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. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Southern Christmas Traditions

There’s nothing like Christmas in Dixie, and the roots of Southern Christmas celebrations run deep. The American South was making merry long before it became the standard practice in other areas of the country. Alabama was the first state to declare it a legal holiday in 1836, with Louisiana and Arkansas following a couple of years later. Christmas wasn’t recognized as a federal holiday until 1870.

While some facets of Southern Christmas have been adopted outside of the South, many traditions and customs have remained unique to the South. If looking at a few of these fun Southern Yuletide customs doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, you might need to check your pulse:
  • Citrus Fruit- When I was a kid, we always found oranges in our Christmas stockings. I would never have guessed that this is a long-standing Southern Christmas custom. This gift finds its origins in the previous rarity of citrus fruit and the expense of such a luxurious gift. The Southern Christmastime craving for the flavor of oranges influenced the popularity Christmastime recipe staple known as Ambrosia, and for many it’s just not Christmas without that citrus infused wonder.  Citrus also appears frequently in Southern holiday décor in the form of slices for fragrant potpourri or as whole oranges in garlands.
  • Pecan Pie- Due to the harvest season falling between September and December, pecans are a readily-available, favorite flavor for the Christmas season in the South. Folklore has it that the French settlers in Louisiana developed this holiday dessert staple. Divinity and Pralines are two other pecan-based treats of Southern origin that have become treasured holiday items as well.
  • Poinsettias– This beautiful plant with red blooms has become synonymous with Christmas cheer. Originally the poinsettia was a popular decoration for the Christmas season in Mexico, and the botany-loving U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett brought back clippings of the plant to his South Carolina home. The shape is said to be evocative of the Star of Bethlehem, and it’s popularity spread throughout the nation, especially after Congress declared Dec. 12 National Poinsettia Day. It’s just not Christmas without a cheerful poinsettia blooms.*
  • Magnolia and Pine Décor– We have the settlers that landed at Jamestown, Virginia to thank for this tradition. After they noticed pine was an evergreen, they began using it as a symbol of good fortune and hope in décor. First popularized in the South, it can now be seen in holiday swags, wreaths, and garlands nationally. Many widely-read styling magazines have also featured stories on how to best use magnolia leaves to achieve a rustic, country feel. It’s common to see wreaths out of these gorgeous, dark-green, shiny leaves than any kind of fir tree branches.
  • Deep-Fried Turkey- In the South we love to fry anything and everything, so why not fry the most delicious piece of poultry we can find? It leaves a delicious crunchy texture outside while keeping the meat flavorful and juicy. This tradition is starting to catch on in other parts of the nation, naturally.

The myriad of wonderful Southern Christmas traditions is long and varied, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Just like every other holiday event in our culture, Christmas in the South is full of beauty, fun, and delicious food.

 *Note to Cat Owners: Poinsettia leaves are poisonous to cats.  Best to buy fake Poinsettia plants if you have felines in the home. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

End of the Everlasting Living Room Project.

For just a few minutes, I'm going to be a bit insufferable as I brag on myself.  Two and a half years ago, I started a project - correction, I was FORCED to begin a project - my living room. For those new readers who have not read my trials and tribulations: back in May of 2014 we had major infestation of termites come marching across our living room rug.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and not a few tears. We ended up cutting out, in total, a 12 x 12 section of our house down to the foundations, spraying termite killer the entire time. We couldn't afford to hire professionals to do either part of the job, so it was my wife and I for the entire time.

The real problem came in that I'm not retired, so the whole amount of time I could devote to the project on a weekly basis was one to one and a half days - and those days usually were less than 6 hours due to my own stamina - or lack thereof. Couple that with my total lack of skills in such things as laying a floor, tiles and drywall and you have quite a learning curve. (I lost count of the number of bandaids used and the number of times I hit my thumb instead of a nail.) Separate projects included creating a affordable chimney cap and building a mantle from existing parts saved from the demolition.  

What you see above is the near completed living room. To keep the house dust free (and to keep the cats out of the project) we erected a temporary wall between the living area and the 'Everlasting Living Room Project.'  The weekend before Thanksgiving, the wall came down.  It was a momentous occasion and I'm very disappointed in the city for not having marching bands, ribbon cutting, and long-winded speeches for the unveiling.  

My readers also need thanks, for putting up with my constant crying, wailing and self promotion in relation to the Everlasting Living Room Project - which I guess now needs to be renamed the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project.  

Anyone wanting pictures can message me direct. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Shock and Aw in the Election of 2016

The US Election of 2016 is over and I don't know whether to be sad or elated.  Sad that such a man was elected and scared for the future of both the US and the world. Elated to be glad that the Election Ads are now over (for 4 years anyway.) 

At the heart of the debate over what the election results mean is the feeling that we, as a country have taken a large step (or maybe a huge leap) backward.  Where PC - politically correct - were the words of the day, we now have a man  who says what he wants.  People are afraid this means violence is just around the corner.  In fact, we've already seen demonstrations and calls for both impeachment (he's not even sworn in yet!) and succession from the Union by more than just a couple of states.  

It is really too soon to tell.  But for the life of me, I can't see things spiraling down to such a degree and to where things become too ugly to go on.  Perhaps I was raised differently.  We were taught to smile at adversity, tolerate differences and support our elected officials.  My mother grew up in the age of FDR. To her, he was more King than President.  The only president to be re-elected twice (this means three full terms, or 12 years.) In my life I've seen 11 different presidents, now 12, and there will be more.  Perhaps that's what we need to keep in mind here, that the man elected today may not really be in office 5 years from now.  I take solace in that, I really do.  

There is also something else.  At its heart, America isn't that type.  We're not all misogynistic, intolerant, haters.  We really do want everyone to be happy, live a good life, be prosperous.  We are a melting pot and there is little one man can do to upset that pot.  

As you know, I ride the bus.  Riders come and riders go.  A couple of weeks ago, I took note of a woman getting off the bus right behind me.  She had a toddler in tow and a baby carriage with another riding in it. she had her purse, a diaper bag and her lunch on one arm and was working the carriage out onto the sidewalk, about a foot drop.  I'm carrying my briefcase and a bag with my lunch and a few things.  Even without much thought I reached back and with a 'Here let me help you with that..." I  took the carriage front in my hand and lifted it down.  She smiled, I smiled and we went on with our day. 

