Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clanging beer mugs and stale dish rags

Over the weekend, Rockstar Aimz blogged her playlist of favorite drinking related songs. Her title "King of Beers" caught my eye as that used to be the tagline for Budwiser - sponsor of the #9 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge.

But once I realized her entry wasn't about racing, I still read closely because her music interests mirror mine pretty closely. While I don't collect drinking songs specifically (songs with city names in their title is my forte), I had a few faves I wanted to throw into the mix. I know there are scads of songs out there on the subject across every conceivable music genre. My music of choice, however, the last 15 to 20 years has been alt-country, Americana, folk rock, or however you want to label it. And the songs below clearly reflect that bias.

Several of the songs on my faves list make their way to an annual playlist I compile for our NASCAR race weekend in Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. (Funny - hadn't thought about it until now, but none of these songs involve soft drinks.)

Out in the Parking Lot - Guy Clark

Whole Lotta Liquor to Like Her - Pete Schlegel

Ol' Milwaukee's Best - Adam Carrol

Drunk All Around This Town - Scott Miller

I Came To Drink - Chance

Sell A Lot of Beer - Warren Brothers

Horseshoe Lounge - Slaid Cleaves

One Bud Wiser - John Rich (sung here by Gretchen Wilson)

Bar Exam - The Derailers

Barlight - Charlie Robison

And for those of you who follow my racing blog, you know I can't leave out this one...

This is one of those blog entries where Rockstar Aimz and I could use your help. Don't just read this time - contribute. Belly up to the bar with a comment of a song or two or ten to add to our lists. Comment your additions here or at My Aimz is True - doesn't matter to me. Just comment away and relax knowing its 5 o'clock somewhere.


Pig Pulling, Breaking Barriers and a Nooner

One of the attributes encouraged amongst our folks at work is to be a "barrier breaker". For many years, I labored under the apparently false illusion a "barrier breaker" was a bad thing resulting in threats from irate dads, ostracism at school, marriage at a young age, and sometimes in rare cases even the growth of a mullet.

But it turns out, being a "barrier breaker" in the work place is a good thing. If you are successful at being one, it means you start hanging out with others in the department with whom you don't normally work on a day-to-day basis. And if you do it exceptionally well and can convince a higher-up in the department to nominate and vote for you, then sometimes there is even a cash award to go along with your skill.

The idea of course is you'll learn a lot of new info about your co-workers through casual conversations that you wouldn't otherwise know. Our office is pretty rigidly segregated into functional areas through the use of invisible divider panels. You don't just go crossing willy-nilly from an IT area into financial turf - its just not done. Unless of course you develop your game as a "barrier breaker" or provide tech support for a department software app (which I do).

Friday, Cara, Leslie, and I went to lunch to work on possible solutions to several of the world's problems and to strengthen our individual and collective skills as "barrier breakers". Leslie suggested the lunch outing giving her the BB edge. Cara then offered to drive which pulled her into a BB tie with Leslie. My contribution was to select the place.

Our choice? Jack's BBQ - the original Trinity Lane location. Its not quite in the hood, but its on the warning track to its entrance. But you've gotta go where the good eating is. A few weeks ago, I pimped out Hog Heaven as a fantastic BBQ joint in Nashville. The truth is we have several great ones. Folks in North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas will all shout you down about how great their individual style of barbecue is compared to the others. Nashville will never claim an original recipe - we just sit back and pull the pig, munch the brisket, or gnaw the ribs while the rest of 'em fight it out.

Remember the first rule of finding good barbecue? The goofier the name or look, the more likely you'll find good Q. The name "Jack" isn't so silly - but the pink pig with his name on it out front is - so Jack's passes test #1.

So off Cara, Leslie & I went. To Jack's. In Cara's husband's new car. As a reminder, my selection of a barbecue place depends on the answer to 3 questions:
  1. Does it have a hokey name or motif?
  2. Does it have a genuine hickory wood pile - especially one scattered about showing its used?
  3. Does it have a variety of cars in the parking lot to indicate patrons from differing economic strata?

