body would respond to this brief nicoteine-free period. I was without a patch for about five hours and only at the end did I become a litle antsy and my mood begin to sour. Presumably there was still sufficient nicoteine in my body at the outset to ward off any ill effects, but as time passed, that lingering need, that lingering addiction began to surface. Not wishing to have the Evil Me emerge, I put on the new patch and thus continued with the regimen. When you first put on a patch, it burns and itches ever so slightly. This has become a curiously welcome thing over the course of the quitting process and it certainly was this morning. So now that the need for nicoteine has been sated, I'm back into a happy mood and trying to forget that the daily hit is half of what I've been getting.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Crisp and Cool

My whining the other evening about the less than fall-like weather has yielded desired results! It is a crisp and clear morning, very autumn-like in every way. As it does each year, the transition in seasons has put me into a happy, energetic mood. I feel like I can take on the world. It must duly be noted that I am on my fourth cup of coffee this morning, so caffeine may also have something to do with the good mood.

I haven't been home long from running a number of errands including buying five cases of beer for the annual office cookout this afternoon. We usually hold this gathering during the summer, but it was delayed this year due to schedule conflicts, etc. The turnout today should be good, though much will depend on lingering repercussions (if any) from employee evaluations of this week. If such is the case, so be it. Really wouldn't want the whiners there anyway as they would ruin the festivites.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What's next...

Last night I finished "Child of All Nations," the second volume in Premoedya Ananta Toer's Buru Quartet. Though a very good book. I wasn't particularly fond of the ending. At least when I first read it. But then something uber cool happened. The more I turned the story's conclusion over in my mind following a subsequent reading, the more meaningful and deep it became, particularly in terms of symbolism. So many subtle layers built into that one scene.

The question now becomes what to read next. I'm tempted to continue with the Buru Quartet and move on to "Footsteps," but am also considering pursuing something else, though I don't yet know what. And along those lines, I shall wander off now to pour an alcoholic refreshment and browse the shelves here in the study for the next worthy tome.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ahh autumn...well..kinda

I have not been long home from a brisk walk around the neighborhood. The cool night air was invigorating, but has yet to take on that fall "crispness" I find so delightful. We have yet to have a frost, or any truly cold nights for that matter, so the conditions aren't yet right for the advent of the feeling of autumn, though the calendar says otherwise.

Jerusalem Has Come

The movie was so-so, but what an intriguing character.....





Monday, October 09, 2006

Another Milestone

Seven weeks today without a cigarette. Go me!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

To The Brink and Back a Step

Save for a last minute surge in unexpected willpower last night and particularly this morning I would have fallen off the wagon one day shy of the six-week no-smoking milestone. This was undoubtedly the closest I have come to lighting up since laying down the cigarettes on the 21st of August. The curious thing was the lack of initial catalyst for the urge, though once it hit practially everything became a potential trigger. To compound matters, I was at the point of justifying why I should smoke and my mind was in such a state that these excuses sounded perfectly, perfectly rational.

Now that I look back at it, I made two fundamental mistakes when the feinding surfaced last night. First, was staying home to deal with it when what I needed was the distraction of going out. Though I had tentative plans last night, once the urge hit I dropped off the radar screen. This may not have been a total mistake as I was in a positively evil mood last night. Certainly did not want to subject friends to the terror of Darth Irritus. The second mistake was then deciding to go to bed far too early. And by early I mean around a quarter of nine. Even my ancient grandmother doesn't go to bed that early. Nonetheless, it sounded a viable plan at the time, but reality of it was that by 11pm I was up again, wide awake, wanting a cigarette. I think I finally fell off to sleep sometime after three this morning and up again at the usual time of half past five.

By now the urge has more or less passed. I am tired, both from the lack of sleep and having fought this mental battle, but feel stronger having successfully passed the test.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sterling Castle

Below is Sterling Castle taken from the road during the bus tour mentioned below. It's not the best of shots, but it at least it provides a sense of scale in relation to the surrounding countryside.

Village and River Forth

Below is a shot of a village with the river Forth in the background taken during the bus trip around Scotland a week ago Friday. The town may have been Culross, though I am not absolutely certain of this. Somehow it was omitted in my travel notes from that day.















Saturday, September 23, 2006

Memory Lane

Does this ever bring back the memories of the single digit years: rushing home from school and turning on the television for the next installment...

Unfortunately the song is one of those that gets stuck in your head...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Linlithgow Palace

The two images below are of Linlithgow Palace ruins which turned out to be one of my favorite travel stops whilst in Scotland last week. Mary, Queen of Scots, was supposedly born here in 1542.















The image below was taken from the top of one of the corner turrets which, in the image above, would have been at left rear of the image.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Home

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am back home. Slightly jetlagged this morning, but nowhere near the degree to which I was after the flight over to Scotland last week. Another cup or two of coffee should be sufficient to fortify my mental faculties for giving the talk at the university early this afternoon. No guarantees at all after that as I am still on UK time. Ugh.

The trip was a lot of fun and my sister's wedding was very nice. More on all this later (including post various pictures. 375 to choose from!). Now I need to take a look at the Powerpoint presentation for today. Never got around to doing this before the trip, so it's going to be a last minute scramble.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Outta here

Though a bit early still, I am heading on out to the airport. Tired of waiting around at home and afraid the desire to take a nap might overcome me. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to post from Scotland, but if not, I should have all sorts of pics and perhaps a few stories of interest to share once I get home Sunday evening.

Hope everyone has a good couple of days.

Outta here

Though a bit early still, I am heading on out to the airport. Tired of waiting around at home and afraid the desire to take a nap might overcome me. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to post from Scotland, but if not, I should have all sorts of pics and perhaps a few stories of interest to share once I get home Sunday evening.

Hope everyone has a good couple of days.

Day of Departure

I'm not leaving for the airport until around three this afternoon, so now it's the "hurry up and wait" thing. I'm just now back from a run to Target for a few travel-related items and there's not much to do between now and then other than packing. That certainly won't take long.

Excitement about the trip to Scotland is finally beginning to build, though the level is far below that for previous adventures. The shortness of the trip may have something to do with this. By the time I get adjusted to things over there I will be heading back home. However, I think enthusiasm for the trip will build further once things are underway. There is much about which to be excited with this trip other than my sister getting married. This will be my first trip to Scotland, so I will be able to shade in another country on my travel map when I get home. Also of note is this will be my first international trip where the destination is not tropical. I'm not sure how I am going to cope with the absence of palm trees and the heat and humidity of my usual destinations.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Busy as an Apidae

Having an afternoon coffee whilst waiting for the laundry to dry. It's been a busy day and it's a good feeling scratching things off the day's list. Bank. Check. Haircut. Check. Barnes and Noble. Check. Buying Shoes. Check. Laundry. Check. And so on. The critical item remaining for today is working on a Powerpoint presentation for Monday. I've been asked to give the lecture I do every fall semester and will reuse the same presentation, but with a few modifications. Changes (if any) should not take long which is ideal since it will leave time for an afternoon nap.

Vacation!

Though my flights are not until late tomorrow afternoon, I took off from work today primarily to ensure a leisurely pace for travel preparations. I don't have a lot to do beyond a few errands and laundry and packing, so it's going to be a relaxing day and a half until departure. Packing won't be that involved of a process as it will be a short trip (I'll be back Sunday night).

The first order of business today will be drawing up the prioritized list of preparations which will be relatively short compared to the pre-Thailand and Honduras lists. Despite the fact that I'll be in-country but four days (only two full days) and the ininteary is largely already set, I'll most lilkely acquire a Edinburgh/Scotland travel guide at Barnes and Noble to familiarize myself with the country during the flight over. This always enhances the experience and provides the necessary information for a better informed travel journal notes. [As an aside: I have been thinking of creating a second blog to post travel-related notes and essays and a few photographs. Sill mulling this over, but it would make for an interesting winter project].

Anyway.. will post more later. Need to get moving on a few things.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Staying the Course

Today marks three weeks since last I had a cigarette. Altogether the journey has been a rough one, but after twenty-one days of anxiety and doubt and determination, the path grows ever more smooth. The shadow of temptation that haunted my steps and threatened to surge forth with overwhelming fury during moments of weakness has dissipated to the point where it no longer elicits fear. It is now but an occasional annoyance, a barking dog in the distance that soon falls back to sleep.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Observations of Nature

With the exception of a protracted contest of wills with a black snake over control of a dry path through a bog (it won), today's trip to the ecological preserve was mostly uneventful. The Blackwater River had receeded to the point where the lower reaches of the preserve were once again accessible, although a bit soggy. The ground down by the river was covered witth this muddy silt deposited during last weekend's flooding event. The usual shades of brown and green of fallen leaves and pine straw and the occasional low plants were masked with black. As I traversed this seemingly foresaken area on foot I noticed a large velvet ant ambling across the muddy terrain, its brilliant red contrasting wonderfully with the black substrate. It would have made a great photograph, but the camera I left in the Jeep and did not have the desire to slog back through the fluvial debris to get it. So the ant, photographed only in memory, ambled on it way undisturbed.

