two days ago i was forced to replace my 2000 Honda Civic EX’s battery for the first time. i had previously driven a 1985 Buick Skylark and a 1991 Chevy Lumina. their batteries were not the easiest to reach, but as you can see from the photo here, this battery is easily removed and replaced.

well, it should be, at least…

first of all, i removed the old battery and placed it in Britta’s car to take it to Sears. i was able to buy the battery without incident and then take it back to our place to install it in the car.

i noticed when i purchased the battery that the posts were on the “back” of the battery rather than the “front” (closer to the front of the car), but didn’t think much about it. when i got home, i realized that the difference in this placement meant that the negative lead (connected to the chassis) was too short to reach the new location of the post. so, i had to head to another auto parts store to get a new cable.

when i removed the battery, i thought that i had lost one nut that helped hold the battery in place so i bought a set of those as well.

i got back home, successfully removed the old battery cable, and began attaching the new battery cable. as i screwed in the bolt, it fell through the car (somewhere) and was lost forever to either the car’s innards or the gravel driveway. clearly, it’s not good form to just have the battery connected to the positive lead, so i went back to the auto parts store (after calling the local Honda dealership to find out that i needed a 6mm x 12mm threaded bolt to connect the battery cable to the chassis).

luckily, i had found the nut i had previously thought lost and hadn’t opened the package yet. the cost of this package was the same as the cost of the replacement bolt, so all was good. the only hassle here was that the store only had 6mm x 10mm and 6mm x 16mm bolts. i got the longer bolts and hoped for the best. finally, i got back to the car and was able to attach the new battery cable and successfully finish the job.

or so i thought.

as i tested the battery by turning on the ignition, i noticed something strange. the CD that had previously been in my CD player was sticking out of my dashboard. i didn’t think much of it until i tried to turn on my radio. i received the message “CODE” when i pressed the on button. crap! i don’t know what this radio code is!

i searched throughout all the materials and still couldn’t find it. after 30 minutes of searching and calling the Honda dealer, i finally found the 5 digit code on a checklist that was completed by some technician after the car was delivered to the dealer in 2000. whew! entering the code gained me access to my tunes again and life was good.

was should’ve been a 10-15 minute installation became a nearly 3 hour ordeal. maybe this is just confirmation of the fact that i shouldn’t have been an engineer…

well, for those few readers who frequent this blog (and i know that there are a very few of you) i apologize for not being more diligent in my duties. the past few weeks have been quite busy and eventful.

yesterday i gave my midterm for the course that i’m teaching this semester (first-year master’s statistics course in my department). i think it went well. now, i have to concern myself with grading 50+ exams this weekend. fun, fun, fun. next time i’m doing all multiple-choice.

usually photographs tend to be the diary of my life’s activities. my last post here was on August 28 and since then Britta and i have hiked to the top of Occoneechee Mountain (the highest point in Orange County and from here to the coast), planted a brown turkey fig tree in the front yard as well as some arugula and two varieties of lettuce, seen slugs mating on our front window screen, made a final summer trip to the beach, celebrated Kisa’s 3rd birthday (September 21), visited two gardens as part of the J.C. Raulston Arboretum open garden tour, and babysat for an 8 year-old boy and 5 year-old girl for nearly a week while their parents were on vacation in Brazil.

whew!

on my own, i’ve also been teaching my course, dealing with replacing a dead battery in my computer, buying and installing a new battery in my car, further developing my dissertation proposal ideas, and trying to take care of myself.

the next few months will be busy as well with trips planned to California (October 18-25), Asheville (October 27-29), DC (November 9-12), and St. Paul (November 21-26). oh, and my parents are coming to visit Chapel Hill as well (November 2-7). i’m not sure when i’m headed to Kentucky for winter break, but that will be my next trip after i finish grading my students’ final exams in mid-December.

whew! (again)

in other news, i have begun a subscription to the weekly news magazine The Economist. i had a subscription right after i graduated from college but cancelled it because i wasn’t able to keep up with it on a weekly basis (and because it costs nearly $2/issue). with my snazzy student discount, i now receive it for ~$1.50/issue, which is tolerable even on my restricted budget. i’m enjoying the coverage of world events and find myself feeling more in tune with what’s going on.

so, in summary, i’m still alive–but barely. be patient and you might see another post here in the near future.

yesterday we had hoped to head to the beach for the third time this summer, but decided that our Sunday would be much better spent relaxing. we babysat Saturday morning and Saturday evening for a total of close to 8 hours and i had been dogsitting for the past few days as well, so it was nice to relax a bit.

we decided that it would be fun to head East to Raleigh to visit the Saturday and Sunday N.C. State Fair Flea Market. we were hoping to find some outdoor furniture, but were out of luck and didn’t have the patience to walk around in the 95F degree weather that long to search out the gems among what seemed to be the neverending tables of the contents of people’s homes.

