Monday, March 31, 2008

Encouraging, but will it ever happen?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, most US doctors now support universal health care per this Reuters report from earlier today. Doctors now realizing the system is horribly broken? This is one of the things I'd very much like to see dealt with in the next few years . . . or immediately.
WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - More than half of U.S. doctors now favor switching to a national health care plan and fewer than a third oppose the idea, according to a survey published on Monday.

The survey suggests that opinions have changed substantially since the last survey in 2002 and as the country debates serious changes to the health care system.

Of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, 59 percent said they support legislation to establish a national health insurance program, while 32 percent said they opposed it, researchers reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The 2002 survey found that 49 percent of physicians supported national health insurance and 40 percent opposed it.

"Many claim to speak for physicians and represent their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support national health insurance," said Dr. Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

I've been so disappointed in the past when I thought we'd get an issue like this solved that I'm afraid to believe that it might be possible. I'd like to be less cynical, but there you go. My dad keeps encouraging me to watch "Sicko" but I think it might make me too sad and/or mad.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lunch at Twisted Noodles

Over the last six months or so, we've come back to Twisted Noodles time and time again for a tasty Thai meal. It's located just off University Drive, behind Target where the old South Square Mall used to sit. We think their curry dishes are just about the best in town. Their Summer Rolls are outstanding as well. The service has always been top-notch. And, also in the plus cateory, it's a casual, easy-going place. Their menu as a pdf file file is here.

This time I brought along my camera to give you a peek:

Summer Rolls

Twisted Thai Rolls with sweet chili sauce

Green Curry with chicken

Yellow Curry with chicken

Yellow Curry with chicken over rice

Give the place a try if you haven't already.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sprouting & Unfolding for Spring

More new things happening in our yard as photographed today.

The Brown Turkey Fig Tree waking up this week, sprouting its first leaves on the limb tips:

The Quince is in bloom, with more blooms still unfolding for the sun:

Hostas poking their fingers out of the ground, beginning to unfurl their leaves:

The Dogwood beginning to open up, blooms tinged with color:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Saturday 3.29.08 from 8 to 9pm

It's Earth Hour North America.

Sure it's largely symbolic, but what could it hurt? It's an interesting way to take time to talk to your family & friends about conservation. A way to see that other people care too. A way to ratchet up everyone's awareness.

On March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.

We invite everyone throughout North America and around the world to turn off the lights for an hour starting at 8 p.m. (your own local time)–whether at home or at work, with friends and family or solo, in a big city or a small town.

See also Embrace the Dark Side.

shoutout to Z for this

Loving the Durham Farmer's Market

The warm weather today has me thinking of the Durham Farmer's Market, so I dug out a few photos I took last summer.

Turns out the Durham Farmer's Market regular summer season starts next Saturday, April 5th. Check out the Wednesday market hours too:

On April 5, 2008, the market will resume regular summer hours (8am to noon) and be open every Saturday, rain or shine, through Thanksgiving. We are proud to announce that this summer the market will be open on Wednesday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings! The Wednesday market will be open from 3:30 to 6:30 on all Wednesdays from May 7th through September 24th!! Come join us in our home in the Pavilion at Durham Central Park on Foster Street. (click here for map and directions).

Here's the rest of the album.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Raining McCain!

I call them The "Whether" Girls. I say "Whether" because I can't figure out whether it's parody, or it's sincere. Either way, and for so many reasons, it scores high on the WTF scale.

The original & classic Weather Girls video here. Music written by Paul Schaffer, oddly enough. A 1980's dance club sensation, to say the least. It even has its own wiki page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

See the ISS & Space Shuttle on Wednesday night

These can be seen with the naked eye. It's very cool to spot them. You can do this--it's not hard.

NASA explains here:
Depending on your location on the Earth's surface, the spacecraft's position in orbit and the time of day, you may be able to see either the space shuttle or the International Space Station, or both, as they orbit about 386 kilometers (240 miles) above the planet. A spacecraft will be seen as a steady white pinpoint of light moving slowly across the sky.

For each shuttle flight, the Flight Dynamics Officers in NASA's Mission Control Center use sophisticated computer software to predict when and where the shuttle will be visible to people on the ground. Now that station assembly has begun, they also will predict where the space station will be visible from the ground. For rendezvous and docking missions, both will be visible at the same time once the two vehicles have docked in orbit and only one listing will be necessary.

You can go to this page to pick your state and then your city to get your times for sighting. Remember! 90 degrees is directly overhead.

For Durham (more sighting dates and times at the link):

Satellite . . Local Time . . Duration . . Deg Elev . . Approach

ISS . . . . Wed 3/26 8:24pm . . 5 minutes . . . 68º. . 11º above SW
Shuttle . . Wed 3/26 8:26pm . .5 minutes . . . 72º . .11º above SW

You can also spot the newly launched Jules Verne ATV satellite too:

ATV . . Wed 3/26 8:20pm . . 5 minutes . . . . 59º . . 11º above SW

ISS: International Space Station

I keep hoping for a bluebird family.

