Being Bruce -: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

24 Hours Without Internet Service (Almost)

So what's wrong with this picture? Actually there are two thing wrongs and one thing right! See if you can figure them out, and then read below.

First problem - Though you can't see it, at the bottom of the hole on the right there's a Time Warner cable for TV and high-speed Internet. There's nothing wrong with the cable being there, and nothing intrinsically wrong with the hole, either. However, in the digging of the hole . . . there's the rub . . . or rather the nick. A shovel hit and nicked the cable and we lost service. We didn't mind losing cable TV, but losing Internet service is another thing. Within minutes of it happening on Friday afternoon we called Time Warner service and they scheduled the repair for this (Saturday) afternoon - not bad.

Second problem - It's been raining all day. When the Time Warner service person arrived, the hole was full of water. No way, sez he, can he splice the cable under water and keep it dry.

The good thing? - You'll notice the cable on the grass just beyond the holes. The Time Warner guy ran an above ground cable as a temporary solution. Said the "putting the cable underground" crew (my words and quotation marks, not his) would be out within about 2 weeks. So until then we'll have a cable above ground. Not a big problem at all.

So now we're back on the Internet, e-mailing, tweeting, and blogging away.

Marge and I were just about to start on a busy two days of mostly Internet using tasks when the service went out, so we had to improvise.

Here's what we did:

1. I was able to keep up with my e-mail on my cell phone. In usual times this is a treat and a time-saver while traveling (not driving of course) or waiting between appointments; however, when using a cell phone for e-mail is one's only way of keeping up, it's quite tiresome.

2. We went to the office and accessed the Internet there for a couple of hours last evening.

3. We re-scheduled manual tasks (i.e. not computer-based which means these days not Internet-based) for yesterday afternoon and this morning.

4. We took naps. One could argue we needed them. One could be right. Or . . . not.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pepper at the Dog Park, 2nd Visit - Oh-oh, there are rules!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! To work up an appetite Pepper and I went for a nice long walk in Brunswick Forest around midday today. Our final destination was the Dog Park we visited two days ago. This time there were three other dogs and a whole passle of humans in the park. The other dogs were puppies and together they probably added up to about half Pepper's weight. They ran around a lot and she spent most of her time smelling and digging around one of the planted hardwoods in the park. We had a nice time, though at first Pepper was a bit concerned. Because, lo and behold, there are now rules. And it's a bit frustrating for Pepper because she actually never learned to read. She tries, as you can see below,

but after a while looked at me and gave me one of those looks that basically says, "OK, let's just go in and I'll fake it the best I can. You be my winghuman and I won't bark real loud or knock any kids over."

And that's what we did. We went into the park and she smelled stuff and dug in the pine chips and shavings a bit and I chatted with the humans. Pepper never barked or knocked over any kids. Actually, she does bark at home when someone comes to the door but otherwise is pretty quiet - and the only time she ever knocked a child down was when grandson Seamus ran into and bounced off her onto the floor, which hardly should count. Well, she did hip check a lady on the beach in Edgartown once, but she was only a puppy still getting used to her rapid growth. Anyway, we had fun in the park.

On the walk home we noticed the bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson (we live in a section of Brunswick Forest known as Jefferson Landing) was wearing a Pilgrim hat, so that called for the photo below.

All in all it was a fun, tiring walk. We're now both ready for naps, in fact as I look on the floor beside my chair, I notice that Pepper didn't wait, she's fast asleep.

Hope you all have (or had) a marvelous Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pepper at the Park

We've been "off the grid" for a few days as we've been pretty busy moving from the Porters Neck area of Wilmington to Brunswick Forest in Leland, NC. We lived in Porters Neck for five years and it was time for a change. Since my office is in Leland and many of our business and social activities are in this area, the move made sense on a practical level, but another big part of the appeal of Brunswick Forest is the long list of community amenities. NOT THE LEAST, of course, is the Brunswick Forest Dog Park. On Tuesday I took a lunch break from work and went home to get Pepper to introduce her to the first of Brunswick Forest's dog parks. I don't know where the other one is yet (or if it's even ready), but we liked this one and it's close to our house.

Pepper of course likes to pose for photographs, so the photo below one was an easy choice. And yes, for those of you who don't know Pepper, she IS that big. She's a 100-pound Giant Schnauzer. She could stand to lose a few pounds, but not too many. Mostly she's all muscle, but she's also an extremely friendly, laid back working dog. If you think "yappy dog" when you think about Schnauzers, that is so not her.

