Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Latest Time Suck

This is it:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Two Views at the Same Scenario, College Edition

Ed has invited me to go out for a drink tonight, to blow off steam. Mainly because there are a lot of things to figure out with regard to yesterday's post.

Ed: I firmly believe that one needs to let off steam after a week of studying.
Me: I agree.
Ed: That's how I got through my college career, you know.
Me: I think you spent more time blowing off steam then actual studying.
Ed: Shhhhh. I'm not going to listen to you.

Me: I rest my case.

And with that, I suspect I will need a stocked bar or to find a good local watering hole when we move!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Change in Plans

Today was all about life happening while making other plans. Contingency plans at work and a conversation about my future studies that brings me back to several other conversations I had last year.

The main thing is that I should be making my primary focus special education, and Instructional Technology should be the cognate. This is not a surprise, several professors who have been very kind in their opinions have stated it before-but now one in my program repeated it. Reading into the conversation later, I realized that I was paid a huge compliment in a roundabout way.

So, I'm reassessing what lies ahead. There are several ways this could go:

1. I get accepted into the IT program, then transfer the following fall into the Special Education program.
2. I work for a year in the field gaining experience to build my portfolio, then apply to the Special Ed program here.
3. Or I follow the suggestion given, to seek out the appropriate top tier programs, apply, then leverage the offers given to get the best offer at the school I want to attend.

Option three came about because the professor named some schools I should explore and well, they're schools I would have thought well out of my reach academically. Then to be told to take all their offers and weigh them against each other just didn't process until later. It's one thing to hear it as an undergrad, and quite another thing from someone offering advice for you to become a peer, KWIM?

There is a lot to digest and research. At least I'm prepared for the changes I'll be exploring.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One of These Things is NOT Like the Others

As a graduate student, there is a dance that goes on between instructor and student before the semester begins, or in the first week or two of the semester, especially in programs like mine. A back and forth tango of 'Have you taken any programming languages?', 'What software packages have you used?', 'Did you take Dr. S's class already?' and similar things. Then, at the beginning of the semester, many professors ask how many hours you'll be spending on your classwork.

Realistically, for a grad program, 8-12 hours is about the norm. When major assignments are due, it will be more, but in general, this is a good baseline. Which is why I stated that I'd be contributing that much each week to a course that several of us dubbed 'the class from hell.' Apparently, I was smack dab in the middle of the responses, with two others saying about 5 hours, me and a friend saying around 10 and someone answering that they'd put in 15 hours.

The entire semester, the class has required far more. In addition, the syllabus outlined three prototypes for a group project, which are time consuming. However, as of last week, there had been prototype 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2E-we hadn't even gotten to prototype 3. I was trying to do the work in 20 hours, instead of the 10 I stated, and it was an impossible task.

I waved the flag of surrender, as did another classmate. If two others (of 6) didn't need the class to graduate this semester, they would have dropped the class, too. I didn't speak to the other two, but I suspect they aren't pleased, either.

Last night, I got asked by a classmate (in another class) how the situation in the class from hell was going and I commented that the class had been dropped. What I didn't expect is that the majority of our peers had war stories to share about this professor and the other class she teaches. One was told he was going to get an F on an assignment for 'plagiarizing code'. No, code is NOT copyright protected.

Another got a zero on the final project he spent many hours working on. It wasn't a big deal, because he ended up with a B in the class. Most people walk into her class with a 4.0 GPA through the program, and come out with a C, even people who have worked with the product professionally.

The professor is a nice person, I've worked with her on other things, but as a professor, she is scattered, disorganized and changes the game plan multiple times (even during one class session!).

It felt good to hear that I'm not the only one who was frustrated, while at the same time, we were able to warn others from taking her class, especially during the summer semester. The class I took is an elective for Master's students, but a requirement for the Ph.D program.

At least I know now the insanity that awaits and can prepare accordingly. At that, I'll opt to do an individual assignment for GameTeen's school, instead of plugging away at an ever changing group project.

This much is true-I've felt SO much better this week, knowing I didn't have that work load hanging over me at every turn.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Booking It

Now that I've seen the movie, Chef has inspired me to buy the rest of the Hunger Games books (I bought him Mockingjay after the movie, the one he'd been trying to get from the school library for the past month without success.) I felt that the story was well constructed and his reaction to the books has me curious.

