Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter Storm 2009 Update

Well, I think this one beat the "Worst Ice Storm In A Decade" forecast. At least for me. We're on day 4 with no power, and guess what? "American Idol" loses something when viewed on a 5 inch black and white portable TV in a living room where it's 40 degrees! They say my power could be out for weeks. I guess it could be worse though.

During the storm, it was hard to rest though the night as we heard that constant sound, "crack, crack, CRASH!" Tree limbs fell all around us and we prayed they would miss the house. Thank goodness they did, at least so far. It's a mess though. It will take a long time to clean up and get back to normal, but there are many things to be thankful for.

Thanks to the neighbor who used his backhoe to clear the road of enough trees and debris so we could get to town before the county road crews, who were swamped, could get to it. Thanks to those who volunteered to bring food, extra heaters and help in general to those without. Thanks to those who are continually checking on the elderly.

Thanks to those utility crews who have come in from out of town to help restore our power. They say, in some areas of Western Kentucky, the power could be out for up to 30 days. It's hard to describe the devastation, and even the pictures don't reveal the enormity of it all.

Thanks to my father-in-law, who lent me his chainsaw. I'll be putting it to a lot of use over the coming days. I've been doing meteorology for more than 25 years, and I've never experienced anything like it. For much fo the 1st 4 days there was no electricity, no phone service and no cellphone service in my county and much of Far Western Kentucky.

Thanks to WCMT in Martin, TN and their crew for broadcasting the most recent news about the storm aftermath and keeping us up to date. They been the best source for those of us in Fulton County. WPSD has also done a good job, especially Meteorologist John Champion, who did a great job with the forecast and warning people about the coming storm on Monday morning. Bridget brought up a good point as she wondered if they have battery powered TVs that receive the new digital format. The analog signal is due to end soon, and these little TV's are a lifesaver. I know our's has been.

Looking at this thing before it hit, I knew it could be bad, but many times, the storms don't pan out as bad as the computer models predict. This one did....and more! We want to get warm. We need food. We need a bath. I REALLY need a bath!!! All we can do now is hunker down, find someplace warm, and wish Godspeed to the utility crews who have rushed in to clean up this mess, and boy do they have a mess to clean up.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Winter Storm of the Decade!

We're hunkering down for a possible major ice and snow storm in our region. Actually, I've been studying it on the computer models for a week and it doesn't look good. Our local National Weather Service office says it could be the "ice storm of the decade" for us. One of the local television stations says it could be the worst winter storm in the last 20 years. I think it certainly has the potential to be one of the worst ones we've seen in a long time, but I can't really put a figure on it, just yet. Those labels are best applied postmortem. Hard to imagine it could beat December of 2004 though.

For several days, we knew it didn't look good, and then tonight, an ominous figure of impending disaster showed up in town: Jim Cantore. The Weather Channel's mighty-mite-meteorologist set up shop in downtown Paducah to record our demise on live television. At least, if it gets too bad, he can run across the street to C.C. Cohen's, where I know Alan will set him up with a "Paducah Brown" sandwich and a little Kentucky "anti-freeze."

I actually met Cantore a few years back at a National Weather Association Conference in St. Louis as two of the "coolest" meteoroglogists met. He's a great met and a real hoot to hang out with. Nethertheless, I don't think he's in town to least mostly.

At home, Bridget has taken all the precautions to make sure we can get through a few days without power. That's a big fear with ice, and with this one, we could be looking at widespread and long term power outages, along with the obvious dangers on the roads. Obviously, that's a big concern for us at PATS. We'll see. It's times like these, I hope I'm wrong! Hunkerdown!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I don't Know Why, but I do

My first love is and will always be Blues, but I do like some other music and bands, and I don't know why! Warning: Some of these, may shocking....

I love SCOTS! I gotta see em live sometime! This is not too much of a stretch, since I AM Southern Culture on the Skids myself. (I really love that Silvertone guitar)

I really like Iris Dement, and yeah she's a distant cousin (I've never met her...she has no idea who I am) and here's she's teamed with another fav of mine, the great John Prine.

I've always loved the B-52s

I've always loved Vixen. How cool that I have an acquaintance who plays with them now!