I have a couple of birdhouses especially for them in my yard. They are mounted at the correct height and facing the correct direction, but so far no bluebirds. That's okay because I get other bird families each year. A few days ago, I once again saw a mama bird busily flitting in and out of one of the 2 birdhouses I have. I stood and watched her--her beak would carry a few twigs each time as she flew in. I couldn't identify her, but I have my Audubon book out and will soon.

I know from past springtimes that once the eggs hatch, the peeping sounds of baby birds will fill my tiny yard. The birdhouse fairly sways with their cheeps and calls and movement. As soon as mama flies in with food, a few minutes of quiet will descend on the box. Then off she will fly again in search of food, and the babies will explode in sound. I guess they want to make sure mama can find their hungry mouths again. I highly recommend a birdhouse if you haven't had the pleasure of watching this springtime ritual up close. Barnes Supply on Ninth Street usually has many to choose from, including the mounting poles.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"In harm's way . . ."

You hear the phrase a lot--that we're putting our military men and women "in harm's way."

This movie, Body of War, has just been released and shows what "harm" meant to one young man, Tomas Young. Similar harm has happened to over 35,000 men and women coming home from Iraq with life-altering injuries. (We passed the 4,000 dead mark today, sadly).

I'm going to call and email The Carolina Theatre to see if will be coming here to Durham.

I caught the interview with the producers/directors on Bill Moyers and hadn't heard of the film before. It is now on my must-see list. More info here, and a picture of Mr. Young, on the wiki page for the movie.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Spring. Tulips!

It was nice just before sundown to take stroll through Sarah P. Duke Gardens once again. Was curious if the tulips had started blooming in large numbers. Yes, yes they have! And some of the blooming trees are spectacular.

So take the family--or just yourself--for a walk, a picnic, and snap a picture or two this weekend. It's the most enjoyable time of year there. You can even feed the ducks--although FYI they want you to bring cracked corn and not bread crumbs for them anymore if you do feed them.

If you go, tell me your favorite sight! All 4 pictures below are from earlier this evening.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I was tagged?! Whazzat?

I was tagged by Lenore over at her blog. It's a blog game!

Here are the rules:
  • Post 10 random things about yourself .
  • Choose five people to tag and a reason you chose them and make sure to tell them.
  • Don’t tag the person who tagged you.

My 10 random things:
  • I have a 13 year old cat, even though I consider myself more of a dog person.
  • I must have some quiet reading time before bed every night to feel settled down before sleeping
  • I have a 2007-2008 fishing license from NC for salt & fresh water fishing.
  • I shouldn't drink so much diet coke and coffee every day.
  • I have kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland.
  • I go to the shooting range with my dad and target practice.
  • I am a night owl.
  • I won a turkey at a turkey shoot when I was 11, even competing against adults. (We shot at targets, not turkeys. The turkey won was a frozen Butterball.)
  • I have a terrible sense of direction and my map reading isn't much better.
  • I live in a house built in 1925 and the first owner was a bookkeeper at American Tobacco.

I hereby tag:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tonight, we remembered. So many lost.

Tonight as the sun set and the rain began to trickle down, a group of citizens quietly remembered the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq at a gathering at Main and Gregson Streets. We remembered the soldiers already lost and the ones who are still there who should be home. It is horrible to think of the needless waste of life, not to mention assets, that can never, ever be put right again. Gone. Wasted. For what?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

18 gallons of water per person per day this bill!

If I'm doing the math right, that consumption of 3 units shown below, during the time period it covers, means that in this household of 2 people, we averaged a daily usage of around 18.3 gallons per person. I blogged about calculating usage based on your bill information here.

No measures that seemed drastic to us were used. There were no extended trips out of town either. We did install an ultra-low showerhead that I talked about here and it does a great job. We eat on paper plates more. We are more conscientious about usage overall and don't plan on changing too much now that the water levels are back up at the reservoirs. I figure a long dry period is coming up, as it has consistently the past few years, and this time I'll be ready for it more than ever.

Apparently some households are using a lot more, as much as 60 or more units per month, according to an interesting discussion over at Barry's blog here. I hope there will be more information forthcoming about the issue of new housing and water consumption.

Monday, March 17, 2008

5 Years in Iraq - A Remembrance & Peace Vigil

For everyone who wishes to attend.

The Peace and Social Concerns Committee of the Durham Friends Meeting invite members of the Durham community and beyond to join together for a candlelight vigil on the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 7:00-8:00PM at Brightleaf Square on the corner of Main and Gregson Streets in Durham.

Names of some of the many who have lost their lives will be read. Bring candles. For more information contact:
Nikki Vangsnes 699-8207 or Karen Stewart.

