Monthly Archives: July 2009

Beauty where you find it

I went over to our dock facility on the far side of our campus this afternoon. I was a little early to take some pictures, so I stopped by a series of freshwater ponds that serve as a wild bird sanctuary. I have driven by these ponds dozens of times, but never stopped to take any pictures.  Well, I had my camera with me and I had a few minutes to kill. These pictures aren’t that great, but they do demonstrate just how pretty the area is.Pond 1

A Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret

A Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret

After I took a few pictures, I finally noticed a “giant” banana spider that had been on his web about three feet in front of me the entire time.

Bannana Spider

Banana Spider

I walked across the road to see what the pond there looked like and saw a flock of maybe a dozen woodstorks on the far edge of the pond, about 70 yards away. Unfortunately, I made too much of a ruckus walking through the woods and high grass trying to get a clear shot of them, that they were startled and took off. Bahsteds! Better luck next time.


Back to “booniestomping”

I was back out in the field again this morning taking more pictures of the same project that I was working on last week. This is a geology project. What they are trying to do is to “drill” out core samples of the marsh material to determine the depth of the earlier ice-age era marsh surface. Fun, huh?

This is what it looks like. (This was early in the day, so everyone is still fairly clean.)Vibracore 3

It’s called a Vibracore. That vertical pipe is 20 feet long and the device hooked to hit causes it to vibrate and slowly sink down into the marsh, collecting a core sample for later analysis.

I don’t mind going out and taking pictures. I was only out there for a couple of hours. I don’t envy the rest of the science crew who stayed out all day. It was hot, humid and buggy, and the labor was an awfully lot like work. As I indicated in an earlier post, the ground there is also about eight inches of sucking muck. I fell only once. I tried to take a step backward but the marsh muck wouldn’t let go of my foot. No damage. I was wearing a pair of rubberized overall-pants so my clothes actually stayed clean. One of the crew helped me up. (Placing your hands down to push yourself backup doesn’t work well. Your hands just sink to your elbows so you get no push-off. Also, your hands and arms are covered with the lovely, black, stinking muck, which is great when you have an expensive camera to operate. It’s always better if someone can give you a hand.)  I got to return the favor to the same crew member later. Nice to know I’m not the only klutz on he crew.

There was one cool thing I had never encountered before – snapping shrimp. (not my photo)Snapping ShrimpI didn’t see any, but I heard them. When you are quiet you can here them snapping. It’s a very audible popping sound all around you. Pretty neat.

A valuable part of the team

We received a lovely gift in the mail today. The Gator Boosters sent us a miniature model of the Gators’ national championship trophy.Gator trophy The enclosed card said in part:

“…Along with the Gator players and coaches, you played a vital role in this championship and we want you to have your own trophy as a thank you…”

Who ‘da thought? We always thought we did our part but we never realized the importance of our role, or that the coaches and players really acknowledged and appreciated our efforts. I’m touched. We do try. Our efforts include:

  • Mrs. Poolman’s telepathically “channeling” Coach Meyer to get him psyched up for every game.
  • Sometimes driving on-campus before dawn on game-day to get our favorite tailgating spot for an early game.
  • Joining 92,000 of our closest friends to scream our throats sore to drown out the opposing quarterback’s signals.

    92,000 of our closest friends on a Saturday afternoon

    92,000 of our closest friends on a Saturday afternoon

  • For the away games, sitting in front of our TV and intently concentrating on every play of every game, yelling encouragement to the team; and even sending in plays (via Mrs. Poolman’s telepathic link.)
  • Very important – controlling the game atmosphere in our family room during televised games. No extraneous conversation. No distractions. And when things are going our way in a close game, NOBODY MOVES! You don’t want to break the mojo.
  • We decorate the fireplace mantel in our family (TV) room with Gator flags, stuffed alligators and other memorabilia in late August and leave the “shrine” up until Christmas, when Mrs.  Poolman replaces it with Christmas stuff. Of course, it all goes back up in time for the bowl game.
  • At the end of the third quarter of every game, even when we are watching at home, we stand up, join arm-in-arm, and sing “We are the boys of old Florida.” Some of our non-Gator fan friends think this is a little strange, especially when they see it for the first time.

It’s nice to know we’re appreciated. I wonder if we’ll get an invitation to the President’s Box.

