Vacation, Take One

Cumberland Falls
Vacation is here!

Yesterday my family left on vacation for Cumberland Falls State Park in southeast Kentucky. After about six hours of driving in the rain, we arrived and checked into a very nice two story cabin that could sleep about 10 people. Three TVs. Cable. Kitchen. 2.5 bathrooms. Very nice. We win.

Aside from taking in the rainy Kentucky scenery yesterday, Karen, Rachel, Blair and I played Wii Fit for several hours last night, while Mom and Dad did their own thing.

This morning we got up relatively late and then walked/hiked around the falls area on the Cumberland River. It was very pretty, and I’m uploading pictures to Flickr right now. I’ll keep them updated as I can throughout the week.

Vacation has, of course, had its humorous anecdotes.

Take just a minute ago for example: Karen and I have been in the lodge using the Internet for the last hour, and she was getting thirsty so we went to find a drink machine. Because she brought her laptop in her purse-bag-thing, her wallet is at the cabin, and I just have one, $1 bill. We got down to the vending machines and were so excited to see that they have Diet Dr Pepper.

Only one problem, though: the Diet Dr Pepper is in the bottle vending machine, which costs $1.50. Our excitement slightly lowered, we then tried to put our dollar in the 12 oz can vending machine which costs $1. It didn’t take my money. Instead of being smart and going to the front desk to ask for change, we tried to put it in an older looking food vending machine to get change (Karen’s idea, I might add.) Did we get our change? You guessed it. The machine sat there staring at us blankly.

$1.00

$1.00

What’s your problem? Why do you want change? You put in your $1.00.

$1.00

DAH! So Karen and I decided to buy the least thirst-causing candy available in a land of salty, sugary goodness: an Almond Joy bar.

We now have $0.25 and nothing to solve our thirst problems.

I’ll update again when I get the chance!

My Weekend

And then came the rains...
The past few days have been interesting. With Karen gone over the weekend, I found myself at times bored out of my mind, and at others occupied in some of the strangest ways…

Take for instance Thursday night. While a lot of my friends were hanging out at D201 (University Village apartment of Rhett, Zach, Dennis and Chris) apparently giving Zach a mullet I was uninformed, sitting in my room playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. (Note that the link is to a Facebook photo; those of you without a Facebook account won’t be able to see it.)

But then on Friday I went to lunch at La Canasta with Joe Caldwell, something we haven’t done since our first summer on campus (I think.) I spent a good part of the afternoon working on a Powersearch It! widget for one of the Weldon Library’s Web pages. It was the most complicated coding I’ve had to do in a while. Nothing at UTM requires that much work.

Friday night I successfully made plans to head to D201 to hang out and play video games with the guys (at which point I saw Zach’s mullet in person…) We got in some good Super Smash Bros. Brawl before watching Battlestar Gallactica (I was completely lost.)

Then things got more interesting on Saturday. Blair and I helped Dad put up a new set of attic stairs to the attic in my parents’ house. We all almost died at one point or another. In case you didn’t know – attic stair units are basically all one piece and very heavy. When we got the old one out (hard enough) we then had to lift the new one through the hole in the ceiling vertically and then angle it around to fit in the hole correctly. While doing this we found out that 1) the hole wasn’t cut perfectly by whomever back when the house was built, so the hole was slightly snug, and 2) Blair’s head and my right hand are really strong.

Because the hole wasn’t exactly perfect, one end of the stairs’ frame wouldn’t fit into the hole. This caused it to fall on Blair’s head at one point (he was standing on some makeshift scaffolding directly underneath the opening.) While Blair was readjusting the scaffolding a few minutes after that, Dad decided to hammer at the snug end and that was all it took to loosen the entire opening. Since it was staying so perfectly, nobody was keeping the stairs in place and I barely caught the falling attic door/stairs with my right hand. Guess my fingers are stronger than I thought. Must be from all the video game playing.

So there’s a public service announcement for all of you: Play video games. It might just save your life.

News du jour

Karen and I made a couple of important decisions today, after we spent a good deal of time discussing things after work.

In no particular order:

We decided to begin looking at apartments around Martin, so after a Taco Bell run, we drove to a few spots in town. We looked at different apartments from the outside and got names and numbers. We won’t need one for a year, but one can never start the data gathering process too early.

Second, we decided that we are going to get a Westie when we get married. We have discussed on and off every few weeks for the last six months what kind of dog we want to get, when to get it, etc. We recently began looking for dogs that don’t shed much and that have hair instead of fur, because we are 99.5 percent sure that Karen is allergic to certain dogs (Rachel and Blair’s Murray, for instance).

So we decided on Westies. They fit our carefully planned list of criteria, and besides, who could resist something this cute?

With all this busyness, I didn’t get to have my photo adventure. Oh well. Suggestions are still welcome, and on top of that challenge, I’m issuing a new one!

I’ve been on Flickr a LOT lately at work (seven hours a day, only one or two hours of work to be done) and I’ve noticed that many of the top photographers on Flickr have at some point in the recent past shot a year-long series of self portraits. I thought this was a fabulous idea, and was contemplating taking on such a project myself.

But then Karen reminded me that I’m not so photogenic. And she didn’t exactly volunteer to model and be my subject, either.

I’ve thought of a few more ideas: 365 days of UTM, 365 landscapes, but there are problems with these ideas. I’m not at UTM every single day of the year, and there are plenty of days where no interesting landscapes come into focus on my camera.

So therefore I’m extending the challenge to you. What can I photograph for 365 days? Be original. Best of luck. I’ll let you know when one of you/I come up with anything.

In the meantime, enjoy more Westie photos.

Now accepting suggestions


I’ve been crazed today with a desire to go take pictures of something/anything cool. Problem is, West Tennessee is covered with clouds this afternoon and will continue to be through tomorrow’s thunderstorms.

So I want suggestions of what I can do to scratch this metaphorical itch. Post comments here. E-mail me. Call me. Send up smoke signals. Whatever works.

I promise to post the photos on Flickr in a timely/becoming manner that will recognize the person who comes up with the best suggestion.

And if, by chance, no body reads this until tomorrow or the weekend, your suggestions are still welcome!

Danke!

Bits and Pieces

In case some of you haven’t noticed, I’m now twittering, which amounts to writing the occasional update to what I’m doing with my life. The “tweets” as they are called show up in the right column over there. Go check it out.

Also, I bought my own domain name this weekend, matt-cook.com. You will all want to update your bookmarks to get to my blog which is now at http://www.matt-cook.com. I’ll also find some time to get an actual Web site up at http://www.matt-cook.com. Eventually.

TaTa, and happy Monday.

Cleaning House

No, this isn’t a post about my favorite dusting devices. Nor is it about the fact that I need a vacuum cleaner. Badly.

This is a post about Communications Career Day. I cleaned house.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into the luncheon today, an annual event at which the Communications Department gives out a few scholarships and other awards to its students for their work over the year(s). I guess I thought it would be nice to win a scholarship.

Well, fortunately and maybe amazingly, I won three. It’s basically incredible, because I’m losing my Tennessee Lottery Scholarship after the fall semester. Unless, of course, Tennessee’s lawmakers get off their duff and do something with the scholarship revision legislature instead of passing it from one committee to another, to the Senate/House floor and back again.

So assuming that our state government will follow its style of incapacitation, I needed these scholarships pretty badly, if for no other reason than to save the money from fall for spring.

I’m going to bet that not too many of the Communications faculty read my blog on a regular basis, but if you’re out there, thanks for thinking of me.

Geographic Musings