Tuesday, August 29, 2006


What I need to know, is this the most random lyric in music history:

"How is the weather?"

You know, in "Happy Together" by the Turtles.

Nowhere in all the song does it talk about meteorology, yet in the middle of repeating the chorus for the 50th time, they toss that line in.

Another confusing line? In Aretha Franklin's "Respect" she yells, "Take care, TCB." Never mind that until a week ago I thought she said, "Take out TCP" and I would think, "that leaves r-e-s-e, which is meaningless." I get it even less now.

Online, most folks think TCB is "taking care of business," but doesn't that leave the song lyrics as, "Take care, taking care of business"?

I'm so confused.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Feted by the family

Over at the official Val & Jeff Wedding Site, pictures from the family get-together/shower hosted by my family this weekend, plus an album of pictures we've taken at the church the last two weeks to try and see how the ceremony will all look in EXACTLY two months!

61 days and counting ...

p.s. If you haven't done so already, or even if you have, pretty please, sign the guestbook and leave us a record of your visit. It makes us feel really good!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Party For Two

Today's installment of "Things I never thought I'd be doing six months ago," first off, Val and I attended our second round of marriage counseling. Second, tonight we attended the Union faculty/staff dinner, which is held annually the week before fall semester begins.

What was really cool is that Val says she rarely attends such functions, but wanted to go with me to show me off and have a "spouse" of her own at such an event.

Well you can imagine how happy that makes me. About as much as Valerie, I'd imagine, knowing that I have never attended a Headline News Christmas party in all my eight years, but I cannot wait until this winter's when I can bring my lovely bride and show her off to my co-workers!

Friday's agenda: Pick up Val at 3, head to Chapel Hill for the weekend. When I get back early Monday, I'll start posting pictures. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two Become One

Today's installment of "Things I Never Thought I'd Be Doing Six Months Ago," I went into my employee benefits online and changed my life insurance to make my darling Valerie the sole beneficiary of my policy. Should I tell her I'm worth more dead than alive? Isn't that how bad Lifetime movies are made?

Another week, I think, and I'll be able to add her to my health insurance and car insurance. I also signed up for a Cingular family rate plan with a work discount, and when Val moves to Atlanta she'll be able roll her account into mine.

Wow, so I guess this is what they mean by "And two become one," huh?

Big shock here, tomorrow afternoon I'm heading to Jackson to see my lovely fiancee, with a long weekend spent in Chapel Hill for her "shower" thrown by my family. I put shower in quotes since it's not so much a shower as family get-together, a typical festive atmosphere cooking out, playing with the kids and enjoying each other's company, and oh yeah, maybe we'll get some gifts?

Tonight I met Amy and Michael for trivia at Tijuana Joe's. We won. Again. *Yawn.*

Okay, maybe I shouldn't get cocky. Without Michael we'd be scraping by hoping for a win!

My one proud moment of the night? Having them turn to me to answer a Harry Potter question, the name of Ron's pet rat, Scabbers. Otherwise, I knew a couple of governors of states for the bonus round, but nothing else that Michael or Amy didn't already know, such as 42 being the answer to the universe in "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy." None of the other groups got that, though, so I guess we were the only geeks there tonight.

My one downer? Thinking that Lucky and Rex were the names of Teddy Roosevelt's dogs instead of Ronald Reagan. Wonder why I thought that? Me and my stupid book learnin'!


Back in my day

Let's play a game of "What's a bigger sign of the apocalypse?"

That ESPN has been forced to show the Little League World Series in a five-second delay after a player dropped the F bomb on air, or that his coach has been reprimanded for smacking the kid with an open hand afterwards?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Going to the chapel and we're ...

Some pics from last Thursday in the First Baptist Millington sanctuary, up on the stage where we'll say our I dos ...

Our vantage point looking down on those of you who come ...

Picture opportunities

Okay, it took over a week, but I finally have some pictures posted from last week's trip to Louisville, plus the pictures from my and Val's visit in July!


Next weekend? Val's bridal shower in Chapel Hill with all the family, and me, too!

69 days and counting ...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

With this ring ...

Today's installment of, "Things I never thought I'd be doing six months ago but now that I'm getting married," Val and I ordered our wedding bands on Friday!

