Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Weather I'm Right, or Weather I'm wrong.


It's been more than 20 years since I first stepped onto these lands here in the South.  Perhaps the one thing that has amazed me of this Southern realm, and amazes me still is the reaction to the weather.  The true southerner treats weather almost as a minor inconvenience.

In the heat of the summer, when it's 102° in the shade and humidity is enough to make it feel like you're swimming to the mailbox and back, the Southerner mows the lawn.  He builds a tree-house for his kids, or he just hangs out with a couple of good ol' boys, watching the world go by, standing out in the blazing sun.  When it's raining, he will sit on the porch, keeping watch on the rising river.  Perhaps, if the rain is not too heavy, he will go for a swim in the lake. Or Fishing.  

See?  A minor inconvenience. Almost.

The Southerner has a problem with ice and snow.  Well, most people do, but the Southerner and more importantly how they react are the real interesting part of this little blog today.  Not that my writing isn't what brings you here, but you are hoping for some insight and I hope I can impart the same. 

When the weather turns cold, Snow and freezing rain can make roads impassible for days.  The tall trees and growth in some areas keep the sun from shining and therefore keep the iced roads from drying out.  How does the Southerner respond?  They race to the grocery store and buy all the milk and bread.  Yes, that's right, Milk and Bread.  Why? Remember me?  I wasn't born here, so of course I have no idea why. It was probably some memo passed out during the years before I arrived and kept hidden since.  

Even more baffling is the fact that here in Nashville, they will cancel the school if they think it's going to snow.  Snow predicted? Close the schools now!  To a guy who grew up on Colorado, where they didn't close schools unless the snow was higher than the principals head, this is a funny proposition.  

During my first year here in the South, the schools were closed due to predicted snow.  I laughed. I called my brother Bubba who lived in Colorado (and still does) and told him and he thought it was the opening line to a bad joke. He told his students the next day and they laughed too. To a student in Colorado cancelling school is unheard of - let alone canceling of school when the roads are dry and you only heard of the possibility of snow in the next few days.  

But it wasn't just the one time. Every year thereafter, the schools again would close in anticipation of the snow or ice event and so, like some sort of yearly ritual, every year when they first cancelled school in advance of snow, I'd call my Brother Bubba. We'd laugh, tell stories of how high the snow was when we walked to school (18" deep, uphill, both ways) and then we'd go on with life. I would like to think that he started a pool for his students to guess which day would be the first time school was canceled out here in advance of snow, but being the good and well respected teacher he was, maybe not.

Maybe I can start a pool with my neighbor Bubba.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mystery of the Cord


There is a talent among Southern men that eludes me no matter how much I try. (I hear ya: So what else is new?) It has to do with wrapping up an electrical cord in such a way that it will not be a tangled mess when you need it next.  Sort of like Christmas lights, only more aggravating.

You see that electrical cord above? That's mine. It's a nice industrial 50' cable in day-glow orange.  I wrapped it carefully using instructions from the Lord High neighbor Bubba himself.  Bubba says that in doing it this way, one should be able to hold the plug end and toss the giant wrapped bunch out away from yourself and the cable will unfurl like a flag in a stiff wind..like a river flowing gently downhill..like (ok, enough of that.)  Once unfurled, you merely pull at either end to take it where it needs to go and the cord is un-kinked, un-knotted and easy to pull to its full length, ready to use.

And yet...when I grab one end and throw, the big bunch only goes about 2 feet and then stops nearly yanking me off my feet.  It suddenly resembles a tangled mess akin to dropping a handful of yarn in a box of hyper kittens.  The bundle then lands unceremoniously with a dull thud right at my feet or worse, ON my feet!  So, now I have to start at one end and carefully tug and pull and pull and tug to get the entire 50 feet of cord un-knotted, un-kinked, un-bundled and laid out to use. If I'm working with Bubba, I have to listen to him snicker the entire time. I can do it, though, but it takes a while.  By then, I'm ready for a nap.

I've worked with Bubba a few times when he's pulled out one of his wrapped cord bundles.  With a casual flair he tosses the bundle out to the side, not even looking at it as it unfurls, flying seemingly under its own power until that cord is laying out with nary a kink or curve. Then, later, I study his moves as he quickly wraps the cable up into a manageable bundle.  I swear it's magic.  

Copy as I might, it never works.  I've had him show me how he does it. I have come to the realization that Bubba is supernatural.  He has the power to control this cable, to weave it into a living creature which reacts at his command. Yes.  Super Bubba.  Alien being from the planet Cabletron...  In truth, it's merely that Southern Gene which gives him the power over tools and barbeque and  beer.  

So, I'll keep trying.  Yet another thing that Southern men can do which I cannot.  What else is new?  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Causual Fridays

One morning not too long ago, a Friday to be exact, I was running a bit late (when are they going to invent an alarm clock that turns its own volume up when you need it?) and a quick shower and then throw on my clothes as quickly as I could to get out the door and catch the bus on time. I made it to work on time but also found myself in an interesting social dilemma.

You see, as I noted above, the day was Friday. At the office, CASUAL Friday. For those of you who live under a rock, Casual Friday is a new tradition whereby the office relaxes its usual dress code and allows casual dress.  No, not flannel pants and bunny slippers (which is how my wife goes to work at her desk at home - yes, digressing as usual) Tee shirts, and jeans can be found in abundance.  Now, in my haste to get dressed, without thinking of the day of the week, I followed the standard office dress of khaki slacks, polo shirt and dress shoes. I was dressed nice. I was well within the standards for social acceptance any day of the week. Except that it was Casual Friday.

