Friday, January 31, 2003

Arts in Tennessee in Trouble?

I received this in my email today. Anyone heard of this before?

Urgent Action for the Arts Needed

In our January/February newsletter we suggested that members of TFTA and all other arts activists write to Governor Bredesen requesting new money funding for the Tennessee Arts Commission. You probably have seen the news that the governor in considering cutting some departments as much as 7.5 percent. Rumors abound at this moment that the cut for the Arts Commission may be much greater than that.

It is necessary that we do several things immediately:

1) Write to Governor Bredesen telling him how important the arts are in your community and how vital it is to maintain the funding for the Tennessee Arts Commission. Without adequate funding for the Arts Commission, programs of all kinds and sizes in almost every community in the state will be hurt. Be specific and give him numbers of those benefiting from TAC programs. Send your letter today to: Governor Phil Bredesen, State Capitol, Nashville, TN 37243. Please send a copy your letter to Michele Clark Douglas, TFTA. P.O. Box 40971, Nashville, TN 37204

2) Continue to develop and solidify your relationships with your legislators, in preparation for what are bound to be tough votes that they will face in the future. Send packets, brochures, photos, etc. about your programs and operations to your legislators and be very specific about how the Tennessee Arts Commission has helped in making them possible. This is a good time to invite your legislators to your events and help them get to know you better.

3) Ask your board members, volunteers, artists, and other arts activists to write letters to the governor and your legislators in the same vein. You may want to give them a format and facts to use in their letters.

As the prospects for cuts become more and more real, there will be incredible pressures from all departments/programs and their supporters for the dollars that are available. Arts activists must be heard in this push-pull maneuvering. ACT NOW! Write your letters and emails and make those calls. The Tennessee Arts Commission, and ultimately your organization and its programs, depend on our action.

If you have questions or if TFTA can help in this process, please email, or call 615 292-2232.
Michele Douglas
Executive Director, TFTA
My question is, what department does this actually fall under? And I'd like to see what cuts specifically would imperil the arts in Tennessee. I may be a strong advocate for the arts, but I'm also a Tennesseean, and care about my state and its financial well-being. Now is no longer the time for automatically resisting cutting our budgets, and so far the state departments seem to be following the lead.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Dangerous Revelation

South Knox Bubba has seen the light. Too bad it's at the front of an oncoming freight train....
Where Were You?

Michele of "a small victory" gathered some memories of where her readers were when the Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986.

I'd like to hear you compare your own experiences and feelings on January 28, 1986 compared to September 11, 2001.

January 28, 1986: I was a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, playing video games in the basement activity room of the University Center. I walked out into the open lobby area, and saw a bunch of folks gathered around the TV watching a NASA press conference. I had to watch for several minutes before I figured out what had happened. I don't remember anything else specific about that day except a lot of discussion about it with friends and co-workers later at my part-time job in the UT Music Hall. The whole campus was stunned.

September 11, 2001: I was at work, and had just finished sending a birthday greeting to my brother - he turned 30 that day. Someone in the hall outside my office said something about a plane hitting the WTC. I called up and got an image of the smoke and fire from the 1st plane. From then on, CNN and all the other news sites became almost impossible to access - finally CNN put up a stripped version of its homepage with no graphics and basic info and links. Everyone in my office gathered in a conference room watching the events on an old TV. I remembered my wife leaving me a message on my voice mail that she and her office-mates had gone over to the hospital across the street to watch events unfold there. Later that day we went to a memorial Chapel service at my son's school - he had just started kindergarten a month earlier. I cried for the first time in a long time.

Anyone else?

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Whither the Smoking Gun?

Lean Left has this commentary regarding the State of the Union Address last night.

"We knew he wasn't really going to try and make the case for war with Iraq, although I find it disturbing that he repeated the false information about the aluminum pipes, and asserted that Saddam was helping Al-Queda without real proof."
Just one short question - we have not seen real proof that Iraq has or is aiding Al Queda, yet the administration continually asserts that it is so. We want to see real proof, but we are not allowed to.

What if that proof is such that its revealing would endanger the lives or families of the intelligence-gatherers themselves, or endanger their continuing intelligence gathering? What if there is an operative, or operatives, so close to either party that if we revealed the source of the information would put their lives or missions in jeopardy? Wouldn't that make you hesitant to say, "We have discovered proof that Hussein and Bin Laden are in cahoots, because Joe Schmoe CIA (or just "an operative") was able to bring us such and such documents, and photos, and tape recordings..."

Upon public announcement of the this proof, it might contain sufficient damning information that TPTB over there figure out who it is and...eliminate the mole.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

To Touch The Face of God

17 years ago today, we lost the Space Shuttle Challenger and 36 years ago yesterday the crew of Apollo 1. Gone but not forgotten, and your sacrifice will continue to inspire.
State of the Union

Just one comment on Bush's State of the Union Address. Lots of talk about Saddam Hussein, North Korea, Al-Queda, etc.

