Archive for the ‘Tennessee & environs’ Category

Big Google is watching you me

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Google Street View has come to Knoxville.

For instance, here’s the place I just came back from — the Knoxville Visitor
Center on Gay Street, where the WDVX Blue Plate Special takes place
every weekday:

View Larger Map

And here’s a look at the Gay Street Bridge, seen from across the river in South Knoxville, with several downtown buildings, the Sunsphere, and the Henley Street Bridge in the distance:

View Larger Map

(Hat tip: Michael Silence.) More after the jump.


Nature’s fireworks

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

As I mentioned earlier, a severe thunderstorm pounded North Knoxville this afternoon. I had a bird’s eye view of the storm from the parking garage downtown where I park for work, and I was able to capture several still frames of cloud-to-ground lightning from the videos I took with my digital camera. Here’s the best one:


Here’s what the storm looked like on radar at that very moment:


A wider, animated radar view can be found here. There are more lightning pics — and other storm photos — in my Flickr gallery, and several of those photos are highlighted on my photoblog.

UPDATE: One of my lightning videos is now on Flickr as well. You can see several lightning strikes, including the one pictured above.

P.S. The thunderstorm gave way to a beautiful sunset several hours later. Here are a couple photos of that:



Again, visit my Flickr gallery and my photoblog for more.

Beautiful Knoxville scenery

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Don’t you love it when Glenn Reynolds gets a little pervy with his photography? I sure do! But what does Dr. Helen think? ;)

(I kid, Glenn, I kid!)

36 hours in Knoxville

Friday, June 6th, 2008

New York Times travel writer Allison Glock spends 36 hours in Knoxville, which she calls "a place too unassuming to shout about but too comfortable to leave":

Knoxville, cheerfully ensconced in the foothills of the Great Smoky
Mountains and banked against the Tennessee River, has an intrinsically
lazy, soulful feel. The geography is soft, green and rolling. The
climate is gentle, breezy and bright. Locals tend to be not just
friendly — a given in most Southern towns — but chilled out, too. This
is not the Old South of magnolias and seersucker so much as a modern
Appalachia of roots music, locavore food, folk art and hillbilly pride. Or, as yet another city moniker aptly states, “Austin without the hype.”

WDVX’s Blue Plate Special is prominently featured, as well it should be. Photo gallery here. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)

Shark sighting!

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

As I mentioned earlier, my parents are in town this weekend, and tonight my dad and I went to a Tennessee Smokies game. I had totally forgotten that Notre Dame’s Jeff Samardzija is a Smokie (er, a Smoky?), but he is, and there he was, standing in the dugout right in front of us:

I couldn’t resist saying something, so I walked up to the edge of the dugout and yelled “Hey, Jeff!” a couple of times until he heard me and looked over. I then said, “Go Irish!” He responded with a sort of half-smile and quasi-acknowledgment that suggested he gets that all the time from Notre Dame fans who feel so passionately about the Irish that they figure it’s perfectly reasonable to treat famous ND alums like long-lost buddies and thus randomly say “Go Irish” at them. Heh.

Alas, Samardzija wasn’t pitching tonight, but it was cool to see him anyway. He’s got a blog, by the way.

Anyway, the Smokies won the game, 8-3, and we had a good time. Here are a few more pictures:

Baby’s first hike through the Smokies

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Becky, Loyette and I spent Memorial Day communing with nature, as we hiked the Porters Creek Trail, a roughly 7-mile walk through the woods in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

It was very fun, if somewhat exhausting. (The hike to the campsite at the end of the trail was relentlessly uphill; the walk back was, naturally, downhill, and therefore mercifully less tiring.) We carried Loyette in her Kangaroo Korner slings, Becky using the fleece one and me using the mesh one, as we always do. We passed her back and forth throughout the roughly six-hour hike, and whoever wasn’t wearing the baby would wear the backpack. So that worked out pretty well.

Loyette was amazingly tolerant of the long day. She got cranky exactly three times — twice just before taking a long nap in her sling (i.e., she was tired), and once just before lunch (i.e., she was hungry). She’s a great baby that way. :) Throughout the vast majority of the hike, she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and seemed very interested in all the new sights, sounds and smells. Of course, that meant not just the natural wonders of the forest, but also the more mundane “wonders” like the feel of cold condensation on the outside of our water bottle, and the way a plastic bag full of peanuts (a handy trail snack) changes shape when you grab the outside of the bag. To a baby, everything new is exciting and wondrous.

Anyway, the trail we hiked is renowned for its beautiful wildflowers in early spring. Since it’s late May, there aren’t as many wildflowers now, but there are some, and they’re pretty. Here are a few that I photographed:

See also this one and this one.

Oh, and the trail also has a somewhat scary bridge, quite reminiscent of the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm (although with a railing, admittedly):

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but there’s really quite a steep drop-off; the water is maybe 15 feet below you in the middle. And given the narrowness of the bridge, it’s legitimately somewhat nerve-wracking to walk across.

