Saturday, January 31, 2009

One productive Saturday!

I set my alarm this morning, because I didn't want to sleep the day away and it ended up being my most productive Saturday in a long time!

I woke up at about 9:30, showered and hit the road with a destination in mind—Hong Kong Chinese in north Durham. I've been craving dim sum for a while and wasn't able to go when I was home because of the stupid snow. When I got to the restaurant, I was both disappointed and angry to find out they were closed. The rage only lasted a second though because I quickly realized that I was actually just a few minutes too early. That's a first! On the weekends, this place serves dim sum from 11 to 3, which is good to know. To kill some time, I headed across the street to a thrift store called Everything But Granny's Panties. I actually tried to find this place before Christmas to follow our family's rules and try to find some used gifts. Now I'm glad I couldn't find it. The place was a wreck. It's basically just a house with a bunch of crap inside. Nothing to see there...however, they did have a cool junkyard-style elephant in their parking lot!

In the store, I overheard a really funny conversation. A customer asked to use the bathroom and the woman working said, "Well, we used to let customers use the bathroom, but then somebody went and put a video of it onto the YouTube. I don't know why they felt the need to do that...we warned them it was messy!"

So, of course I searched for it. And of course I found it, with this written as the description: Okay, lemme explain. There is a second-hand store in Durham called Everything but Granny's Panties, and we had heard a lot of good things about it. When we finally went, we were a bit disappointed, but that's how these kinds of places are. Hit or miss. I really had to go to the bathroom while we were there, but they don't have a "public" restroom. They were, however, kind enough to let me use theirs, warning me first to not "break my leg." I thought they were kidding until I opened the door!! Note: Everyone around here actually calls the place "Granny's Panties." Enjoy!

A Mess in Granny's Panties from able parris on Vimeo.

After that, I headed back over to the restaurant and it was PACKED! I got back right at 11, which is good because if I had gotten back a few minutes later, I might not have gotten a table. Pretty crazy! I got seated and started off with some pork dumplings and pork buns. I love those pork buns...soooo good! Then I picked out something that I really didn't like (still not even sure what it is). I tried some shrimp dumplings (I like the pork ones better) and finished with a couple of those deliciously sweet sesame balls. With the exception of one dish, the food really hit the spot.

After breakfast, I headed to Auto Zone to grab some headlights for Cheryl's car. I've had a headlight out, so I just decided to switch out both at the same time. It was cheaper and easier than I expected, which was nice. But I was still able to get my hands all greasy and dirty, so I got that macho satisfaction that comes with doing manly things like fixing cars...even if it's just changing headlights.

The weirdest thing happened when I was driving home from Auto Zone. I passed a guy that had a duck sitting on his lap! I didn't believe it at first, so I let him catch up and...yep, it was a real, live duck just chillin' on the dude's lap. It'll probably be hard to see, but I took a picture anyway.

With the car taken care of, I headed off to the mall to get my computer looked at. (Sidetrack rant: some stupid lady was puppyguarding a parking spot in the parking lot. Totally against parking lot rules, if you ask me!) There's nothing seriously wrong, but I can't plug into the internet. I can still connect wirelessly, but it'd be nice to get my plug fixed so that I can use my laptop at work (since we don't have wireless there). As expected, the Genius Bar was booked out, so I just made an appointment for Monday. I didn't even walk around the mall because I had one more thing on my to-do list for the day...

The thing I was most excited for today was moving into my new cube at work. With a key and the alarm code now in my possession, I headed in to get settled in. I didn't even get the satisfaction of using my new key because there were other people in the office. I spent three hours cleaning out the old stuff in my cube and putting my personal touch on the place. It's not a finished product, but it feels good to get settled in a bit and I'm extremely excited for the new digs! Oh...did I mention I also found a VERY RARE card while cleaning out some old stuff? It's a Justin Upton Aflac card with the words "Player Issue" written on the side. It's really too bad that it's a little dinged up, otherwise it would be worth several hundred dollars. Here are a couple pictures of how my cube turned out so far...

