Sunday, January 31, 2016

Illuminati Confirmed

Here are a few more pictures from our recent snow. We are experiencing a wonderfully warm weather pattern for January here in East Tennessee, but I suspect we'll have some more snow before the daffodils start blooming. My womenfolk are visiting Nashville this weekend. Grams is taking Sarah to a musical production of Roald Dahl's Matilida this afternoon at the Tennessee Center for the Performing Arts.

Sarah and her friends have become aware of the Illuminati, and she now sees evidence of the existence of the Illuminati in every triangle she encounters, so I made this in the snow for her.
As Sarah likes to say, "Illuminati confirmed!"
Since Sherry won't be able to leave until after the show, which begins at 1:00 p.m. central time, they won't be home until this evening, leaving me and the home guard of fierce calicoes to hold down the fort. Sarah's performances of The Little Mermaid, Jr., take place next weekend, which means the gals will be at rehearsals or performances every night until the cast party next Sunday. I am looking forward to seeing the performance, but I will be glad to be relieved of my status as a theater widower.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Happy Birthday Bud and Alley's

We don't eat out a lot when we go to the beach because we like to cook together when the whole family is down there, but there are a few restaurants that near and dear to our hearts. One of those is Bud & Alley's, and they just celebrated their 30th birthday ten days ago. The place is named after the founder's pets, shown on the logo. The Walton Sun has the story of the restaurant's early days when County Road 30A was largely undeveloped.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday-Melton Hill Lake Edition

Here's a picture from 2007 for Throwback Thursday. Joey, Jake and Sarah are pictured in the cove at Mighty Oak, where my friend Bart used to live on Melton Hill Lake.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Noble Train of Artillery

Most East Tennesseans know that Knoxville is named for Henry Knox, President Washington's Secretary of War. According to one of my history teachers the settlement was named for him to suck up to him for military protection from Indians. Students of the American Revolutionary War know that Knox gained fame during the war by bringing a "noble train of artillery" from the captured Fort Ticonderoga to General Washington in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Knox reported to Washington that the guns had arrived on January 27, 1776.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Plutonian Ice Volcano

Scientists continue to study images and information being sent back to Earth from the New Horizons spacecraft. They hypothesize that the image on the right shows an inactive ice volcano, perhaps the largest yet discovered in the solar system. (Via NASA)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Geeky Star Wars Stuff

The release of The Force Awakens at Christmas time was coupled with a marketing blitz that brought me several cool and geeky Star Wars items via my loving wife. Although she is not as geeky as I am, she humors me nicely. As you can see, my alma mater has joined the Star Wars craze.

I have not yet commented on the new movie, and I will offer no spoilers here for those readers that may be waiting for the DVD release to see the flick. I will say as a confirmed Star Wars geek that I was absolutely thrilled with the movie. Before its release fanboys online were threatening to dub J.J Abrams "Jar Jar Abrams" if this movie wasn't up to snuff. I think fandom is appeased.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

John Belushi's Birthday

Today is John Belushi's birthday. He died of an overdose in 1982. Had he lived this would have been his 67th birthday. As with many talented performers who died young (Belushi died at age 33.), it is interesting to think about what else he would have given us if he had lived longer.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


After a very mild beginning to winter, we have had our first snow of the season this week here in East Tennessee. The first batch came through Tuesday and then another system moved in last night and is still giving us some snow, although it seems to be fading out.
Two years ago Sarah broke her leg sledding down our back yard in almost the same place as she is in this picture. She learned her lesson and is much more cautious, but the blue sled got a hole torn in it when our neighbor kid crashed it into one of the railroad ties that line our driveway. Fortunately, Maryville Fastener had some sleds left, and Sarah selected this orange one. I still want to buy her a runner sled, but they are very expensive new for the amount of use she'd get out of it. I hope to find one at a garage sale for cheap.
We haven't been outside yet today, so these are pictures from earlier in the week. Forest Avenue in front of our house is clear, and traffic seems to be passing well down on East Broadway Avenue. I'm sure Sarah will want to get out and play in the snow some more, and I need to knock the snow off of our cars, so I'm sure we'll bundle back up and go back up again before long. I've got a beef chuck roast to warm us back up later on.