Did he once mention Osama Bin Laden? If he did, I stand corrected but if he didn't - well, I just think that's interesting.
Now we're all screwed

Computer Users Warned of Clot Risk

For God's sake, man - stand up! Move around! Stretch!
Dobbsky the Dacha Elf

This is absolutely the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

Spell of trouble for Dobby

Monday, January 27, 2003

Challenging Conventional Wisdom Dept.

In the first installment of another continuing series, I will present a generally accepted bit of Conventional Wisdom for you to defend, refute, or (most likely) otherwise ignore. My crack staff of trained gully dwarves are on the job day or night Googling the web (and stealing muffins) to come up with new bits of Wisdom to explore.

So here we go - the question for the day is:

Why is Celine Dion reviled?

Canadian Ms. Dion sang "God Bless America" at the Super Bowl on Sunday, which has resurfaced the Conventional Wisdom that she is a bad singer, a bad person, and tacky.

Seeking the Online Golden Snitch is an online newsletter that discusses, among other things, E-mail marketing and the Internet communication business in general. I get updates from this site all the time, and there's often a lot of interesting and helpful information - especially for my biz, website design.

This article examines some of the "Holy Grail" goals that would greatly benefit the online community, including true E-Mail Filtering, Beneficial Wireless Content, and Contextual Advertising. A great look at the current needs of the internet.

NOTE: The site may required registration to read the article. If you don't want to register, let me know and I'll email you the article.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Scourge of Seven Seas defeat Demons of Darkness and the Forces of Evil

Sunday night, as you've all heard, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXX-something-odd.

Notable Facts:
  • Tampa Bay intercepted NFL MVP Rich Gannon and ran 3 of them back for touchdowns, including one with 2 seconds left in the game. They also sacked Gannon 5 times

  • Raider and Best-NFL-Player-Ever Jerry Rice didn't have a catch until near the end of the third quarter.

  • All-Pro Oakland starting center Barrett Robbins was kept out of the game for missing Saturday's team activities, and according to some sources, is or was in a San Diego hospital. Sounds like he had too big of a party Friday night...

  • Canadian Celine Dion sang "God Bless America". My heart swelled.

  • This years commercials overall were probably the worst set since "Super Bowl Commercials" became synonymous with innovative and memorable. Very few laughs, very few moments to talk about the next day at work. The only ones that come to mind as being decent were a Michael Jordan meets Michael Jordan meets Michael Jordan Nike (I guess?) spot, and an Anheiser-Busch "Football Playing Horses" which sent up referees checking instant reply, but ruined itself by revealing the referee as an actual zebra much too soon. (Note to Busch: Comedy is 10% material and 90% timing. Please write it down. Also 10% wackiness). The worst spot was the guy who choked on beef jerky and his friend dislodged it by slamming on the brakes of his unmemorable car, thus propelling the offending substance onto the windshield. Please. Bad form, folks... Also, there were a slew of ads hawking upcoming movies. Am I the only one in the world that thinks "The Matrix" is the most overrated movie in recent history? The ad for its new sequels, "Matrix Reloaded and Revolution" (or something like that) racked up some extreme cheese points. "T3: Rise of the Machines" was underwhelming, "Bad Boys 2" continues to prove the utter senselessness of Martin Lawrence's career, and "The Hulk" looks like something ILM did in their spare time. Bruce Willis' "Tears of the Sun" looks promising, however. (Side note: What with "Daredevil", "The Hulk", "The Matrices", and "X-Men 2" all coming out this year, look for the geek quotient to rise exponentially at your local multiplex. This differs markedly from the "Star Wars"/"Star Trek" fanboy quotient, since these are, of course, God's Movies). But I digress...

    More Commercial Commentary:

    Jay of The Daily Rant rants about one of the anti-drug commercials.

    Newest Rocky Top Brigadier Donald of One Hand Clapping has a similar opinion regarding the ads.

    And, of course, James Lileks gives his brief reviews of the commercials.

  • Please someone tell me ex-UT Running Back/now Raider Charlie Garner didn't say "University of Untouchable" or something when he was introduced on the Bucs first offensive series? And what the heck did Oakland Raider DB and official UT Nemesis Charles Woodson say instead of University of Michigan? Are these guys just trying to prove they're idiots? ('s working)

As for the Titans, my only consolation is that if they had somehow not fumbled twice at the end of the first half last week and somehow beaten Oakland to advance to the Super Bowl, today's final score would have likely been 58-3. Hmmm, sounds like another Tennessee team I know...
A Pleasant Surprise

I am a happy boy.

I came home Friday afternoon, and there was a welcome message on my answering machine. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," the musical I directed last year at the Oak Ridge Community Playhouse, has been nominated for a Knoxville Area Theatre Coalition (KATC) "Best Young People's Production" award. The musical is based on the children's book by Judith Viorst of the same name, and has been a favorite of mine since my wife showed me an old copy years ago and we read it to our kids. "Alexander..." was the first play I directed at the ORCP, although I've been acting and musical directing there for several years.

A show that I performed in, "All Night Strut", was also nominated for "Best Small Production". It was a 5-person musical review of 40's-era music that was very successful and a lot of fun.