What's your fantasy?

If you're going to buy a fantasy magazine this year, why not make it one with my name in it? I don't see an additional dime either way, so please don't feel obligated, but if you want to buy it on Amazon, here's a link.

Restaurant reviews

I've been to a couple pretty good restaurants lately that I wanted to tell everyone about.

LongHorn Steakhouse
First, when I got the good news about the job opportunity last week, I decided to go out and celebrate and headed toward this shopping center in Raleigh that a coworker showed me (another restaurant from this area will be mentioned below). I ended up at a place called the LongHorn Steakhouse. It's nothing spectacular - just your average steak chain (think Outback Steakhouse, but with a country-western theme, instead of the faux Australia vibe). However, it was pretty good, not too expensive and there were two things that really made it stand out. The best part was that when you order your steak, you have your choice of either a baked potato or a sweet potato. I chose a sweet potato and it was an EXCELLENT decision. They serve their sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon sugar, and it was absolutely delicious! The second cool thing was that on my way out, the host thanked me by name. I couldn't figure out if he did it because he remembered my name from when I put it on the list to wait for a table, or if they somehow do it with credit card information, or what. Frankly, I'm not even sure if it's something they do every time, but it was pretty cool. I don't think that's ever happened to me before...

Jason's Deli
I'm usually one of the last people to leave work and oftentimes my buddy Kary will ask if I want to go to dinner. We both live alone and both know that eating alone sucks, so going out just makes sense sometimes. We have our staple places, but we've also been trying some new places and one place he showed me the other day has become a new favorite. It's a pretty big chain (though there aren't any in WA) called Jason's Deli. It's always packed with families with small kids (one of my editors told me it's his kids' favorite place to go) and I think I know ice cream! They have lots of good soups, sandwiches and a salad bar. And, like I mentioned, free soft serve when you're done. They know the key to my heart!

Backyard BBQ Pit
Move over Q-Shack, I've got a new favorite barbecue restaurant! Don't get me wrong, the Q-Shack is good and all, but The Pit has a lot of things in its favor. 1) It's actual North Carolina-style barbecue, not Texas style like the Q-Shack. 2) It's a lot closer to work. 3) It's cheaper (almost half the price). 4) Aside from the hushpuppies, all the sides are better. 5) Their lemonade has chunks of pineapple in it! 6) The guys that work there are awesome. 7) You can bring in a Sharpie and draw on / autograph the walls.

Other restaurant-related stories
• I told my editor that I had already gone to Mama Dip's and he told me that in college, he would always take girls there on their first or second date. If they didn't like it, they didn't get another date with him! Haha!
• One place I really want to try the next time Cheryl comes out is Sutton's Drug Store. It's a really famous place in Chapel Hill that hearkens back to the '50s with great burgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes and orangeade or limeade.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I got the job!

I think everyone who reads this site already knows, but I wanted to post on it anyway just in case. After six months of working hard as an editorial intern, I was offered a full-time position with Baseball America. I've absolutely loved my time out here, so the decision to accept was a no-brainer. Aside from the chance to write about baseball for the game's best publication and be immersed in the sport that I love 24/7, the work environment is just ideal. Everybody in the office is great, it's a fun place to be and I couldn't be more excited about this opportunity. It sounds cheesy, but I came out here to chase my dream job and now my dream has come true.

I'll be covering the draft, so I'll mostly be writing about high school and college players—mostly in the western states (minus California, which is its own beast). It will be a challenge, but it's certainly one that I'm looking forward to. Here's an example of the writeup we did for Washington last year.

Cheryl won't be able to join me until July, so I'll be living alone (still no roommate) until then. I will actually be able to come out to Seattle for a couple weeks between now and then, as my new bosses were extremely fair and flexible in understanding my unique situation. It will actually be perfect, as I'll be able to kill two birds with one stone and see some great players at UW and in the Seattle area during those visits.

