Graduation 1 of 2.

May 25th, 2006

Alison recently graduated from Wake Forest University. Congratulations to her. Pictures from her graduation and many more of our family screwing around in Winston-Salem, North Carolina available for your viewing pleasure.

UPDATE: The pictures are all here. Mine, Alison's, and Mom's!

Take me to the pictures!

Scottie Reynolds chooses Villanova.

May 24th, 2006

After a month of swirling rumors and anxious moments for some of the nation's top college basketball coaches, the McDonald's All-American announced at a news conference yesterday that he's heading to Villanova next season.

Originally ticketed to the University of Oklahoma, Reynolds asked for and was granted a release from his letter of intent earlier this month after Kelvin Sampson, who had recruited Reynolds, hightailed it to Indiana.

...Full Article

Nemo Restaurant - Miami Beach, FL

May 24th, 2006

What a neat little place. We went on a Tuesday night with a client and had a great dinner. It was a mild night (relatively speaking) so we sat outside. The restaurant opens into the patio where we were seated. So we were inside...but we were outside. The atmosphere was not inappropriate for our business dinner, though it would be a nice "date" restaurant as well.

We shared two appetizers at the table:

Giant Crispy Prawns
The prawns were best described by my colleague as shrimp wrapped in french fries. Whatever the mix that comprised the "crispy" layer around the prawns, it was good. This appetizer is three prawns.

Spicy Calamari Stir Fry
This dish was pretty spicy. The flavor was only ok. I was not impressed by this dish; no one at our table was.

My entree was very good:

10 oz. Center Cut Filet Mignon
I had to choose between the NY Strip and the Filet since I am not a seafood guy. I made my decision based upon the potatoes served with each. The filet had the buttermilk mashed instead of the roasted garlic mashed. I was more curious about the buttermilk mashed and thus opted for the filet. I could not tell you the last time I ordered a filet, but was not disappointed at Nemo. The steak was fork tender and cooked perfectly. I wish I had a few more of the crispy onions. I think there were like three small strands with my steak. There was a side of greens that occupied the majority of my plate that I would have opted against had I known.

Ordering a side dish was an easy choice:

Lobster Hash Browns
Yeah, you read that correctly. Lobster Hash Browns. Do I really need to go through an explanation of how good these were? Or are you just going to be sure to order them when you go? It was not a shredded potato, but rather a diced potato. The dish had a few other ingredients (vegetables and whatnot) that were fine, but I don't remember. I was too focused on the rest of it. More meals should be served with lobster hash browns.

Dessert was a second highlight behind the lobster hash browns:

Peanut Butter Smore
Thin layer of graham cracker. Thick layer of chocolate. Medium layer of marshmallow. The smore was very good, but very rich. It would be best shared by two people. Satisfy your sweet tooth, round out your meal, but don't eat so much that you have that "I've had too much of it" feeling.

It may not be something that you notice, but I certainly did. At Nemo, the desserts were plated beautifully. It was probably the most expertly presented dessert I have had. It is a small detail, and one that cannot make up for bad taste (and luckily it didn't have to try at Nemo), but one that is appreciated.

For Miami Beach prices, Nemo was not outrageously expensive. It is an area where for a nice dinner out you can expect to pay more than you might in other cities, and comparitively Nemo was reasonable.

Nemo is located at 100 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida. 305.532.4550

I chipped my tooth.

May 23rd, 2006

No, it is not a big chip, but it is a chip none the less. You can really only see it when it is pointed out, so I should just be glad that I did not shatter my tooth. I am still a little bitter about the whole thing, maybe closure will come in time.

Teaser: In my haste to eat lunch between classes last Saturday, the heavyweight showdown was between tooth enamel and stainless steel fork. I believe, based upon what is written above, you know who won the title.

What happened: I had a piece of chicken at the end of my fork too big even for me. Sure, I could put it back down and cut it like a civilized individual...or I could just take a bite from it and leave myself with a more manageable piece. What I had not counted on was biting down...hard...on the fork.

Always the optimist: I paid an arm and leg for my silverware, so I guess it is a good thing that the stuff seems to be of good quality. I wish I had just speculated at the quality of the fork rather than trying to take a bite of it. I was like the skeptical crook in the old movies who tests the piece of gold with his teeth for the appropriate softness signlalling quality, only there was no give from my fork.

