What I Learned: November 27, 2015

  • Spontaneous visit by San Diego resulted in a spontaneous day off on Monday to go hiking. I crossed my 7th state park off my resolutions list with my trip to Table Rock in Pickens, SC. We got there a little before 11am and checked in at the visitor’s center where a sweet little old lady told us we wouldn’t have time to hike the route we were eyeing. Naturally, that just made Stubborn Matt mentally say “Oh yeah? Watch this.” Sure enough, we hiked the 4.2 miles up Pinnacle Mountain to the summit. Then the 1.9 miles on the Ridge Trail. Then the 1.5-ish up to the Table Rock summit. And finally, the 3.6 back down the Table Rock Trail to the parking lot by 4:30. With 30 minutes to spare. I’m still sore from walking roughly 12 miles – and topping a 3,425′ and 3,124′ mountain – in 6 hours… but damn if I didn’t prove that lady wrong!
  • I crushed my expectations in my 4th consecutive Charlotte Turkey Trot. Given how sore I was from the hiking, I told myself anything under 35 minutes was perfect since I hadn’t run since early last week and nothing longer than 2 miles. But I finished in 32:55 clock time (31:03 chip time). And that included a minute break to walk at the 20:00 mark and another at the 25:00 mark. I’ve got another test coming up next weekend in the ACC Fan 5K.
  • Speaking of the ACC, I wrapped up my first football season since 2009 with season tickets. I originally got tickets because of the Notre Dame and Florida State home games. But I wasn’t expecting Clemson to make a clean sweep at 7-0 at home this year. So that was a nice treat. With my dad moving back from Alaska this year, it was also good to spend some time with him at his first games in years, as he made it to every game except Florida State. It ended on a high note with Military Appreciation Day, complete with a C-17 flyover, purple uniforms, and a chilling fallen soldier salute at halftime. Clemson has perfected it’s military appreciation ceremony.
  • South Carolina. LOST. To. The. Citadel.
  • With San Diego in town, we swapped albums. She got a copy of Marianas Trench’s Astoria and I got Adele’s 25. For as big a fan as I am of Hello and When We Were Young (the live version released on YouTube is better than the album version, unfortunately), the rest of the album just doesn’t do it for me (AbsolutePunk’s review seems to agree). Props to her for absolutely destroying the market though, selling 2.433 million copies in 3 days. It broke the record previously held by NSync since 2000. There’s a tiny caveat though, as Adele’s numbers include digital purchases and NSync is physical copies (which is mind blowing). But it’s good to know there are still a handful of powerful movers in the music industry who aren’t completely fabricated, commercial brands.

It’s Rivalry Week! So I’ll be making the annual trek to Chapin for our family get together, sitting in front of the TV for 12 hours, stuffing our faces with chicken wings, watching the best week of college football.

Go Tigers!

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What I Learned: November 20, 2015

How ya feelin’ about a music theme this week?