And for those who have enjoyed the Engaged Era of Val's engagement ring, get ready for the next stage, the Married Era. We're having her diamond re-set into a new setting that's more suitable to match a wedding band, and she even gets a couple of extra diamonds, so I think it works out nicely.

Good thing is, it should only take a week to order my ring, have hers resized and get both engraved at the store.

70 days and counting ...

Oh, and wow, I'm pooped. I (sadly) left Val at 8:30 central time last night and got into work a few minutes after 3 a.m. here in Atlanta, and am working until 10. Fun!? Next time to see Val? Wednesday. Start counting the hours ... now!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Too tired to pay attention to sentence structure or stuff

Jeff update: I woke up at 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning, left Atlanta at 5:15 and headed quickly to Jackson.

Okay, quickly is relative, since Nashville's rush hour is the seventh level of Dante's hell. Why, exactly, did traffic jam up at every exit between mile marker 70 and I-440 at exit 53? Did I mention there's an exit every frackin' mile in that stretch?

Anyway, I still made decent time and got to Jackson to see Val by 10:15 central time when she got off work early. Why? Because we had our first marriage counseling session with the pastor, Rev. Ray Newcombe, aka Bro. Ray, down in Millington at 1:30.

I have to admit, I was surprised to enjoy the session so much. We were apprehensive when told we had to do it to get married at First Baptist, worried about getting preached at or getting too personal.

We were silly to be worried. Bro. Ray is as personable and funny and easy to follow as you'd expect a quality Southern Baptist pastor, so we enjoyed ourselves, learned a lot about our upcoming marriage, and look forward to next Thursday's session.

Admittedly, the verses we were most worried about were the ones that kept telling Valerie to "submit." You all know these, they're the ones feminists get most in arms over when it comes to criticizing religion and the Bible. The way Bro. Ray explained it, though, was perfectly fine and I think Val and I came away with a better understanding of what God has in store for us as husband and wife.

During the session, the engagement and impending wedding felt more real than ever before, realizing that all that individualtiy we stored up as singles in our 20s is over, and we are responsible to each other from now to forever.

It's really early and I've been up 24 hours, so don't be surprised if I pop back in this weekend to update my thoughts on this. Not tomorrow, though. I have to leave my lovely fiancee at 8:30 p.m. tonight to drive back to Atlanta in time to work at 3 a.m. Oy.

71 days and counting ... or 2 months and 10 days, if it sound shorter, and that's all that's important right now!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

If you're wondering, it's by Bach

I updated the music on our wedding site.

Question: I set it so that the music plays not just during the intro but throughout the site. Is that annoying? Would you rather I set it just to play during the intro?

Of course, if you view our site through Firefox, you're wondering, "Wait, they had music on the site before?"

Yes, but for some reason you can't hear it if you use the Firefox browser. That's what the eWedding.com folks tell me. Sorry.

73 days and counting ...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


The latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- I’m gonna change my name to “None of the Above” and win me an election.
- What do students in women’s studies do with their degrees? I study women all the time, but I’ve never felt the need to get a college degree in it.
- I’ve broken the code on Southern hospitality. It means Southerners are very nice – to your face.
- My wife and I started showering together to conserve water. But we’re using more water and more water with each shower.
- Before Dubya became president, the climate of the earth remained unchanged for millions of years.
- It was so hot in my yard today, I saw a robin pulling a worm out of the ground with an oven mitt!
- Once again, I’m glad I took the family to Florida for summer vacation instead of Lebanon.
- I like the new “Big Brother” all-stars. Now I am waiting for a “Cops” all-star show.
- What do you get when you turn the other cheek? Two sore cheeks.
- You know it’s gonna be a rotten day when your twin sister forgets your birthday.
- Faith is an 80-year-old man planting a sapling, hoping to someday rest in its shade.
- I read in the AJC’s Health section that loosening a bra strap helps ease a headache. I’ve been telling my wife that for years.
- Isn’t it strange that with all the cellphone, digital and video cameras out there today that we no longer see any photos or videos of UFOs?
- Whenever my boss asks me to do something, I always say, “Consider it done!” I figure if my boss considers it done, I won’t actually have to do it.
- Life Lesson No. 73: Never, ever, pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.
- There should be a warning sticker on all cellphones that says, “You may think you’re talking normally when you’re not.”
- I was so proud of myself when I finished my first Suduko puzzle. Then I realized I was in the News For Kids section.
- I found an entire case of bottled water in the trash and when I asked my wife why she threw it out, she replied “It’s past its expiration date.” Yep, she’s blond.
- The total absence of hurricanes this year proves we have entered a long period of global cooling. We need higher-polluting vehicles immediately.
- We all better pray that no terrorist ever attempts to destroy an airplane by making a bomb out of his underpants. It’s unimaginable what TSA would do to the flying public.
- Do stocks ever do anything other than soar or plunge?
- It’s comforting to think there is a special place reserved in hell for terrorists, mass murderers and the guy who came up with the idea of putting wheels on the bottom of kids’ shoes.
- The weather was so much nicer on Sunday I went outside to do some gardening, but was soon gobbled up by mosquitoes. I can’t stand those sons of itches!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Two months, 14 days

