Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thoughts from New York

Sarah talked about the ceremony and reception and the honeymoon. I will mention the points of the honeymoon that I remember.

1. Cab drivers in New York are really something else. We had one lady cursing up a storm that would make the most foul-mouthed sailor blush.

2. Lanes in New York are merely suggestions. We had cab drivers riding in two lanes for as much as a block at times.

3. Many of the diners and restaurants did not provide free refills. I was not a big fan of that.

4. Sandwiches in New York were overfilled with meat. Sarah ordered a club at Sarge's and she had to eat it in sections.

5. There is a ticket booth at the Marriott Marquis at 46th and Broadway that sells same day show tickets at half price. We got great seats each time.

6. The Marriott Marquis has a rooftop restaurant that rotates. The View rotates every 80 minutes and provides a great view of the city.

7. It can get hot in New York City. We knew it was a possibility, but if we wanted 95 degree weather and humidity we could have been at home in Birmingham for that.

8. New York City Harbor Cruise is great. We took the three hour cruise (save the Gilligan's Island jokes). There were great views of the Statue of Liberty and Yankee Stadium. I knew that the Rockefeller's were wealthy, but the cruise really shed light on how they may have had as much money as God.

9. Our tour guide was great. He was actually named the New York City Tour Guide of the Year 2006. His whole tour is in a book he wrote, Unique New York.

10. We stayed at the Affinia Dumont and it was wonderful. Our initial room was on the 9th floor. We asked for a higher room and the next day we were moved to the 29th floor with a great view.

11. The view from the top of the Empire State Building is everything it is cracked up to be. The price to go to the top was more reasonable than I had thought. Plus, it was only a few blocks from our hotel.

12. Foreigners are funny. A young gal brought her family from Germany to see Chicago and her uncle was a trip.

13. Jet Blue got some bad press this last winter for essentially trapping people on a flight for 9 hours on the runway. However, our experience was great. Normally I fly Delta. Jet Blue had a great deal going on plus each seat has its own TV.

14. Visiting Yankee Stadium was everything I had imagined. We got last minute tickets from Ticketmaster. It felt like it was going to rain in the first inning, but it passed and the rest of the evening was comfortable. We had hot dogs, beer, Cracker Jacks. The only negative was the A's lost. Oh well.

15. Using mass transit to the game was the environmentally sensitive thing to do. Getting back on the subway after the game was an adventure. It was rough battling through the crowd out of the stadium and up the platform. Once we got to the platform it was fine.

16. The worst part of the game were the annoying Yankees fans after the victory. I wish I could have been there for the final two games of the series when they got owned. I bet they weren't so full of it then.

17. We saw a number of shows in New York: Curtains on Sunday afternoon, Les Miserables on Monday, Swan Lake Ballet at the Met on Tuesday, Inherit the Wind on Wednesday afternoon, Phantom of the Opera on Wednesday night, and Chicago on Thursday night.

18. We dressed up for the shows and were appalled to see how many people showed up in casual clothes. It was apparent that people do not respect the theater!

19. The Bronx Zoo was real cool. We got there early in the afternoon and missed out on some stuff, but we were able to see the penguins being fed. They were so cute.

20. We didn't use the subway all that often and I guess that would explain the lack of freakshows that we met. A fact I will not complain about.

21. New York City is one of the holy sites for shopping and this was not a fact lost on us. We spent the better part of Monday and Tuesday shopping. The other attraction of the shops was the air conditioning. Sarah even got to go to Tiffany and Co.

