Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quality of Life at Tech Tops Review

The annual Princeton Review rankings for 2011 is out and Virginia Tech received the top score for “Best Quality of Life” and “Their Students Love These Colleges” among 381 colleges and universities nationwide.

Quoth the review: “Virginia Tech is a school with a reputation as big as its campus ... Known for its ‘beautiful campus, amazing community feel, top-notch engineering field,’ and as a ‘good value’ — not to mention its renowned athletics — Virginia Tech offers ‘a perfect blend of challenging and fun, encompassed in an unparalleled community feel,’" according to students.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Today's Quote: Donald Trump at the Debates

Jason Linkins on the Donald Trump presidential debate personae:

"... a washing machine on a trampoline with a brick tossed inside."

(Interesting/funny story on the debates here.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trump's Casual A-Bomb Threat: What It Means

Hiroshima shortly after it was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945.
Donald Trump casually threatens to unleash hell on anybody who pisses him off if he is elected president, but my guess is that he hasn't even the slightest idea what the bomb means, what it is capable of, what the long-term consequences to the U.S. and the world would be.

The more important impact: Many thousands of dead.
Trump is the kind of madman--like some of those in the Middle-East who don't have access to atomic power--who would give up the entire world to serve his bruised ego, should anyone slight him. He is so far off center that he is all but on his head.

John Hersey's lyrical, powerful August 31, 1946 New Yorker article, "Hiroshima" (here), reminds us clearly what the consequences of nuclear power were--and are, to a much greater degree with the far more powerful bomb today. The article was published 31 days after I was born on July 31, 1946. Every year of my life has been lived under the threat of a nuclear war.

The article is 30,000 words long and occupied all of the issue, the only time the New Yorker has ever turned an entire issue over to one story (including the 9/11 issue, which is equally iconic with its black cover and the shadows of the Twin Towers). It was journalism at its finest from a man raised on journalism who had become a successful war correspondent and novelist. At least one ranking had it at the top of the best journalism of the 20th Century.

Trump is casually irresponsible with one of the most important avenues of death ever developed. This man could easily stand between us and the end of life on the planet as we know it. It's that simple. Hersey tells you what it would be like in its simplest, most powerful form.

(Photo: the dead,; the city,

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Guns: Who Wants What and Why?

Here we are in 2016, still asking the basic questions on gun control, questions that have been solved, unsolved, solved again and--today--completely shattered. This Huffington Post piece tells us where we are (agreed on two issues, wide differences on all others).

"Pew asked whether it’s more important to control gun ownership or protect gun rights. Nine out of 10 Trump supporters said it’s more important to protect gun rights than to control ownership. Only 9 percent favored controlling ownership over protecting rights. Among Clinton supporters, 79 percent said the controlling ownership is more important while 19 percent wanted to protect gun rights. ...

"When Democrat Al Gore ran against Republican George Bush in 2000, the difference was much smaller, according to Pew. Then, only 66 percent of Democrats said that controlling gun ownership was their top priority while 46 percent of GOP voters said gun control was more important.
Overall, gun ownership was seen as a public benefit. A majority of responders — 58 percent — told Pew gun ownership does more to protect people from crime than it does to put them in danger. Only 37 percent said that owning firearms was more of a risk to public safety." 

You will note--on a minor positive side--that most Americans favor gun control.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Graceful Aging of Mary Ann

Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers.
Dawn Wells as Dawn Wells at 78.
Those of you who have the fixed image of the sexy girl next door Mary Ann Summers from from the 1960s TV show "Gilligan's Island" (above) etched into your brain will likely appreciate the Mary Ann of today. She's Dawn Wells, who was born in 1938 and retains the beauty of the young woman quite well.

"Gilligan's Island" ran 1964-1967, 98 episodes. The first season's 36 episodes were filmed in black and white and later colorized for syndication. The cast made two Gilligan movies, as well. Star Bob Denver, who had been a second-banana on "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" in the '50s, is today a cultural icon of sorts.

Ms. Wells will be the featured attraction at the first Starcropolis Sept. 4 atop Mill Mountain in Roanoke. This will be a hybrid performance gig, featuring stories, and vignettes with Mill Mountain at the center. The Hollins Theatre department came up with the idea and some of the region's most talented people will pull it off.

My understanding is that the tickets are gone, so if you know somebody who knows somebody, you might want to use your influence. Everybody who's anybody will be there. I didn't get a ticket, so I probably won't, but who the hell am I anyway? Sounds like a good evening, though.

