Monday, December 28, 2009

New Years in the New 'Old' South

New Years in the South is different than anywhere else. They do things differently than the rest of the country. Mainly it's in the way that they treat family, which if you know Suthunaz, their family is anyone they know. It's that 'extended family' thing that's goin' on. New years is as much a time for family (EXTENDED family) than anytime else. Oh sure, you can go out and get a nice dinner and then a show with just about any type of live entertainment you want. Country, Punk Rock, Classic Rock - Nashville even has its own Coyote Ugly! Now that's a way to celebrate!

Growing up, I remember watching Dick Clark on TV and drinking sparkling Grape Juice out of paper cups. When I got to be an adult, my celebration changed to a night out on the town and good champagne in glass flutes. When I got to Nashville, I attended one of these big New Years Extended Family Celebrations and when the big clock on the wall had struck 12 and hugs and kisses were passed out, there came a time for eating. It was here that I discovered something no one has written about in Suthun Celebrations.

A table was brought out, with steam tables and heat lamps keeping warm what we had to eat: Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread. I thought this was unusual, but everyone else dug in, so I had to ask. Seems this is a big tradition in the US South, so I happily complied.

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the coming year. The peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.

This traditional first meal of the new year can also feature collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

These "good luck" traditions date back to the American Civil War better known in these parts as the War of Northern Aggression. Union troops, especially in areas targeted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they couldn't carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and field corn suitable only for animal feed, and didn't steal or destroy these humble foods. It was these 'leftovers' that gave rise to the traditions we see today.

Every day I live here, I love the south more.
Happy New Year to you all (or it is Y'all...I can never tell) Oh and save me some Cornbread and Black Eyed Peas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Decorations Suthun Style

Tis the season to be Jolly, tis the season to hang Holly, or, in the case of my Suthun friends, other more interesting decorations seem in order. Take, as a starter, this great Christmas Tree....made out of standard 55 Gallon drums.

Suthunas make do. They see the need and fill in. Can't afford a tree or maybe you want something a bit different this year? Then make do with what you have a 10 foot step ladder.

No outdoor decorations handy? Then fill in with something else red. Say a volkswagon Bug...

(One really has to marvel at the feat of engineering which put that VW Bug up on that wire. )

Monday, December 14, 2009

Suthunuz and Snow

When I first moved to the South, I had visions of Thanksgiving in sandals, outdoor barbecues on Christmas and basically spending all my time in short sleeved Hawaiian Shirts. I never knew it got so cold here! The first time I stepped out of the door and found a light dusting of snow, I thought I was having a flashback.

Yes, Nashville gets snow, COLD snow. When I left Colorado, I gave away my wool lined snow boots, my down filled parka and my heavy ski gloves and here I am now freezing my heiny off. (And I haven't got a lot of heiny to lose!) Yet another part of living in the south which I had to learn to love.

In Colorado when it snows you get this beautiful light powder. When it snows in the south, it gets ICY. The snow is wetter here and under that snow can be a sheet of solid ice that will knock you on your aforementioned heiny! (Again, not fun, very little heiny to land upon, and ouch!) The snowflakes are so heavy they don't glide softly down to the ground, they drop to the ground like soft hail, and can nearly knock you off your feet with the impact.

Now, if the weather is going to be bad, whether in Colorado or Nashville, you don't want to be on the roads, so it's a good idea to stock up on some comfort food before it hits, maybe some snacks, and of course, some movies. So, the wife and I head out to the store only to find that EVERYONE is at the store! But the only thing they are buying is Milk and Bread. That's it, just bread and milk. Seriously. Grocery Carts full of bread and milk. Really. Right after the announcement that the snow is coming the stores fill up, people buying 3 and 4 gallons of milk and matching bread. It's like some sort of apocalyptic (or is it apoplectic?) memo of which I was not privy.

Yet, it gets stranger. I turned on the TV that first fall and was watching the weather when I heard them say that the prediction for the next day was for snow. At the same time, they began listing those schools who would be closed. Did you catch that? They were closing the schools in anticipation of snow! When I was a kid in Colorado, snow would have had to pile up and cover the capital rotunda before they even CONSIDERED closing schools, and even then it was a coin toss. I was in awe of these suthunaz.

At the time my brother (Bubba) had just started teaching high school in Denver, so I had to call him and tell him all about it. He thought I was joking. It became a yearly tradition for me to call him the first time this happened each year. Every year he laughed. (He laughs at me a lot, but I'm sure it's just because he's so jolly...maybe.)

I have learned over the years that Nashville had a very bad ICE storm the winter before I arrived in Nashville. The storm came across so quickly and so heavily during the day that students ended up stranded in the schools overnight because the buses couldn't drive on the ice shrouded roads. The school district took it on the chin and made the decision to close the schools when the weather report looked bad. Can't blame them. (My kids had nightmares of school during the day. Can you imagine being told that they had to SLEEP there overnight?)

The only problem now is that Bubba has retired from teaching and when I call him about the schools being closed, he really doesn't care. He still laughs though. Go figure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Suthun Ingenuity

One of the things which makes being a Suthunah so exciting is that Suthunahs are untouched by the idea of what an item is used for. They can look at anything and find yet another use for it.

Take for example, the above picture. Out at the park, wanting a hot meal, and no grate on the grill. No problem. Look around and there in the far corner, some homeless guy has left a shopping cart. Shopping carts are made of....Bingo.

What I also love about this is that they didn't take the time to cut the shopping cart apart. (And we all know they had a truck full of tools with which to do it.) They left the shopping cart intact, perhaps knowing that once they completed their rural meal, they'd release the shopping cart back into the wild to allow it to continue it's life of duty to the homeless.

I just hope they washed it real good beforehand.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Brush Pile

Though I've lived in a lot of places throughout the west (Denver, Reno, Los Angeles, Nebraska) I'd never experienced the phenomenon known as 'The Brush Pile' until I got to The South.