Now, here's where all of you come in ;) In the Knoxville News Sentinel on Sunday, January 26 (today!) and Friday, January 31 will be a ballot listing all the nominees in all the categories. If you saw any of these shows that were nominated, vote for your favorites and send them in (and if you didn't see any of them - first of all, shame on you! but second, hey vote anyway and show you support community theatre in East Tennessee). The awards ceremony is on Sunday, March 2 at 7:00pm at the historic Bijou Theatre in Knoxville.

I doubt if they will offer online voting, so those of you who don't get the Sentinel are out of luck - but if they do I'll update it here.

Sure it's not the Tony's, but hey - all of life's relative, right?

UPDATE: Here's a link to the list of nominees. The competition is stiff, and unfortunately another Oak Ridge Playhouse show ("Alice in Wonderland") is also nominated for best Young People's Show (not unfortunately for director Dana Wham and her cast - they did a great job and deserve the nomination - but I'm afraid now the vote will be split). Oh well, we'll see what happens.

Friday, January 24, 2003


Today is Take Your Son To Work Day!. Actually, it's Take Your Son With You To Work Because His School Is Still Closed From Snow And You Have To Go To Work Day!.

So, C. is here with me today. He's armed with videotapes ("The Road to El Dorado", "Ferngully", and a Power Rangers flick), his LeapPad, and his Lego Busy City set. Which means in about 5 minutes he'll be tired of them all and ready to commander my other PC and draw dinosaur pictures with Paint Shop Pro.

This happens occasionally when there's no school, although there's more for him to do at my wife's office - more people there - and he becomes Office BoyTM. Here, it's my job to entertain and I usually end up getting little work done. Like er, now...

Thursday, January 23, 2003

SUV's, News Articles...oh, and Cigars

There's a bit of a debate raging over at Say Uncle's site about a so-called "SUV Deduction". Here's an excerpt:

The debate stems from people saying the article merely points out people are using the deduction for SUVs. If that were the case, the title would say just that. The article refers to it specifically as the SUV tax break. It's not.
Here's the scoop - The Bush Administration has not given the loophole an official name, it's just a nickname the Detroit Press created to call it for their articles. The particule article in question is about a lot of people taking advantage of the loophole to purchase SUV's for their business. That's all the article was about, so they title the article (and, colloquially, the loophole) the "SUV tax break" (not the lowercase letters). It's not its official name and they don't presume to present it as such, it's just a nickname. Sometimes a cigar's just a cigar.

If the article had been about how a large number of people took advantage of the business equipment loophole to purchase purple and green filing cabinets, they would've called it the "Purple and green filing cabinets tax break" - it doesn't mean they have some hidden agenda against SUV's.

Move along, folks - nothing more to see here.

Dialogue at the snowed-in house tonight:

Scene: My 7-year-old son, C., is getting ready for bed. I'm watching a movie on TV and he comes over to see what's on.

Me: Hey, come here. See if you can guess what movie this is...

Shows scene of Michael Keaton sitting at a table in a mansion, while older gentleman next to him is discussing the relative merits of a character named "Vicky Vale". Keaton calls the character "Alfred", who in turn calls him "Master Bruce".

C: I don't know...

Me (knowing C likes superheroes and we watch Justice League together faithfully): Well, he's a superhero, and he has a butler named Alfred....

C (after careful thought): Um.....Larry-Boy??


Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Elf Discovered

Matt Drudge, eat your heart out. After extensive research (and a promise of a stewpot full of boiled rats) my crack staff of trained gully dwarves has uncovered copies of the startling pictures of an "elf" the Shuttle Columbia captured over a South Pacific thunderstorm on Sunday.

Click and wonder...
Project Prometheus

Nasa to go nuclear

"President Bush is set to endorse using nuclear power to explore Mars and open up the outer Solar System."
Finally something Bush is pushing for that I can get behind. Thank you, Mr. President.

Even if the Nuclear-powered Prometheus doesn't get very far, at least it opens up the mindset for manned extra-orbital space exploration once more, after 20+ years.

Memo to the BBC, though. "NASA" is an acronym. It's not a word spelled "Nasa"... Oh, and I wonder if, when Bush announces this formally at the State of the Union address (as expected), he'll pronounce it "nucular"? Take a shot if he does - it's fun!
Sing, My Angel of Music...

Right now I'm grooving to this. Music from West Side Story, Phantom, Sound of Music, Annie, Man of La Mancha, Oklahoma! and more. Nift.

Who am I? Who am I? I'm Jean Valjean!

Who am I? Ok, I wanted to stretch a bit and get away from appearing in everyone else's comments sections and create my own blog. Here it is and, presumably, you are reading this entry. I don't pretend to believe people are going to come back to read my random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, so I need some kind of niche. What niches are out there that, niching? Let's see...

Poliblogger - Plenty of those out there like Lean Left, covering politics from every possible angle. I'm not sure, being rather politically naive myself, that I could add much substantial on a regular basis.

Warblogger - Little Green Footballs has this covered pretty well, and since on any given day I range from "Idiotarian/Peace Warrior" to "Patriot Hawk/Warmonger" (according to Wildmonk's Iraqi War Personality Test) I'm not sure this would be a good place to hang my M16.