  • In the “well, that pleasantly came out of nowhere” category, Good Charlotte is back! Are they cheesy? Absolutely. Is their newer music borderline terrible? Oh God, yes! But those are my guys. They’re my first love, musically, so I’ll always have a soft spot carved out for the ol’ GC. (The opening guitar on The Anthem and  The Young & The Hopeless are still two of my favorite opening notes to any song) Surprisingly enough, their new song Makeshift Love isn’t terrible. I think it’s closer to their earlier sound, which is a very good thing. They’re touring with All Time Low in the spring. I’d absolutely be at a stop on that tour if it weren’t for the fact that they’re only making stops in the United Kingdom. Hopefully that means they’ll back on the road in the States sometime in the spring or summer though.
  • Ask and ye shall receive. In my last entry, I mentioned how I was bummed that Marianas Trench wasn’t making a tour stop anywhere near me. The very next week, they announced double the tour dates! And now I’m the proud owner of two tickets to both the Charleston date at the Music Farm on January 26th and the Charlotte date at The Fillmore on January 27th. So excited for this. They’re dangerously close to passing Fall Out Boy for being the favorite band. Side note – They’re not playing Wildfire on this tour and that crushes me!
  • I spent hours one night dissecting music with San Diego on the Billboard Hot 100. It started because I overheard a coworker talking about Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld (it’s about exactly what it sounds like…). It’s a crazy catchy song but I’d never heard of her or it and noticed it was on the Hot 100. So down the rabbit hole I fell. And I climbed back out absolutely furious. I know this is going to make me sound incredibly old but the popular music today is TERRIBLE. Drake has 7 songs on the list. Fetty Wap has 6 songs which is a crime to music in general. You literally can’t understand what he’s saying because it’s just whiny, mumbling, God awful noise. To be fair, it’s not all bad, there is some good stuff on there like Kelsea Ballerini (check out Love Me Like You Mean It), Sam Hunt (Speakers), Meghan Trainor (Like I’m Gonna Lose You), and Elle King (Ex’s and Oh’s)
  • Last night, I bought a ticket to see Silverstein and Senses Fail at Amos’ Southend on December 10th. Neither band is at the top of my list but both have been consistently good and around forever. Silverstein may be the band I’ve seen the most, outside of Fall Out Boy. And Senses Fail got me over a girl one summer back in college. So it’ll be good to time warp back to 2005 to see both bands again. It also gets me to a local venue I haven’t had the chance to check out yet in Amos’ Southend. But most importantly, it’ll get me to my 4th concert this year, helping me cross that resolution off the list.
  • Every now and then, a song comes along that drowns out the noise and makes everything else irrelevant. Adele released a live version of When We Were Young on Tuesday while I was at work. Listening through my headphones, I stopped what I was doing as soon as I heard her go low with the “… to the way you move” lyric in the first verse. I just soaked it in, through my phone, at my desk. I’ve never been a huge Adele fan. I know the songs. And I don’t hate them. But it’s never hooked me. This though? It’s gorgeous. She absolutely kills this song. Her voice is perfect. She’s in total control the entire way through. I still get chills every time I listen. I can only hope the studio version is this good. Songs like this do a better job explaining why I love music better than words ever could. Have a listen. 

Sometimes I wonder if people hear music the same way I do. Because I’m sorry if they don’t.

Enjoy your last few days before the onslaught of Thanksgiving and the start of Christmas season! Eat some sweet potato casserole for me.

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What I Learned: October 23, 2015

  • Stephen Orr Spurrier quit. The man who often openly mocked his own players’ commitment to the team just quit on his own team. He gave a lot of excuses. The media bought a lot of them because he had given plenty of soundbites over the years. But at the end of the day, he quit because winning wasn’t easy anymore. Once it got tough, he turned his back on his team and walked away. Good riddance, old ball coach.
  • Marianas Trench’s new cd Astoria is out today! It’s been four (?!?!) years since their last album. I’m still a tad bitter that the closest stop on their Hey You Guys Tour isn’t coming remotely close to Charlotte. But I’ve got fingers crossed for a spring/summer tour that comes back south enough for me to catch. The music, on the other hand, has me so pumped. The Wildfire single is so perfectly Marianas Trench! 
  • I’m a little shocked at how easy I’ve stepped away from Destiny. The new content isn’t that old but I just needed a break. I guess 600+ hours will do that to you. In it’s place, I’ve picked up a couple of good games. Three Fourths Home is a visual novel, narrative game that follows a young 20s girl named Kelly over an hour or two as she drives across rural Nebraska, on the phone with her flawed family. I’m also replaying Mass Effect 2 to wrap up some achievements I never picked up back in 2010. The goal is to be finished by Monday evening, as I’m running to Best Buy at midnight to pick up my copy of Halo 5. I’ll never not be there on launch day to get a Halo game.
  • Last year, I picked up a copy of Home Alone so my brother, sister in law, and I could watch it around Christmas time. It’s a movie my brother and I wore out growing up, so I thought it’d be fun to tie it back into a yearly tradition. This year for Halloween, I got an urge to watch A Nightmare Before Christmas. On Tuesday, I picked up a copy of it to watch before the 31st rolls around. Feel free to stop me if I’ve got an Arbor Day or Columbus Day movie lined up in a few years.
  • Fall Out Boy announced a spring tour – Wintour is Coming – last week with AWOLNATION and PVRIS. It’s another tour where I’m not crazy about the supporting acts but it’s always hard to say no to a FOB show. The closest dates to me are Charleston, SC and Charlottesville, VA. I tried getting tickets in the pit on the FOB presale day, the arena’s presale day, and the general admission day with no luck. So looks like I’ve gotta flex my “FOB fan with real money” muscle on StubHub at some point to snag a ticket. They also released their contribution to the new We Love Disney compilation. I don’t hate it.

