GoPro (353rd new thing).

January 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

After talking about my zipline experience and my plans to go skydiving, a host at work offered to lend me his GoPro to document some of these exciting adventures through video. On Day Three Hundred Fifty-Three he brought it in and I spent some time with the small video camera.

I didn’t have any adventures planned for that afternoon, so my experiments included spinning around in a circle with the camera outstretched in my hands (think self-portrait style). I would have rolled around in a big-ass tire like in The Smashing Pumpkin’s video for “1979,” but I didn’t have a big-ass tire.

Later I attached the camera strap to my dog’s collar to see if I could get a “Murphy-eye view.” That didn’t turn out so well. It was too dark in the house, and the only image recorded was his two skinny white front legs trotting about. So actually, it was sort of cool for like half a second until he wanted the camera collar off.

Truth be told, I never fully took advantage of the camera. When I went skydiving later the instructor had a GoPro, but other than that all I did with the thing is somehow lose it on its way back to the owner and had to buy a replacement. After watching these videos, though, I would consider getting the portable waterproof camera…but only with a head attachment. The wrist one was too weird.


Backwoods Banjo (338th new thing).

November 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

My friend Kallen took up the banjo about a year ago. She downloaded some iPhone apps and pretty much taught herself. I was thoroughly impressed. I tried learning guitar a couple times in my life, with a teacher, but I always eventually stopped practicing and let it fall by the wayside. Thus carving out the time to practice alone, when you could be doing any number of more instantly rewarding things is a job well done. And on Day Three Hundred Thirty-Eight Kallen taught me a little banjo.

We decided the evening could be a combined banjo lesson-doggie date. Kallen’s pooch, Boris, is a great foil to my pup Murphy. It’s weird how dogs play differently with other canines, and Boris and Murphy instantly turn into a happy growling Tasmanian Devil whirlwind of fur and face.  They twirl around the room in a blur of white and brown, bumping into tables and knees and walls, eventually breaking away for a game of tug-of-war or chase.

After the dogs had fallen into their whirlwind routine and Kallen and I had consumed a little wine and a lot of pizza (mushroom and roasted garlic, holla), we settled onto the couch as Kallen pulled out her iPhone and began to show me a few banjo learning apps.

I was amazed by what technology can teach you these days. Within the banjo playing application, the user can slow down or speed up the lines of sheet music to play along. I sat with the banjo tucked in my lap and strummed along with the fingering diagram. On the slowest speed, and I probably missed a few notes.

Next Kallen began to teach me to play the infamous theme from the 1972 film Deliverance, set and filmed in my home state of Georgia. Funnily enough, the first time I watched the film was in a remote cabin along the shores of Lake Rabun, near Clayton County where the movie was shot. Authenticity, right?

The Teacher

First Kallen strummed along…duh nah nah nah nah nah nah nah naaah… She played the opening notes a couple times and then passed the instrument along to me to give it a go. It took a few tries to find the proper fingering, but before long I was picking the notes in between mistakes, in a highly unintentional staccato fashion.

Once I had mastered the simple opening line, we moved on to the next row of musical notes which sound like the beginning of  “Yankee Doodle.” Duh duh duh duh duh duh duhn…I know, my words are amazingly clear in conveying the music.

Slow and Steady

All of this took enough time to where we decided it was time to let the (still) playing dogs outside. We took a couple glasses of my latest homebrew with us. And I managed to lock us out, pulling the door closed before Kallen made sure her key was on her person. Oops.

Thus the banjo lesson ended and the next lesson in climbing and trying to reach Chad, Kallen’s boyfriend, without our cell phones (safely tucked inside) began. Eventually we made it back inside as the man of the house returned from band practice. It was pretty late by this point, so I gathered Murphy and headed home. I hummed the first lines of music I had learned that evening for about a week afterwards. And probably will for the next week too.

Walk along the river (306th new thing).

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Day Three Hundred Six Patrick, Murphy, and I woke up at a decent hour and headed to the Chattahoochee Nature Preserve at Cochran Shoals to explore a new state park. Although it was a Sunday morning, we were surprised by the number of people, namely runners, in the parking area. The temperature was incredibly mild, but the threat of rain hung overhead in the dark clouds swollen with humidity.

Murphy spies another pup

Patrick headed off in a trot to run the course while Murphy and I marched along the gravel path. I wore the backpack loaded with our hoodies and waters, and felt like an adult Dora the Explorer with her pal Boots the monkey (I had to look that up).

Trail Maps

After awhile, I veered off onto a pretty path littered with fallen orange and red leaves. The solitude and quiet sound of the Chattahoochee rushing a few yards away was peaceful.

