...slices of life in the Garden of Good & Evil

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Train Kept A Rollin'

Me and the wifey took a fine excursion up the country to visit my dear sister in Appomattox, Virginia a few weeks back. I'd never been to her new digs nestled covetously up in the picturesque hill country - unbelievably gorgeous terrain, y'all. Especially in autumn with Mother Nature's annual color splash.

It was an excellent visit and time well spent with family. The memorable journey on Amtrak was a hoot as well. Hence...


10. The food on Amtrak is amazing - not just OK.
09. You can ride the train from Clemson to Charlotte for $15.00. Insane.
08. It takes six hours to get from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta by train. Also insane.
07. Bring something to read, but don't get too buried in the book. Observe.
06. Porters aren't amused when you break into "Chattanooga Choo Choo".
05. Peeing in train bathrooms is an adventure unto itself.
04. Bring a few beverages in a small cooler or drink $6 beers. Your choice.
03. Enjoy the train stations - very retro experience. Trippy employees, too.
02. The average speed on Amtrak is 48 MPH.
01. I read (in a train station) that the damn things can actually do 150 MPH.

So the next time you're planning an A to B outing, I highly suggest looking into rail travel. Everybody should give it a whirl at least once. ..unless you're in a big hurry to get somewhere or have bladder control issues.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I fully realize that I haven't posted for exactly a month. Lots going on, just no real motivational material. That will soon change since I seem to be picking up a few readers. It's only fair for them to get some new stuff every now and then.

There was an Amtrak trip to Virginia (quite the adventure), several odd gigs, and the MSU win over the mighty red elephants from Tuscaloosa to discuss. Plus, I think I have developed fatty liver disease. The Walter Payton reference from my earlier post might have been an omen.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I'm quite sure that I have a big aversion to painful things. Not that most non-sadists don't. It's just that I don't really go around each day needing to dodge a boo-boo. Occasionally, however, one finds you anyway...

Anybody out there familiar with a skin tag? It's like a wart, but a little more fleshy. And it pops up out of nowhere. A tiny bump becomes a small 3D flap which then grows into something worthy of its own zip code. And not in a good location, I might add. It rhymes with troin.

I decided to take action...

Somewhere I read that one should tie a string around the base of the sucker and it would eventually sluff off. It's the eventually part I had problems with. Plus, the thought of a piece of me sluffing was disconcerting as well. The last time I tried Compound W for a foot wart was a complete disaster - not EVEN gonna try it down there. Maybe I should have a professional deal with this thing.

I had an appointment scheduled with my personal Medicine Man to go over some lab stuff from an insurance physical a few weeks earlier. Some liver enzyme spike had my wife concerned (just what I need - to go out like Walter Payton), but he assured me it was no big deal. Now's my chance for the tagectomy...

Me: "What about skin tags"
Doc: "What about 'em?"
Me: "If I wanted to lose one, is that a big deal?"
Doc: "Nah - we just chop 'em off right here in the office"

Great - quick and painless - or so I thought. I dropped my drawers and assumed the position as Medicine Man grabbed up a fresh hypodermic.

Doc: "You're not allergic to Lydocane, are you?"
Me: "Not that I'm aware of"
Doc: "Good. You'll feel a little stick then a burn."

O.K. Here's the stick...then




Doc:"You OK?"
Me: "Oh yeah...I'm good. Was that the Lydocane?"
Doc: "Yeah. Did it burn?"

Like downtown Chicago when O'Leary's cow knocked over the lantern!!

Me:"No big deal"
Doc: "Liar"

As if I weren't debased enough sitting pantsless in Exam 3, Medicine Man was waving around his scalpel like a majorette doing a baton act and had given the skin tag a name - Dirk the Dangler. He then with great ceremony whacked the unwelcomed intruder from my loins and offered it up in a plastic baggie.

Doc: "You want this for a souvenir?"
Me: "Uh, no thanks. Can I put my pants back on now?"
Doc: " Wait a minute. Let me find the damn Band-Aids."

Seems I bleed a lot, too. It just keeps getting better...

Doc: "OK - You're good to go"
Me: "Thanks, I guess"
Doc: "Let me know if some more crop up - we'll get 'em."
Not if I can find a remedy on the internet...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Mr. Brown Around Town

I got some new brown slacks. I guess every man needs a pair of brown slacks in his closet. I did have a nice pair, but somehow they shrank over the last few years...

Anyway, when I bought the brown slacks I also grabbed up a new brown belt. It's not exactly the same color brown, but I heard a little shade contrast is good.

