Friday, October 31, 2008

The University of Tennessee

For the Mississippi State game, Jeff Cathey and Dave Pavlonis booked a house in Gatlinburg for a guys reunion. Although Keith Carver stood us up to allegedly work on his PhD, the rest of us had a really great time shooting pool, talking smack and catching up with each others lives. Will Carver, JJ Brown, Howie Avery, Bert Sams, Mark Clark, Jerry Adams, Patrick Wade and Brian Light were all in attendance (in addition to Jeff, Dave and myself) for various parts of The Guys Weekend. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the actual participants, but I did get some nice pictures of campus.

We actually won the game!!!

REFLECTIONS - Congratulations Phillies!!!

In case you did not know... and judging by the Fox TV ratings, many of you may not... the Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Series Champions!!!

That's right. Once again, the Kennedy's have brought a world championship in baseball to their new city. When we moved to Chicago (south side) in 2004, the White Sox ended their 80+ year World Series drought. So, when the Kennedy's moved to Philadelphia in 2007, it was a foregone conclusion that the Phillies would reign victorious this year.

On Friday, the Phillies and 1-2 MM of their screaming fans descended on Center City for the Championship Parade. I thought it appropriate to share my observations from this parade.

5) Honking horns - OK, anyone who has ever visited Philadelphia, or any other east coast city for that matter, knows that a true Philadelphian does not really need a reason to honk their car horn. However, for the parade day, EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE, was honking their horn for the Phillies. (For those of you reading this that may be natives of east coast American cities, take note. You are the only people in the U.S. who use a car horn so much, and you absolutely mortify all southerners. In the south, a car horn is never used to express anger, rage or frustration at someone. A southern car horn is only used to acknowledge a buddy, who is out on his front porch enjoying some sweet tea, as you drive by, or to say "Hello" to the neighbor, who is driving his tractor down the middle of your two lane road.)

4) Allegiance - Philadelphia fans are loyal!!! I have not seen so many people descend on one place. There were hundreds of thousands of fans that came out in force. Parents held their kids out of school, people skipped work, working people left work to attend the parade. The side effect of this was that the public transportation, designed to accommodate 50,000 people, became extremely bogged down. I was not able to catch a train out of the city Friday evening until after 7 PM. The crowd began dispersing at 1:45 PM.

3) Spirit - fans were adorned in their finest Phillies wear. Hats, T-shirts, jackets, jerseys, you name it. I saw a pimp on a street corner in a bright red suit with red shoes, red socks and matching red hat. The only thing not red was his cane, which had a large "P" ornament on its top.

This raises a question for me... The Philadelphia Phillies that I grew up watching wore maroon uniforms. At what point did they switch to a candy apple red color?

2) Dedication - The fans who descended on the city for the parade showed great commitment. My best illustration of this is the gentleman that rode in front of me on the train, as I went to work Friday morning. I caught the 6:40 AM train. This guy was decked out in his Philly jersey with matching cap. He carried with him, one lawn chair, one 30 pack of Budweiser and a cell phone, which he used to announce to his buddy that he was laying out of work and would meet him at 30th Street Station to start drinking in 35 minutes. I guess 7:15 AM in Philadelphia is 12:00 somewhere.

1) Priorities - Although I, nor anyone else, could move anywhere downtown on Friday, Philadelphia transit worked when it had to. It just so happened that I attended a corporate function in our lobby at 11 AM. Outside, I watched a police escorted 3-truck Budweiser convoy come screaming down Market Street, going towards the parade. It was a model of efficiency.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Northern Illinois Game

A few weeks ago, several of our college friends gathered in Knoxville for the yearly football reunion. This year, we selected the Northern Illinois game because it 1) fit everyone's schedule; 2) would be easy to get tickets (little did we know that we could have probably gotten everyone tickets for Alabama this year, with the way the team is playing); and 3)Rachel's and my friends from Chicago, Danielle and Andy (pictured above) are Northern Illinois graduates.

