Friday, December 02, 2016


Tuesday night was an eventful one, in my part of the world.  Literally, this part of the world.  Like, a thousand feet away
I woke up to a weather alert around 1 AM.  I was annoyed, because these little wolf-cryers are pains in the ass, right?  I futzed around with the phone to quiet it down a bit, but it kept buzzing every few minutes with a new watch or warning announcement.

I got up and went into the kitchen to grab a drink of water.  I looked up into the sky from the kitchen window.  Lightning flared every few seconds.  It reminded me of my stressful drive home from the Tellico Village Food Lion the night of the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak.  You could probably walk without aid of artificial light, as the glow in the sky never dissipated.  The memory of the drive, probably the scariest I've ever made, came back fresh.

I went back to the bedroom.  The rain began then.  It wasn't raining, to that point.

I sat on the edge of the bed, and activated the local news channel's radar.  There was a big patch of orange near me.  I noted that one of the warnings was for Southwest McMinn County, and heading for Athens.

It was then that I heard the wind pick up.  And I heard a constant rumble.  Yeah, kinda like a train travelling in the distance.  I headed toward the bathroom, grabbing a pair of sweatpants in the process.  It'd be unfortunate enough to be caught in a tornado, even moreso to have to ride out the storm without proper pants.  The bathroom of my apartment, which is an old house that's been converted into units, is probably the central most point of the building.  I'm not sure I'd have been safe there, but it's the best I had.

I hunkered down in the bathroom for a couple minutes, sending Shyam a text message in the process.  The power went out as I was writing.

I stayed there for a few more minutes, until I heard sirens.  I got up.  There were a lot of sirens.  A LOT.  Including a couple that ran by my apartment.  Downtown Athens still had power, I could see.  But I did not, nor my neighbors, nor anybody to the east, across the Oostanaula, the creek that runs right behind my building.

I went back in, and tried to sleep.  To no avail.  I got up again around 3, to look again outside.  There were blue lights flashing about 200 yards up my road.  And in a similar location on White Street, which runs parallel to the Oostanaula.  I started to wonder then if something had blown through there.

I didn't sleep for the rest of the night.

I have to be at work at 6 most Wednesdays, which means leaving around 5:25.  I left earlier, not knowing what road conditions look like.  I sent a message to those coming in to drive carefully.

On my drive in, my buddy Chris sent a message, and my sister called.  Another wave of storms was blowing in, complete with hail.  I was concentrating on the road.  I answered my sister's call, saying that I was driving, could I call her back?

It wasn't until I got to work that I realized how close the storm had come to me.

Behind my building is a parking area.  And if you stand in that parking area, the parking lot to the Save a Lot shopping center is somewhere between 200 and 300 yards away.

That Save a Lot was hit hard by the storm, as well as C&D Tire.  And the former Raceway gas station.  These businesses are between 600 and 1100 feet from the apartment, all.

I had no idea until I got to work.

The storm proceeded across the park and wandered up route 307, tearing up a lot of stuff there.

There was a lot of checking in.  People with me.  Me with people.  Everybody was safe.

I didn't have power until Thursday afternoon some time.

Scary stuff.

Here's WBIR's story on the storm....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Today's wry thing.

Good morning, America.

This is the world we live in.

That we've lived in for a while.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top Twenty?

I closed the store last night.  Day off today.  I fell asleep somewhere after 1.  I got woken up shortly after 8 with a text message notification.  Kinda figured it was work calling.  Instead, my sister asked: what are my top 5 favorite books.

You can't ignore an important question like that.  I answered after a few minutes thought.  But there were things I left out.

It's an exercise I've done before.  It's interesting to see what changes from year to year.  My Top 20 favorite books, at the moment.