And, if nothing else, you'll be able to see how at least one person aged just about as well as a human can. Here's a story about Ms. Wells, telling you how she did it. (Hint: diet and exercise.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Photo from Margie

Margie just sent me this edited (in something called Instabeauty, a free iPad or iPhone download) photo, taken by my grandgirl, Madeline. I love it. Captures the moment perfectly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tech Study: Practice Hits Most Dangerous for Young Gridders

Just clobber him, kid!*
Virginia Tech researchers, taking note of the fact that three of four football players in the U.S. are children, have begun to study concussions among. Previous studies have almost all centered on professional and college players, who comprise a small percentage of the overall players--and injuries.

In a published study (Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics), research indicates that "limiting tackling drills in youth football practices could significantly reduce players’ exposure to serious head impacts," according to a press release.

Tech professor Stefan Duma, a recognized expert on injury biomechanics and the study's leader, says, “There are more than 3 million youth football players in the U.S., but there’s almost no research on this population. We believe that it’s possible to engineer safer sports at every level, but first you need the data. There’s an opportunity here to really make a difference

“If you know what scenarios carry the highest risk, you can start to design interventions based on that data,” said Steve Rowson, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics and an author of the paper.

Duma and Rowson followed 34 9- to 11-year-old players on two Blacksburg youth football teams. The players wore helmets lined with spring-mounted "accelerometers," allowing researchers to measure head acceleration. Over 10 games and 55 practices, these helmets recorded thousands of head impacts, and video footage showed the activity that led to each one.

The data showed that some practice drills carried much higher risks of head impacts than others.
Of the strongest 10 percent of impacts the players received, the majority occurred during tackling drills.

The drill with the highest rate of head impacts was a tackling drill in which a ball carrier rushes at defenders on the perimeter of a circle. Offensive and defensive drills had the lowest rates of head impacts — and resemble actual game play. Over the course of the season, the youth players experienced more threatening impacts in practices than they did in games. College and professional players receive more serious hits during games.

Changing the structure of youth football practices could substantially reduce young players’ exposure to dangerous head impacts, the study found. Duma and Rowson are continuing their research in Blacksburg, and collaborators at Wake Forest University and Brown University are collecting data on additional youth teams.

(*I shot this picture more than 30 years ago at a youth football game in Vinton. It said a lot about how kids were--are still--treated by coaches.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy Birthday to a Good Son

Evan with Maddie and a delighted Oz. And my cake.
This is the chocolate mocha cake from Muddy's Bake Shop in East Memphis. My son's family moved there this month and is adjusting quickly and well.

Today is Evan's 42nd birthday, coming on the heels of my 70th and just ahead of grandboy Oz's 5th. I looked online and found what is considered to be Memphis' best bakery and ordered up this lovely cake for the occasion and my daughter-in-law confirmed my guess about the bakery: it is a doozy. She promises much future business there (or in the downtown store).

As I mentioned to Evan, I am proud of him for many things, but mostly for being an exemplary father and husband. People talk about military heroes, emergency heroes, cowboy heroes, Olympic heroes, but for my money, Evan is the equal of any of them simply by being who he is, working hard, being a good citizen and a solid family man. That's heroic in my overall play and it deserves a huge, glossy, silver trophy.

Offices Lend Themselves to Obesity

Just heard an interesting piece on the radio about a study showing that office workers have a fat effect upon each other.

If you work in an office with at least one obese person, your chances of gaining weight increase by double. Women are more susceptible to that weight gain than are men, the study showed.

A PLoS One study determined that "the number of desk-bound or light-activity jobs has increased in the last 50 years from 50 percent to 80 percent, leading to a loss of 140 to 160 calories burned a day." That is one impediment. Another is lunch at the desk or lunch at the nearby deli. And still another is those damn constant celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries and the like that result in doughnuts and cakes.

Be aware and learn to say, "I have an allergy to sweets, sorry."


A Lesson for Griffith Foes From Donald Trump

Trump supporter Griffith
Donald Trump was in Fredericksburg this past weekend campaigning on the issue of coal mining jobs, which makes about as much sense as campaigning in New York City for corn subsidies.

