Arthur the Turtle

** updated September 7,2008 – unfortunately this mini photo gallery plugin is no more so I’m retrofitting the images with flickr versions. **

I thought I’d christen the introduction of mini photo galleries to my blog with a couple of pictures of Arthur, our pet Turtle.

He’s a red-eared slider who was purchased from a local pet store back on January 10, 1990.

Arthur the Turtle

Arthur the Turtle

Kudos to Ben at Benlyal.com for coming up with this innovation!

Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare

Asimov\'s Guide to Shakespeare : A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Works of ShakespeareI’ve been working my way through this book for the past couple of months. It’s a major undertaking, but I have to say that it’s been extremely satisfying. I was really only acquainted with a few of Shakespeare’s works from my High School English classes. And, of course there are loads of derivative works out there that use Shakespeare’s stories as springboards from which to launch their own established characters into new and compelling situations.

The book comprises two volumes – First the Greek, Roman and Italian plays and then the English plays. I have to say, the first volume was by far the more interesting. Asimov does a wonderful job in providing you with the context with which the educated Elizabethan would have enjoyed these plays. And in doing so, he explores and articulates many facets of mythology associated with the play being examined. There is a lot that I have encountered in my other reading that existed as “orphan” knowledge that this book has helped me tie together. Particularly with respect to the chronology of events and the meanings of turns of phrase and expression that I have heretofore taken for granted.

This is not a Cliff’s Notes nor is it a compendium of Shakespeare’s works. It is, rather, a valuable aid to understanding the motivations of the characters and circumstances driving the events of Shakespeare’s plays.

On completing this book, after a brief Shakespeare hiatus, I intend to pick and choose my way through several of the plays that seemed especially interesting and read them for the first time with this rich background laid out for me. As well, I will be revisiting some of my favorite Shakespearean works with an eye towards the many nuances that completely passed me by because of my lack of classical / historical knowledge.

Easter Funny

I’m not sure if my dad will appreciate this story now, but it’s been many years so I think I can safely tell the story without too much embarrassment.

Michelle likes to hide Easter eggs. Even though we’re fully grown and don’t have any kids around in need of such amusement, every Easter she will trundle off out of the conversation and activity that goes with getting together during the holidays and hide little chocolate Easter eggs. She picked this little tradition up from my mother who used to hide Easter eggs until we were all well into our late teens and insisted that everybody go searching for them.

Usually, Michelle gets creative enough that not all the eggs are found by the end of our Easter get togethers and she just leaves the rest to be found by whomever hosted the event over the next couple of weeks.

One year, while at my father’s place, she decided to hide an egg in the pocket of a pair of shorts that were hanging up on the hook of the bathroom door. Not surprisingly, this particular egg was not found before the day was out and she forgot all about it.

A couple of days later we received a call from my father. He has a nice pool / jacuzzi combination at his condo and he likes to swim daily and alternate between the cool pool and the hot jacuzzi. I think you know where I’m going with this…

Unfortunately, Michelle hadn’t recognized those shorts for what they really were, his swim trunks.

It might have been just a little bit of a shock or surprise for my father, but on that particular day my father was chatting with some of the other condo tenants in the jacuzzi when he happened to stand up and notice that there was a trail running down his leg. Not knowing what was going on, he quickly made his exit and went to the locker room to investigate.

The mystery was solved when he found the remains of the foil wrapping used on the Easter eggs in his mesh pocket. Needless to say he’d been finding eggs in socks, shoes, drawers etc. for the past couple of days, so it was quickly obvious where this chocolate trail began.

Michelle continues to hide eggs every year, but she’s a little more discriminating about where they end up. But every year at Easter we have a little chuckle over dad’s apparent post-Easter incontinence. 😉

New Birdbath!

Just picked up a new birdbath from Stone World Garden Decor in Cumming, GA. Thankfully, it came in two pieces ’cause it’s a lot heavier than it looks!

To give you a sense of it’s size, the diameter of the dish is about 2 feet and it stands about 18 inches off the ground. Our last (plastic) bird bath was impaled by a large branch Excalibur style. Unfortunately Mich removed the branch before I could get a shot of it ’cause it looked pretty bizzarre. No such fate is likely to befall this "mini behemoth".

Just started using Vonage – The Broadband Phone Company

Decided to try Voice over IP (VOIP) and have selected Vonage as my carrier.

So far, I must say that I’m pretty impressed. Everything I’ve wanted to configure so far is configurable and the line quality is much better than I expected.
I was on the phone yesterday while downloading some really large books from Audible.com for my iPod and could see the book downloads slow down but there was no perceptible degradation in the voice conversation.

The router they sent me was a Linksys RT31P2. I tried and tried to set it up so that it was outside of my current network (between my DSL modem and my Wireless router) as described in Vonage’s site. But eventually I had to concede that I really was making this more complicated than I needed to.

I checked out Broadband reports to see if they could shed some light on the configuration changes needed to make my current router not the gateway to the internet. But eventually needed to contact Vonage Tech support to get their advice on it. After all, they must face this issue dozens of times per day. Even though their website is loaded with useful information, it didn’t cover this little issue.

The Vonage guy was obviously in India – definitely the trend for CSRs these days but I was still surprised at how thick his accent was. It took a couple of tries to understand what he was saying. He assured me that I could put my new router inside my network and not have any ill effects due to bandwidth contention. He said if there were any bandwidth issues I could call back and we’d work them out.

It was definitely an easier solution than I was trying to implement and so far so good.

Universities Reject Nosy Applicants

One of the e-publications that I receive is from EDUCAUSE. They were just reporting on the 153-odd business school applicants who were no longer being considered for admission because they had used a hacker’s instructions to gain access to the university admission records to see if they’d been accepted or not.

Some of the rejectees are whining now and claiming a “lapse in judgement” and similar excuses. As far as I can tell, one thing we need less of is unethical business people. Kudos to the universities for their stance!

Jekyll Island Day Trip

Marc and PlaneJust posted some pictures from our day trip to Jekyll island back in October. For some reason I thought I had already done this.

We landed at the Jekyll Island Airport which is non-towered and used our cell phone to call the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and they sent a van right over to pick us up.

We rented some bicycles from them, nothing spiffy, just single gear coaster-brake bikes that took a little getting used to, and did a pleasant cycle of the north end of the island.

The trip was partly for a getaway and partly to flex my wings by doing a longer flight in the Diamond DA-20 two seater aircraft. This is a new plane and is a delight to fly. I wish it had more cargo-carrying capacity so I could realistically look at it for a flight up to Canada, but everything’s a trade-off in aviation.

For this reason I expect that any serious trekking will be done in something like the venerable Piper Warrior II workhorse.

By the way, I’ve been to Hilton Head Island (just North of Jekyll Island) a couple of times and found it to be fairly cold and uninviting. It is very obvious that the locals don’t really want you there and they take pains to ensure that you know this. The beaches are largely inaccessible unless you are staying at one of the resorts or unless you know someone locally who can point you in the right direction.

A big exception were the local Hilton Head airport FBO folks at the Carolina Air Center they were great and if I ever do visit Hilton Head again it will be almost solely on the strength of their efforts.