Velvet ants (which are, of course, just flightless wasps) are common at the ecological preserve, though are always encountered in the high sand lens area and along sandy paths a good distance from the river. I can't even begin to speculate why this one was in such a disagreeable and unfamiliar environment. While the flooding may have had something to do with it, the most logical explanation is that velvet ants occur in this part of the preserve as well, but are usually not as visible in the mottled ground clutter. Change the backdrop to a solid color (in this case black) and one begins to see things they did not notice before.

Anyway..the image below is of a velvet ant taken a few weeks ago at the preserve.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

The ecological preserve was rather the mess yesterday as expected. Much of it was flooded and ane section of path was washed out to the extent that it was transversable only with four-wheel drive (weeee!). The Blackwater River had left its banks and spread out through the lower part of the preserve, covering sections of study area (and paths leading to it) under several feet of water. This precluded the possibility of the scheduled fieldwork in that area this weekend. This activity was postponed until next weekend. I still had a couple other things to work on out there yesterday and by the time I left in the mid-afternoon I was soaked from the knees down. Normally dry trails had become bogs and my hiking boots are still drying out.

Due to the postponement of research, today is an unexpected free day and thus far I have spent the time well. As is customary I was up early (sleeping in is a habit not yet aquired) and began the day updating my journal over a couple cups of coffee, followed by the usual weekend activities of a run to the grocery store, assorted cleaning, as well as a trip out to my lab to check up on a few things. I also finished This Earth of Mankind this morning. It has been among the most productive of days.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Nothing of Interest

As it turned out, the commute to work this morning was a real pain. Various points of both main routes were flooded, so I ended up threading a maze of side streets to get to work. A couple times I had to backtrack (including going the wrong way down a one-way street) due to impassable intersections. At least they appeared to be impassable. I rwasn't in the mood to try my luck with the Jeep today. That will come tomorrow with the research trip out to the ecological preserve. I should be able to get onto the preserve unless the river as left its banks. If that's the case, it will be a riot of mud and water.

Must remember to bring the camera tomorrow.

Anyway. The rain stopped early this afternoon and most of the roads dried out sufficiently for the commute home. i had planned to finish the current book, This Earth of Mankind, soon after I got home, but about a page into it I summarily fell asleep. This was not due to the book, but the lack of caffeine and food (both defficiencies have since been corrected). So here I sit in the study early on a Friday evening, finishing off the glass of wine from dinner. Not sure what I'm doing this evening. Most likely it will be a quiet evening here at home.

Tropical Storm Ernesto

The rain driving against the bedroom windows had me up and about well before five this morning and stumbling towards the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee before anything unfortunate happened to the electricty. This deluge of near Biblical proportions will make the commute to work a bit of an adventure. Sections of the two primary routes flood easily during summer thunderstorms and are probably lakes this morning. Will need to roll out of here a little earlier than usual.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Storms, External and Internal

Ten days now without a cigarette and going strong. Cravings have tapered off in frequency, though on occasion a powerful urge to smoke will unexpectedly arise, toss me about for a while with the shoals of temptation perilously close by, then finally subside. The randomness of these urges is what makes them particularly dangerous to the non-smoking endeavour. No predictable triggers involved for which you can brace yourself; one minute you're contentedly involved in this or that and the next you're fighting the urge to rush down to the coffee shop patio to paw through the ashtrays for any useable remnants and ready to break anyone who happens to get in the way. Thankfully, these periods are infrequent.

It's a rainy Thursday evening and Tropical Storm Ernesto (perhaps it's a hurricane by now; I haven't checked in a couple hours) is somewhere south of here, off of the Carolinas where it will make landfall tonight. We're supposed to receive mainly rain here and lots of it, with precipitation amounts of five to ten inches possible. Rain began around noon and has been steady since. Winds are beginning to increase as well, though that is not predicted to be much of a problem. Either way, the next twenty-four hours are going to be messy.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Daytrip

Below is an image taken during yesterday's road trip to Charlottesville. Though I've visited Monticello a number of times over the last few years, the house and ground remain as interesting as they were the very first trip.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Current Book

One of the books I'm currently reading is called This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, a novel set in Java ca. 1898 that deals with such themes as colonialism, culture, and individual and group identity. The book is very good and can be enjoyed on different levels. The story itself is interesting, but the real strength of the novel thus far is its richness of symbolism invovling the aforementioned themes. This book would have been ideal required reading for one of my undergraduate English courses as . it's one of those gems that would certainly inspire lively class discussions over the meaning of this or that in the context of time and place.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Morning Update

1. Almost five days now without a cigarette. It seems to be getting a little easier with each passing day. Cravings are decreasing in frequency and intensity and the smell of cigarette smoke is becoming disagreeable. I am certainly not out of the proverbial woods yet, but seem to be well on my way to that objective.

2. Much research to do today at the preserve. On the agenda is the seasonal ecologcial assessment of the various plant/habitat community types including measurements of light intensity and canopy cover and microhabitat characterization. This takes a lot of time and I most likely won't be back home in Norfolk until very late this afternoon, or possibly early evening. I will also be conducting an additional experimental survey in collaboration with another graduate student, so that is going to add the duration of the site visit.

3. Will most likely make a roadtrip up to Charlottesville tomorrow to visit Monticello. Haven't been up there since the summer of 2004, so it's time once again to pay homage.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day three...

....has been a little rough, but I am still smoke-free. Last night late, early this morning (by early I mean 4am), and several times today these powerful urges to smoke came out of nowhere and presented by far the most significant challenge to the quitting endeavour. Resisting these temptations, despite the difficulty at the time, has made me stronger and more prepared to face the next challenge. I have been told that the first three days are the worst and quitting becomes easier thereafter. Let's hope this is the case.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So Far So Good

Two days and a bit without a cigarette (55.25 hours to be exact, but who's counting) and so far so good. Urges have not been too bad today. At times I really wanted a cigarette, but mainly the urges manifested themselves in a sense of mild restlessness or anxiety at times customary for a smoke. Cetainly nothing overwhelming.

So anyway...on to other news. This afternoon I finally got around to booking my flights to Scotland for my sister's wedding which is taking place in three weeks (and NO we are not of Scottish ancestry). On many levels the idea of a destination wedding is very interesting and will certainly be a memorable occasion, yet it is also somewhat tedious for those who are obligated to go and are expected to pay their own way including flights and accomodations and other expenses that arise. A "mandatory vacation" they call it and I guess I can go along with this, though the rationale nonetheless seems a little off. But at least it will be a short trip. I will be there and back again in five days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conquering the Habit: Day 2

I have been smoke-free for about 28 hours now.

Only once today have I really fiended for a cigarette and that was this morning soon after I arrived at the office. My ever-helpful secretary, Medusa, offered me one of her cigarettes, but I declined the offer and the urge soon passed. Smoking crossed my mind a few other times today, but each time it did, I rushed off to get a cup of ice as a substitue of sorts. By the time I devoured the ice thoughts of the Habit had passed and my mouth was well...frozen. This conversation occurred at one point today:

Lab assistant: How's the no-smoking thing going?

Me: So far so good. The ice trick seems to be working. The only problem is that my mouth is as cold as my heart.

Intern: But you have no heart, sir.

Me: Well this is true, isn't it. Then it is as cold as my soul.

Assistant Mangar: You don't have one of those either.

Me. Dammit!

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Good Day to Quit

It is partly cloudy this early afternoon. The temperature is such that I was able to turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. It's still a little humid, but the fan makes that bearable. Two loads of laundry are...well...laundering, so I am making a litlte progress today, though much more needs to be done. The cluttered study is about to drive me crazy and will received attention this afternoon. I'm about at the point where I want to throw everything out (except for the books) and begin anew.

After weeks (ok, maybe months) of on and off again participation in The Habit, I have decided that today is the day when I will finally and permanently lay down the cigarettes. It is a good day to quit. I have reached that key point of utter disgust with the habit and myself (for not being able to quit) that the only option is to make a change for the better. Being a little under the weather today helps since smoking seems only to exacerbate the general malaise of today. I light up and the headache begins to stir from the shadows of perception, threatening to return. Of course quitting won't be easy, but few things in terms of progress or improvement really are. It's just a matter of staying the course and keeping my thoughts on the bigger picture and not the temporary gratification that comes with lighting up in a moment of weakness. The patch has been on just over an hour, the first few steps on a very long journey.

Sick Day

Taking a rare sick day from the office due to just feeling...off. Yesterday afternoon and evening I suffered through what seemed to have been a mild migraine headache. Or it might have been a sinus headache. Whichever it was, it's gone now, but I am tired, occasionally dizzy, and have absolutely no energy. The simple task of tidying up the kitchen from dinner last night was a chore. As I would be totally useless at the office today, I'm just going to rest at home and try to knock out out a couple low-impact activities like laundry and organizing the study.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Research Day

Just a few lines whilst I have the morning coffee. Will be heading out to the ecological perserve in a bit for this weekend's preliminary round of research, about which I am more excited than usual. Not necessarily for the research itself; mainly for the theraputic effect of being surrounded by nature for a couple hours. Observing deeply the interactions of nature is an exercise that's almost meditative. It certainly has a restorative effect upon my wellbeing. It provides this opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath, and realize clearly the artificiality of daily life, those stess-causing hurdles we set up and those silly things we incorrectly view as critical to happiness. With a little critical observation, thought, and understanding so much becomes clear.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How much are they asking?!?!?!

