Samoan driving

Since Paul has returned from American Samoa, I've had the privilege of spending a good bit of time with him in the car.

Over the past few days, he's taught me a few things about driving in American Samoa.

I picked him up at the Atlanta airport and tried to scare him by driving fast through traffic. Since Samoa roads never allow speeds higher than about 35 mph, I figured I'd play with him a little bit.
But Paul has nerves of steel. He didn't even flinch when I cut off those two 18 wheelers.

Today, it was his turn to drive, and he paid me back with driving antics of his own.

I had to keep reminding him to speed up. He appeared to have forgotten how to get the car into 5th gear. Once or twice, I think we were passed by an AARP convoy. One of the old ladies had a Calvin and Hobbes bumper sticker with Calvin peeing on a Clempsin Tiger.

A car ahead of us turned on its left turn signal. Paul ran off the right side of the road to go around him. Apparently this is normal in Samoa. What probably wasn't normal in either Samoa or the US is that the car decided not to turn after all, and he sped back up... and we drove side by side for a little while. Paul responded with some manly off-road accelerator action and got us safely in front of the fake-turn signal car. I'll chock that up as my first ever off-road pass on the right.

Okay, so I made up the part about the bumper sticker. But the rest is pretty much true....


Together Again

I just finished reading Together Again: Restoring Unity in Christ after a Century of Separation by Rick Atchley and Bob Russell.

I loved it. It's been a long time since I read something and got more and more excited through each page.


Since humming is so much fun

Humming is so much fun when you're alone. It's never fun when somebody has to listen to you hum--unless, of course, you're playing Name that Tune. led me to the Nayio humming search. You hum a couple of lines of a song, and it searches for the title and artist. I'm not really sure how this works, but I spent half an hour on it the other day playing my own little version of "name that tune" with Nayio. I wanted to know how good it was.

It correctly identified the national anthem, a few Eagles songs, and some Green day. I also got a few obscure results, but that might have been because the program isn't quite perfect. I know the problem couldn't have been sub-par humming.


Rolling Pennies

I've sorted, counted, stacked and rolled my last penny.

Growing up, Mom would collect pennies in a big metal and cardboard tube (I think it was a pink bunny), and she, Paul, and I would sort and count them.

Neither Paul, nor I particularly liked sorting and counting things, but Mom bribed us. If we found a coin with our birthyear on it, we were allowed to keep it as our own. So we sorted pennies from dimes and nickels, and stacked them in groups of 10. Mom would stuff our stacks of 10 down into the brown paper in groups of 50. The way I remember it, we must have rolled tens of thousands of pennies. In all reality, it was probably about $40 worth of pennies, nickels, and dimes.

What we didn't know is that Mom was making us roll coins so we could start our first savings accounts at the credit union. We each started with the minimum of about $25, and she encouraged us to take whatever money we could save and deposit it into our accounts.

A few years later, Papa made me spend some spare time rolling coins with him. He said it was so we could afford to pay the grocery bill because I ate too much.

Coin counting remained a staple well until my hears at Harding. During my freshman year, I learned to stack quarters and dimes neatly on the desk so the pizza guy could count all $7.56 plus a $2 tip quickly. After feeling too guilty about paying the pizza delivery guy with coins, I started collecting my coins in a plastic cup.

I collected them until my senior year, when I sorted, stacked, and packed them neatly into their paper rolls. I took them down to the bank, and they said, "oh honey, we don't do that any more. Break them out of the rolls and pour those coins into this bucket. We have a machine over there that does all that for you."

So I broke all of my hard work apart, poured the coins into the bucket, and let the machine do what took me about 4 hours in 30 to 40 seconds--it was $78 and change.

I use a smaller cup now, and I filled it up over the past year. So I took it to the credit union, asked a customer service rep to show me how to use the machine, and poured my coins into the hole on top. It ate my coins and rewarded me with a receipt.

Somehow I miss sitting at the kitchen table, sorting pennies and nickels, checking the dates, and marveling at how anything from the 60's could still be useful today.



Nobody ever said it's cool, but I've discovered NASA TV at

I found it when I was trying not to think about oral diseases, and got hooked on it during the last spacewalk. It's pretty cool because they have helmet cameras so you can see exactly what the astronauts are doing.


Final final

Finally, I'm finished with finals. If only they were the final finals.

I could try to write something interesting, but I think I'll catch up on other things instead.


Stress brings out the best and/or the worst in us all.

On the night before big tests, I get a slew of off-beat emails from classmates thanks to listserv--some program built into the MUSC email system that sends emails to groups-i.e. my dental class. Mostly I get spam from the listserv, but around test time, I get things from classmates.

Usually, you can expect to hear from a few "innovators" begging for consolidated notes from other students. A few overachievers usually help out the lazy innovators and send out their notes.

Finals, especially, bring out the most interesting emails. During spring finals, everyone emailed links to a variety of flash games like "smack the penguin," where you try to hit a penguin as far as you can.

This exam time has been no different. A brief look through my email has includes some B rate inspirational stuff and some things that are just stupid. And then there is the occasional discussion on the advantages of Toffelmier bands.

Stuff I received this week: videos such as this terrible music video--get your study on, clips from Leno's Fruitcake Lady, mean Carebears gone bad, Amazing Christmas Lights, and a couple of others that I deleted right after I got them.


Finals week

It's my not so favorite time of the year: Finals week.

Blog poists are geranteyed to be brief and never proofreaded.


