Monday, August 29, 2011

Hanging Rock State Park's Deadly Hiking and Camping

Many have died from the ledge at Hanging Rock
Kid's wanted to know why we didn't go camping this summer, I reminded them of our 2007 trip to Hanging Rock State Park:

What drives a rational person who is normally adept at sitting behind a computer, sipping on her cheap Folgers coffee, to drive to Walmart and buy a tent then drive to some huge rock and live like a cave-woman?

Seriously, you have pre-historic mankind, which by definition, are these primitive ape creatures roaming around the world. He then evolves to ride in cars, live in homes, watch television, surf the wifi, and then one day, out of the blue, mankind says to himself, "lets relax and leave it all behind", let's go live as we did when we were dumb. Let's go be cavemen in some rock up in the mountains.

So, off to Walmart, where I buy a tent. We had to buy a tent, because our current tent, a two man Arctic Xtreme, $1200 tent I won when I worked for Verizon isn't big enough for the two additional children we've acquired since our last camping trip. While in there I notice machetes for $6.00 and think to myself, what would Gwen Cooper do if she went camping? Buy a machete! So me, a 17x11 tent, and a $6.00 machete run out of the store and get back on the road with my family to Hanging Rock State Park.

Up Highway-66 through Kernersville onto the 8, and into tent spot 56. The next hour involves our collective fighting, yelling and crying while we attempt to put up the tent. If you don't cry putting up a tent, then you're not camping.

Next we need food. But driving down the road leads us on a two hour adventure to Stuart, Virginia where I meet Clayton, a Lowes Food employee with about as much ambition as a slug covered in salt. He ends up breaking his register only after charging my credit card, but not before completing the transaction. I'm a bit worried since we are approaching the 9 PM lockout time for the campgrounds, and want to get back. Eventually Clayton figures it out, and we're on our way. We rush down the curvy roads back to Hanging Rock, only to have my daughter vomit from car sickness.

With about fifteen minutes of light, I attempt to start the fire when my son starts crying saying he wants to do it. I attempt to show him how, to which he protests and says "I do it my own way", begins to cry, and demands to do it without assistance. I'm now tired and head off in the woods with my machete leaving my son to figure out fire. Hanging Rock has a no scavenge rule to protect wildlife, but I've got to ask myself, why build a freaking campground here if you're suddenly environmentally friendly? Wouldn't the little critters you're trying to save be better off if there wasn't a God forsaken giant road going through their little homes? So, I followed the rule I learned as a child: tread lightly, take out what you bring in, and only scavenge dead trees. A few minutes later, I'm back with a log the size of the car, and the realization that a $6.00 machete doesn't do much other than look really cool when you walk into the woman's toilet and demand to shower immediately. At this point though, the fire still isn't going, it's now completely dark and everyone is mad at me because they're starving. I remove the several hundred hardwood logs from the fire my son had arranged into a skyscraper, and put some kindling and some small twigs in, light it, and a few minutes later we have fire.

Dinner was delicious. Though the burgers were burnt on the outside and raw in the middle, they might have been the best burgers ever eaten. You're not camping if the food isn't both burnt and raw. Frankly I would have eaten our adjacent campers if my machete wasn't so dull.

As the evening wore on, we told ghost stories. Mine was about Squeezils, the hairy midget creatures who like to eat shoes, but often nibble off peoples feet in the process while they sleep in their sleeping bags. By flashing the light on and off I obviously scared my son enough he felt it necessary to pick up a large stick and beat me over the head thereby causing me to suffer internal cranial damage.

Eventually we went to bed.

While laying in our tent with 100 F heat, on ground so hard my back felt like it was being bent straight, Shannon ends the night, sounding like Annie, by saying "Tomorrow will be a new day, it will be better."

The Next Morning

After a morning of re-starting the fire, by which I was now given sole responsibility, and my son vomiting in the tent, then subsequently pooping in it, we decided to pack up camp and do what any normal family would do: go on a hike. We ate our eggs and bacon off the fire, jumped in our car which by now seemed like the greatest technical marvel ever with its cold blowing vents of magic, and drove down to the trails.

When we hit the half-mile point of the Hanging Rock trail we were already spent with the two kids in tow, and a fat black Labrador retriever who had lived off bacon grease for the last year. No water, and temperatures approaching 100 F, it didn't seem like a big deal when we left the trail head and the sign that said "only a short, cool, one mile hike." At least that's how I remembered the misleading signpost.

