Monday Morning Musings for August Twenty-Third, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.
- Finally, a great weekend with family and friends alike. It all kicked off with a sushi party at our house on Friday night. At first, the plan was to make sushi but after realizing that sushi-grade fish was going to set us back nearly 400-500 bucks (not kidding!), we opted for the 2nd best thing...and perhaps THE best thing...catered from Heinen's in Hudson. Made fresh that morning, we had 160 pieces of sushi for about 20 guests on Friday night and we grilled chicken teriyaki kabobs (peppers, onions, pineapple), too. We had a blast and great to see a mix of friends from several parts of our lives. Thanks to all who came out!
- Marjie passed her CEN (Certified Emergency Nurse) exam on Friday! She has literally been studying all summer. Day after day, she has been in the dining room with her face buried in that mess of books and taking multiple multi-hour practice exams. From all testimonies, both from her and her peers, it is harder than sitting for the test to become a nurse in the first place. I escorted her up to Brook Park on Friday morning, camped out at a local Starbucks for 3 hours, and she did it! She's a very happy nurse, now, but understandably, a little bummed that the summer is over! Great job, Babe!
- At the tail end of my Starbucks camp-out above, I swung by the local Best Buy who had one last Canon G11 in stock. My research was done and I was ready to get it. They matched their online price and it was mine. I was again like a kid in a candy store. First impression was how heavy it was and bulky. I've become very used to the light and thin Canon Powershots that slip in the pocket. It's been great so far and I've had fun with it in its "raw" mode. In "raw," it doesn't perform the digital compression, etc. that digital cameras do to make the pics JPEGs. Instead, it captures it true to form and maintains the integrity of the shot. Then, using the software provided, it can be made into a JPEG for sharing while maintaining the integrity. There is certainly a lot to learn but I'm having fun so far. I set up a site just for my best pics here. It'll also be in my blog roll going forward. 2 posts so far.
- I was listening to "All Things Considered" yesterday on NPR and heard an interesting story about muscle memory. In a nutshell, it was about how nuclei are created in your muscles that remember. So, when you stop working out (or running 30 mile long runs on the weekend for fun...ME!!!), the ability to return to that level shouldn't be too difficult because supposedly, the nuclei initially created when training to do that in the past are essentially permanent. I've always heard of muscle memory but never heard the science behind it. Interesting article and a link to listen to the interview (short) can be found here on NPR's website.
- My favorite opera off all time is Phantom of the Opera. Hands down, there is nothing better in my eyes. I just love it all..the story, the romance, the passion that the Phantom has for Christine, and the powerful musical score. On Friday night, tickets were offered up to us and yesterday, I took Katherine to see it at the Allen Theater at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. Turns out, yesterday was the final performance of the season and the last show for the Allen before a major year-long transformation takes place to convert it into 3 smaller theaters. We were in the nose-bleed section up high on the balcony but it was still great. Truth be told, though, I'd pay double to be close and see the actors' faces and "feel" the music coming from the pit. There is nothing like the "Phantom."
- After the Phantom, I found the closest Melt Bar & Grilled and plotted a course to it. Melt was featured on Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel not too long ago for their $22 Melt Challenge. (see a snippet of the episode here) Let's just say it includes 3 1/2 pounds of their 13 different cheeses, a mountain of their fries, and 3 slices of their 1" thick bread. Not for me on this trip but I did want to visit it to see what the hype was all about. After about a half-hour wait, we got a table at the east-side location and Katherine got the Kindergarten...just the basic grilled cheese and I got the Mushroom Burger. Impression? That's a lot of bread!!! I like a good burger...I won't lie, but I'm not a fan of that much white bread. The internals and cheese were great, no doubt. The fries, honestly, were the star of the plate. Fresh cut, homemade seasoning, a little crunchy...perhaps the best fries I've ever had. The also stack a pile of cole slaw on the plate but with a bit of heat inside. Too much for Katherine for sure and something I'd replace as well on a repeat visit. So would I visit again? Sure I would. It would be great to visit with Marjie and some friends. I'd probably opt for one of their appetizers, instead, or their 1/2 sandwich/soup/salad combo next time, though. Worth an hour drive from my home? Nope. It was good, though, and close enough to Legacy Village and Beachwood Mall that I'm sure we'll be back again sometime.
- It's RANDOLPH FAIR WEEK!!! WOO HOO!!! There's one thing in my small town that doesn't change...that being the Randolph Fair. Old school to the max, this fair never, ever changes. It is exactly the same way it was 20 years ago when I was in high school. I remember well the demolition derby, the rides, the elephant ears, the 4-H barns (I was in the 4-H club and had a rabbit), and the magical sausage sandwiches. The vendors are even in the exact same spots each year. One year, our school system tried to start school during the fair...that did NOT go over well at all. I don't see that ever happening again! The fair even keeps the price right. Still at $4 per adult a buck for kids. On Friday, veterans and kids are free as well so I think it's safe to bet where we'll all be on Friday...after a 1/2 day of work, that is. If you're within an hour reach of the fair, you should go! It will be worth it! All the details here.
- To death with the credit card. That's right! Less than 8 months after Marjie and I started our debt snowball and converted to a cash-only system and budget-strict system (courtesy of "Uncle Dave Ramsey," of course!), we are down to the final 500 bucks on our last credit card (which started out at over $13,000, by the way). Tomorrow will be the final payment and only my car and the house remains. Her car was paid off a year and a half early about 4 months ago along with a few other little debts. We're still brainstorming how to best destroy that card on film. What I really want to do is screw it to the bottom of my trail shoes and take it on a nasty, filthy trail run. I may just do that. Perhaps a few holes afterwards with a 357 Magnum would finish the job off as well. Regardless, it is over. We haven't charged a cent since Christmas 2009 and have no intent of doing so in the future. Let the snowball roll on!
Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!