Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August 14, 2007

Well that is the end of the adventure. People ask me why I wrote it or better yet publish it. I think it is a great story. I am not proud of everything I did and I don't recommend following in my every foot step, but that is life. I could have just written about the lessons learned and good things I have seen, but that isn't real. I didn't learn my lessons in a vaccum. I did drink too much and got myself in trouble because of it a couple times. But I learned so very much from the whole experience.

I don't know if anybody really followed this. My wife read it sometimes, JR followed pretty close, and if there is anybody else out there, thank you, hope you enjoyed. Thank You Bobby for your e-mail. I would like to put it on here if you would let me. I didn't respond not because I ignored it, but I didn't know what to think. I talked to Michelle about it and tried to explain my thoughts to her because you and her are on the same page. She threw a fit when I let some of my family read the journal while they looked at pictures. I don't think too many read it all the way though, but I know some did.

In a nut shell, Bobby was worried about the example I might set for kids that might read this. At first I was pretty upset when I read it, mainly cause it was late and I was tired. But I do understand your concern. I just don't share it. That probably isn't the best way to put it. I am human and a sinner. I fall as much as anyone. I gave a talk on discipleship where that was pretty much the theme. The fact that I fall, doesn't make me any more or less of a role model for teens. I have asked for forgiveness for the things I have done wrong and have tried to set things right and tried to live better afterwards. But that doesn't means things didn't happen.

I don't have a lot of secrets. If the teens or anybody asked me about Europe, I would tell them about the sights and culture. If they read my journal and ask me about the questionable things, I would talk to them about it. Hopefully they would learn from my mistakes and not follow my example, but acting like I am perfect and trying to hold myself out as a person who hasn't screwed up, I believe is worse. I don't condone those actions, but I am honest about it.

On a lighter note, I am so glad I kept this journal. As you can tell, the trip didn't end on the best note. If I hadn't written it I might have forgotten the great things that happened early on and just remembered the crappy ending. Looking forward to seeing Rome again in December. Trying to figure out what to do with this blog now.


Thursday, August 14, 2003

I should be home, yet I am only to St. Louis. Still, not the slightest apology. She said that I should have left her. I guess that is as close as it will come. I am riding home with her dad and uncle. But I am out of the planes and a quick 2 hour drive and I will be home. This will surpass the Dublin to Rome fiasco. But it will all be behind me soon. “We have done…what we set out to do. I do so much want to go home.”

What have I accomplished? Found a love, changed my views, realized the life in front of me will be a tricky road or a slightly easier path if I so choose. To teach or change. I guess they are similar, only different in scale and effect. Who knows what the future will bring. After reading my Winston Churchill book, I find it hard to side with modern appeasers. I guess you have to decide that there is am extremely large difference between Hitler and Hussein.

I mean, we sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler. I think Hussein and Stalin are more similar, looks, ideas and all. Makes you wonder that after 9-11 if Hussein would have offered help or handed Bin Laden over, would our government had allied with them to conquer a worse evil. It is strange what bedfellows war makes. But insane dictators are not the most intelligent actors. Stalin trusted Hitler, as did British until almost it was too late, and Bin Laden and Hussein may be in bed together.

Would we ever use one of the two to get to the other? We did as much in the Cold War. Has our strategy changed so much? Just crossed the Mississippi and am back in Illinois, although I am not sure how or what way we are going. Jenn’s dad in driving and he knows we are going to Quincy. I am certain I will make it home eventually, just do not know when. But I am in Illinois and in a van, so I will be able to guide anyone to my home if they ask. But I am not going to tell them how now. And there lies my fault. The non confrontational me. The choice I will have to make is when to kill that son of a bitch that holds me back. And Jenn’s uncle sounds like Michelle’s dad which is kind of spooky.

We are taking 55 North towards Springfield. I am only assuming at some point we will head west. I have a suspicion we are heading to Verdun and then Quincy, which will not put me home until 3. We will see though. Maybe these Van Fossans will do something shocking and drop me off first. Cannot see the logic in the route though. Another thing. We waited for Jenn’s dad because he had the flight to St. Louis after us. So, we waited and she called people for her ride and then she came with her dad and said, “ready”, which I was not, and took off.