The post-apocalyptic storyline really appealed to him, so I once again suggested that he pick up the series I devoured when I was the same age, John Christopher's The White Mountain, The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire. Now he seems more interested when I compared elements of the two series for him.

Tonight, I got to class and found the other TA reading the Hunger Games, which evolved into him telling me that he wanted to read it before seeing the movie, and me explaining that I saw the movie first and now want to read the books. Then several of us started talking about books and favorite authors, with one person saying the Hunger Games reminded him of a Steven King short story.

That turned the topic to my favorite King book (okay, it really is a tie between Dead Zone and this), the Stand. I have the first edition of the first version of the book, a book that clearly shows how many times it has been read, first by my dad, then by me. For a birthday, dad also got me the unedited version that King released later. The other person mentioned that Flagg (the Walking Dude) from the Stand features prominently in the Gunslinger series, so now I'm going to check those out.

The professor got into the conversation and was looking for things to read for a long plane trip, something that would be a page turner in the way he found Hunger Games to be. I gave a brief synopsis, several of us debated elements of the book and I apologized that I would not see him before he flies out tomorrow, because those books are readily available on the bookshelf behind me. One person said "rent the DVDs from Netflix," and I told him I owned them and could bring them next week.

Professor asks "Does the book have Molly Ringwald on the cover?" and the next thing you know, he runs up to his office and brings it back down. Someone had given it to him a while back and in classic absent minded professor style, he'd forgotten about it. I checked it, and it is the updated release.

That will keep him busy for the outgoing and returning flight-and give him some strange dreams for a while.

It's always good to start talking books with people, get some good suggestions, but then give another. It's just rare that the person you have given a suggestion to can go pull it off their bookshelf exactly when they're looking for a good read!

Monday, March 26, 2012

We've Reached the Age

I took a very funny picture that Chef staged for me last week, one in which he wore an Angry Birds pig hat and chose a red Angry Bird and made it appear as if he was being attacked, scared face and all.

The other day, I got an adorable picture of him with Scamp, both had priceless expressions.

I'm not sharing them, here or on Facebook. He asked me not to.

This on top of the sudden 'no displays of affection in public' make it clear: he isn't 13 for another few months, but he has clearly reached teenager. It is kind of strange, considering we haven't dealt with it yet.

For him, it's probably strange to have an older brother and parents who are treading new ground, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hunger Games at the Drive In

Better than I thought.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Yoga Classes

My health woes have been well documented on the blog, so when the secret shopping company that employs me asked me to become one of the regular shoppers to do 'member' visits to a health club chain, I was understandably reserved about accepting the assignments. The vascular surgeon has placed me on restrictions (only walking, swimming, biking or NO impact activities), while the neurologist tells me that I can't lift more than 10 pounds.

Do you see the potential issues with these restrictions and participating in a health club?

It's not that I don't want to be fit, because honestly, I hate how much I hurt most of the time and think that being in better shape might improve at least some of the aches and pains. So, with that in mind, I accepted the request after my boss and I discussed this concern.

Over the past few months, I've been able to do several shops, but the classes best geared for me meet while I'm at work. However, they offer yoga classes at night and on the weekends, in between the zumba and maximum impact aerobic activities. So, I've now attended two yoga classes.

The first one was good. I was able to keep up, and I did about 95% of everything the instructor asked in that class. The next day, though, I was really sore and the way to improve it was to move gently, as if I was transitioning yoga poses. It wasn't until after the class that I learned it's okay to modify the workout to your needs.

So, I went into this one knowing it. Different location, different instructor and it seems that a weekend class (as opposed to the weeknight one last time) is full of more hard-core yoga enthusiasts (is that an oxymoron?) and this meant it was much more intense in the exercises presented.

But I knew the idea is to get moving, not to duplicate what the instructor did. Because today, there is NO way I would have done what she done without a visit to the ER afterwards. So, I modified. I cannot do downward dog because it stresses the feet and shoulder, so I did a cow. And so on. I got through the hour without breaking a sweat, without adding to the pain I've had this week and feeling that I did work all the muscle groups intended.

I just wish this location wasn't the furthest one from my house that they ask me to visit, because this instructor? I want to continue with her and see how close to those moves I can actually get with regular attendance.

