Monday, March 31, 2014

Photolog : Portal of Evolution - Burning Man 2009

There is nothing that compares to the spectacle and scale of Burning Man. I don't care who you are, if you find you possess both the inclination and means to go to Burning Man. Do it. It's truly an unmatched experience of art and people and expression.

My last visit to Burning Man was in 2009. This is the Portal of Evolution. You can now see it in downtown Reno, although rusted it  loses some of its organic grandeur.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Photolog { Throw-Back Thursday } Alchemy Temple 2009

Taken at the Alchemy Festival, the Burning Man style event in North Georgia that until recently was my whole life, in October 2009 at the Temple on top of Effigy Hill.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Geocache Project: Bessie B Is My Homegirl 5/100

The weather is finally on the upswing here in Atlanta and the last week has seen this llama out soaking up the sunshine in a number of ways. Activity the first : Geocaching!

Bessie Branham Park is in Kirkwood and the Geocache description calls it "the jewel of Kirkwood" and it's a pretty spot-on. It's a big, open field that serves as a baseball field, a nice playground and a grove of large gorgeous oak trees. They call the big wooden platforms the "Urban Tree House" but I was hoping for more tree house and less deck. Still, if you are in the Kirkwood area and need a place for a picnic or to run the kids around, it's a great little spot.

The cache itself if well hidden and it was a blast trying to find it without catching the eye of the two geriatric walkers who thought I was crazy. There is a bench nearby that gave me a chance to look through the very damp and moldy container, but it was nice just to soak up the sunshine.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Photolog { Throw-Back Thursday } A Long Walk

In October 2006, I took a very very long walk with some really awesome women. Regardless of my current political feelings about the Komen Foundation, the experience of the 3 Day is something that left a lasting impression on who I am.

That is the Llama on the left, along with a dear friend who did the walk with us. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Geocache 100: Freedom Park 4/100

The weather here in Atlanta has been cold and wet and terrible the last several days. I'm a big wimp when it comes to long walks in the rain when it's below 50 degrees - that temperature takes it from ennui or romance to "this is the dumbest thing I have done in awhile". The weather is putting me further and further behind in my goal, but the weather is supposed to clear up this weekend and I'm certainly headed outside!

I found the "Don't Shoot the Messenger" geocache on the last good warm day we have seen in a week.

Freedom Park is a favorite of mine. It's a good size open grassy area with some amazing oaks topping the hill and large, wide pathways that feed you directly into Candler Park, which is just to the east.

This is Kai's favorite park in all of Atlanta. Technically, it's not a dog park and technically she is supposed to be on a leash, but there is a little area on the downside of the hill with a couple little trees in a good flat spot that becomes a gathering area for local 'dog park people' who have pooches you can trust not to run off into traffic (mostly).

This cache is amazingly hidden and I had a GREAT time trying to find it and look nonchalant.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Photolog: Kai on the Long Road Home

Taken during our geocache walk through Constitution Lakes Park in Atlanta. I'm kinda obsessed with my dog. She barks at me while I take her picture, or any picture. I'm convinced she thinks that it's stealing her soul.

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Pi Day - A Celebration of Math ( and Baking )

3/14 - Pi Day - Celebrate the mathematical constant that gives reason to geek bakers everywhere to bake puny things!

Link through to original graphic and interesting Pi Day activities at
So, Pi Day isn't just about baking, it's about celebrating math in our culture, which we spend far too little time doing!

What is Pi?   It is a mathematical constant, a ratio of a circle's circumference to it's diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159.

Why do I care about Pi?  Regardless of how many times you slammed a trig book shut in frustration screaming "HOW IS THIS RELEVANT TO ME!!" and eventually finding no satisfying answers, this mathematical constant is key to our understanding and advancements in cosmology, statistics, thermodynamics and mechanics.

Why do I care about Pi Day?  1. Pie is tasty. 2. Math is awesome. 3. We do a terrible job in American culture of getting excited about math and science. 4. Never ever miss an opportunity to let your geek flag fly!

What can I do to celebrate Pi Day?

