Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flintstones at Fifty

The Flintstones debuted on September 30, 1960, so today is the fiftieth birthday of the cartoon. Google is celebrating by commemorating the series on its webpage.

Visit to the East Tennessee Discovery Center

Sarah and I visited the East Tennessee Discovery Center, which is in Chilhowee Park in Knoxville, and she loved it. We had the place entirely to ourselves, and she spent almost three hours enjoying all of the exhibits.

Audiobook Review: The Ascent of George Washington

On my trip to Johnson City on Friday, I completed The Ascent of George Washingtion -- The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling in audiobook form. This is the second audiobook I've listened to this year that argues that the Founding Fathers that we revere were actually self-serving politicians who engaged in political activity for personal gain. The other one, A Magnificent Catastrophe, was about the presidential election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

The Ascent of George Washington follows his political life from his early days ingratiating himself to the powerful Fairfax family of Virginia, to his service in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, through his two terms as President and his retirement. Throughout his story, Ferling paints a portrait of Washington as a master politician and public relations expert who became the father of his country by being the person that Americans rallied around during the Revolutionary War and the earliest days of the Republic. He was also extremely lucky. Washington's public relations mastery was such that today we do not think about him as a politician at all, but instead we think of him as a paragon of virtue.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Boy and His Turntable

When I was a teenager I started my music collection, mainly in the form of phonograph records. I played some of the first albums I ever had on some pretty bad record players and wore them out, but I soon learned to keep my records in pristine condition. I became quite proud of the collection and bought decent stereo equipment to play the music.

Now, of course, most people listen to music on compact disks and/or I-Pods and computers, and even I let my turntables fall into disrepair as I began to rely on the new media. After numerous changes of address, my albums have taken some damage, too. I don't think I've played a vinyl record since Sarah was born seven years ago, which is sad.

To remedy the situation, I took the two turntables I have to Stephen's Audio Video on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. In five minutes he had the newer of the two, the Technics turntable pictured above, operational, and he didn't charge me a dime. I got the turntable home and set it up, and I put Jimmy Buffett's You Had to Be There on. It was one of the first records I owned, though the first copy was one of the records that fell victim to too much wear on bad record players. You Had to Be There was released in 1978. I turned fifteen, my stepsons' age, that summer. Buffett was only thirty-one when the album was recorded (as he sings on the live version of "Landfall" on that album). It still sounds just fine.

Saturday Outing

Here are a few pictures of Sarah from our trip to Townsend on Saturday.

Kids aren't generally all that thrilled with hand-me-downs. I think Sarah's pretty happy about Joey giving her his old I-Pod, though.

Living Room Before and After

I finally downloaded the snapshots we took of our living room showing it both before (above) and after (below) Sherry and Sarah painted an accent wall. The red paint they used really looks good in the room, and it reminds me of our cabin.

Skeletal Remains Found in Bellevue

The Nashville City Paper reports that yesterday skeletal remains were discovered in Bellevue, the community on the west side of Nashville where Sherry and I used to live. They expect the remains will be identified as those of a man who has been missing since the flooding in May.

Who Was Charles T. Cates?

The bridge that carries Highway 129 over the Little River just before it flows into the Tennessee River at the county line between Blount County and Knox County bears the name of Charles T. Cates, and I wondered about who he was. According to this source, he was a Maryville attorney, a Civil War soldier who served in the Union Army under General George McClellan, and a politician who served in the Tennessee General Assembly and as Tennessee Attorney General.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Girls and Cats and a Governor

Sherry and Sarah are doing some more volunteer work at the Blount County Animal Shelter this weekend. They spent an hour there yesterday morning, and they are back at it again this morning. When they return, we're going to drive out to Marble Springs, the home of John Sevier, Tennessee's first governor, where they are having Sevier Days Arts and Crafts Fari this weekend. The event includes people dressed in costumes appropriate to the 1700's and demonstrations of crafts and skills of that time period, which is the primary focus of my historical interest.

What is Geocaching?

I noticed the word "geocachers" on an adopt-a-highway sign the other day and wondered what it meant. Geocaching is a treasure hunt where small treasures are hidden, and then the hiding person enters GPS information about where the treasure can be found on a geocaching website. Anyone who wants to can go find the treasure, but if they take something from the cache they are supposed to leave something of equal value. In any event, the finding person enters information about their locating the cache in a log book and online.

