Blogging Like a Teenager on Tumblr

Ok, so this is more of a Twitter/Tumblr kind of post, but it’s been rolling around in my head for the last twelve hours, so I gotta get it out:

Standing in line to pick up my fan prizes for ordering my season tickets, I got a blip on my iPhone telling me that I had been ousted as the mayor of the Sommet Center on foursquare by the girl. I looked back at where she was sitting, and she had the cutest little guilty, goofy smile. I knew she had been watching me to see my reaction. That was a happy time. “The cutest place on Earth,” indeed. At that one little point, I thought it just might last.

Wow. There ya go folks…just like a teenager.

No, I’m not going to start posting emo stuff on Tumblr or anything crazy like that.

GPS Detour Takes Me Back…

In what turned out to be some serendipitous scheduling, I decided to attend a conference this weekend just outside of Franklin, Tennessee.  My fellow conference partner and I came down the night before the main event so we could relax and not have to get up at the crack of dawn and drive down the morning of.  After a nice dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall place called “Thai Spice,” we decided to set the GPS for the address of the conference site and get a feel for the route and the drive time.  The GPS directed me out of town on kind of a zig-zag route, which at one time would have concerned me, but I’ve been in the south long enough now to know not to sweat.  This is just how the roads are in the older states.  There is no “country block/grid” system around here.

As we continued down one road, the GPS directed me to “Continue Straight on Old [Something] Road.”  As we got about a mile down this older winding road, I started to get déjà vu, but I figured that was a little crazy.  There was no way I had been here before…or was there? As we continued, I looked over to the left and saw a large concrete wall, part of some kind of round retaining basin up on a ridge, surrounded by a fence with distinctive warning signs on it. I knew I had seen that before.  I finally said it out loud: “I’ve been here before. I know it, even though that seems impossible.”

Further down the road, I began to notice some familiar-looking country and large estate-style ranches.  I still couldn’t believe that I was where I thought I was—even though everything looked so familiar. I mean, even if it was, I would have only been out this way maybe once or twice—three times, at most—how could I remember that?

Finally, we came to a “T” intersection with a sign that confirmed it.  I stopped for a bit and just looked at the sign, taking it in.

“Hello, Leipers Fork.  I haven’t seen you since…Thanksgiving?”

Editor’s Note:  I was going to link to the main Leipers Fork web site I found via Google, but it has background music.  I don’t want to encourage that nonsense, so no linking from me.  Google it for yourself if you’re interested, but turn down your speakers before you click on it–there’s no warning before the music starts blaring.

Automatic Pilot to Tennessee

This was a comment from one of my facebook friends about a book called “North Toward Home.”  I loved it, because it spoke to me as someone who drove back and forth to Tennessee so often last year.  The part about “automatic pilot” really got me:

“It’s the title of one of my favorite books – a perennial summer read. One of my favorite passages is the one I thought of when I posted my status last night: ‘In a fast car, a man can almost make it to Tennessee on automatic pilot, driving the straight, level road in a kind of euphoria, past the cotton fields and the tenant shacks, the big plantation houses and the primitive little Negro churches, over the muddy creeks and rivers, through the counties with the forgotten Indian names – Leflore, Coahoma, Tallahatchie, Tunica.'”

After I left law school, I could not drive to Nashville without feeling terrible…nauseated, even.  In fact, I only made the trip to Nashville twice in maybe six months afterward, in both cases to help Mike and Ashley with their moving process.  After that, I avoided making the drive to Nashville for years, unless I had to go to the airport.

After last year, I have a lot of practice making that drive.  Now, the trip to Nashville seems to fly right by–funny how that works.  All it takes is the right motivation.

What I Learned in My Time in Nashville

“Hey, you did learn some things, right?”

“Yes, I sure did, bud.”

Here’s what I learned while spending time in Nashville most of last year.