Strange glows coming from the south

My partner in crime and I went to Folly to see the space shuttle launch. Things I noticed:

  1. AARP must have got the message out to their members because I think we might have been the only people under 50 who bothered to watch.
  2. About launch time, I called Dad to ask him to look up the NASA website to see if there was a delay
  3. By the time he got his dial up internet to load the website, we noticed a strange orange glow coming out of the ocean. Normally, the ocean should not make orange glows.
  4. After a few seconds, the orange glow turned into an orange streak. Then the orange streak quit streaking and turned into a very dim orange light.
  5. We oohed and ahhed over the very pricey fireworks, then prompty ran to the car to get warm. I never knew Amber could run so fast.
  6. Not bad for $.89 in gas.


posted by Josh M on 11:15 PM

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Motorcycle pictures are fun

I meant to get a picture at 3333.3, but I drove right through it the other night. So I settled for the next best thing.
I had to drive around my neighborhood once or twice to get my odometer to stop here.


Rewards for couch hospitality

Most of the houses I've ever lived in have had an open door policy. Most anybody is welcome to come and spend the night.

When I moved into the 1106 house in Searcy, I discovered that I joined a tradition of college students living in that little 2 bedroom house. During homecoming, one guy showed up at the door and said, "Hey, I used to live here about 4 years ago, and I'll be in town for the next two days. Do you mind if I spend the night?" We told him he was welcome to stay on the pull-out sofa. Nobody knew who he was, but it didn't matter because that's the way it was.

A few months before the random guy showed up, two guys slept on the couches for a couple of months. I think one of them eventually chipped in a few bucks for the rent. The other guy washed dishes, and since we had a serious dishwashing problem (nobody would wash them), everybody thought it was a good deal.

While my state and my university have changed, I've found that the tradition of couch hospitality is ubiquitous throughout higher education. And this is why I write today:

Every morning for quite some time, I've noticed one of the those new razors that vibrates taking up a shelf in the shower. For a while, I didn't think much of it although it was growing some of the pink mold stuff. Not my razor, not my problem. But lately, it's developed a new funk... that black stuff starting growing around the handle, and the blade has become so rusty that I started worrying about whether or not my tetanus shot is current.

Me: you don't actually try to use your rusty razor, do you?
Roomate: I don't have a rusty razor
Me: Then whose is that thing? (he knew exactly what I was talking about)
Roomate: I don't know. I thought it was yours.
Me: Why would I keep a rusty, molding razor in the shower?
Roomate: I don't know whose it is
Me: me neither, but I'm gonna get a picture of it for my blog... um... you hold it while I take the picture. ...

I guess one of our couch guests left his razor in our shower.


posted by Josh M on 1:26 AM under

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Rich vs. Poor, fighting for the same funny shaped peninsula

Since moving to Charleston, I've been bewildered by the vast difference between the haves and the have-nots.

One thing that is quite different about Charleston as opposed to every other city I've lived in is this: Charleston has the very poor and the very rich living very close to one another. Everywhere else that I've lived (Augusta, Searcy, Grand Rapids) has a greater geographical separation between the rich and the poor. I hear this is largely because Charleston is an old city. Or maybe I'm noticing it more here in Charleston because I've joined the ranks of the have-nots.

In Charleston, especially downtown Charleston, you can find a $1 million plus house just a block or two away from public housing projects. This close-quarters mixing presents a dynamic that is new to me. There is no white-flight trend. In fact, there seem to be more allegations of white encroachment than flight.

There are a few things that bother me about this arrangement.

  1. I can't find an apartment downtown (so as to be close to MUSC) that I can afford. While I'm ok with being priced out of a popular market, it bothers me that it's too expensive for me to live there, but it's not too expensive for a bunch of people who stand along the street all day. There must be a whole lot of independently wealthy men just north of the crosstown, because there are tons of people standing or sitting on the sidewalks all day and those houses are very expensive.

  2. I'm tired of getting hit up for money. I joke with friends that you can't walk past Hardee's downtown without getting hit up at least twice. That's a exaggerated. I usually only get hit up for money once for each time I walk by Hardee's.

    Seeing beggars on the street bothers me because I never know whether to give them whatever cash I'm holding, offer my couch, or ignore them and walk right by. Do you give people money just because they ask for it? Could that be feeding a substance problem? They do make more than I do. Given how much school costs in South Carolina, if we're going by salaries, perhaps I should ask them for money. On the other hand, it must take a lot for somebody to be humbled into begging.



Good places for barbecue are usually small family businesses that depend on a consistent, local customer base. Because these small businesses ususally lack fancy yellow page advertisements or a good website, it can be pretty difficult to find the best places for barbecue when newcomers arrive in town.

At least, this was my experience when I moved to Charleston. I wanted good food, but it was hard to figure out where to go to get it.

I tried the flashy chain restaurants like Sticky Fingers at first, but I was hardly satisfied. Next, I made a trip to Bessinger's because I passed it every day along Savannah Hwy. Yet, I was still unsatisfied by my experience.

"Surely," I thought, "there has to be better BBQ than that in Charleston." And I was right. After talking to several friends and searching relentlessly, I've discovered more than 20 barbecue places in and around Charleston. Now I plan to try them all in order to locate, try, rate, and share information about every Charleston Barbecue joint I can find.

Instead of muddying the waters here, I'll be sharing my thoughts on a separate BBQ blog: South Carolina Barbecue.