Thursday, May 31, 2012

Donut Mutant Mister Potato Head Bacon Burger

Sun Pillar

This photograph of a sun pillar, from Earth Science Picture of the Day, was taken back in April in Michigan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review -- Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington

I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Realistic Visionary:  A Portrait of George Washington, by Peter R. Henriques.  Unlike most biographies, this book is not chronological.  Instead, it focuses on certain aspects of Washington's life, including his relationships and beliefs, in an attempt to give the reader a sense of the man Washington was. Here's a review of the book.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Enchiladas Verdes Recipe

One of Sherry's favorite Mexican dishes is enchiladas verdes, which we have never tried to make at home.  I've seen canned salsa verdes in the grocery store, but would rather make it from scratch.  The Homesick Texan has a recipe for enchiladas verdes that we'll have to try.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend at the Camp

We spent Friday and Saturday nights at the Camp, our family cabin in Estill Springs.  My friend Randy drove eight hours from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Friday to attend his youngest son, Casey's, graduation in nearby McMinnville, and he stayed with us Friday night.  Casey came out Saturday, and we spent a few hours hanging out at the creek with them until they went to Nashville to visit the college Casey will soon be attending.  Saturday included the obligatory trip to Hammer's Department Store on the courthouse square in Winchester, where Sarah acquired this hat.
This is where Rock Creek Road passes over the creek.  Children love to have an adult escort them through the tunnel.  The lower view shows our property (on the left bank) as viewed from within the tunnel.  You can just see the neighbors' house on the right bank.
Sarah and I finished the project on the ramp we started on our last trip.  Painting the ramp and rail really made a difference compared to what it looked like when we started.
Randy and I have known each other since junior high school, but he had never visited the Camp, though he has heard many tales.  This is how we spend the bulk of our time in Estill Springs, with our chairs in the creek enjoying the cold water and sunshine.

MORE:  I neglected to report that Randy brought up fresh shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, along with Remoulade to dip them in.  For years now, he has bragged on the crab cakes at Sarah K's Gourmet in Destin, and he also brought a batch of those, which we cooked on the grill.  Sherry and I had them again for lunch today, and they made a believer out of me.  Yum!

Decoration Day

Today is Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, when Americans mourn and remember our war dead.  These soldiers' graves are in Arlington National Cemetery.

Jumonville Glen

On May 28, 1754, Lieutenant Colonel George Washington led a group of around forty Virginia militia troops against about the same number of French troops in what is now western Pennsylvania.  The site is now called Jumonville Glen, after a French soldier killed by an Indian ally of Washington's while the Virginian was interrogating Jumonville. 

The incident was one of the opening skirmishes in what Americans call the French and Indian War, known in Europe as the Seven Years War.  Washington's military experience during that war was the main reason he was chosen to command the Continental Army during the American Revolution and to later serve as the first President of the United States.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

USS Iowa Leaves San Francisco

Restaurant Review -- Dotson's, Franklin, Tennessee

Upon hearing that I was travelling to Franklin, Tennessee, my friend Don, one of the officers at the justice center, recommended that I have a meal at Dotson's, which is located at 99 East Main Street in Franklin.  It was about a ten minute drive from where I was staying in Cool Springs, and it was worth the short drive.  It is what Nashvillians call a "meat and three," which means it is an establishment serving good southern country food.  I was fortunate to have stopped there on meatloaf day, so I had meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fried okra and iced tea.  Lunch was about $15.00 including tip, and the food and service were excellent.  I looked the place up online before I went, and I found this descriptive web page at

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wild Rumpus

We've continued Sarah's after school reading program for the summer at the direction of her teacher.  We've been requiring the child to read fifteen minutes every day as soon as she gets home from school.  Yesterday, while reading Where the Wild Things Are, she inquired, "What's a rumpus?"  I told her I wasn't even sure that it was a real word, but assured her I would look it up.

According to my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the word means, "a noisy commotion."  Its origin is unknown, but it first appeared in print in 1764.

R.I.P. Marice Sendak, who died May 8, 2012.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Shredder

According to NASA, "This computer-simulated image shows gas from a tidally shredded star falling into a black hole. Some of the gas also is being ejected at high speeds into space. Astronomers observed the flare in ultraviolet light using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, and in optical light using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Mount Haleakala, Hawaii."  There is a short video simulation at the link.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Restaurant Review -- Hooligan's Half/Irish Pub, Cookeville, Tennessee

On my way to Franklin last week, I stopped in Cookeville for lunch hoping to find a hometown restaurant.  When I'm on the road I like to find eateries we don't have at home, but I drove all the way to the town square and saw nothing but chain restaurants.  I headed back toward the interstate, resigned to lunch at Arby's, when I saw Hooligan's Half/Irish Pub, which is located in a strip mall at 586 Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville.  I could tell it was a beer joint, but hoped they might serve shepherd's pie.

