Friday, April 14, 2017

Wax on, Wax Off

When you think of visiting Nashville, you probably don't think of wax figures.  You probably think of finding Marv and giving him a big hug or a hearty handshake.  Yes, most do.  But in truth, Nashville has just become home to the newest of attractions, one of only 22 in the entire world, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.  Joining the ranks of cities like Berlin, Bejing, London and Hollywood, Madame Tussaud's Nashville location is set to open TODAY.  

But there's a catch, so to speak. 

It will be Madame Tussauds’ first music themed attraction and the only location in Tennessee. This group & family-friendly attraction will provide an interactive experience, where you will be able to touch, see, feel and photograph the figures. (Within reason of course.)

Step into immersive iconic scenes and musical performances that are unique to Madame Tussauds Nashville. Take a musical journey from past to present, in this one-of-a-kind, music themed Madame Tussauds. Celebrate your favorite country, rock, jazz, and blues artists in brilliantly themed interactive settings.

So there you have it. A great new reason to visit the South, and Opry Mills Mall.  Like you needed a reason before.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Thank You For Being a Friend

When I was a kid, I had a lot of friends. As I grew, my friends grew with me, and as I changed from High school to college, I garnered more friends; and lost a few along the way.  That's  how friendship works. Proximity, interests, even work can give us new friends both permanent or temporary.  

When I came to the South, I had no friends living here.  I had to move from Colorado to find work. Colorado was in the midst of the 'oil crisis' and there were guys who had PhDs in Oil Engineering looking for the same jobs I was and it was getting harder and harder to cope. Nashville welcomed me. That's the south.  They accept and bond without question.  This is all part of that 'laid' back attitude that the south is known for.  All the more shocking when things go differently.

More than just the city; the people accepted me. I had new friends and new family almost from day one. People talk to you in the grocery line as if you've known them all your life. I know I go on and on about the Good Ol' Boys and the Good Ol' Boy Network, but without the friends I've made, the South would have been bleak indeed.

Everyone who reads this blog knows of my neighbor Bubba.  Neighbor Bubba (not to be confused with Brother Bubba) is not an actual person, but more a writer's amalgam of a lot of southern men I have known and admired.   One of these men whom I have had as an honest to goodness neighbor has recently moved from my neighborhood.  And, oddly, the friendship seems to have moved with him.

Our relationship wasn't too deep, but we spent many a long hour in projects and conversation along the way.  The man was a veritable fount of knowledge when it came to home repair and the use of power tools and a quick sense of humor that kept the work times lighter.  I miss that information as much as I miss the camaraderie we had while working. Even my wife enjoyed his jokes and easy going manner.

Without him, the Everlasting Living Room Project would not have been as easy.  He was there to help dismantle the fireplace.  Later, his expertise and knowledge were invaluable in getting the joists installed properly and to code.

So, now what.  Now, I guess I have to go and make  friends with those new folks that just moved in down the street and hope they know how to swing a hammer. I just hope they ain't nawtheners...