I got my bags ready and followed, got outside and saw her way in the distance. But not her dad. I tried to catch her because I did not know what was going on and she got in a car and split. I am wondering whether I had followed the wrong girl, turned around to see her dad standing along the wall. She left, no good bye, no wave, nothing. Left me with her dad, waiting for her uncle. Ands she took my Auschwitz lighter, which is not anything more than a BIC lighter I got at the camp, but a souvenir none the less.

Has to be the most self serving person I know. I really do not know how I will act around her when school starts. I do not think I can spend too much time with her without blowing up at one point, and I do not want to even put myself in that position. I guess we will see.

Well, I am in Verdun, and just like a reliable Van Fossan, Jenn’s dad wants mom or dad to meet us half way. I do not blame him, but it just bites to have to call them. Mom had lunch waiting for me too. And I am so very hungry. But home is getting closer. It may be coming slow, but coming none the less, which is what really matters. I think I have been drained of the excitement factor. It is more of a need than any sort of want right now. This trip home has given me nothing but bad taste in my moth and I cannot help but long for it to end and wonder why it does not seem to. Nothing will seem to go my way, but I am heading in the right direction at least. We will now see what else could possible happen in the next 2 hours to impede me.

The view is definitely different. Not drastically, well accept for the mountains, but different. The trees, there are less and they seem different. More roads, bigger farm silos, different style homes. Not the prettiest sight, but home. Corn is still pretty green but the fields look full. Wonder how the weathers been.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The level of anger I feel right now can not be explained. It is 3:00 and guess what, I am still in Paris. That means I have missed the flight home. Home to my family, friends, and mostly Michelle. Oh, and no fault of my own. That question about whether patience is a bad thing. Yes, it can be. I arrived at the exact spot I was supposed to be at 11:00. Flight leaves at 2:45. Maybe a little extreme, but I wanted to take no chances. And I wait and wait and wait. It is now 2:00 and guess who shows up, Jenn, with her father. We know we are in a hurry, so we get in line and start to check our bags and then they tell us the flight is closed. Closed.

You must check your bags 45 minutes before departure. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. It was 2:04 when we found this out. I had waited for Jenn and now I was screwed. Why am I such a fool? Why can’t I be an asshole just once in my life and have left her ass here in Paris. Now I must take another flight, through New York that arrives tomorrow morning in St. Louis. Then, catch a ride with Jenn’s father to home. I will not see Michelle for at least another week probably. And Jenn has showed any remorse, any guilt. Not in the least. God forbid she say sorry, but she does not even act it, let alone say it.

My cut was healing quite well, starting to scab. Reopened it in the bustle and now it is bleeding again. We will be overnight in New York with no place to stay. This was supposed to be a great day. Long and all, but great. See Michelle, drive and talk, see home, family. Rest and have fun Thursday. All for not. And why, because Jenn. Not even an excuse has she given me. Not a reason, not a why. She shows up, ruins my whole trip back, and could care less than anyone.

Why did I ever agree to go on this thing? Why, with her. I doubted my ability to go alone and quite right to do so, but why her. It would have been so easy to leave her. I would feel guilty, but I would be home. Why give such graces to a person who needs them so little, or deserves them less. 2 or three options.

Either I am English, Old fashioned, or an alcoholic. All those would get drunk when pissed off. And so I am drunk. So drunk that the steward gave me a free wine because I had bought so much liquor. It makes flying s much more enjoyable and really does make trouble disappear. I do not think I have been “driven to drinking” before today, but I do not know if I have ever been so furious. If they say when you trust someone with small things, those are the people you will also trust with big things. If it works both ways, and I actually do this, I will never lend Jenn the amount of 5 dollars because she is the most unreliable person and self centered person I have ever met.

And I go to law school. There may actually be some of the students from USF that could take the cake, but I never had to rely on them, so I have no room to judge. Jean Gray is definitely coming back. Just got done watching X-Men 2. This time I was not the most hung over I have ever been in my life. She is going to come back pretty powerful too. I wonder how someone is going to finish what Strider started, or who. The problem with 2 is that they did not leave a human enemy. You knew from 1 that Wolverine’s past would be involved in 2, but, although there will be a sequel, this one did not leave too many clues as to the plot. Oh well.