Another Chicken Chili Recipe

Ever since Sherry's mom gave us our pressure cooker I've wanted to try to make a batch of chili using dry beans, which I have never done before. When I was a young and poor college student my grandmother encouraged me to cook dry beans, which are cheap and full of protein, and I never took that advice. After making a few batches of dry beans in the pressure cooker I realize I should have. Anyway, I found a chicken chili recipe on Smitten Kitchen that takes you from the dry beans up, and we'll have to give it a try sometime this winter.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Space Tater

This is Prometheus, a moon of Saturn. The line at the top of the image is Saturn's F Ring. This space tater is about fifty miles across.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jefferson Davis Resigns from the Senate

On January 21, 1861, Jefferson Davis resigned from the United States Senate, after his home state of Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9. He called it the saddest day of his life. I was not aware that after the Civil War he would work at an insurance company in Memphis, where he lived at the Peabody Hotel.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Island Painting by Henry P

When we visited Sherry's mom during the holidays I took a picture of this painting, which she acquired when she took Sherry and the kids on a Caribbean cruise. It is signed "Henry P."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Restaurant Review -- Flip Burger Boutique, Nashville, Tennessee

When we were in Nashville during the New Year holiday, Jake suggested we have lunch at Flip Burger Boutique, 4111 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee. Upscale burgers have become increasingly popular, and in 2012 I sampled the trend at the Burger Up location at Cool Springs in Franklin.

I had the Lamburger, which was delicious and more than enough for lunch, although we had their sweet tater tot appetizer. It has a light marshmallow dipping sauce that was quite nice. This is a fancy joint and because of that quite pricey.  Our tab including tip was just over $100.00.
I make this observation. I should convince Jake not to do the duck face, and he should convince me not to wear overalls in an upscale hipster burger boutique. Generational angst.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review -- Life by Keith Richards and James Fox

I recently finished the audiobook version of Life, the autobiography of legendary Rolling Stones lead guitar player Keith Richards, which he co-wrote with James Fox. I checked it out from our local library the day I turned in Washington, a Life, by Ron Chernow. I told the librarian I was feeling too virtuous.

Those expecting tales of sex, drugs and rock and roll will not be disappointed, for there are many of them in this book, although Keith makes a point of correcting the record where the myths around him and the band have been exaggerated. The truth is plenty bad enough. One example was the story about him going to Switzerland to have his blood changed out, a tale which has helped create the myth that Richards is some kind of indestructible rock and roll vampire. According to Keith, he was at an airport and on his was to Switzerland to try and get off of heroin and jokingly told a reporter he was going to Switzerland to have his blood changed out. It never happened. (And he didn't stay clean that time, although he claims to be off it now.)

I was interested to learn about more personal aspects of the man's life. For example, I did not know Keith Richards went camping with his family as a kid and was a boy scout, and a patrol leader, no less. Do they have merit badges for lead guitar now? There was a vignette where he is in a hotel room in the United States in the Seventies when a program came on the television showing scouts honoring Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the scouting movement in England. At the appropriate moment in the ceremony, Keith stood at attention in his hotel room, gave the boy scout salute and reported in proper scout fashion as if he were present at the ceremony representing his former troop and patrol.

It was poignant that over the years he agonized over disappointing his father and described the fear he had about confronting his dad after having not seen him for many years. It turned out alright, because he did eventually reconcile with his dad, and they became friends, or "mates" as Keith put it. The book has not only Keith's words, but many instances where other people in his life tell part of the narrative, including his son, Marlon, who traveled with him as a child. That must have been an interesting upbringing.

At the time of its release, a lot of the publicity around the book was about its discussion of the sometimes turbulent relationship between Keith and Mick Jagger. There were obviously problems, and a lot of it centered around Mick's failed attempt at a solo career. Keith describes it as being something akin to a family dispute, and one that has been set aside in favor of further musical collaboration. This book is well worth the time of any Rolling Stones fan.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bahama Mamas

While we are waking up in the throes of winter here in beautiful East Tennessee, my sisters will wake up this morning in the Bahamas, where they are enjoying a gals' trip with their high school friend, Dana. They were concerned about rainy weather, but they had blue skies on the beach yesterday.