You learn something new every day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Football Saturday

We drove up to Townsend this morning to the crafts festival at Nawger Nob. We didn't buy anything but kettle corn, but we enjoyed wandering through the booths and seeing people's handiwork. We made a point to get back home in time for me to watch the Tennessee vs. UAB game, which is in progress. The bottom line is that this is shaping up to be a lazy Saturday afternoon, which is okay by me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bad Joke for My Wife

My wife is a fan of Reese Witherspoon, an actress who was raised in Nashville. Sherry usually tolerates bad jokes reasonably well. I hope this one doesn't get me in any trouble.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Black Walnut Blight

I've always thought of trees as things that live almost forever, and seeing huge growths of trees die over the past decade or so has been troubling. The pine beetles, which have been here for a long time, have destroyed acres of pine trees, and the woody aelgid is devastating huge stands of hemlock. The latest scourge is Geosmithia, a fungus that rides in on beetles and causes something called thousand cankers disease in black oak trees. The botanists studying this latest plague upon the trees predict that it will kill all of our black oak trees, as it has in the West. The disease has been found here in Blount County.

MORE: The marmarated stink bug is all over Knox County. I saw one on our screen door last night. And, there are also bedbugs.

Another Day, Another Adventure

Sarah is traveling back up to Sevierville today with her Dynamic Discovery Days cohorts to visit the Rain Forest Adventure, and to the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo, which we visited as a family a few years ago. I've heard the Rain Forest Adventure is pretty cool, and we enjoyed the petting zoo when we went. I suspect she'll have a grand time.

Tomorrow Sarah's class will put on a circus at 2:00 p.m. I have a meeting of the East Tennessee State Court Clerks Association in Johnson City at noon, so it is doubtful I'll make it back to town in time to see their performance.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dude Was Tough

Mental Floss:

"When house painter Richard Lawrence’s shots misfired, Old Hickory beat him with a cane until he could be apprehended. Dude was tough. "

This is What Happens When You Marry a Geek

I learned from my wife this morning that today is Hobbit Day, which celebrates the September 22 (by the Shire reckoning) birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. I feel quite certain that this information would never have captured her attention but for being married to me. She may never become a full-blown Lord of the Rings fan, but she pays attention to the important things.

Cirque De Chine

Sarah's school is on fall break, and this week she has been in a program called Dynamic Discovery Days with a circus and animal theme. One of the teachers brought her two pet ferrets to school, which has been Sarah's first experience with those curious and cool little creatures. (My mom had a couple of them years ago, and they were stinky, but fun.)

Today they went to the Cirque De Chine in Sevierville to see Chinese acrobats perform. Her field trips have taken her to see several attractions that no one else in the family has been to, and this trip falls into that category. Since she takes gymnastics lessons, it was right up her alley.

Autumnal Equinox

Today is the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sarah Learns About Van Gogh

Last weekend as I was driving Sarah to the local animal shelter she started singing "Vincent," the Don McLean song about Van Gogh. Apparently they are studying the impressionist in first grade art class, which I find commendable, and my child described to me Van Gogh's famous painting Starry Night, which is one of Mom's favorite paintings.

Monday, September 20, 2010

El Camino

A guy in my neighborhood drove a Chevrolet El Camino when we were in high school, and I never really cared for the half-car, half-truck concept. I have always driven automobiles, and have never owned anything with a truck bed. If I was going to drive a truck, I'd want a regular truck, rather than something that is in between a car and a truck.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys! Arrrrrrrgh! Those wanting to avoid a bad pirate joke should not click here.

Washington's Farewell Address

George Washington's famous farewell address was printed in the American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796. In the address, Washington explains to the American people his decision to retire from public life after two terms as President, and he offers advice for the future governance of national affairs. He also conjures their loyalty to the fledgling national government. (Click here to read the full text of the address.)

The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

Green Acres

When we went to the Home Depot yesterday to buy paint, I picked up a garden rake, which got Sherry and me on a Green Acres kick. Our story isn't quite parallel to that of the Douglases of Hooterville inasmuch as ours began with a country lawyer moving to the city when I moved from Maryville to join my wife in Nashville in 2002. Five years later, I persuaded my city-girl wife to move from her big city home with me back to Maryville. (She still can't pronounce "Vonore.")

Sarah hasn't seen Green Acres, and thus had no frame of reference for our silliness yesterday. After I paid for the rake, paint and accessories, I turned back to Sherry, extended my hand and said, "You are my wife!" She replied, "Goodbye, city life!" And we skipped out of the Home Depot singing the rest of the theme song. I'm sure the people behind us thought we were quite out of our minds. (Sarah's going to have a hard time with us when she's a teenager.)