Candlelight Vigil for Peace on the 5th Anniversary of the War in Iraq Wednesday, March 19, 7:00-8:00PM Brightleaf Square Corner of Gregson & Main Durham, NC.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dinner at Blue Corn Cafe

We hadn't dined on Ninth Street at Blue Corn Cafe--touted on their website as "Durham's only Latin-American Restaurant"--in a long while and decided to have dinner there a couple of nights ago. We were seated in the newer section where there is a bar now, even though it appeared that there were tables available on the other side (the non-bar side). Frankly, the newer side seemed noisy and overly bright for a dinner seating, and our being seated next to a large noisy table of eight or so didn't help.

The service was efficient and pleasant, and my food was delicious. My dining companion didn't think her dish was all that great, however; mainly because she recalled, after it arrived, that eggplant is not such a personal favorite.

My dish was Plantanos con Pollo and I had no complaints, other than the black beans, which were dry and bland. The tangy mango and plaintains more than made up for that though:

My companion had the Grilled Eggplant & Roma Tomato Quesadilla:

There was a nice explanation clipped to their menu about the water restrictions and how they now charge $1 for a bottle of water. It seemed smart to include such an alert for any who may not understand how dire things have been recently during our drought and the aftermath.

Seems I remember that Blue Corn used to serve a basket of pretty multi-color tortilla chips and some salsa complimentary during the wait for the food to arrive. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore, however.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Would you make a good eyewitness?

What's your awareness level? Very quick and easy visual test to take at the link. You might be astonished at your results.

(If you do leave a comment, don't leave a spoiler!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Don't miss

what Barry says in his column:

Eve Carson's death was a loss that will reverberate throughout society because of the good she won't be able to accomplish. A person that young who had already had such a positive impact on her world, as evidenced by the thousands of students who gathered at the campus vigil in her honor, could over time have had an immeasurable impact on the larger world.

The people suspected in her death are black, but they represent all black people about as much as Timothy McVeigh or those Columbine killers represent all white people -- which is to say not at all.

Evil is not race-specific.

The full column can be read here. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is that it? No horns, no tail?

I promised an update and here it is.

I hope this isn't New Bull. He hardly seems very Bully anymore.

Compare to Old Bull, who had horns, a tail, and I could sometimes see the red eyes from the back:

Two+ helicopters zooming around downtown

and I'm assuming it's in relation to apprehending the suspects in the Eve Carson case.

One keeps hovering in the area of Forest Hills, and the other one is zooming all over.

Here's the Forest Hills one:

Edited to add that they are both there now:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In with the New Bull? Out with the Old Bull?

Says here that Old Bull will come down today at 4pm and will be replaced by New Bull:
The new bull will be much the same — its eyes still will light red, its nostrils still emit smoke. Except the new bull will be two-sided.
Hey! He was two-sided already as I blogged about here last week.

But maybe New Bull will turn out to be okay after all.

As I type this, Old Bull still stands. I'll update with pics when I see back of the New Bull.

Thanks to RR for alerting me!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Peruvian-style Roasted Chicken

Taking a cue from the local bloggers at Carpe Durham and Eat at Joe's about Mami Nora's Chicken, as well as some friends who visited there recently, we gave it a try today for lunch. The food at Mami Nora was very tasty--exceeded my expectations, actually. The place is super clean, the staff is friendly and nice, and the menu is straightforward. I'll be going back.

I snapped some pictures of my trip for you.

It's located at 302 Davidson Street, near Compare Grocery at Club/Roxboro:

There are more tables than this, but this is the basic set-up. Go to the counter and order, choose a table, and they'll bring the food to you:

Here are the chickens roasting over the wood charcoal. Usually the door is pulled down and closed, but I caught it open and took a pic, at the urging of my lunch companions:

I ordered a quarter chicken (you have your choice of white or dark) and the 2 sides I chose were plaintains and yucca fries. The spices used on the roasted chicken are just about the best I've ever had. The yucca fries and plaintains were fresh and delicious.

The proprietor gave us all complimentary servings of chicken soup as an appetizer to familiarize us with how good it is. It is quite good--the chicken, potatoes, and carrots in it are generous, and the bit of cilantro is fantastic.

The Durham News had a story about Mami Nora's a few weeks ago here if you'd like to read a little more about the restaurant and about the proprietor:

[Ranbir] Bakhshi grew up in Maryland, the son of a Salvadoran mother and an Indian father. The Peruvian connection is his stepfather, and Bakhshi was first exposed to the rotisserie chicken sold on the streets of Peru when he visited family growing up. After graduating from high school, he spent three years in the Army before going to culinary school.

Give it a try!

Friday, March 7, 2008

More Spring in my Garden

3 Faces:

Mini Daff:

More Minis:

Blue Pansies:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Back of the Bull

as seen from the DBP office. I guess they are going to change the ol' Bull from what I've heard recently. Modernizing him, they say. That may well mean I can't see the bull and those horns anymore while chatting on the phone to clients and that makes me kind of sad. I like you, Bull. You kept me company lots of days, even though you had your back turned to me.