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Oct 3rd, 2016 - 11:54 pm - Tupperware party : Nashville 2016
pine cone
Good evening Lj readers,

how are things? Hopefully well. I : am back! from a recent trip I took to Nashville, TN with my friends John & Brian. Earlier in the month of September I had also traveled to Austin, TX. Usually I don't take two vacations in one month, but I had nicely gotten a small dividend check from some stocks in my name, and it was 98% the cost of the on-sale flight, so... yeah!

* Saturday (part 1 of 2)

We were fortunate when booking the trip to have happened to visit when the Smithsonian was hosting its annual 'free museum' day. We took advantage of the promotion and downloaded tickets online.
After landing, getting a rental car, returning it for one with working A/C and eating breakfast @ a Shoney's outside the Holiday Inn Express, we drove downtown to the Frist, a spacious Art Deco post office converted into a museum. They had sports cars, art nouveau pottery by female throwers and surreal nature scenes as the exhibits. I even did a 'reverse' engraving (on styrofoam) of the word 'NashvillE' (complete with capital 'E') and ink-rolled it on a machine.

* Saturday (part 2 of 2)

After that it was on to the 36-room Belmont Mansion, a large antique house on the Vanderbilt University grounds (indeed, much of the university's grounds were, in fact, once owned by the Belmonts). Humourously, the Belmont staff were not aware of the 'free museum' promo, despite being listed on the website. Additionally, the manor is "by guided tour only", so indeed, a full day for the building and staff! Lovely older rooms, including a bit of the original furniture as well. A small staircase to a no-longer-used observatory deck was also present in the house.
In the evening we went to Centennial park, a large park with a lake and replicate of the Parthenon, the famous Greco-Roman building of old. Huge columns and a big metal door with animals and gorgons carved on it awaited us. The inside part, closed for the day, cost extra to enter. John and Brian had a buy 1, get 1 free coupon and visited later on while I did other things.

* Sunday

Today was an "explore downtown" day. I suggested this day because it was free parking many places. We headed to the state capital, with its large empty courtyard and nearby statues and fountains. A memorial to president James K. Polk, moved from another location, was actually nearby. After that we did a fun thing and went to the downtown Sheraton. They had a 25-story open lobby, with glass elevators! One did need a key to use them, but once someone get off we simply got on ;) . Quite a view from the 22nd floor, the highest one the elevator could take us.
After a brief amusing foray into "Nashville's fanciest bathroom" at a nearby hotel (green and black marble floors and shoe-shine seats contained within), J & B headed off to the nearby country & western music museum while I explored downtown. I saw the stadium where the Titans were playing a game, some colorful murals, tried a new varietal of apple (suncrisp) and popped into two churches. One had Mass in session and the other, with pretty stained-glass windows, was just beginning to prep for a wedding later on that day.

* Monday

Courtesy a Groupon promotion, today we amused ourselves with an all-you-can-play-all-day pinball and video game place (Game Galaxy), for about $5.66 / person (normally $10). I played 36 (yes, 36!) games of pinball, which sounds like a lot, but pinball games often aren't all that long.
In the evening we drove out to the expansive Gaylord Opry hotel and convention center. Inside were two large garden rooms! Like, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory large. A self-contained river (with boat rides available) ran through one. Both had many waterfalls, small and large, as well as real plants. Hotel room's balconies looked out on everything. Three story conference rooms, some designed with New Orleans balconies, as well as restaurants were also present. Koi fish were in the 2nd of the two sections.
The non-garden parts of the hotel were nice as well - carpeted everywhere, lots of space, even a smoking balcony.

* Tuesday

In the first part of the day, J & B (and I) visited The Hermitage, the large country house of former president Andrew Jackson. I had (incorrectly) assumed that the grounds would be open and just the house 'roped off', but oh no, lol. So indeed I just played on my tablet and walked around the grassy parking lot whilst they looked inside the similar-to-the-Belmont-Mansion house.
After a lunch @ Cici's pizza (two words : "Tupperware party"), John nicely drove us to another park so I could enjoy some nature too. Cumberland park, vaguely close to where I spotted the Titans playing on Sunday, was along side the river downtown. A glass elevator took one up three or so levels to the Shelby Street bridge, a pedestrian walkway with nice views of the river.