So yesterday seemed like a good time to bust out the new brown slacks/brown belt combo. I even found some brown socks - although they were a bit different brown than my trusty brown dress shoes. Same goes for the slacks and belt. The shirt was white - I really didn't trust myself with anything else.

A quick glance in the mirror started my self-consciousness roiling about the four shades of brown. I then remembered that I was genetically predisposed to bad color matching - my Pop often sported maroon pants with a red shirt (or some such wicked pairing). I tried not think about my festival of brown too much more. My wife wasn't around for an opinion, so I braved the public appearance.

No fashion police came to arrest me...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One lump or two?

So the wife buys a small container of buttermilk a few weeks ago because a recipe called for some. I'm sure it was good eatin'...whatever it was she made.

It is unfortunate, however, that Kroger puts their buttermilk and half & half in very similar containers differentiated only by a splash of color (yellow vs. purple). This ever so slight variance of packaging can possibly slip by the early morning sleepy-eyed coffee drinker hunting for a dollop.

I don't recommend Folgers with curds....

Monday, September 10, 2007

Grill Thrills - Part 2

So after raving about L. Mullins fabulous ribs in my last post, I come back with a story of fear and loathing from my own backyard at Casa Jimmy...

Me and the wifey decided to simply grill a couple of burgers for dinner one evening last week. Cam calls and says he's coming over (fine by us). He's bringing a couple of friends as well.

Problem - we have only one small package of ground beef.

Solution A - go to the store for more meat

Solution B - smash out the patties really thin and flat to make 5 burgers.

Of course we chose B...

Anyway, soon dinner is on the table as we all prepare to chow down. My burger tastes like crud - really chalky and gross. Maybe we smushed them too much resulting in overcooking and subsequently crappy tasting burgers. Any respectable cook yearns for a compliment on their offering, but I knew one wasn't forthcoming on this night. Burgers that taste like feet for Cam and his buddies. Great. Time for a full confession.

Me: "Guys, sorry the burgers are so bad. Must've overcooked them."

Wife: "Mine's great."

Cam and friends: "Mmpphff..."

They were just being kind,I'm sure. At least that what I think mmpphff means.

I continued to choke down the lousy excuse for a burger when it popped ever so slightly out of the edge of the bun - the piece of wax paper stuck to the slice of cheese that I had been slowly devouring throughout the meal. I quietly removed the gnarled portion of the remaining sheet in time to have the last bite of an untainted burger. It tasted just fine.

There's a moral here - but I'm not quite sure what it is...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Lest Not We Forget

This has been haunting me all week...

Darling daughter Meredith was hanging out for a long weekend with the blood family while Big Willie was embroiled in the opening of dove season in the Delta. We (me, wifey and Meredith) got a cordial invite to join some friends at Chez Mullins for a pre-Labor Day rib fest.

Not sure if you people know this but Larry Mullins' ribs make Dreamland's suck by comparison. Simply amazing grillmaster - but I digress...

We enjoyed some chat and adult beverages whilst the meat was being prepared. Upon the appropriate signal, we all gathered in the kitchen to stack our plates and wear out some hot ribs. Janet asked that we return thanks - always correct in my book.

She offered up a nice blessing of the food and then asked that God help us all to "remember the true meaning of Labor Day."

What exactly is that and why don't I know about it????

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I have my little blogsite linked from a couple of non-assuming blogging friends. Thanks. This in itself is certainly no big deal (in fact, it's kinda how the whole blogging community exists). The real kicker is when I'm given way too much credit for my supposedly entertaining prose (thanks anyway, Sam). I actually plagiarize all the good stuff.

The truth be known, I have three other friends who need to be in the blogging business in a big way. For some reason none of them have gotten with the program, at least not yet. Maybe they've listened to their mature inner voice that says "blogs are only for youngsters". By contrast, my inner voice is usually just white noise and spewage...

Friend #1 writes all the time - mostly in a babbling, over-the-top, way-too-much-information sort of way. He wrote a cooking column in the local newspaper for a while, but it wandered all over the range and realm of his encyclopedic knowledge - think Dennis Miller meets Robert St. John. He's even added a few comments to my blog entries. I'll leave it up to the other readers to figure out which are his. I think blogging would offer an unfettered outlet for his stuff. Plus, no silly editors putting limits on his mass quantities of stylistic blahblah.