The Brunswick Forest Dog Park is divided into sections for dogs under 25 pounds and for large dogs. IMHO that decision was made by someone who doesn't really "get" how dogs relate to each other, but hey, we're happy to have a place where it's "legal" for dogs to go 0ff-leash and play together. In our experience, having been privileged for a few years to live with two 100-pound Giant Schnauzers and one 6-pound Maltese, and spending lots of time tramping in the woods and fields with a about a dozen friends and maybe 20 dogs, canine citizens get along regardless of size.

Each section of the dog park has a raised wooden platform and a water faucet. The latter is of course to get drinking water, but I'm not sure of the platform's purpose. Pepper wasn't either so she didn't get up on it. She pranced around happily for a while, checking out a lot of new smells.

Pepper explored the park fairly thoroughly, but didn't tear around the place like I thought she might. She likes to be off-leash, but she likes to be with people and other dogs even more and there weren't any other dogs around when we were there - go figure at noon on a Tuesday, right? We'll be back on Thanksgiving and on the weekend and I'll bet there will be more dogs around.

After about 20 minutes Pepper had had enough, so she chilled next to one of the many planted shrubs in the park. The park is maybe two acres in size (I'm a poor size estimator but I'm sure it's more than a quarter acre and less than five.) The entire area is surfaced with pine chips or shavings or whatever you call that stuff. We enjoyed our brief time at the park and look forward to more visits, especially when there are more dogs around.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wilmington Bloggers Ride Again!

Well, we didn't actually ride anywhere, though two of us rode bicycles, one came in a SmartCar (see previous entry) and the rest of us came in regular (dumb?) cars to the second meeting of a loosely organized group called the Wilmington Bloggers. Following Wilmington Star News Executive Editor Robyn Tomlin's suggestion we met once again at The Connections Cafe on Racine Road in Wilmington. When we met the first time we had 17 folks in attendance, this time it was about 25. As you can see in the photo below, we had a good crowd on this early, chilly Saturday morning.

Our meetings are informal affairs in which we introduce ourselves and our blogs, share dreams and successes, and trade info on tools and techniques we use in our blogging. It's fun and informative. Our next meeting will be in January, date and time TBD.

Smart Car Morphs into Art Car

Perhaps you remember a few weeks ago I posted a blog entry about Nancy Noel May's new Smart Car. Nancy is the General Manager of and one of the artists whose work are featured at Spectrum Art and Jewelry in the Forum Shops in Wilmington. This morning I went to a meeting of the Wilmington Bloggers at The Connection Cafe and guess what was in the parking lot!!

Nancy went to the folks at Image Monster and had them wrap her Smart Car with an image of one of her paintings. For more information on the newly adorned vehicle, which Nancy has named "Bebe", check out her website and her blog

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Peacock Still Needs a Home!

George the peacock is still around. I took these photos this morning. I wrote about George about a month ago and no came forward to try to catch him and give him a home. He's quite tame, as long as you don't try to catch him - he will not let you get closer than about 12 feet (I used my camera's zoom feature in the photo below). Many have now tried, all have failed to catch George . . . and this has been going on for almost a year and a half.

It's time George had a forever home. Feel free to e-mail me if you're interested at

And, oh yeah, I've already heard the "tastes like chicken" and "peacock skin boots" lines. No thanks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mayfaire's Big Bulbs Out Already!

Can you remember when Christmas decorations didn't appear until after Thanksgiving? I can, barely. Now, however, any time after Halloween is apparently fair game. I hadn't noticed the giant Christmas tree bulbs that flank the entrance to the Mayfaire shopping area until this morning, but when I saw them I just had to share.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coffee - Your Mileage May Vary

Did you ever even question whether coffee gives you a boost before or during the work day? Or have you, as I have, always just pretty much figured it was people go-juice. Well, apparently it doesn't always work that way. Or at least it may work better depending on the type of work one does. Writers, for example, may find that coffee interferes with productivity.

Huh? Where does this come from you ask? Well from no less than Arvind Narayanan's Randomwalker's Journal. In April 2007 Arvind published a study on the effects of coffee consumption in the workplace titled, "The Calculus of Caffeine Consumption".

The bottom line . . . apparently coffee can work for you if you have time-bound work, especially if it's work where close attention is required, but if you work creatively with no time restraints, coffee consumption may actually interfere with your productivity. At least that's how I read Arvind's study.

So check it out and let me know what you think. I'd love to see comments on this. In the mean time, you see that cup of coffee at the top of this post? It's empty.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hotel Happenings and Wicked Awesome Cinnamon Chip Scones - Delicious Wonder Drug?