A story in Salon (here) related the following information Trump apparently doesn't know, but should before spending time and money in a state he can't win with an issue that is dead:

"His pitch came down to 'coal,' basically. 'I visited the hardworking coal miners in this state, and they are hardworking and they love being coal miners,' he said, lavishing praise on a vanishing energy industry that is concentrated in the southwestern part of Virginia (many, many miles from Fredericksburg).

"Coal production has been steadily declining in Virginia for about three decades, as has the number of coal jobs: in 1984 there were more than 14,000 mining employees in the state, but by 2014 that number had shrunk to just over 3,700. As such, coal no longer has the political heft in the state that it once did – the current governor, Terry McAuliffe, campaigned on environmental themes and easily weathered a determined 'war on coal' assault from Virginia Republicans. The Trump plan for victory in Virginia seems to rely on somehow resurrecting the political and economic power of a dying industry."

Trump: Is his mouth is separated from his brain?
This is all pretty much a done deal, but what about the residual effects, the "down ticket" ripples from Trump's large rock in a small puddle? Think Morgan Griffith, the 9th District Congressman, who doesn't even live in the 9th District. Griffith supports Trump, though it's mostly a "cover your ass" support, as is much of what he does as a Congressman.

Salem's Griffith, who won some years ago against highly effective Rick Boucher on the coal issue still bases his outward campaign on coal and his unconditional support of mine owners--the rich people in the 9th. He should be vulnerable to a well-run, well-financed campaign from a known entity in the 9th--preferably one who lives there and supports jobs for the region, retraining coal miners, federal support for the transition.

Griffith, like so many in his sub-Tea Party, campaigns on "no change" for the mining industry, no controls for its pollutants, no additional taxes for its rich owners. But the Democratic Party in this part of Virginia is not especially active, not well financed and falls short of  being a threat at all. Good leadership could dismiss Griffith from the halls of Congress where he only belongs as a tourist.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Learning To Cook Chinese ... From a Pro

Pearl emphasizes that the Napa cabbage must be cut lengthwise, not across, as I was set to do.
Susan and Margie: Great smiles.
My friend Susan nailed it when she said, "Let's you, Pearl and me celebrate our birthdays together with Pearl teaching us to cook Chinese." That'll work, I said, and when Pearlie Mae Fu agreed, we were set.

Pearl is a good enough cook to have once had a TV show. I cook pretty well and Susan is a superb photographer. So it worked out. We invited my Margie to come along and enjoy what we cooked.

Pearlie supplied a list of ingredients for Chicken/Nappa (or Chinese) cabbage, a flavored broccoli dish and fried rice (veggies and ham). She asked for ginger, fresh garlic, sesame oil, oyster sauce, the veggies and chicken.

Slicing the ginger.
What I first learned last night was that the demure, small, gentle Pearl is a drill sergeant in the kitchen.

I learned that cutting veggies is not quite as simple and straightforward as I thought: cut the cabbage long, the ginger across and the garlic both chopped and lengthwise. Cut the chicken breast small. Most important, buy broccoli with complete stems (which I didn't know until we were ready to cook, so we had to deal with broccoli crowns).

I cook the way I do everything else: all at once. Pearlie is organized. She made me organize, do things in proper sequence, not get ahead of myself. It was a difficult lesson.

All the while, Susan was swirling around us, taking photos to preserve the moment.

As you can see, the dinner turned out wonderfully and I simply loved the subtle mix of spices, herbs and freshness of the veggies and chicken. What a great birthday share it was.

Pearl instructing.
Susan loved photographing my kitchen stuff.
More kitchen goodies: black and white and color.
Sargeant Pearlie instructing the recruit.
Here I'm doing my famous chicken toss to impress Pearl.
Love Susan's shot of Margie.
No, Pearl, "bon apatite" is neither Mandarin, nor Cantonese.
The girls at dinner. (I shot this; no need to blame Susan.)
Dinner, Pearl's way.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Northside's Chance Hall Out at UT with Knee Surgery

Chance Hall out indefinitely with knee injury.
The University of Tennessee's promising sophomore football offensive tackle Chance Hall of Northside High School in Roanoke has been pushed to the sideline by arthroscopic knee surgery. He is expected to be on the sideline for 4-6 weeks.

He sat out his senior season of high school with a torn Achilles tendon, but had healed sufficiently to be considered one of the best players at UT in a deep and important position. He missed spring practice with an injured shoulder that required surgery, but seemed to be in good condition as pre-season camp began two weeks ago.

