Monthly Archives: February 2011

My first IPad post

I don’t actually have an IPad but Jim does, so I borrowed it to see how I like it. Eventually my net book will need to be replaced and maybe I’ll get one of these. Or maybe not. So far it’s kind of awkward and I can’t figure out how to insert pictures. Does anyone blog with an iPad? anyway, I think this counts as a new experience.

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Twitter

A few days ago I listed “Twitter” as a new experience I would like to have.  My savvy and always up-to-date with what’s going on in the world friend, Gwen, was kind enough to give me some basic tips, such as using Tweetdeck and telling me why people put things like RT, @ and # before everything they write.   To be fair, I wasn’t totally new to Twitter, because I still had an account from when I’d tried it before and just didn’t get it.   But I think I get it now.

Unfortunately I still don’t really like it much.   I finally just had to turn Tweetdeck off because it was driving me nuts, popping up and “tweeting” things like where my friends were eating lunch or whatever Keith Olbermann was indignant about at any given time.  It was like having a houseful of children running in as I was trying to concentrate and work, saying, “Mom look at me!”,  “I think the President’s an idiot!”,  “I’m eating at Panera right now!”,  “They’re protesting in Wisconsin!”  “I like baseball!”  “Its sunny/snowy/rainy right now!”,   etc, etc, etc

To be fair, I don’t like verbal “tweeting” or chattering much either.  Too much jabbering inevitably makes me irritable and gives me a headache, and I can only take it in small doses.    Listening to people talk all day is the main thing I do to earn a living, and I’m frequently interrupted in my office with phone calls and a steady stream of people showing up at my desk as I try to get things done, so adding the Tweets on top of all that was just too much.     And I honestly could not think of one single “hashtag” topic that I would want to read about whenever anyone in the world felt like emitting 140 characters or less about it.

So now I’ve tried Twitter, and I do like having the account and being able to go into the website on MY time, when I feel like it.   But I read through past tweets, more like I do Facebook updates, rather than keeping up in real-time.   I like following my friends, but not while I’m trying to talk on the phone to an attorney, have a patient in crisis, am 3 reports behind and need to plan next week’s group presentation.    I guess I am not surprised—I also hated it when AIM was popular, and almost always have the “chat” feature on Facebook turned off.  I usually prefer email to phone calls to relay/receive information.  But I can now officially cross learning Twitter off my list.  Now, who wants to take me on a photo safari of Africa?

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Sherman’s March to the Sea

A new thing learned:  I didn’t know Columbia was burned in 1865 during Sherman’s March to the Sea .  This month marked the 146th anniversary.  The name is a little misleading as he apparently actually went from Atlanta to Savannah, then turned around and came back through South Carolina and up into North Carolina. So technically I guess he’d already been to the Sea and was headed back North.

This link I found on a Columbia tourist blog, describes the history:

Having successfully completed his march to the sea by capturing Savannah in December of 1864, Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman planned his invasion of South Carolina. His target was Columbia, the state capital where the secession movement began and considered by Sherman’s generals to the be a richer prize and more important capture than any city in the South. On January 30, 1865, Sherman’s 65,000-man army launched the invasion moving ten to twelve miles a day, burning a swath sixty miles wide in grim determination readily viewed as retribution. An abundance of alcohol greeted the Union army as it entered Columbia on February 17, 1865. Vengeful attitude fueled by drunkenness culminated in the looting and burning of the city–an act described by a Union war correspondent as “the most monstrous barbarity of the barbarous march.” Visit www.shermansmarch.com for a video documentary of first-hand accounts of Sherman’s March to Columbia and the burning of the city.

and this one also gives some insight:

