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Is it Thursday already? It’s hard to believe that almost a week has passed since I darkened the hallways at my office. Sadly, tomorrow it must start all over again. I only finished one from my large stack of library books and still haven’t made chocolate chip cookies. The days off go by so fast! I could weep.At least today we managed to leave the sofa for a short hike. South Mountains is one of my favorite parks. It has a waterfall, a standard feature of any North Carolina park, a hike along the river, somewhat challenging elevations, and even grills for public use. We got rain earlier in the week, so today was a perfect day to visit the park. The Falls are best to see after a good downpour when they’re full and gushing. Here are some pictures, many of which are very similar, but I can never get enough of this luscious place.

It’s the beautiful natural areas that I love so much about this area. Just an hour and a half away (which I know may be long by British standards), it’s such a treat to have something so lovely so nearby. The drive is so scenic too, passings scores of farms and fields in a rural America that is disappearing too fast.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.



A colleague sent me this link about the lack of hygiene in hotel rooms. The news crew set up web cams to see how thorough the maids were. Watch it and you’ll never use hotel glasses again. It’s vile. Vile, I tell you.

As I was watching the video, I was reminded of a lovely business trip I took last year. When we travel for the job, we are forced to use the company’s hateful travel agency whose sole directive in life is to pick the travel itinerary which creates the most hassle and unpleasantness, at the most inconvenient time, with the most connections, and that will most make us miserable, even if an alternative travel arrangement more to our liking is less expensive. It’s not because they’re getting kickbacks or anything. That would be cynical of me.

Last year, I went to a conference in Miami Beach. For reasons I’ll never understand, our request to stay at the Marriott which was walking distance to the Convention Center was denied. Instead, the travel agent booked my boss (who is rather high up on the food chain), three of my other colleagues and me at a place I’ll call MSBR, a hotel/condo that preferred to charge by the hour. Our company has plenty of deals with the big hotel chains, but no, instead we stayed in a “resort” as they had the nerve to call themselves, with rooms that not only had stained upholstery and bedspreads, but little sex kits that helped you understand how the furniture got that way. The kits had a variety of lubricants, labeled according to the particular purpose for which you might use them, suggestions if you will, as well as prophylactics. Seems like there was something else in the box, but I can’t remember now. I snapped it shut as quickly as I opened it and have tried to block out the memory as best I can. Miami Beach is a colorful place, granted, but I’d be willing to wager money that the Marriott at least looked clean and its rooms didn’t conjure up images of orgies which may have taken place the night before.

After watching that video showing what happens to glasses in reputable hotels, I’m really grateful now that the MSBR charged for the coffee in the room, so my lips never touched anything from the hotel. Except the wash cloth and who knows what was on that.

It’s enough to make you never stay in a hotel again.

One further note about the MSBR, a couple of weeks after we returned home from that trip, all of my colleagues discovered extra charges from the MSBR on their credit card.

Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have wanted to be our travel agent. I think she learned a new definition of wrath.

Coincidentally, a few days ago, our local NPR talk show, Charlotte Talks did an interview with Moravians from Winston-Salem. I actually haven’t had time to listen to the whole podcast yet myself, but I did hear that they talked about the original settlers in Old Salem. If you’re interested, here’s the podcast.

December 2007