Friend #2 is just a hoot. She's now a registered nurse living in south Mississippi, having gone back to school at 40 to start the whole lifething over. I read several emails during her time as a non-traditional student at the USM Nursing School that made me pee just a little. Really, really funny observations of the everyday and mundane through the eyes of an empowered female - that's a bankably solid blog waiting to happen.

friend#3 sends me lots of emails from nashville where he is living out my life vicariously as a writer/producer/musician all of his stuff is blisteringly acerbic with no caps no punctuation and no apologies one of his favorite phrases is pig vomit which can be used to describe anything unacceptable or unpleasant as in u2s new album is pig vomit maybe we can all adopt this tidy phrase into our own personal vocabularies at any rate his blog would be entertaining although like his emails hard to read unless youre an ee cummings fan

So each time I get a chance to talk with one of these folks, I'm goading them toward joining the blog nation. Maybe soon we'll all get to sample one - I'll certainly link it from my site. Meanwhile, I'll keep throwing my own random thoughts out there into cyberspace. Hopefully a few of my stories will bring a laugh, or a tear, or a deep introspection to you, dear reader. Mostly, it's just pig vomit...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Babble After the Calm

I realize that it's been almost three weeks since I last published something on this site. Not that a lot hasn't been going on...

Made a cool overnight trip with the wifey last week to the Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood for an anniversary soiree. Great meal in Giardina's, great breakfast at the hotel, great happy hour with Jeff & Drew in the lounge, great cream cheese croissant pinwheel at the Hummingbird Bakery, and a great browse in the Viking Kitchen shoppe (who knew frying pans could cost that much??). All this with my bride of 30 years by my side. All in all, a fabulous day/night combo to celebrate.

Played a handful of jobs over the last couple of weeks. Nothing earth changing. Playing with Bobby S. on keys and sax is a nice gig - more of those to come, I hope.

Meredith moved in for two weeks to oversee yet another MSU KD rush. Plus, Cam's living at the house waiting on his newly remodeled digs to be finished - a full nest again for a while.

Somehow I'm signed up to teach a youth Sunday school class at FPC starting next Sunday. Fortunately, Heather & Gary Templeton (tres cool younger couple with a nifty little unit named Gabriel waddling around) and the venerable Jeff Foster are on board as well. It's my third shot - this time after a four year break. I can't imagine that these kids are in a position to get it when I start on one of my rants. Maybe the aforementioned adult parties can keep me in line...

Did I mention that it's hot. Not just summer in Mississippi hot. More like Hell is leaking into the general area hot. Or at the very least Al Gore was right and the ozone hole is now gaping hot. Too hot to deal with. Ants are catching on fire out there - seriously. No magnifying glass or nothin'

So let's all stay inside...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Back to the Future

I got a chance (through two very different circumstances) to spend a little time with a couple of old pals this weekend. One was my best friend since junior high (including a three year stint as my college roomy). The other was a fellow trumpet player from high school band - I now confess to being a band nerd...

Friend #2 lives in Columbus and the wife and I were invited to his home for a wedding shower honoring a young couple I had never met (??). It's a little complicated, but the groom's parents are fairly recent transplants to the area and we sing in the FPC choir together. The parents had lived in Columbus for a time several years back and were (and still are) good friends with the hosts. Somehow, that got us on the guest list - and at a very posh address according to the invitation.

The home itself was breathtakingly opulent, but even more gratifying was about 30 minutes I got to spend catching up with the man of the house. This guy looks in really great shape - and I find out he "recently" discovered triathlons. The killer deal is that he said he didn't run, bike or swim until three years ago. At least that's what he tells me.

I couldn't run a 5K without an ambulance somewhere in plain view...

My catching up with friend #1 was under what couldn't have been more grim circumstances. His mom had died a few days earlier and Marquita and I decided to try to catch him at the funeral home visitation (also in Columbus. By the way, I grew up in Columbus in case that fact has escaped any of you regular readers). I missed a similar chance at his Dad's funeral about five years ago (I was in Florida) and at his older sister's funeral (again, I was in Florida. What does that mean??). In spite of good excuses both times, I though there might be some resentment hovering.

I had not seen or spoken with this guy in about 15 years or so. He lives near Nashville and even though I've been up to that area quite a bit, we've never gotten together. Sometimes you just drift apart when you don't make an effort - my bad.

It felt a little weird when I first approached him at the wake, but he seemed genuinely glad to see me and we just picked up the conversation right where we left off the last time we talked. He's remarried, has a 7 year old, and is a farmer of sorts. Who knew? We left each other promising to each do a better job of keeping in touch.

