Sunday, September 30, 2007

Overweight = Uneducated?

A while ago I saw this study by the CDC that said that 2/3 of US adults are overweight, and then broke it down by state with this map:

My first thought was to see how this map would overlap with a red-blue map of the electoral voting from the last presidential election:

As you can see, there isn't really a significant overlap, as most of the western US outside of the coast is very red politically, but doing relatively well on the overweight front.
So I went looking for other colored US statistical maps and found one, breaking down by county, the percentage of the population with "less than 9 years of education". It from here, and appears to include at least 1st grade as a "year of education", so basically people who didn't complete even one year of highschool
I've put it next to the first map for comparison (click to enlarge).

Now this was a striking correlation. To be politically incorrect, the swath of fatties ranging from Texas across the gulf states into Appalachia lines up nicely with the dummies.
(Of course years of education doesn't necessarily = intelligence)
If were a real blogger, I would try to come up with some insights into the correlation between lack of education and high percentage of overweight population.
But I'll just stick to the pretty pictures and short-attention-span posts.

One thing that's notable above is that while voting predominantly Republican, the residents of the Rocky Mountain states and western plains are relatively educated and not overweight. go figure. :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Interesting Product Names

Saw these "Krack Nuggets" in Bahnhof Neustadt. Eric bought a bag for the ride up to Berlin. They were pretty good. I don't know if they were "max", but for 50 cents pretty good.

A while ago I saw the "tramp" bar in my local grocery store. Part of the family pack.
Comes with "Milk Flip", "Beach Cola", and "Buggy". MMMmmmmm-mmmmm. "Something for everyone!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back to Work

Eric left this morning. Time to get back to the grind. I basically took off a week while he was here, but man, it was totally worth it. That was a blast. We running around meeting people and doing all kinds of stuff but it was never stressful. More on Eric's visit later. Like perhaps when I get all the pictures. Here's one:

Going to work today was not a blast. It felt like everybody else in the world was either too cool or too lazy or too rebellious or too good to actually do anything for themselves and I spend a large part of the day dealing with stuff nobody else would. I really need to buckle down and get stuff done over the next month.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Eric Franklin in the house

Tomorrow this fellow will be in DD for a week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Radebeul Wine trip

In my tradition of posting about things weeks after they happened - here's a few pics from our little bike trip over to Radebeul where all the little vineyards opened up their doors so you could cruise through and drink their wines and eat their food. Just about 10-12km up the Elbe and then in towards the hills from Dresden is Radebeul where several small vineyards are. So me Nate, Zoltan and Ellie biked out there - and then happened to meet up with Abi and company.

This is the route mapped out - 28km (17mi) total

Mmmmmm....Summer Wine and Flammkuchen.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Diving with some sharks

One of the fun dives advertised on our dive trip was a "shark feeding". Which seemed exciting to me since I had only seen like one shark in my life before. The idea was that a big group of divers would go down and watch sharks come and eat some fish put out to attract them. The prospect didn't seem too scary, since it wasn't like we were expecting great whites or something. Just some average sharks that hang out around these reefs. It got more exciting when prior to THAT one dive, like minutes before getting in the water, the crew came around with an extra release form, in addition to all the stuff we had to sign getting on the boat. This one basically said diving with sharks was dangerous, and although the divemaster assured us nobody had ever been hurt when doing this, there was nevertheless a risk of injury or DEATH (haha he said in a comical way so everybody laughed.)
So basically the setup was the entire boat goes down and sits on some rocky coral area shaped like an ampitheater. In retrospect, I probably should have picked out my seat more carefully in case I woulda plunked my butt down on a deadly poisonous scorpionfish. Then a big steel can filled with giant fish heads is lowered down and on a cue, a divemaster releases the fish heads, which float up on a rope and then the sharks are come over and go crazy eating it. I got down there first so I could get the closest seat to the action to try to get some good pics.
After the feeding was over, two morays popped up right where all the stuff was going on, probably thinking "what the HELL is going on?!" On the way back from the dive apparently a remora got confused in all the commotion and decided to hitch a ride with me instead of a shark (see pic by my buddy.)
After I got back home I was looking for pictures from others of this shark feeding on the web and googled "MIke Ball Spoilsport " (the boat name) and "shark feeding". And got THIS link. Skip past the part about the woman who died while diving on the same boat to the part at the end about the Spoilsport instructor who "suffered severe injuries in a shark feeding incident." Guess feeding shark isn't that much of a laughing matter after all.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I like brown.

