Friday, November 27, 2015

Southern Thanksgiving

Friday, November 20, 2015

When Good Tools Go Bad

As you no doubt know, I love tools.  I've posted this here several times.  I like having tools around, I like using them, I like the way they help me.  Some tools are, of course, better than others.  By better, I mean of course, more universal. Most tool guys are always on the lookout for that one tool that can do more than just cut open a bag of cement. So when I find a tool that does that and so much more, it becomes my 'go-to-tool' (or go-tool.)

See that tool up there?  For a long long time, it's been my go-tool for the honey-do projects and working around the house.  It's more than universal.  You can't see it, but in addition to the knife blade and alligator grip nose, it's got a wire cutter and stripper, 2 standard flat-head screw drivers, a phillips screw driver, an awl, a can-opener, bottle opener and a fish descaler and hook remover (because you never know when you're going to catch a fish while you're hanging drywall.) It also came with a set of special bits and a nut driver in a special belt pouch.  The whole thing is not much heavier than my usual pocket knife I carry to work, but made so much better.

And it recently broke. (Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth!)

I can't begin to tell you about it. I was lost all weekend, reaching for my go-tool and realizing that I couldn't use it as it was broken.  Then I'd look at it and fiddle with it and try to figure out how to fix it. Maybe if I found the part it needs online and then find out that, no, the parts are not available anywhere and by then I've totally forgotten the project I was working on.

Other than losing the go-tool, the problem now comes in finding a suitable replacement.  This one was gift, from my wife.  Now I will have to start trolling the online stores, big box hardware stores and even yard sales for just the right tool to become the new go-tool in my tool box arsenal. 

I suppose that it's really not so bad as I will get to spend time in the big hardware store comparing multi-tools to replace it. I can hear my wife's eyes rolling from here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thank you, Joe Biden!

Ok, first the facts.  Vice President Joe Biden  (Pronounced like Bye Bye) was in Nashville this last Thursday to deliver the keynote address at the National League of Cities conference. He was here for several days and stayed at the hotel right downtown.  I like Biden. A damn sight more than I like his boss, but let's not get into that.  

Ok, so Biden was in town. His speech is completed and he's headed to the airport.  Have you ever had the Pres or Vice Pres in your city headed to the airport?  It works like this:

First, the Secret Service (who are none too secret if you ask me) put together an unknown path from the aforementioned hotel to the additionally aforementioned airport.  Just before Mr. VP is ready to go, they lock down the chosen path by blocking any and all traffic into this corridor. Into the limo, big black SUVs pull out and it's off to the airport. The corridor is not unblocked until the entire entourage is several minutes past. When they are sure they won't need to return to the point of origin, they re-open the streets.

Simple, yes?  Yes.  

What this means if you've never experienced it, is that during frakking rush hour, none of the major streets are available to get home! It means that all the traffic that regularly uses these roads (4 lane streets, 8 lane highways and the like) is trying desperately to find some way to get home. It means plenty of angry drivers driving on routes they don't want to be on, driving bumper to bumper, stop and go. And the result: it took my bus about 2 and a half hours to complete a route it usually takes only 30 minutes to complete!  

Thanks, Joe!

There is only one major advantage to this and it's only for those of us to take the bus or ride in ride share.  We have time to read.  I may have been ravenous when I got home to my dried out dinner (Biden's fault, not the wife...) but I had time to finish a book I started only that morning.  So, again, Thanks, Joe!

But yeah, the dinner was dry and for that, yeah, Thanks again, Joe.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Ubiquitous Southern White Suit

Boss Hogg wore one.  Colonel Sanders wore one.  Don Johnson wore one in both Miami Vice and Django Unchained.  Though Crockett didn't really embody the typical Southern Gentleman, the white suit (with either a black string tie or white bow tie) has always been used to denote a man of Southern class, gentility, and affluence.

But Why?  That's the question, why do Southern men get remembered for wearing white suits?

Looking around the Internet, someone mentioned that a white suit would be cooler and in the south this was important in the southern heat.  Yes, white clothing is, indeed, cooler, but not really that cool when you're wearing a shirt, a 3 piece suit and a tie.  In addition, the Caribbean is also known for hot weather and their suit of choice is made of Seersucker.  (It breathes, you see...) Cuba is also known for white suits, but this doesn't explain how it came to be associated with the affluent Southern Gentleman.

My research found a scan of an old cigar box label which shows an old southern plantation owner in all white thus proving that this is not some TV Trope trotted out for quick character identification. But I was stuck on the why..

Until, that is, I came upon a thread from a few years back where people were talking about the white suit and what it meant and most importantly WHY. You can imagine how hard it is to keep a white suit looking clean and white, especially back in the days of horses and carriages. Not only that, but suits back then were washable as they had no dry cleaning (or worsted wool.) So, it's the simple fact that someone is WEARING a white suit that says it all.  It says blatantly, "I have the resources at home to keep the suit looking its best!" This means one must be affluent enough to afford said constant cleaning as well as 2 if not 3 or 4 of these white suits to wear and impress the assembled.

