Hi! It’s been awhile!
- Quick rundown of the restaurants I’ve conquered with the Lunch Roulette crowd:
- Cluck N Cup – Had the chicken pot pie with coleslaw. It was decent but it’s also hard to design an entire restaurant around a chicken pot pie
- Comet Grill – Went with the buffalo burger, which isn’t made of buffalo, just covered in blue cheese and buffalo sauce. Really good, cheap burger though!
- Zack’s Burger – Typical 1970’s diner-style burger. Good but not great
- McKoy’s Smokehouse – I can’t go to a smokehouse that touts their BBQ and not get a plate. Not the worst but it’s no Midwood…
- Common Market – Quirky, hipster grocery store/deli in South End. I tried the chicken salad deluxe sandwich but it didn’t hold a candle to my grandmother’s chicken salad. Our entire department went for my boss’ last day at work
- Midwood Smokehouse – Speaking of delicious BBQ. I’ve mentioned this one enough in plenty of prior entries. My favorite BBQ in Charlotte
- Diamond – The Lunch Roulette wheel of destiny was reset and this happened to be our first trip of the new lunch season. A cheap, delicious little diner that’s been around since 1945. Went straight bacon cheeseburger because I’m super exciting…
- Phat Burrito – Another staple I’ve mentioned plenty of times. I usually go with the gigantic chicken burrito and chips here
- Tupelo Honey Cafe – I think I’m one of the few people that thinks this place is completely overrated. It tries to be high-class Southern food but it’s been bland every time I’ve been. I had the Southern Fried Chicken BLT. It looked amazing but was pretty forgettable. And it was 1100 (!!!) calories. Ridiculous!
- Mac’s Speed Shop – Another Nanu’s Nation Charlotte staple. Probably my second favorite BBQ place here
- Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be aware of how big Breaking Bad forced itself into pop culture a couple of years ago. Easily the best show I’ve ever seen. I’ll go to my grave thinking the Ozymandias episode is the best 60 minutes of TV ever made. This past weekend, the prequel/sequel Better Call Saul debuted. I was nervous because it will never live up to the shadow created by Breaking Bad. But also because it’s a different timeline (pre-BB events), following a different character (Saul, Walter White’s attorney), with a different vibe (BB was a dark drama, BCS is a comedic drama). But I’ve been really impressed after the first three episodes. Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, has really found his niche.
- As an adult-version of the cheap Valentine’s Day cards passed out in elementary school, my company had Thank You cards out all last week for employees to fill out and have delivered to each other on Friday. It was mainly to appease the girls (I don’t know any guys that filled them out), which just stirred up drama. It turned into the guys receiving multiple cards from girls who expected either cards or recognition back. Have you ever considered how awkward it is to tell someone thank you for sending you a Thank You card to subdue pouting? #ThisIsWhyImSingle
- The first week of February I got to add some pretty cool bullets to my live music resume. On the 2nd, I went to see Motion City Soundtrack. I’ve listened to them for more than a decade but managed to miss them through the years. They were at the top of my “favorite bands I haven’t seen yet” (Yellowcard, you’re next). It was a 10 year anniversary tour of their Commit This To Memory album. Really fun show! Then on the 6th, I caught Ingrid Michaelson. I was completely out of my comfort zone because I wasn’t a) with a large group of girls, b) a boyfriend clearly drug there by a girlfriend, or c) gay. I’d bet legit money I was the only straight guy there by myself. But she was really, really good. And I got to learn some new music!
- At the time of this posting, my dad officially has three more days in Alaska before moving back to Clemson! I feel for him because I know he absolutely loved living in Alaska and he’s going to miss it incredibly. But it’s also going to be really good to see him more than a couple of times a year since he’ll only be two hours down the road. He’s also excited to be able to spend time with my nephew, his only grandchild. There’s a reason I’m buying Clemson season tickets this year.
Overtime! So enjoy these bonus bullet points!