In front of my house, on one corner of the lot, I pile sticks and branches which have fallen out of the trees in the wind. I also put the big branches I cut off to shape my erstwhile forest. I even put Big Stumpy out there once I had beaten him into submission. There is a pile of wood like this in front of most every house in my neighborhood. It's almost like a holiday decoration which sticks around for most of the year.

Two to three times a year, usually spring and fall, city workers come by and, with a big claw, pick up the branches et al, toss them in a big truck and carry them away. It's a great service and one, as I say, which I've only seen in the South.

The Brush Pile can get pretty big too, depending on how much you cut during the year. The object is to get your branches trimmed, trees cut and overgrown brush cut down on a regular basis and into the brush pile BEFORE the city comes. Leaving the cutting to too late in the year and you end up with a brush pile which sits most of the summer or winter. I've had a couple of summers now where I've not done my cutting early enough and ended up having to mow around the pile all summer long. This leads to a rather ugly looking monster of a pile with shaggy edges and who knows what living beneath it.

One year I had a run in with a neighbor over the brush pile. She thought that the pile was hers and would throw my branches out onto the center of my lawn when I was at work. I'd come home and calmly put them back. One day I caught her dragging a big branch off the pile so I asked her what the freaking heck she thought she was doing. (I did not, however, use those exact words, as I'm sure you can imagine.)

"It's my yard!" she yelled. I pointed out that it was my property and also calmly indicated that HER property ended at the edge of her driveway. Being as we were standing right there at the edge of her driveway the visual was a hard argument. To this she responded "Well I MOW it!" (Apparently she would mow one pass along the edge of the driveway between her property and mine and for some reason she thought this granted ownership. I'm not making this up!) I was almost at a loss for words. How do you argue against that kind of logic? I said simply, "Oh, ok then, let me get my mower out and I'll do your entire yard and then I will own YOUR whole lot." Too much logic. She huffed off. Thank goodness she ended up moving not to long after that, and my new neighbor and I now share the brush pile without problems.

I'm pretty sure that it's the growth of the trees and such which causes the need for the Brush Pile. I really don't know why the city comes around like they do, but I'm sure glad they do it, otherwise I'd have one heck of a brush pile in no time flat and I have absolutely no idea what to do with it or how to get rid of it. Rats...thinking on this reminds me I've got some things to cut down.

Where's my chain saw?

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Bubba By Any Other Name

One of my favorite TV shows of days gone by is Nash Bridges. A good cop show with Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. Good writing, good characterizations blah blah blah, but why mention it here, you ask? Good question...(Thanks for keeping me on track.)

Don Johnson's character, Nash Bridges, called everyone BUBBA...ok, mostly just the perps and goons but it was one of the reasons I really liked his character. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that in real life. I tried calling a couple of people 'Bubba' here in the Mid South (within earshot of the "Nashville Bridges" I might add) and got the strangest looks. One guy even went so far as to squint me up and down and say "Who you callin' Bubba?"

Though the word 'Bubba' conjures up visions of men in camouflage and all night beer fests, Bubba is not a word to be bandied about lightly. (Especially, it would seem, by some suthun upstart such as yours truly.) Apparently, there are rules, though unwritten. Bubba is a term of endearment, a term of personal involvement, a nickname. But more than that, the USER of the endearment and/or nickname has to be ENTITLED to use it. Ergo, the connection between user and receiver must exist long before the user even considers using "bubba" to someone. Another example, I call my brother Bubba (he lives out west) and he just laughs. I expect this means that the user and receiver also must both be from or at least IN the south for the 'Bubba' to work properly. (It could also be that my brother just likes to laugh at me. I'm not ruling anything out where he's concerned.)

Bubba is a shortened version of the term Brother. Now, unlike the 70's term "Bro" or the Hawaiian version "Brah" either of which can take the place of any name to anyone (sort of like "Bud" - but not the this getting confusing?) Bubba must have that personal connection. You have to be related to a Bubba, or have known this particular Bubba for sometime to be authorized or deemed worthy of using the affectation. This may seem a bit protracted and drawn out, but I swear, suthunas seem to know this stuff from birth! The one glaring exception to this rule is that if someone is introduced to you as Bubba, or in some way tells you that they are "known as" Bubba, or even "you can call me BUBBA" you are free to use that as their name or nickname even if you have just met. Yes, it is that complicated.

No one ever bristled at Nash Bridges, looking him up and down and squinting with a "Who you callin' Bubba?" Cheech never laughed when he used it either. Perhaps that's why I liked the show. Perhaps I'm just trying too hard to blend in with the locals. Perhaps I'll phone my brother and call him Bubba one more time just to hear him laugh.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Suthun Thinking - Not All It's Cracked Up To Be.

I just heard from a local retail worker that our Suthun Giant retailer WALMART (yeah, that's right, I'm naming names) has told its employees that they should no longer refer to Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, but rather refer to it as the 'Event.' Their reasoning: It is more PC and less racist to use "Event".

Let's contemplate this a moment. Some director of internal idiocy at Walmart has determined - through many hours of study (read: woke from a long nap) to decide that the word BLACK in "Black Friday" refers, in some twisted way, to race. And further has somehow convinced others at Walmart's Suthun headquarters to agree with him. (Well, he is the director of idiocy, now isn't he?)

Back in the 80's, I worked retail. The phrase Black Friday always made us shudder in thoughts of hundreds of shoppers descending on our cash registers waving their checkbooks and semi-precious metal charge cards in an effort to buy those special gifts for the holiday season. I never NEVER...repeat NEVER EVER heard this phrase used as a reference to race. Not having worked retail for some time, I made a quick phone call to some friends who own retail stores, work retail and are seemingly on the cutting edge of retail (if that's possible) and they all agreed: No racial tones ever meant, construed, or implied. Not to be one to rest on a single fact, I then went to a couple of co-workers who are of African Descent. When I told them of the reference, they both stared at me like they were waiting for the punchline. Then they both said at almost the same time. "That's stupid..." 'Nuff said.

