Michael wanted to eat at Outback for his birthday, so we did.  We had a nice time there at our local Wilmington Outback Steakhouse.  Good food, good service.  It was a decent-sized group: me, Amanda and Milly; his parents, Karen and Phil; his grandparents Peggy and Earl Lemons; uncle/aunt/cousins Barry, Anna, Hannah and Kirsten Frazelle; then of course Michael and his girlfriend, Jenn Greenawalt.  I love Outback, so I had been looking forward to this all week.

After dinner everyone came back to our house to hang out and let Michael open his presents.  One of them was a Rio Grande game called Power Grid.  I’d looked at it before myself and was intrigued by it, but the box says it takes about two hours to play, which means it would probably be three hours for first-time players who have to set everything up and learn the rules.

Everybody but Michael and Jenn left eventually.  Milly got to stay up until a little past 9:00, which is pretty late for her.  Amanda excused herself, apologizing and saying that she wasn’t feeling great and went to bed.  That left Michael, Jenn and me to play a game of Carcassonne.  Amanda and I had bought it for him, but he’d already taken his box out to his car so we played ours.  I won.

That was tonight.  We started off the day as we often start out days in which Karen, Amanda’s mom, spent the previous night at our house and that was by going to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  On the way there Karen named the butterfly doll that my cousin David gave her for Christmas Benny the Butterfly and made up a song that goes something like this (thought it varied slightly just about every time):

I am Benny the Butterfly
I can fly way up high
I can fly up to the sky
Got to go now so good-bye!

Or something like that.  Unfortunately, Milly loved it.  In fact, she loved it so much that after we got home and I was putting her down for a nap while she held “Benny” she started sort of singing it herself.  She had the tune a little and sort of said “sky” but you could definitely tell that’s what she was doing.  She was even raising the butterfly up at the right times.

Anyway, breakfast was good.

When we got to Cracker Barrel it was sleeting some, or maybe it was sleeting afterwards.  Either way, during the recent freezing weather, the rubber part of the wiper blade on the driver side of the Jetta had become unattached, making it nearly worthless.  Since we were near an Advance Auto Parts store, I stopped us at one to pick up some new blades.  They had a buy one get one half off thing going on and the passenger blade was a little streaky too, so I bought one of each.  They only had the driver side at the store there though, but they let me buy both and get the discount there and told me I could pick up the passenger side one at the other store about a mile down the road, so I did that.

The sleet, by the way, came down in small balls that looked almost like Styrofoam.  It collected up in some places and almost looked like fake snow.

Since we were nearish the mall after getting the new wiper blades, and Karen was planning on getting Michael Settlers of Catan for his birthday as well, we decided to drive on over to Cape Fear Games.  Unfortunately, they were closed for another hour or so, so we drove to Barnes & Noble, but they didn’t have a regular version of Catan.

At that point Milly was getting tired, so we went back home.  I took Milly inside and put her down for her nap and Karen and Amanda went back out to get Michael his game.  They did some other shopping too.  I was pretty tired, so I also took a nap.  Before my nap though, I was reading some on my iPhone.  I had downloaded a bunch of free classic novels a while back and had recently started on Dracula, which I’ve been enjoying.

I got up around 3:00 when Milly was fussing.  Amanda was downstairs putting icing on cupcakes and Karen had gone back out or something, so I took care of Milly for a bit while watching Clemson take on Maryland.  Maryland eventually won.  I think it was 79-77.

In other basketball news, Syracuse lost to Villanova and Kansas lost to Texas, ending the longest current home winning streak in the nation.  They had won 69 straight games at Allen Field House in almost four years.  That leaves just two teams undefeated: Ohio State and San Diego State.

In basketball news I care more about, Duke beat Wake Forest 83-59.  That might sound like a pretty good margin of victory, but most people were expecting a total domination because the Deacs are just plain terrible this season.  Wake lead for a few possessions in the first half and trailed by nine at the half.

I didn’t get to watch the whole thing live because it was on until about 6:00 and that was the time we had our reservation for Outback, but I was able to watch a good bit of it there and later on I watched everything after the time I left the house again.  The most intriguing part was a technical foul Wake got.  One of the Wake guys landed on Tyler Thornton and pushed off him to get up.  Thornton could clearly be seen saying, “Hey man!”  Kyle Singler then came over to help Thornton up.  There was some very slight contact and the Duke players started walking away when Mason Plumlee, who had come over, was shoved in the back by a guy a full head shorter.  I think Seth Curry said something to that guy, but by then Nolan Smith was pulling him away.  There was a little jawing, but nothing really aside from any of that.

Wake was rightfully assessed a technical for the shove.  The announcers, as I learned when I watched it later, were idiots about the whole thing.  Len Elmore (go figure) said Wake was right to play chippy and show they weren’t afraid of Duke.  He also threw out something about a double technical.  I didn’t hear any of that at Outback and the closed captioning was, I guess, too slow to keep track of all of the conversation.

Speaking of closed captioning, they should have people who at least know the players do such things.  Apparently Duke has two players I’ve never heard of: Nathan Plumlee and Tyree Irving.

Anyway, the game was never in doubt and Duke won comfortably, even beating the Vegas spread, but fans (both Duke and Wake) were expecting more of a blowout than it was.  The highlight of the game was Ryan Kelly, who did not miss a shot or a free throw and had 20 points.  Kyle Singler chipped in with 24 and, despite a frigid first half, Nolan Smith had 19.

Zach Dotsey