- My favorite band on the planet, Fall Out Boy, released their newest album – American Beauty / American Psycho in January. And I hate it. Okay, so maybe hate is too strong of a word. But it’s easily my least favorite full-length album of theirs. By a mile. In my opinion, the best thing going on the album (Uma Thurman) is cheapened because they sampled The Munsters‘ theme song. Of all things to sample, a 1960s TV show is your go to song? And to top it off, their summer tour is with a white Jewish rapper (Hoodie Allen) and a big name rapper (Wiz Khalifa). I’m still going to the Charlotte date but none of that is appealing enough to get me to check out the Raleigh date too like I did last year. It’s just a bummer knowing that your favorite band and you may finally be heading your separate ways.
- The Superbowl ads this year were abysmal. But the Dodge one just gets me. Not only is it full of old people being badasses and passing on valuable bits of advice (“Keep your eyes open. And sometimes your mouth shut.”), it’s showcasing one of the sexiest cars on the road. I will absolutely own a Dodge Challenger one day.
Snow day for me today! Enjoy your Tuesday :-)
Happy New Years!
One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year is the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal. I enjoy it for the same reasons I read my previous resolution entries while typing the new one – it allows me to try and plan ahead while seeing where I’ve come, what I’ve accomplished, and where I’ve fallen short.
January 1st’s question is “What is your mission?”.
For 2015, my mission is to be more active and aggressive with my resolutions below. I upped the number of resolutions I’m keeping track of from 6 to 10 to push me more. One year, I’m going to 100% my list. So why not this year and this list?
So let’s see what we’ve got on deck this year.
- 15 Books: I hate leaving goals unfinished. So I’m taking another pass at reading 15 books this year. Originally, I wanted to make this more specific by re-reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series or reading the Halo books. But “Read A Series” is a boring resolution. It’s a yes/no goal. And you know how I feel about quantitative over qualitative…
- 90 Days: Here’s the health goal! On Cyber Monday, I picked up a copy of P90X for cheap. I’ve made a couple of runs at it in the past but always seem to flake out by week 4 or 5. I want to make it all 90 days this go ’round.
- 12 Parks: There are 47 South Carolina state parks. Last year’s goal got me to 13 parks, which means this year, I’ve got 34 new parks to choose from! And while this is another retread resolution, this year will require more effort since all of the closest parks to me have already been crossed off the list. My tent should get more of a workout this year.
- 2 Trips: There are so many options on my list of places I want to visit. I need to hit Hawaii and cross my 50th state off the list! I told my dad I want to visit him in Alaska during the winter months. Glacier National Park in Montana and Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys are places I missed on my cross-country trip. Clemson plays in Louisville this year and I’m doing my best to guilt-trip my family to venture with me to the land of Bourbon! So note to self… quit writing lists and actually get to a couple of these places!
- 200 Pages: 2015 marks the 5-year anniversary of quitting my job and traveling the country. I’ve had 2 composition notebooks sitting on my desk for 2 years, collecting dust instead of being filled with the stories of my trip. My goal? Completely fill at least one them and see if it’s any good to self publish.
- 2 Tattoos: I’ve always kicked around the idea of getting 2 tattoos. One representing my state. Another representing my school. This is my early candidate for resolution never to be completed.
- 1 Rental: After last year’s “Save $10,000″ goal, my savings account has a nice chunk of change in it. Over two-thirds my annual salary, as a matter of fact. Yet each month, I get less than a whopping $1.00 in interest. Something about that seems off. So my goal this year is to look into buying some rental property for a better return on investment.
- 4 Season Tickets: I’m ready to hop back into the Clemson season ticket game. Dabo’s pulling all the right levers. Deshaun Watson is a super star in the making. Florida State and Notre Dame both come to town. My dad should be living in Clemson by then. The timing is just right.
- 100 Photo Pages: Not to be confused with my 200 page composition notebook goal, I’ve always wanted to chronicle my pictures from my cross-country trip in a well designed coffee table-esque picture book. 100 pages allows for roughly 2 pages per state. Easy enough, right?