That's pretty impressive. So is the fact that 8 hours later, I am not even the tiniest bit sore from the class. We'll ignore the knot in my shoulder that was there well before I walked into the classroom...

Friday, March 23, 2012

CND's Shellac-Rock Royalty with Hot Chili

Today, a shout out to my go-to website for news and info on nail products. Hillary is a nail tech who runs the amazing site, Solessence. When I first Googled information about Shellac last May, her site provided information about the colors, and provided pictures and details about layering Shellac products.

This is one positive and negative about the product line. CND has many colors in the product line that you wouldn't want to wear solo, but when used to top another color, it creates a lot of pizzazz in your manicure. For people who want COLOR!, the option that happens is that you can take two shades and create a newer color. (This can't be done with the OPI Gel Color product.)

Enter Hillary. She posts many pictures of Shellac layering on her website, pretty amazing because she IS a busy nail tech, after all. Ed and I were talking last week about the colors, because he'd considered the Dark Lava far too conservative for me, and I'd say that is an accurate assessment.

We were looking at her website the other night while talking, and today's combo was one that Ed really liked (there's another Hot Chilis combo that I'll do soon), and I thought it was striking. Even better, it is a perfect match for the magenta clothing you're starting to see in the spring fashions (the turquoise is darn close to Suzi Says Feng Shui, if you're wondering).

So, Here's Rock Royalty with Hot Chilis on top, pictured on top of a new shirt I bought today that goes nicely with it, too.

Hilary, thank you so much for all the time you put into sharing nail options with all of us!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Making the Kid Happy

Chef is quite enamored with the Hunger Games books. It's like pulling teeth to get him to read for pleasure, so the fact that he's soaking this in makes me happy. A few weeks ago, he asked to see the movie when it came out. I'm not interested in seeing it, the storyline is not appealing to me at all. Still, I told Chef he could go.

Then I found out the local drive in will be showing it. Instead of the usual $4 head for two movies, this weekend it's just Hunger Games on one side. Still, $8 bucks to make him happy is not a bad deal.

And me?

I'll be using that mobile wifi to do schoolwork at a picnic table or in the back of the van while he watches his movie...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Identity Theft

Is all around us. It's becoming so prevalent that I'm doing a group project on creating distance learning about it, and my employer had a sheriff come talk to us today on the subject.

The magazine subscription bullshit is identity theft, albeit one that hasn't done much but annoy me. (And at that, it's at the point that I rip the address labels off them and leave them on the counter at the post office when I pick up my mail-someone will enjoy them.) Still, it's theft, presenting oneself as me, Ed or the boys to the magazine companies.

But, there are other, scarier forms of theft. Credit card skimming, which can happen when your card is taken by the server at the restaurant, as well as when you pay by credit/debit card at the gas station or use an ATM.

This year, the IRS reports that many social security numbers are being hijacked and W2's fraudulently accessed to get returns. The real owner of the number goes to file their return and boom, they get a message that someone else has already filed under that number.

So, how can you protect yourself? Good question, because there are ways you can:

*Shred all paperwork with any identifying information. If you don't have a home shredder, check with your employer if you can use theirs. (Mine is fine with us shredding personal documents.)

*Let your bank and credit card companies know when you're traveling outside your state or the country. Keeping those lines open help them to better watch your patterns of use to protect you. (My credit union is AWESOME about calling me about strange spending outside my norms.)

*Use the free annual credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. I'm purposely not hyperlinking them so that you CAREFULLY type those links in yourself. Spell carefully and make sure you've got the legit site before requesting your information. Then, stagger your requests so that you get one from each agency every 4 months.

*If you can, opt for a locking mailbox. Check with your letter carrier which one works best for them and is post office approved. Better yet, get a Post office box. Don't put outgoing mail in your mailbox. Thieves love pulling mail out when you have that red flag up to tell them there are outgoing bills, etc.

*Switch to online bill payment wherever possible.

*Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1-888-5optout

*If you get a call from your bank that you did not initiate and they are requesting information, let the caller know you will call them back. From experience, my CU's fraud department will only ask me to verify info, not give them new info. For instance, the cafeteria at work punched in the wrong CVV number repeatedly when I bought french fries. I got back to my desk and my phone was ringing. I had to verify my last three purchases.