Thanks for the mammaries!

Recently, a fellow blogger, “Hey, there Pammy-Girl!” commented that she didn’t appreciate men talking to her breasts before they looked at her face. I understand this completely. I have a wife and an adult daughter, and I wouldn’t appreciate them being objectified that way. However, as a middle aged guy, I am also a bit confused by the mixed messages I get out there in the world.

(Note: I’ve never met Pammy Girl, so I have no idea how she dresses, and none of these comments should be misinterpreted as to pertain to her. She just brought up the subject.)Cleav 3

While women like Pammy Girl have an absolutely valid point and have every reason to take offense, it seems like many, many women out there are taking an exactly opposite approach and are doing everything possible to attract men to look at their chests.

I know this is nothing new. I haven’t been completely asleep all my life. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but it seems that over the past couple of years the amount of décolletage that previously had been appropriate only for formal evenings or pick-up bars is showing up everywhere you look. Push-up bras and low scoop necks are common in the office and the grocery store.Cleav Tat (That doesn’t even count tee-shirts with “These are real!” on them or strategically placed tattoos that cry out, “HEY, LOOK HERE!”)

A week or so ago, a college student stopped by my work to pick up some information. She was wearing a loose, scoop neck sweater-thing. When she bent over to put something in her purse, everything from her neck to her navel was there for the world to see.

Mrs. Poolman says, “Well, you shouldn’t be looking!” You don’t have to look. It jumps right out and hits you in the face.

Please understand. I’m not complaining. I’m a big fan of female breasts. I’m just confused.

On a related subject, I was stumped for the proper protocol when a friend of ours had a breast enhancement (aka boob-job). She is roughly our age and has always been rather slender without much up-top. So, I did what I always do when perplexed with questions of social interaction; I asked Mrs. Poolman, “What is the proper breastiquette for this kind of situation?”

Clearly, our friend had the surgery so people would notice her breasts. If she died her hair, lost a noticeable amount of weight or got a tattoo on her forehead, she would expect some comment and would be disappointed if no one took notice. But what about the “tatas?” Should I compliment her on the surgeon’s work? That might be taken as inappropriate, but on the other hand, would she be offended if no one even noticed?

Mrs. Poolman cleared up my confusion quickly.

“If you dare say anything to ### about her boob job, I’ll kill you in your sleep, and I know where you sleep!”

No more confusion.

So long, farewell Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight!

Over the weekend, Sarah Palin officially stepped down from the Alaska governorship to return to private life. If only it were so. 2012 is just around the corner, and you know she’ll be back.

Until we meet again?

Until we meet again?

I have nothing against Sarah Palin’s political ideas. I agree with some of them and disagree with others. For that matter, I agree with most of my friend Craig’s political ideas, and Lord knows, he is outspoken. However, as much as I like Craig, I would never suggest he should be President of the United States, no matter how much I like what he has to say. The same goes for Sarah Palin. My problem with Ms. Palin is simply this; she is totally unqualified to be President of the United States. She doesn’t seem to understand that and neither do legions of her followers. Ms. Palin has spent too much time reading her own press releases and has started to believe them.

The job of President of the United States is probably the most difficult in the entire world with stakes higher than any other. Along with the obvious, and current issues of the economy, Supreme Court, health care, Iran and Korea’s nuclear programs, Israel and all its neighbors, immigration policy, taxation, defense and so on, there is that other gigantic elephant in the room. Nuke ExplosionThe President is one of maybe two people in the entire world who have the power at their fingertip to destroy all civilization on the planet. I’m not trying to be an alarmist. I’m just using that as an example to demonstrate how huge the responsibilities of the job are. This isn’t like hiring someone to manage a fast food restaurant. Agreeable ideas and a cute pair of glasses aren’t enough. The person who undertakes this job should have a strong intellect and a depth of knowledge and experience.

Famous for being famous?

Famous for being famous?

Ms. Palin’s rise to stardom reminds me of “celebrities” like Paris Hilton –famous for being famous. It is an unfortunate symptom we can see so often in today’s society. Celebrity means everything; substance so much less. They look good and they talk well. What else do you need?

