Saturday, August 30, 2008


Nine Fitty

Inching closer and closer to the thousand post mark.

Excellent guess! Why yes I am writing and working on a Saturday! Guess what? I'll be doing much the same tomorrow! After a mildly writing summer, I can feel the crunch of that very early Dec. defense deadline and throw Thanksgiving in, and that's even less time to schedule meetings and defenses. Because trust me, the next two-three months are going to fly by and if I don't stay on top of everything, it'll be next May and a solid 8 years in grad school Yikes! 7.5 is plenty for me and waaaaay more than enough for J. (Not that it would be the end of the world, but I would much rather get it out of the way before ChrismaHannuKwaazika)

In the background is one of the many college footballs that will be dominating TVs from now till January. It is no secret that I love college football. The athletes aren't paid (much), the fans are crazy and mostly drunk, the coaches are ballsy and it's why universities exist. (You didn't think it was for academics did you? We bring in a few million in grant money but athletics bring in the big money.)

Yes there is big talk about Clemson winning the ACC, but if they win the ACC and then graduate a wonderful, well-spoken, well-written, mustachioed chemistry PhD? All the better! The Clemson Tigers' first challenge is against the Alabama Crimson Tide (Roll Tide Roll, and don't ask me what a crimson tide is, yes I know I'm from Alabama but I've never been able to figure it out) at the Georgia Dome tonight at 8 pm Eastern.

I won't have as much time this semester, but I expect to make a few of the Clemson Tiger Men's soccer team home games. (I will not be tailgating for football games until I'm done writing; besides, it's too damn hot to drink outside in Sept. anyway!) Their first official home game is on Monday, Sept. 1st against Georgia Southern, I think. That is also the day I give group meeting (which I'm also working on this weekend) and it's also the day I turn 29! Holy crap! I'll repeat that:

MY 29TH BIRTHDAY IS ON MONDAY SEPTEMBER 1ST! Woohoo! Of course the university is open on Labor Day, so I'll be working for most of it while J sleeps at home.

Also, my 4th blogiversary went by unnoticed by everyone including me on July 13th.

In other blog news, I purchased a copy (via Amazon) of both Bouncer Rob's book, of Standing on the Box, and The Waiter's book, of Waiter Rant. I haven't read either one yet, but I will after I'm done writing and gradamating.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday and cheer for the Clemson Tigers tonight at 8 Eastern, 7 Central, 6 Mountain and 5 Pacific!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008


It's a twister!

You may have heard that Clemson University was hit by a tornado yesterday. It missed the stadium by about 150 yards and snapped a lightpole on the practice field, made a hole in some very large trees and tore the outdoor store's sign out of the ground. I also read that there was some damage to houses behind downtown as well. So far no one is reported injured or missing and the most damage has been to houses, cars and trees.

Since our building is right down the street from the stadium, and our windows are on the 4th floor, and we're stupid enough not to go downstairs, we got a great view of the funnel cloud forming and moving slowly over the campus. Once it was next to the building, we did head downstairs and luckily everyone's research (and dissertations in progress!) are just fine. Phew.

The link at the top has a link to some pictures sent in by people. It actually looks gigantic but didn't do too much damage. This was by far the closest I've ever come to a tornado and will be sure to check it off my natural disaster list. Hurricane and earthquake have previously been checked off.

Judging by the location, I would say that is after the tree and sign destruction. I'm not sure if it touched down again or let the crazy winds do the rest of the damage to houses. Here's a link to a picture of most of the tree damage. Those trees used to have large glorious branches.

Crazy crazy. Back to work! Oh, this storm system has given the drought stricken South some much needed rain. Thanks Fay!


Monday, August 25, 2008


5 years?

J last night asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years. August 25, 2013.

I said something about owning a motorcycle. I suppose I'll be working somewhere. That's it. That's as far as I got.