It was somewhere in here, that the dog pulled me so hard that I thrust my foot into a rock sticking out of the ground and pierced my toe. Yes bleeding and gouged by a stupid mountain with a dumb Hanging Rock, I would now continue the journey with a throbbing bleeding foot. "Stupid dog", I shouted at her. She was going back to the pound when we got home.

By the time we hit the Hanging Rock we were completely soaked in sweat, thirsty, and ready to call the EMT. Except there was no phone, no water, no nothing. Just this giant rock to jump off of an end my misery. Shannon then asks, "so is this where people were hung?" (Sounding so belittling to us rednecks, with her California accent.) I'm like, "I think it's just because it hangs off the mountain". "Oh!" she says, as we've now got both children firmly by the wrists. The idea of the children slipping is enough to give me an anxiety attack, and sends me into a severe fear of heights panic. I suddenly don't want to be up here. As I finally get them to sit down within arms reach, I take a moment to take it in. It's pretty, but not worth dying for, and we will die when we have to travel another 1.5 hours back to the car.

After I take in the initial beauty of it all, my mind turns to what it normally does, weird thoughts, and starts wondering exactly how many people have died on this rock? After all, there is no hand-rails and someone could jump, be pushed, or simply just fall to their death. I turn to Shannon who now winks as if she's reading my mind. I'm now doing mathematical statistics to which I deduce at least one person has had to have died off this thing. When I got home I Googled and sure enough:

A Greensboro man was found dead at Hanging Rock State Park Thursday afternoon after he fell from the rock formation that gave the park its name.
M. David Carruthers, 59, fell between 150 and 175 feet from Hanging Rock, according to park superintendent Tommy Wagoner.

And I'm guessing there's more. I'm guessing I was putting my whole family at risk just sitting on this big dumb rock. The rock could have broke loose and plummeted all of us to our deaths. See! Fear of heights is a survival skill!

After a long and gruesome climb back down from the Hanging Rock, with our dog now so thirsty she was swerving, and our children now refusing to do nothing but be dragged and cry, we returned to our car. After breaking out the water, now hot from sitting in the sun, and starting the ignition where the air conditioning literally may have saved my life; we sat there for several minutes to watch the other idiots huff and puff out of the trail head.

It was now three hours since we left on our one mile hike, and we were exhausted, and ready to go home. We stopped at the nearest convenience store and picked up some of the coldest, most refreshing sodas our mouths have ever tasted. Too darn tired to even press the gas, I drove over to Highway-52, where I could set the cruise control and just relax. In the rear view mirror was Hanging Rock State park, and in front of me was a sign indicating I was only thirteen miles to Winston Salem. Civilization. Thank Goodness.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hoarders who are Homeless

We received a contribution from a loyal reader, and true American that shows just how much one can amass while being homeless in America:

Strange Things Are Afoot At The Circle K
Actually, the Big Lots. I went to lunch together yesterday. We decided to head over to Big lots in Burlington to amuse ourselves checking out crappy/outdated merchandise and see if we could find any genuine gems in the rough.

We pull up in front of of this normal looking white Lincoln. We both notice something strange though.. from our vantage point, the car appears FULL of ... papers and other... trash(?)

Upon further inspection, our initial observations are confirmed...and more was revealed, there is writing on the window (how they couldn't find the paper to write a note on is beyond me) and there is just enough room for someone to perhaps crawl in and drive. And almost see over the dash and rear.

Now pay close attention.. this is where it gets downright Memento-esque. I reversed the writing on the window..

It appears there is a date.. "3-24-08", then "LAB", under which "7:15" is scribbled, then "3-31 9:30 JBW", the name "Harris" and other dates and gibberish I can't decipher.

The most compelling bit is "No Food after Sun, 8pm" Obviously we are dealing with some kind of Gremlin here.

Seriously though, there was something very disturbing about this car that the pics don't do justice. We came back outside a bit later and the car was still there. This time catching the attention of another patron. We were all kinda flabbergasted and it was funny that we all reluctantly approached the car like the Neanderthals approached the monolith in 2001. As I drove away, I called a friend of mine who is a local cop and left a Voicemail. Figured it wasn't important enough to call the squad, but maybe he could check it out when in the area.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Escape from Lydia's Bridge | Haunted Greensboro

Can you survive Lydia's Bridge?
Since 2004, I've written about Lydia and her legendary bridge in Jamestown. Today Shannon and I returned to update the legend, and see how this ghostly tunnel is holding up.

