Monday, August 30, 2010


Today we all woke up sore. Fortunately not too sore to open up that Cracker Barrel map my fairy godfriend sent and head out and stuff our faces:

Not quite ready to jump into unpacking, we drove around and spotted this shopping center--heck of a name:

Still not ready to unpack a lot, so gave my best friend from college a buzz. A bonus of moving to the East Coast is catching up with East Coast friends without calling them at midnight (their time). Now when I call my buddy from college, she's probably awake too.

And we made it!

We enjoyed the movie but the girl thought the books were better--atta girl!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moved into SC

The movers just dropped a million boxes here. Despite leaving a full dumpster and 4 garbage bags (and multiple trips to the GoodWill) in SoCal, I'm regretting not purging/donating more before I left. I'd want to punch myself if I wasn't so tired.

Man I hope I can dig out my printer soon.

On a different and very warm and welcoming note, an old friend who went to my high school posted this commercial for me on his blog. Thanks my friend, I hope to have a Blue Bell country day some day. Well maybe not when the girls are about to do the ol' pull-the-tooth-out-with-string-tied-to-a-doorknob thing. But my friend's post made me realize that there are certain commercials and jingles that connect me to different areas of the country.

A jingle that totally reminds me of New York is the one for Loew's movie theaters. The closing jingle "Thank you for coming to Loew's--sit back and relax--enjoy the show!" was branded in your brain so easily that it was even mocked in an SNL sketch. I don't think Loew's is around anymore (or maybe they became another theater) but I can still hear that jingle in my dreams.

For my time in SoCal (specifically Orange County), the commercial I'd associate is the one for LightningMMA. (It was unfortunately shot when I was getting back into shape, not when I was already in good form.)

I have such great memories of MMA training in SoCal--first with Erik Paulson and then with James Wilks at LightningMMA. As age and weight have crept up on me, I feel very mediocre at this point, but I enjoy and miss it a lot.

I know there are others--I'm sure they'll come to mind. Anybody else? I would love to read/hear/see any other suggestions that ties you to "home" or any specific locale.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sweet Friday

Yesterday I got a call from the driver of the moving truck telling me that he had to pick up a job in Georgia and that he wasn't going to make it until Saturday morning. Being furniture-less I had put off logging in to work until I at least had a table and ideally my printer but at this point I was fearing that I was on the verge of losing my work skills. (Side note: I'm working remotely part-time.) So I logged in and re-familiarized myself for a number of hours. A sweet break came via the postman. Or more specifically a good friend, playing fairy godfriend:

I ate half that can of Almond Roca immediately. (Side note: I have got to join a gym. And exercise.) And totally excited to use that Cracker Barrel map.

After working on a laptop table-less for hours, I thought I could use some limbering and decided to pick up the girl from school by walking there. I started sweating immediately. And when I showed up at the school and told the girl I walked, she shrieked, you walked?! as she realized she was walking home. Her expression sank. Or maybe her face was melting.

To mitigate throwing this on her without warning, I offered to carry her backpack the last half of the walk and we stopped for a Drumstick at the Rite Aid:

(Side note: girl still not thrilled despite sweet treat)

To take a slight break from the heat, we stopped in the Gamecock Station, checking out shirts for GameDay this Thursday night on ESPN when the USC Gamecocks host Southern Mississippi. Did I mention how close we are to the stadium? We can see the nosebleed seats from our garage. The girl thought this shirt was funny (for out-of-staters/non-college fb fans, USC and Clemson (the "ugly") are instate SoCar rivals. Side note: ironically current USC coach Steve Spurrier was a Heisman winning player and national champion winning coach of the Florida Gators (the "bad".):

We were going to go to see Scott Pilgrim but the girl kindly postponed so we could all get caught up on the entire series of the graphic novels. But we did go out to dinner at Camon:

And on our way to dessert, the girl wanted me to take a picture of this horse and carriage ride:

And finally dessert at Cupcake:

Sweet ending to a sweet day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Git R Done

Before I left SoCal, a friend told me there 3 things I needed to know about moving to the Southeast.