Hall, who was pressed into duty last year as a three-star-rated freshman (ranked the No. 676 overall prospect in the 2015 class, the 75th-best offensive tackle in the country and the 23rd-best football payer in Virginia) played 10 games (starting seven), acquitting himself so well that he was named to the freshman All-America team.

He was in a battle for the starting right tackle position in fall camp at UT, a camp that ended yesterday. Hall is 6-foot-4, 318 pounds and his surgery this morning was termed "successful." It was not an ACL injury, one of the most common in contact sports.

Tennessee and Virginia Tech play at Bristol in three weeks in a game that should easily break the single game attendance record for a college football game. Its 150,000-plus seats have been sold out for some time.

(Photo: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hillary's Affair With Ru Paul (Just Kidding)

Poor Donald Trump can't even get it right when he's basically right.

Yesterday, in an effort to lay blame on Mexico for his treatment in the New York Times, he said, in effect, that Mexico owns the NYT.  Fact is that a billionaire Mexican national owns a significant portion of stock in The Times. However, he has no vote on the governing board and makes absolutely no decisions, editorial or otherwise, for the paper. (Story here.)

Trump is once again looking for issues to incite because today is Wednesday and Tuesday is over. He needs a ridiculous issue a day to keep pace with himself. I'm taking bets on what tomorrow's issue will be.

How 'bout something like, "Hillary Clinton cheated on her bar exam" or maybe, "Hillary Clinton had an affair with Ru Paul"?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Elvis Died Today, 39 Years Ago

Elvis and Nixon: Bizzarro.
Elvis Presley died today in 1977, sitting on a commode at his Graceland Mansion  (3754 Elivs Presley Blvd.) in Memphis at 42. That was 39 years ago, so he has been gone nearly as long as he was here. He'd be 81 if he were still alive.

At death, he weighed nearly 350 pounds.

The cause of death was declared at the time to be a heart attack, probably brought on by an excess of drugs in his system. In the succeeding years, however, that has been revised.

Writing in Huffington Post, Garry Rogers, gives this assessment: "He suffered from an enlarged heart which was twice the size of normal and showed evidence of advanced cardiovascular disease in his coronary vessels, aorta, and cerebral arteries — certainly more advanced than a normal 42-year-old would be. His lungs showed signs of emphysema, although he’d never smoked, and his bowel was found to be twice the length of normal with an impacted stool estimated to be four months old." Long, involved story here.

One of the great celebrity photos of our age is the one here of Elvis visiting President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, volunteering to be a drug marshal for the country. The meeting, Dec. 21, 1970, was the subject of a well-received (by critics, anyway) recent movie, "Elvis & Nixon," starring Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon.

Here's hoping Elvis has lost weight in heaven.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Biblical Storm and a Crashing Tree

The rain streamed down and felt like I was standing under a waterfall. The tree in the middle was clobbered.
This pin oak snapped three times.
I'm feeling pretty lucky right now. About 30 minutes ago, I was finishing a hike and heard thunder in the distance. I know these mountains and distant thunder is often a hell of a lot closer than it sounds. So I hauled butt back to the car and beat the storm by about four minutes.

A rain of almost biblical proportion followed me all the way home and intensified once I was inside. Then I heard the first of a series of CRACK!s; and knew it was the pin oak tree two doors down. That baby had already shed trunks twice this summer and was about to get smacked three more times, one of them major growth in the center.

By the time the storm subsided, the oak was a shadow of itself and my recently broken up Bradford pear had survived intact--at least, as intact as it is.

But that was a doozy of a storm and, for the first time, the pin oak did not crash into my next-door neighbor's yard, taking his fence with it. It fell in the yard two doors down and stayed there, as it is supposed to.

The hike--which I've almost forgotten now--was blistering hot, soaking with humidity and a lot more of a workout than I ventured to even hope. I was sweating like a one-legged Texan in a butt-kicking contest by the time I got back to the car, so it really would not have mattered much had I been caught in the rain, except for the intensity of it.

Here's some of what the hike looked like.
Love the light on this one, making it look like a lamp.

I'm hearing thunder at this point. Time to go.

To Ma'am or Not To Ma'am? Depends

Sgt. Joe Friday: Just the facts, ma'am.*
Yesterday I posed the following question on Facebook: Do you like being called "ma'am" and if not, are you a Southerner? What would you prefer if you don't like it?

