Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Grams!

Sherry's mom's birthday is today, which is Leap Day, the extra day inserted at the end of February every four years in the Gregorian calendar. I wonder if Grams is a member of the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dose of Cuteness

I took this picture of Sarah in the Fort Craig gym before family gathering last Friday morning before school.

Chicken Andouille Gumbo

Sherry makes a wonderful Shrimp Creole, and I've been looking for recipes for that type of cooking since our New Orleans trip in the fall. This recipe for Chicken Andouille Gumbo looks promising.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Buffett in Birmingham

The Jimmy Buffett show Saturday night at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex was a lot of fun, though the acoustics in the venue left a lot to be desired. In a nod to his home state, the band played "Bama Breeze," "Sweet Home Alabama," and, to close the show "Stars Fell on Alabama." We spent five hours on the road Saturday and Sunday to see the show, but it was well worth it. You can view the set list on the BuffettWorld website.

The kids enjoyed the show, as well as the indoor pool at the hotel. Sarah stayed awake through most of the show, but started dozing off during the encore. Both girls were requesting "Fins" on the way home.

I took a few photographs of Birmingham, where our family lived when I was in first and second grade. The top one shows the Vulcan statue, which you could see from our hotel room window, and the bottom one shows some of the University of Alabama-Birmingham campus, also as seen from our hotel room.

This is the Birmingham skyline taken from the interstate on the way out of town Sunday morning.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Other Guy May Be Right

In the legal profession, and in larger society, there is concern about the civility of our discourse. When a child asks me what I do for a living, I respond that I help people resolve their disagreements. The whole point of having courts and attorneys is to keep a dispute as civil as possible, lest it deteriorate into a blood feud or war. Here in Blount County, we are fortunate to have a very civil bar. Unfortunately, with so much information bombarding us in modern society, people seem to feel that they have to scream at one another just to be heard, and this lack of civility is bleeding over into the justice system in some places.

Bill Haltom, a Memphis lawyer and blogger, whose column I read monthly in the Tennessee Bar Journal, wrote this on the subject:

I have been fortunate to hear Senator Baker speak on several occasions, and I will never forget something I heard him say a few years ago. He said that the hero of his life was his father, Howard Baker Sr., who was a great trial lawyer, as well as a United States Congressman. Senator Baker said of his father, “He taught me that you should always go through life working on the assumption that the other guy may be right.”

That bears repeating. You should always go through life working on the assumption that the other guy may be right.

That statement captures the essence of civility. It doesn’t mean you don’t stand up for what you believe. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a fierce advocate for your clients and causes. It just means you go into any conflict with a notion that your opponent may, in fact, be right, and you treat your opponent accordingly.

Naturalization Ceremony in Maryville

The United State District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee conducted a naturalization ceremony yesterday at the Clayton Center for the Arts at Maryville College. I was invited to attend in my capacity as Vice President of the Blount County Bar Association, and I took Sarah out of school so she could attend with me. At eight years old, I'm not sure how much she understood what was going on, but I thought it would be a good civics lesson. It was a wonderful experience, and I will never forget the looks of pride and joy the new citizens had as they received their certificates of citizenship. Senator Alexander, who was in Maryville to vote, was the keynote speaker. The Daily Times has more, and the News Sentinel has a photograph gallery.

Interview With Jimmy Buffett's Sister

Jimmy Buffett is playing Birmingham, Alabama, tonight, and my sisters and I are going to drive down there for the show this morning. Laura sent me an interesting interview with Buffett's sister, who operates a marina restaurant in Gulf Shores, from the Birmingham newspaper. I have the feeling that a lot of Buffett fans will flock to that restaurant after reading about it.

Stewart, who is a frequent business traveler, got us a free room in the Marriott Springhill Suites near UAB, and it has an indoor pool, which the kids will enjoy. We have a friend, Cathey, who lives in Alabama, and she was able to get us five tickets at forty dollars a pop, so we are able to see this show on short notice and on the cheap. There's nothing like a Jimmy Buffett concert in late February to get you ready for spring!