Disappointed with myself I reflected on it some more this morning. I want to help Mother Earth and future generations. I really want to do as much as I can. Right now I recycle and use those compact fluorescent bulbs and try and shop locally as much as possible. But there is so much more. The motorcycle will help with using less gas. I would love to collect rainwater for my larger garden. I know it's a lofty goal but I would love a LEED certified house or at least a very energy efficient house (south facing windows and a few skylights would really help). We both want to travel. So many plans and good intentions and then it all came crashing back to the present and right fucking now. I need to write. I need to graduate. I need to get a job. I need to lose weight (probably). Sure these plans will be possible if I don't graduate and just stop writing, but they'll be much easier if I keep on keeping on, finish writing, get my advanced degree and find a job. Maybe even a green collar job so I can help the planet at home and at work.

So in that vein of thought.....back to writing!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008


Writing blows

Yup, it's Sunday morning and I've been up since about 8:30 writing.

I can't wait till I'm done with this monstrosity.

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Friday, August 22, 2008


Usain in the membrane

Maybe Barack should change his middle name to Usain. I've never seen anyone that blindingly fast before. His 100 meter performance blew me away. He kept getting faster and faster. Way to go Jamaica!

I know what the 4 x 100 meter men and women's track teams need to work on for the next 4 years.

Congrats to Shawn Johnson and "Nasty" Nastia Liukin. They are absolutely the pinnacle of American gymnastics. Nasty was straight nasty on the uneven bars and Shawn was all over that beam. Great job ladies!

Also huge congrats to Togo on their first ever Olympic medal in the men's K1 whitewater kayaking final. Congratulations to Benjamin Boukpeti on his bronze medal!

I'm really looking forward to watching the Jamaica 4 x 100 relay track teams and the BMX racing finals also.

Have you noticed Red Bull's presence at the Olympics? Sure you've been beaten over the head with all the corporations sponsoring the Olympics, but by sponsoring individual athletes and smaller events, Red Bull still had a presence at the Games this year. The American Red Bull athletes are Amanda Beard, swimmer,
Other Red Bull athletes off to China include: Mike Day, who’s part of the first Olympic BMX team; Jill Kitner, who overcame two knee injuries to become the first American woman to participate in BMX racing; and Todd Rogers will partner with Phil Dalhausser in beach volleyball.

I also saw some international Red Bull athletes too. The Greek women's beach volleyball team had a very familiar silver and blue colored water bottles. Check out all of Red Bull's athletes who made it to the Olympics.

Also in Red Bull news, congrats to Scott Speed, former F1 driver, who is really coming into his own on ovals. He's #1 in driver points in the ARCA stock car series. Brian Vickers (#83)and AJ Allmendinger (#84) are doing very well in NASCAR with Brian getting the team's first pole position in their 2nd year at Michigan. If you don't want to actually watch them race around in ovals, be sure to check out the Team Red Bull blog, Stock Car Ticker, Red Bull Racing's blog.

Pics coming this weekend. Don't worry.

Damn, almost forgot. I ordered a pair of shoes online. They're Blackspots, from Adbusters and use an organic hemp upper, made in a union fair wage shop in Portugal and none of the money goes to the big shoe corporations. Plus as an added benefit, I'm now a stockholder and get to vote on future designs and what to do with profits. Sure it's just one pair of shoes, but it represents a lot more.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008



Orlando was a nice trip. I love Allegiant Air. They reduce an 8 hour drive (speeding with little traffic, so 9-10 at the speed limit) to literally 1 hour from takeoff to touchdown. Aaaaahhhhhh. Thank you Allegiant Air andBernoulli. Flew in Thurs. J was already there so she picked me up with her brother, then we went to where her dad works. He's a nuclear radiation technician, so basically he injects people with a technetium based molecule that is pumping out gamma radiation. It collects in their heart and he used a fancy instrument to take 3D pictures of their beating heart. The half-life is 6 hours so it doesn't last long but 6 hours seems like a long time to me, but I'm no doctor or nuclear physicist. I would definitely invest in lead clothing if I worked there.