22. There is no sales tax on clothing in New York City.

* Pictures to follow as soon as we put them on the computer

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wedding - Part II

It is my stance that Sarah's dad may have chosen the wrong profession. Please don't get me wrong because I know he is a great locksmith. After we got in the accident he told us that bad beginnings made for good endings and that made us feel better. He has a way of making things better. So my thought is that he should have been a doctor because he could make any bad situation sound like there was a positive to come with it. This gift would turn out to be useful again.
My Friday was pretty low key. In the morning about nine of us went to the Waffle House for breakfast. Yes, you read that correct, on the morning of my wedding of all the places I could have invited my closest friends and family I chose Waffle House. It was delicious. The rest of the day I spent on my butt in my room shooting the breeze with my friends. I showered and got dressed and my groomsmen and I loaded into the limo at 4:20. At the same time Sarah and her girls were getting in their limo at the front of the hotel. What we all did not not know was that earlier in the day the chance of precipitation jumped from 10% to 60%.
When we arrived at the gardens it felt like it was going to rain. You don't have to have achy knees to know when it is going to rain sometimes. The gardens staff got the chairs all arranged and then since we were taking pictures before the ceremony I got to see Sarah. She was breathtaking. We took some pictures and then Sarah said, "I felt rain." We then all huddled under the pergola and then my groomsmen shielded Sarah and took her to another gazebo that was more secluded from the rain (thanks guys). In the South, summer storms can be here and gone in about 10 minutes. This was not one of those storms and we ended up getting married at the back up location in the Hilton. It was still great and we all adjusted the walking in for the new room.
Afterwards, we finished the pictures while they took a little longer than I would have liked people were waiting in front on the porch eating chicken puff pastries and bacon wrapped scallops. They were both delicious and it seemed like nobody thought of bringing them to the people taking the pictures for a long time! The reception was a blast. The food was delicious. The only issue was that the rain got us behind schedule and we had to rush some things like the cake cutting and toasts so the photographer could get those pictures before her time ran out. Oh yeah, and when it came time for the mother-son dance my mom was nowhere to be found. Therefore, our dance got cut a shade short. One of the highlights of the reception was my mom and stepdad waltzing across the floor, it was awesome. The other highlight was my father-in-law's toast. You just had to be there. After the reception we went to our room and decided the night was young and went down to the bar. At the bar, we continued to drink more than was wise, but hey, it was our wedding.
All in all, I think everyone had fun and everyone got along. Sarah and I could not have been more pleased. I will post pictures as they come and I will now leave the next part of the story to Sarah.

Wedding - Part I

I am now a married man, kind of a trip when I first think about it. However, it was my idea after all (I did propose) and Sarah is great so it is pretty cool. All weddings have to be an adventure and full of excitement, but it sure did seem like ours was way full of it. We left for North Carolina on Sunday the 17th. We planned on getting the wedding license on Monday and that would have allowed me to play Pinehurst with Todd. We had already left Maggie at the kennel. We were a little over an hour out of Birmingham when we heard a pop. Sarah and I looked at each other and I asked, "What was that?" It turns out "that" was the sound of our left rear tire blowing out.
Next thing I know we are fishtailing on the interstate. When all is said and done we move across both lanes and stop after hitting the guard rail on the right side. We stopped on the shoulder and some people stopped as well to make sure we were fine. None of our stuff broke and we were fine, but the blown out tire was not the only issue. My back and front bumper are in bad shape and tail lights and headlights bashed out. I fear that while the damage does not seem extensive, insurance will just total the car since the repairs will exceed the value of the car.
I wish I could have handled the car better since as I mentioned it might be a total loss. Yet, all things considered, we are fine and we didn't hit anybody. The thing that seems to be bothering me the most is the concern over the guard rail and the idea that my insurance said that potentially the state could come after my insurance to fix any guard rail damage. I wish that did not bother me but it does. I can just see some huge claim to fix a guard rail because it seems government always over pays for such projects.
We ended up getting a tow back to our apartment in Birmingham and using Sarah's car cover to cover my car until we get back. Sarah's dad rented a car for us and that turned out to work pretty good. We drove a Chrysler Pacifica to North Carolina and it is way bigger than my car or Sarah's. The car is actually sitting in the parking lot of the hotel since it is significantly cheaper to let it sit there than do two one way rentals. Since I didn't play golf with Todd I didn't bring my clubs and now we have more room to bring back presents. Not only do we have to bring back the gifts from the wedding but also the gifts from the shower Sarah had back home in April.
We stayed in Richlands until Wednesday afternoon and then drove up to Durham. Most people started arriving on Thursday. The lone exceptions were my family (arrived at 11pm) and my friends Art and Todd. Art actually took Todd, Sarah, and I out to a phenomenal place called the Angus Barn. It is a steakhouse that has a lounge called the Wild Turkey Saloon. As the name suggests it specializes in Wild Turkey and it was all great. So thanks Art! I highly recommend it if you are near the RDU airport and want a great meal. Just as a warning though, it can be a shade expensive. As you can see in the following picture with Art, Todd, and I Wild Turkey is always a great idea.
When we got back to the hotel my mom, step dad, brother, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Yaro, and Aunt Janis had just arrived. They all seemed pretty bright eyed for 11:30pm and that was only because it still felt like 8:30 to them. We all knew they should try to sleep or else they would be hurting in the morning, but we stayed up a little while and talked. On Thursday a vast majority of guests arrived including Sarah's family. Thursday my guys and I went and got out tuxes and made sure they fit. Poor Scott had pants that came past his feet. They told us to come back tomorrow, an idea that Roger and I did not like because road work turned a 15 minute drive into an almost hour long adventure. This seems like a nice place to stop. Sarah and I will alternate posts on our blogs. We will try to catch up over the next few days and also blog about New York as well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Defending My Golf Game and Corrections