- 4 Concerts: Why haven’t I thought to include a music goal before?! Motion City Soundtrack is coming to Charlotte in February. Fall Out Boy is releasing a new album in January that they’ll tour on this year. Marianas Trench is releasing a new album in the Spring and will hopefully venture out of Canada to the American South at some point. And I want to make an effort to step out of my comfort zone and see something new like Ingrid Michaelson.
What are your 2015 resolutions? Try to mix in a little fun with all of those serious goals you’re striving to hit!
Let’s do this
Life is a journey, not a destination.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hate New Year’s the holiday but love New Year’s the event. I’m a conservative teetotaler introvert, so the idea of going out kissing and drinking with strangers until the wee early hours of the morning is off putting. But I revel in the opportunity to take stock in what’s happened in the previous year, reflect on what I learned, and shift the focus to how to improve in the coming year.
So where did the journey that was 2014 lead me?
- Started the year with Fall Out Boy on Dick Clark at midnight and football all day
- Clemson beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl 40-35
- I quit liking a girl in SC
- Gary (of the #WorkplaceGary fame) started at work
- I canceled my cable subscription
- It snowed and we missed three days of work
- I went on a date to a British pub
- Bought an Xbox One
- I went on a second date to a hamburger joint
- I received a big raise. Like 20% big.
- Andrew put in his notice at work and moved to Colorado
- Bridge Run #8 (7th consecutive)
- Jenny put in her notice at work
- I chopped off all of my long hair
- Miss Second Date up and disappeared
- My cousin took his life – completely unexpected by the entire family
- Tyler put in his notice at work
- New Assistant Vice President was hired at work
- Applied to transferred departments at work
- Took my nephew to Clemson for the first time with my brother
- I went on a date to an NC state park and was told I give off “just friend” vibes
- Took a day off of work to stay at home and watch E3 press conferences
- Transferred departments at work
- Helped build a Habitat for Humanity house with a group of coworkers
- Invited to the Lunch Roulette group at work each week
- Watched the World Cup
- Wore a collared shirt to a date with a girl who wore jean shorts
- I made it two years at work
- Denarian started at work
- Saw Fall Out Boy and Paramore (for the first time) in Raleigh with my cousin
- Saw Fall Out Boy and Paramore (for the second time) in Charlotte by myself
- New AVP was fired at work
- Started liking a girl at work
- Went camping in Pisgah with my brother, sister in law, and nephew
- I went to the the Georgia/Clemson game last minute with my brother
- Tierra from work got married
- My nephew turned one
- Hated work
- Liked the girl from work more
- Formed a regular trivia group with coworkers and won our second time out!
- Received an offer to work for the city of Charlotte and put in my two weeks
- Changed my mind and transferred back to my original group
- My nephew and brother were baptized
- I turned 32
- Helped the girl at work move
- The girl at work invited me to her place for Thanksgiving with her family
- Clemson. Finally. Beat. South. Carolina.
- The girl at work invited me to a small work Christmas party with her
- Gary (of the #WorkplaceGary fame) put in his notice and is moving to Chicago
- Started @WorkplaceGary
- Told the girl at work I liked her and got “I value our friendship” back
- Gave up on the girl at work
- Made an annual trip to Riverbanks Zoo for animal therapy and a mental health day
- Matt put in his notice at work
- Spent 4 hours in the kitchen baking with my mom and Spotify
- Enjoyed the kitchen hang out more than most of Christmas
- Clemson DESTROYED Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl 40-6
- Gary (of the #WorkplaceGary fame) was told he wasn’t needed, packed up, and left
- I’ll ring in the new year in Charlotte again with Harper in front of some football
Before we close out the year and move on to 2015, let’s see how those 2014 New Years Resolutions wrapped up?
- 15 Books:
- 4Q projection – 15
- 4Q actual – 12
- Ouch. My reading resolution is usually my go-to, surefire resolution to pad the stats for the rest of my list. It’s not for a lack of material, as I’ve got an entire shelf in my bookcase full of books I haven’t read. Unfortunately, I just never settled into a good reading rhythm this quarter or year. The only book I finished up this quarter was my mom’s (C Hope Clark) second 2014 book and the first in her new series: Murder on Edisto. My favorite book for 2014 was a toss up between Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.