Casual Friday is viewed by office workers today almost as a birthright. Tell them that they can't wear their jeans and tennis shoes (oh, yeah... CROSS trainers, is that better?) and they start petitions and back room meetings. New Taxes get fewer grass roots movements.

So I am sitting at my desk, in my khaki pants (did you know that the word Khaki comes from an Arabic word for "Sand Colored"?) and I hadn't even realized the problem until...In comes the first one. A co-worker, in jeans and a sweater.  She walks up to my desk and in a VERY serious quiet tone she says,

"Did I miss the memo?" I look at her like she's speaking a foreign language. "Is there a big meeting today?" she says just as intense and just as quiet. When I don't respond she finally points at my pants (no we won't go there) and I get it.  I am not dressed for Casual Friday.  Light bulb in on position.  

"Oh, I was running late and got dressed quick today." I laugh it all off, "put on the standard work clothes before I realized it. heh heh." There is a long pause while she took this all in. "Heh...Heh..." I trailed off as she glanced at my slacks, back up at my polo shirt, then into my eyes and again down and up...and then she left. I'm pretty sure she really didn't know what to do and thought I was up to something.

Ok, one down, about 80 more to go. For the rest of the day I had to admit to EVERYONE that I had overslept, that I put on the Khaki pants without taking into account the fact that it was Friday - no, wait CASUAL Friday and may indeed now be MANDATORY Casual Friday and each time I had to assure each and everyone of them that the Casual Friday Rule was still in effect. You'd have thought I was wearing house cats as clothes the way some of them looked at me.

But the real problem is (or seems to be) that I caused this. I caused all this excitement over whether or not Causal Friday still existed.  Did you catch that?  CAUSUAL Friday.  Yeah, now with its own moniker: CAUSUAL Friday.  Yes, that's what I'm going to call it. Put on the wrong clothes and you can cause an uprising. I think a few of them actually thought I was trying to get RID OF Casual Fridays by my dressing in normal work attire. Go figure.

Someday on a Monday I may wear Jeans just to mess with their heads.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You Light Up My..Parking Lot?

Every morning I take my 58 foot long limo (read: MTA BUS) to work. (Yes, I like calling it my limo.  I'm not going to quit, so just get used to it, okie dokie?  And I like to say Okie Dokie a lot  too.  Now where were we? Oh yeah, the bus....)  It drops me on a corner that is only a short walk to the building where I work.  To save time, I cut across not one, but two parking lots - which really helps on cold days when all I want is to get in out of the below freezing temperatures. 

Usually at that hour, the parking lots are empty, maybe one or two cars pulling in, trucks unloading, deliveries and the like- very deserted. Get the picture? This day, there was a bit something new.  A lamp.  Can you imagine, sitting in the center of the parking lot, a nice adjustable floor lamp?  I couldn't either, but sure enough, there it was.  There was no other detritus of household items laying about...no empty boxes, socks or gum wrappers.  It's almost as if the lamp sort of grew there overnight. 

Standing there in the grey light of dawn, I tried to figure out where it came from. Did it fall off a truck?  Someone moving out of a downtown apartment take a wrong turn and the lamp fell out the back without anyone seeing it fall? The lamp didn't have any dings or scratches so that seemed to be out of the question.

Did some homeless guy leave it after spending the night here in the parking lot reading through his collection of Shakespeare's sonnets?  Did he only have enough room in his cart for the recliner and the big screen television and the old lamp had to be left behind?  Maybe some family had cruised through on their way to - well, downtown Nashville is not on the way to anything except downtown Nashville, so that idea is out, too. 

In the end, I decided that whoever left it would probably be back to pick it up, so I just stood back, took a photo and moved on into the warm lobby of my building.  

I sure hope that whoever lost it sure gets it back.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nashville New Year - 2013


New Years in Nashville. Sounds like the lead in to a joke, don't it? In truth, the actuality of it is much more simple.  As usual, crowds filled the downtown area near the corner of 1st and Broadway where the big Stages were set just off the cold River and in the view of the old bridges and the new. The Music was a big mix of popular and country and this year, instead of the big guitar falling to mark the beginning of the new year, it was a giant NOTE.  See note above....in the pic, the big note, above the other big notes...it's falling.  (Static pictures can be a bear to use to describe action, you know?) And you can see the stages set up below.  

Though the crowds hollered and shouted for their favorite acts, this year, the New Year's Eve Celebration was marked with rain.  Light right early in the evening, giving way to a heavier rain later.  Rain didn't stop the revelers from ringing in the New Year downtown, or anywhere in the vicinity.   Crowds were estimated to be in the thousands and revelry was thunderous. 

The rain was a blessing in my little suburb.  It kept my boisterous neighbor from setting off fireworks at midnight and then some. Usually we are kept awake with his professional grade fireworks going off over our heads until the wee hours of the morning. Add in laughing drunken comments, barking dogs and not a few epithets thrown by other neighbors such as myself who appreciate a good night's sleep even if I do get to sleep in the next day.  True Suthern Detertainment.  (For those who need it: detertainment, the opposite of Entertainment.  Yeah, it's funny.  You can laugh now.) 

This year, however only a few large bangs at midnight and then blessed silence.  Now, understand, I don't mind fireworks. When produced by fireworks professionals in the correct environment, I think fireworks can be some of the best live celebratory effects there is.  But in the suburbs?  No. Bubba needs his beauty sleep. And plenty of it! 

I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous and sleep filled New Year!