Econoblogger - more unfamiliar territory. I can balance a checkbook, and that's about it. I have opinions about things like trickle-down theory, income tax, lotteries, but wouldn't be giving any kind of real informed analysis so let's move on.

Familyblogger - This is James Lileks territory, and he can burp out a Bleat better than I could if I spent two months trying to match his style and skill. Still, my family is the most important thing to me and they have a wealth of things to teach me that I can pass on for your amusement and amazement, so this is a possibility.

World Events Blogger - Glenn Reynolds. Instapundit. Ye Gods, when would I eat? When would I sleep?

General Interest Blogger - This is most everyone else except for those with very specialized blogs, such as Oz's Lion (who's filming a movie and providing commentary. Hey guys, need some help with an experienced theatrical professional? Holler at me). South Knox Bubba, Say Uncle and others in the Rocky Top Brigade cover a number of different topics across the political and social spectrum with wit and insight.

So that leaves me back where I started - in what corner of the Blogeration do I settle and peddle my wares to the unsuspecting public?

Well, the old advice given to those who wish to write the Great American Novel: "Write what you know". So I guess that's what I'll do - I'll write what I know. I'll write about that which I feel passionate and enjoy, plus feel qualified to expound upon: my children, theatre, science fiction, television, fair play, kindness, computers, the internet, religion, music, 70's children's TV shows, Fountain City, Knoxville, Star Wars action figures, Carnival Cruises, rollercoasters, "24", Walt Disney, empathy, male pattern baldness, Tennessee Vols/Titans/Riverhawks football, sex, "The Dead Zone", parenting, and the correct intermix ration for a warp drive (1:1 for those of you scoring at home).

Makes sense now. I guess the moral of the story is you don't necessarily have to write to your audience - write from your heart and hopefully you, Gentle Reader, will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. I thank you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

People Not Raised Right


"[Officer Eric Hall] says people have approached his house and scared his kids through the windows. Hall says he's also received threatening e-mail, including one that reportedly said, 'Fear the reaper, officer Hall. How's your family?' Another e-mail said Hall should be shot."
Apparently the same type of people who blow up abortion clinics to protest the taking of human lives want to scare or harm innocent people to protest the taking of canine lives. These folks are just different than most of us, thank goodness. If you see one, please report to your local authorities.

"Meanwhile, it was revealed that Hall has been involved in three previous dog shootings. He says he's never initiated the incidents, but was responding to calls made by supervisors to put the dogs down"
I've seen this reported a couple times already. If it was done in the line of duty against proven dangerous or hostile animals, under orders from a superior, then let's not hear any more about it.

Ok, I've fulfilled my Devil's Advocate quota for the day.
Prayer Request

My dad took my mom to the ER last night with Atrial Fibrillation - basically an accelerated heart rate and high blood pressure. Got a call from her this morning that things were better and they're raising her potassium levels to normal. Hopefully she'll get to go home tomorrow. Please keep her and my dad in your prayers. Much thanks.

UPDATE: She's doing better - still in the hospital at least one more night (Tuesday night). Heart rate down, blood pressure still wavering. On medication, etc. My dad went through something similar about 2 years ago and had to spend 5 days in the hospital getting it calmed down. Plus he's had a little of the same thing lately, so we're hoping they don't have to go through it at the same time. Check your blood pressure, folks, and don't play around with cardiovascular health. I've got the odds stacked against me as it is, hereditarilly speaking.... Thanks for the responses.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Alien Raider Nation

See what happens?? See?? Does anybody ever listen to me when I warn what would happen if you open the Portal to the Abyss and released the screaming Oaklandic hordes? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....
Comments Added

I've added a comments option - I appreciate the suggestions on a system to use. I've decided for a while at least to try Blog Out, recommended by Michael from Half-Bakered. Thanks, Michael.

Please feel free to use the comments and let me know your feelings and discussions on what I've posted.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Rep. Duncan loses one but eyes another

This is an aspect of politics that sickens me on so many levels.

"..[U.S. Representative John Duncan, Jr.] said that his voting record could have been a factor in why a party leadership panel didn't pick him [for chairmanship of the Resources Committee]. The House's new majority leader, Tom DeLay, R-Texas, also known as The Hammer, has a reputation for a good memory about who helps him regularly, and he rewards loyalty."
Any politician who penalizes another politician for voting his conscience when the vote runs counter to his Party's position should be chastisized and not allowed to hold a leadership position. This is true for Democrat or Republican equally. These actions undermine the representational democratic process and should be vigorously discouraged by everyone.

The article goes on to point out the other candidate, while being junior to three other Senators up for the leadership position, voted more often with his party leaders than did his seniors. Oh yeah, and he gave a better presentation.

One of the issues in which Duncan differed with the party leadership was his decision to vote against giving the president authority to send U.S. troops into Iraq if he decides it is necessary to destroy dangerous weapons or to oust Saddam Hussein. I was impressed with his courage and when it came around voting time I was not hesitant to vote for him (where another time I might have voted for his Democratic challenger by rote).