It’s a rare weekend I’m not traveling for a football game. It’s actually the first game this season I won’t be attending since my Tigers are down in South Beach to play Miami. So I hope you enjoy your weekend as much as I’ll enjoy catching my breath on mine.

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What I Learned: October 2, 2015

  • I passed on Lunch Roulette this week. We celebrated a birthday at work and I knocked it out of the park with a s’mores cookie recipe. But since my last entry, we went to Eddie’s Place in Charlotte before Louisville. Then I hit Krystals (delicious!), Frisch’s Big Boy, Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot, Manny & Merle, Z’s Oyster Bar & Steakhouse (Worst decision ever, Angela), Mark’s Feed Store (best decision ever, me!), Sidebar (amazing hamburgers!), and Havana Rumba. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty successful trip on the food front.
  • The Taken King expansion for Destiny came out the Tuesday I was in Kentucky for the Clemson game. Originally, I just chalked it up as unfortunate that I’d have to wait a week before diving in. But when you’ve got over 600 hours invested into a game that’s a little over a year old, you bring your Xbox One with you on the road! I’m not sure I’ve ever put this much time into a game. Maybe Halo 2 and Halo 3 during college? Either way, it’s no coincidence that both of those series are made by Bungie.
  • Edisto Jinx, my mom’s second book in her Edisto Island Mystery series, has been released into the wild! I read a draft back when I was in Hawaii but I’ve got the physical copy in the mail on the way here. It’s also on Kindle if that’s how you choose to ingest your words. It was also my mom’s birthday yesterday. So buy this book if you enjoy:
    • Callie Jean Morgan
    • Me
    • The beach or Edisto Island
    • Words with an X in them
    • South Carolina
    • My mom
    • Blue book covers (seriously… look at your bookshelf. It’s an underutilized color)

  • Speaking of birthdays… Harper turns 5 on Sunday, October 4th. That’s hard for me to wrap my mind around. I’ve never done anything for 5 years (except elementary school… and college if you stretch the rules and combine undergrad and graduate school) but I’ve toughed it out with this girl since I got back from my trip around the country. We’re making a whirlwind trip around South Carolina this weekend but come Sunday night, there’s a rib eye steak chilling in the refrigerator with her name on it. Happy birthday, girl!
  • ESPN’s College Gameday is coming to Clemson this weekend for the game! This will be their 4th trip: 2006 for Georgia Tech, 2013 for Georgia, and 2013 for Florida State. They won the first two and lost the last one in spectacular fashion. You’d think that means Clemson’s due for a loss. But au contraire mon frere… I wasn’t at the Florida State game. And I was at the Georgia Tech and Georgia games. And I will be at the Notre Dame game. So I’m the key! It’s all in my hands! Bet the house* on Clemson winning this one!

* Please don’t bet your house…

October’s here, guys! It’s my 2nd favorite month (miles behind November and just ahead of December), so kick it off right. I’ll be in Clemson at the Notre Dame game, cheering my Tigers on while being drenched by the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin!

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3rd Quarter Report – 2015

Another 2015 Resolutions update, another day after baking cookies for the office.

The smore cookies were amazing. This past quarter, unfortunately, was not. I lost a lot of ground on any progress I was making. That’s not a good look, Mr. Jerdan!

So let’s get to it.