For a gallery of 11 pictures of everything, one may click here ~

Okay. Have a good night!

Take care,
* Geoff
Sep 27th, 2016 - 12:05 am - My tweets
random image 9 - Twilight
  • Mon, 23:22: Instead of watching TV stars debate American dream, reading Dream debate stars in #NeilGaiman 's Sandman : overture. Much better use of time
Sep 15th, 2016 - 09:49 pm - The cool part of town : Austin 2016
random image 9 - Twilight
Good evening Lj readers,

how are things? Hopefully well. I : am back! from a recent trip I took to Austin, TX. I did something new and put in a hotel bid via Priceline's "express deals" service, in which you pay a set amount and the company picks the hotel for you. I got one right next to downtown, in a good location (and saved $16 / night). woo!

* Wednesday

After arriving in town and Supershuttle-ing to the hotel, I walked along the north side of town to a cafe' on the west side for which I had a coupon. Intending to do a circle of downtown, I stopped at various places. The weather was quite warm while I was there - I observed people tended to wait in the shade when at the crosswalks, even if the shade wasn't next to the road, heh. Thankfully the humidity wasn't overtly high or low.
I went into a Whole Foods on Lamar (right next to the corporate offices!), where I found some interesting foods including a blonde (white) cucumber and a pink pearl apple (which was pink on the inside!). At a nearby fancy Starbucks I picked up an Austin-only gift card and tried a rare Clover reserve coffee from Ethiopia (Gedab).
In the early evening I walked along the riverside and across the famous Congress bridge, known for the bats which live underneath it and come out during twilight, but it was earlier on when I was there.

Some ceramic skulls at a Dia de Los Muertos-themed store near the river.

* Thursday

Today was an "explore University of Texas" day. U of T (Austin), one of the two largest colleges in the US (OSU here in Columbus is the other) is located just north of the city. After visiting a deli too early to order lunch yet, I relaxed at a nearby Starbucks and tried another Clover coffee - La Roca from Nicaragua. After eating I headed to the Blanton museum, a sort of on-campus art gallery. The top floor, where most of the collection was housed, was closed for renovations but the bottom level was open. I saw some Goya sketches and Xu Bing's Book of the Sky, invented-language media which consisted of about 4,000 made-up characters. Amazing!
I continued walking around campus, past statues of horses and in and out of various buildings (the arena, the science building etc). I admired students in suits - quite a feat in warm Texas weather.
Later in the day I arrived at the Harry Ransom Center, another art center of sorts, on west campus. There I saw a Gutenberg bible, the first ever photograph and a retrospect of photographer Elliot Erwitt's works. Heading back to the hotel, I randomly discovered an Asian noodle place (Ramen Fukuya) and had a delicious vegetarian bowl.

* Friday

Today was an "explore South Congress" (the 'gay neighborhood' of Austin) day. After lunch at a deli, I headed south down the Congress bridge. Quirky shops awaited on the other side, as well as the usual things (apartments, an Aveda etc). Although reading about it, I didn't necessarily have a plan to stop at Big Top Candy, a well-stocked candy shop, but found myself encountering it on my walk. I went inside and bought a piece of chicken-and-waffles-flavored salt water taffy, as well as some roast-beef-flavored gum (yes, roast-beef-flavored gum).
Food trucks were here, as they are in many parts of Austin as a whole. I had some ideas as to where to eat already, but indeed yesterday, when exploring the University area, stopped at one and bought a carrot-cake-flavored snow cone.
I headed west some more, through quiet residential neighborhoods, then turned north again and cut back through downtown to the hotel. Quite a walk!

A mural near the university, of a main tower from the university!