I noticed this one day I had quite a bit of brown on me. Brown shirt, brown shorts, brown flip-flops, brown bike, brown bag. This picture is several weeks old, you can tell cause I don't have the mullet, and I don't have the mini-mullet I'm currently sporting, due to an unfortunate turn of events at the hair-dresser (it's not THAT bad).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Australia, Part 3 (finally)

I'm finally getting around to the the third and last part of my trip to Australia. After I left Melbourne I flew to Cairns, where I had a few hours to kill around town before boarding our boat that would ferry us around the reefs for the next 4 days. I've realized that as I get older I tend to be more susceptable to sea sickness, so I brought some dramamine gum and took a couple as we left that night out to the barrier reef. Turned out to be no problem, there weren't really any bad waves, and I slept fine through the journey.
The next morning we got an early wake-up call and a quick breakfast before getting in the water. I hadn't been diving in 3 years, so when the dive master told us to go ahead and hook up all our gear I was hoping I would get it right on the first try. Fortunately nobody noticed when I somehow managed to try to strap my BCD to my tank inside out, and I managed to correct it on my own.
The first dive was a site named "Cod Hole" for the giant Potato Cod that live there. I wish it wasn't our first dive because it was actually really really nice, but I was a little preoccupied with getting everything under control during my first time underwater in three years, like chilling out with the breathing and figuring out the camera situation.
I did manage to get a few shots of these giant lethargic cod that you can just swim around.
I think I did 4 dives the first day. And then it was time for our overnight journey past the barrier reefs, and WAY out to the coral sea. This is why I got on this boat, it's one of only a handful that make trips out to the coral sea, which is a significant ways further out to sea, and promised more excellent diving and the chance to see some of the bigger fish. We were warned that the overnight trip could be a bit bumpy, as we were out in open sea in our (relatively) little boat. Confident from the previous night that there would be no seasickness problems, I eschewed the foul-tasting gum and just got in my bunk.
Well it took about 5 minutes into our journey to realize this was not going to be the same as the previous night. I was in the "budget cabin" located in the bow of the boat, and when we hit these big waves I was literally getting air out of my mattress. So I quickly tried to down a couple dramamine gums, but as I did I already knew that they were not going to do the trick, and I was probably going to be upchucking them before they had a chance anyway. It was that bad. Not long after I headed to the back of the boat outside, try to get some fresh air, try to focus on the horizon, but mainly to pick out a nice place to puke into the sea where the wind wouldn't take it back into the boat. Asd it wasn't long before I was puking. Once, twice..... Three times. The horrible part was that unlike puking when you are sick on land, I did not feel any better after puking. Just as bad. A young woman came out to the deck with her husband to join in the puking. I tried to sit, to lie down, to prop myself in anyway to minimize the pain and sickness but nothing helped. I vomited again over the back. I went one deck up where it wasn't so wet and found a position lying down that minimized the pain. But then it got too cold outside so I headed back to my cabin. Was there about 3 minutes and then had to bolt to the toilet to puke again.

I could go on with the details of every minute of every hour of the night, but it was basically more of the same. Puking, adjusting, drinking water. repeat.
I was eventually reduced to a dry-heaving fetal mass on the bathroom floor. And I'm not exaggerating one bit. It was HANDS DOWN the worst night of my life. When the boat finally stopped I fell asleep and about 45 minutes came the wakeup call for the first dive. Needless to say, I passed on that one.
I did get in on the next one, and actually getting underwater is often one of the best cures for sea sickness. All of a sudden you are weightless, and there's no rocking, no turning. just peace.