On a whim early yesterday evening, I met up with a realtor friend of mine to look at two condos for sale just down the street from my apartment. They were mirror images of each other, the only difference being one was a former rental unit that had this careworn look about it and was about thirty thousand cheaper than the more pristine unit. Though they had a nice overall layout (the second floor loft/study/wet bar that had a fireplace and overlooked the living room was uber cool), they were small and had these equally miniscule kitchens, which would never work for me. And they were terribly overpriced. For what they were asking I could have bought a stand-alone three or four bedroom house with a garage and yard enough for a garden.

I am not quite yet in the home-buying market, though I am beginning to pay a little more attention as to what is out there and beginning to learn the process. Financially I am at the point where I can make the transition from renter to owner, but I am reluctant to do so at this time as there are many uncertainties as to where I will be and what I'll be doing once I finish the masters degree in either December or May. But nonetheless home buying is a nice diversion, a nice dream of things to come.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Early Monday Morning

Up and about extra early this morning, even earlier than my usual early standards. Not sure why this was so other than I just wanted more time to catch up on the news and current events before heading off to work. I hope things are relatively quiet around the office today, due to the likelihood of taking off early if practicable. I had pager duty this weekend and things were busier than ususal, so I have a few hours of comp time eaned over the last few days to burn.

Today I will need to touch base with one of my staff to pin down a date for the annual office cookout at his house this month. We usually hold it in mid-July, but as I was away then the thing was never organized. Need to get this in the works as soon as possible or run the risk of it falling through the cracks. Such affairs can be a little tedious, but are excellent avenues for maintaing morale among the staff.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Books

As the supply of unread books at home was getting sparse, I made a trip out to Barnes and Noble this morning for a few acqusitions. There was nothing in particular I was searching for, so I just wandered about the store for titles that caught my eye. This can be an expensively dangerous thing, reminicent of grocery shopping when you are starving. But I was careful today and came home with only three books: The Motorcycle Diaries, (rented the movie last year and loved it), a biography entitled Che (why not read up on the author of said Motorcycle Diaries), and lastly A Short History of Cambodia (only because it looked interesting).

Anyway...off to get some coffee and think about what to make for dinner.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cooler Saturday Morning

The series of thunderstorms that began early yesterday evening brought some much needed relief from the insufferable heat. Though I am not one to mind hot weather, the week of triple digit temperatures was excessive to the point of misery. My one little air conditioner here at the apartment (a window unit) provided but little respite and that coming only in a limited area at the back of the apartment. I should probably procure a second air conditioner for the front of the apartment, but as it is already August, I am not sure if it would be worth it this late in the summer.

As it has been too hot to do much of anything else this past week, I have largely occupied myself with reading. I finished Angels and Demons early in the week (a good book, though the ending was a bit too over the top for my taste) and have continued with Pathologies of Power. Last night I also began devouring (not literally) Becoming Jefferson's People by Clay Jenkinson. This latter book largely concerns itself with the application of Jeffersonian ideals to the present time and is thought-provoking on many levels.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Too Cute

This video clip is just too cute.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ugh....

.....way too much to drink last night. I met up with my sister and her fiance at this new restaurant called The Green Onion (formerly known as the Wild Monkey) just down the street from my apartment. I am not sure what time we left other than it was very late. The food was absolutely excellent (we did the cheese plate and an assortment of appetizers) and I think we knocked out five bottles of wine between the three of us, which is pretty obscene. My alcohol consumption has been rather minimal as of late, so you can probably guess how I felt this morning. But after much water, some coffee, and a couple Advil, I am feeling human again. Or very nearly so. I suspect by the time I head out to the Blackwater Ecological Preserve for reserach in about an hour, I will be back to normal.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The View

I took very few pictures while in Guatemala. This was mainly due to lack of opportunity; sitting at a desk working on a project proposal would hardly be considered a Kodak moment. I did take a few shots, mainly of the volcano visible in the distance from my bedroom window, which is shown in the image below. This is the Agua Volcano (I think) which is located west of Guatemala City.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Home Again

Arrived in Norfolk slightly ahead of schedule last night after mostly uneventful flights. Departing Miami was a little more interesting than usual due to the pilot having to thread a series of thunderstorms. We experienced a little more turbulence than usual, but it wasn't constant and certainly nothing overly alarming. The view from the plane, however, was breathtaking. The clouds shortly before sunset appeared as a terrian of sorts, with valleys and hills and mesas and towering mountains of thunderheads in the distance, all in various shades of white and gray and when the sun was able to shine through, pink and yellow. Occasionally there were flashes of lightning in the distant storm clouds.

The eight hour layover in Miami wasn't all that tedious between reading, people watching, and wandering around the airport. Though I had a book with me (Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor by Paul Famer) I opted for lighter fare and acquired Dan Brown's Angels and Demons at one of the airport bookshops which I subsequently began reading once I found a quiet place. Of course, finding a quiet place at the Miami airport took some effort, but it was worth it as I was able to enjoy the book with a minimum of distraction.

I'm glad I had the foresight to take today off from work. I'm not physically tired from the trip, but my mind needs the break. It was an insanely busy two weeks and having a day to mentally decompress will make the return to work tomorrow a productive one. Had I worked, I would most likely have spent the day staring blankly at the computer screen and reliving the experinces of trip.

Anyway...off to run a few errands. It's good to be home.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Yet Another Rainy Evening

My last full day in Guatemala City and again it is raining. The weather is largely a replay of yesterday afternoon with thunderstorms rolling through followed by lingering rain. Though I had a little free time this afternoon to do something on my own (e.g., make the trip to Antigua), I opted to stay close to home due to having to prepare for tomorrow’s departure. Besides, at this point at the very end of a trip, my mind is already focused on the return home and I doubt seriously I would be able to enjoy the daytrip. Along those lines, packing is now out of the way and I have a few hours of relaxation before (hopefully) turning in early tonight. I have to be at the airport around 6:30am, so I will be up around five, allowing time for the daily coffee ritual.

I am not dreading the eight hour layover in Miami quite as bad as I thought I would. Certainly, it is going to be a long day, but I should be able to keep myself sufficiently entertained between a book, my travel journal, and occasional bouts of people-watching. Few better places to engage in the latter than an airport.

Friday, July 21, 2006

¿Soccer or Futball?

Across the street from the apartment amidst this little grove of trees is a basketball court. But it’s a basketball court only in design, this is Central America, after all, and the real function of that concrete slab is that of an impromptu soccer field. Every day around lunch time, fifteen to twenty young Guatemalans suddenly materialize and engage in a rough and tumble soccer game that lasts until 1pm sharp. (I do realize the punctual end of their game on a daily basis totally flies in the face of my observations about the casual approach to time down here, but presumably there is some viable explanation for this, most likely lunch break being over.)

They make the game look so easy. If I even attempted some of their more basic moves, I would necessarily be rushed to the nearest hospital (wherever that may be) probably via a familiar taxi (and arrive covered in feathers) But then again, they’ve probably been playing soccer since they were able to walk. They are supposed to be good.

Of Time and Fowl

Rain has been falling almost all afternoon. I got home from lunch around 1:30 and shortly thereafter a series of thunderstorms rolled through, followed by this lingering “just hard enough to get you wet if you try to walk anywhere” rain. Annoying, yes, but at least it was a viable excuse to avoid the 3pm meeting. I was to be but a casual observer, so skipping out on it should not result in any negative repercussions.

That’s one of the interesting things I’ve noticed down here: there is this casual approach to life and few things seem to be taken seriously to the extreme as they are in the States. At home, if a meeting is supposed to start at 9am, it starts at 9am. Sharp. Here…well, if it is scheduled for 9am, it might begin at 9:30. Or even later. Apparently no real hurry as long as things are done. Perhaps due to my Germanic heritage that revels in this obsession for order and punctuality, this approach to time vexed me to no end the first few occurrences, but now it’s an expectation, simply a part of the cultural adventure down here. Of course, I would not try this back home.

Even if it were not for the lingering “just hard enough to get you wet if you try to walk anywhere” rain, there are very few places of interest within safe walking distance of the university, save for a bakery, a convenience store (of sorts), the university outdoor cafĂ© on campus, and a little street corner restaurant all located on this block. To go anywhere else requires public transportation, either a bus or taxi. I have taken a taxi on several occasions and they seem pretty reliable and inexpensive. The only disagreeable experience thus far was the taxi we took Sunday morning. Not really disagreeable, more along the lines of interesting. The taxi smelled of poultry and scattered on the back seat were a few feathers. Though one may be inclined to speculate as to the event resulting in poultry odor and feathers, I will refrain from such and merely just chalk it up as being part of the adventure of Central American travel.

