Bannana Jr.

sean hayes and erin mckeown @ IOTA

Tonight at IOTA in Arlington, DC was graced with the prescence of songstress Erin McKeown, fresh of the release of her fifth major release, "Sing You Sinners". Accompanied by Sean Hayes (not of "Will and Grace" fame) providing a solo acoustic accompaniment as opener this evening. We're still waiting for Erin to take the stage, but Sean has been compared to, by a member of our party, as a Vic Chesnut sound-alike. He does have a good voice, but the lyrics are still, IMHO , in development. Still, so far, a good show and more to come later.

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Bannana Jr.

back and bruised...

To say the trip to the Dominican Republic wasn't an unmitigated disaster BEFORE we'd left wasn't enough... it turned out to be EXCACTLY what I had predicted. Suffice it to say, a lot of emotion started off the trip, was expelled through the trip, and got wound up on the tail end. I'm glad to be home and eating food I can sorta trust as well.

Watched OVER THE HEDGE tonight... excellent flick... even though it's a parody of suburbia (which I knew) after a week in the wilds (no we didn't spend more than a day at a "resort") it was refreshing...

Also finally got to try the new XM radio we got for Chirstmas... fun!
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Bannana Jr.

(no subject)

hello, hello....

I'm writing here just so it doesn't seem stale...

Passed through the first part of the Christmas / New Year bit unscathed... however, moving on to the vacation at the end of the week, I don't have high hopes...

Heading to the Dominican Republic... and I personally think the trip with be an unmitigated disaster... I don't think it was planned well... we're on the move too much, and there are 8 people involved.... planned by somebody who's a regular lone traveller.

So, if you're reading this and wonder why there will be no posts for two weeks... that's why... I may try to blog from the island... I'll just have to figure out how...
Bannana Jr.

holidaze

I dunno... maybe I'm just not a holiday person. The only benefit I see here is getting out of work early now that I'm a gubmit contractor. Got home (after a tasty lunch at Cap City) and went for a nap for 4 hours... I HATE getting up early now (an hour earlier than I used to)....

I'm really wanting to think about something else, since at least when I had the other job, I could get in at 9:30am and leave at 5 or 6pm... now I'm tied into the wife's schedule... bleh.

I get to go back to the HQ on Friday since nobody will be in on Friday to let me into the main building I work at. A few plusses... jeans, pinball, and lunch at Sweetwater tavern (getting my two growlers filled.. yum).

Heh, just watching TV on the Mac... Jenna Bush had her cell phone stolen while vacationing in Argentina... great... I'd love to see the phone numbers, really...

Fox 45 was wondering what the hell the Secret Service was doing at the time.

Heh.

DId some beer labels for the alumni brewing completed last week... I have another 6 to design... I was surprised how well they came out. I have to hand draw a few others.. those should be interesting.
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Bannana Jr.

Missing Posts... wha?!

Well, economizing on the post eh? Well, no so much. We were out an about Monday and Tuesday taking in the countryside that is Scotland. The first trek on Monday was via the Gray Line bus to Glasgow and then to Loch Lomond. We took a boat out on to the loch for viewing, albeit, no one was REALLY out there of the lone island on the loch, which supposedly contains the only nudist colony in the UK. Phhhsht.

Our wrap around along the foothills (courtesy of our driver Ross) brought us to end our day at Stirling Castle across from the "penile" Wallace Monument across the valley. I really do promise to post photos. Serious history being expounded there. 'cept for the "yellow" building, it was what you expected from a castle. Yes, i said "yellow". Supposedly in the main hall, which they were reconstructing, they found "original paint" of the walls, which was, well, a light gold yellow. Not the typical color you seem to associate with a castle, but, um, this IS Scotland... We shuffled back down to Endinburgh after that, and copped out with dinner by going to Frankie & Benny's. I was in full force of my cold/flu at this time... not an enjoyable evening. Oh, we also stopped back in HMV to pick up the Badly Drawn Boy single, "Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind"

On Tuesday we woke up at the ass crack of dawn to get prepared for the 12 hour bus trip to the north, to see the highlands and Loch Ness. Yes, the destination may seem chessy, but damn, the Highlands are impressive. Yes, yes, more photos are nessesary, and like I said, they are coming. I think each day I blew through 400+ photos. As well, we also took a boat trip out on the loch, but Nessie was no where to be found. Realizing we had no more days left to get souvenirs, we collected those along the way too, including candy, magnets, and scotch. Good scotch.

