Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Year Older

So....I turned 23 yesterday. And I must say it was a pretty darn good day too. The festivities started Saturday when Jeremy made me a surprise pineapple-upside-down cake! It was really good. Then we went to the mall and he let me pick out my birthday present.

Sunday we started with dinner in Pigeon Forge, which is a tourist trap city about 30 minutes away. It's where Dollywood is if that tells you anything about the area. Pretty much everything there is very tourist-y and incredibly cheesy. It's great. We went to dinner at the first super cheesy restaurant we came upon, which happened to be called the Alabama Grill. This restaurant is not a tribute to the great state of Alabama, like we first thought, but instead to the BAND Alabama! It was pretty funny. Think Hard Rock Cafe, but Alabama/country music themed. There was even an old Alabama tour bus and really old (80's era) limo out front. Now if I was a big Alabama fan I would have been in heaven...

Since everything on the menu except for the fried fish was meat, i opted for the veggie plate. That was 3 veggie sides and a cup of soup. I got mashed potatoes, baked beans, green beans, and a cup of the potato soup. Three of those four items ended up having bacon in them!! There was no mention of bacon ANYWHERE on the menu for these items!! The soup had an entire description under it but NO MENTION of bacon! The south is weird.

After dinner we headed for Gatlinburg which is near Pigeon Forge and is ALSO a tourist trap, but somewhat better and not quite as cheesy. Jeremy wouldn't tell me where we were going all day because he wanted it to be a surprise and it was. We went to the aquarium!! I love aquariums! And he had never been to one! It was a pretty good one too, although there were no penguins. It was a lot of fun and we got to pet sting rays which was cool.

We walked around Gatlinburg a little after the aquarium and bought a whole bunch of fudge which we then ate. Well, we didn't eat all of it, we probably would have gotten sick if we had done that. We ate SOME of it and then headed back to Knoxville.

It was a great day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Interesting news tidbit of the day - one of the counties that I have been working in for the past three months was home to the Scopes Trial. In fact, the court house that I go to every week was where the trial took place! It has recently been restored to how it was in 1925, there is a museum in the basement devoted to the trial, and locals reenact it every summer.

How did I just find out about this tonight?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Saturday Jeremy and I were driving around to different grocery stores to eat free samples as we sometimes do when we saw a motorcycle shop with sales signs all over. Since moving to Tennessee, which has a helmet law, I've been wearing one of Jeremy's old helmets. I mean, er, I also wore it in Texas every time I rode on his bike with him.... Anyways, since his head is slightly (a lot) bigger than mine, the helmet doesn't fit me. It's waaaay too big and hurts my neck and blows back all the time and is basically a pain. Since this motorcycle shop was having a sale, I thought I should take advantage of it and finally buy my own helmet that actually fits. So I did. And it's really cute. Well, as cute as a helmet can be. I was going to go with the black shiny helmet with pink flames, but then realized that that wasn't really me. Instead I got a black non-shiny helmet with no flames of any color. Now if only the weather was warm enough and Jeremy's tires weren't bald so I could use it. I've been breaking it in by wearing it around the apartment, but it's just not the same.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I have found something new to do in regards to all the time I spend in my car. No, it doesn't have to do with books on tape either. It's NPR! I forgot that I like listening to it - I used to all the time in Waco, but forgot about it once I moved here since I didn't know what station it was. I finally found out because one of the guys at my church actually works for the local NPR station. So now I listen to it on parts of my drive (it depends what time of day it is and if I'm actually in the mood to listen to classical music if it's on).

Part of the reason I listen to it is because it makes me feel smart. I like being able to say "so earlier on NPR they were talking about...." Kinda like when I was taking a 4000 level psychology class last year and I was the only non-psychology major. All the rest of the class could tie in things they learned in other classes to what we were learning. They were constantly staying things like "in such and such class we learned about this or that and that ties in because...." and they sounded smart. I couldn't do that. Instead, I'd relate things in to articles I read in the Washington Post that morning before the 10am class. It made me feel really smart to say "this morning there was an article in the Washington Post about....(something we're learning about)." If I couldn't tie stuff to previous psychology classes, at least I could tie it to something. It made me feel better about being the only non-psychology major.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Last night I watched The Boys of Baraka. It's a documentary about a school that takes at-risk 7th and 8th grade boys from Baltimore and brings them to a school in rural Kenya. There they stay for two years and attend school in the middle of the bush. The purpose is to get to the boys before they turn to a life of violence and drugs, as so many of their peers will do. Unfortunately, the school closed in 2003 because of bombings and violence in East Africa. Also, the school had only been opened for a few years before that so not too many boys went through the program. From what I've read on the internet, there seems to be a positive correlation between the boys who went to the school and high school graduation rates. Which is great because somewhere around 70% of African-American boys in Balitmore do not earn their diplomas. It is still too early to really see if this program was successful and it since it wasn't around for that long that hinders the research too. I really do want to read more about this though and see more follow-up done on the boys who attended the school. The entire thing fascinates me.

I've also been on this kick lately of wanting to go back to Kenya. I don't know what it is, maybe I've been watching too much TV/too many movies about Africa. Or maybe it's the fact that I know a few people on the continent right now. Or maybe it's because when we were out to eat last week I overheard a lady talking about her time in South Africa. Whatever it is, I REALLY want to go back. Soon. And for longer than two weeks. I miss it.