  • Go educate yourself on Pi. Use the internet, it's atwitter today with fun info. 
  • Go to your local grocer at lunch and get a pie to share with your co-workers (or, bake one for your friends and family) 
  • Learn about fractals, especially the Mandelbrot Set. You can download the Electric Sheep screensaver for interactive fractal goodness. 
  • Do some math. I know for most people math is that thing you left back in school in the discarded heap of "why did I have to learn this", but math is important and useful. Find something about math that is interesting and share it with your friends. 
  • If you do nothing else, indulge in a little geek entertainment. Watch Neil deGrasse Tyson's latest episode of "Cosmos" (really, if you haven't already watched the first episode, go now and do it). Or, listen to a little Jonathan Coulton

Might I suggest... Jonathan Coulton's "Mandelbrot Set" (This is a SFW version, the "Fucking fractal" part has been bleeped out.)

Pi Day snuck up on me this year, so I didn't have time to bake a pie for work. I'm going to run out now and get mini-pies for the office. This weekend, I will be baking a Pi Day pie and doing math with my son. Promises to NL readers, I will post my apple pie recipe. It's delicious and chocked full of math!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Photolog { Throw-Back Thursday } After

I took this photo just minutes after a micro burst tore through our suburban neighborhood in Woodstock, Ga on May 5, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Geocache 100 : Constitution Lake Park 2 & 3

2/100 : Trainspotters Three 

Never would have found this park in a million years. It's out of the city, towards the perimeter down a road that has nothing but industrial property. Atlanta is full of little gems like Constitution Lakes Park I can't wait to find all of them! 

The park has a short, wide concrete pathway that runs into a lovely wooden path that runs just over the edge of the 'lake' - which is really more a swamp. You are instantly removed from the traffic noise that is just on the other side of the trees. 

Past that the wooden path ends and a clear dirt path leads you up just along the train tracks. I got to watch the engineers do maintenance and drive the same tiny train back and forth over the same quarter-mile track. I had a happy little Stand By Me moment walking out of the swamp and up to the train. I did have to hang out a little and wait for them to leave before I could hide the cache again.

3/100 : Doll's Death Head

You keep walking up and around the edge of the train tracks and the path kinda of disappears into an open clearing. When I left I was following the compass, not the path and I missed the trail-head. I wandered into Doll's Death Head Park because I saw an oil drum with a fish pole hanging on it and one hanging from a tree nearby. It was Blair Witch meets Deliverance, which of course made me want to look around more. 

I came into the park in the middle, little bits of art like breadcrumbs hanging from trees and laying on the ground. The further I got in, the more I was enthralled and enchanted. It's an amazing place full of weird art and bits of brick and tile and ceramic (toilets mostly) with messages written on them. 

The cache became a distant second while I walked all around looking for more art, leaving my own messages. I did find it, mostly on accident. It's very easy to find and given the park you find it in and the walk getting to the cache, it's great for kids. We are hoping the weather this weekend is good enough to take the whole family out for an afternoon. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Llama Obsessed : Geocaching and the 100 Day Project - 1/100 Coan Park

“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.” ― Norton JusterThe Phantom Tollbooth

The winter has finally started to fade here in Atlanta. This last week has seen 60+ temperatures with sunshine and dry ground. Anyone who has lived in Atlanta knows that when the weather is this nice in March you grab it with both hands and wring all the glory out of it because it's entirely possible that tomorrow will be a shitshow of rain and 30 degree temps. My social media feeds are bursting with pictures and status updates of glorious hikes and photo shoots and long drives with the windows down. It's also been awash with #100DayProject posts. I was inspired.

Geocaching combines the love of a treasure hunt with the interaction of social media. Also, several things I'm really into: hiking, getting lost, finding my way out and discovering little bits of happiness stuck in the trunk of a dead tree.

The premise is simple: a registered user hides a cache- usually a small container that is marginally weather resistant- somewhere it can't be easily seen by anyone who just walks by (the users on call them 'muggles' which I hate) and then records and posts the coordinates to the website. Users can then use their GPS to find the coordinates and the container, sign the log, take/leave schwag and enjoy the utter accomplishment of finding it, filling it out and putting it back, without anyone noticing.

Many moons ago I tried to get into geocaching but this was before smart phones were common place so finding geocaches meant using a (then really expensive) handheld GPS. Now, there is a app for that. Many of them actually. Currently, I am trying out the c:geo app for Android. So far, I'm impressed, but there will be a review later.

If you are a fellow geocacher, I'm NerdLlama on Friend me!