We wrapped up the day driving the full length of Loch Ness and in through Inverness and then the lonely wet drive back to Edinburgh (this time with Graham Gordon, the driver). This guy was whipping a 24 foot bus around tight little corners and mountain roads like it was a Fiat. we were in the back of the bus like the previous day, but when you're at the back of a bus doing what was just described, you will get a little motion sickness.

Not to let out what we did on Sunday, but we hopped a bus to visit the north side of Edinburgh, hit the botanical gardens, the Royal Yacht Britannia, and then stopped off at Holyrood Palace and The New Scottish Parliament building. Yes, more photos there as well. I think I'll just have a post with photos soon. Dinner was disappointing. We tried to hit the WOrld's End Pub because of the Sunday Roast special (with a carmel apple melt as desert) only to find two folks ordered the last special, and mine was NOT the one they opted to serve, so I drank my beer (Deuchar's IPA) and Gaby her tea and wandered off to another pub/restaurant firther up the road (this time accompanied by a Carling Extra Cold) to sample what passes as a steak in Scotland and a "taste of Scotland" which my wife ordered, that included "Neeps, Tatties and Haggis" (Turnips, mashed Potatoes, and um, haggis). Really, it wasn't that bad, the "neeps" were actually the least plesant items.
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Bannana Jr.

Haggis, Yachts, and McEwans

We survived the wedding. Lots of drinking, dancing (yes) and fun. I must go to more Scottish weddings, everybody was friendly and happy. Moreso than other weddings I've been to. I guess a Indian wedding will be next.

We had haggis tonight as part of a sampler. Wasn't as bad as everybody makes it out to be. Gabby had a "traditional" Scottish breakfast thsi morning at the hotel. I WASN'T under ANY circumstances goign to eat the blood sausage.

We did go on a mini-tour of northern Edinburgh today, visiting the moored Royal Yacht Britania. We visited Holyrood Palace and across the street was the New Scottish Parliament.

My feet are killing me after all the walkign and standing of the past few days. Luckily we get to ride buses the next few days. Tomorrow is Glasgow, Stirling Castle and the Trossachs. Tuesday it's Inverness, Loch Ness and a few other stops.

I've made my way through enough local Edinburgh brews to come to a conclusion... they like their malts. Which isn't that odd given their fondness for other malted mash, which is scotch. I've settled onthe McEwans 70 as the best of those tried. I had some bait and switch at the "Worlds End Pub" which had a pleasing special and also offered Abbots ALe, but both Abbots and the special (a roast beef dish) were out. Piss poor service as well.

We ended up at The Mitre, which wa sin another old building (really?!) and that's where we samples haggis, nips and tatties. I had a steak with pepper sauce and chips, onion rings and a large mushroom cap.

I'm off to JD Witherspoons downstairs to take in a few more local brews since I dunno when we'll be back tomorrow. I definitely want to see the Channel Four premiere of "Assassination of a President" about somebody shooting Bush. It'll be on at 7:30pm, so we'll see if we're back in time (8.5 hour bus tour at 9am tomorrow)
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Bannana Jr.

Off to the Wedding

Waking up late, Gaby decided to do her homework for class, I was forced to watch bad Brit TV.

I ended up going for "plasters" for Gaby's heels from yesterday. Of course, I kept asking for "band-aids" or "bandages", bad idea. I did eventually go to Boots (an apothecary) and found them in the little indoor mini-mall.

We had fun finding the little honor bar last night. DIdn't drink anything except taking some ice for my Pepsi.

Ready to go, grabbing and the camera and we're off.
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Bannana Jr.