*Change your passwords regularly (90 days to no more than six months). Don't make them your pet's name, your birthday or anything super easy for anyone who knows you to figure out. Use numbers to replace s0m3 le77ers. If it's hard for you to keep track, use the same one, but change it by adding a 1, next a 2, then a 3, etc.

*Don't have your date of birth, drivers license number or social security numbers put on your checks.

There's a lot more to keeping your information safe, but those are all easy to do and go a long way towards protecting you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager

Last year, we were perusing the aisles of Total Wine and More and as we had a little bit of play money that day, scoped out the beers.

If you don't have one of these near you, Total Wine is a larger retailer of various alcoholic beverages, but you can find some boutique labels and microbrews along with the Chateau St. Michelles, Beringers, Michelob and other larger producers.

For instance, they've carried Pindar's Sweet Scarlett and Pythagoras in the past, Long Island wines we enjoy. We actually went there because Chateau St. Michelle's Eroica is about 2 bucks cheaper than everyone else, but that trip, we looked around for microbrews and found an Abita brew that we were unfamiliar with: Strawberry Harvest Lager.

Call us wimpy, but sometimes, a little fruit in a beer-if it's brewed that way-can be mighty tasty. A hunch told us we'd like it, so we bought two six packs. And promptly got hooked on the light, refreshing flavor.

Of course, it's seasonal. This means I've been stalking the Abita site since the strawberry fields locally have had workers plucking the sweet berries off the plants. I even installed the mobile app on the iPhone.

It lied.

I've been to four Publix locations, two that were listed as having the seasonal treat, and came away empty handed. This morning, though, I dropped Game Teen at school and decided I've venture to the Publix closest to work, where I found ONE six of it. It sat in the back of my car all day, but it's sitting in the fridge in the garage.

I decided to visit TW&M on my way home from campus Thursday night, because odds are good they'll have it. If not, I was informed by the cashier when I bought it that I can ask them to order me a case.

But I really, really want a whole keg!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Early Graduation Present

Like four months early.

My plans were to get an iMac once I finished the Master's program as my present. Mainly because all the software I use for professional purposes is Mac based and well, I have been totally assimilated by the Borg Apple-y goodness.

Seems my klutzy ways kind of stepped up those plans, and here I am, typing at a computer with a 21.5" screen. It seems freaking HUGE after using laptops for the past 7 years. I've gotten used to the mouse far quicker than I expected to, the keyboard is especially nice (can I get one for my PC at work?), and the thing has SIX USB ports. Hell, I can charge every portable Apple device in the house from the thing.

Down sides? I forgot to get the free after rebate printer, when I know someone who can really use it (going to call the store tomorrow and ask about that one), and I can't sit and veg in the comfy chair while I do school work.

Still, I think people like me are the reason why Apple shareholders are going to be getting dividends. You know how people pinned pictures on Pinterest of their 'book christmas trees'? I could totally do one with Apple product boxes.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can I Have a Vacation From My Vacation?

1800+ miles in 6 days. Two colleges, three states. Lots of mobile wi-fi hotspot bandwidth consumed.

We only had one national chain meal (Hardee's on the way out of Florida). Several traffic jams were encountered, but the aformentioned wi-fi got us out of sitting in traffic for hours.

The net result is that I liked the North Carolina school more than I thought I would and that my research plans are a good fit if we have to go to plan B. The Atlanta area's traffic is pretty much a deal breaker as far as Ed is concerned. We'd been warned that the road situation is worse than NY and DC and that is the absolute truth. People just move into your lane without looking or signaling. And I thought I had to use combat driving mode in NY-at least people telegraph what they're doing up there!

There is more research to be done, but I think if I had to pick one, Raleigh would be the winner for all four of us.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St Patrick's Day Dinner

I made Guinness Beef Stew. After dining out all week, a home cooked meal hit the spot.

Ed proclaimed it the best meal I have made in a long time. I would argue that one, but I think he's right.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Marietta Diner, Marietta Georgia

Once again, we dined at a place featured on "Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives" and this time, it took us back to our roots. Long time views will remember Uncle Gus, who was driving the bus to Flavor Town. Well, Gus opened his own place, but we visited the Marietta Diner, which was featured on Triple D.