Had dinner with a friend who is preggers and due in January. Then went to sleep to wake up early for Aquatica! Hooray water parks! Since we bought tickets online, we could get into the park an hour early, we also got a pretty sweet parking spot too, it even said "preferred". Damn right. We get into the park and we find a nice spot under an umbrella on the "beach" in front of the kiddie wave pool. I get J settled with a couple towels as blankets and pillows and she goes right to sleep. I set off to ride some tubes! I will be using this park map to remember the names of some of the rides.

First I rode Whanau Way, which is a two person tube ride for 1 or 2 people. At the top of the steps, you can go left or right and each side has 2 tubes with 2 entries so the line moves pretty quickly. Each side is different also. I would recommend 2 people cuz by myself it was fun but with J on the tube (later in the day of course), we went crazy fast! After that I rode the Dolphin Plunge which is the ride touted on the billboards where you slide through the Commerson's dolphin tank. There are 2 tubes and the line wasn't bad at 8:30 but it was nuts the rest of the day. J didn't even ride it based on my review. It's kind of stupid. I think I saw a dolphin but was going so fast with water in my eyes that I can't be certain. Also one of the tube's views is completely blocked by the other tube. To maximize your chances of seeing a dolphin on the ride, wait for the blue, or left, slide. A decent idea but I think a lazy river that goes by the tank (which they have) or even under it would be much better. The slide is just too fast to check the dolphins out.

I go back and check on J, she's still asleep and okay, then go to check out the rest of the park! Unfortunately it's all still closed and will open at 9. Oh. Uh, okay. So I wandered over to the conservation tent and check out their cane toad and talked conservation efforts. They had a gorgeous hawk billed tortoise that someone bought overseas and had confiscated by customs because a stuffed turtle is wrong and illegal! Don't buy animal products overseas or here unless you're 100% certain that it is sustainably produced. But they had some tagua nuts from the tagua palm trees and it was gorgeous! The tagua nut is also called vegetable ivory because the nut is incredibly hard and can be polished and shined into a ivory like finish. Very interesting and eco-friendly.

The rest of the park opened and I tried Roa's Rapids, which is a water jet propelled river that is anything but lazy. They suggest life jackets but aren't necessary unless you can't swim on your own. I witnessed several people having to take another trip around because they couldn't swim to the exit because of the current. It was pretty entertaining and I lost track of how many times I rode it throughout the day. It also has two exits and two entry points. Lots of photo ops too since it circles around the middle of the park and goes under several bridges.

Then I went over to Taumata Racer, which is a mat ride that races 8 people down 8 tubes at a time. Lots of fun and the secret is to lean into the turn. The first time I rode it, I tipped over and hit my back on the tube, losing speed and time. Damn you centripetal force! Since they shoot 8 people at once, this line moves really quickly. As I waited on my turn, there was a family of 8 who were all racing. The guy counted 1, 2, then pushed the 2 young sons down the tubes, then yelled 3 and let the rest of the family go. It was funny and entertaining.

Next up was Walhalla Wave, which is a large 1-4 people sized family raft slide. It was kind of fun by myself and later with J and myself but I think with 3 or 4 it would be almost scary fun. There is a 600 lb. limit per raft so keep that in mind. HooRoo Run uses the same rafts, fed by the same raft conveyor belt, but they don't allow single riders on that one, so I didn't ride it, and the line moved very slow so J and I only rode Walhalla Wave and didn't get to try the HooRoo Run, which is a straight slide with 3 humps.

J and I did the lazy river, Loggerhead Lane, which has 2 person or single tubes and gives you the option of floating past the dolphin tank or past a tank of colorful fish. You also have to wade through the lazy river to get to Tassie's Twisters, which are the big toilet bowl type rides that we tried to get on once but they stopped the line because it was too long.

