Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weedy Sea Dragon

This is a weedy sea dragon, a varmint that lives in the water off Australia. They grow to be eighteen inches long.

Sick Cat

Our younger calico, Molly, had a urinary tract infection about a month ago. The veterinarian prescribed an antibiotic, two pills a day for a week, which cleared it up for a while. Now the poor beast has it again, and they've prescribed two more weeks of a stronger antibiotic. Obe, the cat I had as a kid, had to have a pill daily, so I know how to get a cat to take a pill, but both the cat and I have about had enough.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks!

Today is Mel Brooks' birthday. He is 85 and a very funny man.

Carolina Day

Today is Carolina Day, which commemorates the Battle of Sullivan's Island. On June 28, 1776, American forces defending a fort made of palmetto logs and sand defeated a British force of nine ships, preventing an invasion of Charleston. I always wondered why palmetto trees are so important to South Carolinians. Now I know.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sleeping Beauty Galaxy

This is the Sleeping Beauty galaxy, courtesy of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Restaurant Review: Metro Pizza, Alcoa, Tennessee


We met some friends for lunch a couple of weeks ago at Metro Pizza, which is in the strip mall next to the Hunter's Crossing Wal-Mart in Alcoa. Sarah and I shared a large pizza. My half was the house supreme pizza, and Sarah's was pepperoni. Sherry had salad, and our total was around $25.00. The interior is colorfully painted with Italian scenes in green, white and red, and the place smells of Italian seasonings as you walk in. I give them a thumbs up.

Weekend Activities

We had a milestone event in our family on Friday, when Mom had both of her granddaughters spend the night at her house at the same time. Although I am confident that the destruction of the interior of her home is quite complete, all three of them seem to have enjoyed the experience. Mom dropped Sarah off yesterday morning in time for us to meet our friends Biff and Leah at Metro Pizza in Hunter's Crossing shopping center in Alcoa. We came home and let Sarah play in the water in the back yard and enjoyed a rather mellow Saturday afternoon. The girls are getting ready to go over to the animal shelter to do a couple of hours of volunteer work, but that's all we have planned so far for today.

UPDATE: We just realized that we left our leftover pizza, about half a pie, in the trunck of Sherry's car, which is now quite fragrant.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rhododendron On LeConte

The rhododendron is pretty on Mount LeConte (from High on LeConte).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Distress Signals 101

One hopes never to need to summon aid in the wilderness, but it is probably a good idea to know how to just in case the need were to arise. If you need a quick refresher, The Art of Manliness has some tips. I learned that the number 3, and therefore also triangles, signal distress.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Great Hamsters of Alsace

The European Union recently notified France that it could face fines for failing to adequately protect the Great Hamsters of Alscase, which dwell in the vicinity of Salsbourg, which we visited in 2000. Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the Great Hamsters, which are an endangered species. I have to admit, Great Hamsters of Alscase sound like something you'd see in a Monte Python routine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Murder in Seagrove Beach

A girl, only fifteen years old and on vacation with her family, was beaten to death last week in Seagrove Beach, Florida, by a man, age 21, who lives there. We spend our summer vacation each year in Seagrove, in part because we consider it to be safe compared to many vacation communities. Scary!

Tennessee Slaw

One of my favorite foodie blogs, the Nobel Pig, of McMinnville, Oregon, rather than McMinnville, Tennessee, recently posted a recipe for Tennessee-Style Mustard Cole Slaw. I've never been a big fan of slaw, except as a condiment for hot dogs and barbecue, but my Grandmother Ogle used to serve home made slaw that was delightful. This recipe might produce something similar.

Sandpipers at the Justice Center

As I pulled into the parking lot at the justice center yesterday morning I saw a couple of sandpipers in the grass.

Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer, and less than a month until our annual beach trip!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Solar Eruption

This is an image of a huge eruption of buring gas on the sun a couple of weeks ago. Astronomy Picture of the Day has more, including a 20 second video clip that is worth seeing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day!