Solitude in the City

At the end I called Patrick, who had completed his three mile jog and was on his way back. We met him halfway to the car and continued along, remarking on the types of joggers who crossed our path. Some people certainly have a funny gait. I likened each to an animal for our amusement. We saw a man who ran at a terribly slow pace who reminded me of a tortoise, and another who lumbered along, leaning forward resembling a lion.

We arrived back just in time. A few raindrops fell towards us, but we made it to the car avoiding any real trouble. On the way home we mused how nice it would be to have something similar near our house (like a done-up Atlanta Prison Farm). I could definitely see how enjoyable it would be to walk or jog along the paths every weekend. No wonder it was so busy, even on an overcast morning.

Mardi Gras Christmas (284th new thing).

February 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Every holiday season, my mom and her best friend, Cindy, alternate who hosts the pre-Christmas get together. Aunt Cin lives in North Georgia, and my parents in North Carolina, so it’s always a bit of trek for someone, especially since Nicole and Ryan live in Alabama and I live in Atlanta. The ladies also like to theme each gathering with an international flair. Last year was Buon Natale where we drank a lot of Italian Chianti and ate lasagna. The previous holiday was Feliz Navidad where copious amounts of margaritas were consumed along with some enchiladas. This year, we stuck stateside and had a Mardi Gras Christmas, my first, on Day Two Hundred Eighty-Four.

Donning our masks for a group portrait

A festive table

All in the details

Six year old Claire struggles with her mask

Patrick decided to bring the ingredients to make Sazerac, a New Orleans Old Fashion. Rye whiskey, simple syrup, bitters. Lack of the absinthe-like ingredient changed the drink a bit.

Drinking the Sazerac. Not my favorite, but certainly sippable.

My family is really loud. Murphy takes precautions.

King Cake. I didn

My cousin Claire is quite the ham. One of the most memorable parts of Mardi Gras Christmas was her version of classic Beatles’ songs and a few modern tunes. There was a mirror behind me (and my camera), and like I did in my youth, she sang passionately to her reflection. Here’s some blackmail material for her teenage years.

A-Hole Santa (271st new thing).

January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Henry from Chunklet and Armando from The Drunken Unicorn set up in a local business every holiday season for a classic photo op: A-Hole Santa. You can bring friends, children, pets, and even your favorite stuffed animal and be photographed with the drunken Santa and his sidekick Jesus (pronounced “Hay-Zeus”). On Day Two Hundred Seventy-Two Murphy and I met Kristin and Johnny for our own chance at making some holiday memories.

Johnny and Murphy, Santa and Jesus.

Both the boy and the pup look a little confused.

Kristin and I join in the fun.

I was supposed to be pouring beer on Johnny's head, but instead just look transfixed by the can. Meanwhile, Murph makes a move on Kristin.

Atlanta Prison Farm (250th new thing).

January 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

There’s this area of land not too far from my house which is owned by the City of Atlanta, but is in essence a wilderness. Like FOUR HUNDRED acres of uncultivated fields and woods and ponds interspersed with winding paths and trodden trails. This area was formerly the home of a prison, abandoned now and covered with the signs of time passing (mostly kudzu). While some urban adventurers wander alone onto the grounds, we joined a tour led by Scott Petersen who is trying to raise awareness about the area and who hopes the green space can be turned into something worthwhile. Patrick and I met a small group on a Sunday morning tour of the area on Day Two Hundred Fifty. Please follow the group and find out more about the Atlanta Prison Farm through their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Scott talking about the preservation effort

A grassy path

Murphy enjoyed our hike

Following the trail

Broken tiles infested with asbestos, something to steer clear of

One of the calm lakes

An HDR Lake View

Bright winter colors

Lake panaroma

Dried up creek bed, deer nearby

The prison grounds

Kudzu Couch

Emergency carbohydrates

Candy fills the tins

Marble from the defunct Carnegie Library

In a field of forgotten marble...

A Haunting path

Beach Gallop (242nd new thing).

January 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

Day Two Hundred Forty-Two found me with my family in Folly Beach, SC. Before Patrick and I have always visited the seaside location during peak tourist season, meaning Murphy (and all dogs) were only allowed on the beach before 10AM or after 6PM. November beach trips are different, and there are no restrictions as to when pups are allowed to be walked along the water. It was a blustery day, but I still headed out with my parents, Murphy, and their dogs for a chilly November jaunt. And because the beach was quite expansive and empty of fellow walkers, I decided to let Murphy off-leash on the beach, for the first time. I think he enjoyed himself, and apart from a brief diversion into the dunes, he was exceptionally well-behaved.

Murphy is ready to run free

Twas a blustery November morning

Oscar's great leap of faith

Mom, Dad, Chester, Oscar, and Murphy

Post-walk treat distribution pose

And finally…video proof of the fun we had.


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