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Proof
Wednesday, January 31, 2007 - 10:29 p.m.




And you thought I was kidding.

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Testing my Anti-Snow powers
Wednesday, January 31, 2007 - 01:34 p.m.

Because my hair is so spastically frizzy, I never actually blow-dry it. It does best when it's allowed to curl how it wants. Apparently the blow-drying process makes it angry. And since I am constitutionally opposed to getting up on time, every morning finds me rushing into work with wet hair (drowned rat look = teh sexy).

This morning, just before leaving to meet some clients in the field, I went outside to feed the dogs with my hair still soaking wet. As I was leaning over to fill the second food bowl, my hair made a weird crunchy kind of noise. Then it fell over my shoulder, not as hair should fall, but in strange spiky chunks. FROZEN chunks.

People, this is Alabama. It's not right that one's hair can FREEZE in the two minutes it takes to feed a pair of dogs. Come to find out, the wind chill? Oh, about ZERO degrees.

Let's just say that today was a bad day for field work.

Now they're forecasting a "wintry mix" for tonight. Sleet, snow, ice - the works. Could it be? I would love nothing more than to wake up and have a few inches of snow. If that happens, I'll be in my backyard making snow angels, you just wait and see. And yet, I am the Anti-Snow. As in, here is Sarah, and here is the 20-miles radius around her where not a single flake of snow has fallen since, oh, 1994. It just doesn't happen.

So, here's hoping we'll actually see something come from all this. And here's expecting that tomorrow will be gray, nasty, and decidedly snow-free.

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Three cheers for Todd
Monday, January 29, 2007 - 10:41 a.m.

This weekend we traveled to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia for Todd to run his very first half marathon. Or as he put it, "Thirteen FREAKIN' miles!" Todd's sister and her family met us there to help cheer him on.

He did great and finished in approximately 2 hours 6 minutes, beating his goal of 2 hours 10 minutes. He was even able to walk this morning. Me, I'm just a little bit proud of him.

After the run, we wandered around the gardens and saw the Birds of Prey show before eating lunch and heading back to Alabama. I had no idea what Callaway Gardens was all about before this weekend, but now I would love to go back sometime in the spring, when everything is blooming. It was beautiful in January, so March and April should be spectacular.

Anywho, it's a busy day at work, so, pictures:



Todd was at the back of the pack starting, so the 2:06:49 isn't his real time. They didn't have the runners chipped, so he had to keep his own time.



What you can't see here is how COLD it was. He'd just run thirteen freakin' miles, so he was fine. But the rest of us?
Freezing.



The Birds of Prey show was AWESOME. Seriously, this owl flew by so close and so low to the ground, I could have reached out and touched him. You know, if I wanted to lose a finger or two.



This was my favorite photo from the whole trip, but it doesn't even begin to do the chapel justice. It was beautiful.

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On Raptors
Friday, January 26, 2007 - 05:22 p.m.

The best math test ever.

Also, What Would Escher Do?

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100% Photoshop Free
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 04:28 p.m.

I am not a photographer, although I love to take pictures. I am well aware that I don't have the equipment, knowledge, or even, really, the eye to be a true photographer. I take pictures, and some of them turn out well. I enjoy it. That's about all I can really say.

I have a real appreciation for good photography. I also have pretty specific requirements when it comes to what constitutes a good picture. The right depth of field, the right exposure, the right composition. The right emotion. I'm always browsing The Week in Photos, Flickr, or various photoblogs. It's that feeling you get when you see a good photograph, one that literally takes your breath away. One that makes you want to run outside with your camera to just try to capture something with half the brilliance or beauty.

So, yeah, I'll admit I'm a photo snob (see: Shutterfly photo contests). And because I am, I have slowly come to look down on people who use Photoshop. I'm of the opinion that if you can't get it right the first time, you shouldn't try to fool others into thinking you can. In other words, what you post should be what your camera sees.

And I'm not talking about cropping a photo. I'm talking about actively changing attributes that should been handled during the taking of the picture. For instance, blurring a background because you didn't set your camera for the right depth of field. Yeah, it makes the picture look great, but there should be a disclaimer that reads, "This picture is only good because, while I'm lousy with a camera, I'm a whiz with Photoshop!" It's just not cool to pretend that you really are that awesome. And besides, it make people like me feel bad. "Man, why can't I take pictures like that?" Well, it doesn't matter because they can't either. Effing posers.