Still a bit tipsy. I imagine that before long I am going to start getting really tired. Have not looked at my watch in a while but I imagine we are a least half way through our voyage. I forgot, or did not realize, how much I missed country music. Over the one month without hearing one note at all. The plane has a country station that plays the same songs over and over, but they are pretty good ones, so I will not complain. Oh, by the way, if this overnight in New York is anything like the fiasco of Bath, then I will be up all night watching over sweet Pocketsize while she sleeps. Just more of the patient, gentlemanly sap I am.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

The more I think about it, the more I think Jenn meant 10:30 at night. I am going in the morning, so I guarantee an early start. I hear the Luuve is a lot to see and I do not really know too much about art so I do not know what today is going to be like. After that concert tonight, I am thinking about walking around Paris at night. I do not know what I will feel like because museums make me tired, we will see.

I think it is going to be one of those days. I must have pushed my hand too far because it broke open and started bleeding. Then I got squashed by the doors on the train trying to squeeze through. Everyone on the train thought it was mighty funny. Me too, if it had not been me. Now I am waiting for Jenn and I really do not think she is going to come this morning. I will wait till 11 and then head for the Luuve.

Like I said, one of those days. Who would guess that one of the biggest and most famous museums in the world would be closed on a Tuesday? And yet, that is what has happened today. The Luuve is closed. Jenn was not there either. I guess she did mean 10:30 at night. That concert does not start till 8:30 and I cannot see it not lasting 2 hours, so I hope she makes it to the airport. Do not really know what to do with myself now. The Luuve is supposed to be an all day event.

What a great way to end the trip. The music was wonderful. It was 10 strings and then for 2 songs, there was a girl that sang. It lasted about 2 hours and when you walked out you were looking at Concord Square at night. I saw that and just decided to end the trip on a high note and not chance walking around. I already realize that I have to come back sometime and I do not think Paris will ever change. I almost forgot to mention that yesterday I ate at McDonald’s. I did not want to, but I realized I had to get a “Royal with Cheese”.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monday, August 11, 2003

Well, I am not on a train and today is the last day my pass will work, so I guess no more trains for me. The hand is too big of a gash to close, so I do not know how it will heal. It is going to be a pretty ugly scar, I imagine. Just walking around Paris. I wish I had more time here. There is so much to see that you could not do it in a lifetime. The people are not as bad as some made it out to be, although when you look at those who told me, they were probable being assholes first.

Bought Lucy a sweatshirt and mug, could not think of anything better. So that is everyone I needed something for. I have a lot more for some than others, so I might just keep some things, but probable not. Where I am right now is actually pretty quite. It is even hot in the shade because it is such a stale heat, although there is more of a breeze today. Somebody important just went by because there was 1 motorcycle, 2 cars, and 3 vans all with their lights going in a caravan away from the capitol.

I think I did pretty well today. Spent a lot of money on other people, but it will be saved when Christmas comes. Who am I kidding, I will spend the same amount then too. I am just sitting here, sweating to death, thinking that I can finally start counting the hours and not days till I am home. I think my hand is going to be fine.

Two things to do tomorrow. The Luuve and Napoleon’s grave. Meeting Jenn at 10:30 at one of the Eiffel Tower legs. Not sure if she meant 10:30 in the morning or at night. I bought tickets for a concert in some grand cathedral for tomorrow night, so if it is tomorrow night, I will not be able to meet her. Walked under the giant today. I still do not think it is bigger than the Arch, but I am going to have to see the Arch again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Well, another hell of a day. Yesterday, Frankfurt was so American and had nothing to do, so I went and saw 2 movies. T3 was disappointing. Then, while I was waiting for the overnight to Paris, I wrote Michelle a letter the probable worried the shit out of her. It was just ranting about life and what not and I was a little tipsy. Then, the dreaded over night train. Oh how I hate them. I did not manage a couple hours sleep. Got to Paris and got on the right train, only to find the station I needed to switch trains at was closed for construction. So, more walking with a full load.

Finally found the hostel, not too much walking as compared to Berlin. So I drop my bags off and go for a walk, because the room is not ready. They give me, what looks to be a very good map. It has a red dot that shows the hostel I am staying in and so I start to wander. But funny thing is that none of the streets match. Come to realize that my hostel takes their maps from another hotel. The red dot is that hotel and by the time I realize where I am, I realize how far away from most of Paris I am.

