Posts Tagged ‘north carolina’

Thanksgiving 2008

Posted: 3 December 2008 in Uncategorized
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Bit late, but I wanted to post a couple thoughts on the just-passed Thanksgiving.  My immediate family (mom and sisters) converged on my eldest younger sister’s house in Durham, NC.  We had an absolutely fantastic turkey covered in some sort of fennel-based concoction, courtesy of my brother-in-law.  It was succulent.  Rapturous, even.  The trip there was frustrating.  There were numerous accidents and tons of traffic.  Much delay and cursing was to be had.  I almost gave up and wanted to turn around, but we soldiered on.

The biggest downer was the fact that a close family member had to be taken to the emergency room.  I won’t say which, for medical privacy reasons, but it was a bit scary.  They are better now, but it will require ongoing treatment.  It wasn’t food-related.

My sister and brother-in-law have some salt water fish, including a puffer that has grown a couple orders of magnitude since they got it.  It’s slowly eating its way through the other fish in the aquarium and gets really angry when you get near it and aren’t feeding it.

And (good gravy!) isn’t this the cutest baby you’ve ever seen?

The cutest baby ever.  Yes, even cuter than yours.

The cutest baby ever. Yes, even cuter than yours.


No moseying

Posted: 30 May 2008 in Uncategorized
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While at Oak Island, we visited the North Carolina Aquarium. It was decent, nothing on the Baltimore Aquarium, but it had some cool stuff. In the southeastern swampland exhibit, there was a very specific sign (below) about what not to do on the plants. When I trundled on the venus flytrap three feet away, I had the perfect excuse, but they didn’t buy it…

Warning sign at the North Carolina Aquarium

There was also an outdoor pond with a bale of baby turtles and some carp.

A bale of baby turtles at the North Carolina Aquarium

Oak Island

Posted: 29 May 2008 in Uncategorized
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View of Oak Island beach from our beach house

This past weekend at Oak Island, NC was extremely fun. My sister got married, I got to catch up with family and friends, and I got to bask in the beauty of the ocean and great weather. It was very depressing to leave. The beach house we stayed in was surprisingly nice. The game room had a large poker table and there was an enormous hot tub. If you think sitting in a hot tub looking out on the ocean is cool, you’d be right. The wedding itself took place right on the beach. The background was punctuated by the odd pelican plunging into the surf, shooting up large sprays of water.


Memories of the Sun

Posted: 21 May 2008 in Uncategorized
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I think that Memories of the Sun would be a fitting name for a Pittsburgh blog.  When I was younger, I loved dark, cloudy weather.  I’ve never been a fan of the steel gray overcast that doesn’t change, but it didn’t bother me much.  After experiencing it nearly nonstop for the past few months, it gets to you a bit.  I didn’t fully realize that until I was standing outside today, in the park, with the sun out, and the sky deep blue beside swiftly moving cumulus clouds.  I missed the sun.

My favorite Pittsburgh weather comes at the beginning of autumn, when the temperature begins to drop and the leaves are changing.  It doesn’t seem to rain quite as much then and it can be quite beautiful.

I’ll be travelling south this week, to Oak Island, NC for my sister’s wedding.  The North Kakalakee beach in early summer (which begins in April in the South) should be nice and refreshing.  And just as summer begins there early, spring gets started late here.  It has been less than 60 degrees out for most of the past week.

Suffice it to say, probably no blogging for the next week.

Wright Flyer I

The Wright Brothers had their first successful flight on December 17, 1903. The flight lasted for 12 lousy seconds, but a machine that was heavier than air that they had built stayed under control off the ground. Whether they were actually the first or if their flight was even long enough to be valid, it is undeniable that they have had a massive impact on aviation and the world. They didn’t have to use space age polymers or special blend of fuels. Just ingenuity and hard work. They fabricated a gasoline engine in their bicycle shop and built the body out of a spruce tree. Pretty cool.

It has always struck me as amusing just how worked up people can get over the right to say “first in flight.” I guess because it was such a monumental achievement at the time, we have lost sight of the wonder that must have accompanied it back then. Man had conquered the sky! Of course, this feeling didn’t emerge until a few years later since the Wright Brothers were generally considered to be hoaxsters around the world until a demonstration in France in 1908.

SR-71 Blackbird

I had a friend from New Zealand who claimed a countryman had been the first to fly. Ohio and North Carolina both try to take credit for the Wright Brothers. The first plane was developed in Dayton, Ohio, but actually flown in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. I’ve been to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which is now home of the National Museum of the Air Force. One of the coolest things I saw there was a decomissioned SR-71 Blackbird, a supersonic spy plane. We weren’t supposed to touch it, but I wanted to so much (I was like 12 or 13) and my uncle just said to go ahead and do it. The worst that could happen is we’d be kicked out, right? But nothing happened, and it felt like slightly cool, smooth metal. It was great.

After the Wright brothers patented their invention, there were years of disputes over patent violations. Continued claims of being the first in flight sprang up. After their first little hop on this day in 1903, they maintained a high level of secrecy so that government-backed researchers, who were the big players in the game, couldn’t steal their ideas. They were just two guys who ran a bike shop and wanted to make money on it. I think that was the right thing to do. If they hadn’t been secret, they would have been squashed like bugs by the big guys. I think the real legacy of the Wright brothers should not be the controversy or the secrecy, but the fact that two dudes in a bike shop, tinkering with wood and engines, changed the world in 12 seconds.

The National Resources Defense Council is reporting on a study that looked at ten eastern US cities are found they are going to see more red alert days during the summer for air quality. They found that rising temperatures due to global warming will lead to a decrease in the number of good air days (as defined by the EPA).  Two of the cities I have lived in were included in the study: Columbus, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina.  Another city included was Asheville, NC where Donna and I have spent several anniversaries.  Greenville and Asheville are both very beautiful cities, so it’s really a shame to see that things will be going downhill. The same will be true everywhere, of course. By the middle of the century, the study reports, 50 eastern US cities will see:

  • A doubling of the number of unhealthy ‘red alert’ days
  • A 68 percent (5.5 day) increase in the average number of days exceeding the current 8-hour ozone standard established by the EPA
  • A 15 percent drop in the number of summer days with “good” air quality based on EPA criteria because of global warming