First, many apologies to my Aunt Janis. She is now a regular reader and I left her off that list, so I apologize to her. To my mother, who called my round of golf into question in her response to my recent post, how dare you?!?!?!?! I set the world on fire with a 93, so there. I posted a consistent round with a 49 on the front and 44 on the back. Well, it may not have been consistent, but then again I did hit a few in the drink and yank a few left and O.B. Heads up golf courses of the world, here I come to fill your lakes and clip the limbs of your trees with errant shots.
We spoke to a number of lenders today and we are doing the right thing by shopping around for the best rate. The only downfall to this approach is that it now seems like we have more information than we know what to do with. We have it narrowed down to three lenders that we might use. Most importantly, we found a home that we really, really dig. We tried calling our agent's assistant (since the agent is on vacation) to put together a tentative offer, but we called around 5pm and she was with another client she did not call us back. I guess we will have to do that tomorrow.

Friday, May 25, 2007

School's Out For Summer!

My fiancee has called me out about not entering a blog entry since, well, it is not important. Also, the school year is now over so I have no real excuse to not be better about this. My classes were alright enough this semester. One class I was absolutely not a fan of, but it was washed out by the one I loved. My third was ok enough. The bottom line is that school is over and I got to go golfing today.
This gives me more time to focus on more important things (in no particular order): buying a house, getting married, the dog, and grad exam tutoring. Sarah and I adopted a dog a little over two months ago. She is a funny looking Corgi mix with a big body on short legs, but she is adorable. She is an adult dog who is already housetrained, no accidents in the house. I cannot emphasize how great that is. Plus, she just graduated from her training class at Petsmart. The sad part is that she has a diploma, a claim some students of mine might not be able to make.Sarah and I are in the process of trying to buy a house, an experience that is both really awesome and frustrating at the same time. The wedding is about here and I figure that weddings aren't that hard, if you are the guy. I can make this general point with one story: it took me 30 minutes to pick the tuxes and about 10 times longer for Sarah to find her dress, find the shoes, and then get it altered. Damn, being a dude rocks!
This will hopefully satisfy my reading audience (Mom and Sarah) and prevent future inquiries about when I will post again, so there!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Back at it

The new semester is two weeks old and I am starting to get settled in. This semester I enjoy a wonderful luxury: for the first time at Pleasant Grove High School I am teaching the same classes I taught in the first semester. In the past three semesters I have been creating new activities for each new class and it has been quite the time killer. Now, it is a matter of just modifying what I already have. I can look back at the plans from last semester and say to myself either that went great so I will do it again or I need to work on that a little more before doing that lesson again. It is not like I don't work, but it is not as stressful.
I had morning duty the first week back and that was not fun! Despite the benefit of teaching the same classes it was difficult to get back in the swing of things when I did not have my time in the morning to get ready. The morning duty meant I had to stay later after school because I lost that time in the morning. Luckily, it was only a week.
My new classes have been pretty good so far. There are a few kids who are starting to talk in class a little more than I would like. However, that is something a new seating chart can fix. If they still talk then it is time to start calling home. I am glad the kids are so well behaved at the beginning of the semester because in all honesty, the stuff we cover in world history at the very beginning is not exactly the most interesting stuff in the world.
A number of wedding issues are being resolved. I wish I could take credit for it, but it is really all Sarah. For further details on wedding plans, just take a look at Sarah's blog. There is a link for it off to the side.
This weekend has been pretty eventful. Sarah is on a basketball road trip so I have been on my own. I have found ways to keep myself out of trouble. After school on Friday I went to the girls basketball game for 3rd place in the county championship. We won by about 5 points, we were up by about 4-8 points the whole game. Sure would have been nice if we could have pulled away, but what are you going to do?
Saturday I had to use my alarm because my car had to go to the shop. I had to wait for about 4 hours, but it was an excellent opportunity to get some grading done. When I finished I strolled through the Honda dealership and looked at cars I do not need and can't afford. Everything works out though since while my car is not much to look at, it still runs pretty well with the occasional repair that has to get done just because parts go out every few years. A couple of folks and I met up for dinner on Saturday for Ford's 29th birthday. Then we went to the boys basketball game for the county championship. At one point Pleasant Grove was down 17 points in the 3rd quarter and came back to win it in overtime.
Today I have some more school work to do, but I am putting that off as much as possible. Maybe I will do some work around here instead.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Back home!

