Monthly Archives: September 2007

First Band Competition

So while I was laid out with my tick fever (see the previous post), the CHHS Marching Band went to the Bulldog Band Bash at the Southeast Raleigh High School for its first competition. I’m the president of the CHHS Band Boosters, and the Pit Crew Organizer. However, with me being flat on my back, the Pit Crew was going to have to do this one without me. And did they ever! The band was great, finishing with a superior rating and first or second out of 7 bands in class in each graded area. This is our best start in a long time! And that Pit Crew? They won the “best Pit Crew award,” of course. One of the guys called me about 9AM this morning and brought the trophy by. We’re going to rotate it, sorta like they do in the NHL with the Stanley Cup ;-). To help me convalesce, they brought it to me first!

Revenge of the ticks…

This has been probably the worst year I can remember for ticks. Lots of ticks. Early in the season, saw a lot of adult Lone Star ticks, but as the summer went on, mostly the small “seed ticks” which, though I am no entomologist, I suppose are larval or nymphal forms of the Lone star ticks. Apparently, that’s what we have the most of here in NC. See this very interesting article from the Raleigh News & Observer (not sure how long this link will stay accurate, I may have to change it).

I have probably pulled two or three dozen off me over the course of the season, typically found when coming in from a walk and doing the “tick inspection”.

However, one of them apparently was a bad guy, and stayed on long enough to give me a bout of tick fever. Four days ago, on the 27th, I came home from work feeling like I had a twinge of a “bug”. Temp about 99.5. Woke Friday morning to a temp of 100.5, so I stayed home, not wanting to infect the office. Went up to 101.5 during the middle of the day, but some ibuprofen pulled it down under 101. By Friday evening, however, it was over 102. Stayed between 102 and 103 all night (not breaking any overnight as a viral fever typically does), and as the intense headache started to kick in during the wee hours of Saturday morning, I became convinced that I needed to go to the doc. Fortunately, my doc has Saturday hours, so I called and got an 8:15AM appt. I told them that if they thought it was a virus, to send me home to suffer in silence, but that since I had pulled off a couple of ticks in the last two or three weeks (that I knew of!) I thought it prudent to come in. They said with known tick exposure and these Rickettsia-based illnesses, it was better to go with the antibiotics. Started my course of doxycycline at 9:30 Saturday the 29th. Took ibuprofen Saturday, and by Saturday night, while I didn’t sleep, I could feel the fever breaking. By early afternoon today, the 30th, I felt like a 2 mile walk, a bowl of chili for dinner, and another mile walk after dinner. I’m not 100%, but am moving that way fast.

I am pretty well convinced this was a tick fever. Likewise, I’m convinced that going in early and not trying to “tough it out” over the weekend was the key to my being able to type this tonight and being in bed with a high fever and splitting headache.

The moral of this story is to try to minimize tick exposure (but that’s hard to do here in suburban central NC), to do your tick inspections, and if you do feel that you have flu-like symptoms “out of season” or after known tick exposure, or if it just doesn’t feel like the flu, go to the doc.

Powerbook keys…

So, my wife’s Powerbook G4 15″ has been having problems with its “8” key. Sometimes, you’d get one “8” and sometimes two or three…all the other keys worked fine, but I was thinking that I was seeing the beginning of the end, and would need to buy a keyboard. That was especially true tonight, when the numlock key was accidentally on, and it looked like most of the keyboard wasn’t working ;-). I decided that instead of forking out $120 for a new keyboard, I’d see if something was gumming up the “8” key. Well, this was the first time I’d popped the key off a Powerbook, and man, that’s a weird little mechanism under there. See this page for a picture of how the “scissors” works. Sure enough, when I popped off the key cap, there was a bunch of dog hair there — courtesy of our two chocolate labs. I cleaned out the dog hair, and set about putting it back together. I used my fly-tying lamp and magnifier to see how to assemble this…a real chore for 50-year old eyes. Took a minute to figure out how the key cap hooked on, but soon I was back in business. Booted up, and voila! A happy “8”.

September is almost gone…

…and I’ve only been fishing once (see earlier blog entries). Rats. Also, with the current drought here in central NC, all our local streams are drying up, totally. Will take a while for the fish to come back. Right now, only the herons & ‘coons are happy. This happened in 2002, with the streams drying up; I restocked part of Morgan Creek with about 100 bluegill/green sunfish hybrids. Will need to do something like that again. Looking forward to some real fall weather, and hopefully some rain as we get into the fall.

So, what to do? Sit on the porch and have a glass of Shiraz. Just finished a bottle of the Mollydooker “The Boxer” 2006. Not as good as their 2005 Boxer, but tasty. Mollydooker makes some nice wines. I have some of their “Two Left Feet” 2006 cuvee as well, and also a couple of bottles of reserve stuff (Enchanted Path, 2006, and Carnival of Love, 2006). Both are highly rated, esp. Carnival of Love, which is a Wine Spectator 95 point bottle. Saving that one for an auspicious occasion.