Winding Down

Another cool and partly cloudy morning here in Guatemala City. Save for one (possibly two) more meetings today, my work here is coming to a welcome conclusion. The project has gone very well, but it has been a tremendous amount of work. Checking in at the airport early Sunday morning will be a happy occasion.

My colleagues here anticipate at least two more research trips down here in the very near future. This is exciting, but right now I just want to get back to my routine at home. I am sure that in a few weeks my enthusiasm for the additional work will be much greater than it is now. I am simply burned out and tired.

Anyway...off to the university for a bit. I feel the need for coffee coming on.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hola desde Guatemala

Just a few quick lines to let everyone know all is well with me here in Guatemala. It has been a very busy week of research, which has left very little time to post on here. Just a few quick points of interest thus far:

1. Despite the recent pattern to the contrary, my luggage arrived when I did Monday afternoon. As I was expecting it to be delayed or diverted to the Far East, I had packed sufficent clothing in my carry-on to last two days. Ah well, better safe than sorry.

2. The weather here is much cooler than I was anticipating. Most days it has not gotten out of the upper 70s to around 80s degrees with the nights being chilly. This was very much a surprise.

3. Have found two reliable coffee places close by. One is a cafe at a nearby university with the other being a corner restaurant not far from where I am staying.

4. Tomorrow might be a "free day" if all goes as planned. Not sure what the agenda is yet, but it would be nice to get out of the city for a look around.

Anyway...hope all is well with everyone. Will post again soon, time allowing.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Departure

Having the morning coffee now and will be rolling on out to the airport in about an hour. As is usual before such a trip, I am both excited and anxious about the forthcoming adventure. It's going to be a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. And most importantly, the end resulf of this project will hopefully do a little good.

If the Internet cafe situation in Guatemala City is anything like I encountered in Honduras, I will be able to post on a regular basis, though it wil depend on just how much free time I have. The scope of the project is still largely up in the air (other than some general parameters), and I suspect we'll work out the details soon after I arrive.

Anyway...will post again when I have the opportunity.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Busy Weekend

It is going to be a marathon weekend of wrapping up things around here and other trip preparations. Haven't done much of anything yet, which means I'll be rushing about a lot over the next two days. What will complicate matters is having to conduct a final round of thesis research. Ugh. Like I dont have enough on the agenda as it is. Ah well. This weekend will require an orderly approach, including the creation the all important lists. The general preparation schedule goes like this:

Friday evening: Make lists

Saturday morning: take care of all errands (bank, purchases for trip, stocking up on cat food and litter, etc)

Saturday afternoon: Thesis ressearch

Saturday evening: dinner with my sister and her fiance (probably)

Sunday morning: Thesis research, part II

Sunday afternoon: Laundry, final round of tidying up the apartment, haul out the suitcases and begin packing. Also, have a few bouts of anxiety as I frantically look for passport.

Sunday evening: review lists to ensure I have not forgotten anything and check alarm clocks at least 32 times to make sure alarm is set correctly.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

On Sunday I finally got around to seeing An Inconvenient Truth. Only one word can discribe this film: abosultely excellent! (ok.. maybe that's two words). The content was solid and interesting and Al Gore was nothing short of entertaining on many different levels. He is certainly well-versed in so many aspects of global warming, but did not come across as didactic in his delivery. It was more along the lines of an impassioned conversation with an old friend.

I may have to see it again....

Saturday, June 24, 2006

OBX

Other than getting too much sun and being attacked by swarms of mosquitoes at various times during the day, the trip to the Outer Banks on Thursday went well. If nothing else, it was a nice simply being away from work for the day.

The first image below is of the Bodie Island lighthouse located near Oregon Inlet. At the Hatteras Light (much further down the Outer Banks) you can actually climb up to the top (for a ridiculous fee), but such is not the case with the Bodie Island light.




The following image is just a random beach shot from Hatteras Island. Though the beaches at Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, etc are much closer to home, I usually prefer to drive a little further to Hatteras due to the lack of tourists. This shot was taken about 1pm and only a handful of tourists were out and about.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Day of Leisure

Decided to take a day off from work to drive down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There's nothing in particular I want to do down there, so I'm just going to leisurely drive around, relax, and probably come home with a tan. Or sunburn, to be more accurate. It's going to be very hot today, so I susect the top won't be down on the Jeep but for so long.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Backup Oven

It is miserably hot in the study this evening. I keep the door to this room closed due to my cats' love of chewing computer cords and since I have only one air conditioner in the apartment (a window unit back in the bedroom)...well, you get the idea. If my oven ever quits working I could quite possibly bake bread in here. I'm thinking of investing in one of those little portable air conditioning units that I can move around the apartment as needed. Must check into this over the coming weekend.

Speaking of apartments....I received my renewal notice a couple days ago and it's no great surprise that rent will be going up (another 55 dollars a month!) beginning on September 1, provided I decide to stay here. As tempting as it would be to live in a more modern building with central air and heat and washer and dryer in unit (and not to mention something other than side-street parking), I really don't want to move this summer. I'll probably be moving next summer (provided I've selected a PhD program by then), so moving this summer AND next summer would just be foolish. So I'm going to commit to one more year of bad parking, tempermental radiator heat, and the washer and dryer in the basement.

Anyway, off to get dinner going and then get some reading done.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday Plans

It's going to be a long day. I'm meeting my advisor and a couple other graduate students at the ecological preserve around ten this morning and have no idea as to when I'll be finished up out there. Two different aspects to work on today, so my best guess is that I'll be home sometime late this afternoon. Much of the presreve should be flooded due to the five or so inches of rain we received on Wednesday, so that will make for an interesting setting. So once I finish my coffee I'll load up the backpack (gotta bring the camera today) and head on out of here.

No plans for this evening, so I suspect it will be a repeat of last night: reading and working on some of the background aspects of the forthcoming project in Guatemala. The trip is only three weeks off and there remains so much in terms of study and project design that needs to be done between now and then. Any way one looks at it, the two weeks down there will be very busy and I certainly won't be doing the tourist thing (bought the requisite travel book last weekend anyway) save for perhaps a day or two to visit some of the Maya ruins.

Anywhoo....I'm outta here for the day.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Breaking the Habit

It seems that smoking will soon be a thing of the past. On Tuesday evening I began the patches and they seem to be working very well. Though perhaps not the most orthodox of quitting techniques, I've allowed myself one cigarette per day since, duing the late afternoon hours when I take off the old patch and before I put on the new one. An interesting (and encouraging) observation associated with this: Wednesday's cigarette was good. Thursday's was so-so, and today's was just terrible. I only got a few drags into it before putting it out and rushing off to the bathroom to brush my teeth and gargle with a gallon of mouthwash. Blech!

Cravings haven't been all that pronounced save for yesterday morning. This was an exceptionally rough time, but after a few hours of anxiety and fighting the urge to rush out to the closest convenience store to buy a pack, the urge passed and I haven't had the desire since. Even now, as I sit at the computer with a cup off coffee on the desk (two of the most powerful smoking triggers: computer time and coffee), the urge to light up is strangely absent. I haven't even put on the new patch yet, so one would assume there would be at least a minimal desire to smoke.Yet it's simply not there. Very curious. Having quit before (back in 2002) I know very well that powerful smoking urges can suddenly arise out of nowhere, so I'm proceeding with all due caution. The important thing to remember is that the urge will pass, ususally within ten minutes or so. Sure there's a long way to go to conquer the habit, but I'm well along on that road.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fifth Wheel

Having decided a last minute cancellation would be rude, I went though with the dinner plans last night. It was a mixed affair. The food was good, though the setting was awkward in the sense that it was a "couples night" sort of dinner. Well, two couples and me. I have no idea why I was invited and it was a rather uncomfortable thing being the fifth wheel. Most of the conversation revolved around two general topics: their work (they're all employed by same organization) and weddings (my sister's forthcoming wedding, the other couple's wedding, and various weddings recently attended), so my contribution to the conversation was more or less limited to such things as "oh really?" and "that's nice." But mostly I just sat there quietly, wishing I had pager duty (paging oneself is a great way to get out of bad situations. BEEP BEEP BEEP. "Oh my. Gotta go. BYE!")

Pager or not, I was able to escape about halfway thought the evening. After dinner, the group was going to walk down to the Bier Garden a block or so away to meet up with some more of their friends and have a few beers. I seized this opportunity to politely excuse myself and flee back to Norfolk. Perhaps had I been in a more gregarious mood, the evening may not have been so tedious and I wouldn't have minded spending the sixty dollars for dinner (per person, counting food, wine, appetizers, and tip). Ah well. Such is life.

As the weather has deteriorated (cloudy, cool, with rain on the way), I won't be making the trip to the Outer Banks today. This is unfortunate as it leaves a gaping hole in the plans for my only free weekend until late August. So I think my two chocies for today are 1) Go to the university library to research some topics of interest, and/or 2) Drop by the office to work on assorted tasks that are difficult to accomplish with the distractions of the workweek.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rambling

1. Booked the flights to Guatemala early this past week. The trip will run from July 10 to the 23 and the flights themselves are very good save for an eight hour layover in Miami on the way back home. A rather disagreeable thing, but I can't complain as the booking process took place rather late in the game. Now I need to start working on organizing the flights to Scotland in September for my sister's "destination wedding."