As it turns out, she and her two little ones got on the bus at the same bus stop I did early in the morning.  Each  time I saw the little group, I smiled, she smiled and her oldest gave me a wave.  We were merely riders on the same bus. A couple of times when she had the buggy folded, I'd help her get it off the bus. I knew she needed help and I was willing to give a hand where I had it.

Then, without warning, one morning she came up to me in the pre-dawn light, to say that she was not going to be riding the bus anymore, at least not from here.  She was moving and wanted to say goodbye on her last day.  I wished her well, asked a few questions about her move and future and we parted ways.  The little ones gave me a smile, too.We didn't even exchange names.

Why do I  bring this up? Not to toot my own horn, but to mention how this interaction was so dissimilar to what our new president would represent. Me, an older man, riding the bus and taking just a moment out of my day to help a young woman with her two little ones whom she had to take with her every morning to get to day care and then to work.  Why so dissimilar?  As I said, I'm older, employed in a white collar job and she younger working a more menial job.  Oh and if it matters to the president, I'm white and she's black.  

Tolerance is really what's missing in our new president; but I feel that the country can continue as we were without becoming what we fear he is or wants. We can continue to grow and be tolerant of each-other's differences in spite of what we see in our leaders. 

This is not to say that hate and intolerance don't exist, I'm sure they do. It's up to each and everyone  of us to keep this next four years as we have striven to be: tolerant. Color, sexual orientation, religion.  It's all such an arbitrary distinguishing factor; but regardless of these factors, we all deserve respect. We all deserve happiness. We're all humans. We should continue to act like it.  I know I will.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The CMA Awards 2016

The CMA Awards were this last week (I swear it's like every year!) Wednesday night as a matter of fact which means only one thing to someone like me...traffic getting home would be a bitch.  And to top it off, as if that weren't enough, on a Wednesday night, when my wife makes her famous Chicken Fajitas.  (Yes, every Wednesday. Yes, I know you're jealous.) One of my favorite meals, postponed due to a bunch of rich folks patting each other on the back for making a music video which made them more money.

Here in Nashville, you'd think that most employers downtown would let their poor employees off early to get ahead of that traffic, but you'd also be wrong, at least at my office. This is nothing against my boss, it's just that Country Music is nothing new and this is a usual occurrence in Nashville, so we learn to roll with it. Expect late buses, postponed dinner (rats) and hot tempers.  

So, I left work at the usual time, and made my way to Music City Central, the main Bus station which is just a couple of blocks from my office.  Oddly, no traffic.  That's ok, I says to myself, all the traffic must be a few blocks the other direction from work, over at the Bridgestone Arena, where the CMA Awards are being held.

Now, things take a strange turn. The bus, usually late due to CMA Traffic, is - on time? Our bus is known to be late because someone had a hangnail on the I-24 corridor (and no, it goes nowhere near the I-24 corridor.) We get on the bus and leave - on time! Getting through downtown only takes a few minutes extra and I'm home only about 5 minutes later than usual. Even the traffic along the way seemed ...well...normal.

It's enough to make one wonder at the strangeness of it all.

And then, after dinner, things get a bit stranger as my rocker-chick wife with the skull tattoo on one leg says we should watch the opening of the CMA awards and I'm really wondering if I've entered another realm. My wife is not one for Country music. She says it makes her want to drive her car off a cliff, so this was a  monumental moment.

And it was surely a moment to watch.  You see, this was the 50th Anniversary of the CMA awards and they brought out a seemingly endless parade of country legends and contemporary chart-topping stars to sing a massive medley of country classics.

Vince Gill was the first to take the stage, and he was joined by Ben Haggard, son of late country icon Merle Haggard, to sing the immortal "Mama Tried." After that, Roy Clark and Brad Paisley paid homage to Buck Owens, who died in 2006, by singing "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail." Over the next few minutes, Carrie Underwood sang "Stand By Your Man," Charlie Daniels delivered "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Dwight Yoakam sang "Guitars, Cadillacs," Charley Pride crooned "Kiss An Angel Good Morning'," and Reba McEntire sang "Fancy". But that wasn't all. There were song segments from Alabama ("Mountain Music"), Ricky Skaggs ("Country Boy"), Alan Jackson ("Don't Rock the Jukebox") and Clint Black ("Killin' Time"). At the end, they all took the stage together to sing Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen." Travis himself -- who suffered a stroke in 2013 -- took the stage to massive applause and sang a line of his 1987 classic. If you know anything at all about Country Music and it's stars, this was the medley to see.

And when that opening medley was over my wife said change the channel, that's enough of that!  Ah, good, all is right with the world.  My world anyway. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Get the King to Marry You.

When my wife and I were married, we joked about going to Las Vegas and getting an Elvis Impersonator to perform the ceremony.  We never really were able to carry through on that, but I recently found this new business in down town Nashville that really bears some scrutiny.

Ok, so it's a wedding chapel located in the center of downtown, in the center of The Arcade, but more than that, there's an honest to goodness Elvis Impersonator (gold rimmed glasses and all) performing the weddings. I'm not trying to advertise the business but I just find it so incredibly southern.  
It's apparently quite popular with tourists (who don't realize that Elvis is really more well known in Memphis) and though I took this picture with the intent of showing off the 'store front' I noticed that the sign holds one more oddity. "Lunch Hour Specials."  Now there's a thought.  Quick bite to eat at one of the many eateries in the downtown area, and stop by to get married. 

Then again, it might be a good idea to call first...make sure their open....

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Blanket Invitational

There is a family down the street which are the epitome of Southern.  He is rarely in a suit, wears Titans' jerseys most of the time and works in his garage - literally, he works out of his garage. At work he wears mostly grease stained camouflage. His wife wears pink camouflage and cowboy boots and their kids have such thick southern accents I'm not sure they speak English at all.  

But beneath all that they are some of the greatest people I know. They'd give you the shirts off their backs.  They are always volunteering for church dinners, city clean-up drives and school fundraisers.  They are nearly perfect.  I said nearly.  

You see, they have this policy of never 'inviting' anyone over. They just expect that if you want to see them, then you'll make the effort to drop by their place and see them.  They also seem to complain a lot about how no one ever comes to see them - especially family.  

I blame the Beverly Hillbillies.  