As I worked on my skills as a "barrier breaker", I made myself open to new ideas. I tried to listen more. I tried to learn something new. But I have to admit when I heard these unexpected questions asked I tweaked my head such as a dog often does when he hears a high pitch whistle :

  1. Do they have good slaw?
  2. What kind of barbecue place doesn't have fries?

I had to step back and take a moment to look at the world through another's eyes. I mean I like some slaw - but most slaw isn't good. And I can eat me some fries when I'm in the mood to do so. But the failure of either will not deter me from eating BBQ if my original 3 tests pass.

Yet it was important to Cara and Leslie these questions be answered. They learned (1) Jack's does not have good slaw and (2) the absence of fries was offset by the quality of the pulled pork. A barrier breaker success? I say yes.

The three of us wrestled with such profound questions as:

  1. Why does our travel agent continually remind married women get a new driver's license and Social Security card? Isn't there job to book travel and to send out the courtesy reminders about TSA checking names?
  2. Is it OK to snicker at folks with funny last names like "Nooner"?
  3. Does anyone have the first idea about the rules of the card game Euchre?
  4. Can a co-worker who has volunteered to plan a themed event at an in-house training seminar be fired from his volunteerism if he is slow on his progress or has dumb ideas - especially if 2 barrier-breaking other co-workers have much better ideas and a willingness to help?
In the end, the meal and the conversation were excellent - even if we didn't resolve any of the world's problems (after all, we only had an hour). And the two of them ably demonstrated their barrier breaking skills by all but delivering a turn-key party theme in 30 minutes - something that couldn't get accomplished by 5 of us in 6 weeks.

Leslie - Thanks for putting the invite out there for me. Cara - thanks yet again for driving - and I hope your husband enjoyed the replacement new car smell of hickory and mesquite.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well, the boy finally cut one

It took him over 14 years to get the job done, but my son finally cut one. And it was a good 'un too. His effort didn't even use that much gas, but he was pretty smelly when he was done.

I'm talking about him finally getting around to cutting the grass. What else would it take him 14 years to cut?

Truthfully, I was right proud of him. No complaining. No "can we do it this weekend instead?" He shut down the Wii and was out the door ready to roll as soon I told him it was time. August 13, 2009, was a momentous day for him. He began his morning with his first day of high school and ended it with the responsibility of handling the mower and my trust he could get it done.

He even pitched in with edging and running the blower to boot. The ol' boy might just amount to something yet.

I took the high road and bragged on him for his efforts. I spared him my stories about having mowed a ton of lawns by age 14 - enough to earn enough money to buy a drum set, lodge a couple of mower blades in tree roots, and run over the family dog house on my dad's Craftsman rear-engine riding mower (I'm glad they didn't have camcorders or cell phone cameras back then).


Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to school this week

Well, its back to school for the young'uns this week. Not sure where the summer went. Wait..oh, I'm sorry...the summer IS STILL HERE. Yet, off they'll go to the bus stop for day 1 on Thursday and then come home grousing about having to do homework on a nice summer afternoon.

The return to school got me to thinking about a song from one of the true originals of rock and roll - Chuck Berry. I haven't listened to this song in years.

For my son, this is really a watershed year - ninth grade - the beginning of high school. He's ready. Me? Umm, the jury is still out. Lots of big stuff expected the next 4 years - driving, college choices, dating, and a smorgasbord buffet of temptations. I'll be watching, listening, and a'prayin for him, that's for sure.

I wonder if the pep rallies in year 1 for him will turn out anything like this. Hit it Joey, DeeDee, and the boys!


TMC S'mores

After blogging about the fun at Water World last night, I had an all-of-a-sudden S'more craving. But a few challenges existed:
  • No camping
  • No graham crackers
  • No marshmallows
  • No fire

Not to worry, however, as I improvised to satisfy my snack craving. I present to you my Too Much Country S'mores - marshmallow creme, a Hershey's mini-bar, and some nilla wafers. Yum, yum.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Water World X

Last weekend, about 100 or so scouts and family members from my son's Boy Scout troop went to Water World. This year was the 10th edition. Water World is held on Davies Island on Center Hill Lake near Smithville, TN.

