Down South Rice and Thursday news

Yum Yum, Get Sum! That’s the motto of the Rice Burner dim sum food truck where I got lunch in Court Square today. My intention was to go to the Flying Sobies food truck for another fried Cornish hen. However, the Rice Burner food truck caught my eye, with its sign that Down South Rice is back.

Down South Rice is fried rice with smoked chicken, smoked Polish sausage, and smoked ham. I love some fried rice with big chunks of ham in it. I went to the window and placed my order.

I’m eating the rice as I type this, and man, it is tasty! You can find the Rice Burner truck at the Court Square food truck rodeo every Thursday from 11:00 to 1:30.

Memphis 901 FC, the city’s new professional soccer team, has released its 2019 schedule. There will be 17 home games at AutoZone Park, and between March 9 and October 19, there will be sports (soccer or baseball) at AutoZone Park 26 Saturdays. That’s half the Saturdays of the year!

The City of Memphis has released its Memphis 3.0 plan, a master plan for the city as it enters its third century. The plan focuses on “build up, not out” and advises building around anchors in particular neighborhoods. Downtown, the Medical District, and the university district are seen as city-wide anchors. Development in these areas is advised to focus on vertical, multi-use buildings.

The Memphis Tigers tweeted an announcement for their fans yesterday. For those not going to Birmingham and who have tickets to the 2 PM men’s basketball game vs. Tennessee State, they are going to open FedExForum at 11 and show the Birmingham Bowl on the screen. Must have a ticket to the 2 PM game to come in.

I see the Negative Nancys are already out after the Tigers were tied with Little Rock at one point in last night’s game (they recovered to win 99-89). “Penny can’t coach the college level,” people protested. “He can recruit, but he can’t coach.” For heaven’s sakes, he’s coached 11, maybe 12 games and has never been an assistant coach at the college level. Give him a couple of seasons to figure things out. Penny has boosted ticket sales, stolen the #1 class of 2019 prospect from Kentucky, and let’s face it, his Tigers have a better record than they would at this point if Tubby were coaching.

My friend Rahul posted this and tagged his boo Tony: Fanny packs are making a comeback and now account for 25% of the accessory industry. My God. We as a society have truly lost our minds. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rahul buys Tony and himself matching fanny packs for Christmas.

RAWK’n Grub, now located in the gas station at 630 N. Highland, is having an ugly sweater party now through Christmas Eve. Wear your ugly sweater up there and get a free order of their famous Blue Suede Shoestring Fries, no purchase necessary.

Wine for Wishes, benefiting Make-A-Wish Mid-South, returns to the Cadre Building February 9. Wine tasting, catering by Kelly English, silent auction.

The local media has picked up on the “Yo Mama” comment City Council chair Berlin Boyd made to a protester during Tuesday’s meeting. The Commercial Appeal interviewed the protester’s mama to get her opinion of what Boyd said.

Yo mama’s City Councilman is so rude…


That’s it, I’m outta here. Back tomorrow with more news.

Our dysfunctional City Council and Wednesday news

Yesterday was such a newsy day that I nearly wore out my phone battery trying to keep up on Twitter. We had the death of sitcom star and film director Penny Marshall. We had a judge again delay the sentencing of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying he may have to consider prison even though Special Counsel Mueller recommended no time served. The judge asked DOJ officials if they’d ever considered charging Flynn with treason. We heard that the Grizzlies planned to acquire Austin Rivers off waivers, only to then have the story backtracked and say that four to five teams are interested in Rivers.

The big local news, though, was that the City Council, now down to 10 members, had another meeting. Not only did they not fill the 3 open seats, but there was a debate as to what constitutes a majority vote: 6 out of 10 currently serving Council members, or 7 out of 13 as if all the seats were full. As a citizen who has been sitting back hearing/reading about this entire process in the news, I want to offer some feedback.

To the 5 white Council members – You’re opposing a candidate who is seemingly well-qualified, and who is African-American, as a bloc. In 2018, do you not realize how racist that looks? Can’t some of you try to work across the aisle and reach a compromise?

To the 4 black Council members – The candidate you support has been endorsed by Rickey Peete, a convicted felon who has a track record of attempting to sell out his constituents for personal gain. Do you not realize how bad that looks?

To Council Chair Berlin Boyd – Last night I read on Facebook that you responded to a protester in the Council chamber with “yo mama.” I know the process is frustrating, but that response shows a lack of respect for the office you hold. Have some dignity, man.

It saddens me that in this day and age, race plays such a factor in determining in whether a candidate is qualified. This process has turned into a three-ring circus and it’s embarrassing. I’m surprised the national media hasn’t picked up on this story.

Basketball returns to FedExForum tonight as the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball teams hosts the Little Rock Trojans at 7 PM.

Holiday movie Elf will be on the big screen tonight at the Orpheum at 7 PM. Bring a canned good donation to the Mid-South Food Bank (3 items per person suggested) to get in free. Prior to the movie there will be a visit from Santa.

If you can’t make it to the Orpheum tonight, you’ll have a chance to see Elf tomorrow night as well. The movie will be shown at the Ghost River taproom at 7 PM tomorrow. Two Girls and a Whip will be there to sweeten things with their cupcakes. They like to keep it casual on movie night, so pajamas, sweats, hoodies, and fluffy socks are welcome. Come back on December 27 for a showing of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Ghost River will be opening its taproom early this Saturday for a Birmingham Bowl watch party. Memphis vs. Wake Forest will be on 3 TVs with sound. Get a dollar off pints during the game if you have Memphis gear on.

