Friday, July 30, 2010

Arguments for Love

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned Julie Slonecki's new website. For those that don't know her, Julie is a rising senior at Washington and Lee University who writes and performs music. In the past couple weeks, she has released her new self-produced album, Arguments for Love. I've already bought my copy, and I love it! (Not least of all because I'm singing on one of the tracks.) Julie describes her music as alternative country folk indie rock pop, so take from that what you will. The bottom line is that it's really catchy, easy-to-listen-to music, and you should check it out. She's a struggling musician who needs your support. You can get a hard copy from Create Space. If you want to hear some of the tracks before you buy, they are on her website. AND if you prefer electronic copies of music, the whole album is available on iTunes! The one downside of the iTunes route is you don't get the sweet album artwork, but that's on you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

An attempt to increase readership

So I've been researching lately how one makes a blog "successful." To you early readers, thank you. I love all 19 of you dearly. I do, however, want to grow that readership, and I'm told that the way to do it is to make sure it's searchable for strangers. To make it searchable, you have to submit it to search engines, so that's what I'm trying to do. Degreeadvantage.com can do that for me, I guess, so I'm leaving it in their hands. Wish me luck.

SES performed by online degree promotion team.

(It would also help if you guys linked me on other sites, like Facebook, etc. Just fyi.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heterotopia

In the spirit of supporting my friends, I'd like to promote another of my professor's work. Lesley Wheeler, who just finished her term as chair of the W&L English Department, has just released her second book of poems, Heterotopia.

Here's what it says about the book on the Barrow Street Press website:

For philosopher Michel Foucault, "heterotopia" designates a real or imagined space of escape, transformation, or revelation. In Lesley Wheeler's prizewinning second collection, the heterotopia is Liverpool, England, during the middle of the twentieth century—a time and place defined by the Blitz and the privations that followed. Her imaginary Liverpool, however, has a complicated relationship to the real city and to her own life in the United States: it makes visible what was gained and lost in the transition from poverty to prosperity, from oral culture to print overload.

During a time when so many collections of verse seem tonally and formally monochromatic, it's especially refreshing to encounter a writer who works with such considerable facility in several different modes—deeply felt personal lyrics, challenging sonnet sequences, and documentary-historical poems of intelligence and depth. What's more, these various concerns and approaches not only complement one another, but seem inextricably linked. Heterotopia is a collection of unusual distinction.
—David Wojahn, contest judge

With acute formal awareness, Lesley Wheeler makes urgent and undeniably present the "sedimentary language" of an inherited past.... This work fuses lyrical invention with the "blitzed, hungry, smoke-thin world" of memory—the poems richly drawn intermixtures of narrative and place.
—Claudia Emerson

Lesley Wheeler is the author of Heathen, Voicing American Poetry,and other books; she co-edited the anthology Letters to the World with Moira Richards and Rosemary Starace. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Slate, and Prairie Schooner. She is Professor of English at Washington and Lee University and lives in Lexington, Virginia.
Having had a poetry class with Professor Wheeler, I can tell you she knows her stuff. I'm buying my copy. Are you?

Note: Amazon currently lists the book as Out-of-Stock, but it is not. 
If you have problems, though, you can also get it at http://www.barrowstreet.org/.

Jousting in Linlithgow

Most times, the best parts of travel aren't visiting the famous sites everyone knows or taking tours of the big cities. The real adventure is in discovering something local and cheap, like the jousting at Linlithgow* Castle. Before my traveling companions and I left Larbert on the morning of July 11, we packed a picnic lunch of turkey sandwiches, salt and vinegar crisps, Coke Zero, and a chocolate bar.

 Here we are enjoying said picnic.

When we arrived in Linlithgow, we made our way to the Castle, where our Historic Scotland cards got us in for free.** Before settling down at the jousting pitch, we peeked inside the Parish Church of St. Michael right next to the Castle.

Here is one of the beautiful windows in St. Michael's.

After a brief exploration of the church, we walked over to the Castle's backyard (so to speak). The picturesque field next to a Linlithgow Loch was filled with people, most of whom actually appeared to be locals who had brought their children to the event.***

A view of the jousting... rink?