Yeah, that's right, the 1960s TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies."  The show ran 9 seasons here in the US and has been seen across the globe.  The story of a poor Suthun Man out hunting who discovers oil on his property is the 'rags to riches' story we'd all like to live.  There's a catchy theme song too.  (The Ballad of Jed Clampett)   The song was written and composed by Paul Henning, and sung by Jerry Scoggins, who was accompanied by bluegrass musicians Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. At the end of the show, there is an instrumental reprisal of the song and, here's the hook, at the end, Scoggins says "Y'all come back, now, Y'hear?"

This is the 'laid-back, come-on-over-anytime' attitude that everyone attributes to the South and to Southerners. "Hey, my door is always open. Just come on by any old time!" You visualize people dropping by non-stop, every night a different friend or family member, the sweet southern tea flowing and kids running wild in the yard. And in fact, it may at one time have been so.

Today, sorry, this just doesn't  work.  I know, I've dropped by my neighbor's house several times just to chat and found them not at home! (Reference above mention of church functions, school fundraisers and city clean up drives.)  In fact, anytime I want to go by and see him (outside of business hours,) I know to call first and see if he's home AND see if he's up to receiving guests.  Most often, the answer is no.

This whole "if you want to be  part of my life, you'll make the effort" is not only impossible, it's just lazy. Yes, Lazy.  You want to see people, but you don't want to go to the effort to call them and set up a time to see them. Let them play the 'are they home' game and hope to catch you.  Lazy AND disrespectful. Southerners are not that lazy or disrespectful.

This is why it's better to set a time and INVITE someone over specifically rather than just some blanket "Y'all come back, now, Y'hear?" Due to the complexity of our lives, (yes, even in the laid back south) the idea of inviting someone over for dinner, or to sit a spell and visit may seem old fashioned, but there is a deeper reasoning that needs repeating.  RESPECT.

When you go to the effort to set aside a period of time and invite someone over to visit, you show them more respect than just "Yeah, we'd love to see you, but you'll have to drive by our house and catch us at home knowing that at any time you drive by we could be at church, or the school, or grocery shopping, or some other people may be visiting or heck, we may just not be in the mood for company."  Who is going to do that 'hoping' they might catch you at home? Thanks to this, my neighbor and I rarely see each other. And people who live further away than a "let's drop by since we're in the neighborhood" are just not going to spend the time and gas to 'hope' you're home - and up for company (regardless of what your 'open door policy' says!)

Inviting someone says "We want YOU to come by and we can ALL enjoy some time together."  (The unspoken part says 'yes, we will be home, no church, or school, or shopping and yes we are in the mood for company, but not just any company, we want YOUR company.') Yes, it's also takes some work, and yes, you may need to reschedule some church or shopping trips, but if you want to see people, this is what you have to do. You don't' have to cook dinner and you don't have to have a reason other than just "We'd like to see you for a visit on this date." Respect.

My neighbor is stubborn and says  he really doesn't understand the difference (he breathes car exhaust all day.) I have to admit, however, that at my insistence, he recently called and set up an afternoon for his parents to drive across town and see the kids. Lots of smiles all round and I heard they had a mess of fried chicken his mom had made and brought along. It was a great afternoon.

But then, as the parents were leaving,  I heard him shout, "Drop by any time!"
I gotta work some more with that guy. 

I hope you'll all take the time to invite someone over soon, maybe even me.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Modern Fossils

Stepping out of my office the other day and found this on the sidewalk.  I've monitored it for several days - nearly a week now and the things are pretty much permanent.

What are they, you ask? (That's a very good question...)   It appears that someone has dropped a few birthday candles (pink, blue and green) and between the heat (yeah, it's the South, remember?) and people stepping on them, the wax and wicks have been embedded into the brickwork there on the sidewalk. They look like fossils, Modern Fossils.  (Go with it, ok?).

I would imagine that someday in the future, the maintenance people from the building will clean the sidewalks with a high pressure cleaner and these modern day fossils will be gone, but for the moment we can all enjoy them. I only hope that whoever had the birthday didn't miss them. 

Yeah, been a slow week for me.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Tivo Tango

Tivo Series 1
In this blog, I don’t usually spend a lot of time on subjects that have little to do with The South (requisite capital letters) and only rarely do I write a lot on Tech.  This last couple of weeks, however, got me in touch with my home Tech on a new level.  You see, I’m not one to constantly have L&G (Latest and Greatest) when it comes to Tech. You know, TV's, stereo, even my home computers are older than most. If my old tech is working, and working fine, then there is no need to replace it with ‘oooo new and shineyyy’ tech.  If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it. 

Case in point: My Tivo.  (For those not in the know, the Tivo is the original DVR.)  My Tivo is a Series 1, which means it came out in 1999. (We’re talking old tech here.  Imagine, if my Tivo were a kid, he would be able to drive now.) There are now 6 series of Tivo.  (I, II, III, 4 Premier, 5 The Roamio & 6 The Bolt)  The Tivo was a gift from my brother (no, not Brother Bubba, my other brother who is also not Southern, but he is generous.) The Tivo S1 also came with a Lifetime Service Guarantee (very spendy- even by today's standards) again thanks to the generous Brother. The Tivo has worked beautifully for 16 years.  I have it attached to our home network where it calls in daily to get guide information.  Let me reiterate, it is working PERFECTLY. 

About 2 weeks ago, a rather official message popped up on my Tivo saying a lot of nothing, but in effect, telling us that the Tivo (Series I, II, and III) would no longer record after September 29. The reason for this is that the people who write the code for the guide (that’s the information that the Tivo downloads every day) are changing the guide and the older series would not be able to read said code.  (Cue much internal screaming and cursing.)  My wife and I use our Tivo every night.  There is just no way to see all the shows we want to see without conflict, so nightly I sit down and go through and set up the shows on the Tivo, usually getting them all recorded thanks to cable shows being shown more than just once a night.  (Thanks Cable TV Channels!)  Without the Tivo, our TV watching just about ends!

So, of course, I call Tivo. They have a special 800 number for Series 1 users to call.  The first person I talked to told me that my Lifetime Service can be moved to a new unit, if I purchase a new unit. So, my wife and I begin perusing the Internet looking for the best deal.  I call back the next day, ready to complete both the purchase (they had the best deal) and said transfer only to be told THIS time that I CANNOT move the service to a new unit because it was purchased after some arbitrary date.  (Again cue internal screaming!)  He offers to transfer me to a supervisor, but I really didn’t see the use of that.