Pictures from Valerie's bridal shower are now online!

It's been a good weekend, although it could never be said to be perfect since we haven't seen each other since last Monday morning.

Still, my darling fiancee had her first bridal shower, and I enjoyed a couple of days with family up in Louisville, plus getting measured for my tux. This afternoon while shopping for the wedding, Val learned that her dress was in and she got to try it on! Wow, I cannot wait to see her in her dress ...

75 days and counting ...

In today's installment of "Wow, I'm really getting married," I spent my afternoon after work not watching the end of the Red Sox game, but voluntarily and happily inside FedEx Kinko's copying the maps for our invitations onto cardstock, then slicing each 8x11 sheet into fours to slip into the envelopes. You know, to add to the list of "things I never thought I'd be doing six months ago."

Fast Fat

Oscar Meyer has come up with a product called Fast Franks, a hot dog and bun microwaved together in 30 seconds.

Because America is just too lazy to nuke a dog for a minute and have to manually insert the dog into a bun. It's just so much work!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Filling the gap

Here's a photo taken in Louisville on Friday of my fabulous immediate family.

Something's definitely missing, though. A very important piece, in fact.

There. Much better.

Hey, it's a crappy photoshop, but you know how much I liked being a part of pictures with Valerie's family, so you get the idea of how much I'm looking forward to the wedding pictures October 28 with my ENTIRE family: Mom, Dad, three siblings, three in-laws, two nephews and my wife.

My bride-to-be's big day

Today's fortune cookie: "You will make a change for the better within the year."

Every day there are 100 things that happen, are said or thought about, where I sit back for a second, take a deep breath and smile, "I'm getting married. WE are getting married!"

Today? I'm at work on five hours of sleep after driving back at 3 a.m. last night from Louisville, yet thinking only about how much fun my dearest Valerie must be having at this very moment over in Memphis, getting feted by family and friends at her first bridal shower. If I could only have a secret camera at Destiny's to see how giddy she is, the center of attention, as she should always be.

77 days and counting ...

(Should I beat everyone in the comments to the punch, making inevitable "What have you done with Jeff" or "You are now officially the Kenny G of blogging" remarks?)

Tailored for Val

Head on over to the Val & Jeff Wedding Site for new pictures from yesterday's tux measuring get-together. Hey, Val can't show her shopping for her dress, but I can show off my penguin suit!

A big ad

Y'all know I don't imbibe alcoholic beverages, but this kind of ad makes me want to start!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


As much fun as it was to register for gifts for our wedding, I think it's even more enjoyable - with Val's first shower this Saturday in Memphis - to watch the registries online and watch stuff get checked off the list!

Is that supposed to be left unsaid? Sorry if it's tacky, I'm new to this, of course, and it's about the most exciting thing in the whole wide world, is all.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Today's fortune cookie

"If you had a penny of every kind act. You'd surely be a millionaire."

I don't know if Mr. Fortune (or is it Mr. Cookie?) has done the math, but in my rough estimate, it would take a trillion billion kind acts to earn that million bucks!

It does take getting used to

Several months ago, in the Pre-Val Era, on February 26, I compared my dating life to Jon Arbuckle, Garfield's owner. Two days later I sent that famous first message to Valerie, who less than four months later would say yes to marrying me.

And now? Even Jon is finding happiness! The world is truly spinning on its axis just for me!