When the Republican Party reached down (FAR down) to pull Palin out of the obscurity of the Alaska governor’s office to run for vice president, I thought maybe they had placed the names of every state-wide Republican office holder in the country in a big jar and pulled out a name. Whatever her political ideas, then-Governor Palin had absolutely no qualifications to be President. She was a relatively recently elected first-term governor of one of the smallest (population-wise) states. Prior to that, she was mayor of a town the size of Pooler, Georgia. Her total hands-on experience with any of the pressing national and international issues was then and continues now to be zero. The thought of someone only two years removed from being a small town mayor in position to be the most powerful and responsible person in the world, scared the heck out of me. As the campaign ran on, it became obvious that my initial concerns were correct.

I know many people who might have voted for John McCain, but they couldn’t stomach the idea of Sarah Palin being just one blood clot away from the Oval Office.

The argument could be made that George W. Bush’s only political experience was also as a governor. However, he was a two-term governor of a state large enough to be a country of its own. And besides, would you hold him up as a success story?

Sarah will be back. You can count on that. I can see the press releases now – “the feisty, outspoken hockey mom who is ready to take on the Washington establishment.”

We’re still three years away. Maybe that is enough time for some other Republican to emerge who has both the personality to contend for the office and the ability to do the job if elected.

A lazy summer weekend

It’s been kind of a slow weekend around the Poolman’s house. That’s not entirely a bad thing. We “went a little crazy” with a schedule of activities in June and early July. A slow, lazy weekend to recharge is a good thing. It hasn’t rained enough the past week to mow the lawn, so it will last another few days until a cooler evening.

On Saturday, we got up and did the usual cleaning of house, backyard and pool. Then we had an informal “open pool.” This is like an open house, except it’s an open pool. We frequently have full-blown parties, but an “open pool” is not that. Often during the summer we’ll just tell our friends that we are going to be hanging around the pool on a Saturday (or Sunday) afternoon and if they want to come over and just hang out with us, they are welcome. Open Pool We frequently, as we did yesterday, throw some hamburgers or brats on the grill around dinnertime. Everyone usually brings a side dish and whatever they want to drink and we just have a low-key summer pool-day. Very nice. We had about nine or ten friends, including Writer Princess (daughter) and son in law (SIL.) We started around 230 pm and didn’t break until nearly 11 pm. I guess they all enjoyed themselves.

On Friday, Mrs. Poolman had talked with Poolboy who suggested we all meet at the beach on Sunday. We talked it up with some of the pool-friends yesterday and it looked like we had a beach party in the making. We live around 15 minutes from the beach, so this is an easy trip.

Loungin' at the beach

Loungin' at the beach

It was hot (low 90’s) and windy, but the ocean was just right. It was fairly crowded for Tybee. Beach shotSeveral of our friends were there, but Poolboy and his GF never did show up. Later, around 230 pm, he called to say he was a couple of blocks down the beach and would come by to say hi. Never did see him. Whatever.

I just finished balancing the checkbook and paying some bills. Mrs. Poolman is handling dinner tonight. Tomorrow, it’s back to the salt mine (just kidding.)

It’s a wonderful Friday!

A couple of random thoughts today…

Mrs. Poolman and I went to a meeting at our church last night about an outreach project that should be interesting. It’s called the Interfaith Hospitality Ministry. Essentially, the way it works is that churches agree to provide overnight housing and meals for a small number of homeless families for a week at a time. Church members volunteer to provide food and be evening and overnight “hosts.” We are already signed up to be the overnight host couple for a night late in August. We’ve never done anything like this before, so it should be interesting. I’ll keep you updated.

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In this part of the country, college football is a dominating presence. As the summer drags on, die-hard football fans are starting to froth at the mouth awaiting the beginning of the season. It is especially fun being a Gator fan in the heart of Georgia, the home state of what is arguably UF’s biggest rival.


Some of the annual silliness was back in the news today. A Georgia legislator has come out tying the political and legal “water wars” among Florida, Alabama and Georgia to the annual Florida-Georgia football game in Jacksonville (aka Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party or WLOCP).

The crowd split 50-50

The crowd split 50-50

He says it should be moved to Atlanta every other year, as leverage against Florida in the fight over water rights. Unrelated to the whole water issue, the fuss over the game-site has become a regular refrain among a minority of Georgia fans for several years. Florida fans think the whole controversy is hysterical and just giggle with delight when Georgia folks suggest it. You see, the WLOCP has been played in Jacksonville for something like 70 years, except for a two-year home and home series played when the new stadium was being built in Jax. It’s a big tradition and, actually, a fairly big money maker for South Georgia businesses.