2. This is my first free weekend in ages (no pager duty, no research), and about the only thing I've done is clean the apartment. At least started on it anyway. Also got around to reorganizing the kitchen. Ho-hum. Maybe I'll actually leave the apartment tomorrow. Had tentatively planned to make a trip down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina at some point this weekend.

3. I've slipped back into a hermit mood as of late. These are curious phases when I simply want to be left alone beyond the obligation of work. As a rule, I won't pick up the phone, I won't return voicemail, and knocks at my door go unanswered. I've politely declined several social engagements this weekend, but am still trying to worm my way out of having dinner with my sister, her fiance, and a bunch of their friends tonight. I wonder how rude it would be to simply not show up? There will be a large group of people there, so my absence won't have any impact either way. Would so rather just stay home and busy myself with reading, working on my Spanish vocabulary, finishing up the cleaning project, or simply just listening to music. Up to a certain point, these solitary periods are a welcome thing, though I'm sure it drives my friends crazy. Ah well, it's one of my greatest eccentricities. Take it or leave it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Clouds and Rain

Cloudy and cooler today in Norfolk with occasional rain showers. This is a nice break from the insufferable humidity of the last few days and will make today's research trip a little more adventurous between the muddy roads and slogging through swamps in ankle to knee deep water.

No real plans for today other than research. If that goes well, I should be back home by 4-5pm unless I do something silly like accidentally wedge the Jeep between two trees.

Me: "Hmmm. Guess this wasn't a road after all."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Weekend Festivities

Went over to my sister's place yesterday afternoon for the annual Memorial Day cookout. It was a small affair (only myself, my sister and her fiance, and our parental units), but a considerable amount of fun nonetheless. As to my contribution to the affair, I brought over an organge cake and a Thai beef curry. Both of which were well received, particularly the curry, which surprised me as I made it "Thai hot," meaning that it was...well...hot. Will certainly have to make the curry again in a few weeks when I host a dinner social thing here for my laboratory staff from work.

It is rather doubtful I will make it to the gym today. My body is simply too sore from several hours of Extreme Badminton yesterday afternoon and evening. It's played like regular badminton (sort of) except there are not rules whatsoever. As there are not "out of bounds" you spend a lot of time running here and there like a wet hen, reaching, lunging, and performing all sorts of acrobatics. About sunset, with darkness gathering and several glasses of wine consumed, it became Ridiculous Badminton, a lot of fun in its own way, though not nearly as competitive.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Momentum

Haven't been to the gym in almost two weeks and I'm finding it very difficult to go today. I've lost momentum (at least temporarily) and am coming up with all these viable excuses not to go (I have pager duty, blah, blah blah. I need to cook for tomorrow's cookout. blah, blah, blah). Rather remarkable the process of talking oneself into or out of something. Foraying to the gym will take only about two hours of my time, so it's not exactly a major committment, despite the perceived justifications otherwise.

Screw it. I'm off to the gym. As one of my friends in the Army says: "Just do it! Hooah!!"

Plagues and other Delightful Things

Up much later this morning than my usual time (8:30 instead of 5 or 6) due to a very late night. Whilst sorting my book collection shortly after my post yesterday afternoon, I stumbled across Laurie Garrett's "The Coming Plague" which was among a stack of books in need of shelf space and one that I have not yet read. I began thumbing through it, then decided to read the introduction, and before I knew it several hours had passed and I was well into the text. Close to two in the morning, I reluctantly put the book down and went to sleep. It's a remarkable book about old and new infectious diseases and the role of humanity in the resurgence of old diseases and some particularly nasty new ones. I foresee a delightful weekend of hemorrhagic fevers, drug resistant bacteria, and vengeful parasites. Ahh. Bliss.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Weekend Plans

The oppressive heat and humidity of the day is now giving way to clouds and thunderstorms. A short while ago we had a few drops of rain and off somewhere in the distance I can hear the deep growl of thunder. Hopefully things will cool off some when and if a storm passes through. This is the first real summer-like day of 2006 in Norfolk and I'm not quite yet ready for the humidity. The heat I can tolerate with little problem; the humidity is what sends you scurrying for an air-conditioned environment.

So it's a Friday afternoon, the beginning of the long Memorial Day weekend. No real plans as of yet other than a cookout over at my sister's place Sunday afternoon. As I have pager duty this weekend, I'm going to have to stay relatively close to home, which is just as well since I have a lot to do around here anyway. This weekends' research will be delayed until next week since the ecological preserve is too far out in the middle of nowhere for the pager to have reception. Realy don't want to take the chance of being out of communication for several hours, just in case something happens. This is fine with me as I can certainly use the break.

One project I want to begin this weekend is cataloguing my book collection and organizing my study/library. At the moment, I have books scattered everywhere. Some are well-organized on the shelves here in my study with others on the shelves in the living room. These are fine. The ones that are bothering me are those scattered about the living room and bedroom; and a good many more still boxed up in various closets. What a nightmare. To be honset, I'm not sure how many books I now have. When last I totaled up the collection, I had somewhere around 500, most of which were history, anthropology, and literature. And most were hardback, so I shudder to think just how much I've spent on my reading habit over the years. But again, the last book quantification attempt was some years ago and I've made many additions to the library and some deletions (giving away a number of historical books), so the net total may be about the same. Who knows. This is something I am determined to find out this weekend.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Belated Weekend Relaxation

Finally a little free time to myself to savor what remains of the weekend. All of yesterday and most of today (up until about a half hour ago) I was tied up with thesis research, including both fieldwork and the ever enjoyable (yet tedious) laboratory aspect. Certainly it was a very involved weekend and I'm both physically and mentally drained. Thankfully, the work is mostly complete save for joitting a few more notes in my field notebook and working on data tabulation.
Off to relax a bit.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday Afternoon

So it has been quite some time since my last post. Between work, research, and other sundry things life simply got in the way. Oddly enough, not much of any real interest to report during my time away from the blog.

Except for one thing.

I found out this afternoon that I have been awareded a summer research grant for which I applied several weeks ago. It's not a tremenous amount of money at all, but will be sufficient to cover air fare, accomodations, and other incidentals during my time abroad. I'll be heading to Guatemala to do the biologist thing with a trip duration of anywhere between two weeks and a month. My in-country contacts are thinking a month minimum (which is fine by me), though I have certain obligations here that might get in the way. Thesis reseach won't be a problem as I can ensare some ungraduates to carry out the fielwork whilst I am away. Making the arrangements with work will be a bit more dicey, though I have sufficent leave to cover my absence. I'll broach the issue with my director tomorrow and see what happens. I suspect that a month away might be too traumatic for admin, so the most viable solution may be two trips of two to three weeks each, with the first trip being in early July and the second trip coming later in the summer.

Anyway..more on this later.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Puerco Pueblo

Below are shots taken in the Puerco Pueblo area that was built around 1250. The first shot is of the pueblo ruins (obviously). If you look closely at the second picture, you can see petroglyphs carved into the rock. These were created 600 to 800 years ago and are located near the pueblo.


Badlands at Blue Mesa

Further along the Petrified Forest park road, we came across the Blue Mesa stop. Pictured below are two shots of the badlands that surround the mesa. Completely otherworldly in appearance, this was one of my favorite stops in the park.



Painted Desert

On Thursday, April 20, we stopped at the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest for a few hours. The shot below is of the Painted Desert near the Tiponi Point stop along the trail.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Clinton Library

Last Tuesday we rolled into Little Rock, Arkansas to see the Clinton Presidential Library. Unfortunately, we arrived after they closed at 5pm, so the visit was limited to walking around the grounds and taking a few pictures.




Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Road Trip Recap

It was a little difficult returning to work today. This is the usual post-trip phenomenon and it will pass in a day or two once I get back to the routine. The first thing my staff commented on (before launching into questions) was just how brown I am now relative to before I left. I have Portugese ancestry, so such darkening is expected after a few days in the sunny Southwest.

Anyway, to recap the roadtrip:

  • It took us four days to travel from Norfolk to Phoenix. We left Norfolk shortly after noon on Monday and arrived at our destination around six in the evening on Thursday. The one day we really pushed it was Tuesday and that was to get though Tennessee as fast as we could. No particular reason for this other than not wanting to linger in Tenn. Otherwise we took our time and stopped here and there for breaks and a little sightseeing. I'll post later about specific sighseeing stops (including a few pics). The daily breakdown (for anyone interested in such trivial detail) is as follows:
    Monday: Norfolk to Bulls Gap, Tennessee
    Tuesday: to Fort Smith, Arkansas
    Wednesday: to Laguna, New Mexico
    Thursday: to Phoenix

  • One positive thing about Tennessee was they had the cleanest rest stops of any state through which we passed. There is no word to describe them other than immaculate. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Virginia. Rest stops here were just nasty. This is my home state; I am ashamed.