The jousting was very entertaining, if a little inauthentic.**** After the violence finished, with our team having prevailed, we left the Castle and walked over the Four Marys, a moderately-famous pub in Linlithgow, named for Mary Queen of Scots and a few of her ladies-in-waiting. The pub was nice enough. I had a major disappointment when they told me they were out of sticky toffee pudding, but they did have a lovely chocolate fudge cake. So I guess it worked out.


Oh, also at the Castle, I saw a guy wearing toe-shoes. They were only the second pair I had ever seen, the first belonging to my friend Phil. A good day in Linlithgow.

Toe shoes!


*Pronounced "lin-LITH-go". 
**Definitely invest in one of these if you plan to visit lots of historic sites; it will save you tons.
***Children love violence. 
****I'm pretty sure they were using the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack for background music.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A walk up the Royal Mile

Well, I promised an Edinburgh post, so come with me now, as we walk up Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile.

At the bottom of the hill, the start of the Royal Mile, you find the Palace of the HM the Queen. I didn't get to go inside because the day I visited, the Queen was having a lawn party in honor of people of service (police, fire, military, etc.). Sadly, I was not invited.

After you depart the palace, a fudge shop will materialize on your right. A perfect place to get a gift for loved ones back home. Like it'll last that long. Please.

Walking up the hill, you may be suddenly overtaken by a strong craving for Turkish food. If so, you're in luck! Truva Turkish is on your right as you head up the street. They have delicious lentil soup (add a little salt), Prawn Gratin, and Borek, which is filo dough filled with spinach and feta cheese. I'm also told they have nice toasted sandwiches.

A little further on, you will find dessert (the fudge does not count; that was a snack, er, gift): gelato! Because, come on. How can you not enjoy a nice cool gelato as you hike up a hill?

Along the way, you will pass by innumerable souvenir shops. These are the perfect place for anything tartan you could ever want (kilts, ties, scarves, towels, hip flasks, the list goes on). Also, postcards (you can find them for 20p; if they cost more than that, keep looking), shot glasses, and LOTS o' cashmere. I won't go too deep into the shopping. You'll see. You can spend a whole day exploring all the many many shops on this street. And they're not all tourists shops, either, so don't worry.

On your left, a little more than halfway up, you will see the beautiful St. Giles Cathedral. Go inside and take a look. The stained glass is stunning (though, I would say that about every cathedral; I love stained glass), and if you're lucky, you may even catch a service. Most of them are short - ten minutes at most - and regardless of your creed, it's worthwhile experience. If you're big on church pictures, note that they ask you to donate £2 to take pictures, but it's a pretty small price to pay.

Hungry, again? No problem! A very popular pub called Deacon Brodie's will be on your right, not far from St. Giles. Ok, now for me to reveal an important milestone that happened to me at Deacon Brodie's. When I visited last Saturday... I ATE HAGGIS! Yes, it's true. I ate something that, I think, is made of the stomach of a goat. And I know what you're thinking: But Kimber, haggis sounds like the least appetizing thing in the entire world. Well, you know what, skeptical reader? It was really, really good. They fry it up and add all kinds of seasoning, and honestly, you would never know that it is what it is. Also, you eat it with mashed potatoes and turnips, so it all gets mixed together and is great. So there. I've said it, and I'm glad. Eat haggis.

The thing about Deacon Brodie's is that it is a bit of a tourist trap. I waited 40 minutes to get a table (it's not a very big place), but in the end, it was really worth it. In addition to the haggis, I had a lovely beef pie. The crust was perfect, the flavor was savory, so if you have some time to spare, I'd check it out. The restaurant is upstairs, by the way. The bottom half is the pub part, and it is in that part that you can watch, say, the second-to-last World Cup 2010 game between Germany and Uruguay. For example. It's a nice atmosphere in which to sit and toss back a pint of Tennent's.

But wait! The trek isn't over yet, dear reader. We have two more stops to go. What visit to Scotland would be complete without sampling a bit of the country's national drink? And that is where the Scotch Whisky Experience comes in. On the left, near the end of the road, you will find a tour and tasting that rivals some of the whisky tours I've seen in the past. The building itself is not a distillery, so unlike your usual whisky tour where you hike around the place and see the whisky being made, at the SWE, you get to sit in a big barrel and ride through a virtual tour. Like Disney World! And trust me, you won't feel like walking around a distillery once you've hiked all the way up that hill. Jeez, why didn't you start at the top and work your way down? Silly. After the tour ride, you get to sample a whisky (unless to buy the "gold" ticket; then you get to sample five whiskies - go for the gold!), and then you can visit the extensive whisky shop to take home the ones you liked.