Florida fans think it the controversy is funny because Georgia fans never suggested such a move in the 1960s, 70s or 80s, when UGA dominated the series. However, since Steve Spurrier’s first year as coach in 1990, the ‘Dawgs have only been the victors in three of the last 19 games.  So every time someone in Georgia brings up the subject, Gators just think “Sore losers!” Better you than us.

*    *    *    *

More parking lot woes…

I went to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch today (cilantro addiction). I often park in an adjacent vacant lot because it is shaded and it is (usually) easier to get in and out of. Of course, there are no parking lines in this lot. Most people either park around the perimeter or “head-in” in a double line down the middle of the lot with the cars in each line facing each other.

Today, I pulled into the head-in line and noticed that several cars had not pulled all the way up to the imaginary center line. I did –my mistake. When I came out I discovered some jerk in a 25 year old Grand Marquis had pulled in behind me. So I was completely surrounded by other parked cars, except immediately on the left side.

My car is the navy blue Accord in the middle. The late arriving Grand Marquis is behind it.

My car is the navy blue Accord in the middle. The late arriving Grand Marquis is behind it.

Many other cars had also not pulled completely to the center line leaving a space between the two lines of cars. Fortunately for me, there was just enough room for me to “wiggle” out of the parking space and no one had “plugged the hole” at the end of the line, so I was able to get back to work. Oy!

Dating back to the days when my late father-in-law drove one (badly), I’ve never trusted Grand Marquis drivers. Today is one more piece of evidence my prejudice is right.

Old friends revisited plus 30

We had an interesting lunch today. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an old friend with whom I worked in the late 1970s. Back then, we were both young, married and struggling news reporters at the CBS station in Mobile, Ala.  As couples, Mrs. Poolman and I did a fair amount of socializing with Bruce and Judy — movies, dinners, football games, etc. (In those days none of us had any money, so a trip to the beach followed up by barbecuing some hamburgers and drinking some beer was a pretty exciting Saturday.) Over the years we stayed in touch at the “exchange Christmas cards” level. In any case, Bruce sent me an email saying that they would be driving through Savannah today on their way from one family group to another and would like to stop and have lunch at Paula Deen’s Lady and Son’s restaurant. Never one to pass up the opportunity to eat lunch, let alone catch up with some old friends, I jumped at it.

I guess it’s like New Yorkers who have never visited the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Although Paula Deen is “world famous” and, actually a neighbor who we occasionally see in the grocery store, we haven’t been to her restaurant in probably 10 years. Then it was much smaller and in a different location, and Paula wasn’t a Food Network diva. .

I am happy to report that our lunch was fantastic on all levels. The company was great, even for people who hadn’t sat down together in more than 30 years. Back then neither of us had children. Today each of us has grown pair – within two years in age. The food was good and the conversation flowed naturally. We had a great time.

(l-r) Judy, Bruce and Mrs. Poolman at Lady & Sons

(l-r) Judy, Bruce and Mrs. Poolman at Lady & Sons

Since we live between two units of Judy’s family, that they visit at least annually, I think we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. I hope so.

Stuck in the mud

I spent a part of yesterday afternoon out in one of the nearby salt marshes with one of our research techs and a couple of students. They were doing some preliminary survey work to identify locations for core samples to be taken next week.

The Team

The Team

Despite it being a mid-summer afternoon, the weather was actually quite pleasant with a breeze and no bugs. However, I was not entirely a happy camper. I kept having flash-backs to an unpleasant experience I had the last time I was out in the marsh.

A bit of explanation is in order. The surface of the salt marsh is partially submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide. Most of the “soil” is a thick, gooey mud. Foot in mudYou wear mud boots, but you can easily sink up to your ankles or worse just trying to walk around. The last time I was out awhile back  (ironically with a crew from this same lab), I discovered how bad it could be.

I was accompanying a team to a section of salt marsh near where a new development was going to be built. I was to take some pictures of the team’s activities. I drove there in my own car. When I arrived, the survey team was already a quarter of a mile out in the marsh. The property owner and his wife pulled up as I was putting on the rubber boots. They told me that the day before someone had sunk up to their waist in the mud. How prophetic!