The indeed made a delicious shepherd's pie, and they had an assortment of the standard pub fare of burgers, sandwiches, wings and the like.  Their beer selection was extraordiary, but I stuck with iced tea.  The service was good, and my meal including tip was about $13.00.  It is not family-friendly, and I detected the odor of cigarette smoke.  I nevertheless enjoyed my meal and then got back on the road.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hydrangeas Abloom

While I was away at conference last week, our hydrangeas turned fully blue.  Sarah likes to use our pruning clippers, so we put her to work Saturday collecting blooms to enjoy in the house.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ogle Versus Van Buren

I check in on a blog, The History Chef, from time to time, because I share an interest in food and history with the author.  I recently read there that Congressman Charles Ogle of Pennsylvania once attacked President Martin Van Buren, pictured above, in a speech for living the high life on the taxpayer's dime.  The speech was part of the election of 1840, when Van Buren faced William Henry Harrison, who defeated him.  I have an ancestor, Thomas Ogle, who died in Pennsylvania in 1741.  I suspect there is a family connection. 

The History Chef reports,

Shortly before the election of 1840, Charles Ogle, a Whig Congressman from Pennsylvania, rose to speak in the House of Representatives and launched into a three-hour attack on Van Buren’s luxurious lifestyle. After describing the “Regal Splendor of the Presidential Palace,” Ogle turned his attention to Van Buren’s “kingly” dinner table.

Setting the scene for a packed gallery, Ogle dramatically proclaimed:

Mr. Chairman…Let us enter [the] palace, and survey its spacious courts, its gorgeous banqueting halls, its sumptuous drawing rooms, its glittering and dazzling saloons, with all their magnificent and sumptuous array of gold and silver…I cannot forbear…to read you a description of the great banqueting hall, commonly called the “East Room”…who can deny that this room, intended for the comfort of our democratic Chief Magistrate, is adorned with regal splendor far above any of the grand saloons at Buckingham Palace . . .  .

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mick Jagger Plugs East Tennesseee Restaurant Chain on SNL

Sherry recorded this weekend's Saturday Night Live, which was hosted by Mick Jagger.  We watched it yesterday, and it is the best one I've seen in a long time.  During his monologue, he made a joking reference to Ruby Tuesday, a restaurant chain that is based here in Maryville and that was named for the Rolling Stones song.  I remember eating at the chain's second store in West Knoxville when Ruby's was mainly just a place for fancy hamburgers.

Victoria Day

Canadians, including my brother-in-law Stewart, celebrate Victoria Day today.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

History of the Swiss Army Knife

Mental Floss has an article about the history Swiss Army Knife.  I have one that I bought as a souvenir when I visited Interlaken, Switzerland, in 2000, and I almost lost it recently when it slipped out of my pocket in the car after I'd been using it to cut open boxes.  Luckily, my eagle-eyed child spotted it for me.
During our Interlaken visit, we met a Swiss Army chef there, and he was kind enough to show us around town and made us a delightful meal.  I neglected to ask him if he had a Swiss Army Knife.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

School's Out

I was in Franklin, Tennessee,  this week for a clerks conference, which I enjoyed, but I am very glad to be home.  One of the classes was on courthouse and personal security, which scared everyone to death.  When one works in a courthouse, it is rather unnerving to view videotape of a courthouse being invaded by a gunman, especially when we had a rather scary incident in nearby Madisonville not too long ago.

Yesterday was Sarah's last day at Fort Craig of Dynamic Learning, which she has attended for the last three years, and I drove home early to pick her up.  I made it on time, but forgot to call Sherry to let her know I was back, so she showed up at the school at the same time I did, which was a nice surprise.  I missed my womenfolk!

Because the school is closing, the halls and rooms are full of moving boxes, which is rather sad.  All of the teachers and staff were scurrying around packing up the classrooms to move the contents to the various schools to which they are scattering.  We are proud to have been a Fort Craig family.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cheeseburger Pie

The recipe for this delight can be found at Smoky Mountain Cafe, which directs, "Serve and watch your family kiss the ground you walk on."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bigfoot Hunting in Texas

According to Neatorama, some dude wrote the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and got an opinion stating that it is arguably legal to hunt Bigfoot in the State of Texas, as long as you buy a hunting license.  Lock and load, boys!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maryville Tomato Head Restaurant to Close

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports this morning that the Maryville Tomato Head Restaurant location on West Broadway Avenue will soon close.  The owners intend to open a new store in the Gallery Shopping Center in West Knoxville.  I am sad to learn that we'll lose the Maryville location, but wish the owners well across the river.

Introducing Mickey Mouse

On May 15, 1928, a test audience viewed the first Mickey Mouse flick ever produced, a short piece called Plane Crazy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

R.I.P. Donald "Duck" Dunn

Bass player Donald "Duck" Dunn died in Tokyo over the weekend while on tour with Steve "The Colonel" Cropper.  I first became aware of the two musicians when I saw The Blues Brothers as a kid.

Young Women Talking

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hot Doughnuts at Krispy Kreme!

Sarah and I spent the day with Mom in Knoxville yesterday for an early Mothers Day celebration.  As we were driving to lunch at TGI Fridays, we passed the Krispy Kreme doughnut factory on Kingston Pike.  The hot doughnut sign was on, so we stopped in to get some for Sarah and Grace, who had never experienced the inexpressible joy of eating hot doughnuts fresh off the line.  They also got a kick out of watching the doughnuts being made, and I took this photograph to share here.