I guess these two encounters just reinforce my feelings that old true friends are for life. And they're always good to savor...

Monday, July 30, 2007

For Me??

Well, I really don't have a rancid clue how to describe the feeling one gets from being ambushed with a truly "surprise" party - but here goes....

Last Saturday, I arrived home early morning from an overnight gig in Jackson (I played a little wedding reception and stayed over with Will & Meredith in Madison). Marquita told me we were meeting our friends Perry & Michelle for dinner later that night. I nodded my approval and went about wasting the rest of the day. Certain things should have let me know something was afoot.

Clue #1 - around 4:00pm
Me: "What time are we meeting the Rackleys for dinner?"
Wife: " We're picking them up at 5:45."


That's when the senior citizens hit the Cracker Barrel for some sort of all-you-can-eat catfish or waffle fest, right? Oh well, maybe there's more to the story...

Clue #2 - as we're leaving the house

Me: "And why is it we're going so early?"
Wife: "We're going over to their house afterwards to play cards."

Cards...what kind of cards? Go Fish? Canasta? Uno? I don't play cards. Neither does my wife. Perry plays a little poker now and then. Maybe he thinks he can take me and the wife in a "friendly" game. That scoundrel...

Me: "I really don't want to play cards. Can I just watch?"
Wife: "Whatever...let's just go."

Dinner was at The Veranda. We were joined by two other couples - Tommy & Kathy Prentice and Bob & Diane Daniels. The conversation was enjoyable, the food was tasty (as usual), and the evening was marching on. It took us 2.5 hours to get out of there - despite a 6:00pm start in a very uncrowded dining room. I think our waiter was working another job in another restaurant simultaneously.

Clue #3 - leaving the restaurant

My wife was getting antsier by the minute as we waited for our checks. She bolted for the parking lot well ahead of me and the Rackleys.

Me: "What's the big hurry?"
Wife: "I'm just ready to leave."
Me: "To do what - play cards?"
Wife: (stinkeye)

Guess I'll just shut up and go with the flow. Maybe Perry has some good cigars around the house. My new affectation...smoking Perry's good cigars.

We pull into the Rackley's driveway and are greeted by about 100 people lined up in front of their house... Meredith & Will, Cam, my minister and his wife, several musician buddies, The Kollard Kings en regalia (MSU football tailgating pals), friends from the Delta and Jackson (crazy long drive for them) - each and every one a good friend.

But for some reason, I still didn't think about a surprise birthday party when we rounded the corner and saw this mob. All I could figure was that lots of people liked to play cards...

Thursday, July 26, 2007


OK- it has been pointed out that some liberties were taken by me on my last post. Seems like some readers (and you know who you are) have a problem with me, Opie and Ossie being lumped into one big birthday pile.

My real birthdate is July 25th. Most accounts of Bin Laden's birthdate are sketchy, but there is some consensus about him turning 50 this summer. Why not July 25th? And I realize Oprah is like 53 or 54 and I have no idea when her actual birthdate is. I vaguely remember a big shindig on primetime network TV for her 50th birthday a few years back. Lots of celebrity pals and general opulence. Very Oprah.

Like I said at the end of the post, it wasn't really about 50 anyway. Besides, if I did share a astrological link with those two I would probably explode.

Lighten up, people...

I have removed the "doctored up" photo of me with the big, toothy grin from the right side of the blog. I got tired of the old tux pic and the new one was too large and just a bit scary. As part of my newfound maturity (being 50 and all), I will continue blogging sans recurring personal photo.

This is not to say one won't pop up on occasion, but all the cool kids seem to manage a slight anonymity - good enough for me...

After making good on #2, the layout looked really dull. I've changed templates now. And some font colors. Added a random picture of Scott (not me) sleeping at work. This will probably entertain me for a couple of days.

As a creature of habit, changes like this go against my nature. Don't be surprized if it all goes back by next week...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Pop Quiz

What do all these people have in common?

Here's a hint...

If you guessed that all three like to drink beer and make fun things out of Play-Doh, you are correct! If you said happy 50th birthday - nice try...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Homecoming and A New Jones

It was nice to see Jon and Elizabeth at Adam and Abi's wedding this past Saturday. The Wagners look no worse for the wear - obviously Pittsburgh is an agreeable climate for these guys. I know it was a quick trip, but they'll be back for a two weeker in August, I'm told.

As if this blogging thing isn't a general distraction from a productive adult life, I've discovered online Scrabble. There's a little freebie site called Scrabulous.com that I stumbled into sometime last week. Games of varying time lengths are offered solo, against "robots", or head-to-head for rating points. You simply register and then begin playing - every available minute day or night. I might need to join some 12 step program for this...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Is It Really Better To Give?

