Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sweet Carolina - Asheville, NC

Ever just take a drive and not know where you are going... with four days to spare? Of course not! Who does that?! Well, I do. I mean, my friend wanted to work for me... I end up with four days off... what's a guy to do? Well, I had been to New York recently, and I didn't want to get stuck in any snow, so I went south. Charlotte, NC was my first stop. It was largely uneventful, so with the good advice of a friend, I went to Asheville to see the Biltmore Estate. I thought I was just going to check out some house; you know - half hour, 45 minutes... tops. You need several hours to fully enjoy this, the largest home in the United States. It is the Vanderbilt home/"getaway" on acres and acres of land in the hills of western North Carolina. Built on turn-of-the-century railroad profits, this huge place is meticulously detailed and a wondrous creation. You have to see it for yourself because they do not allow photography inside.

Asheville is a nice place. The people are friendly. You can find some good food; I enjoyed The Corner Kitchen. There is a Thomas Kinkade gallery nearby. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring that extra $1000 I have laying around to buy a painting. It was great to look though. It was a bit chilly, but the warmth of the people and the pleasantness of the scenery made for a memorable time away from DC.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Crater Lake - 1925

My grandmother was always a great gift-giver. Not only were the contents of her gifts something great to receive, but she even took great care in the wrapping and made opening the gift a creative process. True to form, I received the gift of four black and white photographs in the mail the other day. They were a sequence of shots meant to be put together to form one larger picture. All together they form a beautiful panorama of Crater Lake in Oregon. The year was 1925. Photographer credit to Ella May Moeller.
Thanks Grandma.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Merry New Year!

Happy New Year!
It's always a unique situation to be working in a restaurant on New Year's Eve. Most people I know call it "amateur night" and would rather stay away from restaurants on this night. However, many others do enjoy letting loose and staying up late on the last day of the year. Some even spend a lot of money for a memorable night. But there is one lesson all of you "amateurs" should keep in mind when you are trying to impress your date(s) and/or friends with the best meal you can find... CANCEL YOUR RESERVATION IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO SHOW UP!! You think, "well, they'll be fine... the restaurant will have plenty of people who want our table (or four tables, in this case), so I can't be bothered to call and cancel." Well, I was the schmuck on this special night who had... survey says!!!... two tables of two while waiting for my nine-top (table for 9) to show up. Not that I had other plans... actually, yeah I did - not to be working for nothing because some people don't have any manners. So I transferred my tables to my friend Martin, changed out of that costume, and grabbed some bubbly by 11:15. I would say the night got better, but it didn't actually until after I performed first aid on an over-served busser who was too drunk to know he was actually bleeding fairly profusely from his finger.

Well, it's a new year, and the consensus is that it has to be better than 2007. I'll go along with that (I've already perfected my zabaglione)... just as long as things go my way the first week in November. Conventional wisdom is that there is a lot of time between then and now, so I intend on working on some things in the meantime. First: my last class toward my Certificate in International Studies at SAIS begins this month. Should be fun.