Those Girls Love Kitties

As I was walking up the street this morning back toward our house, I saw a black Volvo approaching and thought, "That looks like Sherry's car." Sure enough, it was my wife and child heading out to the animal shelter to help out again this morning. When I was there yesterday, Sherry was actually working. Sarah just hangs out and helps socialize (i.e. play with) the kitties like she was in this picture from last weekend at the Nashville Humane Society. This is Sarah Nirvana.

Greekfest Photos

Here are a few photographs from the Nashville Greek Festival, which Sherry took the kids to last weekend.
Sarah loves a snow cone.

If she were a President, she'd be Babebraham Lincoln.

Football and Paint

Sherry finished her painting project yesterday, though she decided to put off painting the front door to another day. The red paint she selected evokes the red paint on Grandmother and Granddaddy's cabin to me, and pulls out the other red colors in our living room nicely. We'll put everything back in its place this morning after Sherry and Sarah wake up and see what the finished room looks like.

While my wife labored, I watched the University of Tennessee football team fall to the Florida Gators 31-17. Last week, a couple of big plays by Oregon took the wind out of UT's sails, and I was happy to see that the Vols played hard the whole game this Saturday. Mistakes cost the Big Orange the game, but they are a young team.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Supper at Laura and Stewart's House

My sister, Laura, and her husband, Stewart, hosted the family for supper at their place on the Little River yesterday evening. The gathering was arranged so we could all visit with a friend of the family, Cathy, who is in town this weekend for the big UT vs. Florida football game this afternoon. Mom and Cathy went to UT at the same time in the '70's, and Cathy tutored my sisters and I when I was in junior high school. Cathy helped me with my algebra back then, and I was proud to be able to tell her I made A's in the two algebra classes I had to take to get an undergraduate degree. Frankly, I still don't like math much, but Cathy showed me I could do it if I put my mind to it.

Laura served a chicken and spinach casserole of her own creation, and it was delightful. Both before and after dinner we took turns sharing stories from when we were kids and about our lives as adults. I took Sarah and Grace down to the river shortly before we ate, and although I couldn't coax Gracie into the water, Sarah and I both took a dip.

Sarah spent the night with Mom last night, so it ended up being quite an event for her. I picked her up over at Mom's place in Knoxville this morning and delivered her to Sherry at the Blount County Animal Shelter, where the two of them did some volunteer work while I went grocery shopping. We have now completed our weekend errands, and Sherry and Sarah are going to paint an accent wall in our living room. They're going to use the same burgundy color on the front door that they are using for the wall.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Restaurant Review -- Donna's Place, Burns, Tennessee

I decided to leave the state park to go and see what the rest of Burns, Tennessee, looks like and to have lunch. I found a restaurant, Donna's Place, at 2101 Highway 96, in Burns, a very small town. I got there around 1:00 p.m. local time, and the parking lot was full of vehicles, which I took to be a good sign. It was one of those restaurants where the servers knew just about everyone, except for this East Tennessean.

Unfortunately, by that hour most of the country cooking had already been eaten, so I ordered a cheeseburger from the grill menu. It was a monster, and it was cooked to order, so it was nice and fresh. The burger and a glass of tea was just over $6.00, and I left a $2.00 tip even though the service was a bit slow due to the crowd. I give the place a thumbs up.

UPDATE:  We went to Donna's Place for breakfast when we stayed at Montgomery Bell State Park in November 2014, and were disappointed to see that it had closed.

The Skipper

I love this story about Alan Hale, who played the Skipper on Gilligan's Island.
Unlike some of his fellow cast members, Hale embraced his role as the Skipper and didn’t mind being typecast. For years after the series ended, he visited children’s hospitals in costume, signing autographs and cheering up youngsters. Sherwood Schwartz was present during one of those visits—an 11-year-old Gilligan’s Island fan was just stirring after having a kidney removed and he saw Alan Hale at his bedside. “Skipper?” he whispered groggily. “That’s right, little buddy,” Hale replied, “Skipper’s here with you and everything’s going to be all right.” The child’s surgeon beckoned Hale and Schwartz into the corridor. “We have no medicine that’s anywhere near as good as that,” he said.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bell Blogging

I made the drive of four hours to Montgomery Bell State Park today without incident, and have checked into the inn. Not all of the rooms here have internet access, but the nice lady at the front desk was able to put me in a room that does, which is a nice convenience. When I was here last year, I saw several deer during my stay, but saw none on the way into the park this afternoon. Perhaps I'll be lucky enough to see some on my walk tomorrow morning before the conference begins its business.

