The Blue Screen of Death

18 Apr

On Monday, I went into my office; took my laptop out of its carrier; turned it on; and saw a big blue screen. I poked and prodded the machine until I realized that it was not going to do anything else. That is when I called my nephew, who we all go to in our time of technological need and asked him what was up.

He said that I had come upon the Blue Screen of Death. That was fantastic news. I called my wife, and she suggested a computer guy who could take a look at it. I called him, and we had a clandestine meeting on the side of the road. With our vehicles parked close, I slipped the package to him.

He had it for a few days before coming up with a diagnosis. The computer was filled with viruses. He could clean it up but saw no reason for that. My laptop is obsolete. Cleaning it of the bugs would cost more than it is worth. It kind of reminds me of those death committees that people think the government is going to crank up. No longer a productive citizen? You do not need that hip replacement.

With that in mind, I went laptop shopping with my nephew. We went to the Apple store and got one of those newfangled Macs. This post is my first foray into this thing. There are some differences, but I think I will get the hang of it. I would include a cool picture, but I am not sure where it would go if I saved it.

Speaking of pictures. My old laptop is filled with pictures, documents and assorted materials. Hopefully, the computer guy can get that stuff moved over here.

For the past week, I have been without a laptop and have been amazed at how lost I have been without one. Now, I am almost complete.

Pay These Prices and Please Pay No More

12 Apr

Bobby Denton passed away. Most of you have never heard of Bobby Denton, but he is someone I have been listening to since I was six years old. I could not pick him out of a crowd, but I would know his voice anywhere. Bobby Denton was the public address announcer at University of Tennessee football games.Bobby Denton

His voice would boom over the loud speakers as over 100,000 people listened. He let everyone know who made a tackle or scored on a long touchdown play. He let us know if the team had made a first down on a quarterback sneak.

Every university has a public address announcer who does these same things. However, each one of them has their own style and sayings. Bobby Denton was no exception. He had a certain way of saying things that could get the crowd fired up. After a great play, he would let the crowd settle down before saying something like, “That touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Joey Kent covered 85 yards!” The crowd would start yelling again.

People make fun of me because I like to get into the stadium early and watch the team warm up. While other people tailgate, I take in the atmosphere from the seats. Bobby Denton was one of the reasons. You knew that things were cranking up when he took the mic and said, “It’s football time in Tennessee!”

Then, he would go through his pregame ritual of telling everyone about the exits in case of an emergency and where the first aid stands were located. At the end, Bobby Denton said one of his catchphrases, “Concession prices are listed on Page 21 of your program. We urge you to pay these prices and please pay no more!” Half of the people in the stands said it with him.

As a kid, I sat next to my dad and listened to Bobby Denton tell me what was happening on the field. I have grown up listening to Bobby Denton. After his death, coaches and players from the University of Tennessee talked about how great of a man he was. I am just one of thousands of people who listened to him, but I know that football games will not be the same without Bobby Denton saying an opposing player was “tackled by a host of Volunteers!”

Bad Mood Rising

11 Apr

I am in a bad mood and have been for the past several days. I have not felt like blogging, and I, for sure, have not felt like talking to anyone. When I get in a bad mood, I tend to shut down. That is probably not the healthy way to handle things. Actually, I know it is not the healthy way to handle things. At least, that is what my old therapist said.Therapist

Last night, I tried what a lot of people do when they are in a bad mood or are stressed. I had a few drinks. I understand that it is supposed to be relaxing. Well, it may be for most people, but it is not for me. It accomplished two things. It made me have a terrible night of sleep, and it made me feel bad this morning.

Here is the dumb thing. I knew that is what it would do. That is why I usually only have one drink at dinner or something. I like the taste, but I see no reason to drink more and have these things happen.

Besides that, alcohol is a numbing agent, and I really do not want to be numb. I like the full effects of natural feelings. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Bliss. Feeling all of those things to their full effect is living life to its fullest. I have always believed that numbing yourself to those things is cheating yourself.