after our strike out at the fair grounds, we drove to the Raleigh State Farmers’ Market to search out figs for our dinner that evening. we had read in the Wednesday News and Observer that figs were in season and available at the various farmers’ markets in the area. we had picked up one basket of them at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, but thought that it would be fun to get more at the larger (and usually better-priced) market in Raleigh.

after quite a bit of looking around, we found one table that was selling figs. we were hoping to score some bibb lettuce, arugula, mint, and shallots as well, but none of those were available. i wasn’t so surprised about the last few ingredients, but i figured lettuce would be available.

instead of bringing home the ingredients we were searching for, we brought home a fig tree. it’s difficult to tell from the photo, but it’s about 2.5 to 3 feet tall and quite healthy looking. there is one “flower”, but the person who sold us the tree said that it would not produce fruit this year. the tree itself if 2 years old and should be fine either planted in our front yard or in a pot. we haven’t decided what to do with it yet, but hopefully next year (July through October is the fruit-bearing time) we’ll have some figs of our own to eat!

our dinner finally came together after picking up the remaining ingredients at various nearby grocery stores. as you can see from the top photo, we had a tasty and nutritious dinner of our fig, peanut, and “arugula” salad (we couldn’t find arugula, so we substituted) with a shallot, raspberry vinaigrette and purple hull peas with my mom’s chili sauce. yum!

this past Sunday my dad had a pretty serious bicycling accident. in the fifteen years that he’s been biking, this is the first one that i’m aware of. he’s had some small spills in the past, but this one takes the cake for sure.

apparently, it had something to do with the shoes and toe clips he uses to attach his feet to the pedals and one of them being loose. i don’t quite understand the situation exactly, but whatever went wrong ended up sending him on his right shoulder and down on the asphalt with such force that he fractured his scapula (which, apparently, is pretty tough to achieve) and his pelvic bone. i haven’t seen pictures yet, but he also has some burns on his shoulder and knees from his skid. in addition to the broken bones, he also suffered a mild concussion. for a few hours after the event, he couldn’t remember what had happened or what he did on Sunday morning. scary.

in a testament to the quality of care that you might receive at the emergency room, this sixty-four year old man with the previously mentioned conditions sat there for nearly 6 hours before being admitted, didn’t receive any food until the next morning, and was told at discharge that he should keep ice on the broken bones to reduce swelling for the first 24 hours after the accident. did they not realize that he had been in the hospital under their care for the past 20 hours? amazing. not once did anyone offer to or provide him with an ice pack. i’m no physician or nurse, but it seems to me that this should’ve been one of their foremost priorities.

in any case, all of this makes me reconsider the importance of what i will call from now forward the “Shadle family oral history project”. i know that sounds grandiose, so apologies in advance. i’ve been thinking about this for a while, but have never taken action. i thought about it when my grandmother sold her home and went into assisted living a few years back. unfortunately, she died in October of last year.

it is true that things for my dad could’ve gone much worse. he was lucky to have had someone driving by in a car who saw him fall and who stopped to assist him (calling my mom, calling 911, etc.). we still don’t know who she is, but hopefully we will find out soon.

none of my grandparents are around any more, and any family historical information that i would be interested in is in the memories held by my dad and his two sisters as well as my mom and her brother.

i have a small digital recorder that i can use to “take notes”, but need to read up on what good prompts might be in order to obtain the best information out of them. my hope is that most of the questions that i can’t answer now because family members aren’t around any longer will be answered for future generations through this work. i know that’s pretty ambitious, but i guess it’s good to set lofty goals.

from time to time i cut out recipes from our local paper, the Raleigh News & Observer. last week, i found a recipe for what was called peach season salsa. the serving suggestion was to put it, cold, on top of warm, grilled fish.

this week, we decided to try it.

unfortunately, we don’t have a convenient grill. we decided to use baked tilapia instead. to give the fish the crispy texture of the recommended grilling method, we dredged the washed and dried fish in cornmeal and then sprinkled black pepper and Old Bay seasoning on top.

this method worked out really well. the tilapia was the perfect fish for the salsa because of its mild flavor and flaky texture. the salsa, even though it contained a diced jalapeno pepper, was juicy and just the right amount of spicy. you could probably use either more jalapeno or a spicier pepper to add more heat and not overpower the sweetness of the peach and sugar. the cilantro (as you can tell from the photo) made the salsa, of course. what’s salsa without cilantro and lime juice anyway?

today we headed to Wrightsville Beach and afterwards made our way to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. this was our second trip to the beach all summer and our first to the aquarium.

it was a perfect day at the beach. the sun was out, the temperature was in the low 80s, and there was a strong breeze. the water temperature seemed cool at first, but only because of the wind. the waves were really strong and were the easiest in my recent memory to bodysurf with. i was actually exhausted after a few minutes fighting in the water. we spent about 2 1/2 hours there before leaving for Fort Fisher.