Other than that one night the trip was great. I saw alot of sharks on this trip. I think I had seen one little shark before in my life. And then dozens on this trip. Not including the 'shark feeding' dive we did (I'll devote another post to that dive - lotsa pictures) The conditions were close to perfect - no harsh currents, excellent visibility. We also did a couple of night dives - these are often my favorite because of all the neat critters that come out - and also the spooky feeling of being surrounded by blackness - up - down - left -right - and a tiny light to guide you. It's like a treasure hunt, and you use your light to find fun stuff on the ocean floor.
It was strange being way out there in the coral sea. You wake up and you can't see land in any direction. just water. Then you realize you're moored on reefs that come right up to the surface and the coral even sticks out of the water at low tide.
In total I made 11 dives in 3 days - not bad. Each dive is about 30-45 minutes long and between 15 and 35 meters deep. I rented a big high-powered underwater flash to go with my digital camera and underwater case, but unfortunately it only would fire like 5-10% of the time, and I didn't have the patience to sit and take 20 pictures of each single interesting thing. I wish I did though, I really like the few nice pictures I got. We had a photo competition on the boat where everybody uploaded their best photos. I was the lucky winner, but only because it was a crowd-voting scheme and not professional judges. One guy had a real profi rig and had some NICE pictures, but somehow the people weren't feeling it. Maybe because it seemed like cheating when everybody else had their little compact digitals. See the winning picture here.
(Notice how the other expeditions' winning photos are much nicer).
The last night on the boat was cool when we were treated to an Aussie BBQ - which started of course with shrimp on the barbie. (sweet). And didn't end before we were eating grilled kangaroo. Which was actually pretty good.
And then the way back to Cairns was fun too. The boat dropped us off on this little island which is home to some elitist resort - which we were told not to go near - and also a tiny airplace landing strip. Two tiny planes cruised in, picked us up, and flew us down the coast to Cairns. But to make it interesting they took a route low and out over the barrier reefs so we could get a nice view from the air. We even saw a few humpback whales surfacing on the flight!
All in all a nice trip. I hope it's not 3 years before I'm diving again. It's SOOOO nice just to be cruising around underwater. I'm a little afraid my live-aboard days may be over though. Will have to find places where I can get a day trip from shore.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Smoking Ban in Germany

I keep getting excited about this and then confused on how it applies. As far as I understand it has been left to individual states in Germany to enact their smoking bans. And on August 1st the first 3 kicked in. I think either then or on Sept. 1st federal buildings and trains/stations have banned smoking completely. And I've been hearing that some sort of ban has gone into effect Sept 1st for Saxony. But I can't find anything to back this up on the internet, in English or German. Does anybody REALLY know what's going on with the smoking ban in Saxony?
I heard that as of now restaurants that want to maintain a smoking portion will have to have is physically separated (i.e. by doors) from a non-smoking portion. And what about bars? And other buildings? People were lighting up yesterday inside the new Dresden conference center for the European Life Sciences Meeting. Boy, that was a "yes, we are still in Germany" moment.
Can anybody fill me in? And are the bars/restaurants in Neustadt gonna actually pay attention to this?

update: Okay, I found a few articles, it looks like Sept. 1st smoking is banned in trains, stations, etc. and federal buildings. And then for Saxony a ban kicks in in 2008 that will apply to more places i.e. restaurants, but will still include some exceptions.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


This an acronym in German, short for "vorne kurz hinten lang", or "front short back long".

What I'm saying here is that I have a mullet.
It was created in honor of Jeff's entry into the World Beard and Mustache Championships last weekend, which I attended (post to follow). Jeff and Kate have been encouraging me to cut a mullet into my hair for a while now, so this was the perfect opportunity.
Lucky for me, Abi was up to the task, having a bit of hair-cutting experience on her boyfriend Chris. Which meant it was free and I didn't have to deal with explanations to a hairdresser, in German no less.

The mullet has its greatest power when coupled with a jeans jacket.
and a nasty mustache.
And now for a few pictures.

vo ku......