That was about it for rides. They had several shorter slides in the very fun Walkabout Waters area. It's a kid oriented area but also allow adults, as opposed to Kookaburra Cove which doesn't allow anyone over 48 inches to join the fun. Expect to get very wet in this area. There are open pipes, pipes filling buckets that tip over, water guns, water shovels, cords to pull that open faucets, valves to turn that operate water spouts in the floor, water everywhere! There are several slides off this structure, a couple don't allow "big" kids to slide down but I did one anyway. The strangest thing about this area is it really allows and almost encourages you to be an asshole. I witnessed 2 12-13 year old boys on 2 rubber hoses (that you could squeeze the tips of and get some decent water pressure) spray every single person who walked by them for at least 2 hours! Was it really that much fun? I saw another very hairy guy man a water bucket over one of the slides for about that long too. I sprayed him in the back and he didn't even turn around he was so in the splashing people zone.

The wave pools, Cutback Cove and Big Surf Shores, were okay but it was like being a drift at sea. Up and down and occasionally you didn't make it and get splashed. It was like being in the ocean without the possibility of riding the waves and enjoying the up and down motion. I would have really preferred one of those standing wave things instead of the second wave pool.

So if you're looking for hardcore fast rides, look elsewhere like Wet & Wild or Blizzard Beach, but if you have a family of differing ages, this is a pretty awesome place with a little something for everyone.

For food, J and I opted to go with the Banana Beach Cook-out. It's $13 for one all-you-can-eat-and-drink visit or $20 for an all day (11 am to 7:30 pm) pass. We opted for the all day deal. It was the only money we spent on food and drink, besides an ice cream Shamu for J. You walk in and are hit with a blast of freezing (since you're soaking wet) A/C and grab a plate. Potato salad (didn't try it), cold tortellini salad (good tortellini but the cold tomato sauce was a bit weird and unflavorful), cole slaw (a tad too wet but not bad), caesar's salad (again not great but not horrible) and then you hit the dessert. I don't know why but that's how it's set up. They had good basic brownies, chocolate pudding, banana pudding (with maybe 1 or 2 Nilla wafers, for shame!), honey dew and cantaloupe slices. For the main dish, they had mac & cheese (J's favorite), spicy baked beans, hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ chicken (but only drumsticks?). I knew they advertised veggie burgers but didn't see them on the line, so I asked and they keep them behind in a warming tray. I really enjoyed the spicy baked beans, the fruit was decent but not really sweet, they had shredded cheese to put on burgers or hot dogs (or your mac & cheese like J did), some shredded lettuce, sort of sliced tomatoes, packaged butter and mayo. Outside they had packaged mustard, ketchup, relish, salt and pepper. My cheese, mustard and relish hot dog was solid. The burger tasted like a dead cow who was not happy, or maybe some other animal. I went back to try a veggie burger. Wow! Flavorful, great texture, lightyears better than that crappy hamburger, and probably at least a little healthier. I stuck with the vegetable based foods from then on. They had Pepsi products and I had some Mug root beer and then their unsweet tea which was strangely too thick. I probably should've tried diluting it with lemonade or water. They did have a Sobe zero calorie grapefruit beverage that I didn't try but seemed like a nice option besides diet Pepsi for people who can stand the taste of that fake sugar stuff. I can taste sucralose a mile away.

As we were leaving for our mid afternoon dinner, a British couple asked if we had just eaten there and if it was "quite nice". Quite nice is a bit strong. It's okay but if I wasn't super crazy hungry, I would try Waterstone Grill or the Mango Market. I saw pizza and a big sandwich coming out of Mango Market that both looked really good.

J and I never actually got a locker for our stuff. Once J woke up, I just put my money and important cards in my sealed pocket. If someone really wanted my library book, crazy old cell phone, towels and sunscreen, they could have it. But I saw lots of other families leaving their stuff in the open and assuming that if someone paid $42 to get into the park, that they weren't going to steal their beach towels. We had no problem paying for lunch with wet money but the ice cream lady tried to claim she didn't take wet money. Uh, you work in a water park, it might happen. The lunch guy actually showed us his pile of wet money under his money tray.

Also added note, I now know what good Muslim women wear to water parks. Full length synthetic (quick drying?) abbayas. It wasn't as harcore as that one, but it was long sleeved, covered the legs and had a hood. They were also all wearing sunglasses but wasn't sure if that was required or not. As I looked around at what everyone else was wearing (I think the guys with them were wearing regular trunk style bathing suits) I couldn't help but wonder how they view the women around them in their one pieces and bikinis. I'm not assuming they judge them but was just wondering how they feel being completely covered when no one else was, not even the male adherents to their religion/culture.