What I'm saying is, Photoshop is cheating. And, to me, it kind of misses the whole point. I mean, if you're working on the family Christmas card, go right ahead and Photoshop to your little heart's content. But it seems like if you're trying to be artistic, and you want people to appreciate your photography skills, then you should do it for real.

That's why, aside from the occasional crop, all my pictures are shown exactly how they came out of the camera. I have no illusions about my skill level, but at least I can say that what you see is what I got. I'm not pretending to be something I'm not, and when I get a picture I like, I'm proud of it.

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Schedules? We don' need no stinkin' schedules.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 05:20 p.m.

Man, it has just been one of those days.

Yesterday afternoon around 4:30, I got a call from a client saying, "Help, we're in trouble with the state and we need you to fix it!" Since then, it seems like I've been working nonstop just on this one bastard project. Never mind that I had, oh, roughly ten million other things that I absolutely had to get done today. Add to that my other job schedule getting obliterated by a recalcitrant homeowner ("Sure you can drill! No, wait, you can't. Okay, now you can. No, no, you can't."), then throw in the massive sampling event I have going tomorrow and Friday, and it's been something close to mayhem for me the last few days. My brain feels like a fried egg. Also, if anyone else comes into my office to ask me to help them with just one more tiny thing, I'm going to cry. There will be tears.

Todd left for North Carolina this morning. He'll be back next week, but I kind of got used to having him home over the last few months. It's going to be a very quiet house when I finally get home this evening. Well, quiet except for the five animals.

But, hey, at least I have dance class tonight. That's got to count for something.

(...Of course, I'll have to go to the store after dance class just so I can have dinner. I've been putting it off since last Saturday and now there is no food in the house. Well, okay, there's food, but I don't think any of it can possibly qualify as a meal. Damn it.)

And now, because it's funny:

"Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn just needs to lie the fuck down."

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Finally
Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 04:40 p.m.

From Al.com:

Monday, January 08, 2007 - Madison bans smoking

"The Madison City Council passed an ordinance tonight that restricts smoking throughout the city. It will take effect in about two months.

Councilwoman Cynthia McCollum first brought the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance to the table last June. Her motion tonight passed six to one, with Councilman Tim Cowles voting against the measure.

Basically, the ordinance says the cityís 628 businesses in the city must put up signs at their entrances to declare whether they are smoking or non-smoking establishments. Some facilities, such as restaurants, convention facilities, hotels and motels, private clubs and sports arenas, have an option to be non-smoking but have an enclosed area for smokers. If a business has the enclosed smoking area, it must post that information at the entrance.

The ordinance also says no one under the age of 19 can enter or work in a smoking establishment, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian."



This seems to be a good compromise. You can smoke in a restaurant, but only in an enclosed section. That makes total sense. You know, as opposed to the "pissing section in a pool" thing most restaurants have going right now. I just hope they give the wait staff a choice on whether or not to work in the enclosed area.

Now, I know there are lot of people out there who think everyone should have the right to give other people cancer. Or maybe they're concerned with the government telling them, "No, sorry, you can't poison your fellow citizens," I don't know. I guess they also think we should do away with health ratings, drinking water standards, the Food and Drug Administration, the EPA in general, and OSHA safety standards. Government interfering for our health? Oh heavens, what's next?

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It hurts so good
Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 10:35 a.m.

Class last night was fantastic.

I was more than a little nervous going in. Then, there were only two of us there last night, so 50% of the attention was focused on me and all the bad habits and weak muscles the last seven years have left me. But the instructor was nice and didn't totally mop the floor with me.

I think I didn't do too badly for my first day back. I'm still pretty flexible and I'm not totally out of shape. I did, however, discover that I now have a serious mental block when it comes to making my legs and arms work together. Also, I apparently have no balance these days. I think that has more to do with weak core and leg muscles than anything else, but it's still frustrating.

Last night when I got home, I felt like I'd been run over by a bus. Muscles I hadn't used in years were suddenly checking in to complain. My legs were cramping, my hips were popping with every move, my lower back seemed to be locked into a solid knot, and my feet were aching. This morning, my calves are pretty sore and my back is still tight, but overall, I feel good.

And really, I had a great time. Even when I was making mistakes and losing my balance and generally making an ass of myself, I was having fun. I can't explain it, but there's just something about dance that I love, and I am so excited to be back.

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Plumbing Problems Postponed
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - 02:12 p.m.

Well, the plumbing problems have been resolved, at least as much as possible. The good news: The septic tank is currently working. The bad news: The septic tank is full of tree roots because the asshats who lived here before us planted a damn tree four feet away from the tank. (It's a very healthy tree.)