Black Friday carries two connotations in its name. First is a reference to Black Monday, October 29, 1929 when the US Stock Market crashed and there was a run on the banks. A similar effect can be seen in people rushing into stores on that fateful Friday (after Thanksgiving) causing the new moniker to be invoked. Second is a nod to the fact that the day after Thanksgiving supposedly the average retail business begins working in positive numbers, hence "in the Black" and not "in the Red". (I would suppose that this means that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving should be referred to as Red Wednesday...but I doubt that moniker will ever catch on as it might also be deemed too racist.) I'm not sure how any retail business could work nearly 11 months in the red, but let's not dwell on that. Let's dwell on the idiocy from Wally-World.

Black Friday has nothing to do with RACE, the song "Black Friday" by Steely Dan or the film "Black Friday" starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff (1940). I'll get up on my Suthun Soap Box for just a moment and state that a) Black Friday will ALWAYS be known as Black Friday regardless of what some dipwad paranoid peon at WalMart may think and b) it's obvious that the Director of Idiocy at Walmart is not originally from the South.

A guy like that gives 'being suthun' a bad name.
He probably drinks one of them flavored designer light beers, too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Camouflage - Suthun Denim

There's a guy I know who works in an auto repair shop who wears the same outfit every day. Camouflage Tee-Shirt, camouflage jeans and camouflage boots. Every time I see him I tell him I can't see him cuz he's so well camouflaged. He laughs.

To the uninitiated, it may appear that my friend is dressing to be always prepared in case someone should drive up and shout "Hey, I need someone to go huntin' right NOW!" to which my friend would shout "I'm your MAN!" and the rubber would burn and the deer would tremble. In truth, it's merely an accepted alternative to what folks out west have worn for hundreds of years, namely: Denim Blue. Starting in St. Louis and all parts west of there, (heck, even up Nawth!) Blue Denim is the accepted casual statement. In the hot spot restaurants of Beverly Hills and Knob Hill Denim Blue is even acceptable evening wear.

In the South, Camouflage is not only an acceptable alternative to standard blue denim but also a statement of Suthun-hood (or is it Suthun-ness? ..hmmm. suthun-itude?) It's a way of stating who-you-are and where-you're-from in a single color scheme. It can be army camo, forest leaves camo and even the new desert camo. Camo is camo. Don't leave home without it.

But Suthuners use camouflage on anything, not just clothing. You can find just about anything in this design, from clothing and gear to tools, toys, decorations, purses, wallets, keychains, and even weddings. Let's enjoy a few of these.... (Yes, I know you can't see them, they're camouflaged!)

More weddings, and proms are going camouflage. Where are they holding these proms, Yosemite Park?

Camouflage Siding. What are they trying to accomplish? Keep the deer from seeing their home? I'm afraid someone will come along and run into the side of my house cuz they couldn't see it!

I have absolutely no clever retort to this one.

Lastly, I love this, but wonder what it is really camouflaging. If camouflage is to make something 'hidden' I think this one isn't doing what it needs to do.

If you find a pic of something unusual camouflaged, send it to me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Suthun Engineering - Not as Bad as it Sounds.

Perhaps it is my new Suthun background that causes me to be so impressed by these marvels of invention. In today's economy, it's amazing to see how some suthunah can do some suthun engineering without the need for lots of money or equipment. Usually a few nails and some duck tape are enough.

Take this fine Suthun Engineer:

Need to move a cow? No need for fancy cattle hauler, or even a pick up truck. A handful of nails and some 2 x 4's and some netting and you've got yourself a cattle hauler. (I would hope that cow is smaller than average, or those shocks are better than average!)

Or even making small repairs and improvements. Here is a Suthun Engineer who needed to repair/replace a window on his van. Using a standard wood window and some expanding foam he had handy he's ready for the road. No need to trim down the foam or paint the window as this allows the average passerby to know exactly what was done to create this fine automotive specimen. (This engineer didn't even wipe off the excess foam that dribbled down the side of the van!)

Much in the same way that this is my favorite example of Suthun Engineering. It's the perfect example of what you can do with a few tools and a bit of know how. Its the suthun way to MAKE one of them new fangled big flat screen TV's.
Pohtry in Moshun, ain't it? Ok so its not in motion, but you can see how nice it looks, right? (A true suthunah will note immediately the NASCAR clock on the shelves.)

But let's see what Suthun Engineering means to the suthunah. Is this really a NEW flat screen? Let's walk around and look at the back of that wall, shall we?
Beauty. You can see true suthin engineering in this shot as the engineer didn't care that the door to this room no longer opens fully, so long as the big flat screen looked right on the other side.

I love the south. It's people like this who keep me awake on the way to work and who give character to the populace. Don't you wish YOU lived here?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Suthun Eating - The Meat and Three

They are found the world over, but most assuredly not as prevalent nor as well done as in the Southern US. I am of course speaking of the "Meat and Three". Sounds like a good name for a punk band, but it's actually a style of restaurant. Part diner, part grandma's house, the meat and three is a style of ordering where your entree (ham, pork, meatloaf, roadkill, what-have-you) is accompanied by three side dishes, usually chosen by the diner from an array of possibles like okra, collard greens and beans, but can also include such staples as mashed potatoes and gravy or even macaroni and cheese. It's a cacophony of epicurean delight! (That means lots of good food to choose from...)

You won't see any of these dishes on Iron Chef, that's for sure. This is down home country cooking. No bechemel Cream sauce, no wedges of brie cheese no hearts of palm on a bed of radicchio with a tamarind vinaigrette. No, we're talking meatloaf, pork roast, and that family favorite: Fried Chicken to name but a few. Standards. The stuff you grew up with.

A true meat and three is a diner's delight. Not only can you get your favorite entree, but you can customize the meal with the sides of your own choosing! That's better than marriage! The main thing about the Meat and Three is that you won't find them in a chain or franchise. The good ones are owned by Mom and Pop (or Grandma and Grandpop) who've been serving the same great food for longer than most of us have been able to chew.