I actually had some business in Nashville, so Danielle and Andy flew down on Thursday. We met Rachel's sister, Heather, for dinner at Cabana in Hillsboro Village. It was a great restaurant; they served gourmet southern food. It was probably one of the better eating experiences I have had in several months. Rachel's highschool friend and freshman roommate, Jennifer, joined us for dinner and then led us out to the Honky-tonks on Broadway and 2nd Avenue (we wanted Danielle and Andy to get the full impact of Nashville and Tennessee).

To leave the ultimate impression on our friends from the north, we pulled Dr. Hargis's (Rachel's Dad) 1970 Cadillac DeVille out and took it for a spin Friday afternoon. This picture earned me the nickname, "The Colonel" from Andy for the rest of the weekend.

We drove the Caddy down to the river, where Rachel shot this picture of Danielle and Andy. Later Friday afternoon, we headed to Knoxville and met up with Clark, Ben (Clark's brother), Jeremy and Jenny Graves and Cooney at Crown and Goose (a really nice new restaurant and bar in the Old City of Knoxville - 2 Thumbs up).

Saturday, we headed over to Neyland Stadium around lunch time to tailgate(game at 7 PM). It was great to see everyone. Several people came into town for the game and stopped by the tailgate. Many are pictured below. Melissa Cooney eeks out Jeremy and Jenny Graves, who drove from Phoenix, AZ for furthest distance traveled. She flew in from Rio de Janeiro for the weekend. Larry, Keri and Emerson Wray drove from Wilmington, NC. Danielle and Andy - Chicago, Rachel and I - Philadelphia, Sarah and Greg Cornell - Jacksonville/Gainesville, FL, Jennifer Hutson - Nashville, Kristen Lee - Nashville, Mark Clark, Ben Clark, Ben and Elizabeth Blanton - Knoxville.

L-R Jenny Graves, Jeremy Graves, me, Rach, Larry Wray, Keri Wray. Special thanks to Larry and Keri for bringing crab cakes and a seafood broil. It was definitely the best food we have ever had for a tailgate. It is also good that Larry brought his cooking equipment, as my grill reliably did not work again for the tailgate. Strangely, my dad can get it to work. However, me nor none of my friends can at a tailgate. It must be the elevation of the parking garage (actually, we learned that you have to tigthen the hand fitting with pliers).

Larry and Kerri, with their 2 year old daughter, Emerson. Emmie is extremely intelligent and outgoing. She was a lot of fun to have along at the tailgate this year. She brought her own pottie with her, which was pretty cool. She also affectionately renamed Ben (Clark's brother) - Tito. We have no idea why she started calling him Tito, but we are pretty sure that the name is gonna stick.

Mark Clark holding Emerson Wray

Jeremy and Jenny Graves

Sarah and Greg Cornell

Melissa Cooney and Kristen Lee

Rachel and Jennifer Hutson

REFLECTIONS - The Before and After

You may have remembered that I blogged about Rachel's best friend - also named Rachel - a few weeks ago. For those of you who do not remember, below is a "Before" picture of Rachel Bomar, two weeks before delivery.

Below is the "After" picture, taken approximately 3 weeks after delivery (yes, this is the same person).

Many of you are probably wondering what could cause such a dramatic transformation in one person's figure over a one month span.

Enter Exhibit A - Libby Jane Jerrell (or "The Little Sumo" as lovingly described by her own mother). Tipping the scales at 11 lbs 13 ounces and 22 inches long, Libby dramatically altered Rachel's appearance, as one might imagine.

Mrs. Hargis and Libby

Friday, October 3, 2008

5 Year Anniversary

A few weeks ago, Rachel and I celebrated our Five Year Wedding Anniversary. What is the perfect romantic getaway for a five year anniversary, you might ask? Pittsburgh!!! Look out Casanova... Steve Kennedy really knows how to treat a lady.