the aquarium had been closed for renovations for a long time, but reopened in December again to the public. the changes to the aquarium were quite noticable. first of all, the new entrance leads you to a large open area exhibiting the habitats of the NC coast. various carnivorous plants are on display as well as tanks filled with fish, snakes, and crocodiles. (North Carolina is the northernmost state with crocodiles, if you weren’t aware.)

the touch tanks were filled with horseshoe crabs, as they were before; however, they now had sections where you could touch other smaller crabs and anemones. i didn’t remember this being there in the past, but it was neat. i was wary to reach my hands into the touch tanks, but a blind young man who was visiting the aquarium was quite eager to do so. his interaction with the animals was without fear and fun to watch. given the fact that most of the museum is visual, this must’ve been an especially enjoyable part of his visit.

after i sated my desire for a squished penny, we headed out and back up the road towards I-40W and Chapel Hill. pretty uneventful trip back home except for the 1970s Camaro that had mystically found itself tangled in the twisted wire fence in the median between the east- and west-bound lanes of the interstate. looked like no one was hurt, but i couldn’t help myself from feeling sorry for the car more than the people.

finally, after years of waiting for the dead trees to be removed from our front yard, Gray’s Tree Service of Oxford, North Carolina came to retrieve them. from my count, there were four trees brought down by various means.

the first tree (which was the most in need of removal) was attacked by the Bobcat until it started swaying back and forth violently. this reminded me a bit of its actions during some of the wind storms we’ve had the past few summers. it finally gave up and fell to a thud across the driveway.

the remaining trees came down in a slightly different fashion. the three men used chainsaws to cut down the trees and then used the Bobcat to pick up logs and transport them to the truck for disposal.

it’s taking quite a long time to get the mess cleaned up, as lots of fallen trees are in the culvert in the front yard. the weight of the Bobcat appears not to be doing wonders for the yard, either. ah well.

as the summer (as it relates to school) is coming to a close, i beginning to think about the fall including (but not limited to): cooler weather, the class i’ll be teaching, how to write a dissertation proposal in 3 months, and ways to spend my free time.

honestly, i’m thinking more about the last one in that list than anything else. yes, i’m super-excited to be in a position to become a real “Ph.D. candidate” this fall, but i’m also excited to do other things.

i’ve already got a few trips planned. i’m headed to San Jose for a week in October, DC in November for a long weekend, and Minnesota for Thanksgiving. i hope to make it to the beach at least once or twice more before the end of the warm weather and perhaps once or twice more afterwards.

so. back to the hobbies. we got a brochure in the mail yesterday from the ArtsCenter in Carrboro featuring their fall line-up of classes. one that i’m particularly interested in is screen printing. i’d love to be able to create my own stationery a la Gwen Frostic (to be honest, she does block printing, but who’s keeping score?). t-shirts would be neat, too.

after purchasing a new (and functional) H-T, i’m starting to get back in to amateur radio as well. with that, i’m thinking more about emergency communications, installing Anderson PowerPole connectors on everything in my shack, and perhaps investigating solar power options for emergency operations.

speaking of radio, i hope to continue to find time to enjoy being a DJ at WXDU (88.7fm) in Durham, as i have since the winter of 2000/2001. i’m sure that will find its way into my schedule, though.

the last hobby that i’d like to consider is that of homebrewing. i tried this a few years ago and have quite a bit of equipment (albeit in storage). i feel like i know more about what kind of beer i enjoy and what i would enjoy making than i did when i experimented with a brown ale back in the day. that might even save me some money in the long run, as well.

i don’t like to choose just one, but i guess if i’m going to get to the third point in my list of priorities i’d better either be choosy or be super efficient with my time.

i had just finished a month and a half stint at Northern Kentucky University as a member of the 1993 Governor’s Scholars Program. it was indeed a life-changing experience. i met some great friends (a few of whom i still keep in touch with) and started on my journey to adulthood. [don't read too much into that, okay?]

in any case, the years passed and passed until today when i received an email informing me of the alumni site for Kentucky’s GSP! after a few initial difficulties with me not being listed in the database of alumni/ae, i was able to login and create my profile. after that, i began searching for fellow GSP alumni/ae and linking up with them. the site is somewhat friendster-esque or myspace-esque, but that is the beauty of it. it was easy to find friends and those who had attended the same high school or college as you. cool!

my hope is that over the next few weeks more people sign up and join this community. it seems like quite a good thing in my opinion.

a few years ago (2002, to be exact) i started a blog. in fact, i think it coincided with my first trip to SXSW to visit my friend Jon in Austin, Texas. i’m sure i still have this blog’s posts somewhere, but they’re buried somewhere on this (or another) server.

in any case, i decided that it would be a good idea to post some things here for friends and those who know me to enjoy. i’m posting here rather than the domain where i usually write personal mail to protect the innocent and mainly myself. let’s just say that my last name rhymes with dreidel, hence this domain name.

i’m still learning WordPress, the software of choice for my blog, so bear with me as the site hopefully improves over the course of the next few months.