Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bear Grylls's Home is Not in Alabama

I watched "Man v. Wild" last night for the first time. I'd seen a few minutes of the show here and there, but never had much interest in it. But last night's episode was set in Alabama, so I thought I'd check it out and see where he went.

He made a good choice by going to Little River Canyon. It's in the northeast part of the state, where the Appalachian mountains end. The canyon is impressive. I went there once during college on my first and only rappelling venture. As I recall, we rappelled down canyon walls that were about 140 feet or so. It was fun. Grylls used a tree to get down (impressive), but he only descended an 80 foot wall (wuss!).

When he got to the canyon floor, he rafted out of the canyon. I don't know where he ended up, but eventually he needed to cross a flooded plain (or perhaps a river). He explained to the viewer how dangerous this was due to the fact that Alabama has alligators in its fresh water bodies. I'm certain that's true, but I doubt anyone has had to worry about gators 350 miles inland. Maybe Bear rafted all the way down to Mobile county, although I have my doubts. But freaking out about alligators reminded me of the scene from Parent Trap where Haley Mills (and Haley Mills!) get Vikki to smack sticks together to frighten off the mountain lions.

Good one, Bear Grylls!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Home's in Alabama which I contemplate the grass is greener on the other side of the Mason/Dixon line.

It's been a couple weeks since we got back from our summer tour of the Deep South, but I've been too busy/lazy to post anything about it. The trip was pretty good. We hit the usual four locales in three states--Pensacola (FL), Birmingham and Huntsville (AL), and Cedar Hill (TN). We had more time on this trip, though, so it didn't seem nearly as rushed as the holiday tour. I think the grandparents liked having more time with their grandson, too.

Ben had some sleep troubles toward the latter half of the trip. In fact, we had a few of the worst nights with him since we got him to start sleeping through the night back in November. I'm not sure if it was the teething pain or the new locations, but he really had a hard time of things. He was pretty chipper during the day, though, and he was great on each of our flights.

One thing that struck me on this trip was how new everything felt. I first became aware of it when we were driving with Jackamo's troop out of their neighborhood and headed toward an on-ramp to the interstate. They're in a quickly growing area outside of Birmingham, with newly constructed shopping centers, roads that are still dark black and have brightly marked lanes, homes that were built after the Eisenhower administration. Everything seemed so clean and put together.

It's not that Maine is falling apart (although our roads are), and it's not like Watoosa and Ben and I live in a hovel. But the communities where our friends and family live seem more dynamic and thriving and...fresh, for lack of a better word. I know the suburbs often get bashed for soulless blandness--I've joined in that chorus once or twice myself. But there's something to be said for safe streets, uncracked sidewalks, and a noticeable lack of emergency vehicle sirens blasting through one's windows on a daily basis.

I was especially surprised to notice how much my attitude to my hometown, Huntsville, has changed . As a surly teen, I couldn't wait to leave. It seemed so boring. Even now, it doesn't have the hip factor of Atlanta or Nashville. And yet I realized at some point during our stay with my family: I could live here and actually be happy. It was a bit of a shock. I never would have said that fifteen years ago. Or even five years ago.

Of course, part of the reason for that is family. The longer I'm away, the harder it gets to pull myself away from my parents and sisters (and brothers-in-law and niece) at the end of a visit. I envy Kathryn so much for living in the same town as my parents. And I envy Karen for being able to fly in from Dallas as frequently as she does. I'm lucky to get three visits a year. When I go back to Huntsville or even Birmingham, I feel like I belong there, even as I feel disoriented at how much both places have changed. And the fact that Watoosa's parents are just a stone's throw away make it all the more appealing.

This doesn't mean that I don't like living in Maine--far from it. Watoosa and I have been lucky in that we've really liked all the places we've lived. And since, in our nine years of marriage, we've moved to four different states spread out all over the continent, we'd like to stay put for a while. But I was surprised by how wistful I felt on this last visit.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Looking Out My Window

My neighbors now have an Olympic-size swimming pool. Hope they like it!

Even the green area in the bottom left of the picture is covered in water. The deepest part looks to be several inches deep. It come right up to the edge of our property, which doesn't extend very far past the house. If it gets much deeper, their pool may be opening a branch office in our basement.

That part of their yard routinely fills with water whenever we get a good rainfall, but I've never seen it this deep before. Thankfully, our flood insurance policy is in effect. I'd rather not have to call in a claim, though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And on the side...

Not one of the funniest, but this did come across my virtual desk this evening:

"So we assist those closest to us first and work [our] way out with the exclusion of special rolls such as doctor patient."

The whole "exclusion of special rolls" bit just reminds me of a roughly translated Chinese restaurant menu. All entree include side item with exclusion of special roll!

They're probably made with ends meat. That's what makes them "special."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sorta Funny

From a test answer this morning:

"...eventually anyone that is not very wealthy turns into the poor working class doing everything they can to make ends meat."

Mmmmm! Ends meat! Roasted, grilled, or fried, you can't go wrong with ends meat.

It's probably akin to Kana Hakkliha.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make It Stop

I graded a late paper this evening. It included this mysterious claim:

"Grief motivate Batman is a different sense."

You really can't make this stuff up, people. Unless you're one of my students, in which case it comes as easy as falling off a log.

In the closing paragraph, I found this nugget:

"I believe movies really are magically."

Watoosa's reply was, "Magically delicious?"

That's why I love her.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Return of Out of the Mouths of Babes!

From tonight's batch:

"Ethics and morality should be at the top of people's lists on how they want to run their lives. Instead people are worrying more about not being robbed or raped or even murdered."

Gee, I always thought ethics and morality (my favorite redundant phrase) had a lot to do with robbery, rape, and murder. Since I hope to avoid being the victim of all three, that must make me amoral. And non-ethical!

In the very next sentence, this person wrote:

"The world we live in today would be spit on by Socrates' time.

I think if Socrates' time actually did spit on our world, our world would totally kick Socrates' time in the wiener. Take that, Socrates' time! If you want to step to us again, you'll get more of the same!