Finally, we reach the top of the Royal Mile. If you thought that the Palace at the bottom was the only reason they call it the Royal Mile, then you were mistaken, my friend, because at the top of the hill is one of Edinburgh's premier attractions: Edinburgh Castle. As castles go, this one is pretty premium. The crown jewels of Scotland are housed there. They're not quite as impressive as the English ones, but please don't tell the Scottish I said that. They are worth a look, though. The guides are very knowledgeable, and the castle has the best view of the city. Looking down from the parapets, you can see the whole of the New Town (the Royal Mile is in Old Town), including the Memorial in the middle of the city that looks like one of the towers from Lord of the Rings. (You can see all that unless you go on a rainy day, like I recently did, in which case, the fog obscures everything, but I have seen it on a clear day, so you can take my word for it.) The Castle also has a war memorial with all the names of Scottish soldiers that have died in service, an exhibition on prisoners of war, and a lovely tea room.

Well, that's the Royal Mile. I hope you enjoyed the hike. Tune in next time for a few other must-visit sites in Edinburgh OR something about London OR maybe another plug for one of my friends. Who knows? I'll post all those things at one time or another, but in what order I do it is up to me. Because it's my birthday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Julie Slonecki

Ok, last plug for the day:

My dear friend Julie is a very talented singer/songwriter who is about to release her second self-produced album, and to go along with it, she now has a shiny new website, JulieSlonecki.com, created by two other of my dear friends, Joe Cruz and Jesse Sessions.

You can listen to some of Julie's songs on the website, and when she drops the album, you can go there to purchase it. Also, if you like the website itself and perhaps want one of your own, you can contact Joe and Jesse about making you one.

The Good Daughter

Last year, I had the privilege of being taught creative writing by Prof. Jasmin Darznik. Well, her memoir The Good Daughter is finally being released this coming January. It is not only her own memoir but a memoir of her family in Iran. From what I understand, it is a kind of family history extracted from stories that explores the nature of being a woman and a daughter in Iran. I've heard her read excerpts from it, and I love the story as well as her writing style from those brief snippets. I can't wait to read the rest.

Prof. Darznik recently wrote an article for the New York Times that serves as a kind of preview of the book as well as being a nice piece of writing about how children conceptualize their mothers.

Anyway, I think it's going to be fantastic, and I really want to promote it. Here's the link to Amazon if you like. It's available for pre-order. Cheers, lads!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Edinburgh: A Teaser

This Saturday (July 10) I was in Edinburgh for the first time since my 18th birthday. It was quite the adventure and I experienced a pretty big milestone. But I'm not going to tell you about it. YET. 

Tomorrow I return to that fair city, and I expect to have much more to report. So, as with Glasgow, both days in Edinburgh will be presented to you at once. I am telling you this now in order to whet your appetite for that not-so-far-off day. Return in a few days' time, and you will be richly rewarded. If you consider new blog posts a reward. I certainly do. 


Until then, enjoy this deep thought by Jack Handey:


“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.”



My Favorite Chicken Recipe

This really has nothing to do with Scotland EXCEPT that I cooked it in Scotland last week. So now I will transcribe this favorite recipe for you, dear reader. Note: you will need a crockpot.

Ingredients:
chicken (4 breasts or so)
4 oz. chive cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
1 can Golden Mushroom soup (Cream of Mushroom works too)

Place chicken in the bottom of a crockpot. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add Italian salad dressing packet and mix well. Add soup and cream cheese. Blend. Pour warm sauce over chicken. Cook... well, as long as you want, really. I usually do 6-8 hours on low, but if you're pressed for time, do 4 hours on high. The most important thing is that the chicken cooks through. You can eat it straight or serve it over rice or pasta or something. The chicken just falls apart. It's delicious. Trust me.

I never seen nothin' like a Glasgow girl

Or something like that.

After today, I have now visited Glasgow twice, so I will report on both experiences simultaneously.