Speaking of the 80s, I loved that Government Cheese!

Speaking of the 70s...I still love listening to Big Star, good Memphis music!

I can never get enough Loretta. Her latest album is STILL the best thing to come out of Nashville since Emmylou's Wrecking Ball.

Speaking of Emmylou, the first time I heard her I swore I heard an angel singing.

I don't know why I like Avril. She's so many things I don't like musically: Canadian, young, teenage punk girl, made more money before her 18th birthday than I'll ever see in my lifetime. Oh well. I do like a lot of her songs. If you listen close, you can tell they were written with middle-aged men in mind....can't cha?

I know Mariah's nuts, but she can sing her butt off. If she ever tried the Blues, it'd be awesome. She's welcome to join me on stage anytime, but she'd have to get bluesy wid me. Just don't hurt me.

I love em. Don't know why. Don't ask questions. Go figure. Maybe I got a thing for Swedes....Frida's my favorite. Know what? She's Still go it!

Go figure....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekend at Lew's

I want to thank everyone for the prayers for my dad. He's making slow improvement, and is in for a long recovery from his heart surgery, but so far, so good. I'll be getting frequent updates, and splitting my time between home and the hospital. My dad's one of the good guys. We need him on this Earth as long as possible, because it's a better place as long as he's here.

Bridget and I joined the NBA scouts Saturday night in Martin, TN to watch Tennessee-Martin standout Lester Hudson as the hometown Skyhawks played Eastern Illinois. I don't know a lot about what to look for in an NBA prospect. I only saw a few play, most notably Popeye Jones at Dresden High School, and later at Murray State, and then Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, who I first saw as a sophomore in high school. Hardaway could have played in the NBA then! Popeye had talent but needed to work on some things. To his credit, he was an incredibly hard worker and he did. He fashioned a very respectable NBA career! I should mention too, that Popeye was a joy to cover in college and in high school. He was just a good kid and that kind who is easy to root for.

It's easy to see Hudson is a cut above the others players on the floor. This night, he scored 29. Currently, he's the nation's second leading scorer, behind only Davidson's Stephen Curry, but he's the only player who has scored at least 20 ponts in every game this season. He's scored a lot in the "second tier" Ohio Valley Conference, but he's also lit up the big name colleges who he's played against. He's also the only player to ever have scored a quadruple double. At UT-Martin, Hudson is not the team's only option, but when they need him, he turns it up a notch and really can take over a game. He's the real deal. He has an interesting back-story. In the second half of the game against Eastern Illinois, the Skyhawks needed him, and he took over. I don't know if he'll be an NBA star, but he's a joy to watch.

I got 2 of my old guitars down off the wall so I could dust them. The ones I had signed by people I admire. I'm not big on celebrities and most of the ones I admire you've probably never heard of. Some of them, you might have: Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner, Kim Wilson, Scotty Moore, Sheryl Crow, Candye Kane, Snooky Pryor and more. Also some regional heroes of mine like Wes Henley and Terry Mike. How many autographs can you find?

The Super Bowl is next weekend. My heart says the Cardinals because it's so easy to root for Kurt Warner, but my head says the Steelers because their defense is that good. I've already started planning my Super Bowl Menu: MY hot wings, brats, etc, etc, etc. Diet be damned!

Monday, January 19, 2009

On MLK Day

Reposted from 2008

My career has certainly taken some twisty turns. I've gone from working most holidays, including 20 of the last 25 Christmases, to getting OFF on holidays, including today's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I didn't know what to do with the time off, but did take a little time to reflect on Dr. King and his "dream."
I remember the 60s and 70s well. I remember the turmoil our country was undergoing. I remember how Dr. King's influence possibly prevented untold violence, yet also still started the movement and change of attitudes and laws.

Three things happened to me today to bring it home. I was headed to town to run some errands when I heard a remarkable story by former Southern California Basketball Coach George Raveling, one of my most admired coaches. I was listening to my MP3's shuffling during my daily bike ride, and up came Champion Jack Dupree's Freedom. Finally, I cheered as the New York Giants made the Super Bowl because my friend, Jerry Reese, the Giants General Manager had attained the highest level of his profession.