St. Louis ends the tour

Would you like an idea of how much driving I've been doing the last four months to see my amazing fiancee? This is using the mileage noted on the receipt for my oil changes this year:

1-19-06 (Pre-Val): 38,800
5-9-06 (Early Dating Era): 43,828
6-8-06 (Back and forth every weekend): 48,987
8-8-06 (D.C., NY, Boston trip, plus seeing Val every week): 59,709

If anything, marriage should save my car some wear and tear, except that I'm sure we'll be out of town many weekends to see both families and spend some time alone away from the bright lights.

As promised, I have an update on my trip with my beautiful fiancee to St. Louis last weekend.

Pictures were posted on the our wedding site last night, and today I have the complete collection on the Val & Jeff site on our Geocities page.

How was our trip? Let's review a few details:

Thursday at 2, Val got off work and we left immediately for St. Louis. What should have been a 3 1/2 hour trip was an hour longer once we hit construction south of Cape Girardeau, and what's the worst thing in the world when you're backed up and barely moving for several miles? Getting to the source and finding nothing going on.

Still, we were in St. Louis and to our hotel, the Millennium, by 7, plenty of time to order room service, relax and do absolutely nothing of importance other than enjoy being together in all our pre-wedding cuteness.

As you see in the pictures, the hotel is perfectly placed downtown between the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium, so I could park the car and barely move it in three days. We also stayed on the 12th floor of the North Tower, which was stylish and had an awesome view of the Arch, which apparently is some sort of "landmark."

We spent the day Friday at the Arch, something Val had touristed before, but I had not and she's sweet like that to go again with me. Above ground, all you see is the arch, but head to the legs and walk downstairs and there's a concrete cavern full of people buying tickets to ride to the top, two theaters, a museum of Western Expansion and a shop. We bought tickets for the tram to the top, then walked through the museum for a spell.

The tram isn't really a tram, it's more like a spaceship, with six teeny tiny pods that "hold" five people squeezed in tight like a clown car without the creepy makeup and water flowers. Okay, so it's nothing like a clown car.

Once at the top, there's not much room to walk around, as the room is sloped up from the north side to the south side where people are ferried up, towards the very top of the Arch, 630 feet up. There are little slits of windows so that visitors have to lean forward to peek out and get a decent view, making picture-taking difficult.

We didn't stay long up top. It's kind of like how Val and I toured the Statue of Liberty. Suffer through the lines, ride to the location, walk around and take pictures to prove we've been there, and let's go do something else. We're hit-and-run tourists!

Once the Arch was in our rear, we walked over to TGI Friday's for lunch, then back to the hotel for a pre-game nap. The game didn't start until 7:10, so we didn't even have to leave the hotel until after 6:30, with tons of time to walk the block to the stadium, do some shopping, get our food and still made it to our seats by the national anthem.

The game? Did not go well. St. Louis lost, 4-3, to the Brewers, the Cardinals' eighth loss in a row.

The new Busch is darn nice, though. A brick facade seems to reach to the sky, there aren't any bad views of the field, and the fans are second only to Boston in terms of wearing team colors and knowledge of the game. (Okay, I'm biased in that last one, but if you haven't been to Fenway then you don't understand yet.)

Saturday started lazy like Friday, but before lunch we made our way to Union Station, a downtown collection of shops, restaurants and hotels at the old train depot. We had lunch at Houlihan's, and when we realized there was no movie theater to see Talladega Nights, we went shopping instead.

As you'll see first in the photo album, we stopped to have our cariacature done, too. Val doesn't think hers looks like her, but says mine is good. We just like the way the artist captured our giddyness, and how my eyes are focused on my lovely fiancee, arm around her shoulder.

Saturday night's game started an hour earlier at 6:15, and this time we got to see the Cards win, 4-3, and Pujols go deep from sweet seats just six rows back from the Brewers dugout. The difference in the seats? Friday night's I got via MLB.com, Saturday's I splurged on eBay, and it was totally worth it.

Although, it doesn't matter where you sit, you can't control the people around you. Friday night there were two girls who looked to be in college sitting in front of us, and they were pounding down the booze. We counted four by the fifth inning alone, and I've no doubt they had more before and after. Saturday night, a group of twentysomethings got drunk behind us and proceeded to use every curse word in the book, repeatedly. Just awful people.

Whatever. While Val and I were watching a fireworks show over the river from our hotel after the game and enjoying cheesecake and cake and ice cream for dessert, those jerks were pulled off the side of the highway so one or more of the occupants could puke.

And Val and I did indeed get to see some fireworks (our first show together), had lots and lots of dessert during the trip, and just in general had a relaxing, comfortable weekend.

