Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Southern Summary

Here are the two videos I shot with my little still camera. They're pretty large files, so be forewarned. You may want to right+click and 'Save Target As.' Or whatever the Mac equivalent is.
Flaming Lips Video 1

Flaming Lips Video 2

The trip is over. The last unwritten day was spent driving to Louisville, KY to use yearly passes Mandy and I purchased. Upon arrival, we found that the Six Flags in Louisville isn’t open during the week until the week after we were there. After that we headed back home and watched George Lucas’ “THX 1173” a very derivative sci-fi movie.

Some observations from the trip:

1. Always check the local papers when traveling

By doing this, Mandy was able to discover a free concert at the Olympic Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta, featuring the Flaming Lips. We didn’t know the concert was happening until we arrived, and only after flipping through a local newspaper.

2. Ask the wait staff for recommendations

I ate an Irish boxty on the advice of a waitress at an Irish Pub. It was the single most delicious thing I ate on the trip. The menu item description read, “Corned Beef and Buttered Cabbage Wrapped in a Potato Pancake with Mustard Sauce.” Which sounds interesting, but not particularly good. I took the recommendation and discovered that I love the things.

3. Use Priceline

We purchased a room in Louisville both on the way down and on the way back up. The first time we stayed in the hotel we paid well over $60. The second time we used Priceline to pay for a better room for $40. This may be an isolated incident or it may not. Either way, Priceline saved us some moolah.

4. Find alternatives

Several of our plans for each day were spoiled by circumstances beyond our control. A bit more planning may have resulted more successful plans, but it may not have. The point is, irregardless of whether a plan was successful or not, we were able to turn every situation into something fun and adventurous. Adding flexibility to a trip means that you don’t always know what’s coming up next, and that can be good thing or a bad thing. It all depends on your disposition and willingness to adapt to the circumstances.

It was damn good to get out of dodge for a week. Checking out a city brimming with interesting places, people, and new sites gives one a fresh new perspective. Atlanta is multi-racial in a way that Grand Rapids is not, and I think will never be. Generations of non-whities have been living in Atlanta for a long time, and there seems to be a proud culture wrapped around the fact that the slavery-based economy Atlanta used to run on has been replaced by a capital market.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

SOUTH - Day 5

This is going to be a quick update, as we just got back from the festival. Today was good. We went to Six Flags and rode a bunch of interesting rides, especially Superman The Ride. It was a strange inverted, flying kind of thing.

A picture I took of Wayne singing Yoshimi with a nun hand-puppet

The Flaming Lips concert was amazing (and free). They played for about 2 hours, covering a wide gambit from Soft Bullitan through Mystics. Mark always told me that their shows are hard to discribe, they must be experienced. It's true. It's unlike any other concert I've been too. Wayne shooting confetti into the audience, balloons everywhere, him singing through a megaphone they sprayed yellow and green smoke, and either side of the band was flanked by a group of Martains and a group of Santa Clauses. The interesting thing is that there is no strong sense of pretention. There is no purpose for any of the fanfare apart from the fact that's it's just fun. It doesn't make any grand point or say antything important: It's just fun to watch and interact.

I have a couple video I shot with my little Cannon PowerShot that I will post when I get back home.

'Till tomorrow.

SOUTH - Day 4

Yesterday we went through town trying to find our way to the zoo. We hoped a couple trains and jumped on a bus after waiting for about a half an hour. When we finally arrived at the zoo, we found it to be closed... the one day of the year it is closed, actually. That was about 4:00PM.

In spite of that, we headed back into town to check out the start of the festivals. We went to a really cool arts and crafts festival. I got an ear of corn and a beer. It was great. We also checked out the large festival that we are going to Sunday to watch the Lips. We wandered around afterward, checking out some local dives, and headed back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to move on to our next hotel. We're going to a Holiday Inn near the Olympic Park where the festival will be tomorrow. Then on to jump on some sweet rides at the 6 Flags Over Georga.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

SOUTH - Day 3

Today we woke up, well rested, and while Mandy went off to exercise in the hotel’s facilities, I rolled over and went back to sleep. The hotel is beautiful and the help is very good. Wherever we are going we are met with a smile and a hello from the staff. If we are looking confused, they ask if they can help. For example, we were downstairs trying to leach off the wireless network (see post from yesterday for details), one of the doormen was walking through the lobby and saw us boot up and then shut down. He came over and asked if we needed help. We asked if he knew where a coffee shop was, trying to be a little inconspicuous about our intentions, but he saw right through us. He directed us to a little place about a quarter mile up, and said he thought that they had wireless. And the door to our hotel room, for some reason, has a doorbell.

We walked up to the joe-shop, got some coffee and grub, and then found out that they too charge for wireless. These people are insane!! Luckily, Amerihost had many unsecured networks open so we helped ourselves and got the info that we needed. We then went and visited a very cool historic museum.

For dinner we went to really good Irish pub / restaurant and ate some authentic food. I had a strange, albeit delicious, dish called a boxty. I’ve never heard of these things before. It’s basically a potato pancake stuffed with corned beef and cabbage and slathered in a really tangy mustard sauce. It was amazingly good. Mandy had a spicy chicken sandwich and some huge, deep-fried chips. I also had a pint of Guinness per Chad’s request

Tomorrow we’re planning to go to a Six Flags nearby. I’ll give a better update.

Oh, and it turns out that there’s a free concert series going on this weekend. The band playing tomorrow night, for free, is The Flaming Lips…. For free.


SOUTH - Day 2

Day 2 – Thursday

There has been a day delay in the posts due to our current hotel’s policy of charging $4.95 per 15 minutes of wireless internet usage. Yes, that’s fucking insane. On the way down here, we stopped at a random exit and drove slowly through the town until we happened across an unsecured network. That has been working pretty well here in Atlanta, but we keep getting dropped.

