Showing posts from July, 2011

Is America the Best Country on Earth?

Many of you will probably assume this is an opportunity for me to point out America's shortcomings, but honestly I don't want to. Everyone talks about the American Dream™, but no one (except a minority of Europhiles) talks about the European dream. Is America really better than the rest of the world? I'm certain many people think so, both native and foreign, and there's also many who would disagree. From our public television, to our national health-care, there are many things left to be desired, in contrast to Europe. Yet. there are a lot of things genuinely and uniquely American which are better. I'm quite sure everyone has their own unique perspective on the question, Is America Better?, but I'll name a few:

America is better at:
1) Muscle Cars.
2) Comfort Foods and drinks. (Reese's Pieces, Doritos, & Doctor Pepper).
3) Large portions.
4) Freedom**
Okay, technically this isn't going so well. I could list: war, rednecks, religion, but those aren't p…

Souvenirs That Mean something but cost nothing.

So one of the topics I promised to write on, but haven't had the time to do yet was on souvenirs. "souvenir" is a cool word we get from the (oddly enough) French meaning memento, or more important remembrance. People love to take a piece of their vacation home with them, but you often end up with some Chinese made crap that you paid too much for, and which really has no sentimental value. "Let's remember plastic crap made in China, Yuck!"

Since we're currently poor students, who just recently got back from travelling, and who stayed at a $12 a night Hostel in Cairo, I thought I'd share some of my souvenirs. Souvenirs that do have meaning, and were practically free. Feel free to try it yourself on your next vacation. You'll be glad you did.

1. Frame a place-mat.
This particular one is from Quick Burger. I have a particular fascination with this chain and their "Giant" burger. It's written in both French and Dutch, so it's kind of g…

Tips For Surviving British Airways

Another thing I wanted to talk about after we got home from abroad, and that I haven't had the chance to, was British Airways. In fact I think I finally found something, that we Americans do better than the British: air travel. Back in the days of my traveling naivete (I'm still naive to travel in many ways) I dreamt of flying on BA (pronounced bee a), as they call it. I suppose I expected a huge cultural difference, which there is of course, but after flying Egypt Air, I can say that those reason seems rather silly now. However I don't want to give you the wrong idea, the flight, the British Air flight that is, was better, more comfortable, and probably the nicest flight I've ever taken. However, the customer service prior to the flight, left me prior to our trip, wishing for my American Airline expectations.

See in that lies the problem. When I booked the flight, I booked a British Airways Itinerary knowing that it would be mostly served by AA metal on the internation…

La Farm Bakery and Parisian Cafe - C'est parfait!

I went to the most perfect place in NC today. A French café which serves up the essence of Europe without leaving home. See this is what I expected of Simple Kneads but didn't find. Google France +NC and you get La Farm, in Cary NC. We went there today after I mistook the text GTCC texted me indicating that school was delayed. Unfortunately they failed to properly communicate it was only the Greensboro campus, not Jamestown. So it became a "Ferris Bueller's" Day off for moi, and ma amie as I was now too late for class. We hopped in the car and headed east. 40 miles later we were in Cary, entering La Farm Bakery.

This place is perfect. Cafe seating outside, and in. (face your chair outward and observe the world!) Dark roasted coffees, and French style made food. The inside is decorated old-world-style with exposed bricks and arches. Wooden tables, nickel coated iron benches, and an exposed working bakery. Asiago and farma breads line the walls with baskets of bague…

Get Water Heater Switch: Save Planet

While I hated the remake, one line from Will Smith's Karate Kid movie was this line in reference to the normality of water heater switches abroad and America's addiction with power:
"Get switch ... Save planet", mumbles Mr. Han (Jackie Chan).
Why install a on/off switch or timer to your water heater? Well for about $50 in parts you can save up to 30% of your power bill each month. I chose the switch because it costs $10, compared to a timer which is $100. A few months back while under the house I did some recon. My water heater which is currently wired directly is Energy Guide rated at $436 a year. Unfortunately I don't think it gets even close to that anymore. It's two decades old and the outer metal casing is showing severe signs of rusting.
Parts you need to add a switch to your water heater:  1 30 Amp DPST light Switch from Home Depot ($10.00) 1 Light switch electrical box. ($2.00)30 Amp electrical conduit. ($25-$50 depending on where you mount the switch)1 s…

Johnson's Drive In Restaurant - The Best Burger in North Carolina

If there will ever be one place, one restaurant I'll ever miss if I ever move away from North Carolina, it's Johnson's Restaurant in Siler City. Those who know me, know my favorite cheeseburger in the world, prior to Johnson's, was Tommy's out in Los Angeles. This rivals it. So take this post as one of the most serious ones I've ever written on the subject of gastronomy . It is not a joke, not a drill, this is some serious taste-bud armageddon they've got going on at Johnson's.

To experience chili-cheeseburger history in the making, it does require a short drive. It is however, a pilgrimage you shouldn't ponder. Never in your life will you taste a burger so divine as what this quest will yield. Trust me.

 I had learned about Johnson's burgers from a co-worker on my first job, after returning to North Carolina several years back.Whether it's true or not, I was told by my former co-worker, that Johnson's is one of two connected restaurant…

Las Vegas's Stratosphere Roller Coaster

Let's talk about regrets for a second. For a short time after living in California, and before moving back to North Carolina, I lived in a city in Arizona called Bullhead City. The city is only ninety miles south of Las Vegas which made getting to Sin City an easy and convenient trip. While we did make several pilgrimages to the center of the known gambling universe, we were uncompromisingly poor when we lived there, which prevented us from doing things normal people do.

One of the things we failed to ever do was go to the Stratosphere Theme Park which sits aloft the tallest casino in Las Vegas. The Stratosphere looks like a giant space needle but is actually a hotel. On the top of the hotel they built a roller-coaster (Sky Coaster) and several other rides that would leave even those with a lack of  fear of heights in a complete panic.

For the longest time I've expected one day to read in the newspapers that the riders of the roller coaster on top of the Stratosphere Casino woul…

The Maze Runner

"Bad skeptics doubt. Good skeptics doubt their doubt."

Why do most people believe in God?

Perhaps, it's because God, an eternal being is as likely (to them) or a better explanation than a universe birthed out of (either nothing [which is something] or) something (e.g. reality) which is eternal. What is this eternal thing? Even if we're a multi-verse of ever exploding and collapsing universes, something without end, it's very difficult for the average individual to believe that any of these possible scientific explanations are any more credible than a God.

It's a far better life to have hope in a purposeful life, than a damnation of universe where, in the long-term, nothing matters.

But you can't just "create" a God to explain things! There's so much we don't know about the universe we live in, why could the possibility of intelligence of some sort, not be a consideration worth contemplating? Are we really that pretentious to believe that…