Trip to Charlotte

Meg and I took a trip to Charlotte, and we didn’t take the kids. It was nice to get away by ourselves. We planned to take the train, and make an excursion out of the trip. I planned a picnic dinner for the train ride down Friday night.

One of the problems with train travel is that Amtrak does not have priority on the rails. We arrived the Burlington station about 10 minutes before our 6:00 train. We were told that the train would be leaving at 7:45. It got hung up south of Richmond, as it had to make way for the freight trains that owned the tracks.

We ate our picnic dinner in the train station. I bought way too much food for two people, but it’s always nice to have variety. With no apologies to Tom Wolfe, we had southwestern turkey, black forest ham, genoa salami, Vermont cheddar cheese, goat cheese, a mini-baguette, ciabatta bread, red pepper pesto, cookies and bottled water.

After dinner and several games of Gin Rummy, the train finally arrived at 8:45. Some of the people on the train, which was now nearly 3 hours late, had been on the train since 7:00 in the morning when they left New York. This was not an excursion train. These were people who did not have another way to travel.

We were supposed meet friends in Uptown Charlotte when we got in, but we cancelled those plans since we were delayed so long. By the time we checked into our hotel, it was so late that we barely had time to go to the hotel bar for a drink and some chicken wings.

We slept late, which is a rarity in our lives, the next morning. After breakfast we went to Discovery Place, a science museum that is fun both with and without children. The visits happen at different speeds. While we were at the jelly bean exhibit, I bit into a jelly bean to do a tast experiment and a crown on my tooth came off. When I told Peter what had happen, he told me I was no longer king because I lost my crown.

Discovery Place has an IMAX Theater and we saw Hurricane on the Bayou, a movie made by the same people who made the Everest IMAX movie. They started making a movie about the erosion of the wetlands in the Louisiana delta and its effect on potential hurricanes. While they were in production, Katrina joined the party. They scrambled to get a crew to New Orleans in the aftermath of the storm. As harrowing as the pictures of the flood were on tv, they were unbelievable in IMAX. The devastation was too much.

We also went to the Mint Museum of Craft and Design. There were lots of very cool artwork on display, including a series of Mayberry sculptures commenting on modern issues, and a major exhibit on a German glass scultor, Ann Wolf.

Before boarding the train for our return Saturday evening, we stopped off at an Irish pub, RiRa, for a pint and bangers and mash for me and fish and chips for Meg.

Happy Valentine’s Day Record

According to Peter, and confirmed online, the Guinness World Record for most Valentines received by a guinea pig is 206. A three-year-old guinea pig named Sooty, who lives in Wales, received the cards from as far away as New Zealand in 2005.

Peter made 2 Valentines Cards for his guinea pig and said Dazzle only has 205 more to go until he breaks the World Record. Grace gave him 4 more, so he is well on his way.

Some 2,700 Applicants Notified Of Carolina Acceptance — in Error

About 2,700 applicants for fall 2007 admission to Carolina were notified mistakenly on Jan. 23 that they had been accepted. In fact, decisions on these applications have not been made, and the students were not expecting decisions until March 31.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions said two simultaneous human errors involving e-mail messages were to blame. Its staff began apologizing to applicants the next day.

“We are still mortified that this happened,” admissions Director Steve Farmer said Thursday, nearly two days after the error. “I hate that it happened. We try to make sure the candidates under our care are treated fairly and humanely, and it’s heartbreaking in this case there were 2,700 students we’ve failed.”

Read complete article

Stormy Worm

I just received an email with the “Stormy Worm” and it was not caught by Earthlink filters. The Subject Line was Wrapped Up and it contained the attachment postcard.exe. Since I preview all my email in Webmail before downloading, I was not in danger of downloading this. I am concerned that it slipped by Earthlink’s defenses.

Read about it here.

Local Groundhog Predicts Early Spring

from Raleigh News & Observer:

No one deserves a sunny future more than Sir Walter Wally, Raleigh’s luckless Groundhog Day forecaster.

The newest Wally, still a baby, has been hit by a car, suffering head trauma and the embarrassing loss of forehead fur.

But on Friday, he wriggled out of his cardboard burrow and whispered happy news to Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker: Spring will come early this year.

“He told me we’d have a warm year,” Meeker said at the N.C. Museum of Natural Science.

Punxsutawney Phil agreed, 500 miles to the north in Pennsylvania. So did Staten Island Chuck in New York and Georgia’s Gen. Beauregard Lee.

Continue to rest of the article

Ice Scraper Redux

This morning I awoke to discover that 2 to 3 inches of snow has fallen outside my Nashville hotel. There was not much on the ground, but there was plenty on my rental car. I was so concerned that it was going to snow yesterday night (which it never did), that I had no idea it was going to snow last night.

Since the snow was pretty deep on my car, I needed to use a stryofoam bowl from the breakfast bar to clear the snow off before I could use my Cosco membership card.

This was the third day of my trip, and I really was not thrilled that I had to scrape my car before I could start another long day.