This is a snapshot I took of my dad, Phil Ogle, with my sisters, Laura and Leslie, on the plaza outside the Humanities Building and McClung Tower on the main campus of the University of Tennessee in the summer of 1972. The snapshot has August 1972 printed on it, which reflects when the film was developed. Dad turned 35 that month, and I turned 9. La and Les, captured here in a rare photo of them in matching clothes, turned 7 that November, so they were six months younger than my daughter Sarah is now. I remember Dad taking the three of us walking around the UT campus that day, and I strongly suspect that the twins hit him up to buy the T-shirts they are wearing at the book store in the University Center. Time flies!

The statue is Europa and the Bull by Carl Miles. What the thing hovering above the statue is I know not.

R.I.P. Clarence Clemmons

Clarence Clemmons, saxophonist for the E-Street Band, died yesterday of complications following a stoke. Bruce Springsteen released this statement:

Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage.

We will miss the Big Man and his horn.

Greek Sunrise

In honor of my friend, Thanos, who hails from Athens (not the one in Tennessee), I present a sunrise from Greece, courtesy of Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Back Home

We're home after our long Tennessee road trip and my clerk conference in Chattanooga. I found the Chattanooga Choo Choo interesting, but the accomodations are rather run down. Also, our room was about a quarter of a mile from the building where the conference was held, which was inconvenient. On the other hand, the main building where the lobby and main restaurant were was beautiful, and the Choo Choo itself was cool. It was also very convenient to downtown Chattanooga, and there is a free electric trolley to take you there. Sherry and the kids explored while I was in class. They took in the I-MAX 3-D movie theater at the Tennessee Aquarium, and visited the Creative Discovery Museum, though the children at ages 15 and 7 regarded themselves as too old to enjoy it much.

After the conference, we went to the Camp, our cabin in Estill Springs, to trade city life for the woods for a few days. Sherry found a black widow on the deck. I was skeptical until I examined it, but it was definitely a widow, so I smashed it with a shoe and scouted around the deck for a nest, which I did not find. That was pretty much the extent of the excitement in Estill Springs, and we spent most of our time wading or sitting in lawn chairs in the creek. We cooked hot dogs and pork chops on the grill, and we ate our breakfasts at Sample Family Restaurant, formerly known as Pat's Place.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"This Was Their Finest Hour"

On June 18, 1940, after the German defeat of the French and the heroic evacuation of Dunkirk, Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered one of his most famous speeches to the House of Commons in London. He concluded the speech,

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cabin Repairs

Sherry and the kids and I are heading out to our cabin in Estill Springs today from Chattanooga. When we worked on the place during spring break I took some photos with our 35 mm camera, and I just recently had the film developed. Here are a few snapshots from that trip as we head out to enjoy the results this weekend.

Our friend Johnny is a one-man woodworking shop.

Laura paints perched on a homemade ladder.

Even Gracie got into the act.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goo Goo Clusters

Goo Goo Clusters are made in Nashville and have been since 1912. You can even buy broken pieces of them from the Standard Candy Company on the cheap when you are in our state's capital city. According to Eat. Drink. Smile., a Nashville food blog, the company has rolled out new retro packaging and new ingredients.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flotsam and Jetsam

At the cabin the other weekend we wondered about the difference, if any, between flotsam and jetsam. To be honest, I don't think I've ever heard one word used without the other. I promised I'd look it up. According to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary flotsam is "floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo; broadly: floating debris." On the other hand, jetsam is "the part of a ship, its equipment, or cargo that is cast overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore." If the debris floats, it is flotsam. If it sinks or washes up on land, it is jetsam.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Flag Day!

UPDATE: Here are six flag stories, from Mental Floss.

Monday, June 13, 2011


These images of the moon show how it appears to change color as it rises in the evening sky. According to Earth Science Picture of the Day,

The photo sequence above shows the full Moon on April 17, 2011 as observed from Leiden, Netherlands. The left-most photo of a carrot-colored Moon was snapped just after moonrise. Here the Moon is only seven degrees above the eastern horizon. At center, the peach-hued Moon is well clear of the horizon but still low in the sky -- 14 degrees above the horizon. The photo at right was captured two hours after the first photo when the silvery Moon was 19 degrees above the horizon.