We left around 5 even though the park was open until 10 pm. I had ridden most everything at least twice, J at least once, got our moneys worth out of our day food pass, were a bit sunburnt, tired and were ready to leave.

Brother-in-law and I picked up dinner for everyone from Fazoli's (we wanted to eat there since they all went out of business here in SC), watched the Olympics, slept, woke up, went rock climbing at Aiguille which was some much needed exercise but the humidity made the holds slimey and once you got about 10-12 feet up in the air, you left the coolness of the A/C and entered the rising hot air and starting sweating buckets, which didn't help hanging onto the slimey holds.

Home, shower, then lunch with one of J's good friends and her new man who was nice, had 2 cute dogs and a motorcycle (although he said he hasn't ridden it much since he started dating J's friend), then back home where I cleaned the inside of the Escort wagon we were using while we were there, then out to birthday dinner for J (who turned 28 on August 13th) and her brother (who turned 42 on Sat.) and had delicious sushi at Seito Sushi and got to eat outside and watch an evening thunderstorm roll in which cooled central FL down very nicely and barely sprinkled on us.

Home, Olympics, wake up, pack, fly home, stop for breakfast, home, relax and cats!

There are no Orlando pics even though I did take the camera but I still owe you other pictures so I should get those up this week.

Thanks for reading this crazy long post!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Congrats to Princess of Power on 1000 posts!

The Princess of Power hit 1,000 posts the other day. Drop by and say congrats! You could even offer her a book deal if you wanted, like Stephen Dublanica aka The Waiter from Waiter Rant. Slashfood article with pic.

On a break from writing, I stumbled upon and more specifically, this thread about a hypermileage Honda Civic. Pretty awesome. Sure it looks a tad weird but he's laughing all the way to the gas pump and hopefully speeding up car design to boot. As I've mentioned before, I love the future (or the idea of it at least) and am somewhat of a amateur futurist. Ever since I saw Luigi Colani's biodesigned cars on a Discovery channel program, I knew this is how cars should and hopefully will look. They're so curvy, sexy and aerodynamic. It combines my love of cars with my love of metals and chemicals into a rolling work of art. The Discovery channel blew my mind previous to that with Jesse James' shows, Motorcycle Mania, which met up with Jesse as he pounded and worked aluminum into a smooth curved shape and (it can be argued) revitalized the entire metal working and custom motorcycle scene. He wasn't the first and he won't be the last but his reasons and passion were so pure and untainted. The third show detailed how he made chopper mostly out of copper. It was gorgeous and the best part about copper is it starts shiny and then oxidizes and the color gets so much more intricate. Chemistry, art and physics all rolled into one.

I don't have the time or space right now, but I think a handmade super aerodynamic car, and lightweight of course, would be a really fun and environmentally friendly project, assuming I reused metal. Not even sure if that's possible, but I would love to give it a go. Sure fiberglass is easier to mold but isn't nearly as cool. Seeing how I have roughly zero experience with metal work, it might take a while. So, for now, plastic and Al sheets might have to suffice

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Monday, August 11, 2008


Chowder monkeys!

Sorry I wasn't around more last week. Writing and cleaning took priority. J leaves me to fly to Orlando today. I'll be joining her later this week. A friend is watching the cats while we're gone. I might be able to sneak in a post. Also I hope to sneak in at least one trip to the climbing gym in Orlando, Aiguille. I also just saw that UCF has a climbing wall, so maybe we'll give that wall a shot since it's about 4 minutes from J's parents house.