I did not mean for this post to descend into a critique of ingesting adult beverages. After all, I like a glass of whiskey as much as the next person. I meant for it to be an explanation for why I have not written anything in a couple of days. Simply, I have not been in the mood. There are a few things floating around in my mind that will be coming soon. First, I have to get my mind right.

Picture This – The Judith

8 Apr

Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 149

A few years ago, we men of the family took a trip to Montana. When we returned, I put together a series of posts about our adventures. I was just skimming through the pictures and came upon one that I took in Lewistown, Montana. The town sits at the geographic center of the state. In fact, the exact center is next to the indoor pool at the hotel we stayed in. There is some tile work in the floor marking the spot.

However, it was not the pool area that interested me. My nephew and I took a stroll down the main street and took some pictures along the way. This one is my favorite.

The Judith is a movie house that sits in the middle of downtown. I have no idea how old it is, but, as we stood in front of it, I could imagine people of years past standing in line to buy a ticket. They had no idea that there would be a time when movies would have special effects like those in The Dark Knight Rises.

The idea of a 21st Century movie playing in an old theater intrigued me. It was as if we were caught in some time warp that even Batman could not find his way out of.

The name of the theater was also intriguing. I assume it was named for the Judith River that flows nearby. In Jeremiah Johnson, Bear Claw tells Jeremiah that if he leaves pelts by the river, then steamboats will take them and leave gold coins behind. I have no idea if that is historically accurate. Something tells me that it is just a cool movie line. I do know that if Jeremiah Johnson had been playing, then I would have bought a ticket. It would have been the appropriate thing to do.

We walked into the lobby to see how it looked. It was small but had a concession stand with all of the right candy. We even thought about watching The Dark Knight Rises but decided to keep walking down the street.

Eventually, we came upon a McDonald’s. Where can you go in this country without that happening?

The Sixth of April

6 Apr

That is what the date stamp at the left of this post says. What it does not say is that it is also my dad’s birthday. To celebrate, my brother, my nephew, our friend Larry and I spent yesterday with him at the University of Tennessee. We watched football practice and got a  behind-the-scenes tour of the football facilities. That may not seem like fun to a lot of people, but, for crazy fans like us, it was a great day.

To celebrate on this blog, I thought it would be interesting to see what historic events have happened on April 6.April

In 1862, the Battle of Shiloh began.

In 1970, Sam Sheppard passed away. For those who do not know, his story became the fictional story of The Fugitive.

In 1917, the United States officially entered World War I.

In 1841, John Tyler was sworn in as president. It is hard to believe that he has grandchildren who are still living.

In 1808, John Jacob Astor created the American Fur Company. Eventually, he would become America’s first millionaire.

In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games began in Athens, Greece.

In 1929, the Louisiana House of Representatives impeached Governor Huey P. Long.

In 1973, the designated hitter was introduced into the American League.

In 1938, my dad was born.



The Last Harrah

5 Apr

Harrah’s Casino in Tunica is closing. There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I am not here to write about the economic condition of the gaming industry. I am here to write about why I am saddened by the news. It may sound strange, but I have great memories of Harrah’s Casino in Tunica.Harrahs

I have been going to Tunica with my family for many years. Most of that time was with my parents and my aunt and uncle. We have all liked the comped rooms, comped food and the gambling that you have to do to get those things. We have also liked the laughs on the drive down and the good times when we arrived.

Early on, we stayed and played at other casinos, but, at some point, we settled on Harrah’s as our stomping grounds. As I write this, I can picture being there with all of them.

Playing video poker at a machine next to my dad.

Checking on my mom and finding out that she won a few hundred dollars at the penny slots.

Sitting in the third base seat of the Blackjack table while Johnny, my uncle, sat at first base. We liked playing the $25 tables and watch the green chips come and go. When he was losing, he would buy more chips so my aunt would not know how much he had lost. Of course, she always knew. I must admit that I got a little nervous when my parents came around to check on how we were doing.