For the last eighty-eight years, a ghost named Lydia has been apart of Greensboro folklore, urban legend, and myth, mostly due in part to a single haunted bridge and tunnel erected in 1916 in the little suburb community of Jamestown. Lydia, who in real life was name Mary Lydia Jones, became such a folk hero in America that in 1966, D.C. based bluegrass band, The Country Gentlemen, immortalized the Lydia Bridge Ghost Story in the song "Bringing Home Mary".

I was driving down a lonely road on a dark and stormy night, When a little girl by the road side showed up in my headlights, I stopped and she got in the back and in a shaky tone, She said, "My name is Mary and please won't you take me home".

There's no escape now. 
It's been several years since I last returned to Lydia's Bridge, and I felt it was time to return to this ghostly place that was a part of every young high school student's rite of passage growing up in Greensboro. If you went to Ragsdale, (a high-school) then you likely spent at least one night with a bottle of spray paint, tagging Lydia's hollow grounds.

Jamestown is a community that houses more than one Ghost tale, as it is also home to Guilford Community College (GTCC), which used to be a isolated medical facility designed to quarantine patients with untreatable afflictions in the middle of no where. The head-doctor's house currently still stands at the forefront of the property, and is said to be haunted by the patients whom were medically experimented on.

But the most notable of all Ghost legends is that of a high-school student named Lydia who died in 1923, in a car wreck at the site of what is today an abandoned train bridge. While many versions of the Jamestown Ghost exist, the most popular version is that...

 Lydia was on her way to her high-school prom with her date one rainy night. Her haphazard date, driving too fast, came upon the sharp curve in the road approaching the bridge and lost control, slamming the vehicle into the opening of the tunnel in a spectacular crash. While her date died immediately, Lydia stumbled out of the car bleeding in the rain, and attempted to waive down any vehicle that may have came by. Passerby's assumed she was just another hitchhiker, and passed her by until she eventually succumbed to the injuries sustained in the accident and died on the side of the road. 
Imagine the road, from how Lydia's bridge looks today.
When news of Lydia's death hit the citizens of Jamestown in the following days, they replied with outrage, and demanded that the curve in the road be corrected, and thus,  they built the adjacent bridge directly to the right of the current one forever straightening the road, or as we say in legend, righting the wrong path.
Though it was enough. Lydia still in anger at the people ignoring her hitchhiking pleas that night, has left her to haunt the road ever since. Legend says that on rainy nights under the full moon, if you travel down into the old tunnel, you can see Lydia in her luminous blood stained prom dress trying to get a ride. Some people have suggested she's merely trying to make it to her prom.
The light at the end of the tunnel.

I didn't know what to expect as I left Geology class today, and decided to go visit Lydia. It has been a few years since we actually endeavoured into the tunnel. In 2009, a project to double the railroad tracks over the top of Lydia's Bridge came to Jamestown and I worried the modifications may have permanently destroyed Lydia's domain. Oddly enough, there is now a plaque on Lydia's tunnel indicating the work that had been done. A rather odd place to put such a marker, since the only people who will ever see it is teenagers, thrill seekers and ghost hunters.Perhaps it's a "wink" from some transportation engineer to all of us, that something here is sacred.

The original railway was built in 1916.
As with previous visits I wondered if there would even be access to it, but the recent construction has actually made it more assessable. Another sign, a Lydia lover perhaps was behind the reformation. I of course approached it from the traditional access point, via Yorkleigh Lane. The reason this is important is because the stone road that leads through the power station is almost exactly where the old US 70, (High Point Road) would have been. In fact it's this very path that you walk, that re-traces the steps of Lydia's fateful last moments.

Pieces of Old US 70-A, the "Old Road" leading into Lydia's Bridge.

The housing tract in the background sprung up after the road was rerouted around Lydia's Bridge. I wonder if you must disclose that your house was built upon the area's most famous ghost story when it comes time to sell?
"No Ghost Here!" Are you sure?

At last I reach the entrance to the tunnel, and I stop to consider the possibility of some crazed homeless person foaming at the mouth, running out and attacking me with a hubcap, and who wants to eats my flesh. Likely they'd be some former college student who cracked under the pressure of the high educational standards at GTCC. I proceeded with caution.
Perhaps the last thing Lydia ever saw in this life.