- 12 Parks:
- 4Q projection – 12
- 4Q actual – 13
- The 4th quarter saw me hit four state parks to cross this resolution off the list. I made it to Lee State Park and Goodale State Park one Sunday in October. Then I visited Oconee State Park and Oconee Station State Historic Site at the beginning of November when I was in Clemson for the weekend. My favorite of the bunch was probably Oconee since Harper and I had a chance to take a good five mile hike up to Hidden Falls. My favorite park for the year still has to be Jones Gap State Park and the hike up to Rainbow Falls.
- 12 Races:
- 4Q projection – 12
- 4Q actual – 8
- Even though I fell short on this one, I at least made a step in the right direction. I ran my third consecutive Charlotte Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving. Then I signed up last minute for the ACC Fan 5K here in Charlotte the morning of the ACC Championship Game. My intent was to take a shot at getting 10 races by running the We Believe 5K Trail Run at the Whitewater Center and the Cold Winter’s Day 5K in Columbia after Christmas. But I got sick between the ACC 5k and the Santa one. So not only did I miss out on a race, I got too far behind in regularly running to make an attempt at the Columbia race. My fastest race this year was the Turkey Trot at 29:47.
- 10,000 Dollars:
- 4Q projection – $10,000
- 4Q actual – $12,729.71
- Even with the bump in expenses from the Christmas rush, I killed my savings goal this year. I’m only counting the increase in my savings account, not any contributions to my work 401(k) or my separate Roth IRA. I actually moved $2,500 into my Roth earlier in the year to buy a new mutual fund. So that would push me over the $15,000 saved milestone. I’m really proud of this one.
- 8 Months:
- 4Q projection – 8
- 4Q actual – 12
- Let’s fudge the numbers a bit. I won’t actually hit a full year without cable until 01/09/2015 but I have no plans on signing up soon, so I’m rounding up. I still catch the occasional show on the networks over the air (Agents of Shield, New Girl). And I’ve bought a season pass to Gold Rush through Xbox Live. But the biggest help was my brother lending me his Watch ESPN info so I can catch my college football fix. When someone figures out how to monetize sports outside of the cable structure, they’ll be really-rich-ionaires!
- 2 Projects:
- 4Q projection – 2
- 4Q actual – 0
- Move along folks. Nothing to see here. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t set this goal. All year, I did nothing even closely resembling making an effort at starting this. The closest I came was that I stumbled onto a new photo-book website that my mom had emailed me. No pictures. No outline. No story. Just… nothing. 2015 is the 5 year anniversary of my trip though, so I may roll this into next year.
So I was about as successful this year as I was in 2013 – three resolutions reached and three resolutions that came up short. Could I have done more? Sure. But I’m happy with where I wound up. I think it’s good to have aggressive goals you may not hit. It gives you motivation and room to grow.
How did your resolutions treat you? I hope you were able to accomplish some of your goals!
And with that, I bid adieu to 2014. Thank you for following along through another year! Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy the New Year and that 2015 brings the best to you. Be safe, kids!
- Lunch roulette this past week took us to Bar B Q King, a drive-in from the 1950s. All of the Food Network shows seem to have made the rounds here too. The food was good but the service was amazing. We couldn’t hear the person taking our order, so we were invited inside. “Inside” only consisted of a tiny table with three stools. Our server insisted on getting us free cherry lemon Sundrop refills, free hush puppies, calling my coworker “vegetable girl” for only ordering baked beans and hush puppies, and a sample of their pork. Healthy tips were left.
- My third Charlotte Turkey Trot went really well. I ran the 5K this year instead of the 8K and finished in 29:47. That beat my goal of under 10 minute miles, so I’m happy. There are roughly 3,500 who ran the 8K and 4,000 in the 5K, so it’s always a decent sized race. I’ve really enjoyed it the last couple of years and it’s becoming my own little Thanksgiving tradition. The long sleeved shirts are really quality too.