Alphabetized by author or editor:

John Barth                    The Floating Opera
Jim Bouton                   Ball Four
Michael Chabon           The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Harlan Ellison              The Glass Teat
William Faulkner          Light in August
Neil Gaiman                 American Gods
Stephen King                Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
Stephen King                The Stand
Joe R. Lansdale            The Bottoms
Harper Lee                    To Kill a Mockingbird
Cormac McCarthy        The Road
David Mitchell             Cloud Atlas
Christopher Moore       The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Flannery O'Connor       Collected Stories
Charles Portis               True Grit
Tom Robbins                Still Life with Woodpecker
Carl Sagan                    The Demon Haunted World
Ferrol Sams                  Run with the Horsemen
John Kennedy Toole     Confederacy of Dunces
Mark Twain                  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Big One-Four

I've been doing this blogging thing for fourteen years.  FOURTEEN.

I work with people who are only slightly older.

It was fourteen years ago that a buddy gave me an address of a blog that was interesting at the time but has since become a repository for some really, really ugly, repugnant shit so I won't share its address here.  But, it was through that that I started this blogamathing.

Fourteen years.  Where do the times go?

Sheila and I were discussing a month or so ago, when her blog passed the milestone, that our blogs would be in the same grade.  There's probably going to be some kind of chaperoned date thing.  Which is good.  My blog needs a good influence.  Something to get its mind off fart jokes and pro wrestling.

Was surprised with a three-day weekend, coincidentally.  This is the busy time of year, with Thanksgiving coming, and I was preparing myself to not have a weekend until 2017 when this one popped up on the schedule.  Then, another manager needed to switch days, so I ended up with Friday off, as well.

Wandered out to my first Knoxville Ice Bears game of the season.  My nephew went:

The Ice Bears lost to the Macon Mayhem after a chippy game.  Of note: seeing former Ice Bears enforcer Dennis Sicard, now playing for the Mayhem, tie it up with his former teammate Brad Pawlowski, and having the two come out of the tangle laughing....

Wandered out last night to see The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band at Barley's.  I've only gotten to see them play a 20-minute set at the old Scenic City Roots show in Chattanooga.  Was good to get them for a full set.  We sat off to the side, but I ended up liking those seats as much as any.  Got to see Jill and Chris for the first time in ages.  Being a grownup is hard....

Also saw Jesse Dayton play.  They were a lot of fun.  I recommend:

And today, we play in Chattanooga's City Trivia Final.  There may be money.  There will also be Pimento Cheese Fritters......


I don't write here as much as I used to, but sometimes I scratch the itch.  I appreciate those of you who continue to stop by, from time to time.  I appreciate the friendships I've made as a result of this blog.  Thanks for reading, guys....

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Day After.

I'm disappointed.  In us.  In the electoral process.  I'm disheartened.

I don't think Hillary would have been a great choice.

But she wouldn't have been a catastrophe.  Trump is a catastrophe on a global scale waiting to happen.

I'm sure that if you voted for him, you had your reasons.  I'm sure that in many cases, they were weighed and given their due amount of thought.  I'm sure this was not a decision made lightly.

You were wrong.

If you voted for him:  You will regret the choice.

We will all regret the choice.

The best case scenario is that he only feeds the legislative logjam in Congress, is unable to work with them to push through legislation, refuses to give up the seat, and is an embarrassment, and is voted out of office in 2020.  Also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has to stay alive.  I'm sorry, Ruth.

That's the best that can happen.

The worst is unimaginable.

At the end of the day, though, I think my issue is not so much with the government that is coming.  My issue is with the people who supported it.  Who asked for it.  With the people who said that it is OK to act like a bigoted gobshite, and an ignorant blowhard.  It is OK to demean others.  It is OK to say that certain groups of people are Bad.  You may not believe it.  But you enabled it.

You were wrong.

We have lived for many years now in a culture that believes it is better to speak loudly and say nothing than it is to speak softly, with great thought.  And this is the result.

It is wrong.

That is why I am disappointed.

We let it happen.

We're better than this.

An admission:

I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton.

I didn't vote for Donald Trump.

I voted for Gary Johnson.  He's a bad choice, too.  I had my reasons.  I will detail them, if asked, but the short answer was that my vote was one of protest against the machine that chooses candidates the way it does.  Looking back, they do not feel like good reasons.

I've tended to vote for third party candidates, and for much the same reason.  I haven't voted for a Democrat or Republican for President since 2000.