  • Adding the suffix “-town” makes things more fun. Examples: “brattytown,” or “Clarkietown.”
  • No one wants to be the conductor on the train to brattytown.
  • St. Augustine is apparently the best summer vacation destination ever. In hindsight, I should have gone, even if it did seem way too soon and kind of crazy at the time.
  • Coffee makes almost everything better.
  • The Sylvan Park/Heights area of Nashville is pretty neat—almost enough to make me seriously consider city living.
  • Moss makes stairs very slippery, and that moss can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
  • Metro Nashville does not recycle glass, especially not Yoohoo bottles.
  • The Place That Sells Insurance is a smaller operation than you would expect, and is held together by a small group of competent and under-appreciated people.
  • The best stories end with all kinds of potholes. They’re even better when Ludacris shows up.
  • Need late-night cookie dough? Head for the Bell Meade Kroger.
  • A VW Jetta can hold three, perhaps even four dogs in the back seat.
  • McKay Used Books and the Nashville Antique Mall are little hidden gems.
  • It’s fun to watch the Preds practice at Centennial.
  • The best shaving cream is just plain old Barbasol foam.
  • The food at the Gold Rush is delicious. The brunch is awesome. I would seriously have a calorie control problem if I lived anywhere near there.
  • Woofs are real.
  • Tasti-D-Lite? Yeah, it’s actually pretty tasty.
  • There is a difference between simply being picky and actual red flags.
  • Pay attention to the red flags.
  • Man panties are not sexy, but lobster boxers are.
  • The International Market has some of the best Asian food around. Maybe it’s just the ambiance of the place, or maybe anything prepared and served by grandmothers always tastes better.
  • Generics can save you a lot of money.
  • The back way out of the Sommet is the fastest way to the car.
  • When parking downhill, wheels in. When parking uphill, wheels out.
  • Anything you want to get to in Nashville is probably right off Charlotte Avenue.
  • Risotto is delicious comfort food.
  • It’s not the “highway.” It’s the “interstate.” Get it right, country boy.
  • Hanging a door by yourself is kind of hard. Some doors are beyond hope, and need extra weight to stay shut.
  • Replacing a lock hasp? They have crazy cool special security-head screws for that now.
  • Backyard city mosquitoes are more vicious than those in the farm country woods.
  • Never leave a grill full of hamburgers unattended in the backyard with three dogs.
  • Coke Zero goes off like a grenade when left in a freezer overnight. Estimated cleanup time: Whatever time it takes dinner to finish simmering.
  • Trust yourself, and listen to your instincts.
  • The best parking for Predators games was next to Christie’s Caberet. Alas, that lot is no longer available now that the construction of the Nashville Music City Center has begun.
  • Want to lose weight? Count calories. Eat less, do more. It’s that simple. Or, you can just have some pirates that live in your belly.
  • Bobbie’s Dairy Dip is a tempting summer detour. It’s hard to drive past without stopping.
  • Somehow, getting a honey-do list via MMS message is so darn cute it makes even crap jobs like taking the garbage out at 6am kind of fun.
  • Life without access to the Interstate is a little more challenging–and it takes longer to get there.
  • You can pretty much get anything you need at a Super Target, except fence repair wire.
  • A cordless sawzall can break an upholstered chair down to fit into a herbie curbie in less than 5 minutes.
  • Frozen, microwaveable meals have come a long way. Some of them are downright tasty.
  • Sometimes the annoying buzz from a stereo speaker can be fixed by simply pulling one of the speaker wires loose.
  • Opting for the $70 full synthetic oil change is a sure-fire way to guarantee the car will die within a month.
  • Waffle House is a veritable caloric bomb. One meal is all you need for the rest of the day–or next.
  • Feathers can take a hairstyle to the next level and make a girl simply irresistible.
  • Hearing your name sung by your love is one of the sweetest things one can hear.
  • Netflix streaming is a pretty good deal–and it can make you kinda lazy if you’re not careful. There’s just so much stuff to watch!
  • Jack’s Market is a friendly little place, where you can get just about everything you might need at 10pm.
  • Dickson, TN is apparently a redneck vortex from hell.
  • The greenway system is great for long walks with dogs while getting to know someone new.
  • With some frozen vegetables, a little chicken or tofu, a wok, and a pantry full of spices, a reasonably palatable meal can be improvised on short notice.
  • The Wal-Mart Best Value “brand” isn’t half bad.
  • 40 MPH does not mean 25 MPH.
  • The best old-school car wash around is on White Bridge.
  • Starbucks makes a pretty good strawberry banana smoothie.
  • If someone tells you they want to have your babies in the euphoria after you successfully jailbreak their iPhone, take them up on it immediately.
  • If you beat someone to pay at the pump with your debit card, you win. This also applies at Target and Michaels.
  • An $8 homemade apron can bring out a million-dollar smile.
  • Star Bagel is delicious…but their breakfast stuff is a little weak. Stick with the Club or the BLT. Always get the fruit tea.
  • Some dogs behave better in a two-parent home.
  • Drunk on coffee can happen, and it’s pretty funny when it does.
  • If someone hands you their Starbucks card to pay for coffee, don’t. Reload it instead. They’ll complain, but they will secretly be thankful.
  • The Apple TV is a neat concept, but the Mac Mini trumps it. Sorry, it’s true.
  • Nothing will stop you from seeing the one you love–even if you can’t risk shutting your car off until you get there.
  • Always park downhill, in case you need to roll start a stubborn VW Jetta in the morning.
  • Season tickets are a much easier decision when you know your partner will never say “No” to “Wanna go to the game?”
  • The best Christmas presents are ones the recipient least expects, that shows the giver was paying attention. Don’t put your eye out, kid.

Skating on NHL Ice

I celebrated my birthday by skating on the Nashville Predator’s home ice, which was an amazing rush for me as a hockey fan.  I’m pretty sore today–no amount of training can help prepare you for ice skating except actually ice skating, which I haven’t done in years.  I loved it.  I’m so glad I did it…but….the thing is, I almost didn’t do it.  I woke up that morning with a rather poor attitude, and when one of my friends wrote to ask if it was my birthday, I responded:

Yes, is it my birthday.  I’m trying to be happy about it.  Since I’m taking a little twitter and facebook hiatus, I didn’t post these updates this morning:

“Today is my birthday. I started it by not wanting to get out of bed and face the day. That’s probably not a good sign.”