We will also be visiting Sea World's new waterpark, Aquatica, so expect a review of that next week. I'm looking forward to it. So far we're out $100 ($41.95 each ticket, $10 for parking) and we'll be doing the unlimited trip buffet deal for $20 each (one trip is $12.95), so that's a grand total of $140, oh and locker rental and figure another $20 or so for incidentals, so let's make it $170, but we'll be getting our money's worth since we get an hour early entry (so we get in at 8 when the park officially opens at 9) and with the unlimited food (lots of vegetables!) and drinks at the buffet, I figure we'll get there, snag a couple shady chairs, splash around, slide some slides, eat, sleep, maybe read during the crazy packed hot hours of early afternoon and then get back in the water once the crowds die down. I'm gonna try and milk every cent out of that 160ish dollars.

My brother's wedding in STL was a wacky whirlwind weekend. The flight up was fairly noneventful and we slept a lot considering we didn't sleep the previous night. I had originally planned to visit the local farmer's market in STL, Soulard Market, and maybe stop at the Arch and take a few pics, but we were tired and sleepy so we bailed and drove to Troy, MO but not before stopping at Bass Pro Shops (somebody tell Kevin!). I don't really know why Dad decided to stop there, maybe he just didn't want the trip to be straight Troy-airport-Troy, so we popped off the highway and wandered around, Dad, J, me and my grandmother. So many shotguns and rifles, ammo, shirts, mugs, tons of clothing, then we wandered over to the really fun section and looked at the boats and ATVs. I saw the biggest outboard motor I've ever laid my eyes upon, an Evinrude 300! Holy crap! It's a V6 and makes 300 hp! You could run down fish and catch them bare-handed with that! So J and I did some The Price Is Right work and did some boat pricing, pontoon boats are around $20,000 depending on accessories, they had a sparkly bass boat for $45,000! Yikes.

Back to the hotel to pick up Mom and Grandpa and then we got some lunch. Apparently the place was owned by someone vaguely related to my new sister-in-law, and it was a nice local diner type place. And they were still serving breakfast! Trying to keep the animals alive, I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich, green beans and fried okra. I also ordered "unsweet tea" and then wondered aloud if I had to make that distinction (this was the first time I'd ever spent real time in the MidWest - heartland of America). I was told no, there's no such thing as sweet tea in Missouri. I then pictured my US state map and realized we were above Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky, distinctly out of the South (the accents helped me realize this too). But they outsmarted my vegetarianism as I apparently telepathically ordered a side of bacon with my green beans. Seriously, there had to have been at least 2 full strips of bacon in my small side of green beans. You win today Pork Producers of America. As I was finishing up my apple pie, I was informed that I would be helping move tables and chairs at the reception site. Wha? No nap? No shower? But I'm sleepy. Ah well, it'll give me a chance to meet new SIL and see Brother. We had to go pick them up at a local party rental place and I got to ride in a real live Midwestern truck, complete with loose shotgun shells and duckcalls in the cab. Ah, it's nice to know rednecks are everywhere. (Not that I'm against hunting or guns but, come on, loose shells? That's not helping anybody, at least I didn't see any empty beer cans)

I finally get a reprieve and head back to the hotel, shower and relax for a bit. Then we hit the road for the rehearsal (Bowling Green, MO) and dinner (Louisiana, Missouri and yes it was on the Mississippi River, being about a block or two from the restaurant). Brother's slideshow of baby pictures to college pictures was a lot of fun and I got to see my hair grown long, then shaved, then long again, as Brother experimented with his facial hair and hair colors.

A long ride back to the hotel, 4th meal at the Taco Bell in the hotel parking lot, and sleep knowing that I would wake up and get to watch qualifying for the Hungarian Gran Prix while eating the delicious breakfast of freshly made waffles, bagels and some fruit. I think I made one guy mad by changing the channel but I'm sure he watches the morning news everyday, F1 qualifying is only 16 or so times a year. I saw no one else even remotely interested in watching. Not shocking. I'm sure there are some places in St Louis to watch F1 races.