OK. Maybe Pittsburgh is not the number one romantic getaway for couples, unless you are out of vacation and need a location to celebrate your 5-year anniversary that is within driving distance of Philadlephia. However, we were pleasantly surprised by how cool the Steel City is. Although the weather was rainy all weekend, we managed to enjoy our stay in Pittsburgh. We will definitely go back.

In addition to PNC field, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates (pictured above), Pittsburgh is also home to Heinz Field and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is a picture of the hotel that we stayed in. It is a very interesting design.

The video below is of the Duquense Incline.

We took the incline to the top of the hillside on Saturday. There are restaurants on top of the ridge that overlook the city. The title picture of the Pittsburgh skyline and the picture of Heinz Field were both taken from the top of the Duquense Incline.

Saturday evening, we went to the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals game. Unlike for the Yankees and Mets, we were able to get really good seats 6 rows up on the 3rd base line for VERY cheap. There was nobody there. I bet there weren't 10,000 people at the game. It may have been due to the weather. The game was awesome! Pittsburgh won in the 11th inning.


Sunday morning, Rachel and I drove 75 minutes towards Philadelphia and stopped to see Falling Water - the most famous Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Designed in the 1930's, Falling Water is probably Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous design. The house, designed for the Kaufmann family (famous retail store in Pittsburgh), is built over a waterfall and incorporates the rock cliff into the structural design of the house.

The living room actually has stairs that go down to the water. This access, combined with opening the windows in the living area provides effective air conditioning in the summer by drawing the air flow across the water and then through the room. It also provides a very peaceful water sound inside the house.

The Kaufmann's son actually left the home to the state of Pennsylvania before he passed away. The home, the guest house and all of the furniture inside of both were all designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright used the layout and design of the windows to make the indoor living spaces seem much larger than they actually are. A lot of the design features on the house are really cool. For instance, the windows are built into the stone but do not have actual seals. I have no idea how they do not leak, but they don't. I also don't know how it deals with freeze/thaw cycles, because I would think that glass and stone have different coefficients of expansion (the windows should crack as they expand at a different rate than the stone, when the temperature swings).

The shelving in the kitchen was built into the walls and actually folds up to form additional table space for visitors or servants.

The living room also had built in shelving. You will also see a large outdoor living area through the window in the living room. Falling water actually has more square footage in outdoor living space than it does on the inside. Almost every room has a outdoor space. The house is totally designed to fit into its surroundings and to cause its guests to focus on the outside.

The fireplaces were really cool. The living room and each bedroom had a fireplace. A single chimney served the fireplaces of each room, but each room had its own chamber. You can see that the stone work for this room's fireplace is a lot wider than the fireplace itself. This is to house the other chambers.

A picture of one of the bedroom patios with the mountain in the backdrop. Not only was the home beautiful, but the surrounding land is gorgeous.

This is a great picture that shows how the windows on one of the reading rooms open up completely. The windows opened from both sides, making the room feel a lot more open.

More of the outdoor living spaces.

Here is Rachel enjoying the herb garden outside of the son's room. Notice that she is wearing her purse on her front. This is so she would not bump into any of the furniture and damage it. As it is all antique, they ask that you be very careful about bumping anything.

A walkway connects the main house to the guest house. This is a statue in the walkway. What is cool is that water from the roof is actually diverted through piping that turns this statue into an indoor fountain.

The living space outside of the guest house.

This is a picture of the living room water access from outside of the home. Notice the waterfall is directly behind this access point.

If you ever have the chance to visit Falling Water, I strongly suggest that you do. If you are ever visiting Pittsburgh, drive out and see it. It is well worth the trip. It is an amazing house. You will never see anything like it. You never will be able to; as the tour guides point out, this house would never pass building codes today. It uses too many creative and non-conventional engineering solutions that would cost an architect a fortune to get approved on a case-by-case basis these days.