I'll also have the opportunity to see a TON of baseball this year. I've already loaded schedules onto my calendar for UNC, Duke, NC State, ECU, the Durham Bulls, the Carolina Mudcats, the Greensboro Grasshoppers and the Burlington Royals. Plus, there's also some great high school players nearby this year and other tournaments and trips could be in the works. In April and May alone, there are only eight days where it's not actually possible to go to a game in the area. Think I can catch 100 games this year? I'll have fun trying!

Cheryl and I know it's going to be hard to be away from everyone and out here on our own. But we're going to visit as much as possible and are looking forward to this new chapter and our adventure together. Plus, I promised her a puppy. She's going to start a blog too ( has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?).

I'll be sure to post more links to my writing and pictures of my cube once I get it all set up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's snowing!

I thought I was done with this crap...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend recap

Cheryl was able to come out for a long weekend and we had a fantastic time together. She left work early on Friday and embarked on an eight-hour journey across the country. Her direct flight from Seattle to D.C. was delayed by 20 minutes, which forced her to sprint from gate-to-gate to make her connecting flight. Luckily, she made it just in the nick of time, narrowly avoiding a catastrophe!

Before picking Cheryl up at the airport, I went and saw Los Campesinos! and they were awesome. The opening band (Titus Andronicus) was good as well and I really liked the club (Cat's Cradle). Good times.

Cheryl got in at about 11 and we headed to the store to pick up some snacks for the weekend. Looking for some unhealthy munchies, Cheryl said, "This is our aisle!" as we passed one of the aisles in the middle of the store. She was talking about the snacks on the shelves, but I had to laugh because it was the cracker aisle and we were the only white people in the store!

After that, we headed home and stayed up late watching TV and playing cribbage.

We slept in on Saturday before heading out to get brunch at Elmo's. We had to wait a bit for a table, but it was worth it. Cheryl had scrambled eggs and chocolate chip pancakes and I tired the huevos rancheros. We followed that up with a trip to Locopops, which never disappoints, and then headed to the mall where we walked around for a bit and then saw the Notorious B.I.G movie. For dinner we got a Q-Shack sandwich to go and shared it at home while we chilled out again.

Sunday was even lazier. We slept in again and then headed out for lunch at Mama Dip's. Cheryl had the best chicken-fried steak she's ever had and I tried the roast beef. It wasn't as good as the chicken and dumplings I had last time there. Then...surprise, surprise... we hit up Locopops again and even got some to take home and stick in the freezer. That night, we ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and then went bowling. We bet on the games and I won both, as Cheryl declared it was her worst bowling performance since she was six years old. So, Cheryl paid up her end of the bet by doing my laundry and dishes and a care package is on the way.

Today, we woke up and just hung out for a bit before she had to go to the airport. The recap probably doesn't do it justice, but we had a really great time together. Right now, we're not certain when we'll see each other again, but we should hopefully have some news later this week!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tweet tweet!

You've probably noticed the new sidebar on the right side of this page, but I'm guessing not all of my readers really know what Twitter actually is. Twitter is another social networking site, but don't think it's another MySpace or Facebook. It's similar in that you have "friends," but it's different too. All you do on your page is what's known as micro-blogging — mini blog posts limited to 140 characters. You're encouraged to update often, so that your friends can keep track of what you're doing. Just like MySpace and Facebook, it's a lot more fun than it actually sounds. Give it a shot...sign up now and let's be friends!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back in the day

I'm sure neither of these will be as entertaining to you as they are to me, but I'm putting them up anyway. Recently, my buddy Mike found a CD that contained both a movie we made in high school and a recording of our band's first concert. Enjoy!