But no worries, it was still pretty early so I just started walking. Paris is a lovely town. Many churches and beautiful buildings. I was rather enjoying myself. I knew I had about 6 blocks till the Arch de Triomphe and I was going to rest there a while.

Then it happened. I really do not know how. I walked out to the middle of the road, took a picture, was walking back, and putting the camera away, reached the sidewalk and “slice”, some plastic lid on a container cut me. It was not like I fell into it or was throwing anything away. I was just walking by and it cut me. And not any paper cut, this thing is deep. It looked like it just took a chunk because I could see past skin deep. It is about an inch and a half long, but did not bleed too badly.

Actually, I do not know how much I bled because I used my red shirt to hold it the rest of the day. Knowing how far I was, but not wanting to waste a day or walk the sights, I jumped on a sightseeing bus, which really was not too bad a deal. 22 Euros to get on and off as you like and is good for 2 days, so if I feel up to it I can use it tomorrow. I rode that around, got a feel for the city, walked inside Notre Dame; saw the Eiffel Tower, not to bad really. Then I figured I better call it a day, with my hurt hand and no sleep. I do not think I will make it to Normandy, but those are the breaks. See how I feel tomorrow and try to do Paris again.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Friday, August 8, 2003

Here I am, on one of the most important rivers in European history. The Rhine River has been a huge trade route for centuries and still is. An hour boat ride will due, I guess. The cathedral was quite amazing. Well worth the trip. They had the tomb of Saint Christopher. Did not know that is where that was. The cathedral is more amazing from the river. A trip down the Rhine is one of the things to do next time. I do not know how long it would take, but it would be quite a good time. The Rhine is a lot wider than most of the rivers I have been seeing. No wonder it was such an intricate part of history. Reminds a person a lot of the Mississippi. They have little fortresses all along the banks. Hitler’s first victory came here. Taking the Rhineland back. No guns fired, only his persuasive tongue and a good argument and weak minded enemies

What a trip back. The heat is so bad it is causing problems on the trains. I have been talking to some that have never seen it this bad. One lady said it was so weird to see everyone sweating. The train from Cologne to Frankfurt’s main station was canceled all day. Had to get one from Cologne to Frankfurt airport, then get off and go to Frankfurt Main. Just was lucky to figure that out. It is hard to know a train is canceled when the loudspeaker is in German only. I finally went to where the train was suppose to be, waited for the German announcement, and then followed the masses wherever they went. Pretty nifty I would say. Then the train to the airport was not air conditioned and stunk like an outhouse. Evidently all the bathrooms were full and they could not unload them. The heat is affecting the train’s electronics. The radio was not working either.

Finally made it to the airport and the train to the city was ½ hour late. Some of the people making the excurtion with me said there was a tram to the city that left sooner, but I did not want to risk having to pay anything, so I waited. It is becoming quite clear to me how much patience I have. It is almost to the point where it could get me in trouble because I will wait too long. There must be a fine line somewhere so that a patient person will not miss opportunities because they are being patient. The key is to find the line before it is too late and not go over it while searching.

There have been a lot of people on this trip that have told me how patient I am, it does not seem to be a quality of too many law students. If it is a virtue and pays great dividends in the long run, I only hope the prices paid will not be too great. Arriving at Frankfurt Main for the third and final time.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thursday, August 7, 2003

On the rode again. Last night was nice. Went and saw an IMAX show that was 3D. If that is the direction movies are going, I cannot wait. There were parts that I almost thought things were sitting in my lap, even though I knew they were not. During the credits, people were standing up to leave and I thought they were going to get hit with asteroids that were coming at us. Had a Kebob that was a sandwich and not on a stick. Drank a couple of beers and went to sleep. Woke up at 5 to see everyone in the room active.

Evidently, one of the guys staying in the room had done something to his ankle and they had to call on ambulance because it was so swollen. After all the commotion, I kept thinking if something happened, I really do not know what to do. This kid was one of a group of six, so he had some help.

I like to say I do not conform to peer-pressure, at least not as bad as most, but I think I do enjoy an audience. In the right circumstances it is a rush. But with risk comes pain. I cannot imagine how seriously I could have actually got hurt on that escalator or caught some illness in the Gap, but so far, the stupid things I have done in my life have left some scars, but no real damage.