  • Texas was by far the most visually boring state through which we passed. Entertainment was limited to counting State Police cars parked out of approaching traffic's view behind overpasses or similiar obstructions. As we crossed the panhandle, we didn't have to endure Texas for very long. This was a good thing since counting police cars holds ones interest only for so long, no matter how many there were waiting in ambush.

  • We stopped at small "local" restaurants as often as we could along the way. Chain restaurants are largely the same wherever you go, so locally-owned places were selected to enhance the feel of the area. This turned out to be both good and bad. The absolute worst was the Incident of the Mouse Dropping in My Rice (MDIMR) at a small Mexican restaurant in extreme Southwest Virginia. I ordered one of the house specials and it turned out to be just that. Ick. On othe opposite end of the spectrum was this local place (I think it was called Dell's Restaurant) in Tucumcari, New Mexico. The atmosphere and food were great and I would certainly revisit were I ever again to find myself in Tucumari. I would also recommend Nick's Barbeque and Catfish just east of Little Rock. Sure, it's typical southern food and a little greasy as one would expect, but you really can't criticize a place that has fried okra on the menu.

  • New Mexico and Arizona were by far the most visually stunning states and as such were the settings for most of the pictures I took during the trip. Rocky terrain, butes, cactus, mountains, and all the pine trees around Flagstaff. Absolutely wonderful.

  • Though I spent only a few days in the Phoenix area (Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, and Maricopa) I can honestly say it's a place I would love to live. It is charming in a Southwestern way (particularly the above cities just outside of Phoenix proper) and very beautiful in terms of geography and architecture. I will certainly have to spend some more time out there.

Anyway...I'm off to bed. Need to catch up on some much needed sleep. Will post some pics next time.

A Good Sign

As a relatively adventurous, explorer/naturalist sort of person, my hopes were raised by this promising sign, except for the fact I don't like snakes and am not too keen on the whole poisonous creature thing either. I saw a number of such signs in New Mexico and Arizona, but as it turned out, the signs were about as close to such beasts as I came during my time out there. A pity, really, as I had practiced my shrieking and hopping around techniques just for such an enounter. Ah well, maybe next time.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Reunited

I must commend U. S. Airways on their promised luggage delivery. I had given up hope around ten and headed on off to bed. A phone call a few minutes ago followed by a knock on my door and the wayward luggage is back into my possession. Sure, having it delivered at midnight is a bit later than I would like, but that's ok. At least it saves me a return trip to the airport tomorrow.

Back Home

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I arrived home safely this morning. As has been the pattern of the last few trips (3 out of the last 4 to be exact), I arrived without my luggae. Supposedly it was misplaced during the layover in Charlotte. Supposedly it should have arrived in Norfolk this afternoon. Supposedly, U.S. Airways will give me a call when it has arrived. Supposedly they are going to deliver it.

We shall see.

Anyway.... just a brief note. I'm pretty much wiped out from the overnight flight and need a lot of coffee to get myself going this afternoon. The trip was a lot of fun and there are a few interesting things to prattle on about, but that will have to wait until I'm a bit more caffeinated.

Monday, April 17, 2006

And They're Off!

Still have packing and a few errands to run before we head out this morning, so I though I'd hammer out a few quick lines while having my morning coffee. I anticipate that we'll leave no later than 11 or noon at the very latest, which will still put us well into Tennessee by tonight. Or that's the plan at least; nothing is set in stone. The route is mapped and we have plenty of time, so we'll just play it all by ear. Hopefully I'll have some stories and pictures to share when I get back next Monday. Some of them might actually be interesting.

Anyway.....everyone have a great week and I'll post again next Monday.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Trip Preparations

Rolled out to the ecocolgical preserve this morning early for another round of research and got home sometime around noon. Since then, I've busied myself with laundry and other assorted preparations for tomorrow's departure. Am getting rather excited about the cross-country drive, though it's likely that sentiment will change several days into the trip. I haven't packed yet, but that's no biggie since this is only a week-long domestic trip. Forgetting something won't be nearly as critical as travelling abroad as I can pretty much just stop anywhere and get what I need.

I've also been working out the route, specifically the things we may want to see along the way. If my calculations are correct, we should be in Little Rock by the end of the our second day and the plan is to see the Clinton library early the next morning before heading towards Oklahoma. By day four we should be in the New Mexico/Arizona region and that's when the pace will slow down and we'll switch into more of a "tourist mode." What little I've seen of the desert Southwest I absolutely love, so a more leisurely pace will allow for sightseeing and photo ops. I also hope to spend a day or so poking around Phoenix before I fly back late next Sunday night.

Anyway...off to pour another coffee and continue with the preparations.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

And who says research is boring?

This post is for Kim. A shot of my Jeep resting after an afternoon of playing on dirt and sand paths. Plese note that the top is d-o-w-n. Spring is here! :-)

Take my picture! Take my picture!

This is an interesting close-up picture I took today. The zoom capabilities of my digital camera arent all that great, so this shot turned out well considering. This image was taken in the burned area (shown previously). I'm not sure exactly what they were doing, but a number of ants (bottom of image) were making a big production of running up and down the stem of this branch and nancing about all over the blossom. Perhaps they just wanted their picture taken.



Field Report

Below is an image from the Blackwater Ecological Preserve I took this afternoon. The area to the left of the fire break/path was recently subjected to a controlled burn in hopes of providing optimal conditions for the restoration of the Longleaf Pine. While the effects of such burns may not be pretty, they do provide for some intriguing ecological dynamics.


It Begins

Today begins my 2006 research field season at the Blackwater Ecological Preserve. It's going to be a intense season with practially every weekend between now and the end of October taken up with one project component or another. A bit daunting when you consider the season as an entity, but looking at it on a week to week basis...well, it's not too bad. It is simply a matter of persistence, focusing on the component at hand, and a willingness to sacrifice thrown in for good measure. Certainly there will come weekends this summer when I'd much rather be doing something else, but that's ok as long as I bear in mind that this thesis project is essentially an investment in my future, just one step along the academic path towards bigger and better things.

And most importantly, it will be an enjoyable step, something that resonates to my very core. After all, I am a naturalist at heart, one of those people who finds the natural world and its sundry processes far more interesting and entertaining than any artificial offering (television, movies, etc). There are few things more sublime than submerging oneself in a natural evironment, observing and trying to understand some process, some facet that would escape the attention of most if they were placed in such a situation. Time loses meaning in these situaitons. It's just you and nature interacting on some level, the very essence of reality.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Perfect Night

Thunder, lightning, and the rain pelting against the study window. I love nights such as this. I see people on the street below scurrying here and there. Coming and going to the coffee shops or hurrying down the street to one of the neighborhood restaurants. None have umbrellas. This storm came out of nowhere, aparrently catching everyone off guard.

There is something comforting about being inside on a night like this. Nature raging all around, its effects heard against the wood and brick and glass barrier that separates the two worlds. But inside, things are as ever, a candle flickering on the dining table, the cats asleep on the sofa; a haven from the raw power of nature.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Note to Self

Must remember to do my taxes tomorrow. Seem to recall something about them being due soon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Where there's smoke...

....I'm probablay somewhere nearby. Been such a tobacco fiend lately that I'm beginning to feel a bit like....



*Five points extra credit to whomever guesses the identity of this character.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Saturday Afternoon

A bit out of sorts this cloudy Saturday afternoon due to the aftereffects of a particularly natsy migraine headache that began building yesterday afternoon that reached its cresendo around midnight and only recently subsided. It was absolutely horrid last night with that classic throbbing pain, nausea, cold sweats, aversion to light and noise, and the inability to sleep. So now I'm left feeling groggy and drained from the ordeal. For the most part the pain is gone, though it's shadow lingers on the edge of perception which makes me wonder if it will return. If past patterns hold, it shouldn't return as long as I avoid strenuous activity (e.g., go to the gym or hurl cinder blocks at passing cars).

I've just now returned from procuring a Cup of Life from Starbucks, my first veture out of the apartment since coming home from work around five yesterday afternoon. It looks and feels like rain, which wouldn't be a bad occurrence as it has been very dry in this part of Virginia the last few months. Not sure what's on the agenda for the rest of the day. Perhaps some low-impact cleaning or some reading, provided I can muster the focus for either activity.

Off to enjoy my coffee.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thursday Evening Prattle

1. I’ve booked my return flight from Phoenix on the 23 of April. Right around three hundred dollars. The funny thing is that round trip tickets (from Phoenix) were actually cheaper. For a brief moment, I entertained the thought of booking round-trip and just not going back. Thought this to be rather unfair, so I didn’t go with that option. By chance has anyone flow U.S. Airways? I’ve never flown with them and am curious as to the quality of service (e.g., unlimited coffee. It’ will be an overnight flight, after all). I prefer to fly with American (for domestic flights), though their prices were four times the cost of U.S. Airways for the same flight. My loyalty only goes so far.