I really wanted to find a large stick, hold it up, and proclaim, “You cannot pass! I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. Dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udûn! Go back to the shadow! You shall not pass!!!”

But alas, there was another pair of hikers sitting on a rock nearby, well within earshot, so I had to contain my weirdness. :)

I did, however, do what my dad and I call the Indiana Jones pose — notwithstanding the fact that, to my knowledge, Indiana Jones never did any such pose.

Anyway, I’ll upload some more pictures of the hike to Flickr shortly, and link to them here when they’re online.

P.S. I think this photo is cool:

UPDATE: As promised, here’s the Flickr gallery. It’s two pages long. Enjoy!

Me & Barack

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Okay, so it's a cardboard cutout. :) It's in front of the Sevier County Democratic Party headquarters in Sevierville, which Becky, Loyette and I are visiting for the Bloomin' Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival.

The Ragin’ Cajun in Knoxville

Friday, May 16th, 2008

As I mentioned previously, Becky and I went to the Knox County Democrats’ Truman Day Dinner last night at the Knoxville Convention Center, where we were treated to a keynote address by none other than than the Ragin’ Cajun himself, James Carville, described in the event’s program as "the most famous political consultant in America" (something I think Karl Rove might take issue with).

Carville was as advertised: bombastic, outrageous, and hilarious. He was also, despite his well-known LSU fandom, dressed in a Tennessee football jersey throughout his remarks:

It was a Peyton Manning jersey, presented to him by the Knox County Democratic Party chairman, and he wore it proudly because, as Carville pointed out, Manning was born and raised in Louisiana. "He was our gift to your state," the native Louisianan said. "Don’t expect any more."

A press release in advance of Carville’s speech said he "will be giving his analysis of the primary campaign of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," but in fact, he mostly steered clear of that topic, except to mock the hand-wringers who believe the battle is killing the party. "Don’t worry," he said. "We’ll be united." He added, "I’d much rather be in the party that’s got two good candidates than in the party with one bad one."

The Republicans, Carville said, are the ones who are imploding (a theme echoed today by Peggy Noonan, who I’m guessing doesn’t agree with Carville all that often). He then summoned his political strategy expertise and offered some free advice to the Republicans: "PANIC!!!"

But his most memorable jabs were reserved for a former Republican candidate for president, Tennessee’s own Fred Thompson. Carville quipped that Thompson was "the only presidential candidate in history to test positive for ambien." (The audience roared.) Carville also said, to uproarious laughter, that Thompson is a big supporter of President Bush’s education policy: "He wanted to make sure no child was left behind, so he married her." Heh.

I think my favorite line, though, was his reference to the topic that made this blog famous. Carville mentioned that he’ll be giving the commencement address at Tulane this weekend. "I left Louisiana in 1986, and it took me 22 years to get back," he said. "That means I’m getting to Louisiana faster than FEMA got there."

You can read local news coverage of Carville’s visit from the Knoxville News-Sentinel and Volunteer TV, and a bloggy interview at KnoxViews. Also, via Knoxville Talks, here is the local NBC affiliate’s interview with Carville before the dinner:

As always with these sorts of events, you have to sit through all kinds of warm-up acts before the main event, and those included speeches by U.S. Senate candidates Bob Tuke and Mike Padgett, both of whom are vying to take on Lamar Alexander in November. (The primary is August 7; there are six Democrats on the ballot, but Tuke and Padgett are considered the front-runners.)

Both men spoke a little too long, I’d say, mostly repeating similar talking points: the Republicans are to blame for everything that’s wrong with the country, Lamar Alexander has been in Washington for too long and is out of touch with ordinary Tennesseans, etc. Becky thought Tuke was the better speaker by far; personally, I thought Padgett was just about as good, but suffered from the fact that he spoke second, and by that point the audience was getting bored, having already heard all the good anti-GOP lines, and was ready for Carville to speak. Even so, it’s odd that Tuke seemed to connect better with the audience, given that he’s from Nashville whereas Padgett is a local boy.

Regardless, in all likelihood, Tuke and Padgett are fighting for the right to be a sacrificial lamb in November. According to a Rasmussen poll last month, Alexander leads 59% to 30% over Tuke and 58% to 31% over Padgett. But don’t tell that to anyone at last night’s event. It was basically a big pep rally for the Democratic Party, and although one speaker acknowledged that it can be "tough to be a Democrat in East Tennessee," folks at this shindig were incredibly upbeat about their chances in November. Of course, political self-delusion is a well-practiced art (just ask Carville’s favored presidential candidate!), but I can see why there’d be some optimism: between the general national mood (Tuesday’s special election in Mississippi was mentioned numerous times) and the recent scandals in the Republican-dominated Knox County government, it seems like, if there’s ever a year when Democrats have a chance in East Tennessee, this would be the year.