We spent Monday night in a local hotel, but we were able to come home last night. Everything is normal, but I can't quite shake this new suspicious feeling towards our plumbing. It's like I expect it to just, I don't know, explode at any minute. Honestly, I feel a little betrayed. The trust is gone!

It seems like this is the week for bathroom issues too, because right now we don't have a women's restroom at work. Well, okay, we do, but it is currently occupied by a male coworker who has taken nearly three weeks to paint the walls. THREE WEEKS. For a very small room. What is he doing in there? Do I even want to know?

Tonight I'm attending an adult ballet class. It's a kind of informal affair at a local dance studio, mostly for beginners, but I am excited beyond all reason. I love to dance and I've missed it for the last seven years, more than I ever thought I would. I've been toying with the idea of going back to a class for a long while now, and I finally just started calling around. Of course, last night I was faced with the dilemma of what to wear. I still fit into my leotard from high school (frankly, I was more than a bit surprised), but I'm fresh out of tights (or at least tights without gaping holes). So, pilates-wear it is. Fortunately, there's no dress code.

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Today is Monday
Monday, January 8, 2007 - 02:55 p.m.

This morning while taking my shower, over the sound of the water I heard what sounded like bubbles coming up in the toilet. bloop bloop bloop A few minutes later, I noticed that water was starting to accumulate in the tub, rather than flowing down the drain. Since these things were pretty obviously connected, I got out of the shower, threw on a robe, and went to investigate the source of the noise. Nothing. Everything looked fine. I ran some water in the sink for what I thought was long enough to prove the drain was working. Nothing again. So, I flushed the toilet.

People, let me just say that if you ever suspect that water is no longer flowing out of your house, test this theory in some way other than flushing a toilet. Because I don't think you can really comprehend the amount of water involved in that process until it goes up instead of down.

Anyway, the verdict from the plumber seems to be that between all the rain we've had, the sheer amount of laundry and dishes we've done over the last three days, and generally thirteen years of normal use, our septic tank has had enough. It is no longer interested in or capable of performing its designated function. Todd has called for an appointment to have the thing pumped, but that will be tomorrow at the earliest. Until then we can't flush toilets, take showers, do laundry, or wash dishes.

Never before have I so acutely appreciated sewers. Well, except for that time we hit a random field line while digging in the back yard. I really appreciated the beauty of a sewer system then too.

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For my sister
Friday, January 5, 2007 - 05:04 p.m.

I hope you have a great day. I'll miss you guys this weekend, but I'll be thinking about you!

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Christmas Project
Thursday, January 4, 2007 - 12:51 p.m.

Our big project of the year (well, since October) was my dad's bass boat.

The boat is not flashy, nor is it terribly fast (although it's fast enough by my standards), but it's nice and was once a good fishing boat. Recently though, it's been rather neglected and hasn't seen water in nearly three years. The interior and most of the hull were covered, but the cats got in and made it their private playground. The decks were covered in fur (and the occasional scrap of prey) and the compartments were worse. The portions of the hull not covered were bleached and oxidized by the sun. The seats and steering wheel were begging for a good dose (or ten) of Armor All. The motor need work.

So, Todd, my sister, my brother-in-law, my mother, and I all decided that fixing the boat up would make a great Christmas present for my dad and granddad. We started cleaning it out in Hendersonville, but it quickly became apparent that more effort was required. So Todd and I brought it down to Alabama to work on over the next few months in our garage.

In the end, we had professionals work on the motor, but we restored the hull and Todd worked on the wiring and replaced several bits and pieces such as the railings and the horn. I have to say, it was a lot of fun and very satisfying. When we were restoring the hull, the improvement was immediate and obvious. Each step (deoxidizing, polishing, then waxing) made a significant difference. It's not often during a project that your efforts pay off so well. It reminded me of why I used to like working with ASCE so much.

Anyway, about a quarter of the way through deoxidizing the hull, I suddenly realized that we hadn't taken any true before photos. I stopped and snapped a few pictures of areas I hadnít gotten to yet with the deoxidizer. The before pictures below were taken after the initial cleaning and so can't quite convey just how rough this thing looked to begin with, but you'll get the idea.

BEFORE AFTER
BEFORE AFTER
BEFORE AFTER


AFTER

It's not 100% restored, but I think it's close enough. I'm pretty sure it'll do just fine when my dad and granddad take it out fishing this Spring. :-)

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Resolutions
Wednesday, January 3, 2007 - 10:53 a.m.

I usually don't make New Year's Resolutions, but for 2007, I'll give it a stab.

This year, I resolve to:

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