Quincy is definitely a German town and Koetters is definitely a German name. Although it is mispronounced by our family. “oe” sounds like “oo” in smooth. And the “tters” is pronounced “tears”. That is not right. The second “e” is like the “ai” in stairs. So it should look like Kootairs or something like that. Anyway, people here recognize it as a German name, even if I butcher its pronunciation. And I saw a man who could have been Ralph Koetters. And a lot of familiar looking people once you get outside the tourist areas. And the older couple on the train that I am sitting by could be on vacation from Quincy.

Patty was right about Northern Germany. It does remind a person of Illinois, but Southern Germany is, now that I think about it, a lot like Southern Illinois. More hills, less fields. Less than a week left and I really do not know how to feel about leaving. Ready to get home, but always wanting to see more. My eyes have never been so busy. That IMAX 3D made them work so hard that it almost gave me a headache. Knowing how much I have seen, yet so little in the large concept of the world makes me a little discouraged. Somebody was telling me yesterday that when we learn something new, it only makes us realize how stupid we are and how little we know. I really do not want to walk through life with that attitude. There is no satisfying a person like that.

My God is it hot in Frankfurt. Not only is it hot, it is the hottest heat wave Europe has seen in a long, long time. I almost measured their highest temperature ever. I repeat, ever.

A bunch of things have popped into my head and I figure here is a good place to put them. First, who came up with the term African American? I mean, I think I used to agree that it sounded less negative than black person, but does it really make a difference. They are just 2 different words that mean the same thing. The reason black is bad is because it conjures up negative ideas in our head. African American does the same. We still make people out to be different. This is what really got me thinking, should you call a black person from Germany, and African German. I have never heard that before. How arrogant are we to call black people African Americans.

Another thing. There are a lot of grown men over here walking around with ice cream cones. I have seen construction workers to business men ordering ice cream cones during their lunches or breaks. Either that tells us they are not worried about their appearance, eating ice cream does not effect your appearance, or the ice cream is really, really good. Next time you are in Berlin, try the smurf flavored ice cream.

Another thing, Frankfurt is too much like an American big city to be enjoyable. Tall skyscrapers and the lot. This hostel is in the middle of the red light district. Nothing but porn shops and strip clubs on all sides. I would not recommend Frankfurt except that they have a nice railway station and evidently a nice airport. This has also been my first repeated town. I remember spending my couple of hours here on the way down to Rome. Boy that seems like an age ago. I am not only eager to get home, see Michelle, drive my car, but to start looking back at the crap I have written. I have not looked back at all since I started. It should be interesting. I really wonder how much I have already forgotten.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Well Berlin sucked the first half and has not been too bad since. First, the hostel was not where it said it was on the internet, so I walked for 2 hours before finding anybody who knew what the hell I was talking about. Then this morning, I got a ticket for the train. The bus driver last night said you did not have to stamp it, so I did not. Got checked once on the first train, nothing happened. Got off and got on another train and got checked again. Guess what, you need to stamp them. That would have been a 14 Euros fine, but I did not have 14 Euros. I had 20 dollars, more than enough, but the police would not take it. So I got a ticket. Had to go to a bank and pay 40 Euros.

That was the last of the bad stuff so far, but that is the way I started my vacation. Christen and I took a walking tour of Berlin. Second best tour guide I have had, after Dillon. It was very interesting and lasted almost 5 hours. Had smurf ice cream, saw the Berlin Wall, all the touristy stuff, and walked over the place where Hitler shot himself. It is a parking lot now, on purpose, but it reminded me of something.

Bear with me. This explanation will take a while. In one of the sequel parts to Star Wars, the books, Luke’s X-Wing stales on him and he is just floating in space. He does some kind of Jedi sleep thing to pass the time and then wakes up because he sensed some sort of evil. He was passing through the space where the Second Death Star had been and where the Emperor had died. It was many years in the future, but the evil was still in that spot. I did not feel any evil but you definitely feel something walking over the place where a man that took so may lives, took his and the easy way out. When you think about all he accomplished, how smart he was, it is sad to think how much he could have done if he had not been a complete maniac.