1. Sweet Tea (sweetened ice tea)
2. "3" (holding the three middle fingers up in reverence to Dale Earnhardt)
3. "Git R Done" (an expression of getting something finished or accomplished)

1. I have seen Sweet Tea everywhere--occasionally I'll even see it have its own line on the drink list:

Bottled water
Sweet Tea

2. I have not seen "3" yet, but then again, I've only been to the grocery store and Home Depot. But I'm confident that I'll see it soon.

3. And finally, when I was getting my oil changed (as recommended after driving a car across the country), the young man who checked me in confidently told me he'd "git r done" in 10 minutes. BTW, if any one needs their oil changed quickly in Columbia, I highly recommend Express Oil Change on Garners Ferry Road.

Well after 2 heat-filled days working the garage, I wanted to Git R Done. I took advantage of the cooler temp (78 degrees, 20% humidity) in the morning only to run out of paint:

Despite the cooler temps, I was sweating like a dog and by the time I was able to pick up yet another can of paint from the Home Depot, the temp had hit 91 again. Since I was already sweating, I challenged myself not to use the a/c again. It seems South Carolina is turning me into a masochist.

Anyhoo, happy to report that painting the garage is hereby finished:

I will caveat that no one should hire me as a painter. A friend sympathetically texted how the "prepwork" (taping and covering) is the worst part. I snorted prepwork? In my obsession with getting this garage done before the movers get here (due tomorrow), time-sucking and effort-consuming "prepwork" went out the window. Granted I wouldn't be this cavalier about the organic, work-in-progress pattern that is now my garage floor, with an interior room. And though I used my best "cutting in" painting skills around the various fixtures on the walls where I could reach them, without a ladder shaped like an A I really couldn't tape up the fixtures on the ceiling anyway, so they were a bit of an unavoidable sacrifice in terms of paint smears on them.

I will also say that painting this high ceiling with a roller on an extension pole is literally a pain in the neck. And the lower back. Did I mention the girl and I squeezed in sealing in the bricks? Scott Pilgrim, you better be a worthy reward.

So just to give a final perspective, here's the Before taken on Sunday night:

And here's the After taken 3 nights (and 2 cans of sealer and 4 cans of paint-requiring 3 trips to the Home Depot in itself) later:

Got R Done.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garage, Second Can

Someone told me that one eventually gets used to the heat here. I decided to encourage the adaption by not using any air conditioning for any of my errands in the car. After all, I've seen a few cars doing it and it was only 91 and the humidity had gone down to 40%. By the first stop light, as my sweat glands and crankiness went from 0 to 60, I immediately questioned my decision:

Baby steps. I know I can't beat the heat, I'm just looking for ways to work with it.

After yesterday's post, it was suggested I get an “edger” to take care of the seams where walls & walls and walls & ceilings meet. I headed to Home Depot as I had to get another can of paint anyway and I asked the paint guy there how I should handle such seams. “Why, you'll just have to use a brush to get into those corners.” After I told him that I had done that but what about at the heights I can't reach? He smiled. “Why, you'd need a stepladder.”

Then I mentioned that someone had suggested an “edger” that could be attached to an extension pole. I could see the man stifling an eyeroll as he sighed, as if I had walked into a bait/tackle shop asking if they had electric seat warmers for the fishing boat ride. Bottom line, I know I lost all painting street cred in his eyes. He walked me down the supply aisle and pointed to the edgers. “Well, you could try these out—though I've heard there not all they're cracked up to be.” I was half-expecting him to use the word “newfangled” or coldly point me to a place where I could buy Snuggies too. Anyhoo, I bought it:

Unfortunately, due to the height of the ceiling, with the extension pole extended so far out, I couldn't make the edger work. I couldn't keep even pressure, so it would have a very skipped pattern of unpainted areas and going over it didn't improve it. So I ended up borrowing a ladder. And using a brush. I include this unflattering picture (I blame the angle) of me rocking the Mom shorts (or do these count as lady shorts, as my friend K was wondering?) in the slim chance the paint guy at Home Depot sees this and gives me credit for paintin' it old school. (Side note: Anybody know how to get dried paint out of clothes?)

