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Archive for January, 2009

We’re Back in Business

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

After a failed upgrade and a harrowing two day ordeal, I was able to save the blog from what I was sure was certain death.  So excited was I when it all just finally worked, that I burst into tears of joy - through which I am writing this now.

Digitopus is back, folks; all is well.

A review of Nashville: New Years in Nashville

Monday, January 5th, 2009

A dear friend moved to Nashville around a year and a half ago to attend Belmont University, where he is working on his masters degree in Music. After a trip home for the Christmas holiday, we – myself, my fiancé, and a friend – followed him back to Nashville to spend the week of New Year’s.

It was my first time ever visiting Nashville and I was absolutely charmed with the city, which my fiancé and I decided looked – downtown – like a bright, clean, nice-smelling New Orleans’s French Quarter.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, my friend took us to a purple-bricked building that titled itself World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Broadway. Wall-to-wall, nearly floor to ceiling, was stacked with yellowing and cracked framed photographs of all the faces that had graced Tootsies’s little stage. From insanely famous to only known to a few, there had to be literally thousands of star-studded boots that had tapped to a tune on those wooden stage floorboards!

There was a live band playing, with (sexy) singer and guitarist Jake Maurer. Onstage as well was a pretty blonde fiddler; as good as she was cute – the devil likely would’ve met his match against this girl!. Jake’s MySpace page lists a fiddler bandmate as Kari Nelson – hopefully we’ll see more of her in the future. In all honesty, we were packed nearly like sardines in that little bar, but everyone was having a wonderful time and the music was just top-notch.

It eventually got too crowded, so we moved next door to a larger yet less-packed bar called The Second Fiddle. This place had the largest, most interesting collection of old radio receivers I have ever seen. The walls were lined with shelves holding these relics of the original always-available music. I honestly didn’t even know that many types of old and antique radios existed!

We had a great time there before heading home to enjoy a private party at home to ring in the new year.

On our last day in Nashville, our friend took us to The Red Door Saloon, where we stayed until dark and I got to experience “real life” shuffleboard (to date, I’d only ever played it on the Wii). The bar had a great atmosphere, friendly patrons, and a very hip look overall.

I’d recommend visiting all of the few places we dropped in on during our stay in Nashville. Though most of our time was spent at home, catching up with old friends, I hope to return to Nashville next year and see some more of its sites and attractions.

The city, overall, is simply lovely; there is just no other way to describe it. It is clean, well laid-out, and most of the buildings fit a similar architectural-style; giving it all a very attractive and pleasantly uniform appearance. Vanderbilt University is nestled neatly within the city, its charming, collegiate facade not at all contrasting with the more modern structures in its vicinity.

Everything is just so carefully done to flatter its neighbors and enhance the overall beauty of the city. Coming from the dirty, random claptrap that is most Louisiana cities, it was a pleasant surprise. In fact, when driving by a two-story home near Vanderbilt – obviously housing some college students – it seemed so shockingly out of place to see dozens of beer bottles strewn along the front porch and tossed carelessly about the yard that we all reflected on just how incongruous it seemed in the otherwise tidy city.

I will definitely be returning to Nashville someday, and with plans to see and do more. Our time there was very special – made even moreso by our dear friend and host, who took special pains to make sure we at least saw the important hotspots and experienced some of Nashville’s lesser-known treats (such as Gigi’s Cupcakes and Cinco de Mayo, our friend’s favorite Mexican eatery).

I would recommend a trip to Nashville to anyone. The hilly countryside, the charming city, and the chance of bumping into a celebrity in little, downtown honkytonks will make a memorable trip for anyone.

How to take a road trip with no predetermined destination

Monday, January 5th, 2009

"Every time I do this, something personal and special happens."

How I did it: One of my favorite things to do is ride around by myself with no set destination in mind - I often find new ways of getting places or discover spots I never would have found in my normal travels.  These have included an old, abandoned school built in 1907, a hauntingly beautiful cemetery from the mid-1850s, to what was left of a long-gone plantation I'd been studying for many years; that's just to name a few!

