So remember those last two posts? No? Well, there were two posts here that didn't make any sense. Spam, if you will. See, what had happened was that my yahoo address got hacked, and I happened to have the address I used to use to post in my contacts, so there you go. On the bright side, at least the blog itself didn't actually get hacked. But if anyone clicked on the link that I "posted" or "sent", sorry about that. I need to get back on here, though. I miss it. That having been said, not now.

Long Overdue Rough Draft

Well, I've finally gotten my hands on a new desktop that can handle the kind of video editing I want to do, and that means it's time to go poring through many hours of footage that needs to be cataloged, edited, compiled, and produced. Just for fun, I went through the footage from the Nashville trip the guys and I took a couple of years ago that I said I was going to edit, and I threw this together. I forgot to add transitions, so it's a bit rough, but it's a jumping off point. Oh, and you can watch in HD, which is also cool.

(Side note - guys, I'll send you each a copy of the DVD I'll make from this once I get it all put together and trimmed up.)


Jessica: Luke, next Thursday is your first day of Kindergarten! Are you excited?

Luke: Yes. But Mommy, Thursday is garbage truck day.

Jessica: I know.

Luke: Mommy, I can't go to school before I see the garbage truck.

Here's to RSS Readers

Been a while, hasn't it? Well, I kind of lost my motivation there for a while, but I'm hopping back on the blog here to try out the old digs again. It'd be pointless to go into all the happenings of the past year in detail (those who are reading here are probably Facebook friends, so you know about it anyway,) so we'll just dive back into the present.

First, the kids. Luke is five now, and he'll be starting kindergarten here in a few weeks, which will bring to an end the era of being able to plan trips at any time of year. Sad on one hand, but on the other hand, that kid is ready for some school. He's the most curious and observant little kid I've ever seen. Always with the questions like "how does this work? what's that made of?" And while I love that he's going to prove smart, answering questions that I really don't know the answer to can get tiresome. So school will be good for him. Ronin is three, and he is a monster in every sense of the word. He's almost the same size as Luke (they can wear the same size clothes,) and he's built like a linebacker. If he ends up with that size and my brother's athletic prowess, watch out. Unfortunately, however, he may end up about as coordinated as I was when I was a kid (which was not very.) Also since he's this age, he is a miserable person. I don't know if everyone has this experience with three-year-olds, but in short, mine have been awful people. Luke is better now, which gives me hope for Ronin, who a year ago was a gregarious, outgoing, fearless little boy and is presently bad-tempered, demanding, and scared of everyone and everything. But we still love him. As for little Renae, she's pretty much the cutest baby ever. There are only good things to say about five-month-olds, after all. She pretty much just sits there and smiles and makes cute baby noises. The boys love her to death, which is both good and dangerous. They don't quite realize the size difference between them and her (mostly the oafish Ronin,) so we have to keep a pretty close eye on their interactions.

As for personal stuff, I'm still pretty much a fat guy, but I'm getting on a program to make that different. This has happened a few times before with moderate success followed by reinflating, but this time I've got a pretty good feeling about it. The thing with me is that I have to have a routine that I can follow constantly, and it's good to have my food regulated to "you can eat the following things, and if you eat anything else, here's how to do it." So Jessica and I are on the Power 90 program right now (which is the precursor to the P90X, because we're just not in good enough shape to do that yet,) and it's feeling good. We get up at 6:00-6:30 every morning and work out for about 40 minutes. I haven't been able to stay up as late as I typically like to, which is a drawback for me, but at the same time I feel good all day long and I have energy like I didn't have before, even with the same amount of sleep. I'll get into results once we finish the program--we've only been doing it for a week and a half now, so I don't want to talk it up too much just yet. Hopefully the results will be dramatic enough to post some before and after pictures.

I think blogging feels good again. I won't get into a bunch of media recommendations or witty anecdotes just yet (namely because I don't have any at the moment,) but that will come later. I do have just a few recommendations, though:

*If you haven't seen Breaking Bad, the AMC series, watch all three seasons immediately.
*If you haven't seen Inception, run - do not walk - to your nearest movie theater and take care of that.
*If you want to hear some good music, check out the new Black Keys album, called "Brothers." It's fantastic. I had just about given up hope that this group would release an album that sounded a bit different from all their others, and this one did the trick. Great stuff.

Goodbye, Harry

For my money, the best baseball announcer around died today. Harry Kalas called games for the Phillies since 1971, including every memorable Phillies moment in the last 40 years. Every good memory I have of the Phillies is accompanied by his play-by-play. I can still tell you word-for-word how he called Mike Schmidt's 500th homerun in 1987. Even if you don't know him from the Phillies, you've probably heard him narrating NFL films or doing voiceover on any number of commercials - most notably the Chunky Soup spots featuring NFL players. You may not know the name, but even if you're not a sports fan, you know the voice. I grew up listening to Harry Kalas, and in my mind there is no other announcer when it comes to baseball. Listening to the sport will never be the same for me. It sounds melodramatic, but it's true. So goodbye, Harry. Thanks for the memories.

We Interrupt This Vacation Story...

With a special announcement. As of a few days ago, my wife has joined the ranks of the bloggers. I can tell by her first post that she's going to be good at this, so check it out. I'm adding the feed to my list of blogs as well. Till next time.