A Visit to Montgomery Bell State Park

After a meeting this morning I depart for a clerks' conference at Montgomery Bell State Park. I will be staying at the inn, pictured above. Montgomery Bell is described by the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture as "an industrialist and ironmaster." He lived from 1769 to 1855 and produced iron in the area of the park. In fact, there is a trail through the park that takes hikers through ore pits that were excavated around 150 years ago.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Zoo Photographs

Here are a few more snapshots of Sarah and one of her classmates exploring the Knoxville Zoo.

Busy in Nashville

Sherry and Sarah went to Nashville this weekend to visit Jake and Joey and Grams. Sherry took the kids to the annual Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Franklin Road yesterday, and they had a good time. They planned to meet my cousins Fran (my first cousin once removed) and Kinsey (Fran's son and my second cousin) at Centennial Park to see a production of Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost yesterday evening, and I feel certain Sherry and Sarah stopped by the Nashville Humane Association at some point to visit kittens, one of Sarah's favorite Nashville outings. Sherry said they may also visit the Adventure Science Center today, so they will have had a very full weekend by the time they make it home this afternoon.

Knoxville's Greekfest at Saint George's Greek Orthodox Church on Kingston Pike will be October 8, 9 and 10 this year. We've attended it for the past couple of years, but will have to miss it this year because we'll be back in Nashville that weekend for Joey and Jake's birthday party on October 9.

Defeated by the Ducks

The football Vols were trounced last night by the Oregon Ducks, who were favored to win the game. I watched it until halftime, at which time the game was tied 13-13. The Vols played a decent first half, but didn't bring anything out of the locker room for the second half. As soon as I rolled out of bed this morning I checked the final score. It was 48-13. Quack.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

I have been watching some of the televised speeches and events taking place today as our nation remembers the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. Nine years sounds like so long ago, but it still feels like it just happened.

Studying Mammals

Sarah's class is studying mammals this semester, and they took a field trip to the Knoxville Zoo yesterday to give them a chance to visit some.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius

Shortly after law school I memorized a Latin sentence," Expressio unius est exclusio alterius." to convince people I am a lawyer when I am not dressed in my customary business attire. It is a canon of statutory construction that means an express enumeration of things excludes things not enumerated. For example, if a statute outlaws apples, oranges and lemons, then bananas and grapefruit are legal because they aren't on the list of illegal fruit.

Today, for the first time in my professional life, it came in handy in court this morning. I have been insufferably pleased with myself ever since.

Rosh Hashanah

Today is Rosh Hashanah, sometimes thought of as the Jewish New Year, although it is much more than that. It is a Day of Judgment, and a time to acknowledge one's sins and to rededicate oneself to living a righteous life. It is also a Day of Remembrance, during which the story of Abraham and Isaac is contemplated. Foods associated with the holiday include Challah, a sweet bread, honey, apples and fish heads. (I'll pass on that last one.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Metro Schools to Issue Jake and Joey Laptop Computers

The Tennessean reports that Metro Nashville school system has announced that it will provide laptop computers to the entire freshman class of Hillwood High School, which conveniently includes Joey and Jake. The kids will be issued their computers on Friday.

In my day we didn't have computers, and we had to walk uphill to school and back in the snow.

Betty White Comic Book

Betty White now has her own comic book. My wife, a big Golden Girls fan, will be thrilled.

Busy Week

I took a trip up to Gatlinburg yesterday afternoon to see a college buddy of mine from North Carolina get married. I drove up via Sevierville Road and Chapman Highway, but came back home by driving through the National Park, which was nice. I've had a couple of busy days at work, and concluded my day today with a drive over to Knoxville to pick up some records from the Court of Appeals of Tennessee.

Sherry plans to take Sarah to Nashville this weekend to visit with Joey and Jake and Grams. I'm going to make that drive and then some next Tuesday when I travel to Montgomery Bell State Park for a clerks' conference, so I'm going to cool my heels at home this weekend unless I decide to go camping.

Happy Birthday to the Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was first published 118 years ago on September 8, 1892, in a children's magazine, The Youth's Companion. The pledge has changed some over the years, with the last change being the addition of the words "under God" by Joint Resolution of Congress on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Earth and Moon from Mercury's Neighborhood

The Messenger spacecraft, which is studying Mercury, the planet closest to our sun, took this picture of Earth and the moon from an area in space near Mercury's orbit. We are now accustomed to seeing our planet as a great, blue orb. Seeing our tiny planet from this distance gives one a bit of a different perspective.