Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tricks Won't Give You Cavities

My Idea of Halloween fun:

I dress up in a rabbit costume and answer my door when the doorbell rings.


open door

Kids: "Trick or treat!!"

Me: "TRICK!" spray them with silly string

Kids: dumbfounded look

Me: "Silly Rabbit! Tricks are for kids!!"

slam door

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm Gonna Get Whacked One Day...

Probably by my Italian wife.

Let me set the scene:

Tullio's Italian bakery on the Outer Banks. We're all ordering up tasty desserts. I spy the cannoli in the corner right as we're all wrapping up our orders.

Bakery Girl: "Will there be anything else, sir?"

Me: Yes, I'd like one of your cannolis, please."

BG: "Certainly. Anything else?"

The Skating Gnu: "Can I get some gum, daddy?"

Me: "Leave the gum. Take the cannoli."

Damn, I'm good!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Currituck Postcard

Couple more pictures from the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla.

Currituck Light:

Currituck Shadow:

all photos copyright
2007, The Smoking Gnu

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

Greetings from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's been perfect weather here. Mid-70's in the daytime, only spotty cloud cover, light breeze. The Gnu Herd rolled into town over the weekend and since we got here, the plan for the week is simple: zilch. No plan is a good plan. The cottage has an internet connection, so I can send a few postcards across the cyber-sea.

The Skating Gnu and I took a short trip by ourselves to the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla while Mrs. Gnu stayed at the cottage and rested. We hiked to the top, looked all around, then took a short hike around the grounds to the old schoolhouse and historic village.

And made a somewhat dangerous friend:

photo copyright
2007, The Smoking Gnu

Yep. That's a Cottonmouth, or Water Moccassin. One of several poisonous species of snakes found in the Coastal Plains and Piedmont. We stumbled upon it sunning in the road on our way back from the village. It's a good thing the Missus wasn't with us: she would have freaked. My daughter, on the other hand, wanted to adopt it. She even named it: say hello to Connie, the Cottonmouth.

They say kids learn fear from their parents. I have gone out of my way to instill a fascination for all life - tempered with a healthy respect for living creatures - in her from an early age. I was raised on a farm and I spent much of my youth catching critters, from praying mantises to snapping turtles, and even the odd groundhog and injured squirrel. I even caught a rabbit with my bare hands one time, but that's a story for another day.

She is just as fascinated with wildlife as I am, completely the opposite of her mother who cringes at the mere thought of a cricket chirping. We stood there, each party sizing the other up, the snake probably scared to death, we on the other hand, completely mesmerized by its natural beauty. A perfect opportunity to teach my daughter what a poisonous reptile looks like in real life, how it's important to nature, and why it should be respected, and after a few pictures (using a telephoto lens - hey, I'm crazy, but not stupid!) we parted ways, everyone happy.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I was right. My wife freaked. The pictures were proof positive to her that we had completely lost our minds and would both wind up in the hospital before the year ended.

City girl. But I love her still.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life's a Beach

From the bottom of my heart
Off the coast of Carolina
After one or two false starts
I believe we've found our stride
And the walls that won't come down
We can decorate or climb
Or find some way to get around
Cause I'm still on your side
From the bottom of my heart.

-Jimmy Buffett, Coast of Carolina
License to Chill

A well-deserved vacation that's been a long time coming. Finally here.

One brief stopover for TacoCon tomorrow, then we're packing the fishing gear, crab nets, Tabasco-jambalaya mix (yes, I am an optimist) and heading to the Banks.

The Rules:

1. I'm not wearing a watch.
2. Or socks.
3. If that goddamn cell phone rings and it's not a good friend calling, it's gonna get chucked in the ocean.

See y'all in a week!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

This past weekend was the 60th and last annual Air Show at Pope Air Force Base near Fayetteville, NC. The base will be closing later this year, and the Army will be taking over the facilities. Naturally, we knew their Last Hurrah was going to be huge, but they topped all possible expectations. Over 100,000 people showed up Sunday to share in the experience. The Skating Gnu and I arose early and trekked down to the Sandhills to take in the sights. Oh! what sights - and sounds- we took in!

And what sunrays we took in too. Thanks to her mother's Italian heritage, The Skating Gnu turned a nice olive bronze after 10 hours in the bright sun. Me, I looked like an evil witch turned me into a big tomato. And that was just the first 15 minutes. I went from "monitor tan" to "afterburner glow" in no time flat. The burning is going down, slowly but surely, and I've rediscovered the wonders of 100% pure Aloe gel.

Was it worth it?

You tell me:

all photos copyright
2007, The Smoking Gnu

I'm so glad I brought my camera! Too bad I forgot the sunscreen. Ouch!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

School days, school days,
Dear old golden rule days.
Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic,

Taught to the tune of the hickory stick.

You were my queen in calico,

I was your bashful barefoot beau,

And you wrote on my slate,

"I love you, so"

When we were a couple of kids.

William D. Cobb, 1907

Dear Mr. [Smoking Gnu],

Congratulations, you have been approved for admission as a provisional student in the Master of Science degree program in Information Technology...

Well folks, this is where the rubber meets the road.

My acceptance letter arrived today from the Graduate School. Wow, this is for real now. I'm officially accepted, complete with a stern admonition to earn a 3.0 GPA or else. These folks don't fool around. This is serious work. I'll have some prerequisites to complete before I become a regular student, hence the "provisional" notation.

I'm ready. Apprehensive, but ready to begin. I've been reading ahead in the course book, taking notes and working the exercizes to prepare myself. It's been a long time since I've had to take tests that really count for something. This is a much higher level than the technology certifications I've done in the past; I could always retake those until I got it right.

I'm glad I started reading ahead. I'm getting myself into some good study habits, and brushing up on my test-taking. The quiz work at the end of each chapter was a wake-up call. No rushing through: take your time, choose the best answer. Double check your work. Same thing I've been telling my daughter for her schoolwork, now she's fussing at me in return. She's earned the right to do that just a little.

She's making straight A's this term. Yay, Skating Gnu!

Were it to G-d I should be so lucky in my studies!