Sarah and I got back home on Thursday. Overall, it was a pretty eventful two weeks. We have a number of wedding items squared away. We got to see both of our families and came across an interesting fact on the way home to Birmingham from North Carolina. On every trip to North Carolina it seems like we come across a million Waffle House restaurants. It turns out that number is a little off. The actual number is more like 60. The trip, one-way, is about 600 miles. This averages out to about one Waffle House every 10 miles. However, there are actually some exits with two Waffle Houses, both within eye sight of the interstate! I guess the business plan of Waffle House assumes that people will not cross under the interstate for a meal.
Once we got home Sarah and I both had to work on Friday. Actually, Sarah was supposed to travel with the women's basketball team. The only problem was the bus did not have enough space for everyone and Sarah was a real team player and volunteered to stay home. So we spent the weekend cleaning up the apartment. We cleaned up quite a bit even if it may not look like it. We also went to a wedding reception for one of the teachers from work. The husband is from Morocco and it was a real trip to be a part of a reception with a number of Arabic features.
The first day of the 2nd semester is tomorrow. After having the last two weeks off it sure is difficult to go back to work. Perhaps going back to school will get me back in the swing of things.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wedding Plans

No, I am not planning to blog every other day. It just so happens that two days after my previous entry that I had more information to post. Yesterday, Sarah and I went into Durham to handle some wedding business. Sarah's mom also went with us. Our 6 hours in the area were more than productive.
We had an 11:30 appointment with a bakery, Ambrosia Cake Creations, at a coffee shop. She had her own bakery, but we met her at a random coffee shop because she was there for another business she runs. As weird as that sounds she was a pretty cool lady. She had a number of binders with cake ideas and she even provided us with samples. This lady was all over it with her paperwork and everything. The hardest thing was that eventhough she had 5 binders for us to look through, there was not one picture that was everything we wanted. We had to bookmark a whole bunch of pages and then piece our cake together. It was hard to describe what we wanted because it seemed like we were saying things like, "we want this in a different color" or "we want this in that shape." By no means was it the baker's fault, it was just difficult. We left there with a solid idea of what we wanted.
We then went off to the second cake appointment across town with Edible Art Bakery, a bakery that we had tasted at a bridal fair. This place does pound cake and I remember being real impressed with the sample at the fair. It was real ironic because the lady at the second bakery was nowhere near as warm or friendly as the first baker. I am not a business major and so what I know about running a business you can fit into a thimble, but I know that you should come out and introduce yourself. The lady at the second place did none of that. I guess that doesn't really matter because it is not a niceness competition. The question is who makes the best cake and the second place does by far. We are having a three-tiered pound cake and a small groom's cake. The top layer of the main cake is the only chocolate tier, but you don't serve the top tier. The tradition is that the couple freezes the top tier and eats it after their first year of marriage. Well, there will be a chocolate cake for me and my guests at my wedding and that is where the groom's cake comes in to play.
Once we had the cake all figured out Sarah and her mom went to a wedding dress shop that Sarah found online, A Bridal World. She went there because they carry the dress maker that made the dress that she liked in Stockton. Since it was dress related business I had to get the heck out of there. I had the car at least, but I was in Raleigh. It is a nice town, but it is pretty big and it is not like I knew the area. So what is a cheap, tightwad like me to do with 90 minutes on my own? I found a free activity that chewed up plenty of time: touring apartments. The girls who work these places have nothing better to do anyways. I emphasize girls because I challenge you to go look for apartments and tell me how many guys you see working behind the desks as customer service, not maintenance. It seems like it has to be the #1 employer for young women aged in their mid-20s. In my mind I can see these girls in the office of their high school guidance counselor. Their counselor says, "well, you are relatively good looking and have no real ambition, have you thought about working at an apartment complex?" Back to the point. Sarah called me and said I could come pick them up.
After I left them at the bridal shop one of Sarah's bridal party members came by and helped with the dress process. I am not sure who was more excited to see her either: Darlene or Sarah. The major accomplishment of the day was that Sarah found a dress and veil. She is beyond excited about it.
After the dress shop we stopped by a Whole Foods Market and asked their floral department if they did flowers for weddings and they do. This excited us to no end because actual floral shops charge an arm, a leg, and a kidney (just for good measure). Besides, we are getting married in a garden. It is not like we will need as many flowers your normal wedding would need. After a late lunch or early dinner at Jimmy John's (delicious, by the way) we headed home. Overall, a very productive day.