Yesterday was Bloodmobile Day at the church I attend (FPC of StarkVegas). I think it's a good and noble thing to donate blood and I've done so on several occasions. Never really thought twice about it.

My dear departed Pop used to give up a pint or two on a very regular basis when I was a young lad. He was a fireman and sort of the quiet, heroic type. I remember it well - and maybe that's why I feel compelled to do the same. Genetic disposition to blood giving...hmmm - there's an interesting concept.

Anyway, I had signed up for the 6:30pm bloodletting session thinking I'd just catch it on my way home from the office. When I arrived at the Bloodmobile (with its fabulously frigid insides on a 90+ degree Mississippi day), I found it a bit crowded. Seems there were a few "walk-ins" and the Bloodmobile people don't send anybody away who comes knocking.

After a 20 minute wait spent in a quasi-agonizing chat with the parish nurse, my number rolled up. I got the perfunctory pre-sticking workup in a 4 x 4 closet with a rather large Bloodmobile worker. She might have been a nurse - we weren't properly introduced. About 700 questions followed in rapid succession. I made some offhand comment about her asking about "any tattoos in the last 6 months". She scowled as she lifted her 125 lb. arm to reveal a seriously intricate work of ink. Big arms get big tats, I surmised.

Slipping away from the closet of growing funk, I made my way down the corridor to a waiting couch. A friendly sort named Tom complimented my veins (I don't think it was inappropriate in this setting) and hooked me up - literally. I squeezed the little rubber heart/ball every few seconds and tried not to think about the blood pressure reading that Nursezilla had told me earlier(130 over 90 - that can't be right...).

In about 10 or 12 minutes, Tom pronounced me as "done". At that exact moment I went slack - cold, clammy, sweaty, weak. This had suddenly become a near death experience.

Tom: "Are you OK?"
Me: "Yeah - just let me get outta this bus. I'll be fine"
Tom: "You don't look so good - wanna juice box?"

Okay. Middle aged guy is showing classic symptoms of heart failure in a medical setting and Tom wants me to have A JUICE BOX!! WHAT ABOUT ATROPINE? A CRASH CART?

I grabbed an oatmeal creme patty instead and broke for the parking lot. I managed to make it home, all the while envisioning me draped over the steering wheel careening into a group of unexpectant school children - never mind that it was 7:30pm. In July. I stumbled in and flopped on the couch.

Wife: "Are you OK?"
Me: "I'll be fine. Could I have a juice box?"
Wife: "You don't look so good - wanna sandwich?"

I think it saved my life....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wrapping Up Some Loose Ends

I suppose it's a sign of at least a moderate blogging addiction when one realizes that almost a week has passed without a new entry and the albatross of guilt glides overhead. That would be the case today.

I thought it might be a good time to update some information from my first month of blogs...working in reverse order.

1. Apparently, the good folks at AT&T managed to clean up my phone lines at home. Thus, the new computer is cruising along the Internet rather nicely. Not sure if they (the fix-it guys) came at night or what. They never called. Kinda creepy.

2. Bill Cooke actually has two stepsons. One is getting married in New Orleans in December, but I haven't met him or his fiance. Stepson #2 is the alcoholic with the alcoholic girlfriend. Sorry if I caused any damaged reputations through my confusion of siblings. It happens.

3. My two miles a day regimen has been outdoors on the MSU campus lately, largely because treadmills suck. I stopped yesterday to talk a while with my buddy the ex-executive director that got the hosing from his board. He's pretty much in good spirits as I knew he'd be. This episode has nevertheless taken a toll on the boy. He harbors some bitterness (rightfully so, in my opinion) and he knows there's still some fallout to come. A tip of the hat for the inspiring resilience of a good man...

4. It's been almost three weeks and I have not heard back from Annette the Visa Nazi. Maybe she's found a new victim to torment. Maybe she's been laid off and is aimlessly wandering the streets of New York (I assume all major credit card companies have to be in New York). Maybe she's found a new line of work in an orphanage or a circus or something. At least she and I haven't spoken - and that's a good thing.

5. Finally, I've managed to get a couple of encouragements about my little blog. Just one or two mind you - as I still have yet to really go public with this thing. If you're reading this now, rest assured it's still mostly by accident. But then, I guess that's basically how this works.