On Friday we headed to Glasgow for the first time, and though we expected rain (and got a bit), it ended up being a beautiful day. Having been advised to take the red touring buses rather than the blue, we bought our tickets and hopped onto one of the familiar-looking double-deckers at the stop in George Square, the principal civic square of the city. Wesat on the top of the bus, of course, to get the best view and were not deterred by the sprinkling of rain that began soon after our ride commenced. Armed with my trusty pink North Face, I am always ready to brave the elements.



As often happens with these kinds of tours, I took lots of beautiful pictures of buildings and statues I will never be able to identify. Between the mumbling brogue of the tour guide and my own lack of interest in actually stepping off the bus to investigate these historic sites, my only hope is to avail myself of the tour map and a Google image search if I ever wish to know exactly what I saw that day. Perhaps it's best not to take in too much the first time around. If you do, what's the point of going back? It'll all be old-hat by then. So really, 'twas strategy for me not to pay too close attention to that particular tour. That way, I was motivated to go back today, rather than sit in our house and blog.

We did finally get off the bus at Stop 19. Our destination: the Willow Tearooms, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was a Scottish architect and designer, and our primary interest in him that day was due to the fact that our hostess, Sue, is a Mackintosh.* So naturally, she feels a kinship to this renowned artist.

After a delightful afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and scones,



we decided to head to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Our bright red tour bus includes the museum as one of its stops, but that particular site was three stops in the wrong direction (these buses only go one way). So we were forced to take alternative transportation: the Glasgow Underground!**

The Kelvingrove Museum was very cool. One half of the museum was devoted to "Expression" (AKA "Art"). The other side was "Life" (AKA "History"). And both sides had interactive exhibits. Admission was free and you could take pictures of everything. They also had quite a nice gift shop n the basement. Across the road was the Transportation Museum, which is also probably really cool, but we didn't have time to see it because the museums closed at 5. My mother and I noticed while touring the museum that the exhibits didn't exactly have a uniting theme. It was as if one guy was picking them all based on whatever his whims were that day. The eclectic nature of the place was actually pretty funny, but at least it didn't get boring. It even included exhibits on sectarianism in Britain and Ireland and a history of abuse against women. Good times!



At 5 p.m. exactly we were ousted from the museum, so we hopped back on the double-decker and rode back to George Square. Not quite ready to leave Glasgow, we asked a Red Bus employee to recommend a good (cheap) pub. He directed us toward a chain establishment on George Square called The Counting House. For all that it was a chain, the drinks were tasty (and cheap as hell, at least for Europe). I enjoyed a Pimm's Lemonade, which if you haven't tried, you should. Mix Pimm's with lemonade (duh), then add the juice of lemons, limes, and oranges, and then some muddled mint leaves. It's like a mix between a sangria and a mojito. Delightful. When our stay at The Counting House drew to a close, we returned to the Queen St. train station (which is also right on George Square) and returned to Larbert.



Day 2 in Glasgow was a little less eventful but no less enjoyable. Having taken in our historic sites, we devoted this trip to a little more exploration of the shopping and food districts. Our progressive lunch took us to The Grill Room at 29 Glasgow and to Zorba's on High St. I won't bore you with the details of what we ate, but I will say that the Mediterranean fare of Zorba's was not only tastier, but more reasonably priced and more authentic. We trekked down Trongate (Street? Road?) to find the Barras, a more market-like shopping area, but all the stalls were closed on a Monday. Weird. We ended up in the St. Enoch Shopping Center off of Trongate (or Buchanan, depending on where you enter) and found the best chocolate shop called Kimble's (I know, appropriate). Our return to Larbert saw us sit in the Hotel Bar next the train station for an hour to enjoy a pint before walking home.

Like I said, not very eventful (or particularly exciting, now that I'm writing it down), BUT I hope if any of you plan to visit Glasgow, you might find something to eat at Zorba's or Kimble's. And maybe you can tell me how the Barras was. Just don't go on a Monday.