There was a lot of response and it was all over the board, as I suspected it might be. I call the female of the species "ma'am" regardless of age because my mother taught me--and strongly emphasized--that it is a sign of respect and that I should use "ma'am" until I am corrected. She said the same thing about small courtesies like opening the door for others. Do it until there is an objection. Being on top of things culturally is extremely difficult, as you can see from the responses below.

One very real consensus: Women who responded do not like to be called "honey, sweetie" or other familiar endearments, unless it's by somebody who has earned the right to call them that. To my surprise, nobody said anything at all about waitresses calling everybody at the table "guys." That one grates on this old head.

One small point my dad always made: The most important thing you can remember about anybody is that person's name.

My intention in general with the use of ma'am (or not): be respectful. Beyond that, I need cooperation. Here are some of the responses (by and large unedited): 

Anita Firebaugh I say it, also, as that is the way I was raised. (I also use "sir" frequently.) I admit I cringe a bit when I hear someone call me "ma'am," but the older I grow the more I appreciate the respect it entails.

Emma Lam Beall I think it is respectful - I use it and I like it- southerners definitely raised on it - like sir and y'all lol

Robin Barnhill I say it and I don't mind it. I am a transplant to the South at age 13. I picked up "Yes Ma'am" - my mother thought I was being sassy.

Bobbi Hoffman Tried to post on your blog, but it didn't take. I hate being called "ma'am," but I'm a Yankee.

Debbie Rudolf Stevens not a southern woman. didn't grow up with ma'am. don't like it :(

Kathy Perdue I'm a transplanted Yankee and don't mind being called "ma'am." I do bristle at being called sweetie, honey, darlin', or any other term of endearment by relative strangers.

Susan Johnson Cloeter I'm a native Roanoker and I appreciate being called ma'am. Taught my children to use it, as well.

Janis Jaquith Not liking it to be called "ma'am" makes me think of women who don't want to be called traditional grandmother names, like "Granny" or "Nana" because they think it makes them sound old. I figure "miss" is for women/girls younger than, say, 21. Not sure when such women are willing to claim adult womanhood.

Vicki Stone Harwell Ma'am and Sir were taught to me as a child as signs of respect. I am nearly sixty now and those terms are still part of my interactions with others, particularly when addressing people who are older than I. As an adult, I was surprised when I encountered people (usually from a different part of the country) who found it offensive. I understand a personal choice not to use those terms, but I have little patience with those who take offense. But I've also learned - some people just like to be offended.

Terry Lyon I don't like being called ma'am one bit, no sir!

Gailen Miles It's OK to call me ma'am now. But a few years ago it would have hurt my feelings.

Diana Christopulos To me it is entirely about context. From some people in some situations it is polite and respectful. In others it is a way of putting me in Other category. In business settings, I am particularly suspicious.

Cristina Siegel I don't mind, and most often find it is used respectfully. I grew up in a military family, and sir and ma'am were the way it was. It's not just a southern thing; it's a military thing too.

Jeanne Fishwick I wasn't raised with it, didn't raise my kids with it, don't use it, don't like it. It always sounds like Eddie Haskell to me.

Dreama K Lay ...on the fence...makes no difference to me. Just call me for dinner!

Mark McClain In the military we were taught to address officers as sir or ma'am, depending on their gender. Not just in the south. Queen Elizabeth is addressed as ma'am.

Hope Player I was taught to say sir and ma'am and appreciate it when it is directed to me. As a Southern girl living in NJ, I still follow that rule and I love the reactions it draws. Respect is important whatever you live.

Debbie Brake I like it!

Jane Gabrielle I prefer it to "Hon" or (shudder) "Sweetie" from someone much younger than me. And I will correct a server that uses those nicknames for me, with, "I prefer ma'am, please."

Mary Barfield Croft So long as the attempt is to be polite, I will be polite right back.

Kate Petrella I like ma'am used affectionately by friends (yes, that means you, Dan!) and in most other cases, the exceptions being smarmy or condescending tones. Then again, I don't want to hear much of anything in those tones. I also like the mostly Southern Miss or Mister preceding the first name when being addressed by children (and certain friends!).

Kathy Shipman I like the respect...and saying ma'am or sir softens my harsh Yankee yes or no answers!

