Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Moores Creek National Battlefield

We went down to Wilmington, NC, for Thanksgiving to spend it with Christina's sister's family. On Friday, it was time to leave the house and get a little bit of culture and education. So we headed 20 minutes north to Moores Creek National Battlefield, scene of an important Revolutionary War victory in 1776.

The victory helped wipe out British influence in North Carolina. It was neat seeing some lesser known, but important, pieces of American history. They had a mile-long trail with some monuments on it that made for a nice autumn walk.

Monday, November 28, 2005 Pseudoephedrine PSA

Recently, many retailers have started "voluntarily" placing Sudafed and its generic equivalents (pseudoephedrine) behind pharmacy counters in response to a patchwork of state laws. Maryland (as far as I know) doesn't have any such laws, but national retailers who want a uniform policy have forced me to deal with this issue.

The reason for these laws is that pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in the production of "meth". Despite the fact that in Maryland "meth" is a lesser "problem" than "congestion", I resigned myself to dealing with this annoyance.

What I hadn't realized is that I would be dealing with a "bait and switch". When I was at Safeway today, I noticed something called "Sudafed PE" (and a generic "nasal decongestant PE"). I assumed it stood for PseudoEphedrine -- the people who make Sudafed might want to market different products, and so push pseudoephedrine down to a "type" of Sudafed.

Then I noticed some laminated cards that I could take to the register if I wanted real pseudoephedrine. I initially thought it was a dosage issue, but it turns out companies have been pushing phenylephrine as a pseudoephedrine replacement, although it "might not be as effective or long-lasting".

I've long been concerned that drug companies sell over-the-counter medication based on the symptoms that it treats ("cold medicine") rather than the ingredients. So people without a cough end up ingesting cough suppressant. Now the active ingredient in a common drug is being replaced, and I bet 90% of consumers don't know what's going on.

Boy, are there going to be some disappointed meth lab owners when they finally get around to reading the label.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Speed Museums

I've noticed some of the recent pictures from this weblog are missing. I can put them back, but some of that will require me to get home and grab stuff from my laptop.

In the mean time, enjoy these images from the Sunday before last. There are all sorts of sights in London that the guidebooks will tell you that you should take the whole day to see -- the National Gallery and British Museum are two of them.

In conclusion, yes, you would be better off taking a whole day at either of these places. But England is expensive these days -- doubly so since time is money. So if you find yourself with a few hours in London, don't be afraid to hit the highlights.
We set out to prove the guidebooks wrong. We had a few hours before we planned to leave London, and we decided to take in a few of the sights.

The National Gallery actually lent itself well to that sort of sightseeing. It gives out a map with the "highlights". Van Gogh's Sunflowers? Check. Cezanne's Bathers? Check. Seurat's Bathers? Check. Monet's Bathers? Check. (I think. All the bathers ran together after a while.)

Then it was off to the British Museum. Christina, in particular, wanted to see the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone. The Assyrian stuff was also pretty neat, though.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Testing E-mail Gateway

I noticed that the last few weblog posts aren't going out to the e-mail list, so I changed a few settings. If this goes out, consider it a reminder that you can check recent postings at


Happy Thanksgiving! I'm here at my sister-in-law's in Wilmington, NC. I've set up their wireless network and have finally found time to blog from their living room.

When we were in England a couple of weeks ago...well, I guess it was about a week and a half ago that we spent time in London. We stayed at the Hilton London Metropole, where we stayed last time, and went to the Kew Botanic Gardens, another World Heritage Site.

The gardens are the oldest and some of the largest botanical gardens in the world. We took a 40-minute tram tour to get an overview.

The Gardens are currently hosting an installation by Dale Chihuly of blown glass art. We liked the way they blended with the gardens.

They had a lot of interesting very old plants. The British, after all, went all over the world a couple hundred years ago and grabbed stuff that interested them. The gardens are an interesting imperial legacy -- though these days, much more devoted to conservation.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

By the Time We Got to Woodstock...

Greetings from the UK. We got here on Saturday night -- we took a day flight, a first for me. After a night at an airport hotel, we had Sunday for some sightseeing. We headed for Woodstock, specifically Blenheim Palace. It's another World Heritage Site. To quote UNESCO,
"Blenheim Palace, near Oxford, stands in a romantic park created by the famous landscape gardener 'Capability' Brown. It was presented by the English nation to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory in 1704 over French and Bavarian troops. Built between 1705 and 1722 and characterized by an eclectic style and a return to national roots, it is a perfect example of an 18th-century princely dwelling."

That seems a little thin justification for a World Heritage Site. It's a very nice house. The most exciting thing that every happened there was Winston Churchill's birth. (His grandfather was the 7th Duke.) There was a nice exhibit on him.

You can tell I'm still a little zoned from the flight in that picture. I thought maybe the day flight would help with the jetlag, but now I'm not so sure.