I'm happy to report an unexpected possible benefit from The Old Wilmington Tea Company's Cinnamon Chip Scone mix and recipe. Marge and I bought a bag of the mix when we visited Blue Moon Gifts on Sunday and she whipped them up and served them for dinner. (I was out of the kitchen blogging and Twitting for a couple of hours and when I came back the scones were on the table - isn't it cute how I wrote she "whipped them up"? OK, it also wouldn't be correct (or safe) to say Marge labored in the cooking for two hours either, so . . . allow me to reset.) Correction: Marge made them.

OK, so anyway, the recipe allowed Marge to "make" eight scones. She plated (cool chef verb) four of them for our evening meal and four we saved to take to a recuperating friend (this is where the Wonder Drug lie comes in, but that's later). They looked so pretty I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and grabbing a photo. Actually it took a 6-8 attempts to get a decent shot for this blog entry - the problem, beyond my combined technical and artistic ineptitude, was the sugar coating which made it difficult for me to get a good exposure. Whatever, they looked great, smelled better, and tasted awesome and at the end of our meal only crumbs remained - in the interest of continued domestic harmony I'll mention that there only two human food eaters in our house and Marge consumed only one of the scones.

So here they are (below). As always, depending on your browser you should be able to click to see the image in much larger size. (Caution - click at your own risk, you may experience an immediate visceral reaction that causes you to eat cookies or hop in the car for an emergency Krispy Kreme run.)

So here's the Wonder Drug part: Monday morning I dropped off the remaining four scones at my friend and colleague Craig Spafford's house. Craig's recovering from a medical procedure and I hadn't seen him since the day after the surgery a week or so ago.

On Monday I dropped off the scones on Craig's porch. On Tuesday our Office Manager Kari Essig and I dropped by after attending the Lanvale Forest Grand Re-Opening in Leland and Craig was up and dressed in street clothes. Wednesday he showed up at the office for a while to give everyone a hard time. He also mentioned that the scones lasted less than 10 minutes, their disappearance assisted by generous slatherings of sweet butter.

To summarize:
- Monday - no Craig in sight, drop off scones - scones consumed rapidly
- Tuesday - Craig dressed and smiling
- Wednesday - Craig in office fussing about but really being his usual stellar professional self
My conclusion: Old Wilmington Tea Co. Cinnamon Chip Scones Made by Marge are a Wonder Drug - Works for me!

Hotel Progress - The Comfort Suites hotel is going up fast right next door to our office in Leland, NC in front of Magnolia Greens.

Here's a shot of dirt and the slab on October 7th:

Here's a shot of the first structural steel being delivered on October 13th:

And here's a shot from yesterday, November 13th, of a bunch of workers hammering away on the third floor!

Occupancy expected for May 2009!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ribbon Cutting at Charlie Macgrooders

Charlie Macgrooders restaurant at 117 Village Road in Leland, NC has been open for several months, but decided to hold off on the ribbon cutting till this month. Quite possibly because many of us already know how good Macgrooders food is, the ribbon-cutting was well attended by North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce members. In the photo below owner Karen Walsh, flanked by her co-owner husband Dennis and daughter Kerry, gets ready to cut the ribbon.
Directly after the ribbon was cut the restaurant filled fast.

A scrumptious selection of appetizer-sized portions were available - the prime rib with fire-roasted pepper on parmesan bread was my favorite.

Tony Vlach of Nationwide dug in as well.

Chamber Ambassador Jim Costanza was on hand taking the official chamber photos.

Board members Brenda Bozeman and Connie Reeves were on hand for the festivities.

Volunteer Bob Odom and Denise Kinney of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty shared a laugh.

Ribbon cuttings are a great time for members to network.

And to discuss weighty matters relating to golf.

Dennis Walsh kept circulating to be sure everyone had a good time.

Karen Walsh, daughter Kerry, and son Frank had a prime table.

Oh yeah, and the ribbon WAS cut!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holiday Bazaar at Blue Moon Gallery

We've been looking forward to a trip to the Blue Moon Gallery and Gift Shops in Wilmington so this weekend's Holiday Bazaar was a great time to go. Before we arrived we had to run some errands around town and then decided to explore a different way to get from our last errand to the gallery. Well, as luck had it, we passed right by a Krispy Kreme store with a 24-hour drive through window.