Time Passes.  A week goes by and my ire has bubbled over. The Lifetime Service Guarantee was not purchased paired with the S1 unit and even if it were, MY unit is working fine. The only reason it’s not going to be working is that as of Septemer 29, Tivo will stop supporting it. No Lifetime. No Service, no Guarantee.   I decide to call in a third time, and Yes, I will speak to a supervisor, thank you very much!  So, I was halfway through my oral dissertation on the dictionary meanings of ‘Lifetime,’ ‘Service,’ and ‘Guarantee’ as they pertain to Customer Satisfaction and he stops me to say that they WILL transfer the new service to a new unit.  So, we complete the purchase, during which I ask him at least 6 times to say again that the unit will come with the Lifetime Service Guarantee.  He says yes, all 6 times. 
The Tivo Bolt

Though the shipping is ‘standard,’ we get the our new Tivo Bolt in record time, 1 day.  We open and begin reading and discover that, before we can make the Tivo work, we need something called a Cable Card.  It's Friday night, but we know the local Comcast office is open so we run on over only to discover they have no Cable Cards in stock and don’t expect any until at least Tuesday. (We could order one to be mailed to us, but I want to get the thing working NOW!) On a whim, the next morning, I find out that there is a Comcast office across town open all day (even on Sunday!) so across town we go and we get the cable card and after a long morning shopping, we head home to install said Cable card  Which. Doesn't. Work!  I even called Comcast tech support who assesses the problem immediately (the store gave us the wrong type of card) and thankfully the office is still open so across town I go again, where they each look at the card I was given and shake their heads because, yeah, they knew by looking at it that it was the wrong card. (Thankfully, the guy who gave us the wrong card was out, or he might have gotten an earful.) Home again, Home again and the card is installed and the Tivo makes its first call. 

But –

As fate would have it, now that the Cable Card is installed, we can see that the Tivo had no service attached. The Lifetime Service Guarantee that I was told (6 times) would be with the new Tivo was not transferred.  I check the website and find that there is a page to transfer service, but it won’t work, probably because it’s a S1. Too late to call Saturday, I call Sunday. I'm transferred around a bit, but finally get someone who agrees, that the service will be transferred. They promise me that Yes, the Service is set to be transferred and it will be transferred hopefully by the end of the day.  TWO DAYS LATER, the service is transferred and all is well in Marvinator's Tivo-Land.

In fact, it’s more than well.  The new Tivo has things on it we hadn’t really expected.  The old Tivo had one channel recording. There New Tivo has 4 Channel recording. It also has Netflix, YouTube and several other streaming apps!  Lastly, just the other day, I was browsing shows and found myself on channel 1207, which is HD.  WHAT? (Yes, I said this out loud, which startled the cat.)  That’s right, the new Tivo allows us to get all the HD Channels we’ve been unable to get with our Standard Definition Cable box!  (Yes, more exclamations!)  This means our big flat screen TV no longer has a black border around it.  The picture fills the screen! I will now do the dance of JOY! 

Ok, no dancing, not at my age. 
Nothing more to see here….move along….I got shows to record.....

Added 09/29/16 WHOA!  There buckaroo.  Not so fast.
Seems we were a bit fast there on the uptake.  It's been a few weeks with the Tivo and I'm discoving things I never knew they could do.  (You can set up recordings online!) BUT we found one more problem. 

We rarely watched Xfinity Video OnDemand because their interface was so slow and clunky and the videos disn't always load properly.  In attempting to find a NEW show that we had missed the first episode, the Tivo found it available OnDemand.  BUT when I pressed the button to play said video, we got this error:
Grey Lines obscure personal info. 

A quick search on the internet showed that this may be because the Cable Card is not properly "Paired' with the new Tivo.  There is a special number to call just for this error.  I call.

I ended up calling three times because each time they'd tell me that the information is showing correct and they re-enter it and yet we still get the above. 

The third time I call, I finally get transferred to Tier 2 Support and - as soon as he picks up the phone, I again call up the VOD show so that I have the error in front of me, and - THE TIVO STARTS TO WORK PROPERLY!  I was actually speechless. You see, I'm a computer tech and I can't tell you the number of times someone has called and when they try to duplicate the problem, the unit begins working properly.  I explain this to the guy and we both have a good laugh.  What probably did happen is that the first two calls did not properly input the information or click the finalization button to actually PAIR the card with the Tivo. 

Either way, be sure you check all streaming services before you say things are set right. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Beer Party!

Standing in the line at the grocery store the other day when my wife surprised me by picking up a big beer.  And, I do mean big: one of those massive Australian lagers that took both hands to pick it up and hand it to her.  Now, I hear what you're thinking:  my lovely wife, buying beer. Double Ewe Tea Eff!

That night, she took the massive can of brew out into the garden and returned with it empty.  So, I'm thinking my wife has a drinking problem.  Well, actually there's no problem, she drank it without spilling so there's that.  In actuality, my wife was after snails.  That's right, snails. 

A couple of months ago, we replanted the front garden (yet again) with new plants.  Unfortunately, they began getting chewed up by snails almost immediately. Zounds! I shouted. Get the salt! Get the chemicals!  Get the garlic butter! (Oh wait...)

My wife, the consummate natural gardener, eschewed chemicals (and garlic butter) for the more natural approach.  Beer.  You see, the snails are attracted to the beer like a college freshman to a kegger!  (Though not for the cheerleaders they hope to see, but for the yeast in the beer.) My wife positioned 4 shallow dishes in the garden and then filled them each with beer.
(Green and red dishes...very festive!)
In the middle of the night, the snails crawl toward the beer, fall into the pool of brewski goodness and drown.  (A moment of silence for the snails.)  The only bad part is that once the snails die, they attract flies by the boatloads, so the dishes have to be switched out regularly.  

Took my wife 4-5 nights of beer parties for us to finally see fewer and fewer snails in the dishes come morning. It also took a second trip to the store for a three-pack of tall boys.

Ain't no party like a Beer Snail Party!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Adventure Science Center Adventure

This last week, my lovely wife and I hosted two of our grand-kids while Mom and Dad went off to Mexico for rest, relaxation and Margaritas. Heavy on the Margaritas. With this onset of this blasted heat in the last weeks we've all been stuck indoors, so we've been looking for things to do that are, well, out of the house, but not in the heat. Also they have to be geared to the youngsters so a night out at the Wild Horse Saloon is out. Pity, that. 