"Killer Ape"

And here's the MP3 of our first show. It's sloppy, trashy and so, so good! This took place on Feb. 12, 2000 at a little place called the Happy Valley Grange off of Redmond-Fall City Road. At the time, our band was called Dead Last (we would later have to change it to Joe Batters after getting a threatening letter from some other band called Dead Last). We rented out the Grange and played with our friends' band, Good For Nothing. We promoted the show around school and played a song in an assembly the day before. Hundreds of kids came out and each paid $5 to get in and a great time was had by all. The funny thing is that our singer split right after the show, not helping us clean up or anything, so we didn't give him any of the money we made. I think he got the last laugh on that one!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mad Max

After Christmas #3, the kids were having fun jumping on bubble wrap in the kitchen. I tried to get some video footage of it, but my nephew Max saw the camera and came out of nowhere. He's a bit of a ham...and SO CUTE!

Christmas catch-up

I didn't blog much when I was home for Christmas, so I wanted to do a little recap of the awesome two weeks I got to spend in Seattle...

I got in on the night of the 19th, right after the first few snowstorms happened. I have two funny stories from my plane ride home. One, I sat in front of a woman that was baby talking her lap dog the entire flight. Suuuper annoying! "Oh Clancy, it's okay schmoopie! We're almost there sweetheart! Clancy!" Two, the guy sitting next to me was counting on his fingers while he took a Mensa quiz in the American Airlines magazine. I snuck a picture of him and if you look closely, he's actually on the page of the quiz...

The weather was pretty crazy already, but my dad was able to pick me up and took Cheryl and I to her mom's house. The next night my family went out to dinner at The Met and it was awesome...the wedge salad is to die for, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I couldn't finish my steak.

It was snowing during dinner and didn't really let up for the next couple days. My dad was still able to get around in his Volvo, so it was kind of funny to constantly rely on him for rides. Living at Liz and Jean's house and relying on our parents for rides really made us feel like we were back in junior high.

Christmas came quickly and it they were great. I say they because with Cheryl's family, I essentially get four Christmases every year. So far, we have spent Christmas morning with my family opening gifts and eating breakfast and the afternoon is spent over at her mom's house with another round of presents and an early dinner. A couple days later, when Cheryl's brothers get into town, there's another Christmas at her mom's and then one at her dad's. Good times.

My family had a rule that every gift was supposed to be either used, homemade or under $20, but my sister was the only one that actually followed it for everyone. I made a really cool baseball scorebook for my dad, but it was too difficult to make or find used things for my mom and sister, so Cheryl and I cheated.

I got some really great gifts this year. Some of the highlights included a bike from my sister, a baseball bat pepper grinder, a vintage scarf and a really neat old baseball magazine from an antique store from my parents, some cologne from Cheryl, a new golf bag from Cheryl's dad, Entourage Season 3 from my cousin Erin and a lot of iTunes gift cards ($110, to be exact), which I had no problem spending!

The two weeks absolutely flew by and because of the snow and other commitments, I wasn't able to do everything I had in mind. I didn't see people I wanted to see, didn't go places I wanted to go, eat at places I wanted to eat or do things I wanted to do. However, it was still great to be able to come home for such a long time and be with Cheryl and the rest of my family for a bit. So, aside from big things like that, here are some of my more random highlights, in no particular order...

• The first time I saw my niece, Ali, she ran into the house, gave me a big hug and said, "I love you, Con Con!"
• Listening to my nephew Max sing songs, call his dad "Greg" and just be an all-around adorable two-year-old (video proof coming soon)
• Riding bikes in the snow with my dad on Christmas day
• Mike and Jenn got engaged!
• throwing snowballs
• Cheryl and I giggling ourselves to sleep
• awesome home-cooked meals
• Watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Home Alone with Cheryl and Meg
• Going to the last Thunderbirds hockey game at the Key Arena with my dad
• Playing a prank on my niece Madi by constantly hiding a picture of her sister Olivia around the house
• Watching my niece, Gabi, imitate Dan's awful Russian march from The Amazing Race
• Watching "Step Brothers" and playing Rock Band with my homies