Actually, we didn't exactly drive by, because when we were halfway through the intersection where we had to execute a tricky right-handed double slide U-turn, I just happened to notice there was no line at the drive through window. Being a child of the moment, and wanting to respond to clear signals from the universe, I hooked another U-ie and while Marge held her breath, got into the parking lot and up to the order box. All we really wanted, and ordered was a single large cup of black coffee to share and a couple of glazed donuts, but it seemed silly to only order two, so I ordered a half-dozen, and then, well wouldn't ya know, the order box lady said, "For only $1.55 more you can make that a whole dozen, Hon." So I did

The coffee was hot and so were the donuts. I explained to Marge that one Krispy Kreme is really like half a regular donut because they make 'em so light, but after I had four (count that as really only two regular donuts), Marge put the box on the back seat. (Which, as you can imagine, made it much tougher to reach back to snag another one or two while keeping one hand on the wheel and two eyes on the road. But I managed.)

Eventually we did make it to Blue Moon Gallery, which is what this is really all about, and once my lips stopped twitching from the sudden sugar assault, we went in. Marge didn't feel like it was picture day for her so there's me below, heading into the gallery.

If you've not been to the Blue Moon, you're missing out. There is a legit art gallery, but the gift shops with little booths and displays for artists, craftspeople, and a few other copacetic businesses is the big draw for Marge and I. The displays change regularly and the folks who work at the gallery are always very nice.

We wandered around a bit just soaking in all the art and culture (see Marge below in an unwitting shot - "Sorry, Meg.")

One of the non-art or craft permanent displays is the Old Wilmington Tea Co. and today the owners were on hand to dispense samples of their teas and scones made with their tea-based recipes.

The festive Old Wilmington Tea Company's booth is a popular stop just inside the gallery entrance. Check out their website at or call the company at 800-404-5124.
We also saw our friend Jeanette Borton who has a permanent display inside the gallery but was set up and working on an adjacent patio. Jeanette makes very high quality baskets using pine needles. Often the baskets incorporate other materials like shells, agates, or stone. If you are interested in more info about her work, you can reach Jeanette at 910-790-5342 or

Gary Longardo, who we don't know, works in several media - my fav is the metal two-level desk with chain legs below.

Artists with permanent booths at Blue Moon include Ivey Hayes

and William Hubbard.

One of the most stunning displays is the booth for Simply Must Have!, specialty gifts and home decor. Captivating things in that booth. E-mail

On the way out I also noticed a small wall display with handmade soy candles which were very attractive.

We had a nice time, saw some friends, looked at a lot of cool art, and even bought a few Christmas presents. Win-win-win.

And there are still 4 Krispy Kremes left, for now.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Will Leland NC Be the Next State Capital??

OK, folks, I know some of you listen or read politely when I talk about how Leland will grow, but you don't really buy it. When I mention a population projection of 50,000 by 2020 it seems exciting, but distant, and maybe farfetched.

Well, an article in today's Wilmington Star News doubles the bet!!!

This Friday's Leland town council meeting should be very interesting. They will discuss and potentially approve the 3-years-in-the-making Leland Master Plan (which is a beautiful thing to read and if you want a copy let me know). Even just perusing the news article above gives you enough data to make it easy to understand why the projected growth is not just possible, or a town planner's dream, but very, very probable.

And here's kicker #1, not mentioned in the article. This article speaks only about Leland. It doesn't mention Belville! Belville has its own master plan for growth and Belville areas are intertwined all around the southern part of Leland (for example, did you know the residential part of Waterford is in Leland but the commercial part is in Belville?). The area of Belville right to the left of the 133 South exit of Rt 17 west that used to be a huge eyesore is going to be a very very high ticket retail, office, and residential space with close-in deep water dockage! There's more and more going on right there.

Here's kicker #2. There's plenty of room west on 17 and along 74/76 from Leland for more development - areas with infrastructure in place or easily accessed. If desired, the growth has space to continue with existing good roads.

Here are kickers #3 and #4 - If the Southport International Port AND the SkyWay Bridge project are completed (which if they happen, which is more likely than not, will be in the same time frame mentioned in the article) the whole region's growth and economic development will be fueled and supported by improved infrastructure and jobs.

Who knows, Wilmington may become a quaint place to visit from the bustling, modern, commercial/residential/economic western shores of the Cape Fear River, with the epi-center of the area in Leland!

And here's a bit of NC historical trivia that might make us wonder . . . Brunswick Town, the historic, original center of North Carolina's government and commerce, located a short drive down Route 133 from Leland and through Belville, was founded in 1726. Who knows, maybe in 2026, just in time for Brunswick Town's TriCentennial, the new center of North Carolina commerce may be located right in the same area, but this time in a once small town we know as Leland -- and which some of us affectionately refer to as L.A - the Land of Abundance!!