*Don't tell her, but today we read a newspaper article that suggested Rennie Mackintosh may have traced some of his furniture designs from catalogs.
**An interesting note on the GU: the subway has been in Glasgow for over 100 years, but in that time it has only ever been six miles long. Why didn't they expand, you ask? Because it is a circle. Very difficult to add miles of track to a circle. So there you go. You can stump your friends with that one.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Addendum to Stirling

I mentioned the great view from the top of the Old Town Jail. Here it is. In this slightly long video, you can see the Castle, the Church, lots of surrounding countryside, me while I was walking around a pillar, and way in the distance, the Wallace Monument (that's the part when I zoom). Enjoy!

video

Friday, July 9, 2010

A town with a Stirling reputation

As the pun in the title suggests, we spent the day yesterday in the city of Stirling. Stirling is home to Stirling Castle, the Church of the Holy Rude, the Old Town Jail, and the No 2 Baker Street pub. There are probably other great things there too, but these are the places I visited during my brief stay, so it is on these I will report.

Stirling Castle is the oldest surviving building in Stirling with records dating back to around 1110. (There were way too many "ing"s in that last sentence.) It was a favored royal residence from that time until James VI became James I and moved his royal court to London in 1603.* As soon as we arrived at the Castle, we were greeted by the drums and bagpipes of an Australian boys' bagpipe band. They had been touring Scotland, and we just happened to stumble upon their final engagement before they left the country. When they finished, we took a short guided tour of the Castle and then had lunch in the Castle Restaurant. After lunch, we visited the Whisky Shop. (Every good Medieval/Early Modern castle has a well-stocked whisky shop.) In the whisky shop we tasted a very sweet whisky flavored with honey and sloes and had our picture taken by a very nice Englishman named Stuart.

Walking down from the hilltop Castle, we almost bypassed another historic site. The Church of the Holy Rude (alternately spelled "Rood") is Stirling's second-oldest building and the church where James VI was crowned King of Scotland when he was just 13 months old. There's not a whole lot to say about it as it resembles many other churches of the same kind. The glass was lovely, and I always enjoy wandering around old churches with their vaulted ceilings and solemn chapels. We spent about 15 minutes there before continuing on our way, but such a stop is always enriching.

Old Town Jail is a jail. That's pretty much it. But let me tell you, I've visited a number of 19th century jails in the past couple months, and this one had one of the best tours I've seen. What made it so good were the costumed actors performing the tour rather than presenting it like a museum docent. I don't want to say too much about it because I think you should go and see for yourselves, but let me just say that I got picked on by an angry prison guard with a lazy eye that told me multiple times he was from Glasgow. What was really nice about the tour is that the actors traced the history of the place from its beginnings as a real hell-hole to its transformation into a rather nice (by Victorian standards) correctional facility and finished with an exhibition on prison life in Scotland today. It was very eye-opening. Not to mention, the roof of the Old Town Jail has one of the best 360 views of the city in Stirling.

After a long day of visiting historic sites, what could be better than to ask a random local where to get a drink? Naturally, we were pointed in the direction of No 2 Baker Street by a woman who had just come from a wedding. After being asked by the barkeep whether I was over 18 (and having confirmed that I am, in fact, one week shy of 22), I grabbed a seat outside with my ice-cold pint of Pear Cider. Pear Cider, if you haven't tried it, is delicious. It's way better than the traditional Hard Apple. I'm not sure what brand I had yesterday, but Magner's** makes a pretty good Pear Cider.

So after a nice long sit outside No 2, we headed back to the train station at the bottom of the hill for our short return trip to Larbert, where a lovely chicken dinner was waiting. All-in-all a good day in Stirling, recommended to anyone who plans to be in the near-Glasgow area.


*Probably even more intriguingly, I visited this very castle almost exactly four years ago (next week) on my 18th birthday. See, aren't you intrigued? 
**Interesting fact: Magner's Cider - which I have enjoyed in the US and the UK - is the same as Bulmer's Cider - which I recently enjoyed in Ireland. It is an Irish Cider that is marketed outside Ireland as Magner's to avoid confusion with an English cider of the same name, according to Wikipedia. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good news!

I found the Wi-Fi login. I will be able to upload pictures again, though I probably should not have admitted this. Now your expectations are higher.

Great Scot!

After perhaps the most lackluster transatlantic flight I've ever had (cough*US Airways*cough), I have arrived in Larbert, Scotland. Still tired, I will keep this brief and go read my book (The Yiddish Policemen's Union* by Michael Chabon).

My first impressions of the country, particularly in comparison with Ireland, are colored with surprise at the number of trees that make up this landscape. In Eire, the view was all open fields and rolling hills. Here, the wilderness seems more wild, a land where barbarous war once raged and where thanes** ruled from mighty strongholds.