Result: I now have the fingernails-on-the-chalkboard reaction to the thought of biting another fork. Oh, and a piece of my tooth missing. It is not pleasant.

May 9th, 2006
Our children are richer when we let them know that we, even as adults, want to grow, too, and that we hope to keep growing all our lives.
- Fred Rogers

Beautiful Day Nostalgia

May 8th, 2006

I do not have many thoughts that begin, "Man, I wish I was back in high school/college," so they stand out. Today it is a beautiful sunny day in the low 70 degrees. I wish that, like I was able to do in high school and college, I could talk my boss into holding class outside. You were not going to pay attention in class anyway, so at least you should be able to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather, right? Those were the days...

Unfortunately those days are past. Here are the days where my responsibilities keep me sitting at my desk in my office that has no windows.

Who thought this was a good idea?

May 8th, 2006

From a marketing standpoint I know that companies like spokespersons/icons/slogans that will make you automatically think of their product (in a positive light). Sometimes the ideas backfire. One such example was years ago when Duracell batteries introduced their "Duracell People" to compete with the Energizer bunny. Up until that point, statistics showed that the public actually thought of Duracell when they saw the little pink bunny. Giving a face to Duracell batteries was a mistake. While I have no numbers to back the following story, I need to vent.

One spokesperson over the last few years has become more of an annoyance than anything else. He is none other than Subway's Jared. The man lost a significant amount of weight on a diet that consisted largely of items on Subway's menu (allegedly). He and/or his story must have been a huge success with the public because he began to appear in every Subway commercial. He has been the worst spokesman in recent memory.

(The second worst has been a man who looks like he could actually be a member of Jared's family. The "Can you hear me now?" guy from Verizon Wireless has popped up in more places than I can stand, though he is less annoying overall.)

Maybe Jared's 15 minutes have ended. We can only hope. Subway's newest ad campaign features a new spokesperson. This should make me happy. It can only get better, right? Well, actually I am actually having difficulty deciding who I like less, Jared or the new face of Subway.

How the mighty have fallen.

Jon Lovitz has a new series of commercials with Subway trying to give a spin on some new hot sandwiches. In these spots he, clad in his nicest smoking jacket, attempts to recreate the feeling of a character he played on Saturday Night Live where he was a "Masterpiece Theater"-esque host. He is overly enthusiastic and the commercials are horrible.

Was Mr. Lovitz ever a big enough "star" where someday we can see his E! True Hollywood Story? Will we see an interview where he will tell us that he was at the end of his rope, short on cash, offering sexual favors to strangers in the subway station to make ends meet when he got a call about a job making commercials...ironically for Subway.

One company. Two horrible spokesmen. I hate to think I might even want them to bring Jared back. He was much easier to ignore.

Drew's Guide to Athens

May 8th, 2006

Before I made the trip to Georgia to visit my brother and his special lady friend I got this e-mail from him. He wanted me to know what our options were for food and bars. I was very appreciative for the time and effort he put into the list provided below, so I thought I would make it available to anyone else who might be in search of a brief word about the area.

(1) food. hope you take a few minutes to check out the links.
achim's k-bob (favorite sandwiches in town)
blind pig (best burgers and fried pickles in town)
the varsity (vintage athens, pretty famous)
farm 255 (maybe a good spot for a nicer dinner, we've wanted to for a while)
barberitos (our qdoba, kristen has to go here at least 1x per week)
mexicalli grille (athens doesn't have much good mexican food, this is our favorite though)
the grit (all vegetarian, but good. as famous a place as athens has, if that's what you seek)
the sultan (middle eastern food)
mellow mushroom (great beer list, my favorite pizza in town)
jot 'em down (perhaps a breakfast biscuit saturday morning)
weaver d's (maybe kristen can bring you here for lunch friday)

(2) bars. friday night fun...bars will be mostly wide open until 12am, then the undergrads come out in huge numbers to some of these places...
allgood (patio upstairs)
room 13 (getting to be my favorite place, nextdoor to farm255)
general beauregard's (sweet tea is a must-have for first time visitors, coeds all around)
nowhere bar (dive bar)
the winery (a little more upscale, ladies love it)
arch bar (nice bar, not too "undergrad-y")
tasty world (may need to go here briefly for kristen's dept. happy hour friday)
the globe (really chill, becoming one of my least favorite places, but fun if you are with fun ppl)
283 (small, but nice)

Farm 255 - Athens, GA

May 1st, 2006

The name does not sound like much, but the restaurant was pleasant. I went with a group of people who had been there for drinks, but never dinner. It was, in a sense, a first for us all.