  • 15 Books:
    • 3Q projection – 11.25
    • 3Q actual – 9
    • The bad news is that I only read two books this past quarter. The good news is that both of those books were excellent! Halo: First Strike and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx – both by Eric Nylund – were fantastic followups to the less than stellar Halo: The Flood I read back in April. If we’re being honest, I should have finished Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman by now. But I’ve made excuses for other things and I’m only 125 pages into it. One day, I’ll finish one of these reading goals I set for myself.
  • 90 Days:
    • 3Q projection – 67.5
    • 3Q actual – 90
    • About the only update I’ve got on this one is that I think I’ve lost all gains I made in P90X by now. I wrapped up the program in May and about the only exercise I’ve done since – aside from walking Harper – are two 5Ks.
  • 12 Parks:
    • 3Q projection – 9
    • 3Q actual – 4
    • Talk about slacking. I went to a grand total of zero South Carolina state parks this quarter. Not good. And unfortunately, I don’t have many weekends between now and 2016 to add to the count with football season underway. Let’s see if I can’t sneak a park or two in there by the end of the year. I’m determined to keep this on my list until I’ve visited all 47 parks but this may need to shift into a resolution accomplished each Spring.
  • 2 Trips:
    • 3Q projection – 1.5
    • 3Q actual – 3
    • Even though my trips to Hawaii and St. Augustine, Florida back in April and May wrapped this resolution up, I made another stop on the vacation of life. Clemson played Louisville for the first time in Kentucky on September 17th. As soon as it was announced that Louisville would be joining the conference several years ago, I marked it on the calendar as a destination to visit (again). So the family (mom/step dad, dad/step mom, brother/sister in law, and aunt/uncle/cousin/cousin’s wife/cousin’s best friend/cousin’s best friend’s wife) made a vacation out of it. I was in town from the 15th through the 20th, crossed all nine stops on the Bourbon Trail off, hit the Louisville Slugger factory (again), and took in the game. Clemson won 20-17 but it would have been a successful trip without the win.
  • 200 Pages:
    • 3Q projection – 150
    • 3Q actual – 0
    • Yup. Par for the course. Still no pages written on a book following my trip around the country. My 5 year anniversary was September 7th. Crazy!
  • 2 Tattoos:
    • 3Q projection – 1.5
    • 3Q actual – 0
    • See above. There was a weekend a couple of weeks ago where I toyed with going to a shop to talk to someone about the whole process. And I have a rough sketch drawn out of what I want a tattoo of. So there has been a minuscule step in the forward direction. But not much else to report in on this one.
  • 1 Rental:
    • 3Q projection – 0.75
    • 3Q actual – 0
    • I actually met with a realtor in Columbia back in the summer to look at a house on the market across the street from my brother. But it was priced too high for my blood and I walked away. Since then, I’ve lost the immediate itch to buy a house, so it looks like this one will have to happen on another year’s list.
  • 4 Season Tickets:
    • 3Q projection – 3
    • 3Q actual – 4
    • This is the best resolution and a big reason why the rest of the list struggling behind. September through December, I have roughly one weekend a month that isn’t already obligated to Clemson football and/or the fall holidays. I’ve been to the Wofford game on September 5th and the Appalachian State game on September 12th. I love being back in Clemson on a regular basis.
  • 100 Photo Pages:
    • 3Q projection – 75
    • 3Q actual – 0
    • Another minuscule step in the right direction without having much of a tangible result. The goal is to create a 100 page photo book chronicling my trip through the United States. I still don’t have a page to show for it. But I have signed up for an account with MyPublisher and created the first leg (September) of my trip in Google Maps. Take a look!
  • 4 Concerts:
    • 3Q projection – 3
    • 3Q actual – 3
    • I took my annual “I’m too old to be in the pit with these kids” trip to the Fall Out Boy tour stop in Charlotte. They played with Hoodie Allen (eh…) and Wiz Khalifa (not my thing but much better than expected) in what’s probably the weirdest lineup for a concert I’ve ever been to. Even though I’m not impressed with their latest album, I still turn into a gigantic fanboy on the day of the show. I don’t have anything else this year lined up but there is a Silverstein and Senses Fail show in Charlotte on December 10th I may try to make. I was holding out hope for a regional stop on the Marianas Trench tour but the closest they’re coming is Pennsylvania, maybe? Such a bummer!

Well, from a resolution standpoint, it’s been a pretty unproductive quarter. But with 2 home and an away game down and another 5 home and an away game on the horizon, the 4th Quarter is shaping up to be a busy one.

How are we only 90 days away from a new year? But more importantly, how was your 3rd Quarter?

P.S. Happy Birthday, Chope!

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What I Learned: September 11, 2015

Looks like we’re doing these once a month now…

  • We went to The Liberty for lunch roulette. I went with the Painted Hill’s Natural Crunch Burger. The menu says:

    pimento cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, stacked with house chips

    So. Delicious.