Good times continued! Sunday morning Val and I were barely awake when Steve calls to let us know that his friend Erin and Val's co-worker Stephen got engaged!

This is a big, big deal, because Val and I like to think of them as our relationship godchildren. Let's tick off the list:

Erin and Stephen went to Union together a few years after we did, didn't date in school (like us), were reunited on MySpace (sound familiar) and started dating and fell in love (eerie, isn't it?), starting just weeks after me and Val started our romantic journey.

Many congratulations to Erin and Stephen, and Val and I already can't wait to be at your wedding next July! If you don't both come to ours we'll never forgive you, but hey, no pressure!

We weren't in a particular hurry to leave St. Louis, since Sunday afternoon was the sad drive back, knowing that our last summer vacation was done, and that we were that much closer to me having to go home and being apart for the next ten days.

Sunday night back in Jackson we met up with Val's girlfriends, Meredith, Melanie, Michele, Sarah and Heather to play Nertz, a card game that isn't for people who can't do three things at once. Even still, I can direct a live news show with 18 cameras, two anchors, three live shots, 15 crewmembers, keep up and control everything. Yet watching Val and her friends play Nertz, it was too furious for me.

Val is a wonder to watch, flipping over cards and tossing them into piles and working her pile like a ninja master. All I could think was, "That's my girl!" and "Glad I'm not playing against her!"

What's next? This week I'm going to Louisville on Thursday and Friday to see the family, but unfortunately without my dearest fiancee, who is headed to Memphis this weekend for her first shower. Yeah! The first one! We're going to get our first gifts to put in our new place! Weddings rule! Hey Val, let's get married once a year!

Okay, I'll settle for the one, but 80 days sure seems like a long time. *sigh*

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Show-Me Blog

Head on over to our wedding site for pictures from the St. Louis trip!

Unfortunately, this means our Summer Of Love tour is done. Not that it's a bad thing. Now we're focused almost entirely on getting married in two months, 20 days! (Or 81 depending on how you prefer to count.)

I'll post all these pictures and more on the Val & Jeff site in the next couple of days before leaving to Louisville on Thursday. Pray for me and Val; we won't see each other for ten whole days. Ye gads. We'll be down to 72 days before we're reunited on August 17. We haven't spent this long apart since right after we got engaged in June, and that was very difficult.

Stay tuned for a quick wrap of the trip, too!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Send'em Sveum

Here's an image I took Saturday night that is sure to send shivers down the spine of all fellow Red Sox fans:

Yes, that Dale Sveum, now third-base coach for the Brewers. Poor suckers.

Terrible twos

Picture proof of how bad luck came in twos for me last week.

First, the pictures from my blowout on I-24, described earlier:

As you can see below, there was no way in heck I was going to stick my butt out in that traffic to change the tire, and there wasn't any room for me to hide on the other side of the guardrail.

Even though I had to deal with this, I'm thankful it happened when it did since I was forced to get four new tires before taking my darling Valerie to St. Louis, and we felt perfectly safe.

Second, a lesson in why you shouldn't put your BlackBerry in your back pocket with the risk of sitting on it:

That happened on Thursday morning in Jackson. The guy at the T-Mobile store told me just to buy a pre-paid T-Mobile phone and transfer my memory chip to it and at least I'd have a phone for my trip last weekend. It worked, although all the addresses and phone numbers don't seem to be saved on the chip, so I have to rebuild my address book on this $40 Nokia phone from Target. I'm not buying a new expensive phone, since I'll be switching to Cingular ASAP when Val and I can have our own family plan!

Actually, what I'll miss most from the BlackBerry is my Texas Hold'Em poker game. It didn't make me any better against actual people, but against those computer schmucks I ruled!

The good luck still overwhelmingly surpassed any of those events, since I spent six days with my amazing fiancee, including four days that Val and I were together in St. Louis. Pictures and descriptions to follow!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Overcoming a flat Tuesday

The world has a way of reminding you of errands you keep intending to run but never get around to. Today's lesson: When you feel like you need new tires, you do.

The plan: Off tomorrow, working the morning shift today, off work at 12:30 p.m. and with the hour gained going to central time, getting to Jackson and my darling Valerie by 5 o'clock.