In Tennessee, it didn't matter.  It wouldn't have changed things.  Trump won in a landslide in Tennessee.  I haven't seen the totals for McMinn County, but I'd figure he probably pulled 80 % of the vote here.  (edit:  78.49 according to The Tennessean)

I will spend some time thinking about my stance.  I'm not saying it'll change, but it'll get a lot of thought over the next few years.

Last thought, and apropos of little, I guess. We have a Coinstar machine at work.  It usually gets a workout at the end of the month, but it seemed to be going nonstop yesterday.  At one point, there was a line.  At the machine was a lady in a Hillary Clinton t-shirt.  In line behind her, a young man in wearing a Make America Great Again cap.  I wish I had a picture.  It struck me funny, though, seeing the two sides at the same trough, cashing in their coins.  Somehow, it fit.

Monday, November 07, 2016


I realized I haven't written on the Blogamathing about the Cubs winning the World Series.

Dying hobby, and whatnot.

I watched Game 7 at home.  By myself.  Because, frankly, I wasn't fit to be around people.  We watched Games 3 and 4 over at Eric's, and I was piss poor company for each of those games.

Relief, is what I felt that night, and still feel.  Finally.  Happiness.  Goofiness.  But relief.

I think Bill Murray's picture here illustrates that.

I wrote this over on ye olde facebooke:

"I don't think it'll hit me until tomorrow. I'm just kinda goofy right now.
That 7-year-old who started watching the Cubs after school around the same time he started playing tee-ball didn't understand that train he was getting on. He definitely didn't understand that watching the ball shoot between Leon Durham's legs in 1984 was one of a handful of heartbreaks that would break up years-long droughts.
I don't know why I hung on. Except for some weird wiring for loyalty in my innards.
Folks would ask, after the much needed rebuilding started, how I thought they would do, especially after their run in 2015. I've never been a "they're gonna win it all!" guy. Call it a flaw in my personality, call it an unwillingness to put all the eggs in a basket. Call it having seen what happens when you believe too hard. Call it knowing how that hurts, even if it is just a game....
All I would ever admit was that 2016 was going to be an interesting year.
It was a helluva ride. And that little curly-headed kid finally got to see his team win the Big One.
Game 7 was for the kid in all of us, though. With a little distance, that may have become the best game I've ever seen, regardless of outcome. I think it's safe in the catbird seat now, given the win...
My hat's off to Cleveland. They deserved it, too. And I believe they'll get one sooner rather than later.

It was fantastic.  I stayed up until 3, just watching stuff.  I slept nearly nine hours.  Maybe the best night of sleep I've gotten in a month.

I've been riding that Cubs train since 1984.  And like I said, I don't know why I stayed, except for that wiring for loyalty in my noggin

It was amazing.  And today, five days after, I still get a smile when I think about it.

I expect I will all offseason.

Election Day T-Minus 1

We're electing a President and a few much more important offices tomorrow.

I've voted already.  Week before last while I was on vacation.

I won't wander off into personal politics, except to say that I tend to vote against the incumbent, regardless of stripe.

As such, I voted for Melody Shekari in my U.S. House race (Tennessee House District 3, if you're curious), over Cigar Store Politician Chuck Fleishchman.

I don't have a particular gripe with Fleischmann, aside from his kneejerk pandering to the party line and his being a man incapable of independent thought.  His fearmongering TV ads during the Republican primary, where his opponents were looking to take away benefits from veterans, up to and including snatching their wheelchairs out from under their users, were repulsive.  It was Mick Foley style cheap heat from a man who doesn't know how to be personable.  He is a man who doesn't know how to smile.

Maybe I'm just bitter that he hasn't taken up my suggestion to hire Ed Helms as a stand-in.

But even if he weren't a repulsive cardboard cutout of a candidate, I'd vote against him based on a tendency to vote against the incumbent.  I voted for Melody Shekari.  I probably don't stand with her on everything...her website is as vanilla as Fleischmann's actually.  Here's a ballotpedia rundown of her stances.  Here's a quick profile of her.  It asks all the hard-hitting questions like "What's the last movie you saw in the theater?" and "Go-To Karaoke song?"