European Odyssey, Part 3

Alright, after another overnight train to Vienna followed by the reason we got to go to Europe in the first place (the annual Manager Meeting), I'm on a plane from Amsterdam to Memphis with some time to write. There's a little baby up front who is not enjoying the flight much at all, so I'm going to put on some Explosions in the Sky (good writing music – or at least better ambience than small babies crying) and get down to bidness.

After Nuremburg, we took the train into Munich, where we stayed the night. We were booked for two nights in Munich, after spending only one night each in Berlin, Dresden and Dusseldorf, so it was a relief not to have to carry our bags around the next morning. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it got a bit old moving from place to place – even with only one piece of large luggage for each of us. So anyway, the next day we were slated to go and see King Ludwig's castles. That is, Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.

The castles were about a 45-minute train ride from Munich, in a town called Fussen. Fussen is a small place that looks like it hasn't changed much for a long time, at least as far as outward appearance. There were the little houses that you think of when you think of little dorfs in Germany, and of course there were the castles up on the hills. The feeling of oldness was slightly marred by newer restaurants and souvenir stands, but we're forgiving of that.

The castles were awesome. Unfortunately there were no cameras allowed inside, but here are some shots of the outside.

Here's Hohenschwangau.

We took tours of both castles, which were possessed by the aforementioned "Mad" King Ludwig. He grew up in Hohenschwangau and commissioned Neuschwanstein to be built during his final years. He died young, in his mid-twenties, so he only got to live in the castle for about six months total if I'm remembering correctly. But hey, if you're interested in that, there's always Wikipedia.

The things that stand out about the inside of the castle were the throne room (which was incomplete, having never actually gotten a throne) and the cave room. Yes, a cave room. Adjacent to the King's bedroom was another room that had been fashioned into a cave. Using plaster, the builders had made it into a rather convincing-looking replica, complete with stalagmites and such. Having been in a few actual caves, I thought the fa├žade was quite impressive. So this was apparently where Ludwig would go sometimes to be by himself. Sure, there were 60 rooms in the castle, but who wants to be alone in a regular room when you can be alone in your own personal not-actually-subterranean lair? And of course, here are some pictures from the outside:

From the town below

From the Gatehouse

View of the Gatehouse from the Inside (they let you take pictures out the windows; just not inside.)

And a few more for fun. This place was enormous.

After the tours, we stopped at a shop and bought a nutcracker. How can you be in Germany and not buy a nutcracker, right? At this point the day was pretty much over and we headed back to the hotel, where there was sausage for all to have. Or at least me. I tried the Munich white sausage, which I hadn't had the pleasure of tasting before. It wasn't bad, despite the frightening color. I didn't have it again during our stay in Munich, because the taste wasn't good enough to overcome the fact that I was eating white sausage. It's rare for me that the appearance of a food causes me not to consume it, but such was the case here.

Speaking of the white sausage, that reminds me of the breakfasts at the hotels where we stayed. I don't know if I've mentioned it yet, but we stayed in all of our hotels for free because of the points I'd saved up during my time living in a Fort Wayne Marriott. So it was Marriotts all the way. The breakfasts came with the hotel stay, and they were unbelievable. I think I was probably more of a fan than Jessica since I'm used to European food, but they weren't too shabby by any standards. Think of your American continental breakfast at a hotel. You've got your eggs from a carton, bacon, sausage, toast, fruit, maybe some muffins, and cereal, right? And usually it's not actually all of those things. Well, that was all there. Plus there was about 4-5 different kinds of bread (German bread rules), 5-6 different kinds of pastries, a bunch of different yogurts (and quark, which is like yogurt with extra bacteria), a whole lot of fruit, and meats. Lunch meats, different kinds of sausage, sometimes there were meatballs, and usually at least one or two kinds of potatoes. This is not to mention the fact that they have Nutella in Germany. If you're not familiar, Nutella is a chocolate spread that they use kind of like peanut butter. That is, putting it on bread and whatnot. I'm not a big Nutella guy, but Jessica was pretty excited. So yeah, the spreads in ol' Deutschland were pretty impressive.

So the next day was our last in Munich (and Germany), and we took a day trip to the Dachau concentration camp. There's not much history to add here, as you all know what the deal is with concentration camps. I've got to say, though, that knowing about them and visiting one are two very different things. Going to Dachau wasn't what I would call an enjoyable experience. It wasn't fun, by any means. But I definitely don't regret going. Knowing what happened at these places lends the grounds a gravity that you have to experience to understand.

Germany requires all students to visit a concentration camp as part of their curriculum, which is an admirable thing, and certainly not unnecessary for a country with its history. If there ever was a way to keep history from repeating itself, that is it. So there were some students on the grounds when we were there. They were kids, and they didn't always act so seriously obviously, but you could tell at certain times that most of them were impacted. This was especially true in the museum portion of the grounds, which was the former registration building where prisoners came when they arrived. This was the only part of the grounds which gave a history and an accounting of what went on there, and the rest stood largely in silence to be observed. I'll finish this portion with pictures. I tried to get as many pictures as possible without people in them. It doesn't completely give the feeling of stark coldness that you feel in certain parts of the site, but I think that this place, once teeming with thousands and now standing empty as a reminder of what humans did to other humans, has a certain weight even just with pictures.


Roll Call Area


Former Barracks Site (Every plot is where a building stood)

The Crematorium

Inscription: Remember How We Died Here

Memorial in Front of the Museum

This is probably a long enough post for now, so I'll be back later with more.