The entrance, between two stone pillars, is to the outdoor seating. There are tables and chairs in a courtyard set up for dinner, but also to socialize near a garden and stage. The stage features live music performed by local artists. Beyond some of the outdoor tables is the door inside. It was a beautiful night to sit outside and have dinner, though we opted to sit inside. I do not think one option is necessarily better than the other.

The inside was very open. The lighting was enough, but subtle. Even as the meal progressed the lights came down and candles were brought to the tables. The staff was well informed and friendly.

The menu was not very extensive, but was arranged well. It consisted of three sections that essentially boiled down to appetizers, entrees and dessert. Though each had but a few options, they were diverse enough to cover wide-ranging tastes. I believe I remember there being vegetarian dishes as well.

Their mojitos and mint juleps came very highly recommended by my dining partners. I had never tried either drink, but figured I should sample the local flavor. I opted for the mojito and found that it tasted like nothing more than crushed mint leaves. The others at the table who ordered the same drink raved about it, but it did nothing for me.

We started with the sweet potato chips which came with ranch as a dipping sauce. Sorry dieters, they are fried and not baked. They were good, though for $5 (I think) I was VERY disappointed at the size of the order.

When I was having trouble deciding on my entree I consulted our server. I asked if she would suggest the cheeseburger (boring, I know) or the shrimp and grits (spicy). She told me that their shrimp and grits is usually fantastic; they use Georgia shrimp and Red Mule grits (which apparently come from about an hour south of Athens). Her hesitation, however, was that the boat had not come in and they were using Florida shrimp instead (that night), which she did not feel were as good. I opted for the burger.

The cheeseburger comes with a chunk of a type of blue cheese and is served with fries and a side of greens. My burger (ordered: Medium) mooed a little when it came to the table, but the sage advice to "eat around it" served me well as always.

Purely in the interest of science, I ordered their molten chocolate cake dessert. This dish was essentially a chocolate souffle served with sweet cream and strawberry preserves. Aside from my company at the table (in case any of them read this), the dessert was the highlight. It was very good.

The restaurant was a fun place to go with friends. I think we all had a great time together at Farm 255. I also think it would be a good date spot. Some people were dressed nicely, others less so. The prices were not outrageous.

I really enjoyed our dinner at Farm 255. The atmosphere was comfortable, the people were friendly, and the food was good. If I lived in or around Athens, Farm 255 would get more of my business. See the website.

Farm 255 is located at 255 W. Washington Street in Athens, GA. The phone number is 706-549-4660.

The small-town elderly don't get my jokes.

April 19th, 2006

This may come as a surprise when I tell you that my sense of humor, at 25 years old, is lost on a woman of 75+ from a small town in Northern Michigan.

I was in a small market between Petoskey and Harbor Springs on Monday with my mother. We had decided to make dinner together as a nice treat/fun thing to do. The trip to the market was in preparation of that meal.

We had already been to the meat counter and our steaks were in the cart. At that point we were basically finished with our shopping needs and were just perusing the aisles for last minute ideas. I stopped in a refrigerated section and picked up a dessert item. Coconut-covered date rolls, or something like that. Cue the elderly woman.

Old Lady: Those are very good.
Humble Narrator: There you have it, mom. We'll be hard pressed to get a more glowing recommendation.
Mother: Have you ever tried dates?
Humble Narrator: Nope.
Old Lady: Those are very good.
Humble Narrator: You already said that, you old bat.
Mother: I didn't raise him right I guess. He grew up without dates.
Humble Narrator: (looks at old lady) Yeah, I spent a lot of Saturday nights at home.
Old Lady: Oh I see.

-Since the conversation had ended, we walked away. She followed. Apparently the conversation had not, in fact, ended.-

Old Lady: So why do you spend so many Saturdays at home?
Humble Narrator: (clearly it will be more trouble to explain the joke than try to move on) Gee, you know...I don't know.
Old Lady: You move recently?
Humble Narrator: (now thoroughly confused) That must be it.