This is classic NY diner: gleaming chrome, neon and a huge menu of breakfast and dinner specials. Ed and the boys went for classics (Pizza Burger, Chicken Melt and an egg platter), while I was torn-so I asked our server. He pointed out a few favorites, one of which is always a winner for me, Chicken Pot pie:

This one had a unique savory flavor, probably because it was loaded with artichoke leaves (yum!). It ranks up there as one of my favorites.

Of course, we had to have dessert, but in to-go boxes. Ed got the seven sins cake and I ended up with a cannoli cake that I still haven't finished yet.

This is the third Triple D place we've tried (possibly 4th) and each has been worth the hype. We all enjoyed and left with full bellies. Marietta Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Boudreaux's Cafe Acadiana, Duluth Georgia

Sometimes, a little web surfing will net you a good meal in a strip mall. Tonight, the search for something different for dinner brought us to a website that allowed you to choose Atlanta restaurants by various parameters. After inputting non-smoking, casual and Duluth, I had 26 restaurants to choose from.

One of them was not a chain (a goal) and offered Cajun cuisine. After looking at their website, we were tweaked by the idea of crawfish etouffee, so off we went to find Boudreaux's Cafe Acadiana.

There was a little hiccup, in that we didn't realize that it was in the Publix shopping center, at the far end, closest to the Burger King. (we'd come from the other side.

While we were trying to find it, I looked for an Urban Spoon listing and found no one had voted for it. Okay, this is a new place, then. Once we found it, we walked into the spacious area and it was clear this place was new-barely open one month. It's ready for business, with only a few tables occupied and a staff at the ready.

We were promptly seated and our server was quick to help us and very friendly. The evening's specials were Grouper Imperial and Grouper Evangeline. We were given the same menus as found on the website:
Chef spied crab on the menu, his favorite, but no dishes listed. Alas, they were out. They were also out of the crawfish, so we had to readjust our plans.

The kids got PoBoys (Shrimp and Chicken), Ed ordered a bowl of the gumbo to share and jambalaya as a main dish. I went with the shrimp etouffee and a side salad.

The salad came with marinated cucumbers and tomatoes, and it was a nice tasty vinaigrette that didn't interfere with the dressing I'd asked for. There was a nice ample bed of mixed greens underneath-a bargain salad for $1.50.

In no time at all, our meals came out. The boys sandwiches were on some delicious crusty bread (I swiped a piece), with the chicken and the shrimp fried to a light crisp. The PoBoys come dressed with mayo, tomato, and lettuce. I swiped some of GameTeen's shrimp to dip in the offered remoulade.

The shared Gumbo had a rich dark color and a flavor that was just the tiniest bit too beefy (but Ed and I are probably sensitive to that because we use beef base in cooking a lot). The $7.00 bowl could easily be a meal for one person. As it was, Chef claimed about half of it for himself and proclaimed it the best soup he's ever had, insisting that we have to take him to Harry's when we're back home.

Meanwhile, Ed ordered the Sausage Jambalaya. Loaded with smoky sausage, the flavor was rich, deep and complex, with the smokiness carrying through the rice.

My shrimp etouffee had a dozen medium shrimp that were fresh and tender. The sauce walked the fine line between heavy and light. It was hearty, not heavy, and left a nice tingle in my mouth when I was done. Etouffee is considered Creole, where you want a nice seasoning blend with the tiniest bit of heat. Cafe Acadiana succeeded on that front.

Other than the seafood being out, the only lament we have is that they don't have their liquor license yet, because an Abita would have been perfect with the meal.

The quality of the meal was such that if we end up in this neck of the woods permanently, both Ed and I would make the trip over to Boudreaux's Cafe Acadiana when the urge to have Cajun strikes. Having a tingle on my tongue and a happy belly are definitely worth a drive.

I'm hoping that Duluth realizes that they've got a nice little gem of a place in a strip mall!
Bourdreaux's Cafe Acadiana on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Beacon Drive In, Spartanburg, South Carolina

If you hadn't already gathered, we're big fans of Food Network. ("No, Suzanne, seriously?") Yeah, I know it is a surprise. I tasked Ed with finding places to eat while we traveled this week and out came our Diners, Drive Ins and Dives cookbooks.