As I started off into the marsh, the first hundred yards or so were difficult. My feet sunk past my ankles with each step. Then I came to a small stream. I should have remembered the warning. A few steps later, I was sunk up to my hips in muck. Visions of those old Tarzan movies with man-eating quicksand were running through my head (“Cheetah, throw me a vine!”).

“So how high does the tide get here?”

“Are there alligators in salt marshes?”

The more I tried to move forward, the tighter the muck held me. So I swallowed my pride and started yelling for help. Fortunately, the developer was still on the bank behind me and heard my calls. He still had a cell phone number for one our team members. He called them and told them one of their buddies was stuck in the mud.

About two hours later (Actually, it was probably more like 10 minutes.), Nick, from our team, appeared in front of me with a rope. With a little tension provided by the rope, I was able to extricate myself from the muck and slither on my belly through the soupy mud. Eventually, I was able to crawl up onto some slightly higher ground.

Me (right) after "rescue"

Me (right) after "rescue"

It was an educational experience. I learned, for instance, that you should never go trekking across a salt marsh alone. (Duh!) I also learned that a person’s clothing can hold an incredible amount of mud that works its way into everything and is very difficult to wipe off.

That explains why I’m not a real big fan of mucking around in salt marshes.

Say “no” to the moon and Mars!

I was watching the news last night and I saw that President Obama took advantage of the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing to meet with the three Apollo 11 astronauts. They encouraged the President to endorse a program to send men to Mars. There are already preliminary plans to return to the moon by 2020, and now these guys, as well as others, want to keep going on to Mars. My reaction – “Are you out of your mind?”

Please understand, I grew up in the 1960’s and was fascinated by the space program. I remember sitting in class watching Alan Shepherd’s first launch on a small black and white TV. I followed the Mercury and Gemini programs religiously. When I was bored in school I would doodle pictures of astronauts on space walks in the margins of my notebooks.

Apollo 8 Dec 24, 1968

Apollo 8 Dec 24, 1968

I remember being moved at the Apollo 8 astronauts’ Christmas Eve 1968 telecast from lunar orbit where they read the Book of Genesis as the camera showed the Earth rising over the lunar horizon.

Apollo 11 Moonwalk

Apollo 11 Moonwalk

And I remember sitting with my family on the afternoon of Saturday, June 20, 1969, when we first heard Neil Armstrong’s dry, understated transmission, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.”

I think space exploration is great, but it is a luxury, not a necessity. And it is simply a luxury we cannot afford. Space exploration costs enormous sums of money — tax money. It is money we don’t have. Didn’t we just borrow something like a trillion dollars from lenders like China and Saudi Arabia to bail out the Wall Street idiots who tried to send us into the next Great Depression? We have plenty of problems right here on Earth that will account for all our affordable and non-affordable tax dollars. These are issues that actually affect the lives of real human beings – health care, hunger, education, crumbling infrastructure, defense, and so on. Non-commercial space exploration has no tangible benefits except to those scientists, technicians and companies actually working on the projects.  It’s fun; it’s exciting; it’s inspiring;  but it is not necessary when we are borrowing to the hilt from other countries just to take care of the urgent needs.

I am not including commercial projects that pay their own way or defense projects that have their own justification in this. If it is necessary for defense or it is commercially funded, then go for it.

Compare it to a family budget. Expenses like defense and education are the national equivalent of buying the groceries and paying the rent. Space travel is like taking a vacation – fun, inspiring and exciting, but not necessary. It makes no sense for a family that is borrowing from their credit cards to pay for food and utilities to plan a European vacation. Likewise, it makes no sense for a nation that is up to its ears in debt and sinking deeper to spend massive amounts of money on space travel.

This may sound weird from someone who works in a scientific research laboratory. The issue is different. I’m not suggesting we shut down scientific research. That must continue. We simply do not know enough about any of the sciences to solve the current and future problems we do and will face. For better or worse, scientific research in this country is funded primarily by tax dollars. No matter how basic, or seemingly bizarre to the non scientist, most of that research will eventually have some affect on our world or the people in it – not so for extravagant space ventures.

We shouldn’t be planning an expensive European vacation until we can afford to pay for the utilities and groceries.