  • I recently added a new podcast (Seldom Used Reserve) into the rotation. It fills my Clemson void since the CBS podcast I listen to has gone exclusively SEC instead of covering the sport in general. But also, it made me want to care about something enough to where I could have my own podcast. My passions are video games, having a constant stream of music playing, and Clemson football. I love consuming all three. But I’ve never been a big “creative” person and certainly don’t have an uncommon angle that isn’t already being covered elsewhere. So off to the back burner you go, not-so-unique idea!
  • Speaking of football… it’s back! I can officially cross my Clemson football resolution off the list as I went to my first game in Clemson since 2013. My dad and I used two of the four tickets, sold the remaining two, and watched Clemson beat Wofford 49-10. My seats are perfect! 2015CUvsWofford
    This week is Appalachian State and I’m going with my dad and San Diego.
  • Work is… an adventure. I just crossed off my first six months of being a supervisor and I’m still on the fence. I’m good at my job. Part of that is because I take pride in what I do and try to outwork others. The other part is because I’m confident in myself and truly believe I can do a better job than you or anyone else. Which makes delegating tasks to others one of the hardest things to do for me. I’m a hands on person. But that’s not what managing is about. And I struggle with that everyday.
  • Dial Tones by As It Is is hitting me just right at the moment. It’s a perfect mix of aggressive without being too scream-y. I just stumbled across them on Spotify and I can’t stop listening now. I’m convinced that no matter what genre of music I’m listening to at any given point in my life, a really good pop punk song is always going to be my fallback to take me to my happy place

It’s been 14 years since 9/11. That’s incredibly hard to comprehend. Remember to be thankful today of where you live and the people in your life.

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What I Learned: August 7, 2015

  • I have two (step)cousins getting married this Fall. It’s pretty cool how it worked out since they’re best friends and maid (or matron come the 2nd one) of honor in each other’s wedding. One lives in Clemson and one does not live in Clemson. But as it turns out, the one in Clemson is getting married the one weekend this football season where I’m going to an away game in Louisville, KY. And the one not in Clemson is getting married the weekend of one (of two) game I’m not willing to miss in Clemson. The lesson to learn here is to quit holding Fall weddings in the South. You people should know better.
  • I just found out Dark Places is coming out today. It’s the second novel by Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl. I had no idea it was even being made into a movie, much less releasing already. The book was weird and mildly disappointing but I’m curious to see how the movie plays out. As an extra added bonus, I also found out The Dark Tower is coming out January 13, 2017. I loved loved loved the series by Stephen King and this will give me enough time to reread the books.
  • Let the Republican debates begin. I didn’t watch a second of it yesterday because frankly, it’s ridiculous that the election doesn’t begin for another 7 months at the earliest and that there were 10 (!!!) candidates involved. Not only that but there was a debate earlier in the day featuring the next 7 highest-polling candidates! Nothing anyone says matters when there are that many voices speaking at once. I legitimately care less the older I get. When Donald Trump is far and away the leading candidate, I’m officially disenfranchised. Odds at me actually voting in the general election are hovering around 50% at this point.
  • I caught a head cold earlier this week that was bad enough for me to miss work Tuesday. Coincidentally, it also happened to be the opening day of Gamescom 2015 in Cologne, Germany. It’s the European version of E3 which I take off work for in July.
    • Rare Replay was released Tuesday. It’s 30 games from three decades from Rare Studios. I’m still on the fence about picking it up.
    • Quantum Break debuted gameplay footage, new actors like Shawn Ashmore (of The Following and X-Men fame), and a release date of April 6, 2016
    • Crackdown 3 (summer 2016), Scalebound (2016), Killer Instinct (spring 2016), indie games, and DVR functionality were all next and pretty “eh” from my interest level. They’ll be good games/things. Just not for me.
    • Halo 5 showed off multiplayer and announced a Halo 5 Xbox One console for $500 that’s gorgeous and I totally want one. Because I’m an adult.
    • Tomb Raider keeps looking better and better. I’ll come around to it by November, I’m sure.
    • The big reveal was Halo Wars 2! No one saw it coming. And the original was underrated and amazing! It also got a 2016 window, so that’s already turning out to be a crazy gaming year. Can’t wait for this game.
  • My mom’s second novel in the Edisto Mystery Series – Edisto Jinx – is coming out October 1st. And there are some shady things happening over at @EdistoToday, @EdistoCallie, and @MyOuttake. Odd things happen in August.

Countdown until football season is at 27 days. We’re officially within four weeks of kickoff.

Enjoy your weekend, folks

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