Still, it does ask her favorite non-chain restaurant in Chattanooga, her answer is Terminal Brewhouse.  I respect that answer, as Terminal does good work and has great beer.  I think my answer, for Chattanooga, is Urban Stack, but I'm not the one running for Congress.

I dunno.  The House and Senate races are generally more interesting to me.  It's aggravating that we can't seem to dig up a decent challenger to Fleischmann.  I'd say Fleischmann will poll a good 75% of the vote....

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

November Baseball

Stress eating hummus.  It hit 88 degrees at Casa de Big Stupid Tommy today.  There is important baseball on.  It is indeed an interesting world....

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Alright.  Down 3-1.

We've got Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks going against Cleveland starters on short rest.

Tonight wasn't easy.  In fact, I felt like throwing up for a good bit of the game.  Which would have been unfortunate since I was over at Eric's house.

I know what to do if they lose.

They've been losing all my life.

I'm tired of them doing that.

I want to find out what happens if they win.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

October 22, 2016

I love this team.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Family Plot

Cherie Priest's The Family Plot tie together a couple of favorites:  good Southern writing, and a helluva ghost story.

Pre-ordered that one from the nice folks at Amazon back when it was announced.  Got it in the mail a couple or three weeks back (may be more...time's funny out here).  Been reading it in large chunks.  All told, I read this one in about five sittings.  I read the last 100 pages this afternoon.

Family Plot concerns a salvage business taking apart a house in Chattanooga's St. Elmo neighborhood.  It's a risky deal for the ailing company, but one that could provide an amazing windfall, if it pans out.  Chuck Dutton asks newly-divorced daughter Dahlia to head up a team to begin the salvage operation for Music City Salvage.

Dahlia leads a team of family members and newbies into the picking apart of the Withrow Mansion, located at the foot of Lookout Mountain.  Priest maintains a surprisingly strong, thick atmosphere through, and manages to subtly bump the creep factor as the book progresses.  Dahlia sees a woman in a yellow dress.  Other team members see a child, others see a soldier standing in a graveyard at one corner of the property:  a graveyard professed to be a generations old joke, by the woman who sold Music City the salvage rights.

I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, and a couple times, I found myself drawing my feet up off the floor, feeling a chill.  It's rare that a writer does that.  So, kudos to Ms. Priest.

Without getting too much into spoiling the story, the action amps up significantly in the last quarter of the story, and draws to an ending that left me grinning ear to ear.

I recommend the book.  Give it a look....

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A funny, timely picture

Want to know the truth?  This election frightens me.

This guy, fueled by a decade or three's worth of dumbass, redneck indignation, could be our next President.

I've had folks I didn't want to be President in the past.

I've even seen them win.

I've never been afraid, though, of what the world might look like afterward.


If you have the chance to prep for a grocery inventory?  I'd skip it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Turner Field

The Atlanta Braves are finishing up their last season at Turner Field.  In the midst of another crazy busy stretch where I worked 16 days out of 18, and it wasn't a sure thing that I was going to get the day off, I took Shyam down to Atlanta to see the Braves play the Nationals.

She roots for the Nationals.  This has not been a bone of contention between us.  However, we will see what this postseason brings.

Anyway.  I've always been a well-wisher for the Braves.  A supporter, I reckon.  They're a couple or three hours south of here, depending on Atlanta traffic.  I had a stretch where I saw at least one game in Atlanta for 23 seasons or so.  That got broken a couple of years ago, where things just didn't pan out.

That being the case, I've seen a lot of baseball at Turner Field, which has become a casualty of the disposable economy we've crafted that is built by the lowest bidder and succumbs to the idea that Newer is Automatically Better.  The Braves are moving next year up the road a few miles to Marietta.  It's a move that gives me mixed emotions, despite this aggravation.  I'll say that one of the things that's kept me from hitting more Braves games in the past handful of years is my own lack of willingness to fight Atlanta traffic.  I'm not sure how many more miles it saves moving from around the capitol, but there's a difference of about 12 mile markers.  That difference has meant anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the rush hour.  Assuming clear roadways, I could make it from work to the Marietta stadium in a much less daunting 2 hours (or less).