At least I don't feel guilty anymore...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cut Off From the World

"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

- Joni Mitchell from "Big Yellow Taxi"

We've really been needing a new computer at my house. The old one was chugging along on a seriously dated Windows 95 platform with processing speed (or lack of it) to match. Streaming media - pretty much impossible, even with a good DSL connection.

So Monday, we got upgraded.

Craig, the IT genius at work, slapped some pieces and parts together for me and before you know it, we have a somewhat more suitable computer for 2007. Not exactly state of the art (which I don't think is actually possible since whatever you get is immediately eclipsed by the latest & greatest), but certainly a ginormous leap of technology for us at home.

Note: I had to use the word "ginormous" somewhere because I read today that Webster's has just included it in their new dictionary. I promise I won't use it again - stupid word...

Monday evening after supper, I managed to reassemble our computer setup without looking anything up or spewing foul language. I went through a few files, printed a page, and then headed for cyberspace.

But the internet connection was bad...

We've developed some trashy static over our land line in just the last couple of days and it seems to be getting worse. It might be related to all the rain we've been having lately. Calls are hard to understand, the answering machine is pretty much useless, and now the web is inaccessible.


I know Thoreau said we should simplify, but good Lord - no internet? Are you kidding me? How can we survive? Even for a day or two? Never mind that I'm only actually at home for a precious few hours every weekday - I MUST HAVE INTERNET ACCESS!!!

Do you sense my despair, dear reader? I still have web access at work (where I'm writing this from), but even if I'm not online while at home I'd like to know I could be.

I managed to get through to the AT&T repair center and was told someone would be at my home between now and Friday. This means potentially three more days at my house with NO INTERNET!! COME FIX IT NOW!! TODAY!!

I did get a spiffy deal on a reconditioned laptop that included a good wireless setup last week. Maybe one of the neighbors wouldn't mind if I sit in their yard and soak up a little bandwidth...

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Tale of the Tavern (and Two Weddings)

As most of you know, I can be found the first Thursday evening of every month playing bass for the Bill Cooke trio at Dave's Darkhorse Tavern - a venerable StarkVegas institution known for good live music (even us!) and killer pizza. Last night was indeed one of those Thursdays.

I managed to meet Abi, Adam Cooper's fiance. She and I made a few mutual connections (MSU Philosophy major, FPC, Cameron) and now I hope we're friends. The big day's coming up really soon for those two - just a little later this month, in fact. Let me say that Adam is one lucky fellow - Abi's great.

On to the gig...

Bill and I knew that the Damminator (our drummer, Bob Damm) would be out of town, so we opted for a duo format since MSU was in between summer terms and everybody was out of town. Times like these routinely translate into a slim door take from the cover. On the bright side, Bobby Shannon, a long time friend and superb musician said he would drop by and sit in with his soprano sax. Very cool musical expectations on my part for the night. I even showed up a little early for the gig.

Bill arrived a bit later and had his stepson, Ben, and Ben's fiance (can't recall her name) tagging along. They're getting married in December in New Orleans - but that's another blog entry down the road. Anyway, Ben and his girlfriend find a table after helping us with the equipment load in. Bill offers to handle their tab, with the advice to observe "moderation".

Turns out, moderation was a whopping $72.00 bar tab for our lovebirds. In a little over two hours. The crowd was as measly as projected and that was certainly reflected in the door receipts. I'm reminded of the classic scene from The Blues Brothers movie when Jake & Elrod go to get paid and the bar owner says "here's yer $200 and you drank $300 worth of beer."

Easy come, easy go, I guess. At least our free pizza at night's end was excellent as usual. Ben and his woman ate half of that, too...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Have A Seat

As of the last five years, we have lived in a house with an actual dining room. In prior living arrangements we've had nooks, alcoves, eat-in kitchens, and the like - but never an honest-to-God dining room.

When we first moved in, we acquired a nice big dining room table. It came with six chairs. We also had four odd little wooden chairs that are old, but wouldn't (at least in my mind) qualify as antiques. They were salvaged from the old cafeteria at the "W" (a nearby women's college that both my parents worked at) some years back. If all ten chairs are crammed around the table, we can seat a good sized dinner party.

In other words, we're all set for dining room chairs...or so I thought.

My brother-in-law and his family have very recently sold a large custom-built home in the Nashville area and moved to smaller digs. The idea was in their constant motion of raising two active and athletic teenage sons (who between them play some manner of sport year round), they needed a smaller house and smaller lot for lower maintenance. Plus, I'm sure they came out OK on the resale of a very desirable house and acreage overlooking a river.

