Monday, August 25, 2008

Back at it

With the real world intruding, any leftover energy at this point goes to sleeping and planning/grading, and not so much blogging. I will keep up when I can but those weekday mornings of refreshing strolls through the woods are on hold for now.

But I'll leave you with this: on Sunday the N&O did a nice piece on responses of teachers to an annual survey of working conditions. Eye-opening. Seriously, check out the database now and see what teachers in various schools had to say about how they felt supported, whether they're held to professional standards, have resources they need, and more. Unfortunately there's no way to select one or more at a time and see them in a spreadsheet so you can compare school to school, but you could do that yourself.

Happy new academic year to all!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hi deer!

Spotted one morning last week on a road near Duke Forest.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Panoramic shot of Duke Forest

Taken last week -- this is the creek that runs through it. I'm hoping that you can click the above photo to see the whole thing!

EDIT: yikes, I forgot the name initially, but it's New Hope Creek. This is off Whitfield Road.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scaling the great heights

My delightful wife bought me a book optimistically a few years ago that I'm just now appreciating -- 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Raleigh, by Lynn Setzer. Last week I ventured out to one of the hikes that I'd always wanted to try, Occoneechee Mountain in Hillsborough. It's the highest point in Orange County at a whopping 867 feet above sea level. I read the official web page and consulted the map (PDF), but the last nugget in my head before I headed out was that the book said the hike would be 50 minutes.

Well, no. When I got back I looked it up again -- the book suggests that you climb to the overlook then the summit, then retreat back the way you came. Who wants to do that when there's another option? My two hour journey around the whole mountain led to a beautiful overlook, a disppointing summit (just a cell phone tower and fenced-off fire tower), a stroll alongside the Eno River and quite a bit of up-and-down. Apparently this word "mountain" in the hike's name should have given me a clue, eh? My only real frustration was having that "50 minute" time in my head so the last 30 minutes or so I kept thinking the end was just around the corner.

Beautiful scenery, moderate hike, well worth your time. And a clean bathroom to boot!

All 43 pics are at my Facebook album here:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

China then, not now

If you're in a Olympic haze you might be interested in perusing these images from the Sidney Gamble collection that were released by Duke earlier this year. Gamble was an American sociologist who visited China four times in the early 20th century and took more than 5000 photographs during his travels. It's an amazing collection and well worth your browsing time.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

O Tar Heels?

I don't know, I don't think the people at Bumperactive quite have the "NC for Obama" bumper sticker quite right. What do you think? Suggestions for a better one? I think something with barbecue would work, but it's not coming to me at the moment.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's up with the big S these days?

Everyone -- and by that I mean no one -- has been clamoring to get an update on the summer's hottest trend, salmonella-getting. Since the smoking gun turned out to be a blazin' serrano pepper from Mexico, I suspect you've turned the page on this news item, eh? Still, there's more interesting stuff:

And finally, it's nice to see that someone took my Law and Order meme literally:

"Holding a tomato in one hand and a jalapeƱo in the other, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee, pressed the FDA on whether the tomato was still a "vegetable of interest" or had been cleared. "

Vegetable of interest -- heh.

P.S. Still no salmonella outbreak at the Durham Farmer's Market. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

100 Gs, baby

Was I right or what? Last month I had an exclusive (MUST! CITE! TAKETHEBULL!) interview with Durham's own Chad Bullock who was up for a Teen Choice Award for his anti-smoking activism, and on Sunday night he won! I'm not sure if he was more excited about the $100,000 or by being presented the award by Scarlett Johannsson. (jk!)

Anyhow, here's what Chad said he'd do if he won:
"Tobacco companies have millions and millions of dollars to spend on whatever they way. This prize money will be a great help in my efforts. I will use all of the prize money on efforts to engage youth across the nation in taking action in their local communities. I have a project called ElectriFYIed Youth Project and we will be present and many key youth events around the country aiming to spark a generation of "electric" leaders."

Way to go Chad! We're very proud of you.

(Hat tip to SAL for news of the win!)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

2nd worst restaurant meal ever

Yesterday I decided to take the girls out for dinner while J was working. We ended up at the Eno River Eatery in North Durham on Roxboro Road. (Yes, you're right, I should have known.) I hadn't been in the place in ten years or more when it used to be Le Coco.

I suppose right off the bat I should've known that a place that uses that much duct tape to reupholster their booths would have some other issues. But I plowed ahead full steam. Z ordered a poached egg (her favorite), bacon, grits (instead of the home fries option) and an English muffin. L initially wanted a pancake but I for some reason talked her into her other favorite, pasta with Parmesan cheese. I was so fixed on their orders that I just skimmed the menu quickly and ordered a BLT -- I mean, how bad can a BLT be?

Next bad omen: there were two games on the badly photocopied kids' menu, tic-tac-toe and dots, the kind where you connect the dots to make boxes and put your initials inside. But we didn't get anything to write or color with, so fortunately the girls had books to pass the time. I spent my time not noticing the stains in the booth fabric behind them or the sketchy looking ceiling tiles above.

So the food comes after a while and I'm surprised at what's in front of me. It's an open-face BLT on a hoagie roll; the whole thing is in a skillet and covered with a thick coating of melted Cheddar. Again, this is my fault since I didn't read the menu, but I just never imagined a BLT like this. I ended up peeling a slice of cheese-coated bacon off for Z, trading her unadorned bacon to L.

Z's plate comes with a poached egg, bacon, and a white cup that's foamy at the top. Turns out that was the grits with an inch of airy margarine on top. She makes it clear that she's not about to eat it. L, poor thing, has this big bowl of pasta that's fettuccine. If you know your pastas you know that a long wide noodle isn't usually the best thing for kids, especially when you sprinkle it with parsley. She eats a couple of bites and is done.

I start taking something from this plate and that, trying to find some combination they can eat. When the delayed English muffin makes its appearance I'm delighted, except when I find that both halves have been covered in the aforementioned margariney stuff. I put jelly on it and L ate a few bites, but that's about it. I give out all of my fries, which (true to form) appear to be those fries that are assembled out of potato bits, frozen and then fried. Bad but not horrible.

On the car ride home the girls are just a riot. "My poached egg wasn't runny," says Z. "Why on earth would someone put parsley on pasta?" says L. "Yeah," says Z, "you're supposed to eat parsley after your meal for fresh breath." "I should have had a pancake," says L. Etc.

"Was it the worst restaurant meal you ever had?" I ask.

L nods. Z right away says "No, it was 2nd worst." I feel a bit better about this and so I ask what the worst one was. "I don't know, I haven't discovered it yet," she added, in perfect 7 year old logic. This morning she said what made it not the worst ever was the cheese-coated bacon. I'll be sure to use this in the Healthy Living portion of my application for Parent of the Year.