Bullock’s BBQ

This weekend we went to Bullock’s BBQ for lunch. It’s been a while since we ate the best barbeque around. If you are a fan of Eastern NC barbeque (chopped pork with a vinegar based sauce), this is the place. Over the years, there have been some other barbeque joints in the area, but none of them can last against the best.

When I was in college, we used to go and get family style. The servers brought plates loaded with fried chicken, barbeque, brunswick stew, cole slaw, green beans, cooked apples, hush puppies and tea so sweet it made your teeth hurt.

We were not a family style crowd for this meal, so I got a traditional combo of barbeque and brunswick stew. It comes with a side of cole slaw. Everything was perfect. Perfect barbeque. Fantastic brunswick stew. And just the right kind of slaw to go with it. Next time you are in Durham you owe it to yourself to go to Bullocks.

By the way, this spring is my 20th College Reunion, so the college days are frequently on my mind. I don’t know yet if I will go to the reunion.

Driving in Durham

On a recent drive through Durham I realized that the decades long construction is now finished, or nearly finished. As you merge from 15-501 (two roads that run concurrent through Chapel Hill and Durham in such a manner that they are really one road) onto I-85, the highway is now 10 lanes across with brick walls along the sides to keep the road sounds on the road.

When I arrived in Durham for college over 20 years ago this merge was a dangerous spot where you had a short space to get into only 2 lanes of interstate traffic coming from Greensboro. There were also two lanes going in the other direction. If a truck was on the road as you tried to merge, you had to hange on, because there was just no place to go. There is plenty of room now.

Things are also very different when traveling in the other direction, heading south on I-85 and needing to exit on 15-501 to head to Duke or Chapel Hill. This exit had always been on the left. Getting into a left hand exit lane (the fast lane) had always been a harrowing experience when their were only 2 lanes in your direction. Not only are there more lanes, but the exit is on the right. There was a certain charm about a left hand exit. It kind of went with a road called 15-501.

Grace’s Never-ending Birthday

Last Saturday was Grace’s birthday party. We had a bowling party at Mardi Gras bowling lanes. These days bowling for kids, and especially at a birthday party, is about some many other things than bowling. There is a video screen showing music videos of things like Crazy Frog (video), which started as a UK ringtone and became known as the most annoying thing in the world. This means plenty of dancing from our gathering of 1st grade girls (and two boys).

Birthday parties also have a DJ/MC. He incites the kids and gets them to run away from the lanes towards his corner location. He asks trivia questions so he can away free bowling games. Some kids had 3 or 4 free games clutched in their hands. Anything to get the kids to come back with their paying parents. He also encourages to run around and scream at the top of their lungs. This is why you have birthday parties in locations other than your home.

Our time in the party room was spent eating Spiderman cake and opening presents. This is quite a change, and a quick one at that, from a kid who had a royal ball party for 4 to have a Spiderman Bowling Party at 6. We opened plenty of presents from the kids in attendance.

That night we went out to dinner with my folks at the Bonefish Grill for Grace’s birthday dinner. He had been going to Kanki, a Japanese steak house where they patchki on the table, for years for birthday dinners, but we wanted to avoid sodium overload this year.

Wednesday, Grace’s actual birthday, we woke her up to all her birthday singing animals. Earlier in the month Grace bought herself a Build-a-Bear frog and installed a Happy Birthday song in it. She called it her birthday present to herself, and that’s why she put the birthday song in it. We also played her Happy Birthday Bear to help her wake up.

Meg made cookies for Grace’s class and ate lunch in the cafeteria with her. Her jumprope team sang her Happy Birthday during practice. And finally we had another dinner (at Aunt Kathy’s), another cake (ice cream cake from Cold Stone) and more presents (including a Spiderman motorcycle and a robot from Radio Shack).

How much I miss Clinton

I supported Clinton when he was in office, but never quite was a FOB (Friend of Bill). There was always a little too much slickness, or calculatedness, turning on and off his Southern drawl depending on the situation.

This morning on NPR, he was interviewed about the potential changes Congress is debating regarding terrorist prisoners, torture and the Geneva convention. After hearing the interview, I had two thoughts: Clinton is a thoughtful, intelligent politician, and Bush is a total idiot.

Clinton’s main point was that there is no need to address broad sweeping changes to the Geneva convention for a small sub-set of possibilities, when those possibilities can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. For example, a known terrorist with known information can be coerced to get information, and permission to do it can be applied for afterwards. This seems completely logical to me. Plus no one will really question the process if it yields results.

Falcons Victorious

Peter’s football team won a squeaker today against the Durham Firebirds. This was a tremendous improvement over last week’s game where they were shut out.

The Firebirds came out with some trick plays and scored a quick touchdown. The Falcons responded with a touchdown of their own making it 6-6. More trick plays from the Firebirds made it 12-6 in the first quarter. The Falcons scored again before halftime making 12-12 at the break.

The second half was nearly scoreless. In the fourth quarter the Falcons drove down the field, but lost the ball near the end zone. The Firebirds struggled to move the ball from deep in their end of the field. On what should have been the last play of regulation, the Firebirds quarterback pitched the ball to nobody and the ball rolled into the end zone. A Firebirds player dove onto the ball, and it was a safety, adding two points to the Falcons score. The Falcons had the lead.

The Firebirds tried an on-sides kick, but failed to recover it. The Falcons lined up for one final play, but the clock ran down. Falcons 14 Firebirds 12.

Falcons raise their helmets in victory

One thing to note about the game: I was part of the chain gang working the first down sticks. I had a great view of the action, but Peter was mainly on the opposite from me.

Milano Madness

When I was growing up in 70s and 80s, I loved Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. They were the perfect mix of cookie and rich, dark chocolate. There were about six or eight other chocolate filled Pepperidge Farm cookies at the time, things like Brussels and Tahoe, but Milano were the best.

I lost touch with Milanos in high school, but rediscovered Mint Milanos in college. They had managed to take a perfect cookie and improve it by added the cool, smooth mint. We could buy these fantastic cookies on meal points, and boy did I buy a lot of them. Combined with 11:00 pm steak and chesse heroes and milkshakes, they did their part to support the Freshman 15.

Much time has passed, in fact I just got an invitation to my 20th college reunion coming up this Spring, and I have lost touch with one of my favorite childhood cookies. I have other favorite cookies that have other associations, but that’s another story for another day. Anyway, I was in the grocery store and noticed something called Black and White Milanos. These have one chocolate cookie and one white cookie. I managed walk on by these cookies, but it seemed like a good time to look up the varieties of Milanos.

According to Pepperidge Farm website, there are currently nine varieties:
Double Chocolate Milano
Milk Chocolate Milano
Mint Milano
Raspberry Milano
Orange Milano
French Vanilla Milano
Black & White Milano
Amaretto Milano

Plus Mini Mint Milanos

It seems that over the years, this perfect cookie has become gentrified and has grown up with its lovers. No self-respecting kid would ever ask for Amaretto or French Vanilla Milanos. I don’t think I would either. I would stick to the traditional or Mint flavors only, and leave it at that. These are not cookies to fan out while entertaining. They are just cookies. But good ones.