Monday, January 31, 2011

Mount Doom

This is lightening cascading around a volcanic plume in Japan. Click here for more images from the eruption of Shinmoedake.

Vintage Chicago

Last week I posted a link to some old photographs of New York. There are more interesting old photographs like this one of Chicago at Dark Roasted Blend.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Quiet Weekend

Sarah and I have kept a low profile this weekend. Although she has been free of fever for a couple of days now without ibuprofen, I've been keeping her quiet inasmuch as her doctor said she cannot return to school until Tuesday. It got up into the 50's here yesterday, though, so I did let her out into the yard to play a bit.

Sherry's been in Nashville for the weekend visiting with Grams and Jake and Joey, but she will return today. Both of us were prescribed Tamiflu by our respective physicians, and hopefully we'll dodge the influenza bullet. Of course, there's still the strep throat to worry about.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Behold the Bacon Cabin!

Behold the bacon cabin! (Via Neatorama) Also, learn how bacon is a "gateway meat" for converting vegetarians to carnivores.


It has been a while since I posted any pictures of the furry members of our family. I took the top picture of Molly trying out the new cat bed Sherry bought for her yesterday. I predicted that neither cat would go near the thing, but I stand corrected. Sherry caught both Molly and Emma hanging out together at the foot of our bed earlier this week.

Convalescent Ward

I was in Sarah's classroom earlier in the week, and six students were absent. Most of the kids that were there, including Sarah, were coughing and otherwise battling respiratory infections. Sarah had a temperature of 102.2 degrees Thursday morning, and her physician diagnosed her with both strep and flu. (We all had flu shots this season, but there's a strain of it going around that the vaccine wasn't aimed at.) She is not to return to class until next Tuesday. Sarah's not her usual exuberant self, but she was free of fever yesterday even without ibuprofen, so she's doing okay.

I think I have a touch of something, though I haven't had a fever. My doctor prescribed Tamiflu for me, so I'm hoping to nip it in the bud. Unfortunately, I usually catch whatever Sarah gets, and I spent two hours in her classroom with all the other sick little kids on Tuesday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago today space shuttle Challenger exploded a little more than a minute after liftoff. I was an undergraduate student at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina, at the time. I was out of class for the day and home working on an essay, so I didn't find out about the disaster until I reported for work at the college's print shop at 1:00 that afternoon. When I got to work, I found everyone huddled around a television and found out about the disaster that claimed the lives of the seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was to be the first civilian in space.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


I e-mailed Captain Randy down in Florida to see if he'd heard about Buffett's injury. Randy replied in what can only be described as Buffettese:

I guess Stars Fall on Australia too. Life is Just a Tire Swing. Now Everybody’s Talking about his Reggae Accident under the Big Top. Gravity Storms can happen when you’re on the Far Side of The World. Now he will Have a Permanent Reminder of a Temporary Feeling. Looks like even a Cowboy In The Jungle can’t keep from Defying Gravity. The hospital is sending the Old Man Home, But I’m sure he will Survive. He’ll Kick it in Second Wind and finish the Australian shows for another Party at the end of the World. Defiantly earning his License to Chill When the Coast is Clear. aahhh The stories We Could Tell. . Don’t Chu- Know, Clich├ęs.

Snow in Maryland

My Aunt Joan lives in Silver Springs, Maryland, and she sent my mom these photographs showing the aftermath of the winter weather system that delivered snow to East Tennessee yesterday.

Buffett Out of Hospital

Jimmy Buffett's reports he has been released from the hospital, and CNN says that a Radio Margaritaville DJ said he had stitches. I've been listening to the guy's music since I was fourteen, and he seems like part of the family, perhaps the "crazy old uncle" he sings about. I hope he's okay.

UPDATE: According to this article, a physician, clad in "shorts, a tank top and sandals," was on the front row of the concert, saw Buffett fall and rushed to treat him. Doc said Buffett, "was not seriously injured."

Be Afraid

These Golden Girls dolls are creepy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jimmy Buffett in Hospital After Fall from Stage

The Daily Telegraph reports that Jimmy Buffett has been hospitalized after falling from a stage in Sydney, Australia, where he was playing a gig. He was finishing the show with a rendition of "Lovely Cruise," was blinded by lighting and fell from the stage. Witnesses reported he was unconscious after the fall and that he had a big gash in his head. He is in stable condition at a local hospital. There's video of the fall here.