If you search the Internet for things to do, you'll come across any number of things to do in Nashville, but most are the heat, which is not what we were wanting.  We decided to try the Adventure Science Center. Described as a multilevel museum with hands-on exhibits & a planetarium that teaches kids about tech, health & ecology. I'd been to the place when my youngest was a kid, and we had a great time and I even remember some of the things we learned together. I envisioned great bonding moments aplenty. 

Upon entering, I noticed a lot of changes and not all of them good. To begin, the pricing was a bit high at $14.95 for adults and this counts anyone over the age of 12.  Only slightly less for younger kids, but to tell the truth, the younger ones are the ones who enjoy it the most. There are additional fees for the moonwalk exhibit and the planetarium shows.  We opted out of both extras.  

The biggest change is the exhibits.  Lots of lights, buttons and noise.  In addition, the exhibits were bigger and better laid out.  Where before the exhibits were like pods placed at random across the floor, the exhibits now were large and incorporated the walls, ceilings and more. There is an ambulance that kids can climb into and see all the equipment up close. 

Lastly, when we first visited, the only food available was from vending machines. Now, there is a full service Subway Sandwich Shop right inside the center! Nationwide standardized pricing, too!

And now the problem:  So many other people had the same thought as we did. So the place was overrun with kids.  This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the attitude of the parents which was basically just follow along with the running screaming kids while they watch their phone.  The kids run up to an exhibit, punch the buttons, twirl the dials or just grab it and see if it moves.  Then, without seeing what part of science the exhibit may be demonstrating, they run off to the next one.  Lots of noise and voices and more noise.

It was difficult to try to read the exhibit and then figure out what the exhibit was teaching and then impart this to the grand kid in an entertaining way.  Successful? No. Nothing else to do but just punch the buttons and let's move on.

All in all, we had a nice time. However, should we plan this again, I would go on a weekday and I intend to check the parking lot for overcrowding as an indication of a problematic day. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lay's Potato Chips - Southern Biscuits and Gravy Flavored

When I was a kid, I could go through a king sized bag of Lay'e Potato Chips (what they now call their 'Classic" chips) watching TV after school.  I still  love those golden, crunchy classic snacks.  You can imagine my delight and surprise when the lovely Mrs. discovered this new flavor: Southern Biscuits and Gravy. The mind boggles...the mouth waters...

A quick search of the internet reveals that this flavor is the winning flavor from Lay's annual "Do Yourself A Flavor' contest. Southern Biscuits and Gravy was the 2015 winner.  

Now, to be sure, I still crave those classic taters.  They fulfill a special roll in my all important snack-choice menu, but this new idea pings my also important Southerness.  (Yes, Southerness. It's a word, and if it isn't, then it should be!)  My afternoon snacking will take on new heights as I look forwar to trying these and the nice thing is that they will remain on the shelves for the foreseeable future.  Taste a bit of the South with me, boys and girls! 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Returning to Post

In the last couple of weeks, almost a month, I've been unable to post. It's not you, it's me. You see, last September, we lost our 17 yr old Grandson. It was sudden and we're still reeling. Then, this last month, we lost another, our 21 yr old Grandson. My wife and I are emotionally devastated. It seems all we try to do is get through each day. Posting on here just didn't seem to be as important as it was before. I hope to get back to it, and hope you'll bear with me in the doing.


Friday, June 3, 2016


When it comes to Presidential Elections, this has been one of the most contested and fiercely fought campaigns in recent memory - and the real campaigning hasn't even begun yet! Though being a Good Ol' Boy from the South may have nothing to do with it, there are vastly different candidates and for one time I plan on spouting off on who is best and who isn't.  

So, let me take a quick look at each of the candidates and what you're exactly voting for.  

Rubio:  Mayor of New York.  I have no idea why you would vote for this man other than that.  
  Result: No vote.  

Kashich:  Misplaced millions as Governor of Ohio, made cuts to public education, questions about voter fraud have also been raised. 
  Result: No Vote. 

Cruz:  Cruz is a christian and makes no qualms about bringing this to the Oval Office.  This means he's totally against the constitution, equality and ignores the whole "separation of church and state."  He would create a 'Christian ISIS' in the US. 
  Result: No vote. 

H.  Clinton:  Benghazi and email scandal.  Need I say more?  Clinton has more skeletons we haven't seen and yet people rally for her as if she's the second coming.  She is.  You really want a second Clinton in the White House? I won't even go into the whole SuperPac funding. 
   Result: No Vote.  

Trump:  Many years ago I said that we needed a business person in the white house.  We needed someone to tell it like it is. I didn't mean Chump, oops, Trump.  Bigoted, improper and has no real reason to be running this country and has been likened to Adolf Hitler in his campaigning. 
   Result:  No Vote. 

Sanders: Pushing for many changes, but unable to prove how they will be paid for.  Called a Socialist (though I'm not sure that's accurate in this case.) It's obvious at the time of this writing that Sanders may not get the nomination of his party.  If he was the type of candidate I hope, he'd run as an independent the rest of the year. 
Result: Mixed.  We need Sanders, but do we need the government spending he seems to be backing? 

As you can see, it's not a clear cut field.  What to do?  We need to vote, just not sure for whom!

For many years, whenever I was faced with the election, I carried two thoughts into the booth: 
  1) When in doubt, vote for Pat Paulsen - Lord knows he can use the votes - and he never wins anyway, so why not? I voted for the master candidate a number of times; though I can't remember how many exactly. What this taught me, however, is that any vote for anyone other than a justified and viable candidate is just tossing out your vote. You'd be better off not voting at all, and save the gas it took to drive to the voting station. But not voting is even worse, when you consider the field of possibles!
 2) Vote against the incumbent.  There have been any number of petitions, arguments and protests stating how Congress needs Term Limits since the Executive Branch (The President) already has them.  We don't need term limits, we need better voters. Tired of the same candidate? Vote Against the Incumbent! Term Limits established! 

These two thoughts have served me well, though in my entire voting career (starting in my first presidential election in 1976) I have voted for the winning candidate exactly 1 time.  But you see, it's not about voting for the winner.  It's voting PERIOD - and casting a viable, usable vote! As has been often said and by writers, poets and pundits alike, "If you don't vote,  you can't whine about the outcome!"  AND additionally, if you vote for a candidate that has no chance of winning (Sorry, Pat!) that's just as bad. 