Yard Work

I told Jake and Joey we'd pay them to plant the daffodil bulbs that we dug up from our back yard, so yesterday afternoon they broke out the mattock and shovel and went to work in the front yard where we want our daffodil bed to be. Sherry and Sarah joined in, and the group also took down much of the crepe myrtle that grows into our power line and in front of our satellite dish. They got a lot done, and the boys were planning on working more today while we're at work.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pool Day

Our friends Lee and Angel invited us over to their place yesterday to hang out at their pool, and we were out in the sun for several hours. I got as close to sunburned as I want to get, but we had a lot of fun splashing around with the kids in the pool.

Mom has invited us to lunch at S & S Cafeteria on Kingston Pike in Knoxville at noon. I haven't eaten at a cafeteria since I ate at the Belle Meade Cafeteria in Nashville before it closed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Everybody's Home

Sherry and Joey and Jake arrived at the house yesterday afternoon after work. Jake's feet are covered in poison ivy blisters, even on the soles of his feet, so his mother has been keeping his feet coated with calamine lotion. He and Frazier are planning to go fishing, which they haven't done in a while, and Jake is excited about that. We've talked about heading up to the mountains to find a swimming hole, but other than that we don't really have a plan until Wednesday, when we leave for Chattanooga.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eat-Your-Heart-Out Call from Nashville Margaritaville

Sherry gave me an eat-your-heart-out call from the Nashville Margaritaville yesterday afternoon. She and Jake and Joey had been strolling around downtown Nashville enjoying the CMA Music Festival before attending the CMT Music Awards last night. My guess is that they will be sleeping in this morning.


My sisters, Laura and Leslie, are identical twins (This is not them.), meaning that they have the same DNA and are genetically identical. My stepsons, Joey and Jake, are fraternal twins, meaning that although they were born at the same time, they are no more genetically similar than any other brothers. I recently read an article at Mental Floss about twins that share other, much different similarities.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CMA Music Festival in Nashville

Joey and Jake have started listening to some country music recently, and so Sherry bought tickets for the three of them to attend the 2011 CMT Music Awards in Nashville tomorrow. She plans to work a half day and then drive to Nashville to pick up the boys and take them downtown, which should be festive indeed. They are all coming back here on Friday, and we will all go to my clerks conference at the Chattanooga Choo Choo next Wednesday through Friday. Sherry and the kids will explore Chattanooga while I am in class. We'll go from there to Grandmother and Granddaddy's cabin in Estill Springs for the weekend, and Sherry will meet Mark in Murfreesboro at some point during the weekend so he can take J&J back to Nashville. We'll be busy for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Strong to the Finish

Despite having breakfast at home, a hobbitish second breakfast at school and two hamburgers for lunch, Sarah came home ravenously hungry. I just put some pork chops in the oven and was going to give her some broccoli to tide her over, but I gave her some of Sherry's fresh baby spinach leaves instead. The child is happily snacking on them as I type. I consider this a bit of serendipitous parental success.

Veteran Camper

I am surprised at us for not taking more photographs on our camping excursion, but here is one of Sarah sporting her ball cap, which she wore to fend off ticks. I was talking on Friday with a friend about our trip, and the subject of taking young children camping came up. Sarah was six months old when she went camping for the first time, so she's an experienced camper and knows how to have fun in the woods. (I have to admit, however, that the first thing she did when she got home yesterday was to play an Indiana Jones game on her Nintendo Wii gaming device for about an hour.)

Operation Overlord

Today is the anniversary of the invasion of Normandy by Allied forces on June 6, 1944, which led to the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. The U.S. Army has much more information about D-Day here.