But the point remains that political favoritism at all levels seriously impedes the progress of government and only succeeds at painting the offenders as spoiled brats who whine and punish those who would dare oppose them. And these people are supposed to be our leaders?

I don't want to make politics the focus of my blog, but this is a flashpoint I'd like more people to be aware of and will attempt to point it out when I see it happen.

UPDATE: See here, it didn't take me long to find another example - from the same editorial page:

Devil's in the details in state House

"[Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy] Naifeh, who has maintained a quiet and generally congenial response to the attacks upon him, will have ample opportunities ahead to quietly but effectively retaliate against opponents and reward supporters."
The members of the Tennessee Legislature were elected to lead our state, and in our current crisis to find ways of improving the financial health of the state. We did not elect any of you to retaliate against opponents or reward supporters. Quit playing your stupid immature games and get to work.
Dog Shooting Questions Still Unanswered

  • So, why exactly have none of the officers involved in the Smoak family dog shooting at least been suspended? Surely, as with any discharge of an officer's gun, this should warrant a suspension of the officer pending an investigation? Maybe this only happens on TV.

    If they have actually been suspended and I've just missed it, I apologize.

  • Here are a number of letters to the editor at the News Sentinel. Especially relevant is the one that looks beyond the tragedy of the dog's death to the greater injustice perpetrated on the family in showing unnecessary force in their stop in the first place.

  • Finally, A Big Question. Does anyone seriously expect us to believe that that image of that small, barking, tail-wagging dog could have been construed by ANYONE as a threat? Especially with several other officers standing nearby? And, even by a wild stretch of the imagination that the officer did believe it to be a threat, was shooting it the ONLY course of action? Don't officers have clubs? Their feet? Sickening.
Fall of the Titans

The Tennessee Titans lost to the Oakland Raiders tonight in the AFC Championship Game. They played well, but turnovers and an offense that wasn't quite able to keep up with the Raider "O" proved their undoing. Can't say too much about the team's play - good but not good enough. Thanks, Jeff, Eddie, Steve, Frank, Samari, Andre, Derrick, Albert, Jevon, Joe, Craig, Robert, et al for a great season. You made us proud to be Tennesseans again!

One main question thoughts as the night comes to a close:

What self-respecting parent would bring their young kids to Oakland Coliseum? With the assorted demons, devils, pirates, undead and creatures from the 9th Ring of Hades in the stands, I'd make sure my own soul was in good order before going in, much less let my kids near it. What in the world is going through those so-called "Raider Nation" mouth-breathers' heads? Were they dropped on their ears as children? Tortured? Forced to vote Republican? I'd rather spend an entire season in the Dog Pound or with the Hoggettes than watch one game in the company of Sauron, Lord of Mordor and his Uruk-Hai minions. Get a clue.

UPDATE: I realize belatedly that I've jumped mythos and am not being faithful to my theme, here. I meant to say, above that I would hate to watch a game in the company of Takhisis the Dark Queen and the Draconian minions. So sorry for the incredible lapse.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Bananas, RIP?

Forget war, forget terrorism, forget Michael Jackson. This could be the biggest tragedy of them all if something's not done soon. I'm surprised I haven't seen more about this lately...

A Peaceful Day in Gotham City...(Episode II)

Today was much like yesterday - laying around the house, relaxing, breaking up the odd knock-down dragout between the kids (typical stuff).

I have been, and still am once or twice a year, very involved in theatre both onstage and backstage. My degree at the University of Tennesse was in Theatre, and I have acted in, directed, or musical directed a number of shows at the Oak Ridge Playhouse the last several years. Subsequently, my kids are beginning to get the bug. We watched our CATS video this afternoon, and tonight I popped in my copy of the live concert show of Les Miserables on PBS's Great Performances from a couple of years ago. (Note to self: Musicals with little to no dialogue will surely engender a running interrogation from those under 7 years old of "what's going on?" "who is that" "is that a bad guy or a good guy?"

I wonder if they'll get interested in Theatre like I did, and get involved when they're older. When it comes to C. I have no doubt, since when he was 4 he already knew half the lyrics to Evita, and sang along in the audience while he watched me on stage....

E. might be a dancer. She imated to near-perfection several times the moves of some of the female "cats" on the screen. It was occasionally eerie watching a 3-year-old imitating moves of a professional theatrical dancer. Time will tell.

Another good day. And I'm itching to do another play....arg.
Frodo Has Failed

Ok, this is too damn funny....
I got an email from someone that said the formatting was screwing up on my site. Anyone else having problems? (especially with non-IE browsers)?
Just When You Thought It Was Safe

Half-Bakered has returned from his hiatus.

Fathers, lock up your daughters (or something like that...)
A Peaceful Day in Gotham City...

(NOTE: This was written on Friday, but posted a couple minutes past midnight on Saturday. All "today"'s refer to Friday)

Things went pretty well today, considering. All four of us went out this morning and braved Widowmaker Hill (tm) - also known as the little hill on our street is on about three doors down from us. First C. - all 6-almost-7-years-old of bluster and bravery. Then together with kid sister E., all bundled up and looking like the little brother on "A Christmas Story". Of course, finally it was mom and dad's turn down the Hill O' Death, but a couple of 360-degree spins and leaf bag impacts later, none of us were much the worse for wear.

