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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Lawerenceville Ghost Tour

Every year for the past four year, Brooke and I have celebrated the Halloween season by experiencing one of Metro Atlanta's local ghost tours. Past experiences include the Norcross Ghost Tour (our very first tour and Brooke's favorite), the Tour of Southern Ghosts at St. Mountain, and the Roswell Ghost Tour (a year-round walking tour presented by Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations).

This year, we got our ghost story fix from the great people at the Lawrenceville Ghost Tour. Developed and presented by the Aurora Theatre in partnership with the Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association, the tour is open every weekend from May through September and every night in October until Halloween. This is a 90-minute walking tour that takes guest around historic downtown Lawrenceville, stopping at places like the shops that line Honest Alley, the historic jail, and the spot where Hustler Magazine founder Larry Flint was shot on March 6th, 1978 [1][2].

Although the tour did include stories of ghosts, it focused mostly on the quirky history and founding families of the city of Lawrenceville and was less about the scary and more about the macabre. Our tour guide, Madame Macabre, spun witty campfire-style tales replete of Southern Gothic elements and masterful storytelling that would have made William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor proud. You can watch her do her thing on this video from the ghost tour website.

If you need a little more spirits with your Halloween experience, stop (before or after the tour—or hell! why not both) by McCray's Tavern at the corner of N. Perry Street and E. Crogan/Lawrenceville Hwy, where they serve themed drinks in honor of the ghost tour [3].

The tour also does a separate Ghost Trolley Tour which takes guests outside the downtown square area and into surrounding points of interest like the cemetery and the female seminary. Unfortunately, when we went this past Saturday after I finished early voting, we had missed the last day of the Trolley Tour which was the day before. So, expect a review of that next year as we enjoyed this year's outing so much that we plan to come back.

This was a wonderful date night for the wife and I and we definitely recommend it to everyone. It's a family friendly attraction and a fun alternative (or supplement) to trick-or-treating and to costume parties. A definite addition to your "must do" list, whether or not you have children. Check out their website for prices, times, and other details at And enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

My 2012 Early Voting Experience

I exercised my right to vote this past Saturday, taking advantage of early voting here in Georgia. It was the first year (and the only Saturday of this election cycle) of statewide Saturday voting [1]. The lines were long across the state and the wait at George Pierce Park Community Recreation Center in Suwanee, Ga. where I stood in line reached up to seven and a half hours for some people.

The problem was not "human error or a shortage of machines," according to poll manager Dawn P. Gober, who came out every so often to give citizens updates on wait times for the various sections of the queue. "At most only about nine of the machines are in use at one time," she said.

I got a chance to speak briefly to Ms. Gober after I voted for—honestly!—90 seconds before she had to stop and close the poll at 7p.m. When I asked her what she thought had improved since the 2008 elections, I heard her suppress a chuckle. "Well, there's no long lines at the machines."

She wasn't kidding. When it had been my turn to enter the voting booth, I was the only one physically in front of the 15 voting machines despite the fact that hundreds had gone ahead of me and hundreds more had yet to vote. The issue, she said, was that all four satellite location were only provided with three computer to check voter identity and generate ballot smart cards and that each person manning the computers were basically "doing the job of two people."

"This the first ever Saturday, we've ever been open," Ms. Gober explained. "We didn't expect this kind of turn out. We didn't make any predictions about turn out at all really. We just couldn't." She did predict that she and her fellow poll volunteers will be working until well past 2 a.m., estimating that the George Pierce Park location will have served roughly 1200 citizen by the end of the night. Even though the polls closed at seven that night [2], any one in line at the time of closing would be allowed to vote.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Well! Hello, Stranger

Welp! I'm back! Good Morning! Long time, no post. I sincerely apologize for that. It's been busy these past few months.

So! Let's see: what happened since my last post?

I Turned 31. That was fun. I had family over at my place for birthday dinner and the next morning my brother-in-law, James, and I went to the shooting range near my house to break-in the Savage Arms Mark II GPX .22 long rifle Brooke bought me for my birthday.

Back in May, I posted about attempting a photo-a-day project inspired by Cowbird founder Jonathan Harris own photo-a-day project.  That was a massive fail on my part. More on this in a later post. Promise.

Primary elections, Syria, Libya, general elections debates, blah de blah...

I got an A in my Basic Newswriting class for spring semester then I turned around and took on a heavy summer semester courseload which included an accelerated World Religion online course and Public Speaking as an accelerated on-campus class—which, I must say, I enjoyed thoroughly. My favorite speech for the class was on zombie disaster preparedness. (I know, right?) So, school totally kept me away from here. But I made an A in both classes. And I made some awesome new lifelong friends as well. (You can follow two of them on Twitter here and here and here.) They, along with my sister, James, Ben Bowlin and several others, joined me at my very first DragonCon, which—coincidentally—was also my pseudo-bachelor's party. Holy poo on cheese crackers! That was an amazing night!

So! Yeah. I got married. Definitely, recommending it. The planning was a pain and it got especially intense as we we got closer to the date. I even decided to take the semester off from school so I could be more involved in the planning and logistics. But I think it was worth marrying the girl who has been my best friend and—for all intents and purposes—my wife in all but legally filled paperwork these past eight years. It was a long time coming. Brooke did an superb job in bring a lot of the elements together that made our wedding so beautiful. (It didn't hurt that she was stunning in that dress either.) I would say that 90 percent of the decor she either made herself or had custom ordered from Etsy. Our wedding venue pinned some of it on their Pinterest page, if your interested in taking a gander [1][2][3].

[Image Source: Janet Howard Studio]
Speaking of wedding venues and vendors, we had some of the best, most amazing folks helping us get hitched without a hitch. (HA! Sorry, couldn't help myself.) Brooke and I will be posting reviews for them in all the wedding sites. Actually, at the risk of turning this site into a wedding blog for the next month or so, I might even do a write-up for each of them here. The wedding provided me with lots of great material for the blog, both directly and indirectly connected to the wedding. I'd be a fool not to take advantage of that, especially of the all the fun things we did on the honeymoon at Sandals.

So until then. See you guys again soon-ish and welcome back. I'm off to early vote. Fingers crossed—not for my candidate, but for hoping I don't gouge my eyes out and gnaw my arm off while spending my entire Saturday standing in line.

PS: A big thanks to our family and friends—especially, our wedding party—for all the help and love and support and for sharing our special day with us, as well as to all the wedding vendors for being amazing. We couldn't have done it with you.