I grew up in West Knoxville, and I lived at nearby Londontown Apartments in college and law school, so I've had my share of hot doughnuts, but I indulged anyway.  Mom had a crew of roofers working on her house yesterday, so we took the rest of the box to them.

Love to Moms

To all of the moms in my life, I wish you all a wonderful Mothers Day! To my own mother, I thank you for my life, and to my wife, I thank you for our children. Much love to all!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Last Family Gathering at Fort Craig School

We attended the last Family Gathering at Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning yesterday, and the house was packed.  Sarah's last day of second grade, and the last day of the historic school's operation, is next Friday, so yesterday's Family Gathering was a sentimental occasion, with many alumni in attendance.  I think I would have made it through the whole thing okay except for the lip sync video at the end.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the place.

It's been a good three years for us, and like most of the parents of Fort Craig's kids, we're sad to see the school shuttered.  We look forward to Sarah attending John Sevier Elementary School next year, but the community has suffered a loss with the closing of Fort Craig and the diaspora of the talented educators who have taught there, though we know we will have the benefit of their abilities in other schools in the Maryville system.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Americans Capture Fort Ticonderoga

On May 10, 1774, American forces commanded by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured the British outpost at Fort Ticonderoga in New York, although Arnold is remembered as America's most hated traitor for an attempt to betray West Point to the British later in the Revolutionary War.  Henry Knox, for whom nearby Knoxville is named, later became famous for hauling Ticonderoga's guns to Washington in Boston.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Victory in Europe Day

On May 7, 1945, German officials signed an instrument of surrender to Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II in Europe. Joyous citizens took to the streets upon hearing the news the next day, and so May 8 became known as Victory in Europe Day, at least in the west. Eastern European countries celebrate it on May 9, due to differences in time zones. You can listen to Prime Minister Churchill's remarks here, and you can read the text of President Truman's radio address here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

George "Goober" Lindsey

George "Goober" Lindsey died yesterday.  He liked to have breakfast at Nashville's Le Peep Restaurant, where we saw him many times dining with friends, including Ralph Emery.  R.I.P.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Restaurant Review -- El Jimador, Maryville, Tennessee

Sherry has eaten at nearby El Jimador Mexican Restaurant, 1705 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, many times, but I had my first meal there yesterday.  I prosecuted a guy who worked there in 2008, so I've avoided the place.  I learned during my three and a half years at McDonald's as a teenager that one should not anger the people who serve you food.  At any rate, I figured that particular defendant had probably moved on, and I did not see him there yesterday.

My first trip to El Jimador was a good one.  The place was filled with people enjoying Cinco de Mayo, but the service was great, as was the food.  It was a lot bigger inside than I thought, and it was quite noisy and festive.  We paid about $30.00 for our supper.  We are pretty loyal to Alcoa's Los Amigos and El Sazon, but as convenient as El Jimador is to our house, I'm sure we'll be back.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

On May 5, 1862, as the American Civil War was being waged in the United States, Mexican troops defeated a French invasion force in the Battle of Puebla.  While the anniversary is widely celebrated in the United States as an excuse to indulge in Mexican cuisine, it isn't that big a deal in Mexico, except in the city of Puebla itself.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May the Fourth Be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day!  In observance of May 4th this year I shall spend most of the day wielding horrific destructive technology, the industrial shredder in the basement of the courthouse.  It is sort of forlorn down there.  It used to be part of the juvenile center, the planning department and the law library, and now it is vacant.  At least I have a good audio book biography of the famous Jedi, George Washington, to entertain me while I work.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

City of Light, Indeed

This image of Paris was taken back in March, and it shows one of the reasons why Paris is called the City of Light. I recently learned, to my horror, that McDonald's has introduced the McBaguette in France. The mind recoils.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring in Silver Springs, Maryland

My Aunt Joan lives in Silver Springs, Maryland, which is near Washington, DC, and she sent these photographs of spring flowers in her neighborhood to my mom, her sister.  Aunt Joan graciously granted her permission for me to share them here.  Here in East Tennessee, it already feels like summer, with today's high near 90.

Thai Red Curry with Coconut Shrimp and Spinach

I found another Thai recipe at a blog called I Thee Cook. It seems I need to acquire something called curry paste if I want to attempt this recipe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Law Day

Title 36, section 113, of the United States Code provides as follows:

(a) Designation.— May 1 is Law Day, U.S.A.

(b) Purpose.— Law Day, U.S.A., is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States—

(1) in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; and

(2) for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life.

(c) Proclamation.— The President is requested to issue a proclamation—

(1) calling on all public officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Law Day, U.S.A.; and

(2) inviting the people of the United States to observe Law Day, U.S.A., with appropriate ceremonies and in other appropriate ways, through public entities and private organizations and in schools and other suitable places.

President Eisenhower first proclaimed Law Day May 1, 1958, and Congress enacted the aforementioned legislation in 1961. It is a day set aside in this nation to cherish the rule of law, something that in our modern cynicism we take for granted.