So, if I'm going to be a true southerner, a true Gentleman of the South, I guess I had better get me a white suit. And, a black string tie.
Oh, and fried chicken.  Lots of fried chicken.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Southern Idioms: Finer Than Frog HAIR

Walking down the street the other day I heard a nifty southern phrase when one guy asked another how he was doing.  "Finer than frog hair!" was the reply.  I knew at that moment that I would be adding it to this blog at one time or another. So here it is. 

Now, before I decided to do this, I did a little online research hoping to learn some more on this most interesting phrase, its origins, its etymology and such.  What I learned is that though most online sources can express what the phrase means, most have no idea where it started nor when. And all of the sites I visited missed the pun entirely. (As for origins, one site did mention that it must have come from the south, so I'll go with that.)

What amazes me is that all of the sites gave essentially the same information or misinformation. They state that the fact that frog hair is not existent means that something is good. (What?)  Example: "Since frogs do not have hair, something that is "finer than frog hair" means something that is as thin/fine/excellent as possible." I don't get how something thin is excellent.  Witness, for example, thin paper is not as good as thicker linen paper. To say something is excellent merely because it is thin (or nonexistent) is a misnomer. In this way, the meaning of the phrase (and the joke) is lost.

That's right, the joke.  In every example I found none of them went into the fact that the phrase makes use of a pun in the form of a homophone using just about every single definition of the word 'fine.'

  • Fine as to make or become thinner.
  • Fine as an adverb, meaning in a satisfactory or pleasing manner; very well.
  • Fine as in very small particles found in mining, milling, etc.
  • Fine to describe a thread, filament, or person's (or a frog's) hair as thin.
  • Fine as of high quality.
So, the next time someone asks how you are, tell them you're 'finer than frog hair' and then laugh loud and long at your terrific pun. One of the most incredible puns of all time, and its southern in origin...or at least I'm going to say that.  

So, there you are.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wipers On, No Rain

Well, it's that time of year again, the fall.  Here in the South that means the leaves are falling off the trees and the Halloween decorations are being put up.  It also means that the nights are getting cooler and that means one of my really big pet peeves about the South. 

There is really no name for it, so let's just call it excess moisture. It works like this.  It's humid.  Very humid.  The temperature drops down, down, down until it reaches the 'dew point.'  This is the temperature at which the moisture in the air condenses enough to form water droplets on anything left outdoors.  Anything, but most importantly, the car.  

So, what happens is that it's a clear sky and there I am driving down the road with the wipers on full blast because once they wipe off the drops, the 'dew point' works with the high humidity and bingo, you got more moisture on the window blocking your vision. But worse than that, the side windows are opaque with moisture and watching for traffic becomes an exercise in tension. It. Drives. Me. Crazy! (Drives.  Get it? Get it?)

Ok, so recently, I found an amazing cure to this problem, a most Southern problem, to be sure and perhaps a most Southern solution.  Simply, I carry a terry cloth towel with me in the car.  There it is in the pic.  It's dirty (don't judge me) but it does the job.  Y'see, when I come out and discover it's cold and moist on the car, I take out the towel, and run it over the windows really quick, especially the sides.  I have no idea why this works, but it does.  I use the wipers on the windshield and run the towel all around the car.  Result: Driving to work (ok, just to the bus) with a 360° view.  AND the windows on the side don't refog the way the windshield does.  

I hang the towel on the steering wheel so it dries while I am gone and it's perfectly dry by the time I get off work.  Oh and of course I will make sure the towel gets washed regularly.  

So, there it is, my solution.  Don't 'tarry' and get  be sure to get yourself a 'cloth' for the windows.  (Tarry...Cloth...Get it? Get it? Ya did? Good.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Southern Festival of Books

Friday I went out at lunch to take a walk.  I walk the same route every day and as I rounded the corner that takes me past the big plaza, I noted all kinds of tents and people milling about.  Detouring up into the plaza, I discovered it was the annual Southern Festival of Books!  

Every year, the Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville brings together publishers, authors and fans who enjoy the written word.  Forsaking my walk, I couldn't help but meander through the stacks of new books (mmmm new book smell!) and it took every thing I had not to purchase one or two.  
As anyone who has read this blog knows, I love to read.  I carry a couple of hundred books with me packed into my electronic reader.  (No brand names, please.) But, in truth, I really do miss the feel, the weight and yes, the smell of a newly opened book. To hear that spine creak knowing that you're delving into some new realm, with new friends or maybe old....a wonderful experience. 

The Southern Festival of Books has been around Nashville for 27 years. That's longer than I've been in Nashville. It is free and open to the public, no registration and is, basically, a celebration of the written word.  Writers, publishers, sellers, collectors and book enthusiasts collect in Nashville every year to share their love of books.  

Maybe next year I'll find out about the Festival of Books in time to get to some of the activities.  In the meantime, I can enjoy my photos and dream.  Oh, and I"ll download a couple of new books I found.