Meeting Everybody

So, we trekked over to Grassmarket again. This time we got to meet more of the out of "town" visitors. I knew Wolf, Jonathan, and Joseph as well as having met Michelle and a few others briefly.

It took a while before Ian and Hongying showed up from the rehersal dinner. We ended up meeting Ned, Gareth (a Dr. in Biomedial Chemistry, but is working at an outdoor park here... man he could be raking in the dough in DC) and a few others. We heded out to a bar, I forgot which one, but I'll look it up later. It was loud, but they had a "new" Guiness (sic) there... Guiness EXTRA COLD... boy was it good. It was smoother than the US and England Guiness'es. Ian told be over here they brew it separately in each country. So, as the verdict goes, Scottish Guiness is the best.

We walked back (luckily, the walk only took 25 minutes there... we left at 8:38 for a 9pm meetup, and got there exactly on time... but as mentioned earlier...) and Gaby's shoes started rubbing her heels raw. We need to get bandages tomorrow before the wedding just to make sure, got to find where to buy them.

I may be able to swing getting back 2 days because I've been workign issues for work in the evenings here. That would be good.

So far this evening we've also caught "My Name is Earl" on the TV AND ads for the assassination film the BBC did about Bush that caused such a stir (or 'row' in UK speak) in the US.

Happily eating McVItties HobNobs right now.. chocolatey oatie goodness...

More tomorrow, but figured a late post would be welcome.
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    99 Luft Balloons (from "My Name is Earl")
Bannana Jr.

Back from the Castle

Our day began with expectations of rainy windy weather, but I think the challenge of keepign an umbrella in my camera bag kept both away. It was probably the most beautiful day in Scotland anyone could have asked for. Mild, partly cloudy, and tons of sun peeking through. I've shot a few beautiful shots of the castle as well as the skyline of Edinburgh.

The excahnge rate is still killing us. We've spent 50 GBP ($100) between the two of us yesterday and today. That's included 3 meals. We plan on doing a small pub tour this evening, but hopefully that doesn't kill us too much. We did hit a supermarket to pick up some soda (Pepsi MAX) and some snacks for breakfast and the bus tour on Monday and Tuesday. As per my usual, we came across not one but two HMV's (record stores) as well as the traditional Virgin Megastore (long story, but we hit one every major European city we've been in). I was looking for the Badly Drawn Boy single package supposedly released (found out it'll be here Monday).

We ran in to Ian and Hongying while crossing Grassmarket to wander around the west side of the castle. We'll catch up with them this evening. The wedding is a 2pm GMT tomorrow. We'll need to probably walk the distance. We'll get an idea this evening how long it will take this evening since Grassmarket is also where the hotel is (hence the oddity of running into them outside the pub talking to ian's pal Wolf - he's actually from Germany but is residing in the USA with his wife).

We saw the old Scottish Parliament, which now holds the courts (somewhat like our Supreme Court I'm presuming). Yes, they wear wigs, and no, photos were not allowed.

We may take a bus tour on Sunday or tomorrow to hit the north part of town to see the Britania (Royal Yacht), but we're still working on that.

I hate to say we're being cheap, but phew... financially the UK is NOT the place to go to on a budget. :-D

I think the photos may tell a better story than my typing at this point, since I was taking snaps more than talking...
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Bannana Jr.

Awake - Day Two

5:36am EST, 10:30am here...

I think we went to sleep at 11pm GMT last night, so we should be rested. WE just woke up, and typical, Gaby reached for the TV remote (one of the reasons we don't have a TV in the bedroom). Managed to find "Trisha" which is the UK equivalent of Montel WIlliams and Jerry Springer wrapped into one. SO far it's tame by comparison, just a pregnant girl by somebody other than her boyfriend, not transexual jewel thiefs, or marrying brother and sisters.

We're off to go see the castle today and it's surrounds. I tell ya, coming in to town and seeing it yesterday was impressive... more-so than even the ones in Germany... so I hope it lives up to the expectations.
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