New printer…

My old home laser printer (a circa 2002 Konica/Minolta 2300DL) has been getting flaky lately. It took longer and longer to warm up, threw spurious paper jams, and had developed a habit of not feeding paper unless the input tray was almost full. Had not actually planned to buy a printer yet, though, but we found a great deal on a Xerox Phaser 8560N at It was $499 (no shipping) plus tax, the best I saw elsewhere was about $150 more. Ordered on Saturday 9/8, and it showed up on Wednesday 9/12. I did a bit of reading about it to try and make sure I was not getting an product without a future, since it’s not a laser, but uses the Xerox solid ink technology. The solid ink supposedly is much more environmentally friendly than laser cartridges (so says Xerox, and it makes sense). The ink blocks look like chunks of crayon; they come in small plastic containers, like a transparent yogurt cup. Much less packaging & waste. The printer has a high duty cycle, and seems to be what’s advertised. It came with two blocks of ink for each color (yellow, cyan, magenta & black) and my reading seems to indicate that an ink block should be good for ~1000 pages. That sounds like a lot; we’ll see. Ink blocks are ~$30/ea., except for black which is a bit cheaper.

I’ve just installed it today and it seems to be as advertised. It has PC and Mac drivers (we’re a mixed household, 4 Macs & 2 PC’s in regular use, and one more PC when my college-age son is home). Nice print quality on standard paper. Have not printed any pictures yet, but I do have a separate photo printer. It has a ton of functions in the web-based control utility. It’s designed for the small business environment, really, and it has lots of features like job accounting, email alerts on supply or paper outages, notification of job completion, etc. Way more features than I’ll ever use. As you can see if you look at the link to Xerox above, there is a family of these printers, and this is an entry level, but the software is the same for all, apparently.

If you are in the market for a printer, check it out!

Trout on Little Stony Creek…

So, per yesterday’s post, I made a day trip to Blacksburg today. Left the house at about 6:45AM, after being fortified with a couple of grande lattes, and drove the 200 miles to the land of the Hokies. Stopped in Radford for just a minute to pick up my cheap old folding chair from Rob Tucker’s house (thanks, Rob!) which had been left behind at Bassclave ’07, and got to Jason’s apartment around 10AM. Unloaded, and he showed me the new TV that he and his two roommates had bought. Seems that they found someone in Roanoke (via Craiglist) who had a 2002 vintage rear projection 56″ TV, who was replacing it with an LCD or plasma. The guys paid $200 for the privilege of hauling away this 300 pound beast! Well, it will be great for sports in a guy’s apartment. Left Jason’s place around 10:30.

Arrived at Little Stony Creek around 11AM, and quickly hiked up to the first footbridge. Lots of folks around, as this was a holiday weekend. This was my first trip to Little Stony, and Rob said I might see 100-200 hikers. Well, that was on the low side! However, I only saw one other fisherman, and he was hiking in while I was headed out in the afternoon. Folks were constantly going up and down the trails on either side of the creek, but that didn’t bother me! I was fishing my Winston 8′ 3wt. I hadn’t fished this rod in a while; I should fish it more often. What a fantastic rod. Tied on a Tweeter Caddis, and hit the water. LDR’d one, and missed a couple. Saw several trout come up and inspect the fly and refuse it, so I decided that the 5x tippet was too big in the gin-clear water. Rummaged in my bag and pulled out some 7x, and that did the trick. Caught a number of trout like this one, in all the places where a trout should be. Mostly rainbows, some a bit bigger than this one, some smaller. A couple of brookies. I ended up using a Mr. Rapidan most of the time, size 16 (parachute tie). Worked well. The tippet seemed to be more important than the fly (as long as the fly was a 16 or 18). I did see some *big* stonefly nymphs (probably a size 6 or 8 ) and if I’d been spending more time, I would have plumbed the depths of some of the big pools with a imitation. This is a very pretty place, a typical Jefferson Forest freestone.

Normally, I’m somewhat circumspect about mentioning stream names, but this is a well-known place, and it is covered by special regulations. You can bet I’ll be back here. I fished until about 3:30PM, and then headed back to Blacksburg to grab a shower at Jason’s place and take him out to supper. Poor guy had been working all day on an assignment for a Numerical Methods class. I know that one sure challenged me when I did my CS degree. Took Jason out for supper at Outback, and then hit the road for home. A busy day, but a heckuva a lot of fun.

Trout tomorrow?

I’m headed to Blacksburg, VA tomorrow to carry a load to my son (a junior at VT). Taking all the stuff that didn’t make it in the last two trips ;-). Looking forward to going, though I *would* like to sleep late tomorrow. After I drop the load off at Jason’s appartment, I’ll head over to Little Stony Creek west of Blacksburg, and see if I can catch a few trout. I expect a number of hikers on the trail to the Cascades, but that’s OK…it’s a holiday weekend…

Marching Band Season

September brings cooler (slightly) weather, and the beginning of high school marching band season. I’m the President of the Chapel Hill High School Band Boosters, and last night was the first outing for the band, at the Chapel Hill High football game. My youngest son Jeff plays Trombone for the band. CHHS lost the football game, but it wa close, with a pass going thru the receiver’s hands as the clock ran out. The Band sounded great! I’m hopeful we’ll have a good band season!. Expect many more band posts here in this blog as the fall goes on…