Several folks from the troop do an unbelievable job planning the 4 day event. A master kitchen is set-up, and menus are planned to serve 3 squares per day to over 100 hungry people. Several dads donate their time and use of their boats to pull boys (and plenty of dads) on tubes and water skis. And the boys have great opportunities to earn merit badges in motor boating, skiing, canoeing, and eating. Well, actually that last one isn't true. There isn't an Eating merit badge - but if there was plenty of folks would easily earn it.

I don't have much of a role in planning the event. I just show up, help where I can, enjoy the time on the island and the lake, and watch these boys have the time of their life.

Three years ago, my son and I went to our first Water World. He had a good time, but he didn't have a ton of watersports skills, size, or confidence. He was 11 years old, didn't know a lot of the other scouts, didn't have strong arms, legs, or back, and didn't throw himself fully into all the merit badge offerings.

This year - three years and a 4th Water World later - I was particularly proud of him for many reasons.
  • He volunteered to go up a day before on the "advance team" to offload a TON of personal and troop equipment, dig latrines, get a kitchen established, weed-eat overgrowth in camp areas, etc. - all in about 90 degree heat. The fun didn't begin until he and the rest of the advance team got their work done. I really appreciate his service-minded volunteerism, plus it meant I didn't have to go until later in the weekend.
  • He also tackled water skiing for the first time - and earned the merit badge. One of our adults who teaches it encourages the boys each year to try to earn the badge. He also tells them, however, skiing is challenging and most scouts don't earn their merit badge in the first attempt. Most who try it flop during their first Water World but then return the next year with 'lessons learned' in their mind and earn the badge. My son, however, got up on skis in his first attempt and skied back and forth across the lake. Admittedly, it took him 4 Water Worlds to work up the confidence to try it. But once he set his mind he wanted to try the badge, he strapped on the skis, listened to instructions, held on, and skied across the surface of the water.
  • He recruited a younger scout, got to know him a bit better, and then worked with him to win first place in the gunnel jump canoe race. He worked with another young scout on Sunday to finish 2nd in the annual Pudding Cup race. (The Pudding Cup is where the scouts have to paddle canoes and kayaks across the lake as hard and fast as they can - mainly so we can get them loaded on the trailer and get outta there. As I understand it, the adults pulled some Jello pudding out of a cooler to give as a prize the first year. So the name kind of just stuck in subsequent years.)
  • He helped an older scout with his Eagle project - building nesting shelters for barn swallows around the marina.
He obviously received some direct rewards - a skiing water badge, service hours for his rank, recognition as a patrol leader, etc. Yet he got a few indirect rewards as well. A few of the older, more adventurous scouts invited him to go with them for a more rowdy round of tubing. He was asked to help set-up the area for an Eagle rank ceremony. He was able to boss around and break-in some newbie scouts. And perhaps the most lasting reward - he got the attention of the girls who were on the island during the week as sisters of scouts. None of this was even remotely possible three years ago.

Spending time with these boys and young men is really a lot of fun. Its almost rewarding enough to take your mind off the fact you can't hoist a Schaefer for a few days as you watch the sun set.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Got myself a theme song!

From time to time, I Google my own name just to see what's out there. Pretty interesting stuff based on a recent search:
  • a Facebook user who shares my real name (but its not me)
  • someone with my name who graduated high school in San Diego (I didn't)
  • some dude with the same name as me who is tied in with Converse and apparently assisted in getting a sponsorship deal for a skateboarder
  • someone who married a gal with a name different than my wife's name (please don't tell her - I have enough trouble with my own life much less managing the life of someone else who shares my name)
The other thing I like to do is Google "too much country" or "toomuchcountry". I had the label hung on me in 1991, and I eventually embraced its uniqueness.

Recently, I found Terri Fann's web page. Terri is a songwriter living in Austin. She does not share the same name as me, but she did pen a song called...ahem...yep...Too Much Country. Its been recorded as a demo with male vocals, and Terri was kind enough to share it with me.