I've made my 100DayProject a race against myself to get to 100 caches found in 100 days.

My partner, Robert, suggested pipe cleaner animals to leave as markers of my 100 project and I think that I am going to take that advice and number them. I might just have to go back to the 3 I have already found and leave them new presents.

Geocache 100 Project - 1/100  Coan Park

I've been to Coan Park many times, they have an EXCELLENT playground and huge open fields, as well as outdoor tennis and basketball courts.

This cache took me to a side of the park where there is a great stone amphitheater with these neat wooden xylophone-type instruments you can play with big, heavy wooden mallets. I spent several moments making the dog crazy with them.

The cache was expertly hidden and getting to it required picking up some garbage and sliding through some mud, but it was well maintained. I took a baseball card, which I plan to leave in another cache at some point and left a weird little fake flower I found during my walk to the park.

The walk from my house took me through parts of Edgewood that I am already pretty familiar with. I attempted to pick up another cache on my way, but there was a guy standing on the little bridge and he wouldn't walk away.

Through out this part of Atlanta there are volunteer flowers and plants that have washed to odd areas. This time of the year it jonquils and daffodils and with all the rain and snow we had over the winter the city is covered in them. I love them. They make me sneeze, but are still my favorite part of spring in the South.

Friday, March 7, 2014

From My Kitchen: Snow Toast

I have my own horror story from the epic snow of doom Atlanta saw at the end of January, then again in February. We call it french toast weather because suddenly everyone needs to buy ALL of the eggs, milk and bread. What are you left with after your long, arduous 3 days snowed in when you find yourself in possession of more eggs, milk, and bread then you were ever reasonably going to use before it goes bad- snow toast!

Let's talk about bread for a moment. I'm all for super fancy artisan bread, but when it comes to indulgent, moist, thick french toast go for the slightly-past-date-under-a-dollar Texas Toast. For a Saturday breakfast, open the bag of toast on Friday night, just take the twist out, shake the bag to loosen the slices a little and put it on a counter overnight.

Tools to Use: 

Mixing bowl, medium
Whisk or stick blender
Baking dish, 2" sides
Jelly Roll Pan x 2
Large skillet or electric griddle

Your Shopping List:

*the 'serving size' for this is about 2, but you should make the whole loaf, its good in the fridge up to a week and rewarms in the toaster (bagel setting) or toaster oven in just a couple minutes.

12 large eggs
1 loaf of Texas Toast, just past it's sell by date
1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, plus a little to sprinkle on top
2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt

The Mise.

  • Bread out, twist out of the bag, on the counter overnight
  • Beat eggs until well blended. I use a stick blender, makes it really easy. 
  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Line  one of the jelly roll pans with parchment
The Assembly. 

  • Mix all the ingredients together with the whisk or the stick blender until the sugar is dissolved into the liquid. 
  • Pour an inch of the mix into the baking dish
  • Dip the slices in the baking dish and let them sit for 30 seconds on each side. 
  • Place the dipped slices on the unlined jelly roll pan. 
  • Repeat with filling the dish, dipping the slices and placing them on the pan. 
  • When all of the slices have been dipped once, repeat the process starting with the first piece. 
    • Handle the already wet slices carefully, the Texas Toast is hearty, but it will still fall apart
  • Pre-heat the griddle/skillet
  • Sprinkle the tops of each slice with more cinnamon. 
  • Brown slices in the skillet until they are browned on both sides. 
  • Arrange the browned slices on the lined jelly roll pan side by side, with the edges touching. 
  • When the pan is full, put it in the pre-heated and cook it for 30min. 
Final step: Cover it in butter and maple syrup (don't cheat with the HFCS crap). Eat it while it's hot!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Photolog: Roses

Yesterday, at the end of a day where being a corporate cog made me feel more robot than human, I took the dog for a ball-chase in the park and then stopped by my local discount grocer to procure the basis for dinner. Like candy for kids in the check-out aisle, they had a display of cheap flowers next to the "Line Starts Here" sign. I caved.

There is something pop culture romantic about carrying out a paper bag of groceries that has a bunch of flowers sticking out of the top. I snapped this picture when I put the bag down and I laughed at myself a little. For a split second I got to pretend I was the dreamy ingenue headed home in some Capote story and it made me feel much more human than robot.