Sara Bemiller A contraction of madam, its first use in the 1600s was reserved for married women, later royalty. Now, it seems to be used in a hierarchical context or by those whose families felt it was the proper way to address elders. One's instincts usually inform whether its use is meant in a respectful way or otherwise. My experience has been its usually a good thing. More important is the conversation in which "ma'am" is just one of the elements.

Caroline LaRocca Hammond Ok... NYC girl here: I DO NOT like to be called ma'am. I just don't. And... I would never expect my kids to call me anything but "mom." I don't get the whole calling parents sir and ma'am thing. That's so distant and formal to me. 

Mike Kennedy Mom and Dad were ma'am and sir where I was raised. Haven't done as well with my hellions.

Heather Yvonne Brush I'm a Yankee, you know, and I have never liked being called ma'am. It was a kind of snide remark made in school, growing up on Long Island, when responding to a teacher we didn't like. "Yes, ma'am," was a snotty retort hidden in formality. So, no, I've never liked it. I also don't like when kids are instructed to say, "Miss Heather," to a teacher or girl scout leader, as I also was. You can call me Heather, or Ms. Brush, but it is a contradiction to me to put a title of respect with a first name. I'd rather just be called Heather. I NEVER liked being called Mrs. (not saying it) because I hated my mother in law, and I just wasn't about being the same as she. I also could not WAIT to change my name back after the divorce. If I were to re-marry now, I'd likely happily take his name. It seems I have a lot of opinion about this! My favorite endearment was being called, "Love," by my grandma, and anyone anywhere can call me that, because it reminds me of her.

Trish Melton Frazier I am southern and I love being called Ma'am. I've earned it. ;) I think it's so charming, especially when my Grandson says it. I was raised to use Ma'am and Sir and I still do. 

Becky Mushko Ma'am is a badge of honor. Proud to be called ma'am!

Celia Leftwich McCormick I'm with Trish!

G Chico Harkrader If you are taught, as a child, a young man, or the military--to use ma'am and sir, it is tough not to continue that embedded protocol. Concerning Southern, so called endearments....I prefer not to be called Hon, Honey, Sweetie, etc. by those that I don't know...nor they, me. Sorry to get of subject. Peace.

Belinda Ayers Responding to ME using ma'am.....Get NO REPLY!! Major pet peeve of mine, And NO I am not a southerner, I am a northerner.....Can ya tell? Is my "attitude" showing? LOL!! That's what I get from the southerners here....."Belinda you have an attitude" And all I did was say Hello to them LOL!!

Caroline LaRocca Hammond I wish to slightly change my position. (A woman's prerogative, I suppose). Being called any of these terms (ma'am, hon, sweetie, etc) totally and completely depends on who's delivering and how they are delivering it. I could love it or hate it. Oh, the other thing that could impact my like or dislike is the mood I happen to be in at the moment.

Betsy Robinson Whitney Born and raised here but I think of Virginia as a mid-Atlantic state rather than "Southern". And I do not like to be acknowledged as ma'am. To me, it feels as if I'm being separated and held at a distance.

Kathy Bibb Even though I'm certainly old enough to be a ma'am, I'm not fond of "ma'am."

Michele Rice Carpenter I grew up with ma'am. It does not bother me in the least. It is, in fact, respectful.

Jane Rorrer It makes me feel old but it is a sign of good manners and I'd much rather someone use "ma'am" than honey, darlin', sweetie, etc.

Erin Rafferty Jane Rorrer just said exactly how I feel!

Julie Snowmen I've come to accept that Ma'am is voiced out of respect. It took me a while, but I get it. I'm not offended at all when I'm referred to as Ma'am.

Anne Piedmont Born in Roanoke, but spent part of my youth in NJ. Don't really like being "ma'amed," unless it is done sincerely and politely by a young child. The other night I called a local pizza place to inquire if they delivered. During the course of the conversation, the young man must have used it in every sentence. I asked him not to do that twice. They wouldn't deliver beyond 10 minutes and the guy really pissed me off.

Julie Snowmen PS: Your own attitude can determine how the Ma'am is used. Politeness is a two way street.

Jeanne Bollendorf Southerner, raised to use it and I do. Don't mind ma'am too much but it does sometimes make me feel old. A very disturbing trend I've noticed is being called hon, honey, sweetie by women in customer service. I absolutely despise it. It sounds so incredibly rude to me.

Lynn Dudley Ma'am is so much better than some younger waitresses, sales clerks and even nurses who call me honey or sweetie. Or worse yet, call men honey or sweetie. I am with you, Jeanne Bollendorf. It is rude.