You have to understand, we end up watching this show late at night, long past bedtime and the refrain is usually 'Yes, PLEASE' to whatever delight Guy's chef du segment is introducing. So, when Ed came up with the Beacon Drive In and their 'A-Plenty' as featured on Triple D.

While we didn't get to see caller JC Strobel, who is featured in the segment, we did get a fantastic experience and some great food. Ed insisted we only get one item 'a plenty' and you know what? He was right. There were enough fries and rings for all of us.

These are the rules and you'd best follow them. Then again, we were there after dinner rush, so they went easy on us newbies!

Underneath all of this is an awesome pork bbq sandwich that didn't need any of the bbq sauce (but it was a nice Carolina style vinegar based, so of course, I had some.) Next to it is a cup of what is seriously the BEST iced tea we've ever had. In fact, there was some jockeying when we got to our destination later that night, because I still had some left and the other three wanted some.

A nice young lady at the next table offered me some of the chicken gizzards when she spied me taking pictures of the food. I took it and spent the next five minutes trying to chew it. Still, it was nice of her to offer the shoe leather piece of her favorite food.

There's one thing I'm happy about, and that is that our cookbook contains the recipe for the pimento cheese spread. This grilled cheese sandwich was the best one ever, and now that means I can make it at home.

If you're going to be in Spartanburg, make it a point to get a meal at the Beacon. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do We Really Have to Tell Someone Who is "Ony 27" That Stealing is Wrong?

You all know my point of view on Plagiarism. I've had several rants on it, whether it has involved me directly or as an observer.

Amalah, one of the bloggers who I followed since I started blogging, is the most recent to be a victim. Read her post today, and you'll probably have the same reaction I did, disgust that someone would take post after post and claim them as their own.

I think it hits me hard, because in seven or so years of reading Amy's posts, she's probably the nicest person you can find in the blogosphere. She posts things that are embarrassing, and it just endears you to her, because you're thinking "yeah, I do dorky things like that, too."

Still, I was curious about the situation and found the name of the blogger who did this. The name sounded *really* familiar. It wasn't until I read another blogger's retelling of the events that I realized why. The blogger in question (and her husband), bullied a few people I know and respect. (and one who I was an affiliate blogger for at the time.)

Back then, not many people knew the particulars, but it was chalked up to mommy blogger drama. So, it's no surprise that the blogger's husband tried to use a smear campaign on Amy, like the one he'd used three years ago on my friends.

Only thing is, Amy is an A list blogger, one who is well loved. Heck, Food Network invited her and hubby Jason to be the judges on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Even Food Network knows how freaking adorable this woman is. The type who gets nervous about little white lies, then blogs about the fact that she got nervous.

So, since it seems to be a foreign concept to some, let's review:

1. If you didn't write it, don't post it.
2. If you get caught, don't use your age as an excuse.
3. If you made a mistake, don't whine and complain that you're being persecuted, because the facts will come out in the Internet age.
4. If you steal from someone, accept whatever punishment is doled out.

I want to say so much more about the topic, but I can't do it without this becoming a huge diatribe...

Monday, March 12, 2012

B & C Steak and Barbeque-Dillon, South Carolina

If there's one thing that we embrace when traveling, it's 'eat where the locals eat'. Several of the travel based cooking shows say this over and over, and it's something that we've done since our California trip in 2006.

Now, the prevalence of smart phones and apps make this proposition way easier. Instead of picking an exit and hoping there's food beyond a mini-mart, we can use the Urban Spoon and I-95 Exit guide app (I've been using their website for years, now it's an iPhone app, too) to determine what is available at each exit. On our travels through South Carolina, we found many exits with barbeque. The south is the land of good 'que, and the exit we decided to take had two listed, B&C Steak and Barbeque and Sweetey's BBQ. Both sound like they are mom and pop places-sign us up.

As soon as you get off exit 193, the first place you see on the right is B&Cs. It's lunchtime, there are a ton of construction pickup trucks and that's another clue to look for, besides the local feedback-construction workers like good food. Hey, it's a buffet, that could be good, too.