My uncle passed away a couple of years ago. He fought cancer for a decade, and Harrah’s was a place where he could get away from the struggle and have fun for a while. Each time we walked in, he said, “I am getting well.” That is the reason we went to Tunica so often.

I always drove and would drop everyone off at the front door. I can see everyone walking through the front doors and knew where I could find them once I entered the casino. Everyone would be at their games. I always made my way to Blackjack but would stop at a slot machine first. The movie themed ones were my favorite. Star Trek. Ghostbusters. If it was a movie I liked, then they were guaranteed to get my money.

Food has also been one of the great things about Harrah’s. There was nothing like eating a hoe cake at Paula Deen’s buffet. It was upstairs, and, honestly, the upstairs has always been my favorite part of the casino. Quiet. Away from the smoke floating around the tables. I could always find an oasis of calm up there.

A few years ago, I took my girlfriend, who is now my wife, to Harrah’s with my parents. She got to experience all of the things that I have written about. However, she never got to meet Johnny. Our trip to Tunica was great, but my favorite part was sitting and talking with her in the hotel lobby. That beat winning a$500 chip at Blackjack.

Not long ago, my parents and I went to Tunica. We did not stay at Harrah’s, but we gambled there for a while. We did not know then that it would soon close. However, I still got a nostalgic feeling. I missed having to old gang talking about when we were going to head up to the buffet or hiding how much we had lost.

The last time I went to Harrah’s with Johnny, it was a guy’s trip. Me, my dad and him. This time Johnny wanted to eat in the steakhouse. My aunt and mom would never agree to eat there. We gambled enough to get a free meal and got the biggest steaks they had. We ate, talked and laughed.

That is what I will miss about Harrah’s Casino in Tunica. The talking and the laughing. We went to gamble, but we really went to spend time together.

What the GEC? A Liberal Arts Education

4 Apr

Last night, I spent some extra hours on campus proctoring the GEC Exit Exam. It is a test that we give to our graduating seniors to see if they learned what we taught them in the General Education Core (GEC). As I read from a canned speech, we have taught them “a particular set of skills.” I really wanted to say that in a Liam Neeson voice.Liam Neeson

After reading the canned script, I told them what I really wanted to say. We are a Liberal Arts university and want them to leave with a well-rounded education. While being trained for a job is important, we believe that being exposed to different theories and ideas is what higher education is all about.

That is why the GEC is filled with History classes that cover Benjamin Harrison’s presidency and the Ming Dynasty. That is why it is filled with English classes where they read Shakespeare and Twain. Students often wonder why they have to take those classes and end their careers taking this GEC test. It is because we want them to know more than how to do their jobs. We want them to know about the world.

Sometimes, I fear that universities are becoming trade schools rather than bastions of higher education. Think about those words for a second. Higher education. It is great to get training to be successful in a profession. However, it is greater to be taught to think on a higher plane. That is what higher education and Liberal Arts is all about. It is about helping people to be open-minded toward ideas that are different from their own.

Open-mindedness is something that we are missing in the modern world. Heck, it may have always been missing. This makes me think about the politics of the realm in which we live. People are not willing to understand the arguments of the other side. I am not just talking about people who are conservative. I think people who have a liberal mindset are just as close-minded. Neither side is willing to concede that the other side may have some valid arguments and concerns. Let us just shut them off and yell at them.

Truly open-minded people listen to the other side. They may not agree, but, at least, they make an attempt to understand it. To me, that is what a Liberal Arts education is all about. It exposes people to different ideas and helps them understand that things out there other than what their parents, their preachers and their teachers have told them.

It is a big world, and we need to do everything we can to understand it.

Today, I taught History to a room full of freshmen. Many of them did not seem very interested. By the time they get to the GEC Exit Exam, I hope they have realized that History, English, Philosophy, Sociology and all the other stuff were not wastes of time. They were essential to help them become something more than a job-holder. They made them an educated person.



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