The reality: Tire explodes north of Chattanooga, wait an hour-and-a-half for a wrecker to come put on the spare, drive to Manchester to get four new tires, get to Jackson at 7:45 for merely a couple of hours with the lovely Val.

The details: I'm on I-24 heading north, pass exit 152, the Kimball/Jasper exit, think, "I need to stop and use the little boys' room and get gas. Nah, I'll hold off until I get to Monteagle in twenty miles."

Less than a half-mile past the exit, I'm doing 85 in the left lane and notice my car starting to lean to the left, and I get concerned, slowing down and moving over to the right lane, figuring out after a few seconds that things were about to be very, very bad. As I got in the right lane and made it down to 70, the front left tire explodes and all I feel is BANG BANG BANG of the rim and the shredded tire. Nuts.

What's with this epidemic of flat tires? First, Stacy, Joe, Stephanie and the boys have to cancel their trip to Knoxville for A.J.'s birthday party due to a flat in Kentucky. Then, on Sunday, Val's parents were temporarily sidelined by a flat on the way back from Chickasaw, having to unload the packed car to get the spare and make it home. Everyone check your tires, STAT!

I had let my AAA membership lapse at the beginning of July, but two weeks ago I went online and renewed it, adding Valerie as well, telling her that it's "just in cases" and hopefully she'd never have to use it. Didn't figure on me dialing AAA so soon, desperately looking for help.

Why not change into the spare myself? Hey, I'm brave and all, but not that brave. The Aztek was up against a guardrail, and if I opened the driver's side door I was so close to the right lane that the door would practically hang over the yellow line. On the other side of the guardrail, about one foot of gravel and then a 50-foot drop to a creek and forest. Not an ideal place to end up stranded.

Despite being a mile from Kimball, Tennessee, it took AAA over a half-hour to find a local wrecker to come help me, and even then they had to go all the way to Manchester to find someone. Manchester is at exit 114, so it took 45 minutes for him to drive down.

In the meantime, I have no clue what to do. I've seen way too many videos of cars and trucks running into cop cars parked on the side of the interstate, so at first I got out and climbed over the guardrail. Except that it was nearly 100 degrees and sunny outside, so I was baking in jeans and a navy polo shirt.

I called Val to let her know the bad news, thankful that it happened to me today alone and not with her on our way to St. Louis this Thursday. If she had been there in that situation, I would have panicked trying to figure out how to keep her safe.

Periodically I would go back into my car and turn on the air and drink some water, then go back outside over the guardrail to wait. I have a new resolve to change lanes or at least slow way down whenever I approach someone stranded on the side of the highway. That's a scary, scary, experience, feeling the ground shake as semis pass and you look back and see cars and/or trucks veering into the emergency lane before noticing you and correcting their direction.

A wrecker finally came, parked behind me with flashing lights, and he walked over with the jack, took the spare off my car (I'd never had to use it, so I didn't even know how to remove it from underneath - seriously, sometimes I wonder if I'm a man) and proceeded to pop it on for me. From there, I drove casually and uneasily to Manchester, figuring to get a new tire at the Wal-Mart just off exit 114.

Apparently, that Wal-Mart thinks people who drive on 225/60/17 tires are evil, 'cause they had none, wasting 15 minutes of my time. Directed to a Goodyear three miles down the road, I tried it next. What do you know, no 225/60/17. Great. Things are really going my way! At this point I was all, "Just tie on four beach balls if it will get me to Jackson tonight!"

We decided to go with an approximate match, 225/55/17 tires. Instead of getting one replacement tire, I decided it would be easier to get all four replaced and feel perfectly safe about transporting my wonderful fiancee the next five days, no matter how much it cost. (Ye gad, SUV tires are expensive!)

The timeline (all times eastern): Tire explodes about 2:20. Wrecker arrives at 3:50. Get to Wal-Mart in Manchester about 4:40. Get to Goodyear about 5. Gas up, on the interstate with four new tires at 5:50. In Jackson and finally collapse into my dearest Valerie's warm embrace at 8:45.

Hey, at least I got those new tires I'd been putting off for six months, am I right? Now, about that 60,000 mile service ...

I'll be out of pocket until Sunday or even Monday, as tomorrow night I'm staying in Jackson since Thursday we're heading to St. Louis as soon as possible as Val gets off work. We're driving back to Jackson on Sunday, but I may not go back to Atlanta until time for work Monday afternoon.