I always admired Coach Raveling because he really did teach his players as much about life as he did about basketball. When I used to work with Tennessee-Martin Basketball coach Cal Luther, I remember George Raveling agreeing to a "home and home" with the Skyhawks. That was VERY rare for a small school like UT-Martin, but Raveling thought it would be educational for the UTM kids to come to Los Angeles, and likewise for HIS players/kids to visit the rural South. He was right. The UTM players got to experience LA on their visit, and the USC players, including Harold Minor, who was a highly touted college player at the time, came to West Tennessee and learned a little about life between the coasts. What I didn't know until today, was that Raveling has the original draft of King's "I Have A Dream" speech. I heard Raveling interviewed on ESPN radio. Raveling was there and volunteered as a security guard. It's a facinating story! One of the most interesting things which came out of his story was the revelation that the "I Have A Dream" concept was ad-libbed. The great Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson was behind them on the podium and started yelling, "Tell em about your dream, Martin," and THAT'S how the concept came about. Later, Raveling says Martin met with President Kennedy and he kept saying how much he admired that "I Have A Dream" speech and the press seized upon that as the title of the speech.

Champion Jack Dupree has long been one of my favorites. His "Freedom" is one of my favorite songs. It talks about Martin Luther King, Jr and how he led the way for racial freedom and equality. He sings about how children learn to play the black and white keys on the piano to make "harmony." It's truly inspirational.

I've known Jerry Reese for years. I first met him when he was an assistant coach at UT Martin in the 80s. I was always struck by how dedicated, organized and hard working he was. Later, when I met my future wife, Bridget, I found she was a classmate of his at Lake County High School in Tiptonville, Tennessee. Like me, she thought the world of Jerry. As a quarterback, Jerry led Lake County to a state championship. All the kids in school loved him. To be around him, you couldn't help it. They voted him Mr. Lake County High School! Briggy told me how at that point, a teacher (& in this case I use that term loosely) called some of the kids in and warned them that "they better think about what they were doing" by voting Jerry Mr. LCHS. The kids wound up upset that a teacher would even raise that issue. Well, they DID think about what they were doing and that's why they thought there was no better candidate for Mr. Lake County High School than Jerry. As the clock wound down in Sunday's NFC Championship game, and the Giants punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, I thought to myself, " Yep..he's proven himself as Mr. LCHS again!" Jerry wasn't the 1st African-American GM in the NFL, and he'd be the first to say it shouldn't be an issue in his case. As usual, of course, he's right, and that's the greatest tribute to Dr. King's legacy. Because of Dr. King, it's not that big of a big deal. Dr. King's work opened the door for Coach Raveling, Jack Dupree, Jerry Reese and millions of others. We haven't achieved the totality of "The Dream" yet, but we're on the way.

Gosh, I hope the Giants beat the Patriots.....

* of course the Giants did beat the Patriots, and we received an e-mail from Jerry, "We did it!" Tomorrow we're set to inaugurate our country's first African American President. We're still not there, but we're still on the way.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's Tough To Give Up Something You Love

It is tough to give up something you love. That's why it had to be tough for my father-in-law to give up farming and "retire" after 61 years on the tractor. He sold off all his equipment at auction today. I guess farmers don't get retirement parties. They have auctions. His turned into a kind of retirement party for him.

To think, he was worried no one would show up, but when I topped the bluff and looked down at the auction site, it was a sea of Carhartt and camouflage. There were buyers there from several states, as well as relatives, like Uncle Leonard and plenty of other friends and well-wishers, bidding farewell to an old farmer. Hard to imagine, but he began farming in Lake County, TN 12 years before I was even born. One person, whose land he had farmed for years, gave him a a plague with a heartfelt inscription.

Bridget hugged her dad as they watched so many memories hit the auction block, and then be driven away, some to nearby farms, others across the Mississippi to other states.

Bridget posed on her 1974 Honda Trail 90 one more time. It actually turned into quite the collectors item, fetching more than double what it cost new, 34 years ago.

After that, a quick trip to one of our favorite places to eat, Boyette's, with Bridget's Mom. Catfish, green beans, white beans, hushpuppies, slaw and fries. Mmmmh!

Then a slow drive around one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Reelfoot Lake, and maybe look for a Bald Eagle or two.