When you walk in the door, There are two steam tables right in front of you, laden with traditional southern fare. It might be a little confusing, because there is no hostess station or sign to direct you. A server promptly came up and directed us to the back wall, where there was a counter and this menu greeted us:

After seeing the prices and how good the salad bar and hot table looked, we opted for all four of us to enjoy the offerings on the buffet. In the time we were there, it appeared that everyone else went the same route. They serve iced tea, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, lemonade and Dr. Pepper. You order your meal and drinks at the left end of the counter, then slide a tray down to the cashier to pay (they take debit and credit.)

First up, fried chicken and pulled pork. The latter is moist and tender, and is served with a the Carolina style vinegar style barbeque sauce, thin and full of pucker. The fried chicken had a slightly salty and very crispy batter, even with
being on the steam table. There are two soups with cracklins available as a garnish, and baked chicken.

If you're following a low-carb diet, this buffet may tempt you with all the fantastic representations of that food group: mashed potatoes (with gravy on the side), roasted potatoes with onions, homemade macaroni and cheese, corn and rolls that are similar to popovers. Each of these were well seasoned and fresh.

Also on the table when we visited were collard greens (Ed said they had a nice peppery bite), chopped and bright green, which tells me they had not been sitting there very long. Several beans were represented: limas, pintos, and pole beans, the latter were very tasty with a light salty taste. Peas, okra, stewed tomatoes, sliced sweet potatoes and rice rounded out the hot side.

The salad bar had a good variety of health veggies and some add ons that can be a little decadent (ham, pasta salad, bacon bits, cole slaw, and croutons). There were plenty of dressing options and when you're traveling, something about a fresh, crispy salad with the exact ingredients you want hits the spot.

Leave some room for the dessert, because these appear to be made in house. Cherry and Peach cobblers, a vanilla mousse and banana cream pie were sampled and each had great flavor-the topping on the cherry cobbler was fantastic.

The server was attentive, taking our plates and refilling our drinks throughout the meal. She offered us to-go cups, too. The only negative (for us) is that the restaurant is not smoke-free, but it wasn't too bad to deal with. YMMV.

Dillon is famous for this landmark:

If you're hungry when you travel through, you can get some good Southern home cooking and fill your belly without breaking the bank.

We're adding this one to the list of places along I95 that we need to visit again.

B C Steak & BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 11, 2012

'70's Flashback

A friend posted a picture to Facebook today of Jif's new 'To Go' packages of peanut butter and chocolate flavor.

Damn you Thank you, HootSuite, for pointing out this new addiction product.

Meanwhile, I reminds me of something from the '70's that my mom would buy and I loved, Koogle:

Yay for Google Images and Wikipedia for actually having this product listed.

Koogle was released in 1970, but I can remember in first and second grade, getting to have chocolate peanut butter sandwiches in my school lunch and I loved that. I know Mom bought Koogle because she was a sucker for peanut butter cups, but everybody in the house loved the stuff.

I'm ready to go and get some now...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Brain Says Work

The body says "Screw that, it's spring break, woman!"

Meanwhile, I have assignments that I need to turn in and the motivation to do them is not there, because the body wants sleep and analgesics.

Maybe tomorrow will be better...

Friday, March 09, 2012

Shellac, Dark Lava

You know I've really gone nail geek when I arrive at my nail appointment and Katie has all the new Shellac shades out for me to check out. I knew the newest crop of colors was due in March, but promptly put it out of my head, so the new choices were a pleasant surprise.

Though, honestly, there was only one color in the latest crop that interested me-Dark Lava. In the pictures on CND's website, it looked like a raisin. The color in person has more brown to it. Yet another one that will be hard to photograph.

Katie layered it with another new shade, Silver VIP Status. I like the effect, enough to consider putting Zillionaire on the next color.

Pictures from my video camera for now, with more daylight pictures tomorrow:

Here's a shot in direct sunlight. If you want an idea of the Dark Lava without the sparklies, the pinkie gives you a good view of it without the sun's diffraction of the silver from the top layer.

More direct sunlight pictures:

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Spring Break

Oh, how I have been looking forward to it. I have assignments due tomorrow and Saturday, but the week ahead has no assignments for my current classes.

So, of course, I'm going to use the time to do some web programming. I'm also going to figure out how to go about building out a website, because I'm getting to the point that I need to have an online portfolio for prospective employers.

But it'll be nice to just be looking at one thing, instead of the three classes and TA work...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Empty Pot

It waits for me to cook

Later, it was rewarded

And that camera angle turned out awesome!