Monday, May 12th, 2008

Can someone tell me what this symbol is? I see it constantly on cars here in Knoxville, but I have no idea what it means, and you can’t Google a symbol. :)

UPDATE: Commenters have informed me that it’s the South Carolina state flag. Well, you wouldn’t expect an effete Yankee elitist Obama supporter to know that, now would you? ;)

[NOTE: This post was originally published at 8:28 AM on May 13, but I’ve bumped it backward in time now that I know the answer, to keep Cletus near the top of the homepage for a while longer. -ed.]

Things to think about when criticizing college athletes

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

I know that I have personally been guilty of being overly critical of some college athletes about their performance on the field of play.  Someone’s not giving full effort, a step too slow, or otherwise just not putting it all out there on the floor for their team and their fans.

Here’s a story that should make everyone check that attitude for a minute.

Tennessee’s preseason All-America guard, Chris Lofton, started off the 2007-08 season in an absolute funk.  He wasn’t scoring, his play seemed a bit lackluster, and couldn’t hit a three to save his life.

Well, the facts were really that he was battling to actually save his life. 

Diagnosed with testicular cancer following a random NCAA drug screen after the 2006-07 season, he fought a private battle with the cancer, with only the closest of the close among his family and friends knowing what he was going through.

Meanwhile, local sports fans and commentators were critical to varying degrees about Lofton’s performance.  There were calls for him to be benched along with wild speculation about what his problems on the floor were.

I just think that this is a good opportunity to remind everyone that college athletes are young kids, from divergent backgrounds, with any number of personal problems that can impact their play.  So, before you take time to bash someone on a message board, call in to a talk show, or otherwise express an opinion without all the facts, slow down and take Chris Lofton’s situation to heart.

Tennessee Chief Justice retires

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

William M. Barker, the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court*, is retiring.

*or is the proper title "Chief Justice of the State of Tennessee"? I’m not sure.

See the nice fishies

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

We went to the Aquarium of the Smokies in Gaitlinburg this afternoon. It was suprisingly awesome, and Loyette was totally fascinated by the fishies, including this jellyfish.

Marching for babies

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Loyette, Becky, Casey (visiting for the weekend from Rochester) and I went on the March for Babies this morning on UT’s campus. It was fun!

That’s Becky pushing Loyette’s stroller above, and Casey next to her. Here’s a photo of Loyette and me, relaxing after the walk:

My t-shirt, if you’re wondering, says, “Fatherhood: the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

Anyway, thanks again to everybody who sponsored us! We ended up exceeding our goal, with $620 in donations!

If you didn’t sponsor us, but would still like to donate to the March of Dimes, why not sponsor the Neudorffs? They’ll be marching next weekend in Rochester.

After the jump, some more photos of today’s march here in Knoxville.

UPDATE: Welcome, No Silence Here readers! If you didn’t know, “Loyette” is our baby’s blog nickname, not her actual name. :)


A question for Tennessee radio listeners

Friday, April 25th, 2008

I’m traveling to Denver from May 4-6, and will be landing at the Nashville Airport (Southwest doesn’t fly into Knoxville) at 8:25 PM on Tuesday the 6th. By that time, of course, results from the Indiana and North Carolina primaries will be coming in; indeed, winners may well have been declared before I land. Alas, I didn’t think about this when I scheduled the trip.

Anyway, during my drive back to Knoxville, I’d like to listen to live coverage of election-related news on the radio. Hence, my question for Tennessee radio listeners: Are there any radio stations (presumably AM) in the Nashville area that would have this? What about in the no man’s land between Nashville and Knoxville? And for that matter, what about in the Knoxville area? I almost never listen to the radio for this kind of thing, so I don’t know.

Fear! Fire! Foes! Awake! 5.2 earthquake rattles Midwest, felt in Tennessee

Friday, April 18th, 2008

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake centered near the southern Illinois-Indiana border rattled several states this morning, including Tennessee. Becky and I didn’t feel anything; the quake happened at 5:37 AM EST, when we were still asleep, and it didn’t rouse us. But some East Tennesseeans were awakened by the distant tremor.

Here’s a map showing the epicenter, and another map showing where people have reported feeling the quake, and how strongly (close-up here):

If you’re a Californian wondering how on earth something a puny as a 5.2 quake (or "temblor," as you guys say out there) could be felt so strongly, and in places as far afield as Chicago and Knoxville, it’s because, as explained here, "seismic waves in the East travel farther and pack more destructive
punches." The exact reason for this phenomenon is a topic of much debate among scientists, but "one explanation is that eastern geology is older and simpler,
with fewer faults in the ground to slow the travel of quake waves." See also here:

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western
U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake
can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake
on the west coast.

That point is graphically illustrated here.

Of course, this morning’s mini-quake is nothing compared to the Big One that will someday destroy Memphis and cause massive devastation all across the region.

P.S. Brian Neudorff has more, and some history.

P.P.S. Ann Althouse felt it. (Hat tip: InstaPundit, who didn’t.)