Still, the real devastation did not begin until Sherman’s men hit South Carolina in February 1865. The March to the Sea had been total war, but it had been conducted almost as a philosophical exercise. We must break the will of these people to resist, we must show them that they cannot continue to fight us. If some eggs get broken — or eaten — well, we’re sorry about that. The march through South Carolina was different. Sherman, Sherman’s army, Northerners in general, hated South Carolina. South Carolina was — and obviously quite deservedly so — the symbol of Southern secessionist defiance. When the army entered South Carolina, it was total war with a vengeance, not just burning and looting and destroying, but burning, looting, and destroying with conviction. The capital city of Columbia was burned. The army said it was an accident, and it seems clear today that it was, but many of Sherman’s troops agreed that if the accident had not taken place they would have done it on purpose. At least 13 other cities were burned. Right before the army left Savannah, Sherman wrote, “Don’t forget that when you have crossed the Savannah River you will be in South Carolina. You need not be so careful there about private property as we have been. The more of it you destroy the better it will be. The people of South Carolina should be made to feel the war, for they brought it on and are responsible more than anybody else for our presence here. Now is the time to punish them.”

Given this history, it seems a little weird for the city to invite everyone to an event commemorating the invasion and describe it as:”:  a full day of fun activities for all ages will begin with Union canon firing once again upon the South Carolina State House. Join the troops as a spectator on the West Columbia side of the Gervais Street Bridge on the left.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my short tenure as a South Carolinian, ANY excuse for BBQ and beer is a good reason to celebrate.


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New experiences I would like to have

Things I’ve never done that I’d like to be able to blog about:

  • Attend a dog show
  • Go to the new Harry Potter park at Universal Studios
  • Go to a polo match
  • Travel to South America (I will in March!)
  • Open an E-trade account.  Just because I like the baby commercials so much.
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Attend a college football game
  • Meet my fantasy BFF Rachel Maddow
  • Go on a big-game safari (the photo kind, not the gun kind)
  • Go to Comic Con
  • Have or attend a wine tasting party
  • Figure out how to use Twitter
  • Learn a totally new skill/craft

What’s on your list?

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Whale Sharks, Djibouti and Steak & Shake

We’re currently site-seeing in Atlanta, which in itself is a new experience. We’ve driven and flown through this city many times, but never stopped to do the tourist things.  In fact I usually go out of my way to avoid Atlanta. That could be because I’ve missed umpteen connecting flights and spent way too much time stressed in the airport which seems to pride itself on hiring the rudest people in the world. Or it could be because of that time we spent several hours sitting on the tarmac watching out the plane window while Bubba-Joe tried to duct-tape the wing back on the plane. Or maybe its the maze of interstates filled with Nascar-driving wannabe’s weaving in and out of 8 lanes of traffic.  Anyway, Atlanta has never been high on my radar when I’ve thought of “great vacation destinations”.   This time though we were looking for a long weekend type of place, not too cold, and within a 1/2 day’s drive, and it seemed a good choice.

When we got into town last night, we by-passed all the fancy downtown options and headed to our favorite restaurant where we all ate enough to experience what our daughter Jenny calls a “food baby.”

Pretending like I work at Steak & Shake. Which I don't because the one time I applied they didn't hire me, a fact which wounds me to this day.

We then found our way to a local mall, waddled in,  and had yet another new experience: a pleasant shopping experience with a 14 year old girl.  Anna found the perfect dress for an upcoming dance, the 2nd one she tried on.  Totally appropriate, cut neither too high nor too low, and for less than $30. After an obligatory bookstore trip, we returned to our hotel to prepare for the busy day of site-seeing ahead.

To start the day, I of course performed the ceremonial fanny-pack preparations. As much as everyone likes to make fun of my fanny pack, I can’t help but notice they sure like to use it to help hold all their stuff.

We made it to 3 downtown destinations today:  CNN, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Coca Cola Museum,  all tickets and tours covered by our handy-dandy City Pass ticket booklet, which I highly recommend.   Needless to say, between all 3 destinations  I learned enough new things to keep me educated for quite some time.

We can see the CNN Center from our hotel window. Unfortunately neither Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer are based here.