Part of their "downsizing" included an APB to the family to see if anyone would be interested in certain pieces of furniture that they no longer had room for. Like dining room chairs. Six of them.

My wife said we needed them.

They arrived yesterday by special courier (my in-laws had been to Tennesse for a visit and managed to load them all in the back of their truck). Imagine my unbridled glee at adding six more dining room chairs to our collection.

They're OK, I guess, but they certainly don't match our chairs that originally came with the table. They don't really match the little chairs from the women's college, either. These chairs are very ornate, like the kind Louis XIV would sit in for elegant palacial soirees. We tend to grill burgers a lot.

Our dining room is now completely overrun with furniture, but - hey - we can seat 16 people. Never mind that only ten can actually have their plate on a table. Lap eating or TV trays for everyone else.

This means, of course, that any of you reading this should keep a vigil near your phone. We may ask you over for dinner - and you'll most definitely have a chair...

Friday, June 29, 2007

It Just Ain't Right

Turns out a good friend just quit a new executive director's job he started only two months ago. I spoke with him briefly, and he told a tale of vicious micromanagement and lack of support by the board that originally hired him. He could have been making all this up, but knowing this guy I doubt it.

Sadly, the rank and file of the organization (much less the public) will never know what went down and how a good man got the shaft.

That is unless someone tells the story....

I'm thinking about a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. I could simply decry the injustice on my blog - but then no one except the one or two of you who read this drivel would know about it.

I actually wrote a LTTE once in my adult life. And it was about a dangerous intersection with confusing traffic signs. Eventually, the problem was solved. Was it because of my letter? I'd like to think so, but probably not.

So, anyway, I've written a scathing expose' of the unfortunate twists of my friend's short time in his job. I'm letting it sit on my hard drive for at least the weekend to see if

1) My feelings change because I learn about new developments
2) I chicken out and just decide to let it slide
3) My friend takes his job back

Don't think #3 will happen because he told me he wants public apologies, etc. No way that'll go down.

Come Monday (assuming I'm still feeling foul about the establishment that perpetrated this mess) I'll send the letter. Will it change anything?

I'd like to think so, but probably not...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just Cut It Up - part II

So I wrote last week about an angry young customer service rep named Annette who had gotten really belligerent with me over a forgotten password for a business credit card. Imagine my surprise when Annette calls back a week later. I was a little smug at first, expecting some sort of apology for her hasty accusations the week before. You know - a little groveling after a good dressing down from her boss.


She informed me (somewhat gleefully) that she had pleaded her case to her manager, who had authorized a shutdown of my account. Here we go again. Only this time, she really pulled it off. I went online while we were talking and sho' nuff - my account was locked up tight.

I can imagine this person working for an entire week to get back at little ole me. Maybe I'm a bit paranoid, but that's how it came off. Anyway, Annette then accused me of impersonating someone else over the phone to the customer service rep who undid her shenanigans last week. I pretty much lost it at that point and started screaming into the phone like a maniac.

I think I scared her....

Her supervisor came on the line (after a loooong period of being on hold in which I had some cool down time). She and I talked through everything and now it looks like everything's golden again.

Maybe Annette will call again next Thursday. Now it's kinda like a sporting event...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Ode to Oby's

A bunch of us were eating lunch at Oby's after church last Sunday. Had a couple of revelations there.

1) MSU basketball coach Rick Stansbury came in to pick up a to-go order and he looked awfully thin. In fact, most of the people at my table didn't recognize him. Must be good to not be recognized because you've lost a lot of weight. Don't see that happening for me - at least not because of diet & exercise. Disease, maybe.

2) I always, always, always get the muffaletta at Oby's. It's the only decent one in town, although it has slipped a tiny bit in recent years. Besides, Central Grocery in the French Quarter is just far to drive, even for a good muff. One day I'll try something else there - at Oby's, I mean. I don't know if Central Grocery even serves anything else.

3) Ellie Rupp is maybe the funniest two-year old I've ever run across. She's such a natural entertainer. Gummed a big dill slice to pieces while ignoring her chicken nuggets. I guess you had to be there.

It's always good to eat out...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just Cut It Up

My wife ( the lovely and talented Marquita) is always right. Even when I don't want to admit it immediately, her correctness will strike like a kick in the pants a few days later.

She says credit cards are evil. Not surprisingly, I have had not one but two horrific exchanges with credit card companies in the last 48 hours.