On reflection, it actually was a very good day. Most of us got naps, we played Monopoly Jr., ordered Pizza Hut, watched Taboo on TNT and later played the board game we have here. It's phenomenally incredible what kind of vocabulary C. has. Sometimes he'll get whatever word we're looking for 10 times faster than we would have anticipated. I mentioned to my wife that in 2-3 years, the three of us will make an extraordinary Trivial Pursuit team.

Ended the day with C. falling asleep on the couch, E. dancing to the Wild Thornberries Movie CD I got the other day, and all is right with the world.

Oh, and those of you who caught Farscape tonight, all I can say is, "Merry Frelling Christmas".

And to all a good night.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Anyone, anyone?

Can anyone recommend a good Commenting application? YACCS/Rate Your Music is no longer accepting new registrations, and I have zero idea on what's good and what's not. Email me at if you have any suggestions. Muchos gracias.
A Side Note..

Rex Mundi's Damn Diary has some observations on the insanity of Snow-Shopping in East Tennessee. I want to toss my two cents in...

Before preparing to leave work early to come home today, I took a quick mental stock our our home's food supply. If all access was cut off from our house, how long could we actually hold back starvation? I mean, watch all the people loading up on milk and bread (and beer, and Cheezy Puffs, and beer, and Kit Kats, and..oh, did I mention beer?) and you'd think they were either going to a) feed an army, or b) board an army. I did stop and pick up one (1) loaf of bread (because there were only about 2 slices left in the bag at home), 1 1/2-gallon of milk, and 1 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk for my hyper-picky chocolate-milk-addicted daughter. And that was it. Oh, and some firewood.

Even with that, we could survive on the soup, frozen dinners, crackers, popcorn...what else - syrup? Golden Grahams? Left-over Halloween candy? We could survive for days, a couple of weeks probably before our food supply would actually run dangerously low. And that's assuming there was no way to even get help from anyone in our neighborhood.

So...the eternal question: What Gives? I imagine some houses looking in their cupboards around April or May and discovering a cache of canned goods that would rival a Y2K Bunker. The bread has long molded, and they used up all the milk on cereal and milkshakes.

In our society, we have to have what we're used to. Having to improvise, make do, be frugal is an alien concept.

But then, it's such a time-honored East Tennessee tradition - who am I to interfere? No, where did I hide that bag of Funyons....

UPDATE (12:59 am): Whoa, looks like Rich Hailey and I are eating from the same bowl of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk. And he eat it much better than I.
Why I Hate Snow Days (or...Why My Kids Look At Me Funny)

If you live in East Tennessee, it's a common occurance. Whenever a big nor'easter is headed our way, predicted to drop 10-15 feet of snow, Knoxville goes into a panic. Grocery stores are attacked...well, read the below post for a description. Anyway, the whole city digs in.

Now I grew up in Fountain City, which is a northern suburb of Knoxville. At the time, quiet, peaceful (still is, mostly). Nice yards, streets not too busy, lots of kids. When it snowed back then, which seemingly was more often than now, my brother and I would get out and...well, do what kids do in the snow (no, not That...). I think we even have some old Super 8 movies of us throwing snowballs at my dad who was filming from behind the kitchen screen door.

Ok, fast forward 25 years. I'm married, 2 kids, my wife and I have jobs on opposite ends of town. My son, C., is in elementary school, and my daughter, E., is in daycare. When the alarms start ringing and the oxygen masks start falling from the sky, we both have to figure out how best to get the kids and get them home. In today's case, that involved a big do-si-do of picking up, switching cars while she attended a late meeting, and praying fervently that the roads would offer just enough traction to keep me from ditching the van. Later my wife made it in from her meeting, and everyone was safe.

My son wanted to play in the snow - makes sense, right? I did when I was a kid, so there's no reason for him not to want to go out. But now, I can't stand the stuff - sure, it's pretty, but's cold. My fingers and toes freeze, everything gets wet... "C'mon, guys, back inside."

When did I turn into an old fart?

Who am I to conciously or subconciously deprive my kids of one of life's most traditional pleasures? More to the point, why have I come to despise this stuff that blankets our lives?

Well, I've tried to think about it and I'm not sure. A big thing is the inconvenience and disruption of scheduling. Tomorrow, C. was supposed to spend the day at Ijams Nature Center day camp, while his school was taking In-Service. Well, that's out, and he's not happy. I have work to do, my wife has work to do...things get pushed back that push other things back....bother.

Another thing is my ongoing, 24 hour (you think Jack Bauer has it bad?), constant state of worry about their health and wellbeing. Just getting home was worth another ulcer, and it was actually not bad driving. Outside, there could be CARS SKIDDING DOWN THE STREET, or SNOWBALLS WITH ROCKS IN THEM, BREAKING YOUR BACK ON THAT DOWNHILL SLED RUN or the dreaded YOU'LL CATCH YOUR DEATH OF COLD. The dangers are legion, and unless I'm right there with them, I might not be able to help them.

