Many years ago when I was in High School I was introduced to computers and writing the software that controls them to do all the wonder (and sometimes stupid) things they do. I went off to college as a chemistry major with the thought of becoming a doctor. When I started at Reed College there was a single old computer (IBM 1130 with punch cards) that during the day was used to run the college. When the staff of the computer center was done for the day they changed the single disk pack and the computer was available for students to use. I started to write little programs to do the computations for my chemistry labs (it was more fun that using the slide rules). Late in the year the college was given a shiny new Digital Equipment Corporation PDP 11/70 by the chairman of Tektronix (a Reed graduate) to become the new academic computer. Over the next few years I spent more time with computer than in the chemistry building.
I picked up programming really easy and decided that liked working with computers a lot, but Reed did not have a computer engineering program at the time – so I left Reed without a degree, but a lot of knowledge of how to write software that worked. I took this knowledge and over the years wrote code some of the smallest and largest companies around. Over the years I moved away from actually writing code to managing the people that write the code. I used the combination of software, technical, and people management skills to run software projects for both small and very large companies. Although most of the time I had fun managing people and projects – I missed sitting in front of a computer working on code and making it work. From time to time I would write a little code or fix a bug here or there – but over the time I got further and further away from writing software and at the same time the programming languages moved forward leaving me a bit behind.
For years I would say how much I missed writing code and at one point when I worked for Microsoft talked to some groups about moving back into writing code from running projects. The problem was I rusty and behind the curve on writing code. A little while back a friend back in Seattle introduced me to a friend of his that is a co-owner of a small development shop back in Seattle that does custom projects for other companies along with working prototypes for ideas they have. They have some interns working with them building prototype of a web based application and back-end server. They also wanted a Windows Phone version of their application but did not have anyone to write it. I have been working with them in an attempt to build a Windows Phone version. If all goes according to plan I will dust off my programming skills, learn some new skills and hopefully get a contract with them or some other company in the future to write software again.
A number of weeks back I bought a book on Windows Phone development and have been working on some initial ideas and code for use in the application. Well the last few days I have been struggling with some of the new language syntax and figured I needed another computer book. Getting computer books use to be so much easier when I lived in the Seattle area. There were a number of bookstores that had excellent selections. Not as easy when we are kind Kentucky. I looked at Amazon and found a couple of books that looked interesting. And then the problems started. I love my Kindle but it does not really work well for some kind of
books – like computer reference books. I could order one – but when the books cost around $50.00, I really want to take a look at it before I commit (unless it has tons of good reviews). Then the other problem is I kind of need the book now – so we are back to about $50.00 from Amazon including next day shipping (if we actually have a place to ship it to).
I used the Barnes and Noble web site and discovered that the book I was really interested in (or so I thought – more about that later) was only about 2 hours away (113 miles) in Lexington, KY. We looked to see what we might be able to do if we drove to Lexington and discovered that Guy Fieri did at least one Dinners, Drive-in’s, and Dives episode featuring some place we thought might be interesting to eat in Lexington – so off we went.
We were ready for a little lunch when we arrived in Lexington so we went to the Parkette Drive-In Restaurant. The Parkette was opened on November 11, 1951 and has been serving burgers, dogs and fried chicken ever since. We like a good drive-in. We have been BurgerMaster in Seattle and SuperDog in Chicago, unfortannly Parkette was only mediocre. The tater-tots were not crispy, the onion rings were overly crisply, and the hamburger was not as good as the one you can get in the drive-in chain Sonic. As for the chili dog, the chili was totally overwhelmed by the grated cheddar cheese and mustard on the dog. However the sign out front that was built in 1953 or 1954 was neat. If we ever end up in Lexington again we would not return here.
We then headed off to Barnes and Noble. It turns out I looked up the wrong book (the titles on computer books can be very close) and they did not have the one I was looking at. After about 2 hours on the floor looking at a number of computer books, I did find one that should help me out. Leslie found a cross magazine and interesting pattern book while I was looking at computer books.
After driving around Lexington and some time in a mall we were hungry enough for dinner and headed to J.J. McBrewster’s for some BBQ. Guy really liked the BBQ and the fact that they have smoked goat and mutton on the menu in addition to the standard pork, beef brisket, and chicken was intriguing. Well it turns out they do not always have smoked goat or Mutton. They only have it when their local supplier has it available. So we went more standard – pulled pork and Beef Brisket, with sides of a baked potato, baked beans, mac and cheese, and smoked vegetables. First the sides – the smoked vegetables were a bit disappointing in that I believe they were steamed and not smoked. The baked beans and mac n cheese were OK and the baked potato was very good included fresh made bacon bits. The corn muffin had jalapeno and real corn which was very nice although the muffin was a bit on the dry side. The pulled pork was excellent, especially with the great mustard bbq sauce. The beef brisket was very good. If we ever end up in Lexington again we would happily return to J.J. MczBrewster’s.