Upon our arrival at the house our friend Sue has swapped for her own, we were given a tour and then whisked off to do things. Very tired, of course, and just trying to stay busy. We went to the renowned Callendar House, known for housing lords and monarchs for centuries. It was very big and very pretty and reminded me of the Muckross House in Killarney but sans all the grounds that make up Muckross Estate. After that, we went to the ever-exotic grocery store, where we stocked up on supplies for the week and where I made an exciting discovery...

In Tralee I had the great fortune to discover a delightful green beverage known as a Fat Frog. Though the original Fat Frog is comprised of 7 secret herbs and spices, you can easily make it yourself, if you have the right ingredients. I had high hopes of recreating it for my friends back in the States but much to my chagrin, I was unable to find all three of said ingredients: Smirnoff Ice, WKD Blue Vodka, and Bacardi Breezer Orange***. The Ice was no problem, and for the WKD I substituted UV Blue, adjusting the proportions because, while UV Blue is straight flavored vodka, WKD Blue is a spritzer-type drink, like the Ice. That left only the Bacardi Breezer, but for the life of me I have not been able to find it. I tried substituting other orange-flavored things, but it never quite worked. So, cutting to the chase, I found all three ingredients in this Scottish grocery store in resealable liter bottles, so I will be enjoying all the Fat Frogs I wish over the next week.

Then I took a nap. Now I'm awake until bedtime, so I better get to that book.

*Unequipped with Wi-Fi and unable to upload my own pictures to this computer, I will try to make up for my current lack of multimedia with more amusing/educational links than usual.
**See also, The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
***In equal proportions. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

This is real

Stephen Baldwin was raised in a good Irish-Catholic family, and now he needs our help!

Let me reiterate. This. Is. Real. A website has been formed by a Christian group pushing for the "All That Know Him Movement." The site's aim is to get lots of people to all give a small amount of money to a worthy individual, with the hope that many small donations will get that person back on their feet. First recipient? Stephen Baldwin, of course. The actual URL of the site is allthatknowhim.org, but you can also get redirected to the site if you type in restorestephenbaldwin.org. Restore Stephen Baldwin dot org. 

The idea behind it is that, in the manner of Job's friends, God sends people to help restore bankrupted individuals to their former wealth, provided that they lost their wealth because of their faith. 'Kay. 

Stephen Baldwin's career has suffered because, as an outspoken Christian, he won't do films with excessive sex or violence. Certainly he's not broke because he has poorly invested the millions he's made over of the course of his life, squandering his earnings like so many actors who have found themselves in this same state of destitution. Because that would mean that personal responsibility is involved. No, let's all donate our money to Stephen Baldwin instead of, say, the homeless or people in war-torn countries. That's a good idea. 

Thanks for looking out, allthatknowhim.org. 

Green roofs

Copied from Wikipedia:
green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. It may also include additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems.


So, they are putting these up outside the Library at my alma mater. Why, you ask? Well, apparently, green roofs serve several purposes for a building, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures and combat the heat island effect


I really hope the area right outside the entrance to the University Library is not going to become a major habitat for wildlife. I guess we'll see what purpose the green roofs actually serve. If you want to research this yourself, here's the Wikipedia page. Have at it. Let me know what you find out. Or better yet, email Mike Carmagnola and ask him. I'd do it myself, but I'm too busy blogging. 

Greetings from Lexington!

After a month of being away, my adventures have brought be back to Virginia. I've missed this old place. It's not the same, though. Finally I see that once you graduate, nothing is ever quite the same again. For one thing, they've torn everything up. As you can see in an 11-minute video on the Washington and Lee website, they have torn up a lot of ground to build new walkways and buildings and something called a green roof (more research on that will follow). Also, they've finally finished Newcombe Hall, which is beautiful, but it really drove home the fact that I will never have class in the renovated Colonnade. Sad.

Ok, enough W&L news. The real reason I'm posting right now is that being back in Lexington reminds me to acknowledge the friends I made while I was a student of this fine institution. One such person is the hugely talented Michael McGuire. I was looking at his YouTube channel this evening, and I thought that everyone else should too. This young man is only nineteen years old, but he sings like someone twice his age. Well, at least someone 133% his age. Check him out. Spread the word. Maybe follow him on YouTube.