I confess it was the first time using this kind of ladder and it was a bit trial and error figuring out right length to pull it out (taller is better) and the angle of where to plant the feet (farther out is better). I'll also confess that at first, I was slightly acrophobic, feeling like I was clinging to a ladder that could fall back any second while vulnerably six feet off the ground. But after dragging that ladder all over the garage, going up and down, the acrophobia on the ladder wore off. I also regretted not investing in a paint cup as I was just climbing up with a loaded paintbrush on the paint can lid, which meant regular trips down the ladder to reload.

The girl, I'm so pleased to say, still had a good attitude about helping me. I told her that the paint guy had advised painting in a "W" formation first--I'm not quite sure why, but she was game.

And she tried other letters too:

She even made a trip up the ladder to tag the wall with this thought, but agreed that it felt "scary" to be up on it.

We finished off the second paint can and I'd say we're 2/3 done. Unfortunately the worst is still to come--the ceiling.

I'm sorry to admit that I've reached that breaking point of hating painting already. First off, I would say that I've accepted paint drips, splotches, and smears to be part of the garage floor patina that already includes moth wings and other varnish vapor victims. And second, if there was a way that I could have the painting done by drinking paint or being married to it in some carnival side show then I'd say, Crank up the calliope and let the freak show begin! Because I am soooo over painting.

Wishful thinking aside, I aim to tackle the last part tomorrow morning while it's relatively cool. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hitting the garage

Well, enough crying about the heat, weird DVDs, and eating a dozen donuts in one sitting. Last night I decided to do something productive. So I decided on the garage. We were advised to seal in the concrete floor of the garage with a sealer, so I bought a can of this per the advice of the guy at Lowe's:

This is the garage floor before:

And this is the garage after two coats of sealer (one last night and another this morning):

I guess this is the part where I state that no one should ever hire me as a contractor. When I first starting rolling out this sealer last night I just poured out a bunch on the floor and rolled it out. I learned that this sealer kind of leaves some dark staining and left marks in the shape of a splashy puddle and a ring where I left the dribbly sealer can. I will also confess that fumes from this particular varnish seemed to cause moths to faint onto the garage floor last night. And that said moths may be sealed on to my garage floor. Overall, the sealer seems to have worked as I forgot to turn off the sprinklers and some of the water misted into the garage and beaded up on the floor. Success.

The other task advised was painting the garage walls to prevent mold growth here in the humid Southeast. So I enlisted the girl:

Who had a pretty good attitude about it:

I told her that I'd take her to the "Scott Pilgrim" movie (she's been reading the comics) when we finished the garage. She said Yay!

Poor girl. She obviously hasn't read any of the reviews.

Anyhoo, we got about a fourth, maybe a third of the way done:

The ceiling will be the worst. I don't know if you can tell from the picture but the corners are giving me a hard time. The roller doesn't go to the edges and I have a gap at these corners. I used a brush to fill in but what am I supposed to use for the corners I can't reach, like between the wall and the ceiling, or even high up on the walls? Anybody? I would totally appreciate any advice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First Saturday

Saturday started with the girl wrestling the cats. The cats were less game.

Then we hit a local cafe, the Art Shack Gallery Cafe, up for brunch, which is a little more than half a mile away. I hope when the weather cools a bit (ha, what am I saying? I mean when the weather cools a LOT), it'd be nice to walk to it. Side note: I'm totally fascinated by the store next door that just peddles Lacrosse stuff--who knew? Especially in this heat. It has somewhat limited hours but offers a phone number in case of a Lacrosse emergency--"help is only minutes away"--talk about dedicated service.

The menu and vibe of the Art Shack Gallery Cafe remind me of the laid back coffee shops in the East Village (NY), or San Francisco, or Portland, which is nice for a lazy Saturday brunch (too bad they're not open on Sundays) when you're not in a rush.