J and I went back to the room and caught a nap. I woke up and decided to work out a little. Did some weights and yoga and then it was time for lunch. 'Rents and g'rents were going to some roast beef place across the street but J and I wanted something different so we went against PETA's wishes and hit KFC. Their BBQ snacker sandwich thing was not good but that's what I get ordering non-chicken at a chicken place. J wanted some coffee, so we hit McDonalds and encountered mass chaos. If I hadn't been in such a good place mentally, this place would've pushed me over the edge. There was a huge puddle in front of the drinks, replete with warning sign and slowly mopping employee (added note, all employees were white which is another way to tell you're in the Midwest, I challenge you to find an all white staffed fast food place down here that isn't Chick-Fil-A), kids running around inside and outside on the playground. Lots of people as the lunch rush was winding down. The reason we went is I noticed they had a McCafe sign advertising Starbucks-like lattes and the sort. J ordered an iced vanilla latte with whole milk and whipped cream. It tasted just like those gas station cappuccinos. Cloyingly sweet and delicious. A sip or two was all I needed to make it back to the hotel (we walked to lunch). They even had a little espresso looking machine making the coffee. It wasn't bad but is more expensive than the gas station cappuccino.

Shower, get ready, drive, show up and wait. We were there 2.5 hours before the wedding to take family pics. It was nice but the wait was not. Books, magazines, ipods and a Nintendo DS all came in handy for killing time. The ceremony was in a smaller church and really lent a warm feeling to the ceremony. We hung around after and took some more pictures and then made our way back toward Troy and the reception. They didn't have a "wedding cake" but each table had its own cake and sharing was encouraged. Our table had a sugar free strawberry shortcake angel food whip cream cake that was a decent hit. I didn't try it. I did try the monkey bread (but was disappointed when I found out it was made by a chef who used biscuit dough in a can) and it was okay, the white-chocolate cake was a half and half vanilla-chocolate cake with fondant icing and it was pretty good. The raw apple cake was really good. It was baked so the apples start out raw. It was really sweet and cinnamony and really good. The red velvet cake was decent too. The carrotcake table hooked me up. I made a comment that I was really just in it for the icing and with one deft move of her wrist, she had cut away most of the cake leaving a glut of icing, nuts and carrots. Glorious. I hit the wall at this point and stopped eating cake.

The meal preceding the cake was sparse but good. The watermelon slices were sweet and yummy. The ranch (I think) seasoned pasta salad was really good and both J and my favorite. The cole slaw was a vinegar based slaw and a welcome change from the mayo based, of course helped by the fact that I like vinegar. The pork burgers were the worst of a burger and a pulled pork sandwich put together. Maybe it's because I was raised on Southern BBQ, or maybe my Southern blood is addicted to sugar, so the sauce is a very important part of BBQ. And with the pulled pork (pork that is slow cooked and literally pulled apart into shreds with a fork) you get every inch of your pork covered in delicious sauce. With the pork burger, you only get sauce on the top and bottom, decidedly less sauce than is possible. They also didn't have any extra sauce to add. Maybe I'm a sauce junkie. Also with cow burgers, the flavor of the meat and cooking method can shine and then you can enhance that flavor with sauce. Pork doesn't have that quality (unless it's smoked, and then droooooool) so it needs lots of spice and sauce help. Maybe it was this place's pork burgers, I'm willing to try them again, but I wasn't impressed, at least it wasn't dry. I even tried putting the slaw on the pork burger (that might be a Carolina thing, cole slaw on BBQ, but it might occur in other parts) and that helped but couldn't save the bland pork burger.

We danced the night away and noticed that not all guests were created equal. I noticed one table had Guinness and Bud Light. Another had a bottle of wine. The bridal party had a sparkling blueberry lemonade that looked really good (as did the Guinness). J and I also noticed people coming from the house (the reception happened in the large side yard under a tent) had large pink looking drinks that didn't look like the yellow lemonade available to all wedding guests. I suppose that's how you save money but I would've liked a Guinness or a pink cocktail, or at least been offered one. It would've been nice to know it was BYOB.