Jim and I both decided the CNN tour was our favorite.  We just did the basic tour, but I now have a goal to return sometime for the more in-depth, VIP version.  One of the more interesting experiences was that the bulk of our tour group consisted of foreign military members from countries such as Lebanon, Serbia and Georgia.  As our tour guide was explaining the process of getting the news on air, one asked how they got news “approved for national security purposes”.  When our guide answered that they don’t, he was obviously puzzled and asked the question again a couple different ways as the guide explained that we have “free press” and they don’t get anything approved by the government before airing it, although they do of course have teams of lawyers and a “standards department” to review things in-house.   I don’t think the soldier ever really believed him.

Anna’s favorite part of the day was the Coke museum, where they have a huge room full of soda machines where you can have your fill of tasting coke products from all over the world.   While it probably wasn’t the favorite drink (tasted a little like toothpaste) she was thrilled to find a Coke product from her all-time favorite country, which is only her favorite country because it has the funniest name.

Djibouti Juice

Although the Aquarium was nice, it didn’t win anyone’s votes for “most favorite of all-time.”  In fact the 3-D movie was about the lamest rip-off of finding Nemo we could have imagined.  However, the Aquarium did have the overall coolest experience, thanks to the behind-the-scenes tour included with our CityPass.  They have several whale sharks on exhibit, and our tour took us from this vantage point, in the general public viewing area:

Whale shark through the aquarium glass

Up to this one, where we were at the top of the huge pool:

whale shark from the top

We also learned things like this 20+ foot long shark only has a tiny little throat.  So you could theoretically swim along with him and he wouldn’t eat you, because he only eats tiny little krill.    And he really doesn’t eat much of it either.  While you might expect it to cost a fortune to feed the whale sharks in this exhibit (there are 3 or 4), each eats only a small container full of krill twice a day……less than most of us.   If we ate krill, that is.  Apparently their metabolism is so low they just don’t need much food to survive.

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Something I haven’t been able to figure out

Maybe someone can help me learn this, because I’ve never been able to figure it out. Why are airline tickets cheaper if you fly with more connections rather than directly?  For instance,  when we go to Ecuador we will fly from Charlotte to Miami to Quito.  Yet the same tickets would be quite a bit cheaper if we went from Charlotte to LaGuardia to Miami to Quito (exact same flight from Miami to Quito).  We are not going to do that, because the extra money is not worth flying all over the country…the more flights we have the more likely it is that we’ll miss a crucial one or our luggage wouldn’t make it.  I would think it would cost the airline more, not less, to take us on an extra siteseeing trip to New York, but this doesn’t seem to be an anomaly.  It is almost always cheaper to book with 1, 2 or more connections than to fly directly even if you end up on the exact same plane for the final leg. Anyone?

In case you’re wondering, I have been learning and experiencing although I haven’t been the best at sticking to the “every day thing” and there’s no way I can keep up with blogging about it all.  I do think it evens out in that some days I might not learn anything, but other days I will come away with several new bits of knowledge or a couple new experiences. For instance, this past weekend I attended my first ever Eagle Scout Ceremony and as part of that I learned quite a bit about traditional ceremonies and what the requirements are to become an Eagle Scout. Interesting!

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Norwegian Trivia

It’s 6pm on cozy casual night.  The problem for me is that the big event doesn’t start for a couple more hours.   As my dogs are reminding me, we are usually finishing up dinner and headed upstairs to spend the evening watching TV, cross-stitching, surfing, and cuddling at this point in the evening.   I’m not used to eating that late and I’m certainly not used to being out after 7!   My typical cozy casual outfit by this time in the evening looks like this:

But tonight I am headed out to a party with a Norwegian theme, so I thought I could learn something about Norway to keep me awake.   Norway is the school’s “country of study” this year, so the faculty and students are spending the year learning quite a bit about it, but I don’t know much beyond what I learned from Hagar the Horrible.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: 

Norway is about 1/2 the size of Texas

1/3 of Norway is in the Arctic Circle

Norwegians are the tallest Europeans

Sweden and Norway separated in 1905

Harald the V has been King of Norway since 1991

If they try to serve me Sheep’s Head tonight, I’m going home:

Smalahove

 

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