UPDATE: reports Buffett is "doing well and will be released tomorrow" from the hospital.

Sun Halo Over Stockholm

This is a sun halo over Stockholm, Sweden, from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

More Winter Weather

A weather system is moving across Tennessee. It is raining here in Maryville now, but forecasters are predicting it will become snow later today. Metro Nashville schools just closed, so Jake and Joey will be off today. We'll see what the day brings us here.

Meanwile in Florida

Someone abandoned a grand piano on a sandbar in Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cool Old Photos of New York City

I recently found a spread of really cool old photographs of New York City at Dark Roasted Blend.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Politicin' in Pigeon Forge

When we were in Pigeon Forge last weekend we ran into a nice Republican lawyer from Illinois. We talked a little law, talked a little politics, and then he went to get a funnel cake.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Last Jedi

I post this for my wife, who is a big Golden Girls fan.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ice Carving Contest in Pigeon Forge

Sherry, Sarah and I went to Pigeon Forge this morning to check out an ice carving contest at the Titanic museum on the Parkway. They plan to hold the contest every year, and the top prize was $2,000.00, so the artists looked pretty serious about their work.

Big Ol' Crawddaddy

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that a newly discovered species of giant crawdaddies has been discovered in Shoal Creek in Lawrence County, Tennessee. I've caught some bodacious crawdads in Taylor Creek (also known as Dry Branch) on our family property in Estill Springs, which is about an hour from Lawrence County in Franklin County. I wonder if some of these bad boys inhabit our creek, but I have to admit that I haven't had much luck hunting crawdads out there in the past couple of years.

Word of the Day -- Aglet

That thing at the end of your shoelace is called an aglet. That is all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

No Big Deal

The snow overnight covered the lawns in our neighborhood, but the streets look fine. All three Blount County school systems are open, but Metro Nashville schools are closed, so Joey and Jake will enjoy a three-day weekend.

Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Cookware

My wife is a fan of Rachael Ray and her show Thirty Minute Meals. Sherry's mom bought her a set of Rachael Ray's hard anodized cookware for her birthday, and we really like it. The instructions that came with the cookware say that putting it in the dishwasher damages the coating, but the stuff cleans up so easily you don't really need to use the dishwasher on it anyway.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Here Comes Another Round of Snow

Sherry talked to Jake in Nashville a while ago, and it is already snowing there. The Nashville TDOT traffic cameras show it starting to accumulate. The Maryville school system only has three snow days left, so they will be loath to close school tomorrow unless they have to. Our cupboards are well-stocked, so we'll be in good shape should we be snowed in again.

Poor Bitner!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Space Boong

Sarah strikes a pose, with the Space Needle in the background.


I've loved blueberries since I was a little boy, and I remember what a treat it was to find a few huckleberries growing on the huckleberry bush that used to grow at our family cabin in Estill Springs, Tennessee. (I never knew that Finn boy.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Smokies in the Snow

Sarah and I returned to Maryville this morning after spending Saturday and Sunday with my friend Johnny and his kids at Laurel Point Resort on Ski Mountian Road in Gatlinburg. Here are a few pictures of the Smokies in the snow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wrong Sign

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune published a story that made the rounds on the internet last week. Apparently the wobble of the Earth's axis has caused a realignment of the heavens such that most everyone's zodiac sign has changed. Also, the astrological powers that be have resurrected an old zodiac sign, Ophiuchus, that was discarded by the wasteful Babylonians. I wonder if this will be good for business at Madame Rose Renee's place on Airport Highway.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Purple Potatoes

I'm not sure whether my kids would eat purple potatoes or not, though I seem to remember the boys going for the purple ketchup. The recipe can be found at this Nashville foodie blog (via Michael Silence).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Mighty Jabba

I've seen this photo of a Jabba the Hut snowman in several different places online, and if you haven't seen this video of an X-wing fighter flying up a snowy trench to someone's front porch check it out. (It's only seventeen seconds, and quite creative.)

La Vie Dansante

My friend Randy, who lives just west of Destin, Florida, checked in on us via e-mail earlier this week after hearing about the snowy weather we've been having. He sent me some photographs of his sailboat, La Vie Dansante, named after the Jimmy Buffett song. A company called Boatpix flies a helicopter around and takes pictures of boats and then offers them for sale. Randy said the photos are pretty expensive, but that he'll probably spring for some anyway.