I am now inside the most haunted overpass in North Carolina. It is without a doubt much less scary to come during the day, than at night, but you still get a sense of time gone by as you step into its near-century old walls. How many people have come before me, simply because of the Lydia story?

Lydia's Bridge as of 2006,
 before re-construction.
Evidence of local graffiti artists and homeless visitors are the closest I will come to confirming the legend of Lydia and her ghost today. Folk tale, fairy tale, or real life ghost, it appears Lydia, or Mary will be around for generations to come who wish to partake in this timeless hitchhiker ghost story.

Lydia loves.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GTCC Under evacuation. Bomb?

We've been evacuated from GTCC. The campus is in chaos, and the cell tower is overwhelmed as very few calls are getting out. Fire and police are having trouble reaching campus, though you can hear their sirens in the background and barricades are being set-up. Rumors are rampant from bombs to on campus shooters. (It's now confirmed to be a bomb threat, technically four threats that occurred starting at 7:40 AM) Cars are barely moving,  and we've yet to even start our car as the number of students leaving campus at the same time has made it impossible. The people riding public transportation are queuing frantically for the single bus that has arrived. If this is a real emergency, then this campus is incapable of handling it well. We'd all be trapped in our cars, while the bombs or shooters went off.

You can't help but think of Virginia Tech. Just as America has changed since 9/11, all college campuses have changed since Virginia Tech. Yet still, very few people are taking this serious. Clearly this event has shown that this campus, far past capacity would be a tragedy in the case of a real disaster. We'd all be stuck in our cars, waiting to exit the poor road infrastructure both in and out of campus. At the very least, the campus stoplights, onto High Point Road should have an emergency setting that will not cycle for exiting traffic. (Update, Sheriff and State Patrol has showed up to direct traffic.) Then again, who cares about the "poor" students at GTCC?

Update: They caught the "Titan Bomber", whose real name is Shirley Hough Foster, age 58. Apparently she is a crack addict, who went back to school for the financial aid, and was unhappy with the attendance policy. The strict policy resulted in her prank calling the GTCC switchboard with a bomb threat to avenge her situation. She's now in jail on a $11,000 bail and will likely serve 5-10 years in a federal jail.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Best "Secret" Cheesesteak in Town is at Penn Station

Battleground of Cheesesteaks
So what if it's a bit faux pas to crown a national chain as the reigning champion of our local cheesesteak restaurants? Perhaps you're thinking it's merely an unopposed sandwich in our small culinary pond here locally, but no, I'm comparing this with years of data and research that my taste-buds have compiled, and can say honestly that this sandwich, this cheesesteak is the best I've had in Greensboro. No, the best anywhere. Yes, I've even been to Philadelphia, and visited Pat's and Geno's, who both are famous for their versions of the cheesesteak, but it's a completely different animal. Don't get me wrong, I love Philly and their cheesesteaks, but I grew up on Miami Subs on High Point road. an East Coast style sub with more than just "wiz" and onions. I loved the loaded, cheesy, awesomeness of their gooey subs mixed with green peppers, onions, and cheese. Of course like any good restaurant in Greensboro, eventually it, as most do, closed leaving me without a replacement. So for years I searched for a replacement. When Monk's, a Greensboro favorite returned to a strip-mall near me, I immediately set out to get one. They were good, but ultimately Tito ended up closing up his cheesesteak dream once again leaving me without very many options. Then there was Elizabeth's Pizza and their version. Good, but still not amazing, and then Sub Station which wasn't too bad, nor good.  Jersey Mike's was decent, and heck, I even gave Hardee's a shot with their Cheesesteak Thickburger. In the end I had practically given up on finding a steak sandwich worth clamoring about. One in which every bite would be followed with a involuntary "mmm", or "ahhh". That's the sign of good food.

We knew something was up with the place the first time we went to Penn Station. Apparently the food is so good people get impatient in line having to wait, as Shannon recalls from 2009:
We were just about through at the counter when this jerk comes in, and after standing behind us only long enough for Ren to tell me what kind of cheese she chose, the guy started flipping out. He literally threw a 40 year old man-tantrum when the girl asked Serenity if she wanted mustard. After his abrupt and uncalled for huff and puff, I said "it's okay dude, chill out". He did not like my response and shot up his hands in the air, then started hollering and stormed out of the building. I yelled back to him as he was in total meltdown, "yeah, have a GREAT day SIR!" I apologized to the counter help for the incident and bent back down to Ren and was like "So, Ren sweetheart..." 

I tremble for that which is before me.
The review also goes on to say that I deemed the sandwich "orgasmic." I was on to something, but it took a chance encounter with some local foodies over at Table 16 one night to really show me the light. As we broached the subject, I was instructed that my mistake was ordering Penn Station's cheesesteak like it was some sort of build-a-sandwich. The greatness of the food wasn't the sandwich being a cheesesteak, it was the sum of its parts (that I hadn't been ordering), which made this a great cheesesteak. I was still trying to order my Miami's Sub, picking and choosing toppings like some sort of three year old, failing to see the big picture, failing to grasp the abstract cheesesteak paradise I could have if I'd only open my eyes to see it. This is when my friends that night decided to have mercy on me and wrote down instructions on a piece of paper and slid it to me across the table. They said "next time you go say this":

The Secret: "One large cheesesteak, all the way, add lettuce and tomato."

Of course when you do, the lady at the register, now worried that someone like me knows the "code", and is equally worried if I can handle it asks, "Are you sure?" I then request some of their amazing lemonade, fresh cut French fries and reply "I was born for this moment."

Vinegar and Fresh Cut French Fries are out of this world!
See the "secret" is  like a tavern password during prohibition; it enters you into a local club of cheesesteak enthusiasts, a few select local people who can say they've had the "best of the best." What is this sandwich? It's a massive baguette filled with steak, provolone cheese, sautéed onions, fresh mushrooms, banana peppers, spicy-brown mustard, mayonnaise and pizza sauce. Pizza sauce? Oh that's what makes it golden! Add the lettuce and tomato on top, and you have the most beautiful, the most aromatic, most heavenly tasting, perfect cheesesteak in town. I lust after this sandwich, drool upon writing this review and to be honest, I'll drive out of my way to buy one of these when my cheesesteak addiction tries to rear its ugly head again and I need my drug, my cheesesteak fixation. Just the thought of the way the mustard mixes with the marinara to create a delightful tang to enhance the steak, and then is cooled off by the creamy mayonnaise- gets me excited. The crunch of the toasted bread, as the gooey, buttery cheese stretches from the sandwich to your mouth is enough to make you scream while eating this sandwich. I'd genuinely love to say some locally owned establishment had came up with this, but to be honest I've not found anything that remotely comes close. So go on, and gnaw your inferior cheesesteaks hoping to find something that rivals Penn Station like I did for years, or come over to the in-crowd, where the secret of cheesesteak perfection awaits.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alex's Cheesecakes | Dessert Art Nouveau?

I Love Alex's Cheesecake
The best part of the Greensboring relaunch is the opportunity to revisit, and re-share some of my favorite things I love about the area. I suppose, my most favorite place in all of Greensboro, is Cheesecakes by Alex. The first time I ever went there was after my return from Paris, back in 2010. Then I was hunting down a mille-feuille, a pastry known in America as a Napoleon. I've yet to find a real one in my year and a half since, but what I did find at Alex's is worthy of any Parisian boulangerie I've ever been to.
Vive le Gateau de Alex
FACT: Greek doctor, Aegimus, is said to have lived for 200 years, and wrote a book on cheescakes, the first recorded reference to this popular and decadent ancient dessert.
 Even the art work on the bike rack out front embodies the French's Art Nouveau. An idea that suggests, even if something must be utilitarian, it must also be beautiful. I wish all of Greensboro would subscribe to this philosophy. France is keen on balance, and Alex's balances taste, cost, and art into each slice of their wonderful pastry-like slices of cheesecake . Yes, I think it's safe to say, their food is beautiful. The soft, but precisely defined mile high lush cream cheese made from Homeland Creamery's cows down in Julian, combined with the perfect crust, a painted texture upon the canvas of food, that even Pablo Picasso would cry out for. 
This is where awesome happens.

My favorite is the peanut butter cheesecake, though the strawberry and the pineapple are to die for too.

What's weird is that I never was really all that big of a fan of cheesecake, I was a non-believer. It's for this reason I probably put off going for so long, but I was wrong to do so. I wasted so many opportunities to have happiness in my life by ignoring that which was right in front of me. I assumed, as are many food fads that get passed among locals by word of mouth, I'd be once again disappointed, but I wasn't. In fact, I'm a convert, now a missionary of their fine food, spreading the wonders of perhaps Greensboro's only perfect food with every visitor who comes to my house. I may have friends who visit and detest chili cheese burgers with slaw, or gag at the idea of barbecue, but I see nothing but smiles when I take them for dessert at Alex's Cheesecakes. 
I'll take one of those, and one of those...
and a couple of these.