Sherry's mom has a birthday in the middle of next week, so Sherry drove to Nashville yesterday to spend the weekend with her and Joey and Jake. We will all be road weary when we get back home tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

National Tortilla Chip Day

According to my Jimmy Buffett calendar, today is National Tortilla Chip Day. Crunch away! (They really do have a day to celebrate everything, don't they?)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


There's nothing better than the first few daffodils of spring, and we started seeing them open up here in our neighborhood in Maryville last week, even though it is still winter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, the pinnacle of Mardi Gras, and I am certain that the French Quarter will be quite rowdy this evening. This is a Mardi Gras costume I photographed in the museum in the Presbytere when we visited New Orleans last fall.

If you want a taste of New Orleans here in Blount County, Midland Restaurant is serving Cajun Chicken and Red Beans and Rice as its lunch special today. Laissez Le Bon Temps Roulet!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Watauga Lake, Hampton, Tennessee

When Mom lived in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, we used to drive over the mountains from Elizabethton on Highway 321, which takes you past beautiful Watauga Lake in Hampton, Tennessee. I've camped on Watauga Lake at Carden's Bluff campground, and even paddled around on it a bit in my canoe. There is now a webcam at the Captain's Table restaurant on the lake, and it looks pretty cold up there this morning with hoar frost on the mountain tops.

Nashville Restaurants -- Burger Joints Edition

Several new burger joints have opened up in Nashville, and the Eat. Drink. Smile. Nashville foodie blog has a post covering quite a few Nashville burger eateries, including several of the new establishments I've read about. The post is by a guest blogger who also writes a Nashville foodie blog, Erin's Food Files.

Back in 2009 I wrote a trio of posts on Nashville restaurants that Sherry and I like. I wanted to be sure I put a link to the Nashville burger post here for future reference. I always like to know new places to find a good hamburger.

"Godspeed, John Glenn"

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of John Glenn's historic flight aboard the Friendship 7. According to NASA,

On February 20, 1962, Glenn piloted the Mercury-Atlas 6 "Friendship 7" spacecraft on the first manned orbital mission of the United States. Launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, he completed a successful three-orbit mission around the earth, reaching a maximum altitude (apogee) of approximately 162 statute miles and an orbital velocity of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Glenn's "Friendship 7" Mercury spacecraft landed approximately 800 miles southeast of KSC in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. Mission duration from launch to impact was 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.

In 1998 Senator Glenn returned to space aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

Mister Mom Monday

There was a possibility of snow in the forecast for yesterday, and while we saw a few wet flakes falling with the rain yesterday, our hopes for snow on the lawn this morning were not gratified. Sarah and I have the day off for Washington's Birthday, but Sherry has to go to work today, so I need to come up with an agenda for keeping the child entertained without letting her plug herself into a computer game all day.

Sarah has a sudden interest in cooking. She has always liked to help out in the kitchen, but something has recently inspired her to want learn more about food preparation. I helped her prepare pork chops, macaroni and cheese and peas and onions for supper yesterday. I did everything that involved the knife, stove and oven, but she did everything else, including washing and seasoning the chops. Perhaps we'll spend some more time in the kitchen today.

Washington's Birthday

In the United States we celebrate the birthday of the first President of the United States under the United States Constitution, George Washington, on the third Monday in February. President Washington's actual birthday was February 22, 1732. The holiday is also known as Presidents Day.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sarah Accepted to Hogwarts

An envelope came home with Sarah from school Friday. It contained an announcement that she has been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as part of her school's Dynamic Discovery Days. She missed out on a friend's recent Hogwarts birthday party, so she is excited about the program at school. We are watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this afternoon in preparation.

Saturday's Activities

Sherry and Sarah spent a good deal of the day yesterday out and about. After our morning grocery shopping, they went down the street to visit our neighbors so that Sarah and the neighbor child could play together. After that they had a gals' outing at Nama Sushi Bar in Bearden, and Sarah went home to spend the night with Mom, who will deliver her back here sometime this morning. I didn't do much of anything yesterday except for talk to my friend, Biff, and my friend and former roommate, Bill. I haven't talked to Bill in a couple of years, so it was nice to catch up with him.