Brother told us they weren't doing the bouquet toss or the leaving in the slightly messed up car. I love those parts! Fine, well we're leaving, be safe in Africa, said goodbye to the few friends and SIL's family and then went back to the hotel. Breakfast the next morning was F1 free because with the central time, the race started at 7 am and I missed the start so I didn't want to watch any of the race. We got to STL in time to catch our plane, boarded and then are told that they need to change a tire. No problem, those F1 and NASCAR guys can change a tire in 3 seconds, but I wonder what an airplane jack looks like? They inform us that it's both tires and the brake assembly which locked up cooking itself and the tires after the last landing and it's going to be a couple hours and get off the plane. They had someone at the desk helping to reschedule people's connecting flights but also handed out a phone number you could call if you had a cell phone (I do!). So I called that number and in 5 minutes had our connecting flight from Detroit to Greenville rescheduled. Bam! No lines, no yelling, so simple. Thanks to Northwest for offering that service. They then offered a $10 voucher good for some airmiles, a meal in the airport or a drink on the plane. J was eyeing some nachos next to our gate so we beat the crowd in and ordered. They hit the spot and were actually pretty good. Back on the plane, off to Detroit, over to the gate and finally make it into GSP not at 3:30 pm, but 9:30 pm. Ugh.

I wish we had a chance to rendezvous with Brad and the Princess of Power, but I'm sure there will be other trips to St. Louis, especially since it sounds like Brother has already resigned himself to living in St. Louis to be near SIL's family who aren't happy that she's teaching in Africa (where Brother and SIL met). And in response to PoP's comment on the last post, has your Canadian friend ever been to the Carolinas? There is no way she could confuse the almost unintelligible Southern drawl with the fairly normal except for a few vowel sounds Midwestern accent. Does she say aboot, ootside, hoser and eh? Everyone has a funny accent to somebody. I didn't make it to Southern MO but imagine it's a hybrid of the Southern/Midwest accent. I love accents and languages. I should've been a linguist. If I were good enough, I would obviously be a cunning linguist.

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Monday, August 04, 2008


Let me tell you about TPS reports.

My brother's wedding was nice and festive.

Quick and dirty version for the impatient:
Flight from Greenville left at 6 am which meant leaving the house at 3:45 am which meant we didn't start packing until midnight and sleep is for the weak. Detroit, St. Louis, lunch with parents and grandparents, suckered into helping move tables and chairs, wishing I was taking a nap at the hotel with J, rehearsal, dinner in Louisiana, Missouri, drive to the wedding, wait around, they "do", clap, drive to reception, eat a pork burger, try 4 types of cake, dance, sleep, St. Louis, wait 3 hours for new tire and brakes, Detroit, Greenville, home, cats, sleep

Favorite parts:
Seeing my brother and meeting my new Sister-in-law and her family.
Hanging out with J my parents and grandparents.
The nicest Super 8 Motel EVER! It's in Troy, Missouri and they have a salt water pool (the manager told us it's more eco-friendly because it needs less chemicals), a Continental breakfast to put all other continental breakfasts to SHAME! Make-your-own-waffle with syrup, blueberry preserves/syrup, strawberry syrup/preserves, 2 types of bagels, donuts, danishes, cereal, orange grape and apple juices, coffee, milk, fresh fruit, AND I got to enjoy all of that while watching Formula 1 qualifying in Hungary (Great job Mark Webber in 8th, and Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovaleinen for making it a Benz front row). Glorious racing and then got to watch my grandfather makes friends with the sweet old lady who was cleaning up the breakfast area named Ruby.
Hearing the mid-west accents with their super nasal "a" sounds. Bag, lack, hat, cat, all sound very funny and strange to my deep South drawl trained ears. There might be an "o" that sounds like that but further research is needed (or that might just be Wisconsin or Minnesota). If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch that new Denise Richard's show on E for a few minutes, you can hear her midwest accent shining through (she's from Illinois). Most of the time you can't tell, but ask them to say something with lots of "a"s and you'll hear it. "Do I have an accent?" would be a pretty good one.
Meeting another guy at the wedding sporting a handlebar mustache. His was awesome and white. Very cool. Nice guy. I wanted to get a picture of us both but he didn't go to the reception. Blast! Lost my chance.

More later. Happy Monday!

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