“I swore I’d never be one of those people who freaked out about getting older.  I hope this is just some mourning/loss-related anxiety and it goes away soon.”

See?  No one likes a Debbie Downer on his birthday.  🙂

Actually, I do feel better about some things.  I have great people in my life.  You’re one of them, of course.

As an example: I was planning on coming down to the Sommet Center tonight to skate on the Predator’s home ice, but I forgot my skates at home.  My parents and a good friend offered to bring my skates to me here at work and then go with me to Nashville to make sure I did get this little bit of special time in on my birthday.  How awesome are the people in my life?  I really shouldn’t complain at all.

Long story short:  I got my skates delivered to me, and we made the trip to the Sommet Center.  Now, I’m so glad we did.  It was an experience I will remember forever.  Viewing the arena from the ice while zipping around the rink on my old college hockey skates was simply amazing for me as a Predators fan.

Some Run to Remember, Some Run to Forget…

…and I did a little of both yesterday when I completed my very first “official” road race in downtown Nashville.  I ran the Nashville Predators Fangtastic 5K, which I would have never thought I would do even a month ago, but now I am so glad I did.  I confess at one point, I considered not running, but I decided I had to complete this race no matter what.  It was kind of a symbol of being able to push through adversity, even if I was going to go it alone now.

It was just over a month ago on the evening of December 26th when I got the sudden wake-up call that I needed to start doing something to improve my fitness, as well as burn some energy to help clear my head over some things I was working through in my personal life. I got started with the Couch to 5K program, which slowly works you up from walking to running longer and longer intervals.  There were several great iPhone apps to help keep me on track as I worked through the program.  Even though I was only to Week 4 of the program, I did manage to run most of the race yesterday.  I did resort to “speed walking” one uphill when I realized I was walking up it faster than I was jogging it.

Yesterday, right before race time, I remembered about the “Map My Run” service and figured that might be fun to gather data while running the race.  I downloaded the app, and it worked great.  You can see the map of my run route and even do a 3D video “fly-by” of the route.

According to the official results:

My Gun Time: 33:38
My Chip Time: 33:15

“Gun Time” is the traditional time measurement from the sound of the starting gun to crossing the finish line. It’s more of a what people would think of a race vs. the other runners, i.e. “I crossed the finish line first,” but doesn’t take into account the large crowd at the starting line, which can take 5-10 minutes to clear out. “Chip Time” is measured from when I actually crossed the starting line (I was in the middle of the pack) to when I crossed the starting line.

My overall pace: 10:44.  A little slower than the 5:40 miles I used to post in high school, but then again, I was a lot younger and lighter then. I placed 51st out of 75 in my age group (Male 35-59). I placed 675th overall, and If I’m reading the results right, I placed 384th out of all males.

As I ran through downtown Nashville, I passed several landmarks that brought back some memories and helped me come to peace with things.  Places such as: The YMCA I almost joined on the very same night I found out things were going to change for good, the road I would have turned down had I bought a house there, and the farmer’s market where we spent some great times shopping for international foods that I rarely got to prepare because of the calorie counts.  Running past these places was cathartic for me.

Most importantly, I think I’ve made my peace with Nashville again. I’m looking forward to the next event, and yes, also the next race.

4th of July

I’m writing this at the end of yet another too-short weekend (on my iPhone, by the way). The 4th of July (more appropriately called “Independence Day”) weekend is winding down. Despite my intention to be in the old Oshkosh neighborhood this year as I was last, it was not to be. While I did miss being at what is always a great reunion of childhood friends, life kept me home this year–and I mean that in a not-so-bad connotation.Photo of Downtown Nashville Fireworks

Perhaps I’m getting old, or perhaps social networking tools help “take the edge off” needing to see everyone in person, maybe I’m just more determined than ever to keep costs down, but the “need” to get back home to Oshkosh isn’t as strong as it was. Perhaps this is just a melancholy phase that will pass in time. Perhaps having certain people here makes it easier to stay south of Indianapolis now. Or…maybe I really am starting to despise air travel and the Jetta isn’t getting any younger. Alternators aren’t cheap.

Anyway, I had an enjoyable weekend. I got to spend some time at the lake and hang with Mom and Dad. I got to spend some quality time with @janeqpublic, both at home and in Nashville. We watched most of the Nashville fireworks before we finally could not even see them through the blinding rainstorm. I managed to snap a photo from our vantage point before things got really wet and we had to run for the car.

We then proceeded to get stuck in the post-fireworks traffic, which was exacerbated by the Steve McNair crime scene investigation– we ended up going right past it in the bumper-to-bumper crush. Speaking of the Steve McNair murder, chalk that up to yet another news story I learned about on twitter first–something that happens with increasing frequency.

On the professional front, I’m still very much enjoying using open-source tools to solve business problems. You know I’m in deep when I’m stopping to take notes when I get a flash of inspiration at odd hours. I find myself thinking in SQL code snippets, too. It’s exciting when projects hit this kind of critical mass. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.