Bowling and Gatlinburg

Today we are celebrating Grace's birthday, which will be at a bowling alley in West Knoxville. My friend Johnny is in town from Atlanta with his kids, and after the birthday event we're heading up to Gatlinburg to stay in his mom and stepdad's condo, which features an indoor pool. I've always liked going up to Gatlinburg in winter, when the locals have it to ourselves, and it's not so crowded.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meanwhile, Down at the Beach

With all of the snow we've had over the past week, my mind turns to our favorite vacation spot, Seagrove Beach, Florida, where there's not a snowflake in sight.


This is just disturbing. Keep it away!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


My first real job, after being a paperboy for a couple of years, was at McDonald's at 7030 Kingston Pike over in Knoxville, where I worked three and a half years and learned a lot of things. I learned hard work and how to deal with members of the public, not all of whom are having a good day, or life. I also learned you should always be nice to people who make your food.

I started on grill, but eventually trained on the counter. When the store got its drive-through window, I ended up there, and I helped train drive-through staff at the Halls and Gatlinburg stores when they opened. (Gatlinburg's McDonald's no longer has a drive-through.) Because of my history with the fast food chain, I was interested in this poster showing McDonald's menu items from around the world. I had heard of the Hula Burger, but not of Hawaii's Spam and Pineapple Burger.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ambivalent Snowman is Ambivalent

Half of his mouth fell off.

Cabin Fever

Sarah is out of school today after a bit of sleet and snow overnight turned the streets white again. Yesterday afternoon a snow plow came through, scraped our street and put salt on it. Sarah, of course, wanted to go back outside to put more snow in the road. "Let's do it again!"

It got down in the twenties here in Maryville last night, and with the sleet and snow it was pretty slippery out there this morning. Nevertheless, Sherry's office is open today, and she was able to drive there in my car, which I got out of the driveway late yesterday. Jake and Joey are also out of school in Nashville for the third day in a row.

Sarah and I haven't left the immediate vicinity of the house since last Friday, except to make a run for breakfast and groceries Sunday morning. We've gone out some each day to play in the snow, and we've done so this morning. That child would dig around in the snow all day if it weren't so cold outside.

Pink Floyd

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Orange Gator

This should make the Florida Gators feel at home here in East Tennessee this evening, despite the snow

More Fun in the Snow

Sarah and I went out to play in the snow a while ago.
We built a snowman.

The city scraped our street yesterday. Sarah said, "Go scrape Texas!" Today her plan was to try to return as much snow to the middle of the road as she could in the hope of having yet another day off tomorrow.

Here she is back inside, displaying the tea pot from the tea set she's been painting. After I sent her back inside I tried to get the car out of our rather steep driveway, but to no avail.

Snow Update

I checked this morning and learned that Davidson County schools are closed, so Jake and Joey have another snow day today. We've had snow showers for at least an hour this morning, and Sherry's office is closed for the day as well, though they had considered opening this afternoon.

Sherry and Sarah and I ventured down the street yesterday afternoon, and our neighbor, Eli, who is a year older than Sarah, came out and played with her for a while after we were through with our walk. It was fun watching them enjoy the snow.

The Geeking of My Daughter

There was a story making the rounds on the internet this fall about a first grader who was getting a hard time from the boys at school because she likes Star Wars. Interestingly, my first grader has become interested in Star Wars by playing a Nintendo Wii Star Wars Lego game with some of the boys in her after-school program. It is not unusual for me to pick her up and find her and three or four boys in a semicircle around the television as the kids take turns playing the game.

I have been a Star Wars geek ever since the first movie was released in 1977, when I was thirteen, and since Sarah was interested in Star Wars because of her game, I made a point to watch all of the movies with her. We started with the first trilogy (in order of release) this fall, and finished the last movie in the prequel during the Christmas holidays. She was disturbed at Anakin's fall to evil, and during the lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi Wan she said, "I don't feel good about any of this." I think she got the point of the scene.

At any rate, Sarah hasn't reported any negativity about her interest in Star Wars, although she has commented, "I like boy games." That may be the case, but her mom makes sure that the child has plenty of pink stuff and girly things in her life as well.

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Today my niece, Grace, is four years old. Happy birthday to Gracie! She's pictured here in Estill Springs, Tennessee, at our family cabin.


Here's a cool image of last month's eclipse, via Astronomy Picture of the Day.