Personally, these are day trips for me - I've never done an overnighter by myself; though I'd like to one day.  Planning a quick one- or two-night trip with friends, family, or a special someone is fun, too, as long as your companion(s) don't mind driving aimlessly (my fiancé, for example, abhors it so he's out as a ride-a-long).

When you have a totally free day pack a lite lunch, some fresh water, your cell phone, camera, notepad/pen, and a full tank of gas.  That's all you really need for a day-time mini-adventure on the open road.

Choose the general vicinity you'd like to drive around in.  Sometimes I choose a certain parish (county) to go to, a specific site/attraction to start at, or just a general road to begin on (i.e. the River Road that follows the levees in southern Louisiana is ripe with scenery and old attractions).  There are times, too, I just take off with no set place in mind.  Do what feels right for you, just make sure there is no set plan; the excitement comes when you are in an unfamiliar place and find something new, exciting, and/or intriguing.  Sometimes you just find a new way back to where you started - it's never a bad idea to know of new shortcuts or drive-arounds!

Even without all of the planning, just "getting away" can be a good idea to blow off some steam and have some time to think.

It may sound silly, but driving around by yourself with no set destination is extremely calming and centering.  Try to find out-of-the-way roads where you won't be hampered by traffic.  You don't have to stop at all - just drive and drive while listening to your favorite music; it can be just what you need to get your head back on straight and your thoughts in order.

Remember to always drive safely; if you are upset or extremely angry, it might not be the best idea to be on the road.  Wait until you calm down some before getting in the car to drive around and calm the rest of the way down.

The key is to remember that you don't have to be or go anywhere. The freedom comes in being behind the wheel without a set destination for once; that alone can be a very freeing feeling. 

Lessons & tips: For my personal, little day trips here are a few suggestions:

1) Have no set plans/idea of where you want to go or end up.

2) Have maps in your car, but don't look at them unless absolutely necessary.

3) It helps to have a general idea of where you are but no solid knowledge of the area "around" what you know - that way you're not *too* lost!

4) If you find yourself in an unsafe area, turn around and don't stop or get out.

5) Be friendly but cautious.  I've met some great folks in my travels and heard some cool stories - but never talk to people you don't feel comfortable around.  Listen to your gut; it'll never steer you wrong.

6) If you're a rigid, scheduled, or "by the rules" person, try to let all of that go for just one day and let the freedom of the road - and the excitement of surprise - take you.  You'll enjoy your trip so much more if you do.

7) Take your time!  Make sure you don't need to be back home at a certain time and that no one is waiting on you.  Enjoy your day without any pressure or stress to end it too early or "not go so far out".

8) Look for scenic highways or old roads; these are usually treasure troves of old places, beautiful scenery, and history.

9) Don't be afraid to stop, get out of the car, and look around.  If the area you are in is safe, take time to get a better look at the scenery, place, attraction, etc.

Resources: 1) A cell phone is a must in case of emergency; though I do suggest turning it off or silencing calls so your time is just for you!  If you need to talk on the phone, pull over on the side of the road to do so - talking and driving simply is not safe, especially on roads or in areas you are not familiar with.

2) Full tank of gas, at least $20 in cash, and/or a credit or gas card - sometimes you find a neat little souvenir shop, antique store, or cafe you'd like to buy something at

3) You could bring a camera, a notepad and pen, and/or a camcorder if you like.  Document your day and take notes when you feel appropriate.  I often jot notes of things I come across so that I can look them up when I get home.  However, don't feel obligated to do any of these things; just let the day take you.

4) If you're female and traveling alone, it's always a good idea to

have a fresh, working can of Mace with you at all times - not just

trips!

5) Bring some water and a lite snack in case you get hungry and can't find a suitable place to eat.

It took me 1 day.

It made me Feel free.

Test YouTube Vid

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Komuso Zen Priest Playing Shakuhachi

Just a test video after figuring out how to add my blog to YouTube (blah blah API keys and shit).