2. Work has been a bit more….umm……interesting than usual. A few long-term employees have determined that longevity is the most important quality for an employee (what a coincidence, eh?) Not really a big deal, but does add some interesting dynamics to the divisional pecking order given the number of new people in my unit (not to mention greater resistance to the ongoing changes I‘m implementing). As they are forgetting such things as talent, motivation, and ability, I pretty much just cut them off at the knees before they get started on their respective monologues in staff meetings. The phrase “I expect your resignation on my desk” still works wonders, though rational, thoughtful discussion remains the preferred option. Nonetheless it’s nice to know I have a fail-safe retort in case civil discussion fails. At times, fear can be a powerful ally.

3. I’m about to have another vacancy at work. My “apprentice” is in the process of acquiring a job with another locality. I’m exceedingly happy for him and am actively encouraging the move, but it will leave a gaping hole in my division that will be hard to fill. Such is the natural progression of things though. You mentor and train someone and sooner or later they move on to bigger and better things. A bit gratifying in a way. However,. must find new, worshipful apprentice to do my bidding.

4. Tomorrow we’re having a departmental “in-service” first thing in the morning. Included in the program are longevity awards (pffft!), for which three of my staff will be receiving recognition for 25, 20, and 15 years of service (for 20 and 15, see point 2 above). Hopefully the in-service won’t take terribly long, but I have this sinking feeling that it will be at least an all-morning affair since the entire department of several hundred people are required to attend.

5. The gym continues to go well and I’m finally seeing noticeable differences in my body. I actually have biceps and pecs now. Am resisting the urge to celebrate with a box of donuts. Was planning on going to the gym tonight, but was distracted by domestic prodcutivity. Tomorrow at 5am is a possibility.....but I wouldn't put mony on that.

Friday, March 31, 2006

This should be interesting...

Looks like I’ll be off on a cross-country drive in about two weeks. A very good friend of mine is moving to Arizona for work and I’ve volunteered to assist with the relocation, mainly serving the part of co-driver and navigator for the trip. I’ve always though such a long distance drive would be an exciting thing to do and the beauty of this adventure will be that we’re driving only one way; I’ll fly back to Norfolk.

Supposedly it’s about a 36 hour drive from Norfolk to Phoenix, which we will divide up over the course of three to four days. The more leisurely pace will allow us to stop and see anything of great interest along the way which will make the trip a lot more fun than simply trying to get there as fast as we can.

Must pick up a road atlas this weekend and start planning the route and marking things we may way to see on the trip.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Randomness

1. Just now back from some errands and a run to the grocery store. As always seems to happen when I have a lot of bags (grocery or otherwise) to carry upstairs, there was absolutely no parking anywhere near my building. Two blocks was about as close as I could get today. Two long blocks and three trips back and forth from the Jeep to my third floor apartment, so the hell with going to the gym today. I’ve already had my workout.

2. Went to Target this morning for assorted things, including some additional cleaning supplies and some assorted odds and ends. Though far from being a truly exciting acquisition, I bought a new mop today. Somehow my old one never made it to my new apartment when I moved here back in August of 2003. Since then I’ve been scrubbing floors the old fashioned way: on hands and knees with a sponge. Obviously this purchase was long overdue and timely in that it’s time for a serious bout of spring cleaning.

3. Have officially given up on reading “1421: The Year China Discovered America.” Will most likely revisit this book when I’m more in the mood for…umm….fiction. Have switched gears and am now devouring Ernst Mayr’s “What Evolution Is.” (Creationist Alert: With the words “fiction” and “evolution” in the same paragraph and within a specific contextual setting, I’m intentionally leaving the door open for your commentary.)

4. Having a small dinner thing tonight for a friend or two (provided pager duty doesn’t interfere with my plans). Am making seafood gumbo which I prepare the traditional way (e.g., not exactly all that healthy) and (probably because it’s not all that healthy) has always been well received. Shrimp, scallops, crab meat, clams, andoulle sausage, bacon, and ham. I feel a heart attack coming on.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wading Into The Fray

Only on the rarest of occasions do I delve into the political world on here, yet like most of us I do keep up with current events and have strong opinions about this or that. If I had to place myself along the political spectrum, ranging from far right to its antithesis on the left, I would certainly rank closer to the latter end, though my exact placement would shift a few notches here or there depending on the particular issue. Even with this issue-specific variation, I am still overall well within the liberal (or should I say “progressive?“) camp. Some of my friends joke that I’m a New England liberal living a little further south than the rest of them. A Howard Dean with a Tidewater Virginia accent.

It’s difficult watching the news these days. From my perspective (and you are certainly free to disagree here), the United States has left its path and is wandering about in the moral and political wilderness, coming ever closer to a dangerous precipice beyond which there will be no easy return. We’ve become an international bully and the world (rightly so) hates us for it. The revelation of domestic spying is met with minimal outcry. The national debt exceeds the age of the Universe for having the most zeros in a number. Our leaders have set themselves above the rule of law. Our inept (and probably illegal) wars in the Middle East. Torture and human rights violations. Disagreeing with the President is synonymous with aiding the enemy. Greed. Corruption. Dick Cheney shoots an old man in the face. The list goes on ad infinitum. There are times when I am ashamed to be an American. My patriotism is on life support and it’s in danger of coding.

Now, before the Gestapo…err… Secret Service breaks down my door and hauls me off to languish the rest of my days in some prison, or a bunch of louts on here fill my inbox with vituperative missives, I want to add that I do not hate America. I dislike the path we’re on, what we have become. There is a fundamental difference here that the more insightful readers (most likely Democrats) will readily ascertain. America is a land of great promise and opportunity for those willing to work to achieve their dreams. We are (or at least were) a beacon of freedom and liberty, a model system for other countries to emulate (if they choose to do so under their own volition) and a haven for those oppressed the world over. With our immeasurable wealth we have the innate capacity to provide essential services for all those within our borders who are in need. I see the potential of America being a land of freedom and liberty, not fear and suspicion. A land of responsibility and humility, not arrogance and corruption. Compassion, not greed. And it is in these ideals I place my hope during these dark and misguided days.

We as a country can do much better, both domestically and internationally. Can the Democrats do better as they claim? I certainly hope this is the case and honestly don’t see where they could possibly do any worse than Bush & Co. My concern is that by the time there is a change in Washington (and I’m pretty certain there will be given the trend of poll numbers), the downward spiral will have continued to the point of no easy return. If such is the case, it will require some difficult choices to once again regain our path and that is the true test of patriotism.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Political Insight

This site is a wonderful diversion during these dark political times. The site's creator may be closer to the truth than we all realize.....

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Afternoon coffee and a touch of anxiety

Among the errands this morning, I ran out to the Barnes and Noble in Virginia Beach where I spent a couple hours perusing the many tempting offerings on the shelves. I came away with four books, which wasn’t all that bad considering the number that piqued my interest. Two of the acquisitions were general biology study guides which I need for my forthcoming comprehensive examinations. Sure they contain the same material as in my general biology textbook (as well as the textbooks for general ecology, evolution, etc.), but the advantage is that the information is presented in a more compact, concise, and easily review able manner. The textbooks will provide a more in-depth review of the material if such a need arises, but as for now, a generalized overview is what I need. The last thing I have time to do now is to review all of my old biology textbooks from cover to cover.

The comps have me a little worried since my graduate committee can pretty much grill me on anything (and here I emphasize ANYTHING) biological in nature, technically whether you’ve had a class in that particular subject or not. I’m not worried at all about topics such as evolution, ecology, systematics, or biogeography, and to a lesser degree, entomology as these are counted among my biological interests and to one degree or another tie in with my thesis research. If the examination was limited to these areas, it would be a piece of cake. However, such will not be the case and it will such topics as cellular biology, genetics, and various system processes (Krebs cycle? What the hell was that?) that will be my doom. I absolutely loathe genetics (though I do realize that it’s the foundation for practically everything in biology) and am rather alarmed by what I don’t remember from genetics class a few years back. So it is evident that I have my work cut out for me.

Morning Coffee

Up a bit later this morning than usual due to the annoyance of the last night’s neighborhood block party (the annual Greening of Ghent). The bands were over around ten, but the large and boisterous crowd didn’t disperse until much later. All attempts at sleep were thwarted by the noise, so I l just settled in with a book and glass of wine and waited for the acoustic storm to pass, which of course it eventually did around midnight or shortly thereafter.

I’ve never quite understood the attraction of such affairs. Large, jostling crowds growing ever more intoxicated, green beer (it was St. Patrick’s Day, after all), loud music, and so on hold such little appeal for me that I would rather do almost anything else than take part in such senseless frivolity. Even worse are the aftereffects: cups and bottles and trash scattered all over the area, pools of vomit, and the occasional vandalized car. City workers are going to be very busy today cleaning up the neighborhood.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bits and Pieces

Much of this weekend’s leisure time was spent perusing my old collection of colonial era artifacts , the boxes containing which I procured when visiting the parental units yesterday morning. I haven’t looked through these boxes in eight or nine years and it was nice sorting through again the material remnants of a long ago era, those broken pieces of porcelains, earthenware pottery, wine bottles, pipe stems, and so on that I so eagerly collected as a youth. When other kids were out playing baseball or some other typical pursuit, I was canvassing the plowed fields behind our home, walking up and down the rows in search of any little fragment of material evidence of what used to be on our land beyond the depths of memory or family lore.