Register now, get ready for November!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Zen and the Art of Household Maintenance

Did you ever have one of those weekends where you get so much done you think time has stopped?  This last weekend was like that for me.  Normally, I can get one major project done for the whole weekend.  Usually, the lawn, or maybe something on the Everlasting Living Room Project. About the end of that one project, I'm out of energy, out of steam, out of ideas; but this last weekend was the total opposite.

The Weekend of Fun and Frolic (capitalized because, why not!) actually started Friday night, when after dinner, my wife announced that the washer was not working properly. I had the time to drain the washer and clean the filters to see if that worked, but it didn't, so it looked like my Saturday morning was set, working on the washer.   

Saturday: Up early, coffee in hand, I tackle the washer project with wild abandon.  I found a video on how to open up the front of the unit to get at the drain pump.  (All indicators pointed to the drain pump as the actual broken culprit.) That's the washer dismantled with me sitting rather proudly in front of it.  (How did we repair things before Youtube?)  

Back to the internet, I find several places that would sell me the part, but more importantly, I found one in town that was open until noon and had a universal replacement part in stock!  Being as it was only 9 AM, I went for it!  Paid for it over the phone and into the car and in no time I'm back putting the new drain pump in the washer.  It took me a while to get the pump actually into the housing (universal fit, my ass!) but by 11 we were washing clothes.  To celebrate, we went out for pizza for lunch! 

This is the point where I enter that realm of Zen and the Weekend. After lunch, I told my wife I really wanted, no NEEDED to get the front lawn mowed as in some spots the grass was already 10"-12" tall. She said she'd head out shopping without me and in no time, I'm in the zone of mowing the front yard.  

For those keeping score, this is two major projects so far.  

Next, while mowing, I note that the mower won't fit behind the nearly dead butterfly bush.  My wife had even told me that the bush should be removed and I'd been meaning to either remove it or just move it for some time. Without a second thought I grabbed a shovel and dug out the bush and moved it forward about 6 inches; just enough so that the mower can now fit between it and the house and keep the grass behind it mowed.

A third project bites the dust. But it doesn't stop there...

As I was cleaning the mower (gotta keep your fossil fuel powered friends in good running order!) I recalled that the weather report had said it would be raining later in the weekend, and at the same time I recalled that a section of our roof that is prone to leakage might need to be looked into before said rain arrived.  When I was putting the mower away, I grabbed some rubber roofing sealant and a caulking gun and in no time I was up on the roof looking into the leaky roof problem.  

While I was at it, I also took time to check out my chimney cap and found it in terrific shape. The flashing on the cap needed fresh sealing (ok, I used the wrong stuff to seal it when I installed it) and since I had the rubber roofing caulk in my hand, I made sure that the chimney cap was better sealed than before.  

Projects 4 and 5 completed - and it wasn't even dinner time!

Sunday:  My lawn may be small but due to my usual level of energy I'm only able to get the front or the back yard done in a single day.  The time after I usually spend laying under the fan in the bedroom, sweating, breathing heavy and saying things like 'Oh lordy, lordy lordy.' Today? While the wife headed out to go shopping, the back lawn beckoned and Sunday saw me getting the back lawn done in no time flat.

Yes, I know you consider that part of mowing the lawn, but it's my decision - Project 6!

Again I found my energy and focus off the charts and looking around I found some more projects to complete.  A pile of leftover tile and cement boards needed to be cleaned up in one area along with some wood that I had tossed out during the Floor Rebuild of the Everlasting Living Room Project in another.

I'm calling that two separate projects (7 & 8) and I'm not done yet!

In front of our house is a big, big tree.  Around the base of said tree is usually a thick jungle of suckers and vines, some taller than me, that need to be cut down to keep the tree from dying. I should do it every year, but just can't seem to fit in the time. With three sets of clippers in hand, I waded into the jungle, cutting and hacking and tossing everything into the brush pile.  Result:
Hard to tell by this, but the brush pile in the background is about 6 feet tall in the center!
Not only that, but it just so happened that Wednesday of this week was the day that the city trucks came by and picked up the brush pile!  So, we won't be staring at that massive pile of branches all summer.

So that's it.  9 projects in one weekend, and I still had time Sunday afternoon to do some leisurely shopping with my wife.  Was it something I ate? Or didn't eat?  Will it come again?  One can only hope.  Such is life on the Marvinator's Southern Estate. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Nashville Walls Project

Monday morning, we came into work and discovered the incredible 3 story artwork above. It covered a rather unsightly old wall which was revealed when the old building next to it was torn down and replaced with a parking lot.

At the time, it didn't have the phrase next to it, nor an author and no real evidence of whence it came (yeah, I said whence, and I'd do it again.) The very next day the words appeared next to the mural and  then we started hearing about the Nashville Walls Project.

Nashville Walls Project pulled together some internationally renowned street artists and turned the walls of the city's central historical and new buildings into canvas. Niels Shoe Meulman took over a building downtown and turned it into an abstract Calligraffiti ode to Johnny Cash. Another mural by the artist "Any time now" has covered a wall of a private residence in Nashville. And, some new Abstract Vandalism paintings on canvas and Gibson guitars by Niels "Shoe" Meulman are being exhibited at Tinney Contemporary art gallery taking part in the Nashville Walls project.

It's kind of neat to see old ugly walls covered by these immense mural like walls of art.  When you think of Nashville, you really don't think of art in any particular respect.  Perhaps this project will give new meaning to Art in the Music City. I know I enjoy seeing  them even if only to get rid of the old walls they covered.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Shots Fired!

If you're the type to watch the news then you have, no doubt, heard of the shooting which took place this week in Nashville, Tennessee.  The shooting took place in the downtown bus station (aka Music City Central) and is both tragic in its circumstances and outrageous in how it all went down.  

To recap, two teenagers rode up and down the escalators for a long time looking for their 'target.' Once spotted, one of them produced a handgun and proceeded to fire 10 times. His intended victim was hit, as were 3 innocent bystanders.  

It is unimportant to note that this is the bay where I pick up my bus, and that this was, in fact, the same number bus I take every afternoon, but this one leaves 20 min before I get to the bus station. What is important to note in this story is that the teenager who fired in cold blood upon another fired 10 times and only hit his intended target once.  This, from a mere 20 feet away.  