Yesterday (Thursday) we drove from Louisville, KY to Atlanta. On the way, we stopped in this small town called Portland that is apparently where strawberries were first discovered. We didn’t realize this until we stopped and found all of these small, road-side stands selling strawberries. We stopped at a local vineyard \and bought some amazing wine.

The rest of the trip to Atlanta took about 6 hours. When we arrived, we settled in our amazingly opulent hotel room. Mandy booked the room through Priceline, so we ended up getting a $290 priced room for $90. It’s been very cool.

We ate at a slightly crappy joint recommended to us by the concierge. It was a restaurant that combined fondue, live jazz, and a giant pirate ship… which makes it sound pretty damn cool, but turned out to just be overpriced and bland.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

SOUTH - Day 1

Welp, we made it as far as Louisville, KY. The drive took far less time than google maps predicted, so we're sitting in the hotel lounge enjoying a couple local microbrews. Just outside of our hotel room's window, we can see the local convention center and Six Flags (which Mandy will not let me go to... because we are going to the Six Flags in Atlanta, so it's a compromise). The theme of the convention is Suckers and Plungers or something. The sign was hilarious, needless to say. The convention going on at the actual hotel is a group of people who do the legal management for gangs within the prison system. We came across a table displaying ads for various software solutions for how to schedule prisoner transport and other prisoner services. Very interesting stuff.

We'll be heading out of here early tomorrow to make the rest of the way to Atlanta where, undoubtedly, more crazy conventions will be happening.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The South Pt. 1

I am eat tofu in the South, come to tomorrow!

Tomorrow in the dimmest A.M., Mandy and I will be heading off to the South. Grand staircases, plantations, and "Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn" will be everywhere. I am packing my cleanest pair of spurs and loading my iPod with banjo melodies a plenty. Provided there is enough internet-wire to go around, I will be able "jack in" and provide "updates" to "everyone." As time and connectivity allows, I'll be making daily updates including images and scratch N' sniff blots.

Keep it tuned to Drop My Straw for more lunatic ravings as we head into the deepest, darkest heart of the American South to dispell and, hopefully, create some myths.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Race Day Pt. 2

So I survived the race. I guess have to pay back all those loans I took out last Friday.

The race went really well. About 8,000 people participated, again making it the 2nd largest 5K and 25K race in America. The 5K part started at 8:10AM and I ran it in about 33 minutes, giving me, on average, 11 minutes 14 seconds / mile. Which isn't the greatest, I ended up somewhere around the 37 percentile, meaning 63% of everyone performing did better than I. However, I'm taking this race a launching point for a series of other races this summer. Mandy, Angie, Chad, Andy and myself are planning to do 5 5K races by the end of the summer. I figure if I keep up with my training and actually do the races I plan to do, I should be able to get to being able to do under a 10 minute mile by the end of the summer and loose some of the profound flab you can easily see on the image below.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Race Day Pt. 1

The race day is nearly upon me. I've been training for the 5/3rd Riverbank run for a while now. I think by this picture you can tell that my training has put me in fine shape for the 3.1 mile jaunt. The last time I competed in any kind of race was in Austin, TX for a 100 mile juvinille diabetes race. Howerver, the only training we did for that race was going out biking one time, one a borrowed bike, wearing jeans and boots. Needless to say, I did not complete that race.

At that time I made a pact with myself that if ever I attempted to compete in any kind of organized athletic thingy, I would either complete the the race or die in the process.

Well, the weather tomorrow is suppossed to be pouring and in the low 40s. It's been nice knowing you...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Little Tid-bits

We can all breathe a sigh of relief...
I don't know about you, but I am glad to hear that King Tut's missing penis was rediscovered a couple of days ago. This information has given me a renewed sense of joy, and I know that I will be able to sleep better tonight.

How many candles do you want on that cake?
A native of San Agustin, El Salvador, Cruz Hernandez, should soon find herself in the Guinness book of world records. Cruz, born on May 3, 1878 has just turned 128yrs old. She celebrated her birthday with about 200 people, some were carrying cakes and others were dressed as mythological heroes

It's a baby!!
A 63-year old is set to be the Briton's oldest mother soon. Patricia Rashbrook was given in vitro fertilization (IVF) last October. If my math is correct she should be looking for a June/July baby.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tips n' Tricks

Thanks to Josh's recent comment about the fact that these blogs supply site feeds, I thought I'd whip up a quick list of cool features Blogger has that you might not know about. Each header is a link to a page that describes the feature.

1. Site Feeds

What site feeds allow you to do is create an active bookmark that will display direct links to each entry in a blog as they are updated (in semi-realtime). For example, I have a bookmark that says "Drop My Straw" in my toolbar in Firefox. When I click on it, it opens a drop down box that shows all of the latest entries on the blog. From there, I can select which article I want to view.

If you use Blogger, your site's feed is: http://[yoursitename]

If you are posting to your own blog, you don't need to do anything to enable this feature. As a viewer of blogs, however, you need to setup a live bookmark in your browser to use the feature. This will vary from browser to browser, but I can say from personal experience, it was incredibly easy to do in Firefox... and since Firefox is ported to basically every OS on the planet, you can always use this option.

This is Drop My Sraw's Feed:

2. Email Updating

Email updating lets you update your blog simply by emailing the contents of your post to the blog. When your blog will receives the email, it will format the text and contents and, depending on your settings, either post it or save it as a draft for you to post.

3. Telephone Updating

You can call your blog and have it auto-update with an MP3 of your message. Outrageous! This feature isn't actually provided by Blogger, but by a 3rd party. It seems really easy to use. Just click the link and check it out.

If you have any questions, let me know!