- I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my phone this last week. I’ve never been a big eater but I also know nothing about nutrition, so while the majority of what I eat may not be complete junk, it’s not super healthy either. To lose 1 pound a week, it’s got me eating 2,010 calories a day. That’s turning out to be a lot harder than anticipated. But I’ve always read that documenting everything that goes in your mouth is a big step in getting your daily intake under control. So we’ll see how well it works for me.
- I’m not a shopper and I refuse to go out in the Black Friday madness. But the great thing about a digital-heavy gaming console is that they advertise deals on the digital copies of their games. So I picked up Valiant Hearts on Thursday for my Xbox One. It’s a puzzle adventure game set around four characters in World War I and the dog that helps tie all of them together. I’ve only put an hour or so into it but it’s been excellent so far.
- This Thanksgiving, I was invited over to a coworker’s house for dinner. It was a first for me, as I was the only white party in attendance. I was jokingly told that I now know what it feels like for my coworker every day. But it’s nothing a little homemade chocolate chip cookies and an apple pie can’t fix. I may not be able to host my own Thanksgiving but I’ll show anyone up on the dessert front. It was a good, delicious day.
Welcome to December, guys! How’d it become the last month of the year already?
- Sometimes, there are no good decisions. I’ve transitioned back into my former position at work. On one hand, I needed to get out of the position I had because I was struggling to keep up and my work style and strengths didn’t compliment the work load. On the other hand, my former department can be a train wreck with all of the dysfunction and seemingly reckless abandon. On top of that, I’m not sure my current boss will be around for much longer, so let’s toss in a bit of uncertainty to the mix as well. But when in doubt, go with what you know. And I’m good at what I do in this role.
- Food bullet lightning round! Since my last post I’ve been to:
- Brooks – A cash-only shack with cheap, delicious chili burgers & hot dogs
- Sauceman’s – The “best BBQ in Charlotte” (it’s no Midwood Smokehouse…)
- Phat Burrito – Been there, done that
- Brazwell’s – Okay burger and impossible trivia
- Mr K’s – Hard to go wrong with burgers and shakes
- Rusty’s Deli – A generic deli that was better than expected
- Tres Pesos – A sketchy, disappointing, “eh” Mexican restaurant
- Tryon House – Some of everything usually means good at nothing
- Chicken Box – Terrible website and wait but amazing food
- Ed’s Tavern – Our weekly trivia spot and good buffalo chicken wrap
- Nana’s Soul Food – Delicious fried chicken, decent Oreo cake
- Spoon’s BBQ – When they have free hush puppies, you know it’s good
- Tavern on the Tracks – Good lunch spot in South End Charlotte
- Dish – Amazing meatloaf! Quirky, hipster comfort food restaurant
- Mac’s Speedshop – Spicy fried pickles appetizer is hard to beat
- Local Taco (in Greenville, SC) – Disappointed to find out it’s a chain
- Midwood Smokehouse – Best BBQ in Charlotte in my opinion
- The Locker Room – Grilled not fried buffalo chicken? What? Run down sports bar
- Mattie’s Diner – Diner from New Jersey. Amazing burgers and shakes!
- I’m not a big birthday guy but hypocritically enough, I thought this year’s was a bit of a let down. I was in Clemson the first weekend of November for my step mom’s 60th birthday. So the attention was on her (rightfully so) and the quasi-family reunion. Then birthday lunch with my two work buddies Aja and Kaleigh. Nothing that night. Then my mom and step dad took me out to Midwood Smokehouse the night after. It wasn’t bad. It just didn’t have a birthday feel to it.
- I can’t adequately describe how excited I am to have a regular trivia night group now. There was a group of 6 or so of us in college who religiously played on Thursday nights. We’ve got a steady 6-8 regulars from work who play at Ed’s Tavern each Thursday. We tried Brazwell’s but it was impossible sports trivia. After switching to Ed’s for general trivia, we won our second week there. Thursday nights are amazing again!