I could talk about the crowds running in terror from this terrorist. (Yes, anyone who fires a weapon in a crowded area regardless of intention spreads terror and is, therefore, a terrorist.) I could talk about the unintended victims who were shot only because the shooter was such a bad shot. (Fired 10 times from only 20 feet away and hit him only once.) I could talk about my own involvement in this entire scenario, but in fact, I didn't arrive at Music City Central until the crowds were out and the large gates were already pulled down so that the police (who arrived in 2 minutes) could do their job. 
Gates are down - nobody in or out!
I could talk about all that, but so many other news agencies, blogs and tweets have already said as much. What hasn't been said is what happened to the large crowds who, like myself, ride the bus nightly and rely on those buses to get us home.  

What happened was this: The MTA supervisors, walkie-talkies in hand, stood in the street, directing the onslaught of buses as they arrived, directing them to the curb.  Once at the curb, passengers got off, passengers got on, and the bus pulled away.  Immediately, the supervisor directed another bus into the vacated spot.  It was like a well rehearsed dance. 

Oh, but wait, there's more.  The entire time the supervisors were out in the street, the crowd milling around, talking loud about the whole thing, cars pulling through to pick up friends or family; the supervisors never lost their cool, calm, professional demeanor. There was no shouting on their part, no exasperated pointing or waving of arms. It was the most incredible display of 'being in control' I have witnessed.  

The police also responded cool and calm, and took over the situation quickly as has been said many times over. It seemed to me that no one mentioned the bus station employees; drivers pulling into a street loaded with other buses, cars and supervisors vying for their attention.  There were few, if any, problems. This can only be attributed to the pre-planning on the part of Music City Central Staff and well trained bus drivers. 

And the true temperament of the South.  
Thanks to you all.   It needs to be said, and said again.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

Crepe Murder Most Foul!

Living in the south, and doing the amount of lawn work I do, it's a darn good thing I don't have a Crepe Myrtle Tree. They take a lot of understanding. The Crepe Myrtle is a beautiful shade tree with blossoms that run from white, to lavender, to magenta to ruby red.  These trees start off their lives as rather unassuming diminutive things. However, if left to grow in their natural beauty, these trees become majestic monuments to the charm of the Southern landscape.  My goodness it all but makes you want to put on a white suite and sip a Mint Julep!

But there's some (cue dark menacing music) who lurk in the shade that know not the beauty of the Crepe Myrtle.  In the late fall, they cut away at the branches, hacking and sawing until all that is left are bare stubby trunks and all but nonexistent branches.  Murder!  Crepe Murder, Most Foul!

Crepe Murder, Most Foul! 
So, since again, no Crepe Myrtle in my yard (and thankfully, no Crepe Murder) I thought I'd look into what it really takes to trim one of these beauties, without murdering it, and post it here.  And, here's what I found. When you chop a crepe myrtle, the branches will grow back.  However, the shape of the tree is destroyed and you will produce a stunted shrub-like tree that lacks the grace of a naturally-shaped crepe myrtle.  The pic above shows a tree hacked just above it's 'knees.'  This tree will be short and stuffy and lack any definition. But, I hear ya, what DO you do to trim such beautiful lawn guardians? ok, so now we present:

Marv's Notes on How To Properly Trim a Crepe Myrtle
When the tree is dormant (in late winter/early spring), you can lightly prune a crepe myrtle in order to encourage a particular shape or to remove limbs that are in the way. The key words here are LIGHTLY and SHAPE.  You're not trying to start over, you're just making 'adjustments.' In addition, when the tree starts to put out new growth, you may see shoots that appear at the base of the tree. These should also be removed cutting close to the ground. Look back at the top and you can see that tree has been trimmed lightly, allowing the several 'legs' to grow naturally, no knees, no hacking and chopping.

The key is to use a light touch and your tree will grow to be a true Southern beauty. Sort of like me.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Chimney Master Update

It's been a long winter and I've been trying to finish the living room project (don't ask) so I've been out of pocket (read: not wanting to blog) the last two weeks. I figured I'd better get my blog on and catch you up on some things. 

As you can see above, the living room is now painted, but my abilities with mud and tape are none too good so I'm going to have to redo a few areas.  Slowly, a section at a time, I should be done by the time I retire sometime next century.

The chimney cap has been in place now for nearly 6 months.  A half a year.  And with all the rain we've had lately, I thought I'd get up there and check it out.  Ok, so no, I didn't go skulking around on the roof at oh-dark-thirty but I did take some time to examine the piping in the attic, and the chimney cap itself.And from what I can tell, there are no leaks and the chimney cap itself is still as bright and great looking as it was the day I put it up.  I took this picture early this morning and you can see it's still looking good one winter under its belt.

When the weather is better, I plan to get up there and give it a thorough going over to see how my hand made invention fared.  Look for updates here! 

Stay tuned! 

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Southern 'Mater Sammich

Many years ago, back in the west where I grew up, a friend introduced my wife and I to the Southern Tomato Sandwich.  He was absolutely amazed that we had never had one.  (Colorado is not known for its tomato sandwiches.)  He worked feverishly to produce the two and watched us as we bit into them. I can only call his expression one of rapt anticipation.  

For the uninitiated, the South is known for all kinds of special food:  Southern Fried Chicken, Southern Barbecue, Fried Okra, Grits and yes, the Southern Tomato Sandwich (or 'Mater Sammich, one might say.) That day many years ago introduced me to this phenomenon, and to be honest, I enjoyed it; but when I recently took to the internet to find a picture for this blog entry, my heart fairly skipped a beat.   

It appears that there is no real consensus as to the makings of said Southern 'Mater Sammich.  I found inclusions of Italian spices, onions, and all manner of bread treatments just to name a few.  I suppose, to compare, it's like any good thing you find and enjoy, everyone has their own take.  

My take?  Bread, Mayo, Tomatoes, touch of salt.  A Southern Tomato Sammich.  If you add onions, then I'd expect you call it a Southern Tomato and Onion Sammich. If you like pickles  on yours, then I'd expect you'd call it a Southern Tomato and Pickles Sammich.  You want Italian Spices?  I will refrain from mentioning how I feel about that.  

My simple recipe for a 'Mater Sammich is as follows:
2 slices of bread (Regular white sandwich bread is preferred, but whole wheat is ok.)
2 slices of tomato (more may be needed to fill the sandwich, also ok.)
Touch of salt.