Still, the David Cross bit about the suburbs of Atlanta, where it stays White out later keeps popping to mind.

Anyway.  There was a call to Elisson to see if they would enjoy taking in a baseball contest.  Alas, they were already planning something for the day.  We'll hit a game with them soon.  They've been inviting me down for years, and even with my crazy schedule, I'm a bit of a heel for not having taken them up on the offer.

We arrived about an hour before game time, so that we could take one more stroll around the stadium.  Lots of memories there.  Lots of Cubs games, including a couple of playoff games.  A few more Braves postseason games.  Lots of hot summer Atlanta days spent watching the Red Sox, or the Yankees, or the Cardinals, or the Astros or any number of opponents wander through.

Favorite memory?  Finding out the Cubs were making a two-game early season visit the same night as a meeting about 50 miles north.  Wandered to the game after the meeting, walked up and got a seat on the wall right off the right field line.  Had Carlos Zambrano make eye contact and give me a nod as he made his way to the bullpen for warmups.

For this game?  Saw the Nationals pitching struggle against a Braves lineup that played surprisingly good small ball and situational baseball.  Aside from loading the bases early on with no outs and bringing a goose egg from that inning, the Braves played great ball.

I don't take many pictures of the action.  I did take a picture of Joe West, who's tied with Doug Eddings for my least favorite umpire in baseball.  He didn't do much of note in this game at the third base position except for calling no swing on a couple of pitches where it looked like the Nationals batter did actually break the plane of the plate....

Here he is drinking a bottle of water.

At least, I think it's water.

He isn't a good umpire.

He makes bad decisions.

The rains came late in an otherwise quickly moving game.  One rain delay chased us onto the concourse.  

Play resumed, but rains came again, and continued long after they should have been suspended.  The infield was soaked.


It was during the second rain delay that we caught this rainbow beyond the right field stands.

The rain delay continued as the grounds crew worked to get the infield back to playable.

Shyam and I were watching the radar on the weather app, and saw another string of showers heading toward the stadium.

Meanwhile, Nationals skipper Dusty Baker went out to test the infield.

Mere seconds after this one was snapped, the rains came again.  Shyam and I made a decision neither of us has made before:  we left a ballgame early.

Or did we?

By the time we got to the car and turned on Braves' broadcast, they were announcing the score as final.

Two last items of note:  we hit dinner at a Cracker Barrel in Adairsville, Georgia.  They were crowded--a busload of Tennessee State athletes had gotten into the restaurant just before we did, and the wait staff was a little overwhelmed.  A waitress noticed Shyam and me waiting for drinks, and she took our order.  Our drinks were brought by a second waitress, and our food by a third.  We flagged down a manager after eating to get our bill.  I was entertaining watching three different waitresses poke their heads out from behind the kitchen door and shake their heads in the negative.  The manager couldn't find our tickets.  He gave us free Cracker Barrel.  More power to that man!!!!

Also, we are in the midst of a mostly media-fueled gasoline panic in this neck of the woods.  I noticed as I got on the interstate that the QT station next to the Cracker Barrel and the station across the street were both out of gas.

The panic has hit somewhat more lightly in Athens, this morning, as the Shell station near my house was out of everything but Hi-Test.

But I digress somewhat....

Anyway.  I'm glad we hit the game.  Glad we hit one more at Turner Field.  A shame that it won't be hosting Major League Baseball anymore.

Still, I look forward to the new stadium experience.

Glad of another quality day spent with Shyam.

Glad to get out of Dodge for a day.  Since returning from vacation, I'd worked 16 out of 18 days.  I've been covering for people quite a bit, and I'm tired.  It was good to refresh a little bit....

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Mental Refreshment

That mental refreshment I wrote about eight days ago, regarding the trip to Boston?


My first 122 hours back from vacation, I worked 62 of them.

It's frustrating.

I wish I didn't have to pay for a vacation by working a ridiculous stretch after.