Powered by

So now I've got myself a genuine theme song!

You can hear a few more of Terri's songs at:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good deed for the day

I've never been able to bring myself to donate blood. As a teen, I had allergy shots regularly. And I've had to give a couple of vials of blood over the years for routine physicals and such. So I've done the needle thing and had a bit of the red stuff removed. But donate a bag of blood? Shudder...its just not my thing.

I carry a signed organ-donor card in my wallet. Several years ago, I was moved by the actions of some friends who lost a daughter - yet enriched the life of many others by donating many parts of her body. I quickly decided once I'm declared 'gone', they can take all they want. Put my innards on Craigslist, donate them to Goodwill, auction them on eBay. I don't care.

Today, Ozzy Nelson donated blood. He walked to the Red Cross, did his duty for his fellow man, and then called me to come pick him up. The last part was a bit out of the norm because he normally just walks back to the office, but he was feeling a bit light-headed today and needed a lift.

I shortened a meeting, got my car keys, and cheerfully went to pick him up. We were almost back to the office when he realized he'd left a DVD he wanted to watch at the Red Cross. So I drove back a 2nd time to retrieve it.

Many successful efforts are often the result of a team effort. So even though a nurse or phlebotemist or whatever they call the blood-draining people didn't take my blood physically, I kinda feel like I did a good deed. Its almost like I gave blood if you think about it. Right?

I wonder if I can claim a partial 'community hour' through Payroll for my contributions to the Red Cross.


Hospitality or Hypocrisy?

We've been attending our current church for about 2 years. Its supposedly the oldest, still-existing church body in town - and I think maybe even in the state. I'm still not as fully involved with its programs, ministries, and people as I was with previous churches we attended, and I don't yet fully know the vibe of its membership.

On Sunday mornings, the services are well attended. We run 2 concurrent services at 9:00 AM and another two at 10:30. The parking lot is filled to capacity - including spaces designated for visitors.

During the week, however, a chain is draped across the main entrance to the parking lot to prevent folks from entering. The chain remains even on Wednesday nights when the church is abuzz with mid-week activities. (To be fair, a smaller entrance on the other side of the lot IS open during the week.)

I don't know if its purpose is to prevent teens cruising, folks loitering, driver cut-throughs to avoid a nearby stop sign, or what. Its particularly interesting the church chooses the limit who can park in our lots when we're encouraged to park on Sunday mornings in the city-owned, taxpayer-funded parking garage a half-block away.

Although I don't understand the purpose of the chain, it does appear to me our hospitality-inspired church slogan may be a bit in conflict with our outward and visible signs. Car broken down? Hungry? Need to get away from an abusive spouse? Need a place to stay? A teen looking for answers other than bad grades, booze, dope, and getting laid? Cool! We'll help you - just drop by on Sunday when we take down our orange cones and steel links.

Nothing says Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds more than a "keep out" chain and sign.

I don't mean to trash the church in general or our church specifically. I hope its not a sin to type this. Instead, I hope its a way to hold the church accountable to the teachings of Jesus.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Welcome Home

A friend returned home this afternoon. About a year ago, he walked away from a multi-year career working for the same company and department as me. He then proceeded to cram a lifetime of experiences into the next 352 days by traveling the globe.

I'm guessing the majority of the few readers I've got know Jay and that he's returned. But some may not. If you don't know Jay but have been a bit curious about what its like to travel the globe, spend some time perusing his multiple blog entries from Costa Rica to Brazil to Australia to Cambodia to Egypt (friggin' backsheesh moochers) to Israel and so on.

We met Jay this afternoon as he returned. We didn't meet him at the airport. Fortunately he had family arrive to greet him. Instead, many of us gathered at Outback and hoisted Sam Adams, Foster's, Bud Light, Blue Moon, white wine, etc. for our own version of Suds Summit to celebrate his safe return to the good ol' USA, hear some additional stories, and share some laughs.

Welcome back Jay.