The girl loved the bowl of hot chocolate:

We enjoyed the Breakfast Bowl (with hash browns, cheese, and choice of breakfast meat-though I would argue that these were actually home fries, not hash browns), Pimpin' Grits (grits with cheese, pulled chicken, peppers, and tomatoes), and the Nutty Monkey Waffle-wich (waffles sandwiched with peanut butter and honey served with bananas):

The feedbag continued with getting pizza for dinner--but I stopped for gas first at the local gas place at the top of the hill (gotta love these gas prices--another plus for SoCar):

But when I tried using my card, it said to see the cashier. There was of course a line but it did give me a chance to peruse the DVD rack and see the variety of DVDs for sale which had a number of gospel DVDs like this one:

But then also offered a bunch in the theme of this one, Ultimate Chick Fights 3:

Which kind of questions the demand of the original DVD that prompted such sequels to be made and sold. Hmm, I don't remember seeing these in Irvine.

Anyhoo, we also treated ourselves to a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts:

Then I was shocked to realize we nearly finished them in less than an hour.

Wow, are we on our way to boosting South Carolina's position in the Fattest State standings? Yeesh. I need to put "joining a gym" higher on the to-do list.

Make that "going to a gym".

Saturday, August 21, 2010

End of the first week

By the end of this first week here in Columbia, we enjoyed the Hunter-Gatherer twice. It features house brews such as this wheat beer:

As well as some pretty delicious food like this North Carolina mountain trout with grits and greens:

And for dessert, we went to FruitiCup:

They have a lovely plain tart but I wish they had more tart flavors. Sweet seems exacerbated by the heat and I can only tolerate so much before I start to feel diabetes inching in. But I was pleased FruitiCup had mochi balls (though they were in the fridge--you have to ask for them).

Then my sister had to fly back to New York. She was such a rock for me during this first week here. She also helped me get a washer and dryer, which made me pretty happy to get at least one thing checked off the big to-do list.

I miss her so much already.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting acquainted

Since our stuff hasn't moved over yet, we've been biding our time with this little card game picked up at Target, Fact or Crap. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long before you've run through all the questions.

But moving to South Carolina has been a bit of Fact or Crap adventure as well. Before moving here, I'd confirm that yes, Fact: South Carolina has the governor (Mark Sanford) that famously made "hiking the Appalachian Trail" code for "meeting up with your Argentinean soulmate in South America". Crying about it on national tv should have been optional. Yes, Fact: it was South Carolina congressman, Joe Wilson, who famously shouted "You lie!" during Obama's address. And, yes, Fact: there is one ker-razy senate race between two pretty "interesting" candidates. A lot of this (and MORE!) was confirmed by the local Free Times, in their regular "Our Dumb State" feature. It also points out how SC is rated 8th most Laziest state and 9th most Obese state. Wow, Top Ten.

But thankfully, the article closed with some positives, like that South Carolina boasts the 2nd highest concentration of industrial engineers per capita and that more SC cities are adopting strong anti-smoking laws earning the state the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights' Smokefree Air Challenge award two years in a row. Also, USC's own Gamecock baseball team, which won the NCAA College World Series this year had the highest GPA of any team competing in that national championship. Go Cocks!

And we learned something else. Georgia makes the most southern peaches--Fact or Crap? Crap! It's South Carolina! And my sister and I confirmed these peaches were delicious--firm and sweet:

My sister and I also enjoyed going to an Olive Garden for lunch where they're featuring these tiny desserts, Dolcini. They're perfect when you want a little sweet something after a savory meal of soup, salad, and pasta. We shared the Limoncello Mousse with vanilla cookie crust:

Also, we thought it so sweet of our waiter to offer to put our waters "to go":

Or perhaps we just looked like we still haven't acclimated to the SC heat and needed constant hydration.

2nd day

The second day fared slightly better. I think.

Yeah, okay. She still didn't want to be seen with her mom.

I don't know if it's all the driving, but I'm still exhausted. And I haven't adjusted to Eastern Standard Time. It's like my brain doesn't start functioning till about 11am here (8am Pacific). And part of it is missing my friends in California, which often included coffee break walks and chats to Starbucks. So I got another iced latte. But it's not the same going by yourself, sitting in a steamy car, seeing other folks chatting it up with their friends.

With only the sweet memories of Cali Starbucks with my friends to put a smile on my face.

I hope this free song is an encouraging message:

Hopefully Eddie Vedder is telling me that Better Days are ahead.