The Art of Haggling

Negotiation is a large part of what a lawyer does. Litigation is fun for the lawyers, but negotiation is usually a better way to solve a dispute from the client's perspective. The Art of Manliness recently featured an article by a manly guest contributer on haggling, and I agreed with much of what he said. You have to be able to walk away from any deal, and it is important to know when to stop talking.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Home From the Woods

We are back home and have unloaded all of our camping gear. While the website identifies the campground we stayed at as the Adventure Bound Camping Resort, it is known locally as Crazy Horse Campground, and the signage at the entrance identifies it as such. We had a creekside spot, but you had to climb down a pretty steep little embankment to get to the water. We took the kids rock hopping, and we found several little swimming holes you could get into. Later, I spotted a trail on the far side of the creek and climbed up to it. It led to a graded road bed, and I followed it up the mountain to the top of the ridge, which afforded a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. From the summit, I belted out my Tarzan yell to celebrate.

The campground features a playground, stocked trout pond, swimming pool and water slide. Speaking for myself, my experience with the water slide went downhill (pardon the pun) when we saw a diaper baby fully loaded playing in the pool at the bottom of the slide. We reported it to the teenager supervising the water slide, but the slide remained open. Later in the day a man in his twenties did a back flip into the pool and landed on Sarah, who at age seven is a strong and confident swimmer and was not injured. I wasn't there when it happened, but Sherry let him have it with both barrels.

we had a great time camping with our friends and their kids, but for my money I'll take Abrams Creek or one of the other National Park Service campgrounds over a commercial campground any day. They are much less rowdy, and one-third the price. (Crazy Horse Campground was about $90.00 for two nights, and a campsite in the national park for two nights is $28.00 for two nights.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Camping Trip

We are camping this weekend at Adventure Bound Camping Resorts in Gatlinburg. I believe that this is only the second time I've ever camped in a commercial campground, the first being down in the Florida Keys when I was in college. We are camping with another family with a total of four children. The campground sports a water slide, pictured above, and a swimming pool, so I am sure we can keep the kids well entertained.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sarah's Big Day at the Justice Center

I usually don't write about the judicial system here because this is, after all, mainly a daddy blog about my family, but I will make a bit of an exception today. Our legal community has been grieving the recent death of Circuit Judge W. Dale Young. Today Governor Haslam was in town to administer the oath of office to Judge Young's successor, Tammy Harrington, whom I have known and respected since she came to the Blount County District Attorney's office in 1994, the year after I came to practice in Maryville. In part because Judge Harrington is Blount County's first female judge and someone Sarah knows from the year I worked in the District Attorney's office, I felt that it was important for Sarah to attend the oath ceremony with me. Not only did Sarah get to see the Governor and all the other important dignitaries at the event, but we also rode the elevator up to the third floor of the justice center with Coach Phillip Fulmer and his wife. Sarah was most excited, however, to see her friend Rick, who serves as a court officer and who has developed a special friendship with the child.

UPDATE: The Daily Times says 1996, not 1994. I stand corrected.

Dwarf Galaxy

This image, from the Hubble Space Telescope, shows a dwarf galaxy, NGC 4214.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Clarence Brown Theater Spared

I was unaware that there had been plans to destroy the Clarence Brown Theater on the UT campus, but am pleased the theater has been spared. I remember Mom taking me to see the musical 1776 there when I was a kid, and we just took Sarah to see her first Shakespeare play there back in March.

Von Clausewitz Versus Von Trapp

I looked up the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz on Wikipedia, and I thought he looked a bit like Christopher Plummer, who played Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Formosa/McCormac Bridge in Bellevue

There's a bridge over the Harpeth River on Old Harding Pike in Bellevue, the community in which we used to live in Nashville, that we used to cross several times a day. When we dropped the boys off at their dad's on Sunday, we noticed that the bridge had a new sign on it designating it as the Formosa/McCormac Bridge, and we wondered where the name came from.

I learned today on the Tennessean website that the bridge has been named to honor the memories of three people who died during last May's flooding. Two of them died trying to negotiate Sawyer Brown Brown Road, which we also used daily when we lived in Nashville, during the flood. The third died in her home in River Plantation condominiums, which are situated on either side of Sawyer Brown. (The country band Sawyer Brown is named for the street because they used to rehearse there.)

Last Day of Freshman Year

Today is Joey and Jake's last day of their freshman year at Hillwood High School in Nashville. The boys have a half day of final exams today, and their summer vacation begins tomorrow. (The school year was extended a day or two because of all of the snow Nashville had this year.)