We've had a typical home weekend, and Sarah and I will enjoy the MLK holiday out of work and school tomorrow, although Sherry has to work. Sarah's theater production is only a couple of weeks away, and so we expect that the number of rehearsals will increase as they put the finishing touches on the performance. In the meantime, we have a couple of quiet days to enjoy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy Birthday Ronnie Van Zant

Ronnie Van Zant, legendary frontman for the Southern rock band Lynryd Skynyrd, was born on January 15, 1948, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday

For Throwback Thursday here is a picture of Jake and Joey from 2006, when they were ten.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Look at Home From the Moon

This image of Earth was taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is studying the moon from orbit around it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review -- A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

I recently read the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, via Although I was familiar with the characters of Holmes and Watson from popular culture, I had never read any of Arthur Conan Doyle's work, at least not as an adult. I enjoyed the story, although I admit it sent me to the dictionary with some frequency. I expect I will read more tales of Holmes' exploits in the coming months.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Smokies Facts

Mental Floss recently had a list of ten facts about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I didn't expect to find anything I didn't know, but the article surprised me. For example, I don't think I had even heard that Disney's television show Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier filmed scenes in the park. According to Wikipedia those scenes were filmed at the Mountain Farm Museum in Oconaluftee.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Down on the Farm

After our travels last weekend, we are happy to be back in East Tennessee this weekend. Sarah's theater group, Primary Players, is rehearsing for their production of The Little Mermaid, Jr., to be staged at the Clayton Center for the Arts the weekend of February 5 through 7. They usually stage a couple of shows at local schools as well. There's more information at the link for those interested in tickets.

Yesterday after rehearsal and lunch we drove out Montvale Road to our friends Tom and Denise's house so the girls could help Denise put together some of the costumes for the show. Although Sarah's role is Arista, one of Ariel's mermaid sisters, she modeled this seagull costume.
Tom and Denise live on a beautiful farm, and Sarah had a good time throwing a tennis ball for their dog. The ball, and therefore the dog, ended up in this pond quite a bit.
These turkeys have taken up residence at the farm, and seem quite tame. It was cool to be able to observe them up close.

UPDATE:  Here is Sarah in her outfit as Arista, sister of the Little Mermaid.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Year and a Late Christmas Celebration in Middle Tennessee

Here are a few photographs from our combined Christmas/New Year weekend in Middle Tennessee last weekend. We started with a visit with Sherry's mom, known to her grandkids as Grams, on the west side of Nashville.
My lovely wife strikes a pose with poinsettias in the background.
Christmas loot!

We opted for a celebratory dinner at J. Alexander's, one of our Nashville favorites, which is on White Bridge Road and very convenient to Grams' house and Sherry's brother Jay's condo. Sherry wanted a group shot with her youngsters.
After dinner and presents with Grams and Jay, Sherry, Sarah and I headed southeast on Interstate 24 to Murfreesboro to visit her dad and stepmom, known to their grandkids as Papa John and Grand Jan. Papa John was a bass man back in the day, and I managed to coax him into pulling out the bass guitar I've seen in his band's promotional photographs.
Sarah discovered the game room and that it has a Nintendo Wii, and she was able to talk Jan into some gaming time. We had a good visit with our kinfolk.

Friday, January 8, 2016

First State of the Union Address

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address to Congress, pursuant to Section 3, Article II of the United States Constitution.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Like Mother, Like Daughter

This is a picture of Sherry and a couple of her friends when she was about Sarah's age. I find the resemblance between mother and daughter to be remarkable.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Restaurant Review -- Country Steak n' Eggs, Townsend, Tennessee

Sarah and I had breakfast during the Christmas break at a relatively new restaurant, Country Steak n' Eggs, 7613 Old Highway 73, Townsend, Tennessee. It was one of only two restaurants we saw open for breakfast in Townsend this time of year, and we followed my Ogle grandparents' rule of looking for restaurants with a lot of cars in the parking lot. We had a hearty breakfast at a table overlooking the Little River, which was high and moving fast after all the rain we'd had. The service was good, and the tab, including tip, was about $24.00.
Here's a view of the river from our table.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Chinese Lunar Rover

The Chinese National Space Administration recently landed a robotic rover, Yutu, on the moon, and it is currently gathering information there. This picture shows its first tracks on the lunar surface.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016