Tractors, combines, plows, log chains, trucks, welders, cattle feeders, and lot's of memories. It's all he's done, all his life. At the end of the day, though, I still believe, he'll have the itch this spring.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

Mike Shain retires from KFVS. We're all poorer as viewers. I only met Mike a couple of times, but he was always so gracious, and on the air, he had few peers. I just hope the young ones at KFVS soaked up all the wisdom and experience they could from Mike. He could teach them a lot about how to be a good broadcast journalist, and also how to be a good person. I really enjoyed the special on KFVS where we heard from many of his past co-anchors at KFVS, including Amy Watson, Dianne Anderson, Randy Ray, Don McNeely and more. It brought back a lot of memories for me too. God Bless ya, Mike! You've been such a valuable resource for viewers in this area. I pray you stepped away on your own terms. So many others in this industry, and in this economy, have not.

It's fact below freezing. Thank goodness I heard on the news recently that when it gets really cold, we should try to stay warm.

A Carbondale, IL cop is arrested for robbing a bank. I already knew we don't pay law enforcement officers enough, but is the economy really THAT bad? I guess so.

I wonder if the new judge on American Idol is in place, just in case Paula goes off the deep end...again.

I guess a week long furlough is better than a lay-off, but for those who think newsapers are dying, there's now a website.

So many college football stars decided to stay in school and forego the NFL draft. Do they believe in the value of a college education, or are they that scared of possibly having to play for the Detroit Lions?

Sarah Palin is lashing out.

She makes a great point about the media quoting anonymous bloggers, but she fails to mention it works both ways, hurting candidates of both parties. I'm interested to see if Sarah will be back, or if she's simply the latest incarnation of Katherine Harris, used and then kicked to the curb by her own party. By the way, Katie Couric.....that name sounds vaguely familiar. Did she used to "be somebody"??

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How To Balance The Budget

Kentucky and Tennessee, like so many other states are facing budget shortfalls. What can they do to balance their budget's? I have an idea! Enforce the law!

I'm talking about laws against speeding. You may have heard the old police saying "9 you're fine, 10 you're mine" when talking about how far over the limit people can drive before getting a ticket. It's a license to speed and there's a lot of truth to it. I even met one officer who told me he was reprimanded for writing speeding tickets to people who drove between 5 and 9 mph over the speed limit. How about this idea: triple the fine and write tickets for 3 mph over the speed limit and up!

There are some who point to research that in bad economies, this is already going on. Then there are "speed traps:" small towns which write tickets to help the city coffers. Medina, TN, a well known "speed trap" was alleged to have a novel approach to help the city coffers and not upset the locals: Only write speeding tickets to non-residents!

Of course this is easy for me to say. I don't speed. Most of us love to. Some of us buy newer cars which can go 160 mph and up, even though there's nowhere to legally or safely drive that fast on the highway. Many countries are trying to get their drivers to slow down and some have launched creative campaigns. I'll let YOU decide what THIS ad in Australia is talking about. If we enforced the speed limit, fewer would be injured or killed, gasoline consumption would go down and we'd be less dependent on Middle East Oil. Who wants THAT!??

Hey my idea makes more sense than some of the other proposals! If we increase the cigarette tax, we can only balance the budget if more people smoke, and smoking bans are popping up everywhere. If we increase the tax on alcohol it's tougher to find the money to drown our sorrows thinking about how bad the economy is. It doesn't make sense to increase the income tax because income keeps going down. It makes no sense to expand gambling, because nobody has enough money to gamble!

Oh well.....just a thought. Drive Safely!

Friday, January 9, 2009

No Football Friday Viewing

With no football Friday night, the wife and I found a couple of things to watch. Animal Planet had a Planet Earth Marathon. It truly is a stunningly photographed documentary and in HD is even more incredible. Highly recommended! We already have the DVD set but it's always fascinating to see this BBC production again. One thing that struck me though is that on our DVD set, the narrator is a British man, but on Animal Planet, it's an American woman.