Next time you're in the south, ask a local or better yet, ask a truck driver where the best 'Meat and Three' is located and enjoy the flavor of the south.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nashville = You can't get there from here!

I live in Nashville which most people know as "Music City" thanks to the prevalence of music, music venues and country music entertainers who live here (some of them are actually good..or so I hear). Nashville is also known as "The Athens of the South" and even sports the largest reproduction of the Parthenon anywhere in the world. You say "Athens of the South" and you envision a city of beauty, of charm and of intelligence and for the most part, that is so. What is decidedly NOT so, is the typical Suthun backward thinking that prevails in the city planning among other places.

Let's take a look at a couple of these... In this first photo, you will see a small park not far from the State Capital building. It is directly across the street from the massive new library (which is just out of sight on the left) and only 2 blocks from the state capital building. The entire park is about the size of two standard household plots and covers the end of the whole block as you can see in this pic. At the time this photo was taken (by yours truly), the city was in the middle of cutting down all the trees in the park AND removing all the well designed sitting areas!! Apparently, the wonderful original design of the park, with it's long cement seating and large shade trees had become a gathering place, not for local business people and tourists, but for the large and seemingly unwieldy homeless population. By taking away the shade and seating, the park would hopefully become less attractive to them. Amazingly, it became less attractive to the business people and tourists, too. Go figure.

Next, Exhibit #2 shows the recently demolished "Bus Sheds". The Bus sheds were nicely designed covered areas for those waiting for the city buses at the Downtown Hub. Solid steel with wagon wheel like arches, curved roofs and plenty of Plexiglas achieved an open airy feel and at the same time kept people dry. One block long The 8 "sheds" lined both sides of the 4 lane downtown street as this was the central 'hub' for the city bus lines. Recently, the new "Music City Central" bus station was opened and the 'hub' moved in, leaving the sheds to be demolished. Now, along with the sheds, the city planners have also opted to take this wonderful 4 lane street with it's wide sidewalks, and - that's right, cut it down to only TWO Lanes, and even WIDER sidewalks. Sidewalks wide enough for a marching band to practice. This street runs right in front of the big performing arts center (TPAC). On an average night of performances, cars will be parked out front and be picking up people, along with taxis and limousines. Who's idea was it to make this more difficult?

This is one of those things which defines and yet obliquely insults the Suthunah. We have so much and at the same time so little. New Highways are wide and spacious for driving interstate speeds, only to have a bottle neck where right of ways or design flaws cause more cars than needed to have to get through a 2 lane tunnel. I might expect this in a large city where 'too many planners spoil the plans', but Nashville, a city of just over half a million people, covers more square mileage than Dallas, a city of 1.2 million. With all that room, you'd expect there to be a better idea of what to do with it.

In addition, it makes me wonder if other cities across the south, in similar situations are likewise plagued with such problems, and it likewise makes me a bit afraid to travel much across my new native land...The South.

I suppose it's also one of those little idiosyncrasies that endear us to this southern life, that cause us to look past the little irritations and see the great city. Let me squint up a bit here...Oh yeah, now I see it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Suthunaz and Toilets - they 'GO' together...

After last weeks discussion of the position of the toilet seat, I thought I'd take a more lighthearted look at how Suthunaz look at that most private of functions. Here's a good ol' boy relaxing on the throne.
There are a few aspects of this picture which make it unique suthun. First, of course, is the fact that this is not an "Indoor Privy", but rather than being down the path a bit, it's right there next to the door to the house. Note also there is a door handle next to the door, but no door to speak of. How handy! Next, is the obvious placement of the 'refill' beer both to his left and to his right. I won't include the fact that this is a trailer - uh, oh, mobile home.., I figure that's a given.

But most importantly, is the central subject. Where to begin? No shirt, but he was wearing pants. He was wearing pants, but he's wearing flip flops. At least he's wearing underwear! (thank god!) He's talking on a wireless telephone so we could even say that he's "multi-tasking". (How high tech!)

But most importantly is the fact that if you look close, you can see that there is no plumbing attached. No, I don' think that there is a hole under that toilet, I'm pretty sure that this guy had this toilet sitting on his porch, and a friend said "Hey, Bubba, you know what y'ought'n do?" To which our subject replied, "Whut?" "You oughta get yer picher made on that there toilet HAW HAW HAW!"

You never finish a statement like that with a HAW HAW HAW, else it becomes a dare. Our subject poses on the porcelain and history is caught in a single click of the camera. It may also explain the fact that there are two beers, but of different brands. One for Bubba, and the other for the erstwhile photographer.

Here are a few more uniquely suthun toilet shots.
Ah, what form, what style and grace!

Same game, different player?
The tongue makes this an additional interest.. as in "Just what IS he licking off his chin?"

I won't go there....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Toilet Seat Conspiracy

The position of the Toilet seat has been the subject of more jokes, discussion and I wager, even a few divorces than I could probably want to name. A recent movie I watched even used it as a clue to the location of the killer. The toilet seat. Up or Down? (In the movie, the UP Toilet seat proved that a man had been in the room recently.) In fact, this blog garnered a wonderful argument with my wife when I first posted this diatribe, but a rewrite may help. So, let's see...

Who's in charge of this whole problem? Not the women, that's for sure (are you reading the sarcasm in that?) In essence, yes, the women as a whole ARE to blame, for creating - or at least propagating - the Conspiracy itself. The Toilet Seat Conspiracy Theory is that MEN are in charge of the position of the toilet seat and leaving the seat in the UP Position is tantamount to a declaration of War. I've known couples to nearly come to blows over the position of the toilet seat. Women INSIST that men should put the seat down after they are done. Their reasoning is that more times the seat is needed down, so why not return it? THIS IS THE CONSPIRACY! Now before we go on, we must clarify, the SEAT is that part where you SIT when you need to sit. We're not talking about the Lid. The discussion of Lid: Up or Down may be saved for another article. And to be sure, in our house we have a cat who, if left to her own devices, will "play" in the toilet bowl, leaving quite a mess. So, by that need, our lids are always closed. Both parties must look and raise the lid before use. And all must return the lid to it's closed position. This RULE in our house works well as it is universal.