* Saturday

I checked out of my hotel (enjoying a summer rain 'bath bomb' the evening before), then left my luggage with the front desk boy. Today was an 'explore the capital' day. Austin is the capital of Texas as as whole, and the government agencies meet in a tall, classical dark tan rotunda building surrounded by grass essentially just west of where my Super 8 room was.
The main circular area inside has portraits of all of past (and, I assume, present) governor(s) of the state hanging on the curved walls, some on each of the four levels going up to the 'lone' star at the very top of the ceiling. I saw Ann Richards' picture as I randomly explored. The senate was not in session, so the second-story room was open to the general public. They even had an original historical chair, used up until the 1950's or so, on display!
Overall Austin had lots of fun new things to eat, as indicated in this LJ entry, heh. A fair number of surfaces in most parts of town have detailed murals painted on them. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the subjects - horses are next to a girl in 3-d glasses, for example. The pictures are multi-colored and often meticulous - a real testament to 'street painting'.

For a gallery of 11 pictures, one may click here ~ !

Okay. Have a good night!

Take care,
* Geoff
Aug 19th, 2016 - 12:44 am - Rowing
Paul Robinett candle
Good evening Lj readers,

how are things? Here they have been reframed.

Here are the 90's techno songs of the day :

* From the desk of Geoff

Things have been well here. The days are warm and the cicadas are buzzing in the trees - summer is here! We've had slightly 'more' rain than usual, which, humidity aside, is actually nice for the warmer months. I've been able to do some fun things, including trying a pineapple & sage-flavored macaroon (earlier today!), getting a frame for a picture I painted at the local library's free classes and... booking a trip!
I originally nicely had a plan to visit Austin, TX in September. My friends John and Brian hoped to visited Nashville, TN at the end of September themselves. I nicely happened to get a stock dividend check two days after they booked it, which by a coincidence was almost the exact same amount as the road-trip ticket ($120). So I said, hey let's go!

* Lake Erie

Speaking of unplanned vacations, earlier on last Wednesday my friend Scott and I went on a road trip to Cleveland for the day. S was looking at the UPS up there for a possibility of a job transfer. Before that - which itself was literally just a 3-minute drive through the parking lot - we went further north up to the Ohio / lake Erie border. Some nearby rain prevented people from getting on the beach, though indeed it was sunny where we were. A quiet park with an interesting tunnel that run under the road to the rest of the park on the other side was nearby.
On the way up we stopped @ Grandpa's Cheese Barn, a sort of large novelty store with food for sale and many free samples. I tried some orange-popsicle-flavored cream cheese, randomly.

* IRC reunion (part 1 of 2)

Earlier this month, prompted by college friend Dwayne, I headed up to BG for an IRC reunion! My goodness, how super it was. The IRC was a school-only chat which essentially existed from 1991-ish to about 2000. Many of my school friends I first met using it. We coincidentally met the same day the summer school kids were graduating, but by the time we visited campus in the afternoon most of the school was peaceful and empty.
We started off meeting at near-campus place Pollyeyes, a small but popular pizza eatery which, ironically, I myself didn't have any strong memories of from my school times. Some other people were coming in from far away - organizer Dwayne flew in from California! - and arrived later. After that we headed over to local long-running coffee-and-bookstore Grounds for Thought.

* IRC reunion (part 2 of 2)

Originally planning to attend were Dwayne (IRC nickname : Hound), Bruce (Spoons), Kendra (RisingSun), Sharon (Burk), Mandi (Emerald), Amanda (Earthangel) and me. At the last minute my friend John rearranged his schedule, and he and I carpooled up. We were surprised by three 'bonus' guests as well, who did not announce via online they were attending : Amy (Princess), Randy (Scarecrow) and Colleen (Veronica)! How super was that. Amusingly, Colleen was objectively in Grounds for Thought anyway, and essentially just walked over.
After coffee and chatting, most of us (Sharon had to head off - she was visiting family as well) walked around campus. I showed people the computer lab that was named after me - something I usually don't mention, but fun and appropriate given that we all met via computers.
It was great seeing everybody - a real fun reunion!

* Misc. other

Some other small things, for which I am thankful : finding a half-dozen new flavors of salt water taffy at a local candy store, for which I myself have never tried (including stout beer and basked Alaska!). that game Animal Crossing will be having a mobile app coming out this autumn - hopefully fun!. being able to sleep in many days of the week. friendly neighbors. gold beets being in season.

Okay. Have a good night!

Take care,
* Geoff
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