After that I watched "Seven Signs" the independent film directed by Paducah's own Col J.D. Wilkes of Th' Legendary Shack Shakers. The film focuses on J.D's travels through the South, in search of the last remnants of the "real" South in the face of modernization and includes some great roots music, local legends and bizarre characters. I really enjoyed it. Of course there is a 61 South connection or 2! Some might recognize the blacksmith in the film, Fast Layne Hendrickson, who was the founder of 61 South and it's original singer, and of course, J.D. was also an original member of 61 South and still plays with us when he can. The film has been screened by film societies and at film festivals across the nation, but curiously, to my knowledge, has never been shown in Paducah.

After that, wife takes over control of the remote to watch her favorite shows: Food Network, Soap Network, Law & Order (bomp bomp) which is always showing on 2 or 3 channels simultaneously 24 hours a day, Dexter, 24 or Nip Tuck. Of course, next week, it's MY turn with the return of American Idol. I guess I enjoy this show because of the drama. I know it's not for the singing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ima Thinkin'

Ima thinkin my last few blogs have been pretty serious, so it's time to lighten up.

After seeing "Valkyrie", Ima thinkin' Hitler escaped assassination because he probably never really trusted the member of his inner circle who continually spoke with an American accent: Tom Cruise. Everybody else in the movie had a German accent. In my mind, this was a worse faux pas than Kevin Costner, who continually spoke in an American accent while everyone else had an English accent in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." Tom Cruise has been in some big ticket movies, but the star has NEVER been Cruise. He's not a very good actor, just another Hollywood nut. Think about it. The best and most memorable performances in all his movies were turned in by one or more of his co-stars and not by him. "Mission Impossible" I,II, and III: he was overshadowed by the action, the helicopters, the subways, etc. "Jerry Maguire": he was overshadowed by Cuba Gooding, Jr, Rene Zellweger, the little kid. "Days of Thunder" and "Eyes Wide Shut": he was overshadowed by Nicole Kidman and/or Robert Duvall. "Vanilla Sky": he was overshadowed by the Vanilla Sky. He's never been able to carry a film with his own talent. Ima thinkin' Cruise's performances, like his stature, have always fallen short. By the way, since when did we start turning our thoughts at Christmas time to Nazi movies?

After the bowl games, Ima thinkin' the NCAA National Champion Team is UTAH. They are the only undefeated team, therefore they are the champs. Some Alabama players admitted they took the Utes too lightly, and in the process of losing 31-17, Alabama disgraced the Southeastern Conference, the South in general and several dozen congregations in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Ima thinkin' even though Pat Summeral may not be a spring chicken, he can still call a great game and has a firm grasp on the "less is more" concept. Amen to Tom Hammond too. They are among the vanishing breed who are the consummate professionals at play by play. God bless 'em.

After hearing about his team mates whining and his medical condition, Ima thinkin' Brett Farve will retire from the NFL. I'm also thinkin' he'll COME BACK AGAIN in July! Aw-Rite! The only question is whether the Jets will have "moved on" in the meantime. Ima thinkin' they won't be as torn as the Packers to cut him loose.

Ima thinkin' the best marketing campaign among car manufacturers this winter belongs to Hyundai , which promises to let you bring your newly purchased car back in the coming year if you lose your job. This is known as hedging your bets in a truly stinky economy.

Ima thinkin' whoever it was who shot the Trumpeter Swan at Mermet Springs should lose their hunting license for at least a year or more. If you don't know what you're shooting at, don't shoot! If you're ever allowed to hunt again, you should take the time to LEARN about waterfowl and THINK about the consequences. There's a responsibility that comes with hunting, so own up to it.

Ima thinkin' high school teachers who have sex with their students should be sent to prison for 10 years or more. If the only person who will have sex with you is a stupid, hormone-charged, easily-influenced teenager, you are, to my mind, legally, too ugly to legally have sex in the first place. Give it up.

Since appearing in a McDonald's Chicken McNuggets commercial, Ima thinkin' Hip Hop music has officially become "out" and we need to come up with another form of "hip" music.

Ima thinkin' the Tennessee Titans would rather play ANYONE in the playoffs than the Colts. Thank you San Diego!

Ima wonderin' if NFL Analyst John Madden has ever played the Madden NFL video game. Ima thinkin' he has certainly made a fortune off it. My lovely wife, from personal observation, testified he certainly knows what a buffet is. I love Madden.