Now, Closing the lid may seem to some to be just a 'courtesy' to the next user but again, this is not where my attention is directed. I am directing this expose' at those women who insist that the seat be where they can use it without looking whenever the need arises.

You see, that's the real reason that women insist on having the seat down (though very few will admit it) - WOMEN DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO LOOK FIRST! That's right. They feel somehow it is their right to merely back into position and have the seat in position for them. Did their mother's teach them this? Handed down Mother to Daughter for generations? "Don't look, sweety, just back up to it and sit. The seat will be has been ordained thus!"

Yes, it's true. And women know it's true! I knew one woman who many times sat down without looking and got her backside rather wet from not having the seat in place. Whose fault is that? Mine for not returning the seat to the DOWN position or Hers for not looking before she sat down on the [raised] seat? You know where I contend the fault lay.... And there are a lot of women out there who won't admit that they also don't look first, when in fact, they insist that men SHOULD look first. And it's not just the "Do you sprinkle when you tinkle, then please be neat and raise the seat" kind of thing. If a man were to need the seat up for cleaning, repairing or maybe because he spent his lunch hour at Taco Bubba's putting away several of Bubba's Burrito Bombs (with the Devils' HellFire Sauce and extra onions!) he would of course, look first and raise the seat as needed. It's the seemingly unnecessary rule of returning the seat to its down position for no other reason than it be ready for 'her highness' to back up to that I rail against. The rule is only for men, so that women don't have to look before they sit!

There have even been those women (my wife) who state that the seat's natural 'position' is in the horizontal, or down position, and thus it should always remain thus.  AH, but this argument does not include the LID!  Remember the lid? That nice cover which keeps my own cats from leaving messy little paw prints all over the bowl and parts of the newly decorated bathroom?  If our argument above is to be believed, then the LID must ALSO be kept in the horizontal/down position.  But if a man were to do this, he'd also get in trouble as again, women don't want to look first!

Rules, like laws, should be as close to 100% universal as possible. In the question of the toilet seat, the rule is closer to only 50% and therefore unfair. It could be argued that the rule about women not going topless in public is also not fair, but this is not a rule or law which I am able to change. Toilet Seats are well within my purview.

So, what we agree needs to exist is a rule about toilet seats which is closer to universal (or at least as close as possible.) Given that the seat may be left up or down at any given time and that either a man or a woman may need to use the toilet at any given time, the only RESPECTABLE answer is that BOTH men and women adhere to a simple yet 100% UNIVERSAL rule:

Let's test our new rule with a couple of test subjects, one of each gender set.

MEN: A man enters to use the toilet. The seat can be in either (a) up or (b) down position. Using the new rule, the man LOOKS at the seat. He examines his need and adjusts the seat according to need: up or down. Does the rule work in this instance? Yes. Ding Ding! (ok, I love sound effects and background music, let's try not to dwell on it.) Yes, the rule works, we are now at about 50%.

WOMEN: A woman enters to use the toilet. (No, the man is not there, he left, get that image out of your head.) The seat can be in either (a) up or (b) down position. Using the new rule, the women LOOKS at the current position of the seat and adjusts to meet her need. (And let's face it, ladies, there ARE times when you DO want the seat up, like when you've spent the evening at Taco Bubba's scarfing down those fat 5 for a dollar Burritos followed by a wild night of drunken debauchery at the 'Skank Whole' Nightclub throwing dollar bills at the male strippers and imbibing an inordinate amount of dollar shots and cheap Margaritas. (Oh yes, there will be seat adjustments!) Does the rule work here? Yes. Even when Bubba's 5/$1 wonders are fighting the Monday Margaritas from the Skank Whole for an exit, (from either end) the rule still works. Ding ding! We are now at 100% Universal.

So it would seem to me that we can end a lot of arguing, a lot of divorces and a lot of wet fannies in the world if we all agree that a universal non-gender specific rule is in order for the Toilet Seat Dilemma. LOOK FIRST, ADJUST AS NEEDED. So, let's get the word out, Men - and ladies! The new rule: Look first, adjust as needed.

We won't, just yet, come up with a rule for staying away from Taco Bubba's or the Skank Whole and save that for another day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Suthun Man's Toolbox - Duck Tape

It has been called one of the great wonders of the modern world. (I have an altar to the stuff in my work shed.) It's sticky on one side and silver on the other (and even comes in colors these days!) It is one of those tools that belongs in every Suthun Man's toolbox, in ANY tool box for that matter. (Fun fact: Duck Tape is one of the very few items to have been taken to the moon which was not specifically designed for space travel.)

I've seen Suthun Men (and women) use Duck Tape for car repair, furniture repair, and even clothing repair. There are more uses for it than I can name here. It's an incredible tool. It is called Duck Tape - not DUCT Tape.  (Using Duck Tape on an air duct will actually dry it out, thus it is not good for use on Air Ducts, but I digress...) Duck Tape gets it name from a nickname for the product given to it by military personnel when it was introduced to them back in WWII. The tape was designed as a quick repair for boxes of ammunition as it was always sticky, and water repellent. Soldiers began calling it DUCK Tape since water rolled off it like water off a ducks back. The name stuck.

Now that we've had our history lesson, let's see just how inventive our Suthun Friends can be with this wonderful product.
With a lot of cardboard and a couple of rolls of duck tape, you can create a nice 'Suthun Hummer' - though not quite as 'armored' as the original.

Better yet, with enough duck tape, you can do complete body work.