Looking Back

This artificial image, created from data from a weather satellite collected from 824 kilometers from the surface of the Earth and released in January, is at the top of a Mental Floss article with images of Earth taken from satellites looking back at our home planet from various distances. It makes me feel homesick just to look at the Earth from the vantage point of space from ever increasing distances. Also, as it gets smaller and smaller it seems more fragile. On Valentine's Day 1990, Voyager I captured an image of Earth taken at six billion kilometers away, which is still the most distant view of the planet our machines have transmitted back to us. Carl Sagan called it "the pale blue dot."

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Morning Report

After a busy week, we are happy to have a quiet holiday weekend at home. Sarah is still adjusting to her braces, and she is now as eager to have them removed as she was to have them installed. I was in court every day this week except Monday, and with the county tax sale quickly approaching our office is quite busy. To make the week even more hectic, both Sherry's car and my car have been in the shop this week. Sherry's had a coolant problem, and mine had a headlight burn out. Mine is still at the mechanic's, and we're hoping to pick it up this morning if it is ready.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Be Eaten By a Grue or To Eat Grue

I recently ran across an article on the early text computer game Zork, which I remember playing some in college. If one wandered too long in the darkness, one would be eaten by a grue, which was not described in the game. The article reminded me of a case I read in law school about cruel and unusual punishment in which prison inmates argued that punitive isolation, including a diet of grue, which is disgustingly described in the case, violated the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. I'll pass on grue altogether.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Construction of Douglas Dam

The Denver Post has a great collection of color images of various places in the United States during the 1940's, including this one showing the construction of Douglas Dam here in East Tennessee in June 1942.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Anniversary to My Lovely Wife

Sherry and I tied the knot on Valentines Day ten years ago. She is a wonderful wife and mother, and I am a very lucky man.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sarah's Braces

Sherry took this picture of Sarah at the orthodontist's office shortly after the child got her braces put in. They said she can expect some discomfort for the next couple of days, but should experience no pain. We have orthodontist appointments every two months, plus her regular dentist visits, until told otherwise.


If you ever wondered what you would get if you mixed pizza and lasagna together, behold Pizzagna! (From Serious Eats via Neatorama)

A Few More Snapshots From Mountain Springs Chalet

Here are a few shots Sherry took this weekend with her I-pad. Here's Sarah decked out for the cold weather.

We made a couple of tiny snowmen on the rail of the front deck.

This is the view looking up the mountain out the front window of the chalet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Snow on Ski Mountain Road

We spent the weekend at Mountain Springs Chalet on Ski Mountain Road in Gatlinburg and have just returned to Maryville. We wanted some snow, and saw some yesterday morning in the mountains.

This is the view from Mountain Springs looking at Ski Mountain Road. The road curving up the hill is a neighbor's driveway. The snow crews were quickly on the scene, and Ski Mountain Road was not a problem for the motorists we saw traveling.

We stopped at the Sinks on the way home this morning. The top picture is looking down over the falls from upstream, and the bottom one is from the viewing platform looking toward the falls.

Sherry asked me to pull over so that she could walk back up the road and get a shot of these icicles, which were abundant on our drive home this morning, though many were melting. By the time we got to Townsend, no snow was evident.

UPDATE: They got a bit more snow up at Leconte Lodge.

Lincoln's Birthday

President Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, was born in Kentucky on February 12, 1809.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thai Soup

I confess that I favor Southern country cooking, but in the past few years I have been trying to broaden my culinary experience. We have a really good Thai restaurant, Lemon Grass, here in Maryville, and I have enjoyed every dish I have ordered there. The Nobel Pig has a recipe for Thai chicken noodle soup, pictured above, that looks like something I could cook. I have never tried to make any Thai dish at home, but this would be a good one to try.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Todd Howell Visits Fort Craig School

As I was driving Sarah home from school this afternoon she told me that Todd Howell, the chief meteorologist for our local NBC affiliate, WBIR, visited her school today. The kids have been learning about weather recently, so his visit was quite timely. From his biography on the WBIR website, I learned that he began his career at the station in June 1993, a month before I came to practice law in Maryville. Mr. Howell forecasts a possibility of snow overnight Friday night, and we are heading up to Mountain Springs Chalet hoping to see some snow this weekend.