The first one involved an APR leap of almost ten percentage points from one statement to the next because of a bogus federal tax lien floated on my credit report. I really shouldn't care about the APR, because I rarely carry a balance on this card subject to a finance charge, but my good name had been assaulted!

After a few calls to a few people, the problem was rectified and my APR was actually reduced to a lower figure than before the big snafu. I guess that constitutes a happy ending.

Today, I forgot a newly assigned password to a business card account online access site. My bad - shoulda written the new password down somewhere. Tried to get some help from a customer service rep. He didn't sound like he was from around these parts. I got transferred to someone named Annette that tried to "help". Instead, the conversation became extremely accusatorial on her part and I got blamed for 9/11, Katrina, and all the great plagues of Europe. She deactivated my account.


I fretted for a while, sought counsel from a wise friend of mine, then called the credit card company again. This time I got handed off to a gentleman named Tim who listened to my story and agreed that Annette was a little hasty in her judgement and action. He got the problem solved - found my password and reactivated the account. Another happy ending.

All this grief, of course, could have been totally avoided by paying in cash. You're right again, dear...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Entomology 101

I'm looking at the clock in my office and it's 3:13 - on a Tuesday, no less. This means I'm sitting in front of a computer doing pretty much worthless junk in the middle of a workday afternoon.

I'm trying to feel guilty, but I know I got up pretty early, did a couple of miles (yes, I'm making a begrudging attempt at personal fitness), and got to work well before 8:00am. I wrote down a bunch of stuff on a "Things To Do Today" pad and managed to do them all. I got a whopping check in the mail that I'd been anxiously awaiting.

On top of all this, yesterday was bigtime productive in fieldwork and spec writing. Even got all the related bids/proposals emailed/faxed off to their respective parties.

The ant would the commit the rest of his workday to getting even farther ahead of schedule, because he might be in a crunch soon.

The grasshopper would blow off the rest of the day.


Monday, June 18, 2007

The Circle is Unbroken

Full family immersion for Fathers Day - Will & Meredith came up for the weekend, Cam was mostly around, Mom, Archie and Peg came for lunch...other than the Dawgs losing in baseball, it was a great day. I even got two new SWEET vintage silk Hawaiian shirts.

More and more, the presence of family is a major uplift to me. I guess I'm able to focus and enjoy it more than I could in my past years. Seems like relationships are about "soaking in" more so than "spewing out" all the time.

It's the new mellow me...in keeping with my New Year's resolution to be more accepting and gracious. This is not my natural behavior, or at least not yet. Maybe time will tell...

And there is a difference in mellow and boring, y'all...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Public Domain??

After posting a for couple of days, I decided to let a few people know about my new venture into blogging. Most of the exchanges went like this...

Me: I started a blog.
Friend: Really? You?

After that I didn't get any feedback one way or the other from them (and I know they all looked at the blog). Does this mean I should be embarrassed? proud? in hiding?

Starting up a MySpace page just didn't grab me, but the blog idea did - and still does for that matter. I'm not sure if anything of profundity will ever be posted here (profundity is a real word, right?), but it feels pretty good to be a published writer...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Zounds! Yet another 90+ degree day with no chance of rain. This makes about 60 in a row - at least the no rain part. Odd that you can really bum out over extended periods of rain (unless you get used to living in Seattle or London), but extended periods of no rain produce no emotional distress - just complaints...

We do need some dang rain, y'all. The lake in my neighborhood now has a beach. No kiddin'...

Plus, as of this writing (almost 5:00pm) I've changed shirts 4 times today. Sweated out two Tshirts, got another covered with plaster dust and have a meeting at 5:30. This is quite a nice balance to wearing the same pair of jeans for 4 days straight...

I guess the good part about my day job is that I'm not stuck doing one thing everyday/all day like some poor schumcks out there in the adult world. I have a little office time, a little field work and a bit of sales floor in a typical day - each in varying quantities.

Still 4 shirts is overkill. I will do better tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


It really feels a bit odd to do one of these blog thingys, but maybe the timing is good...

Time to get an appointment with my personal physician - not that I'm sick or anything. I just want a Q&A session about the dozen or so whacky human changes that have come up on me in the last few years. I didn't read the manual so I'm not sure what to expect here - long term anyway. I'll work on the list of questions and maybe call him next week. I did try last week, but he was on vacation. Waiting is not a strength for me.

When I was approaching 40 (a few years ago), my good friend J.D. said to "beware of the burning juice". Seemed really cryptic at the time, but now I think I know what he meant. And that's so strange.

One never thinks about immortality, but you can sure dwell on the downstroke...