If your little one has trouble with 'leakage' a bit of judiciously applied duck tape might be just the answer.
(The parent here has at least given his charge a LIGHT beer...)

The Uses and Abuses of Duck Tape have been documented across the internet. If you think you have a new and unique use for it, chances are someone somewhere has already done it. So, I shall leave you with this final consideration: Babysitting.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Lawn Ranger

The lawn mower is the lynch pin in the arsenal of the Lawn Ranger. Without it, he's like Thor without his hammer, Sosa without his bat, or Hillary without Clinton. (They're all tools, get it? but I digress...)

Two weeks ago I told the story of the demise of Big Stumpy and his associate in grime, Rocky. (They will sing songs and write poems about it someday...) I also pointed out that I had to buy a new lawn mower. The story of the lawn mower makes for an interesting (hopefully) story, too.

Note to self: If you hit a stump you kill a lawn mower. Good information that. The first time I hit a small stump, the mower continued to work, but had a heavy vibration in it. The second time, the mower wouldn't start. Dead. I took a moment of silence and began my nightmare.

Places that work on mowers won't give you a quote over the phone. No, really, it's true. They have to actually LOOK at the machine to be able to give you a quote. In addition, they want to charge you for the time it takes to look at your pathetic fossil fuel powered friend and laugh. (Hey, Charlie, get a load of this! He hit a stump and wants to know how much to fix it! HAW HAW HAWWWW) This happened all in my mind and I was not about to be laughed at by a couple of Suthunas in coveralls and charged for the pleasure. In addition, let's face it, I couldn't afford the fee.

A few months back a local hardware store gave us a credit card with a ludicrous credit limit. This after we had redecorated most of the house and put it all on "another card." It's one of those "All-in-One" stores with lumber and washers and dryers alongside your nice Mattocks (with the nigh indestructible polycarbonate handle) but I hesitate to give their name as I really don't want to advertise for anyone. I also don't want them to rethink the ludicrous credit limit. So we headed over there to check out the Lawn Mowers.

We examined the whole line and spoke with a nice intelligent man who gave us the stats on each model, and for obvious reasons ($$$) we chose one. Being the careful buyer I am, we took a night to think on it. The next day we were back with the model in mind; but as we approached the door, my lovely wife spied some mowers sitting out down at the far door. Upon inspection and a little help from a salesman, we discovered that these were John Deere mowers, refurbed and for sale for $100 off the original price. That $100 off put the price right at where we were about to buy an inferior brand and came with the John Deere 2 year warranty, so in short: we bought it. (That's the model in the pic above...)

The first time I ran it, it ran rough. So, back to the store. They gave me a song and dance (really, full orchestra and everything) about it being 'gravity fed gas tank' and they cleaned and replaced the spark plug (for free) and sent me on my merry way. One week later, same scenario, so I took the machine back and insisted on it being repaired. Hey, it came with a warranty, so why not?

A few days later my wife gets a call from some Jack Ass (no that's not his name but it's what I call him) who says he's from John Deere and needs to pickup the mower. She tries to tell him that the mower is in the hands of the Hardware folks, but he's a bit too Suthun to understand. So, now it becomes my endeavor to make sure what is REALLY going on with my mower. 2 Full days of 1) Phone Tag, 2) "Oh you just missed him..." and finally I had to get the manager on the phone. Then I get a call from the Lawn Mower guy to explains that he's getting me a new mower. "Ooooo!!" says I..."a NEW MOWER?" (Do New Mowers come with that New Mower Smell like new cars? Ooooooo) I was fairly fainting with the vay-pahs at the thought!

A few days later I pick up my new mower and they are nice enough to load it in the back of the Jeep. (It's still in the box, and I'm dancing around like a 3 year old who has to pee) and my nice neighbor helps me unload it in the driveway. It takes another few days until I test it out, but It was absolutely amazing.

There is nothing and I mean NOTHING like a lawn mower with REAR wheel drive. As the bag gets heavier, the mower gets better traction and it climbs hills with ease. You cannot walk too fast or too slow, it adjusts with your speed as you push on it. It worked so well that the string trimmer was spurred into working long enough to trim the entire yard. I had finished the front and back in the time it used to take me to do just the front.

With my lawn now coming under control, I feel a bit closer to being accepted as one of the locals. Next, I have to save up for a riding lawn mower, or maybe I'll end up getting my neighbor to help me do this:

Sunday, September 13, 2009


If you're planning on living in the South, you gotta know a little about NASCAR Auto Racing. NO, not just any racing of motorized vehicles, it has to be NASCAR. Fer instance: What do those letters mean? NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Like some religious cult with several charismatic leaders vying for supremecy, NASCAR has fans who follow their respective favorites with a fervor not unlike the followers of Jim Jones only instead of Kool Aid it's gasoline. They intone the names of their favorites like catholic saints: Gordon, Waltrip, and of course Earnhardt (No. 3).

This picture is all over the internet. It shows a true fan. He's got his girlfriend/wife/significant other to carve the number "3" into the hair on his back. But it shows even more than that. Look at the track. It's like they are in a plane flying by overhead! They are in the 'nose bleed' section but that doesn't dampen their enthusiasm for the event. I imagine they truley enjoyed the experience, too. Me? I'm afraid to say I get bored watching car races. Any car races for that matter. I mean, what's to see? The cars go round the track. The cars go round the track. The cars go round the track The cars...zzzzzz

I'm amazed watching the races on TV. Amazed at the true intensity of the fans. I find myself watching the crowds in the stands more than the cars on the track. Fueled with beer and the exhaust fumes, they can get rowdier than a Manchester United Football match. (Look it up...) They cheer as the cars go by, hefting their drinks in salute and then they compare notes, knowledge and place bets while the cars go round the far side of the track, only to do it all again as the pack screams by again.