To be sure, such pieces of broken this or that hold no monetary value (or little value in general for that matter) as they are at their heart nothing more than old trash. Yet they are also a link to a bygone era; each piece has its own story (European manufacture, trans-Atlantic shipping, etc) and collectively they tell a story of a past way of life and the forgotten people who inhabited that particular piece of land long before the American Revolution. In this sense, they are much more than just refuse, they are a collective door to the past, waiting for the right person with the right key to unlock their secrets.

Spring Fever

Feels more like May than the reality of mid-March. The sunny, warm weather has drawn all sorts of people out into the neighborhood. People coming and going, sitting outside at the coffee shops, or having lunch out on the patios at any one of the neighborhood restaurants: it certainly seems like spring has arrived.

And here I sit in my apartment…but not for too long. Just finished a light lunch and am now working my way though a cup of coffee and a cigarette or three before heading back out to enjoy the day. I was out the door fairly early this morning for a trip to the gym and had a solid workout. My body is both energized and tired from today’s gym foray, but it’s a good feeling.

Once I finish off this coffee, I may walk down to the grocery store for a few things. I don’t have much to buy, so this means the walk home will be pleasant. Last week the grocery list was long and it turned out that walking was a mistake. Far too many bags and my arms felt like they were going to fall off even before I got a third of the way home.

Reading is also on the agenda this afternoon. Possibly here at home, or over at the coffee shop. I’ve almost given up on my current book: 1421: The Year China Discovered America though I’m not quite halfway through. It’s an interesting book and well-written, but the evidence presented to support the author’s claim (as suggested by the title) is thus far very weak (and in some situations way off the mark) and due to this I’m having a problem going much further than where I currently am. Perhaps it will get better if I can only muster the fortitude to keep pushing along.

Anyway…off to enjoy the weather.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Not Dead

No, I'm not dead. Just haven't gotten around to posting lately. No particular reason.... just haven't felt like posting. Heck, I haven't really been online all that much lately either.

So anyway...

It's a warm, spring-like Saturday afternoon. Not much on the agenda the rest of the day save for a possible foray to the gym this evening. I'm trying to cherish these relatively lazy weekends since the final season of field research will start in just over a month and will occupy practically every weekend until October. Annoyhing, yes, but also tolerable if I keep in mind the finality of this season.

At any rate....nothing much going on. Just wanted to fire off a quick post.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Light Dusting

The light snow of the overnight hours has just about stopped, leaving a light, powdery dusting on the grass. Nice to see, but not enough to turn Norfolk into a winter wonderland. Road are clear, so I'll be off to the gym once the post-alcohol grogginess clears my system.

A friend and I went over to my sister and her fiance's house last night for dinner. We've been talking about resuming "Sunday Night Dinners" for a while now and this was the first one. A lot of fun, though it turned out to be a very late night. I can't recall exactly when we got home other than sometime after midnight. My sis and her fiance have certainly perfected the art of entertaining. The food was excellent and the various courses spaced perfectly and our wine glasses never ran dry. As I'll be hosting the next gathering, I'm going to have to put in a little more effort to at least match what they pulled off last night. I'm thinking either next weekend or the one following, so I have time to plan.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Finally...

………the Jeep is as it should be.

After an eternity of indecision, I made the move today on the long-overdue tire thing. Yesterday was the final day of mulling over the issue and getting quotes, including the full package of lift kit, new wheels and tires. I decided that latter was simply overkill and opted to simply go with larger tires that fit on the current wheels. I selected a different style of tire as well. I went from the small car/street tires that came stock on the Jeep to larger off-road tires, specifically Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs. Size 31x10.5. And due to the size difference between the temporary spare and the new set, I went ahead and bought a fifth tire for a full-size spare. The funny thing is it barely fit onto the spare carrier. An eighth of an inch larger and it would have ridden home in the back seat.

What a difference in vehicle appearance tires can make. The only drawback with the off-road tires thus far is the noise. A nice roar when I’m at 30 mph or greater. Haven’t taken it on the highway yet and I’m rather curious as to just how much noise there’s going to be. I feel a road trip coming on. Or is it off-road trip?

And don’t’ worry, Kim. Pics are coming.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Random Points

1. According to the National Weather Service, we may very well finally get some snow tonight and/or tomorrow. As exciting as this thought is, I’ll believe it when I see it.

2. Saw the movie “Mrs. Henderson Presents” last night at the neighborhood theater. Absolutely wonderful movie: witty and touching and so well acted. Judy Dench’s portrayal of Mrs. Henderson alone is worth the price of admission. Gotta love that dry British humor. Or in this case, is it humour?

3. Have pager duty this weekend, which eliminates such wonderful activities as drinking and impromptu road trips (though not both at the same time). Was paged last night, but had everything wrapped up in time to catch the late movie showing.

4. Note to self: never go to the gym and expect a full, satisfying workout on an empty stomach. Did this yesterday and nearly passed out on the treadmill. No breakfast, no lunch, and then a trip to the gym around two in the afternoon. Not a good thing.

5. Started a new book this week: 1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. Haven’t gotten far into it yet and overall the idea seems a bit of a stretch, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see just how solid/plausible the evidence is. A good read nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tuesday Evening

As I was fed up with work, I took off early today to go to the gym. Few better ways to rid oneself of frustrations than an hour on the treadmill. Perhaps dueling would provide a greater, more satisfying effect, but since such affairs of honor are no longer fashionable, the gym will have to do. I’m actually rather surprised that I’m getting into the gym thing as it’s never been high on my list of favorite activities. I suspect that the atmosphere as something to do with motivation. Gold’s Gym has a bright, energized atmosphere; my last gym did not. I actually look forward to going now. Perhaps this is a good sign.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sundry Updates

The quit smoking attempt this weekend unfortunately proved to be a bit…premature. I went from 8pm Friday until around noon today without a cigarette but ultimately the desire to light up outweighed my resolved to quit. I certainly do not see this as a defeat or all that substantial of a setback. I’ve now tested my limits and know what I’m capable of, so that’s a good point for refining the technique for changing this unwanted behavior. Tapering off the number of cigarettes per day will have to be an essential component to the process. So in a way, this weekend was but an experiment; one test in a series of many until the wanted conclusion is reached.

So anyway…

I joined Gold’s Gym during my lunch break on Friday and made the first foray there early this afternoon. The size of the crowd was just about where I like it to be: somewhat busy, but not overly so. As I haven’t been to a gym in ages and more or less just went today to familiarize myself with a new gym, I just stuck with a cardio workout today. I’m planning on just doing cardio over the next week or two until I’m a little more back up to speed and then start adding some of the circuit machines to develop more of a routine. I’m targeting two or three sessions a week at the outset as I don’t want to overdo it and burn out. I’m looking at the long-term here. Progress will be slow (and hopefully steady) as long as I stick with it. The goal now is to develop that necessary routine, to get into the habit of taking the time to go on a regular basis.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Note to Self

On the first night of quitting smoking, one should never EVER go out drinking. As all the necessary triggers were.....(for the lack of a better word) triggered, the desire to smoke is almost too great.

Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

To join or not to join....

No, I’m not talking about the military. Nor the Dark Side. Not even some weird religious cult (Growing up in Southern Baptist and Pentecostal churches, I‘ve pretty much been down that road. Never again.). Despite my protestations about such things earlier this month, I’m considering joining a gym.

Yeah, a gym.

*pause for laughter to die down*

And it’s not my fault. Really! I was innocently minding my own business at work today when I happed across the latest employee health bulletin about local fitness clubs offering corporate memberships to government employees. On a whim I made a few calls, and before I knew it had set up and appointment to tour the new Gold’s Gym this evening at six. The place was absolutely packed which was both good and bad in the sense that it created a “worst case scenario” on just how busy they can get, particularly in January when all the non-fitness types (such as myself) make halfhearted attempts to get into shape. Even as busy as they were, plenty of machines of sundry types were still available, so this suggests that even at peak time, one could still get in a decent workout without having to wait for a machine.

Other than the crowd, I was rather pleased with the gym, both in terms of equipment, price, and friendliness of the staff. The crowd really doesn’t bother me as I can just avoid the peak evening period by going later, or showing up at 5am before heading off to work. I actually prefer the latter option as I’m usually up that early anyway. And the drive isn’t that bad either. Just about half an hour to get there this evening in rush hour traffic and about 15 minutes to get back home going against traffic. Certainly doable, provided the motivation for such an endeavor doesn’t dissipate after the first two weeks.

Though I was tempted to do so, I did not join tonight. I picked up an information packet and will consider it over the next two or three days so as to avoid the possibility of making a rash decision that I may regret (e.g., joining the gym, but never going. Been down this road as well).

So we shall see......