Estill Springs Ninja

The Winchester Herald Chronicle reports that there is a ninja menacing Estill Springs, Tennessee, where our family cabin is located in Middle Tennessee. I have a friend who is a ninja, and he has been to the cabin. A genuine ninja, however, would have never been spotted, so I don't think it was him.

The Corrupt Bargain

On February 9, 1825, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams President of the United States after none of the candidates, which included Adams, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee (pictured above), Henry Clay of Kentucky, and William H. Crawford of Georgia, were able to secure enough electoral votes to win in the Electoral College.

Clay was Speaker of the House, and Adams appointed him Secretary of State, which led Jackson to allege that the two had made a "corrupt bargain" whereby Clay threw his support behind Adams in the House in exchange for the office of Secretary of State.

Jackson ran against Adams again in 1828 and stomped him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sea Forts

These sea forts in the Thames estuary in England were developed during World War Two. The kid in me would love to camp out in one of these things, and they certainly seem like good places to defend in the event of a zombie apocalypse. (Via Mental Floss)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Full Moon

Tonight is the full moon. Since our closest heavenly neighbor has been in the news of late, I give you the above image from this website with more information about Luna.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wanette Tigers

My mother has an unusual first name, Wanette. I recently learned that a town in Oklahoma also bears that name and that they are proud of their Wanette Tigers. Hear them roar!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Happy Ice Cream For Breakfast Day!

Learn about other February celebrations at Mental Floss.

A Visit to the Anderson County Courthouse

In the summer of 1990, after my first (1L) year of law school, the Ridenour Law Firm of Clinton, Tennessee, hired me as a law clerk. It was my first job with a law firm, and I remember my experience there fondly. My duties yesterday included a trip to Clinton to deliver a file to the Anderson County Courthouse, where I delivered many pages of legal documents those many years ago as a young clerk.

Now I am an old clerk, or at least a middle-aged clerk, and returning to that building stirred memories. When I started working in Clinton, I wore a suit to my job, but when I walked to the courthouse in the hot summer sun, I left my suit jacket at the office. I will never forget the fall day when I first wore my suit jacket to the courthouse, and a gentleman in overalls opened the courthouse door for me. The clothes really do make the man, and I rarely have doors opened for me when I am wearing my overalls. I still find it strange how differently I am treated when I wear my suit compared to when I am dressed in jeans and a T-shirt.

I was pleased to see that Hoskins Drug Store is still in business. They have an old-fashioned soda fountain and lunch counter there where I enjoyed many hamburgers back in the day. I miss Byrne's Drug Store, which used to operate a similar business in downtown Maryville.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bacon Goodness

I found the recipe for Bacon Brunch Bites at My Wooden Spoon. The ingredients include bacon, cheese, egg, onion and heavy cream. I don't see how they could be anything but wonderful.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day. Most of the nation will be focused this morning on Phil, the resident groundhog of Punxsutawney up in Pennsylvania, while here in the South we can rely on General Beau Lee of Lilburn, Georgia, pictured above.

UPDATE: It is also Candlemas, the celebration of the presentation of Christ to God at the Temple in Jerusalem by Mary forty days after Christmas. Mental Floss has more on traditions that became Groundhog Day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Play Family Houseboat and Camper

My sisters loved the Fisher Price Play Family toys when we were kids, and they had the camper and houseboat Play Family sets pictured here. I wish I would have thought to find Play Family toys for Sarah when she was younger.

Braces for Sarah

Sarah went to her second orthodontist appointment today, and the staff took photographs and X-rays of her teeth. She goes back to get her braces put on on February 13th. She's been very excited about the idea of getting braces, perhaps because her big brother Joey is presently wearing them. She may not like them as much when she realizes all the different foods that she cannot have.

MORE: Sarah's orthodontist has some tips for taking care of your braces at home.