Some will say that the fans only go to see the accidents. Not so. Ok, so there are a few who do go hoping to see a bit of blood and oil on the tarmac, but the true fans, TRUE FANS go to cheer their favorites, tracking the standings like wall street investors and trading stories of the pit crews with those who they find around them in the stands. True Fans hate to see the accidents. They want to see every car in that last lap, vying for the finish line the roar of the engines drowned out by the cacophony from the stands. True Fans go for the race.

Nashville recently got a new Super Speedway so now I can avoid going to Local NASCAR races as well as those out of town. Someday, I know one of my 'truly' southern friends is going to invite me to a race and I will have to go. Maybe then I will truly understand the excitement, but until then, I think theres a race on TV and I've been a hankerin a nap.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Between the Stump and the hard place...

Things grow fast in the south. I mow the lawn once a week and sometimes twice. The vines and trees can get out of control. With a big pruner I can cut off the suckers and vines, but sometimes I miss a few and they end up growing into bushes. Cut them down and that leaves a stump. Some of these stumps are small, and some are big.

For the last two weeks I've been working on my yard, trying to get these stumps out of the ground. I won't go into the story (too much) of the new lawn mower, but I will point out that those little stumps left over from the small suckers and trees you cut down can jump up out of the ground and attack your defenseless mower when you least expect it. One of them did jump up and killed my old trusty lawn mower. That's when I went on a rampage taking out the little stumps. (Visualize Rambo with a pith helmet.)

I felt kinda like Superman when the first two stumps popped out of the ground the first weekend. They came out of the ground like I was harvesting carrots! Then I went after my nemesis: Big Stumpy. Big Stumpy is a conglomeration of sucker stumps and god-knows-what that have grown together over time and I finally just lopped it off at near ground level to get rid of the thing. What I was left with is a troll like massive ugly stump that can only be called "Big Stumpy". Ok, I'm making light, but this thing is about 24 inches across at the widest point and still had little green shoots coming out of it every so often. Big Stumpy wasn't hidden in the grass like the little ones so there is no chance he was going to kill any of my fossil fuel powered friends, but once I got started (and over zealous) I knew it would be a fight to remember. Like the Rumble in the Jungle, this would be known as Brawn on the Lawn....ok, stop giggling and we can move on...

Big Stumpy

Stumpy gave me quite a battle I have to say that. When L'il Stumpy killed the lawn mower and I bought a new one, I also picked up a Mattock, also known by some as a 'Pick-axe'. With a heavy head and a hickory handle, it's one of those things which can almost change your DNA to SUTHUN as you carry it out of the store. Testosterone covered the handle as I brought it out the first time. The Mattock is what helped me to kill the two little stumps and I was sure that it would serve me well in my efforts with Big Stumpy.

The first skirmish with Big Stumpy was a a draw. I dug a bunch of dirt out from around it, and sweated a lot into the 90 degree weather. Big Stumpy squatted in his big hole and stayed solid. The following weekend, I was out there again, determined to make a dent of some kind. This is where Big Stumpy showed me his toughest side. He broke the Mattock. I heard it snap, and I couldn't' believe it. I nearly shed a tear. I mean it's not like Hickory grows on trees, I mean...uh...well, ok so it does.

I went to the store and picked up a new Mattock., but not another of the standard with the hickory handle. THIS ONE has an unbreakable polycarbonate handle with a lifetime guarantee. Big Stumpy was quivering in his big hole when I hauled the tool out of the back of the Jeep. I squared my cap on my head, snugged my gloves on and waded in.

Right away, I found out that Big Stumpy had a hidden partner. "Rocky." Buried right there beside the stump was a rock easily as big as the stump itself and was the main reason that Stumpy had so easily resisted my efforts to break him. The mattock broke off a piece of it, but it was the unbreakable polycarbonate handle that allowed me to lever the big grey beast out of the ground. With Rocky out of the way, Big Stumpy didn't have a chance. In only minutes I had him laying on the ground beside the big hole screaming for mercy. He got none.

Dead Stumpy and Rocky

The only bad part to this is that none of my Suthun neighbors was around to see my victory. I carried Dead Stumpy out to the wood pile as a big SUV drove by - someone I didn't know - but he saw the stump and saw my victory. He did exactly what I'd expect from a fellow Suthunah...He nodded. I nodded back.

I tossed Dead Stumpy in the woodpile. Later, I set Rocky in the garden. The Mattock with the polycarbonate handle hangs in the place of honor in the tool shed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Combining Things We Love. Jeremiah Weed.

Whether you live in the south or not, it's a great day when we find two of our favorite things somehow combined into something new and exciting. Whether it's a new dessert, like a banana split (bananas, and THREE count 'em THREE different toppings!) or a phone that is also a camera, a GPS and ear wax remover (Ok, so no camera phone will do that yet, but you just wait...) We love it when things are combined.

Witness then the newest innovation of The South. Sweet Tea AND Alcohol.

JEREMIAH WEED Southern Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka. Oh but it doesn't stop there as you can also get Southern Sweet TEa Flavored Vodka AND Bourbon Whiskey or even Southern Sweet Tea flavored Vodka AND Lemonade. Now, I'm not a big drinker of Southern Sweet Tea but every now and then I do get a hankerin' (yeah, you heard me "a hankerin') for something sweet and yet with a kick. When I was a younger man, I drank and enjoyed Southern Comfort mixed with Ginger Ale. (Yes, we both know what that says but let's not dwell on that shall we?) Later in life I drank 7&7, (Seagrams 7 and 7-UP) and then Bourbon and Ginger Ale, and then straight Bourbon. It's interesting to note that my tastes seem to have come full circle with my interest in this new ready prepared knock-your-socks-off sippin beverage. I can't wait for the next barbeque where I can serve this wonderous Southern Invention. (I won't even try to figure out where they got the name Jeremiah Weed just so long as the product is worthy.)

It's times like these that you gotta love the south!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What the HECK is that THANG??

