Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Famous Highways of the Northeast

I just returned from a Thanksgiving road trip from Atlanta to Boston and back. It's a trip of over 2,200 miles, and many of my friends are in awe that we would even consider driving on a trip of this length. But for us, it's fun to get out and see the U.S.A. at street level. Besides, without such a voyage, how could I be in the know about what's happening between here and there? Consider the following (please excuse me if you're already aware of any of these facts):

  • Dunkin' Donuts has a significantly increased presence in the Northeast, and the people get upset if you don't state your order immediately.
  • Burger King has come to the New Jersey Turnpike. Fortunately, Nathan's is still there. T-shirt/cap souvenirs are $14.99, with no sales tax.
  • Maryland charges tolls at random! Are there some signs missing or something?
  • Iced tea does not appear to be popular north of Virginia.
  • West Virginia has friendly people handing out free coffee at their rest areas.
  • McDonald's in New England sells a delicious iced coffee marketed by Newman's Own.
  • Coffee in general (even at Starbucks) appears to be weaker in the North than in the South. Is it the water?
  • The Massachusetts Turnpike apparently has no enforced speed limits, but New York state still has a speed limit of 55 mph.
  • Much of the entertaining graffiti on the Cross Bronx Expressway has been covered with brick red paint.
  • The morning mist on the Shenandoah mountains in Virginia is a thing of beauty.
  • Baseball caps appear to be even more popular in the North than in the South.
  • The world's slowest fast food service can be found at the Arby's in Newburgh, New York.
  • Many people on the Harvard campus wear black clothing. They seem quite serious.

If you don't take a good road trip now and then, how can you stay up on this stuff?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bowling for Fashion

There are certain things that I love about living in Atlanta. Last Saturday night, we went bowling with a group of friends, although what I experienced would surely have to be categorized as something more than just "bowling". The old AMF alley on Savoy Drive (the frontage road for Atlanta's I-285 on its northern leg, close to North Peachtree Road) is no more. The building has been completely renovated, and in the process, the old alley has been transformed into a bowling alley/nightclub hybrid called "300 Atlanta". It is a truly unique and refreshing take on an age-old pastime.

To begin, the ever-present smell of stale cigarette smoke has been completely eradicated from the building. When you check in for a game, you are assigned a personal attendant, sporting a headset, who is there to remedy any scoring machine errors that you might encounter and to make sure you are being served your food and beverages. You can rent shoes and a ball, of course, but the shoes are delivered on a small conveyor belt from some hidden repository within the building, and there are sample bowling balls available to make sure that you are "fitted" for the correct ball.

A beautiful bar lines one wall, stocked with premium call brands, all tastefully lit from beneath by indirect lighting. Prompt, courteous bartenders serve up anything you want...the apple martinis looked splendid, even though I opted for a refreshing light beer. The crowd is a nice mix of urban, traditional, and emo.

At 9:00 or so, the real fun begins. Instead of the customary "cosmic bowling" offered at lanes throughout the country, this place has "extreme bowling". An array of special effects lighting accompanies the heavy hip-hop/rock soundtrack being pumped from the massive sound system. The place just comes alive, and it's more like being at a trendy intown club than a bowling alley.

This is not your father's bowling alley...this is an experience. Why am I thinking that there'll be more of these popping up? Oh, wait...they already are...in Texas, New York, and California!

If you'd like to see more about 300 Atlanta, check out its virtual tour.

See ya,
Rich =:)

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Time for an Overhaul

As a person who has always been interested in politics (I remember watching the Kennedy-Nixon election when I was five years old), this year was a joy indeed! It seems that all over the country, mudslinging was in high gear...expensive TV ads, false claims, true claims, whatever...how can this not be entertaining? Except, of course, that we do have that little business of our country to run.

A number of my friends said that this year, they were tired of a Congress which does not appear to have accomplished its objectives. Actually, I'm sugar coating it; basically, they said they were tired of people who didn't do anything. It seems that for the last few years, once our representatives and senators have been elected, they rapidly lose interest. Add to this the fact that we are now so off-center with the rest of the world, and you have a recipe for true excitement down the road.

We need some smart people in Congress -- I hope we've elected them. We shall see.