Of course, if he had not been so crazy a few of the decisions he made might have turned things for the worse for the good guys and it might be a whole new world. Off to Frankfurt tomorrow. We will see more of the German country side, which does look a lot like home, except the houses look different.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Well, my last few hours in Prague. Sitting at the railway station. Last night it finally happened. We all knew it would eventually. Acting stupid got me hurt. Last night in Prague so everybody was crazy. When we sere going down to the Metro, one of us, inspired by me, ran down the up escalator. He made it down and everyone cheered. Not to be shown up by my own ideas, when we got off the Metro I was encouraged to run up the down escalator. Now you must realize how large there escalators are. They are 3 times the size of any normal escalator and 2 times longer than any I have seen before. With that in mind, picture me, in sandals, drunk, out of shape, going the wrong way on this giant.

I started off pretty well, hopping 2 or 3 steps at a time. I made it all the way to the last ten feet and I ran out of steam. The stairs began to disappear before I could get to them and I fell twice. Regaining my composer, I finally make it. At the top, I really thought I was going to die. I have not had to exert that much energy in a long time. And I had cuts on my knees, my left ankle and my big toe on my right foot. The toe injury seems to be the most drastic. But the night continued and I fought through the pain till the end of the night.

Really kind of stunk, ending the night the way we did. Everyone got split up and lost and by the time we got to the place we were going, no one was there. Then, this morning, not too many people were around, so there were not too many people to say good bye to. It was kind of disappointing to not see everybody to say good bye, but that is how the cookie crumbles. There are enough e-mails floating around that those that want to keep in touch can. But my time with USF is through. I guess this is my vacation. It will be 2 nights in Berlin, 2 nights in Frankfurt, overnight train from Munich to Paris, 3 nights in Paris, then heading home. That is the plan, and it is pretty secure since I have already booked all those nights already. That seems a little risky, seeing as how plans change all the time, but I think there are enough trains running around Germany that I should be ok.

Will not get to see Kristen in Hamburg, which I am disappointed, but she seemed busy with her job anyway, so I guess it all works out. Well, I think I am on the right train, I just do not know if I have the right train. I showed the man my rail-pass, told him where I wanted to go, and he gave me the ticket. Problem is, it only cast 10 dollars, which is far less than I thought it would be. That is a good thing if I got the right ticket, but it is going to suck if it is wrong. I do not know if they just kick you off or fine you. They seem to take advantage of stupid Americans whenever they can. I guess we will just wait and see.

The train is pretty empty, which is nice. Should be a smooth ride, fingers crossed. Had the right ticket after all. That means I am taking a 60 dollar ride for 10. Not bad. From Prague to the Czech border was gorgeous. The tracks follow a river through the mountains. Every now and then there would be a good size city, but mainly it was scattered houses and small towns. It was one of the prettiest rides I have been on, and that includes the Alps. As we head north through Germany the towns get bigger and less beautiful. Kind of dreary cities. I imagine all the towns that were a part of communism have their bad or ugly parts, it just seems like the train finds them in every town. Makes sense cause the tracks would be near a factory which would be where most the worked which would mean the apartment complexes would be near them.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sunday, August 3, 2003

Yep, it is August. Missed Michelle and mine’s anniversary. Did not miss it, I just did not have the number to call out of Prague. Someone borrowed it and I never got it back. Figures with law students. Friday night was crazy. I have pretty much proven I am a good guy. Took care of the shyest girl in the program when she decided to tackle Jim (Whisky). Made it as far as the Metro station when we had to turn back. Just me and her while everyone else went out. She managed to puck twice and fell asleep before I had to piggy-back her to her room. Sat outside her bathroom making sure she kept breathing.

It was not too bad; least I thought so, but people made a big deal, like I was supposed to leave her or something. Oh well. Went swimming yesterday at one of the public pools. It was really cold water, but felt good. It was about the size of Wavering without life guards and grass everywhere. People were laying out, mostly old topless ladies and old guys in Speedos, but it was fun. Went to church today. Almost lost it when they sang Amazing Grace. I have missed hearing that song. Makes me realize I just missed the mini TEC. I bet that was a good time. They always are. Well, we have a test tomorrow that I need to get cracking on. (Remind myself to remember manna and fishes and loaves for the next TEC talk.)