- This song may be the best thing to hit radio stations this year. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s so great about it. From the opening drum machine to the choppy lines to the lyrics sensationalizing her own public image, everything just works. Easily her best song yet.
With my Thursday nights now out of commission for weekly blog posts, let’s give Monday’s a fair shake and see what happens.
Enjoy your week!
Good riddance summer! Bring on autumn!
Summer has always been my least favorite season. So I’m glad to get the third quarter out of the way just for the simple fact that I welcome Fall with open arms. But in terms of my resolutions, it was my worst quarter by far. In July, I transferred departments at work and the transition has been anything but smooth. So a poor attitude during the day tends to carry over into the evenings and weekends. That then translates to less trips to state parks, less races run, less books read… You catch my drift.
It’s make or break time now though. One more quarter left in the year to make an effort to better myself before wiping the slate clean, taking my lessons learned, and starting over.
So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along?
- 15 Books:
- 3Q projection – 11.25
- 3Q actual – 11
- My third quarter was all over the place even though I only read three books. First was David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I love his books because they always present uncommon solutions and approaches to common problems. One chapter asks if it’s a good thing to wish dyslexia onto your child then he proceeds to make a compelling argument. My second book was Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. For most writers, it would have been a good book. For someone with the bar set as high as King has it, not so much. Finally, I tackled How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived The Dark Ages of Nought by Lyn Fairchild Hawks. My mom had passed it my way to read and it’s hard to adequately describe the story in one sentence. It was good but it’s also young adult, which isn’t where I usually spend my time.
- 12 Parks:
- 3Q projection – 9
- 3Q actual – 9
- I warned you about this being a rough quarter. I didn’t hit any state parks in the last three months. Ouch. But the good news is that because I had such a strong start, I’m only three parks away from my goal. Just have to put one foot in front of the other!
- 12 Races:
- 3Q projection – 9
- 3Q actual – 6
- Ouch times two! I ran in the Born In The USA 4 miler in Columbia on the 4th of July. Since then? Nothing. I had wanted to run a 5K at the Whitewater Center this past weekend and started to train for it but wound up taking a big spill the weekend before and tore my knee up pretty good. So I’ve been off of my running game for a couple of weeks while it heals. Six races in 4 months may be a little tough to hit, to say the least.
- 10,000 Dollars:
- 3Q projection – $7,500
- 3Q actual – $8,274.08
- I lost a little bit of ground from last quarter (from +$1,079.36 to +$774.08) but dropping $700 on a new alternator and $300 on Clemson/Georgia tickets will put you back a bit. Luckily, October is a three-paycheck month so that should help. But the big push for Christmas is about to gear up too. This number will be fun to follow in the next three months to find out where it ends up.
- 8 Months:
- 3Q projection – 6
- 3Q actual – 8
- I made it! September 9th was eight full months and I’m still going strong. I thought football season was going to make me miss having cable. In reality, it’s been quite the opposite – not having cable has tempered my football fix. It also helps that of Clemson’s first four games, I went to the Georgia game, my nephew’s birthday was during the SC State game, and I went to a friend’s house for the Florida State game. I’ve only had to cave and use my brother’s ESPN account to watch this past weekend’s game against North Carolina. It also helps that I’m wasting/investing a lot of spare hours into Bungie’s new game Destiny.
- 2 Projects:
- 3Q projection – 1.5
- 3Q actual – 0
- There’s no news here. Shocker. I did find a new book-creating site (Blurb) that looks like it may be cheaper than some of the other competitors. They also have a self-publishing arm that could work nicely with my non-picture book project too. But I haven’t done as much research there.
Well my third quarter was not a good one. On one hand, not nearly as much progress was made that’s needed to wrap up some of these goals. But on the other, I did go ahead and get one scratched off the list by making it eight full months without cable.
Have your goals been accomplished? Are they still in play? Is it time to scrap them and start planning on 2015? Let me know in the comments below!