The best clue here is to use big beefsteak tomatoes.  2 slices, and slice them thick, about a quarter of an inch at least.  Then, cut the slices in half so that you have 4 half moon pieces.  Prepare the bread by spreading Mayonnaise edge to edge on both slices. (Again, my own enjoyment means that I use a WHIPPED, spreadable salad dressing rather than mayonnaise and it's a MIRACLE that I don't mention the name here.)
Incredible Life Like Simulation!

The true secret to the sammich is to lay the tomatoes so that the straight edges of the cut slices align with the outer edge of the bread.  All four rounded edges meet and overlap at the center.  (This means tomato in every bite!)  Sprinkle with just a touch of salt and put the top slice on.

My daughter will tell you that the finished sammich should be cut diagonally, corner to corner, but I prefer to cut it in half, side to side. (Cutting a Mater Sammich top to bottom is only for reprobates, heathens and surly dead-beat ne'er do wells.)

There you have it.  You can, of course add anything you want to your 'Mater Sammich; pickles, onions and  yes, even Italian spices.  It don't make no never mind to me, just don't ask me to eat one.

When it comes to my partaking of Southern 'Mater Sammiches, I am a purist.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Dinner is Rain Delayed

A few years ago, we had quite a rainy spring here in Nashville. It led to some historic flooding and we are only now getting past it.  Overall, rain is merely an inconvenience to southerners...more so to those who drive in the rain.

I don't drive in the rain much. Only when I have to. Mainly because I take the bus to and from work. But you knew that, didn't you, Bubba?  The real reason I don't like to drive in the rain is not the rain, but the other drivers.  At times I think it's worse than driving on ice and snow. 

You see, here in Nashville, drivers who brave the rain fall into two categories. Impatient and overly cautious.  You can extrapolate this to be 'fast' and 'slow.'  Unfortunately, the latter keep the former from going fast, and the entire thing ends up being more of an exercise in futility than a drive in the rain.  

I have no idea why this is.  For some reason people who would drive at the posted speed limit (or more) on black ice will drive at 10 miles per hour in the rain. The fast guys think the rain is no big deal and speed around like they're planning on hydroplaning all the way home. Add to that the fact that most roads in this area are filled with engineered bottlenecks and you have the perfect situation for constant traffic jams.  (And accidents.  Many, many accidents.)  

Me? I'm safe and sound on the bus, reading my electronic reader, while the bus driver handles the crazy traffic.  Drivers on the bus are cool, collected and well trained.  Rain or snow, they have a 'we'll get there when we get there' sort of mentality that keeps them from driving their 58' behemoth over those small smart cars and their slightly larger cousins.  

Bringing this down to the end, it means that the rain gets me home late. Sometimes only 5 or 10 min, but sometimes as much as an hour or more.  My wife has no idea what time I will be home on rainy days.  

My wife plans dinners to such a degree that they are just about ready to be served when I walk in the door. Hot, juicy and tasty.  So, nights I'm late, means my dinner would be hard and dry and cold. So, when it rains these days, my wife plans simple means of salads, or quick cooking fish,

So, there you have it. Rain, Slow Southerners, Fast Southerners and Dinner Menus therein affected. Such is life in the South.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Plastic Project: It Begins

I've had a lot of time to think about the Plastic Project.  For those of you who do not remember, the plastic project was my idea of getting all of my tools into plastic bins, plastic boxes, plastic cups with lids and much etc, just to protect them from the oncoming humidity of a rainy Southern Spring.  

With much of my main project done, I've begun putting things away and what better way to put them away than to put them into plastic.  As I began putting things up, I noted that it was important to know what's in what box, as many of the boxes are the same. And the answer was obvious: Markers.  Well, yeah, the bins and cups and plastic rescued from Plastic Paradise all have their own labels; but many of them have the labels printed on the plastic. I had thought of using some sort of sticky tape or label, but then I remembered the hot Southern Summers and how that might dry out some tapes, or melt the glue on the backs of labels making quite a mess (as well as making it more difficult to identify what's in each box, cup or bin.) I decided then that each plastic container must be 'mark-able.'  That is, it should have a smooth surface somewhere I can take my nifty medium point permanent marker and label what's inside just as you see above and below.
There is, of course, one caveat - one catch - one noteworthy note.  Print clearly and press on the marker with a moderately heavy hand.  You don't want to be digging about in the shed next year wondering what that label says. Don't write where you will be holding the thing either, as you can wear off the letters.  

Ok, there you have it, the first steps in the Plastic Project.  I hope to post more as the project continues.  Check back next week!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Loss of a Southern Icon

It's been a long week, and longer still to learn of the passing of Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Harper Lee was and may always be known as a Southern Icon.

Harper Lee, whose 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird became a national institution and the defining text on the racial troubles of the American deep south, has died at the age of 89. Lee, or Nelle as she was known to those close to her, had lived for several years in a nursing home less than a mile from the house in which she had grown up in Monroeville, Alabama – the setting for the fictional Maycomb of her famous book. The town’s mayor, Mike Kennedy, confirmed the author’s death.

Until last year, Lee had been something of a one-book literary wonder. To Kill a Mockingbird, her 1961 epic narrative about small-town lawyer Atticus Finch’s battle to save the life of a black resident threatened by a racist mob, sold more than 40m copies around the world and earned her a Pulitzer prize.

But from the moment Mockingbird was published to almost instant success the author consistently avoided public attention and insisted that she had no intention of releasing further works. That self-imposed purdah ended abruptly when, amid considerable controversy, it was revealed a year ago that a second novel had been discovered, which was published as Go Set a Watchman in July 2015.

The house where Lee lived for years with her sister Alice sat quiet and empty on Friday. The inside of the house appeared unchanged from when she lived there – antique furniture was stacked with books, audio cassettes and gift baskets.Her neighbor for 40 years, Sue Sellers, said Lee would have appreciated the quiet. 

Her literary agent Andrew Nurnberg said in a statement: “We have lost a great writer, a great friend and a beacon of integrity.” He added: “Knowing Nelle these past few years has been not just an utter delight but an extraordinary privilege. When I saw her just six weeks ago, she was full of life, her mind and mischievous wit as sharp as ever. She was quoting Thomas More and setting me straight on Tudor history.” 

The South has lost it's voice and is dark tonight.