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Plastic Project - Part II

With the final steps to the Everlasting Living Room Project behind me, I've been looking at my cluttered patio (staging area for the work in the living room) and decided to finally do something about it.  The Plastic Project leaped forward as I gathered all my plastic containers and headed out to do battle.  
As I sorted and cleaned, I discovered something which put the Plastic Project into a Right Turn.  Mainly, once you put something into an opaque container, it's important to label said container. But this also means keeping the label facing out in storage. But this can cause a problem if you have many odd containers and labels fall off.  Alas, my collection of plastic isn't all that uniform. 
In addition, many items I needed to store were purchased in plastic containers themselves.  It seemed odd to move them from one plastic container to another, especially since these are labeled AND see through. Those nifty plastic boxes lock beautifully and you can toss them around without loosing any. What I needed is a way to store many of these boxes for easy access later.  Stacking them on the shelf is just asking for some squirrel to knock them off! (Yes, my shed is a known rave location for late night crazy squirrels.)
So I decided to concentrate on those things which came in cardboard boxes and which don't take much abuse.  It's not like I play catch with these, but after a week of use (See Everlasting Living Room Project Posts) and then storage in the not-so-humidity-proof shed, I can pick up a box of nails and either the bottom just falls out or the glue which was holding the box together gives way. Result: Nails everywhere, cursing and where's-the-frakking-broom-when-you-need-it grumbling. 
Then I came across this in a thrift store.  This is a nail/screw sorter and is two sided. It's not something I would have purchased outright at the hardware store (I'm cheap, what can I say...) I can take all my nails and screws that are loose and put them in one place AND it has a nifty sealing top.  I have since tossed out my small plastic containers in favor of these.  (Ok, not completely, there are some items which beg for their own little plastic container.  I use small Rx bottles for such things as jig saw blades and razor blades as they can be stored in a drawer and protect my fingers when I'm rummaging for other things.) 
Finally, the big bins.  There are many things like tools or sandpaper or paint brushes which can be grouped together and stored for when they are needed.  I use the big over sized bins you see above to group them and then write on the edge what's inside.  These bins then can sit on a shelf or can even be stacked with lesser needed things on the bottom and things I use a lot on top.
Empty containers waiting use on the patio.

There is a side note to the plastic project which I feel needs mention, for all those who feel that plastic is the godsend it appears to be.  Not all plastic is weather proof.  Yeah, I hear you scratching your head and saying "ol marv musta been into the wacky weed again.

Many plastics cannot take the year to year wear of weather.  Witness my own experience.  Wife's car runs out of wiper fluid. I head to the carport where I keep a jug of the stuff.  I pick up the jug which has been stored for a long long time.  Walking to the car, I grab the top and give it a mighty twist, bracing my thumb against the side as I expect the top will be a bit stuck.

You can imagine my surprise when the entire top in one hand and the handle of the jug in the other hand breaks off from the bottom and nearly a gallon of wiper fluid splashes across my shoes as the bottom half of the jug disintegrates when it hits the ground.  So, lesson learned? Check your plastics regularly for viability. Press on the sides and listen for cracking. Replace immediately if it does.Or just watch for cracks like this one:
Cracks appear from repeated hot-cold-hot again weather.

I am replacing a few of these today (if only I had thought of this before the Wiper Fluid Incident!) and I'm also hoping that storage in the shed, out of the effects of weather, will make them last a bit longer. The wiper fluid was kept in the car port where it was less shielded from the weather.

The Plastic Project has become a big success so long as I continue to keep the plastics in good condition. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Early even for the Redbuds, Bud.

Of all the plants and flowers you find in the South, none is as noticeable than the Redbud. Yeah, I know, catchy name, especially when you find out that the RedBud has - get this - RED BUDS. It's mind boggling, isn't it? Though not specifically Southern in origin or locale, the Redbud is a rather iconic tree due to the fact that it is one of the first trees to show its buds - its 'red buds' come springtime. The Redbud or Cercis canadensis is a large deciduous shrub or small tree, native to eastern North America from southern Ontario, Canada south to northern Florida but which can thrive as far west as California. It is the state tree of Oklahoma.

They are found all over the south and like Dogwoods, show up as the snows melt and the rains lessen and spring arrives. Which brings me to my topic of the day. Spring and Redbuds. You see, the weather this year has been so unpredictable that meteorologists are keeping a 'go bag' in the trunk of their car. More than unpredictable, the weather has been so unseasonable as to be almost unbelievable. Record highs even in places such as Denver, to places like Nashville, where usually we'd have had at least one if not two light snows by this time each year. This year, no snow at all!

And that means the trees are a-buddin and the Redbud heralds this weather change by popping out in all its glory. The Redbud you see up there is right across the street from my house.  The color is glorious and all I can do is wonder what's going to happen should Mother Nature wake up and bring us our usual sow and ice storms. Pink Snow is my guess.  

I suppose I should be more worried about the number of spiders and bugs under the house.  Time for a trip to the big hardware store. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

What's A Fella To Do?