Recently, we had an office party. We dont' have them very often, so when we do it's a pretty big thing. One of the interesting NEW items in this party was the inclusion of the "Goodie Bag." The first 20 people (our office has about 80 locally) received this nifty goodie bag, in which you found a Country CD (meh, I'm not into country) a Hunting Bumper Sticker, a Hunting Can Cozy, a Fisherman's Towel (See the pattern here) AND finally.. (cue music) THIS THING:
Here's another picture of it.

As any good reader will know, I am not big on hunting, even if I do own a nice huntin rifle. So I turned to my office mates to ask what this was. I work in Tech. If I had pulled a part from a 10 year old laptop, I might have gotten a better response, but mostly I got: 'Well, Huh...' So, what is it? It must have to do with hunting, right? I mean why else would the Tennessee Hunters Ed use it if it wasn't? And then it's not like it is so easily recognizable as something else either. You know, like this:

Ok, what is it? (No, not the yellow adapter, I know that that is...even if my strained attempt at photoshop could have been better) What is that orange thing used for? We stood around my office doing impersonations of Steve Martin and Bill Murray's SNL skit "WHAT the HECK is that?" None of us wanted to ask the person or persons unknown who donated the junk-uh...I mean wonderous item; but we really do want to know. "WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THANG?"

I'll give a hearty shout out to the first person who can CORRECTLY identify this wonderous item, or at least come up with a better use than "land fill."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

This Southern Life - That Confederate Flag

There are more controversies about the Confederate Flag than you can possibly begin to discuss. The Confederate battle flag, called the "Southern Cross" or the cross of St. Andrew, has been described variously as a proud emblem of Southern heritage and as a shameful reminder of slavery and segregation. In the past, several Southern states flew the Confederate battle flag along with the U.S. and state flags over their statehouses. Others incorporated the controversial symbol into the design of their state flags. The Confederate battle flag has also been appropriated by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist hate groups. According to an independant study, more than 500 extremist groups use the Southern Cross as one of their symbols.

So why do people get so worked up over something so old and so trivial?

First, we must understand that symbols like the Confederate Flag have no intrinsic meaning. The meanings symbols carry are those which each human attaches from their own experiences and learning. Thus, any viewer of a symbol is free to assign it any range of meanings. The symbol itself, then is constant, but the value symbolized is not. Herein lies the source of controversy over the Confederate flag.

Where one person views the Southern Cross as a symbol of his own unique individualism another can view that same symbol as a reference to a less enlightened time of hate and subjugation. And yet in our American society, we agree that each person has the freedom to express themselves in their own way. Where do you draw the line? Where do we say 'Ok you can view this flag as a symbol of your memory of your ancestors and this other person should not view it as an insult? Therein lies the controversy.

The controversy is not going away. There will always be people who view the Confederacy as an honored memory, and not for the death and racist, segregationist traditions for which it stood. Here is a modern allegory: In a recent post on, a young person asked whether he would be arrested by wearing a shamagh in public. Obviously the shamagh (a desert army scarf used to keep sand out of the face) is quickly referenced to terrorists and recent world events make the wearing of one as controversial as carrying a Confederate Battle Flag. The young man didn't seem to understand this until it was pointed out to him.

Not being raised in the south, I can honestly say that I have no wish to have the Confederate flag draped on my house, car or beer belly (no I have no beer belly, but thanks for that visual) and yet I truly understand the feeling that one wants to have for history. When I lived in Colorado, I had one of those NATIVE bumper stickers on my car, proclaiming to the world that I was born and raised in the Mile High State.

I considered getting a large 6' poster for my room but never could find one. But the NATIVE bumper sticker has no controversial history. It's not related to any movement of violence or subjugation. Even if I put a huge green NATIVE flag on the back of my pickup and drove around town the most I could get is blank stares. This again has to do with the perceptions of the viewer, not the intent of the owner. Southerners who display the flag may merely be showing their love of Southern history, not the slavery inherent IN that history, but the viewer only sees the effect, not the intent.

But let's take a moment to add to that thought. The Civil war was fought about more than slavery.  It was about freedom.  The CSA wanted to secede, The North wanted the southern resources.  Slavery was a part of this whole mess, but there was a lot more going on than that. Most of the soldiers fighting for the south were NOT slave owners. Many of the soldiers fighting for the south were black. The Confederate Battle Flag honors them all.  Again, where do we draw the line?

At one time I suggested that perhaps we should all agree that what ever we want to do with the Confederate Battle Flag, we should do it like we do our other private private. But with this new thought as to the history, I'm not so sure. In this free country, I'm not sure we can tell someone that they cannot carry around a symbol which means one thing to them while it means something else to someone else.   

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Walking out to get the mail.

When I lived 'elsewhere' (Colorado) my house had a mail slot. Mail was delivered to the house and slipped into this slot and the mail fell into the house. Our mail slot was behind the door (not in the door) so mail actually piled up behind the door and didn't prevent it from opening like others can.

Here in the south, the mail is delivered to a box. Usually this box is located on the street. So, depending on how long your driveway is, this can be a nice walk every day. Now, for one reason or another (read: bored teenagers with beer) these mail boxes seem to be the target of agression and end up being knocked down now and again. How the Suthunah fixes this damage is what I would like to share today.

This guy got tired of buying those expensive metal mailboxes down at the Home Depot and used this bucket. YOu can see that the lid has been hinged across the center which give it a nice closure AND keep mail from sliding out when it's opened. (The angle keeps rain from collecting in the plastic interior.

This guy went one better and at least used a bucket with a hinged lid. Heck, everyone knows it's for mail, so why even take off the label!

Here's another one where they got tired of buying new boxes, but this guy used a metal can. I like the way the rust gives it a nice 'antique' finish which blends in with the surounding countryside.

I think this guy just got tired of replacing the post on which the mailbox sits. He's got a nice rig here, with just enough weight to keep it from being blown over.

I think this guy got tired of replacing the base, and just hooked the box to the side of the post using some baling wire.

And of course, there is the 'double duty' of using something else entirely to hold your mail box, like a non-working washer AND dryer: