Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One of my fave Nashville business names

Someone help me with the appropriate choice of grammar here. Is this paradoxical? Is it ironical? Is it an oxymoron? Or is it just doggone funny?

Anyone care to add a "caption this" in a comment?


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bread and Fish

The scripture lesson at church this morning was John 6:1-15. Even the most casual of church-goers probably remembers the general theme of this text - the feeding of the 5,000. In short, Jesus was able to feed 5,000 folks on 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread donated by a young'un.

The story itself is a great miracle - regardless of whether one believes it happened literally or represents some sort of metaphorical message. As for me, I'm not enough of a studied theologian or blind fundamentalist to know if the story is true exactly as its written. Instead, I take it for the miracle it represents in Jesus taking care of his followers as he routinely promised he would.

But I did have an old-school mindset modified today. For whatever reason, I always envisioned the boy's offering of fish and loaves looking like a couple of smallmouth bass and some Hawaiian dinner bread.

I don't know why. I suppose the images were put in my mind because they were portrayed that way in paintings, clipart, and altar props. A young boy would not be toting around that much volume and weight for his lunch meal, but I never really thought about that angle.

Today, our minister reminded us the 5 barley 'loaves' were not much more than what we know as crackers and the 2 fish were about the size of sardines. That illustration makes a lot more sense from a packed lunch view, but it also magnifies the mystery of the miracle exponentially.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ectomy, Ostomy, Whatever - Just glad its over

I'm at home recovering from a bit of outpatient sinus surgery. What was originally planned as a 4 hour outpatient surgical stay ended up being an overnight inpatient visit.

I can't pronounce - much less spell - the two procedures the surgeon performed. Some kind of ectomy and some kind of ostomy I think. One had to do with some sort of roto-rooter cleaning out of the upper chambers of my sinuses, and the over had to do with repairing a deviated septum.

As I understand it, the septum separates the right and left nasal passages. The cartilage should be fairly even down the center of your nose. As a visual illustration of it, think of the pretty straight route of the Mississippi River.

But based on the results of the MRI I had performed a few weeks ago... septum apparently was shaped more like the Tennessee least when the map is turned sideways.

GIF animations generator

I have no idea how my septum deviated or why it chose to do so. But my doc said it was likely a big cause of my sinus issues, snoring, and speaking so nasally (combined with being born-and-bred Tennessean).

As part of the procedure, my doctor jammed two foam "splints" up my nose to control the bleeding. I had to leave them in 24 hours. The official name was a "splint", but the nurses cackled when they told me I had two tampons up my nose. They laughed - I did not.

But if I had laughed and blown out the splints, I guess the outcome would have been better than when Doug McKenzie started laughing on the witness stand after using two of the bailiff's bullets to stop his own nose bleed.

Once I shed this look (and no - that is not an over-sized milk mustache), they cut me loose & to home I headed.

Perhaps I should file this blog entry under Too Much Info vs. Too Much Country.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In-law vacations - a microcosm of failed socialist ideas

The daily onslaught of new policies from the Obama administration continue to keep folks in 3 polarized camps - his ardent supporters, his harshest of critics, and a third group of "remind me who Obama is again".

Pushing the 3rd group to the margins, the supporters and critics line up against one another with tons of rhetoric about why the other side is wrong. Rarely is it that any healthy, substantive, practical examples are offered by either camp.

But I will attempt to illustrate why this fast-moving move towards forced socialism is doomed to failure once folks realize what is happening in the here and now. I will demonstrate the futility of socialistic policies using a very tangible, very real, and recently experienced set of examples. In-law vacations.

Free housing - I should be grateful. The condo my family stayed in last week was free. However, 'free' is a relative term because we stayed there on someone else's terms - in-laws. The week, location, unit, sleeping arrangements, etc. were dictated by in-laws. The attraction is real - free lodging. With 'free', however, always comes option limitations. If funded from our own pocket, we'd have less cash in the bank to be sure. We would, however, have been in the position to determine where we'd like to go, when we'd want to go, and where we'd like to stay. We could have flown to Seattle...or cruised to Hawaii...or rented a house outside the city limits of Orlando. A trade-off to be sure.

Personal use of car - We recently bought a new car and drove it to East Tennessee. Because our unit only provided 2 parking passes, my wife's new car was demoted to the overflow lot where we no longer had ready access to it during our stay. FIL drove it down there. The 2 parking passes went allocated to his Dodge van and SIL's car. We were only to have access to our Toyota when he agreed to take us there. As a result, we crammed 9 of us into his Dodge mini-van to drive to Dollywood so we wouldn't have to pay 2 parking charges.

Entertainment - Again, I suppose I should be grateful. FIL insisted he buy tickets for everyone at Dollywood. His offer certainly seemed a generous, paternalistic gift to be certain. Or was it? We had to go when in-law say go. We had to stay until in-law say leave. The original plan my wife had was to go to Dollywood on Tuesday and Splash Country waterpark on Wednesday. FIL, however, had a different idea. He wanted to go to Dollywood TWO days - Tuesday from 3 PM until close and again all day Wednesday (2nd day is free when the 1st day's ticket is purchased after 3 PM). Because of his generous bail-out funding for the Dollywood tickets, plans were re-arranged to accommodate the greater interests of FIL.

Dining - Because SIL is a picky eater, she is sympathetic to her children who are also high-maintenance, picky eaters. Because MIL is mother to SIL and because Wife is sister to SIL, both are empathetic to her plight and their requests. I'm neither empathetic or sympathetic. I was almost ready to explode "for criminey sake, eat the friggin' food the rest of us are eating and grow the hell up!" But I didn't because I am empathetic to my wife, and I wanted to return home in the same vehicle I drove there. Yet with in-law vacations, special provisions are made. Meals to be enjoyed by all are diminished so the 'special dietary needs' of the nephew and niece could be met (e.g. Pop-Tarts, boiled eggs with the yolks cut out, chicken fingers vs. chili, mac and cheese shapes vs. the boil and powder it option). Remind me again who was also having a vacation? Oh yeah, never mind.

Alcohol rationing - The first three nights of our stay, I provided unfettered access to the bottles of wine I brought with me. FIL and I emptied each of them. As previously blogged, I was in a bit of a pickle on Thursday wondering about a source from which I could quaff that night. Have no fear, FIL is here! We went to a nearby local winery for a tasting and ended up purchasing a few bottles. That evening, I asked him if he wanted to try either of the bottles I bought. He declined and suggested we try one of the ones he bought. Fair enough. After all, it was 'free', right? He poured each of us a glass. I told him I planned to take a quick shower once the other SEVEN folks finished putting a hurting on the hot water availability and soaking the bath mat. Once I dried, I returned to my vino. He had finished his 1st glass and poured a 2nd one...for him. Rather than offer me a 2nd glass - or simply leave the bottle available for either of us to finish (which I certainly would have done) - he re-corked it. He banged that baby home - level with the top of the bottle. No more wine was to pour forth from his $8 collectible.

Reclamation of personal assets - We had to be out of the condo by 10 AM last Friday. The mid-morning hour couldn't come early enough for me. Forcing the hand of my family to be on the road by 10:01, I set out on foot with a key fob in hand to reclaim what is rightfully ours - a brand new 2009 Camry with less than 1,000 miles on it. I returned about 20 minutes later having survived the walk, having dodged traffic like Frogger, and sporting a smile of accomplishment. Instead, I was met in the parking lot by FIL, MIL, SIL, and wife asking "where did you go? why did you go get the car?" I stopped, shed my smile, looked back at the recently parked car, and turned back around to look at the unruly mob. "Daddy was going to go get the car. Didn't you hear him say that? He was going to check-out and then bring the car back. Why would you go get it?" Speechless - I simply shrugged my shoulders like I was Gomer Pyle, dumb as box of hammers, and walked by all of them upstairs to retrieve my personal belongings so I could get the hell out of there.

By now, hopefully you see my points and understand the futility of fighting the man. Take your pick. Substitute any global, socialist, Obamalicious 'change' strategy du jour and substitute them for any of these in-law experiences. You'll soon recognize for yourself that what on the surface seems to be so grand in its generosity soon turns into a limitation of personal choice, revocation of personal freedom, seizure of personal assets, an embracing of needless victimology, and a questioning of personal judgment and decision making.

In the future, I implore you to choose your candidates...and your in-laws...wisely. Failure to do can have devastating effects for all involved. Consider yourself educated and warned.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14

July 14th - Anything come to mind that's special about today? Anything?

Awww, c'mon - try!

Its Bastille Day - the French national holiday. Duh. Doesn't everyone know that?

Actually, I couldn't give a flying rip about the Frenchies. But it does give me an excuse to serve up a generous helping of Rush from 1976.


Lunch in the park

Nashville has Centennial Park. It'll never be mistaken for San Diego's Balboa Park. Or the Boston Common. Or Central Park in NYC. But its ours. We don't have a world famous zoo in our park. No one took all our metal chains and poles to melt down for war armament. And we don't have a section in our park named for a song penned by a dead Beatle.

But its still a pretty neat park. Like all city parks, it gathers a wide variety of folks. People who like to run. Bicyclists. Moms with strollers. Inner-city childrens' field trips. Tourists. The homeless. Floriculturists. Baptists, Catholics, and Oldsmobile men.

Centennial Park also has one thing these other parks don't - the Parthenon.

Sure, Athens, Greece has one too, but theirs is all falling apart and everything. We fixed ours up real nice like. I'm not sure what the ancient Athenians paid for their Parthenon, and I'm not really sure what Nashville paid for ours either. The city spent a fortune about a decade ago carefully cleaning years of grime and pigeon poo from around the exposed privates of all those mythologial Greek fellers and womenfolk. What I do know I reckon then is maybe Nashville has taken better care of their 150-year old version than Greece has of their 2,500 year-old one - so there.

Another cool element of the park is that its just across the street from work. I really don't take advantage of it as much as I should. I generally hustle off to lunch, meetings, happy hour, scout meetings, Friday night Mexican dinners, etc. rather than take the time to enjoy a bit of time away from the cubicle farm.

Lots of folks use the park for exercise. Some ride around thinking they're destined to be Lance Armstrong's teammate. Some change into shorty-shorts and sports bras and spend their lunch hour jogging. Some leave on their work clothes and just change their shoes to tennies.

As for me, I use the park as a cut-through to the barbeque joint on the far side of the park.

With everyone else busy today, I was on my own for lunch. My initial reaction was to hit the company cafeteria, but it was simply too nice a noon hour - about mid 80s with low humidity - to waste it on Lunch Lady Land. So I headed off in my Dockers and wing-tips for a rendevous with pork.

I read an article several years ago about how to ID a top-notch barbeque joint. The writer suggested an acid test of 3 questions:
  • Does the place have a corny name? The cornier the name, the better the Q. On the frontside of Centennial Park sits...Hog Heaven. PASS

  • Does the place have a wood pile scattered about? If it does, it means the pitmaster and his crew are slinging wood around for true smoked flavor. If the wood is too neatly stacked, its simply a cosmetic addition to the location and you should avoid eating there. At Hog Heaven, the wood pile is inside a screened area where I couldn't get a good picture. I suppose they do so to minimize the risk of having the homeless snarf it for a pillow or an energy source. But it is there, and the wood is scattered about. Plus, they had two guys working on the roof today with an open-flamed, long-handled, propane torch which was cool. So PASS.

  • Does the place have a variety of vehicles parked outside - from a rusted pick-up to new a Benz? Hog Heaven is primarily a walk-up joint with a handful of picnic tables inside a screened-in covered area. The employees are covered in tats and piercings. The patrons wore everything from button-downs and chinos to jeans, wife beaters, and hard hats. White guys, black guys, Mexcian guys. Young folks. Thick folks. Blue collar. White collar. No collar. PASS
I'll put HH's Q up against just about any other place in town - Jack's, Whitt's, or Jim & Nick's. Famous Dave's? Fuhgetaboutit - you fail on all 3 tests.

Plus, Hog Heaven sells those great Zapp's chips.

So after an hour of chowing down, people watching, picture taking, and strolling peacefully back to the 2nd floor, its now back to the realities of ... blogging.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Night 3 of vacation

Oh no! I brought 3 bottles of wine. Its night 3, and now I'm out. I was hoping my contribution would be matched in part by other wine consumers - namely FIL and SIL. But it turned out not to be. FIL didn't bring any, but he actually hugged - HUGGED - me when I brought out the 3 bottles I packed. In almost 19 years of marriage to his daughter and multiple vacations together, I think that was the first genuine smile I've had from him and definitely the first hug.

SIL brought a single bottle some bottle of cheap strawberry zin I'd never heard of. Thanks for nothing as I wasn't going to turn to your wine to relief the stresses brought on by the whining of your own brood. What did that cost? $2.99? At least it wasn't Boone's Farm or T.J. Swan.

I have yet one more night to endure. I'm either going to break the bank drinking at a restaurant Thursday night (provided we're allowed to go to one) or I'm going to pay a visit to a local winery just down the street from the condo. Scenario #2 is best bet. I've had a blueberry wine from Destin FL, a Cab/Merlot blend, and Merlot the 3 nights. I guess its time I get me a local Muscadine vintage. On second thought, I wonder how one would taste if I swirled it together with a strawberry zin...naaaaah.

Gotta have something.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vacation...a time for R&R... and stress

My wife loves her parents and her sister. So do I...I just don't enjoy spending every waking moment wanting to talk to them on the phone... or vacation with them. But being the average husband and the reigning King Daddy-O (see earlier entry), I put my man piece on the shelf yet another summer and uttered those annual, traditional words "why yes dear, I'd love to spend vacation with your parents, sister, and her kids again this year".

To be fair, I get along great with my father-in-law and mother-in-law. My father-in-law and I have formed a bond over the last umpteen times we've all vacationed together. We generally wind up on a deck or balcony outside our unit, away from the hub-bub, kids scrapping, and the women-folk wrapping themselves in retro-versions of the Snuggie. We share a bottle of wine each night and share something even more difficult to aquire - silence. Pretty blissful.

I have a fair relationship with my sister-in-law - although our conversations generally go something like this:
SIL: and then...yada, yada, yada...I'm poor 'cause I teach school...and my ex...and the kids...yada yada yada...but I only like hamburgers or chicken fingers...yada yada yada
TMC: uh-huh [yawn]...can I get another Dos Equis please?
Its generally my high-maintenance nephew and niece that drive me to point of wanting to stab a pencil in my eye while I'm supposedly relaxing on my vacation. So the sooner I can get to that balcony with my wine and corkscrew the better.

This year's edition takes us to the Smoky Mountains area of Tennessee - specifically the redneck version of a quasi-Vegas strip-type area of East Tennessee better known as Sevierville-Pigeon Forge-Gatlingburg. Nine of us will be crammed into a single condo unit as tightly as a house full of illegal Mexican landscape workers.

Packing this year requires a different strategy. We traded my wife's Dodge Grand Caravan a couple of weeks ago for a Toyota Camry Hybrid. Gone is a paid-for, roomy van with reasonable gas mileage and plenty of seating and storage space. We now have a conscious-settling "green" vehicle with more options than a Shoney's breakfast buffet.

I have to admit it drives fairly well. And at my wife's insistence, we got the go-to-hell-on-Sunday (i.e. very cool) GPS / stereo system (tip to Ozzy Nelson for giving me this new adjective phrase). It apparently hasn't dawned on her - either before or after the purchase - that she only listens to a single radio station, doesn't care to load a variety of CDs, sees no reason to discontinue printing directions from Google Maps, and generally doesn't drive anywhere she or I haven't been before. So we'll likely have the sound turned down once her station turns to static, and she'll read me the "exit here" directions because we haven't programmed the GPS and I'm clearly to stupid to drive the approximately 200 miles to a destination I've been to many times before.

Because of the space needed in the trunk for the hybrid's battery and because its a sedan vs. the van, packing space in the trunk is at a premium. Now that I think about it, she wanted every premium offered. I'm surprised I didn't get an upcharge for "premium trunk space". Perhaps we should have gone for the Family Truxter.

But I digress...

The bad news is we no longer have the storage space, clothes hooks, and extra back seat we previously had. The good news is we now will only take the essentials and leave the "kitchen sink" at home (e.g. a winter coat for July temps, thick plastic hangers to hang gym shorts, boxes of cereal just like the ones that could be purchased at the near-by Wal-Mart). My SIL has already complained. In prior years, she and her kids have ridden with us to various vacation theme parks, restaurants, etc. - especially those requiring a parking charge. When she learned of our vehicle trade, she protested a bit. While not saying it directly, I think its chapped her that she'll have to drive her own vehicle this year and come off the hip for her own $5 to park.

So we're off. To paraphrase the great Clark Griswold, we'll be on a quest...a quest for fun. I'm going to have fun. They're going to have fun. The 9 of us are going to have so much friggin' fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our smiles... I have to be crazy. I'm on a pilgrimage to see boobs (sorry, subtle Dolly Parton-Dollywood reference there).

The original (caution for the young of age, naive, or easily offended):

Likely destinations include Dollywood, a water park, go-karts, and the condo pool. Mix in some in-room food prep and daily laundry chores, and whoo-wee do I have a load of fun facing me this week.

But the 3 bottles of wine are packed, and I'm sure I can procure more if needed.

Subsequent anecdotes to follow I'm sure.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

King Daddy-o

My wife had dinner tonight with some special friends of hers, and my son is visiting his grandparents. So tonight became a Dad and Daughter night, and we had a pretty good time.

We ate pizza at Mellow Mushroom. In getting some napkins, I knocked over the salt shaker. My daughter said she thought I was supposed to throw it somewhere. I don't think that's exactly how the superstition is phrased, but I used my right hand to toss some of the salt over my left shoulder. After doing so, I wasn't sure that was right so I asked the waitress. My daughter asked "you can do that? You are just gonna ask her?" The waitress was cool about it and asked around the restaurant to get an answer. Sure nuff, I had tossed it properly and avoided whatever bad luck that would have otherwise followed me the rest of my life.

I also introduced my girl to pictures of The Beatles on the wall - John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We also spotted pictures of Bob and Ziggy Marley. She is pretty perceptive and picked up on a couple of things even though she didn't know much about the music of any of them. She asked if the book "Marley & Me" had anything to do with Bob or Ziggy Marley. It did - the author and his wife named the dog after one of them (can't remember which) because they liked his music.

She then asked if it was The Beatles who sang "that song with the lyrics that didn't make any sense". I told her she'd have to be more specific because John and Paul wrote about a walrus, included the line "coo coo kachoo" in a song, penned Revolution #9 on the white album, etc.

She recalled singing something by The Beatles at a rock band camp she and her brother attended last summer. We both tried for a few minutes to think what it might be when I asked if it was Come Together. Yes, that was it!

Some of her favorite parts were "he's Coca-Cola" and "he's got knees". One of my favorite quirky parts of it is "he's got toe-jam football." Dude John, what the heck were you thinking when you wrote this thing?

We then got into a debate about what followed "he's got to be a joker..." She said it was "cause he do what he please". My vote was "cause he's so hard to please". So again, we brought over Miss Hippie Waitress to help us with our problem. Unfortunately, she didn't know the answer, wasn't too interested this time in asking others in the restaurant for help, and tried to make us believe we were both right (thanks Miss Hippie - its kind of like the soccer kids who ALL get trophies and don't keep score). We agreed we'd Google it when we got home to have a clear winner.

From the Shroom, it was off for ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. Ice cream was intended to be eaten in a cone outdoors. So that's what we did - she with the Chocolate-Peanut Butter and me with some sort of Vanilla-Chocolate-Caramel swirl thing.

She also got to ride in the front seat in my truck to the pizza joint, ice cream parlor, and back home. My wife hasn't let her ride front seat shotgun yet - so that's just a little secret between dad and daughter.

Once we got home, she thanked me over and over for the fun time.

I'll sleep great tonight knowing we had a fun time and for at least a few hours I was perhaps the greatest dad to ever walk the face of the earth.

By the way, she was closer to being right on the lyric than I was. Rats, beaten again by her intellect. Nice work dear.

"Got to be a joker
He just do what he please"