This is a story that happened just the other day.  I write about it to help ease my frustration as well as to prove that things happen here in the South like they happen all over.
Amazing lifelike simulation!

It was early Wednesday morning and I was getting off the bus.  It's dark out, but downtown has it's own lights and stores waking up help throw light on the near deserted sidewalks.  I walked in the predawn light down one street and turned the corner into another, passing by the crazy old homeless lady that usually curses at me and was just about to the building where I work when I heard a noise. There are lots of noises downtown usually what with traffic and delivery trucks unloading, but in this early morning hour it was just me and the homeless lady so I stopped and turned around wondering what it was that had caught my attention.  

When I found when I turn around was a couple across the street and down a ways beside TPAC. You can see my amazingly lifelike simulation above. . The woman had her back to the wall and the man was standing in front of her and he had his face in front of her and he was really angry, getting loud and then soft.  I really didn't catch the gist of the conversation, but suffice to say that he was angry and she was getting more than her share of the outcome of that anger. 

He kept yelling at her and keeping her from going anywhere by putting his arms up and his hands on the wall on either side of her. I stood there for what seemed like a long time but was probably only about five minutes watching, unsure of what to do, or whether I should do anything.  He would yell at her and move around a bit, yell at her and then move a bit, getting more and more agitated.  I glanced down the street at one point and caught the eye of the crazy homeless lady and she lifted her arms in a 'what-can-you-do' sort of gesture. I gestured the same in return.  What do you know, me and the crazy old homeless lady actually having a conversation...

I'm not sure what caused the end of the conversation, which from where I was standing, was pretty much one-sided, but they finally picked up their stuff and moved on and I went on into work, still unsure if I should have called the cops or not. 

So, morning in the South, just like most places only with entertainment. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

What's a Little Change Between Friends

As I wander around the vast Southern Landscape (yes, I'm poetic today - get over it.) there are so many things that I do so love and love to spout off about, but this week, I'm going to delve into a little offhand something that sort of peaks my interest.

Backstory [no popcorn needed]:  I ride the bus to work.  Regular readers know this, but it's important to the story so I thought I'd reiterate it yet again. Now, I use a bus pass provided by the state (thanks, governor!) It's hard plastic like a credit card and allows me two uses a day, on days I work of course.  Most other people either pay with cash or they buy electronic cards like the ones you see above. They are printed on card stock paper and you can buy a package of rides, or just one or two and have them all on one card.  People who pay cash and don't have exact change, receive their change on one of these cards.

There's where this all comes together.

Just the other day, as I got on the bus to go home, I looked to my left and there on the seat beside me were TWO of these change cards.  30 cents each. I find these every so often, and each time I do, I wonder at our current state of affairs in which 30 cents can be so casually tossed away.  I mean, if these folks had a quarter and a nickel in their hand, would they toss it out so easily?   Probably not. But a card with 30 cents, spend- able only on a bus ride?  Yeah, toss it aside.  But wait...suppose you ride the bus regularly, and may need that 30 cents?  Now we're talking oddness of the highest order. 

It's ok for me, though.  Now, I know what you're thinking, if I have a bus pass, why pick these up?  The bus driver goes through the bus every day and is mandated to pick up anything left and either a) toss it in the trash or b) take to lost and found.  Cards such as those above fall into the 'A' category.  So, I collect them up and keep them handy for when some one gets on the bus one day and is just a few cents short. I just pass them one of these cards.  

It's a win/win for all involved,. They get on the bus, I feel good, and the driver doesn't have to toss it out. 
All in a day work - no wait, a days RIDE - here in the South.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Crane Watch 2017

Now that the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project is completed, I've been able to open  my eyes a bit more and see Nashville.  My Home. And in looking out there, I see that Nashville is in the midst of a huge building boom.  Major buildings and complexes with big loading cranes have sprouted all over town in the last couple of years.  Just this morning, I took these pictures and highlighted all the cranes from just one window in our building, getting only 180 degrees.  (Red Arrows point out the cranes, in case you were wondering what I was up to. 
 In all, I counted 10 big cranes already at work as the sun was coming up, but that's not all.  Back in 2015, the public radio station listed these and even more. 
Here is their list with descriptions. 
Demonbreun and 12th Ave. S:
This entryway into the Gulch is the home of the 1201 Demonbreun project, a 15-story; 300,000 square foot office and retail space. Many of these spaces have already been leased by prominent organizations such as CapStar Bank and Eakin Partners.