Stop drooling and go!
The question is who is this Alex guy? Clearly a hero of mankind, destined to save Greensboro with his miracles of gastronomy, and I'm his #1 fan!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm Not Josie Grossie Anymore at GTCC

I wrote the following post almost exactly a year ago, and it's still very true today. On Monday I return back to Greensboro's finest institution of higher learning: GTCC, for what will hopefully be my last year. (I've been enrolled there since 1995) It's odd how so much is the same this year, but how so much has changed just over the summer. The summer of change they call it. I've seen the pyramids, Cairo and Belgium, wrote another book, visited NASA, drove half-way across the U.S. and now, I'm ready to go back. I now feel at home on campus these days, and can't wait to get back to my friends, and learning. I'm stunned now by the idea of other people who stay stagnant during their summers. I've changed so much over this summer, and will return to campus a far different person than I left it. If  I might, I think I can say that I truly am no longer Josie Grossie Anymore. Either that, or I'm embracing it.

August 6, 2010,
Let me tell you something, I don't care about being your stupid prom queen. I'm 25 years old. I'm an undercover reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and I've been beating my brains out trying to impress you people. Let me tell you something Gibby, Kirsten, Kristin, you will spend your lives trying to keep others down because it makes you feel more important. All of you people, there is a big world out there... bigger than prom, bigger than high school and it won't matter if you were the prom queen, the quarterback of the football team, or the biggest nerd in school. Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.

Remember the movie "Never been Kissed" starring Drew Barrymore as a journalist who goes deep undercover for a story posing as a high-school student? I honestly never thought I'd say this, but in about a week I'm going to be doing the same thing. Okay, it's not high-school, it's college, and I'm not 25... I'm 30 something, and I know there will be older daft people such as myself in attendance, but it doesn't lessen the impact of the whole experience, of what's about to happen, seem any less frightening. ((Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Figaro Magnifico-o-o-o-o ..)

Rob Geller: All you need is for one person to think you're cool, and you're in. Everyone else will be scared to question it.

See I'm going back to the college I started at 15 years ago. Back then we didn't have semesters, we had quarters. We didn't have laptops nor the Internet, nor did I have to worry about getting my own kids off to school, feeding the family or paying rent. Somethings haven't changed though. I've spent more time in-line ("in queue" for the rest of the world) just registering and going through orientation than I'll ever want to again in my life. The classes look over capacity, and supplies are outrageously overpriced. Books for $150+ a pop? Seriously? It's bloody paper! Unlike my first attempt at college, I no longer require shiny new text books. The 11.99 EBay-special missing chapters 8 and 6 is okay.

The most important aspect is this time I don't have to worry about being kissed. I got that over the first time. If I do find myself kissing someone it might mean I have even more study time on my hand, so that distraction- including the need for a Camaro with a functioning backseat seems less of a requirement this time.

Gibby Zerefski: You totally ripped off my Malibu Barbie idea!
Kirsten Liosis: Nuh-uh, I'm Disco Barbie!
Kirsten does a funky dance move
Kristin Davis: And I'm Evening Wear Barbie.
Kristin flips her hair.

It should be interesting. I've set no goals. If I pass or fail, if I die trying, or simply don't care anymore; my only goal is to go and hopefully learn something I don't know now. I'm looking forward to meeting people. As many of you know, I love people- different colors, different shapes, different stories - and I'm so looking forward to be in this new environment.

I recall the day of orientation a few weeks ago when I sat down and was asked by a communications professor, (one I had 15 years ago,) a slightly Gene Wilder- female version of Willy Wonka who seemed a few french fries short of a Happy Meal, "how do you expect college to be different than High School", assuming I was perhaps a younger demographic than I was. In my head I wanted to say "more drugs and sex", but I instead referred to my corporate training and said "the opportunity to be a better person." I got the gold-star for the day and impressed McProfessor.

So here I am. My book is done and out. Greensboring's code has been updated and cleaned. The lawn is mowed, the parking pass is on the car. I've got my student ID, and I'm one week away from going back to school. The next chapter in my life begins...

Somebody once said, "To write well, you have to write what you know." Well, here is what I know...