Then there's the boredom factor. Snowmen never turn out right, there's only so many snowball targets...after a while - *yawn*, whatever, let's go inside.

There's just no magic in a snowfall for me anymore. It's a hindrance to progress, a source of danger, not interesting, and oh's freaking cold! (Did I mention that?) And I feel like a Grinch for not leading the charge outside and setting an example.

Well, it looks like we're probably socked in for a day or two. If you look out your window, and you see a tall bored guy sulking while his two anklebiters get clipped by a skidding snowplow, that's us.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Our Imminent Doom

Snow is forecast for East Tennessee today - lots of it. The winter ritual of the mad scramble has begun - schools closing without even as much as a flake falling yet. Grocery stories inundated. Salt machines revved up. Dogs and cats, living together...mass hysteria!

Eh. I really Do Not Like snow. Well, if we all survive the coming holocaust, maybe I'll post more.

UPDATE: Doing best Kosh imitation..."And so, it begins...."

2ND UPDATE: GaaaaahhhH!! The snow! The snow! It's everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're dooooooooooooomed!
Bill mandates that state song play before U. Kentucky games

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, introduced a bill in the Senate Jan. 7 that would require the UK band to play the state song during home games "in venues in Fayette County that hold 15,000 or more patrons." The bill also requires the American and Kentucky flags to be displayed during home games.

Better hope nobody in the Tennessee Legislature hears about this. If we're not careful, they'll mandate "Rocky Top" be played during any wedding in Tennessee.

Not that it isn't already played in about half of them, probably....

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

William Burton has some important safety tips for all Tinpot Dictators out there (and you know who you are). Suitable for framing.
Woman Accused of Biting Off 5-year-old Boy's Finger

Bond has been lowered in Chattanooga for a woman accused of biting off a five-year-old boy's finger during an argument with the child's mother.
Officials said the child's finger was severed last week during a dispute between his mother and Ware but they were uncertain if the biting was deliberate.

I'm scratching my head right now, but can't figure how it could be anything but deliberate. What did the kid stick finger from one hand in her mouth, then with the other slam up hard on her chin? Or maybe she was being mind-controlled by the kid's mom. Or...

No, never mind. I can't even picture this anymore.

By the way, bond was lowered from $30,000 to $15,000. Probably because someone supposed it might not have been deliberate....

Never Mind

CNN, 2:24 pm: Search on for potentially deadly vials


CNN 3:02 pm: Plague vials 'accounted for'

Move along, nothing to see here. Please climb down off the ceiling and resume your normal lives, thank you....

Patience is a Learned Virtue

Patience is something that is difficult to learn - just ask my son. For Christmas, the main thing he wanted was a Rock Tumbler - not Power Rangers, not Rescue Heroes, but a Rock Tumbler. So, Santa brought our Gunior Geologist a Rock Tumbler. Well, in his mind of instant microwave frozen dinners and Chik-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets, rocks should turn into beautiful gemstones in, like, an hour or so, right?


Two days after loading up the machine with rocks, water and grit (Step 1: Load Grit. Sounds like a how-to manual for a teenager with his first paper-route in 1965). 48 HOURS, 17 TANTRUMS, 32 SULKS AND 67 THREATS LATER, Step 1 is finished. Open barrel, check rocks, admire sludge, make sarcastic comments about sludge looking like chocolate milk, top off water, and back in the grinder it goes for ANOTHER 48 HOURS.

Except, of course, I forgot to plug the thing in before I left for work this morning. We'll see how much patience he's learned tonight.

To Be Continued...

PS - Oh, did I mention Step 3 takes 12-14 Days? Pray for us.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Man, 24 never ceases to just kick you in the gut - every single week. What a show.

Oh, and we found out the villains used to live in Saudia Arabia. That oughta make these guys happy.
So long, Kelly. Um...anyone else?
Smallpox Redux

I have a question for the old-timers out there (and you know who you are). I was probably the last person in America to get the smallpox vaccine when I was a kid (I'm 36). For those who were older and remember those times, was there as much of a concern over the potential side-effects of the vaccine then as there was today?

UPDATE - Thanks for the emails, folks. From what I've gathered from your replies, most folks back then were basking in the glow of the recent medical advances (smallpox, polio, TB) and were happy to oblige to assure themselves and their families of freedom from a scourge a number of them had witnessed personally.

Additional differences between then and now is that the media was more attuned to the public good and less inclined to sensationalize the risks, there was less fear of litigation from those who might experience ill effects, and that due to AIDS, chemotherapy, etc - there are more people wakling around today at risk because they're immunosuppressed. Another interesting thought was that today's vaccines maybe modified to combat a "militarized" strain of smallpox.

Scientists estimate 15-70 out of a a million vaccine recipients would develop life-threatening reactions. Does anyone remember if this ratio actually played out before, as well?

Monday, January 13, 2003

"Monologues...Visions of Armageddon...Obsessive Internet Searches. The Trifecta of Mental Health Warning Signs..."