9th and Clark Street:
This space, near the Korean Veterans traffic circle and Cummins Station, is the site of construction for the Westin Nashville Hotel, a 27-story hotel with 452 rooms and a pool and bar on the roof. The hotel is set to open in 2016.

Music Row Traffic Circle:
Among a slew of other just-finished apartment buildings in this area is the continuing construction on the 18-story Element Music Row Apartments. Its website describes these apartments as "palatial," "unparalleled," and very technology-friendly.

Divison and 21st:
This site is home to the Aertson Midtown apartments and retail space, across 21st Avenue from the Vanderbilt law school. The building will compare to the visible semi-circle Adelicia apartments in height and luxury, making it only the second high-rise building in the Midtown area - for now.

Demonbreun and 3rd:
This site is going to be the SoBro apartment tower, just one of Tony Giarratana's massive Nashville developments. The building will have 32 stories, topped with a rooftop pool and fitness center, as well as a public parking garage.

The Gulch, between 11th and 12th:
This lot, surrounded by 11th, 12th, and Pine Sreet, is the site for the Thompson Hotel, set to open in 2016. This hotel will be 12 stories high with underground parking. The Thompson will be only the third hotel in the Gulch, along with the boutique 404 Hotel and the Fairfield Suites.

Suites 35, 37, 39, and 41 Music Square East:
This will be the last large-scale construction project on Music Row for the next year, due to protest by local preservationists. The four sites will be consolidated as the SESAC offices, which currently has two buildings on Music Row.

Charlotte and 11th:
This terminal section of the Gulch is set to be a mixed-use project called Capitol View, which includes a 5-story apartment building, retail, and a grocery store. The full area of the project is around 30 acres, and could take over 5 years to complete.

Charlotte and 28th:
In this location, the beginnings of the OneC1ty project lie within the construction site that will eventually become over one million square feet of multi-use property. The project's goal is to create a cohesive community that brings retail, medicine, and living spaces all into one easily-accessible sphere.

Charlotte and 40th: This is yet another site on Charlotte Pike. Although relatively inconspicuous now, this site will become the Hill Center at Sylvan Heights, built by H.G. Hill Realty Co. The project is expected to be done by 2016, covering eight acres with residential apartments and 26,000 square feet of retail.

Vanderbilt University, 25th Ave.: Although not for commercial development, even Vanderbilt is bringing in the heavy guns for construction. This site is to become a new Engineering and Science building, and will partially cover Olin Hall - the archaic seventies-style engineering building behind it.

5th Ave. and Jefferson:
Just north of the new Sounds stadium, the Carillon apartments, set to be opening in early 2016, have begun construction. The property will ultimately contain 360 high-end apartments within the 3.9-acre parcel of land in between these two streets.

Downtown on Jackson St.:
First Tennessee Park is the new home to the Nashville Sounds, whose stadium was previously located along Chestnut Street. The stadium returns to the area where the Sulpher Dell Park once stood. The cranes are constructing a parking garage to accommodate large influxes of people to the area during game times.

Germantown, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue:
Broadstone Germantown is a new five-story apartment complex being constructed between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and Madison and Jefferson Streets. This view displays the parking garage, and there is also space for a restaurant on the first floor. It is located only a short walk from First Tennessee Park. Not one, not two, but six cranes dot the horizon.

By my figuring most of these are not visible in the photos I took this morning. Either the projects were completed, or they are farther north, south or east and as such,  out of view.

I'm not really sure what this means for the future, but I know it makes getting around in my 58' limo a study in patience.