Pamela Golden whenever someone calls me Ma'am I say that is my mother - in - law - not me! I don't like Ma'am

Linda Shockley Miss is always better than Ma'am.

Mary Bishop Sure beats "honey" and "darling" from female sales clerks I don't even know.

Lora Katz Ma'am works OK for me but honey and darlin is a little creepy.

Bobbye Buckner From the South, I prefer Ma'am to sweetie or baby but I prefer my name!

Becky Hepler It used to make me feel old, but now there is an elegance to it that I appreciate, and given the coarseness and incivility that's rampant these days, perhaps it would be best to encourage a little more formality.

Brucie Boggs I prefer Your Royal Highness, but I just can't get it to stick. Okay, for real . . . One thing I find quite charming in the South is when children of close friends call my husband and me Mr. Chip and Miss Brucie. It's familiar and respectful at once. 

(*If you're old enough to know who Joe Friday is, you certainly are a ma'am.)


Sunday, August 14, 2016

3+ Hours Too Long To Roast Tomatoes

No, this was not intentional. I even set the timer on the oven for an hour. But time came to leave for the movie and it had not gone off ... and I had forgotten it.

Normally, I can smell something cooking in the oven after about 30 minutes, but not roast tomatoes. So they roasted for the 45 minutes before the movie, the two hours of the movie and the 15 minutes to get home.

They are now toasted tomatoes. Burnt toasted tomatoes. Next: clean the damn pan.

Ma'am or Not: Your Choice

My mother--and my Southern culture--taught me many, many years ago that, as a sign of respect, I should respond to women as "ma'am." As I grew older, I spread that courtesy to younger women and even little girls.

"Yes, ma'am," is routine for me. It has also been routine for me to occasionally year, "Don't call me ma'am. It makes me sound so old!" as well "Thank you for that sign of respect." About equal, I'd say.

The Huffington Post has an essay (here) on what women want to be called and "ma'am" seems to be among the negatives. But I'm wondering: are Southern women different in this?

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Goodbye, Some Shopping and a Restaurant Find

Pampa and the Pampettes at the airport.
Margie gets a buss from her favorite little guy.
Margie and I saw the grandkids off at the airport, on their way to their new home in Memphis, this morning before heading off to Buchanan for a day of antiquing, hanging out, eating a marvelous lunch and finding a bargain that I nearly fainted over.

Maddie and Oz, who have been in Roanoke for some weeks now between homes in Spain and Memphis were ready to go, I think. Maddie was especially eager to get to her new home and her new school. She'll be back in public school for the first time in two years and Oz will be starting school for the first time. They're both late, but it couldn't be helped. Moving jobs/families from one country to another--in their dad's case--is not a snap.

Buchanan was hot.
We went straight to white-hot Buchanan after the goodbyes and I found--at an antique shop--a brand new tuxedo shirt, which I need, for $6. I have three tuxes and one old shirt that's about had it. Buchanan is one of the nation's small town capitals of antiques, so imagine my surprise at finding something new, cheap and desirable beside the 100-year-old frocks, iron skillets and cameos.

Margie on the footbridge in Buchanan.
That was a find, but lunch at Brink of the James, a small restaurant in an old B&B hard beside the river, may have been the find of the day. For me, it was the best dining experience I've had in some time and, frankly, that's hard to do with a barbecue sandwich and fries. But it was so much more: lovely setting, good barbecue served on brioche, killer fries, homemade slaw, a lovely house salad, pears and carrots and service that was spot-on. Lunch for both of us was less than $20 and as our waiter said, "Nobody leaves here hungry."

My yummy lunch.
We ventured out to the footbridge over the James for a bit, watching the kayakers, canoeists and tubers float by (and me wishing I was one of them). Buchanan is quite the hot spot for put-in/take-out floats on the popular river--for
good reason. It is easy exit/entry and if you're heading to Arcadia, you hit your first fast water within 100 yards of putting in.

Coming home, we stopped at the Goodwill (GWLtd.) in Daleville and I wound up with a ceramic-coated square iron skillet that will be under my son's Christmas tree. It's new, gorgeous, made by Houck and a complete steal at $6.

A lovely day in all, said Margie, who is always right.

Brink of the James: I love this restaurant. Purgatory Mountain in the background.
Boaters floating on a slow stretch of the James. Rapids ahead.