Johnny Smith, The Dead Zone

Man, I'd better be careful - I'm 2/3 of the way there already. As long as I don't start talking to myself I should be ok, though. I mean, now that I understand what the warning signs are I'll be ready and aware of what to be careful of. Hey, you're relatively stable, right? No major psychological hangups, episodes, delusions... Sure, you may tend to latch onto certain subjects from time to time, but it's nothing you can't handle, right? I ask myself, what do I have to be afraid---

Aw, crap....

So long, Jason. Thanks and good luck!
My quick take on the Cookeville Police Department/Dead Dog fiasco:

In this editorial and this editiorial from Sunday's Knoxville News Sentinel (Motto: We've Dropped the Hyphen and Passed the Savings Along to You!), they both touch on the supposition that this case reflects badly on Tennessee and Tennesseans all over the country. Well, that may be true but from all I'm hearing this incident could very well have happened in Kentucky. Or Georgia. Or Iowa, or Massachusets, or Alaska even.

Before the country starts blaming Tennessee and its citizens, maybe they should start blaming the cowboy mentality employed by a large number of law enforcement officers nationwide. That's who it reflects badly on. It's true we canonize them as heroes in NYC but that level of heroism doesn't always trickle down to every cop.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

I was watching Fox News Watch last night, and the results of a poll were read: A number of journalism students were surveyed and asked what would be their idea of a "Perfect Newspaper"? Some of their answers were a bit surprising. Nowhere was it mentioned, "More journalistic integrity", "Better research and fact-checking", "Less political bias", etc. No, the most popular answers were "More Features," "less reliance on wire reporting," and "More entertainment news".

I'm sure there are many reasons for these opinions, but one came to me that probably also reflects our country's news tastes overall: In the summer of 2001, our biggest concerns were Gary Condit and shark attacks. However, since 9/11, our lives have been a non-stop, 24/7 parade of hard news - terrorism, war, political, economic, you name it. I think people are really tired of the endless hammer-to-the-head of hard news, and are ready to get back to soft stuff that's more interesting to them. It's been overkill for 18 months, and the journalism students are picking up on it, too.

Just after 9/11, I, like many others, watched CNN/FoxNews/MSNBC as much as possible. After a couple months of that, I couldn't take it and quit cold turkey - just couldn't watch any more of the ticker tick-tick-ticking across the bottom of the screen. Lately I've gone back some, but it's still difficult.

I don't know, what the country needs is some really GOOD news. Osama's head on a pike would be nice.
Raiders v. Titans, next week. Go Thumbtacks, don't fail me now.
One of the angles I'd like to cover here are questions that might seem common sense to some, but hopelessly complex to others (usually me). As soon as I can figure out how to do a comments application, I'll add it but right now I'll just have to rely on email for communication.

Here's an example. I'll post something like, "Has trickle-down economics ever actually worked in a large-scale setting?" This is an economic question I couldn't hope to give an answer to, but seems to be in much debate out in the Real World (tm). Hopefully, we can start a dialogue on a simple, straightforward question and maybe arrive at a concensus (Ha! you say. Ha!) Anyway, I think it might be an interesting exercise, so we'll see.

I'll post synopses of the comments here as they come in.

So, what do you think?
Thanks, South Knox Bubba, for letting me join the Rocky Top Brigade. I hope I can generate enough interesting comments to at least invite people to visit more than once ;)

I'll be adding my own regular blogroll soon, as well as some of my favorite links. Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Well, congrats (so far) to the Tennessee Titans, who defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-31 in overtime. The Titans play the winners of the Jets-Raiders game tomorrow, where depending on who wins.

I called my mom after the game, and when she picked up I said something like, "Well, it was a lot better than the Peach Bowl, huh?" Ha ha ha, very funny.

So later, I thought - Since when have I been so involved in an NFL game? I did my share of beating the furniture (in the nice, polite sort of way since my wife always gives me those looks when things aren't going my way). In fact, I did some of my patented furniture beating formerly exclusively devoted to the Tennessee Vols (more often than not this past year). But now the Titans have slipped up and taken center position. Wh-what in the wide, wide, world of sports is a-going' on???

Am I cheating on my first love?

The question pulls at my heart, and I feel the strain of anguish deep within. Dare I pull for a team more than I do the Vols? Am I selling my soul to the professional devil? Have I crossed over to the dark side by following the NFL? 36 years of Orange-blooded bliss to be carelessly tossed over for the newer, younger blue and white Flaming Thumbtacks?

Oh, screw it. Go Titans - beat the Raiders/Jets!!!

PS. Oh yeah, Go Raiders, I'm sick of Chad-o-rama.
Betsy Child is the next Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. She is currently the Senior Vice President for Philanthropy at Covenant Health. This sounds like a great appointment, as she was one of the few "good guys" in the previous TVA regime. She worked for Mayor Ashe's office during a lot of the waterfront development initiatives.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

This is it. Welcome.

In case you're wondering about the title, learn about it here.

Who am I? I live in Knoxville, TN. I have kids, and a good job. I figure the blogiverse needs someone to reach that middle-ground, family-in-the-suburbs, church-going, theatre-loving, liberal, sci-fi-watching, politically-naive demographic. That's me.