The Redbirds are said to have a new manager, and he has ties to the area. Ben Johnson, a native of Germantown, is reported by multiple sources to be the next manager of the Memphis Redbirds, although a deal has not been signed yet. Johnson spent 2018 as a coach for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, the team the Redbirds beat in the national championship game.

There will be a holiday market at Firepit Friday this Friday at River Garden in Mississippi River Park on N. Riverside Drive. About a dozen vendors will be out at the park selling their wares. There will also be craft beer served by the Tapbox, food by El Mero Taco, music by DJ Zetta, s’mores, and artisanal cocktails.

Just City has a page where you can buy a book for a kid in juvenile detention.

That’s all for now. Back tomorrow with more news.


Tuesday update

The circus is back in town! Well, not really, but the City Council meets today. Close enough. One of the issues they are said to be considering is whether to allow sports betting on Beale Street. They should. Otherwise they might as well take a big pile of tax revenue dollars, put them in front of a fan aimed at Tunica, and turn the fan on High.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra is bringing magic Downtown. Catch The Magic of Memphis at the Cannon Center Saturday or Sunday. Illusionist Lyn Dillies will perform feats of magic on stage, set to Christmas music performed by the Symphony.

St. Jude is raising its minimum wage for all employees to $15 an hour. Cheers to the children’s hospital for setting a good example and ensuring that all who work there will earn a livable wage.

Memphis Made Brewing Co. is having another board game night at its taproom 7-10 Thursday, and this time the featured game is a classic: Monopoly.

Downtown Yoga is offering a break from holiday shopping, cooking and traffic on Christmas Eve. That day they will have a Holiday Restorative Yoga class from 2 to 3:30 PM to help relieve the stress of the season. YOGA!

Cordelia’s Market over on Mud Island posted photos of some yummy looking buffalo blue cheese rotisserie chickens that they have.

FedExForum posted a time-lapse video of what it looks like when you have a Grizzlies game, a Tigers game, another Grizzlies game, and graduations over the course of a weekend.

I tip my hat to the staff who worked hard all weekend changing the floors and equipment out. You da real MVP!

Sage, the new soul food restaurant with an Asian touch at 94 S. Main, is doing a “reverse happy hour” with drink specials from 7 to 9 PM on Fridays.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies Downtown has posted its photos from Pizza with Santa last Saturday.

Got a great pie recipe? It could win you tickets to the hit musical Waitress at the Orpheum. Waitress features the story of an expert pie-maker. Submit your recipe by Friday, December 21. If you are chosen as one of the finalists, you’ll get to bake your pie for the judges on January 2. Winner receives 4 tickets to Waitress and your recipe will be included in the first 50 copies of the Waitress cookbook.

There will be a Memphis Detective Day Downtown on February 23. It’s like a real-life version of the board game Clue. Cost is $46 for teams of up to six adults.

Paula & Raiford’s Disco will be open New Year’s Eve, Monday night, December 31 for another year of disco.

The owners of the Sheraton across from the Convention Center are suing the city of Memphis over approval of funding for the construction of the new Loews convention center hotel.

There was a Stolen whiskey/rum brand ambassador at Blind Bear yesterday, and she bought me a Stolen whiskey and Coke which was really good.

My troll commented, “Paul, you should order a drink that’s the same color as my hair.” No, Perjorie, I am not ordering an appletini.

Stolen is having a special poker night at the Blind Bear this Thursday. (Click to see the image below in a larger size)

That’ll do it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.

Monday update

The huge turnout at Saturday’s Tigers vs. Tennessee game was fantastic for the city of Memphis and for Tigers basketball, but it did have one drawback: Long lines at the restroom. One fan decided that the line was roo long to wait in – when you gotta go, you gotta go, you know? He was found defecating on a floor behind an concession stand, his private parts exposed. His makeshift bathroom earned him a trip to 201 on an indecent exposure charge.

Bad behavior didn’t cease at the conclusion of the game either.

That is so very typical of Tennessee fans.You know, yesterday I was watching football, and I thought to myself, I don’t really have an NFL team but if I did, it would probably be the Saints because I respect what a great fan culture they have. For the same reason, I hate the Tennessee Vols. It’s not because of the school itself, or Knoxville, but rather they have the most obnoxious fan culture in college sports.

Three Downtown restaurants got mentioned in this week’s Memphis Flyer cover story, a roundup of the best soups in the city. The Blind Bear (now open for lunch at 11 AM every day) and Huey’s got recognized for their potato soups. Maciel’s got a mention for its chicken & chipotle soup.

Lime, the scooter company that came to Memphis not long ago, is chasing funding to staunch losses. Lime is one of two scooter companies operating here, the other being Bird.

AutoZone Park is getting $600,000 in improvements to prepare for Memphis 901 FC’s shared occupancy of the park with the Memphis Redbirds.There will be dedicated locker rooms for the soccer teams, some improvements to the baseball clubhouses, and expansion of offices on the third floor as the ball park increases staff.

River Garden at Mississippi River Park has stayed active its first month, and a hawk and a bobcat have taken up residence. Carol Coletta, president of the Memphis River Parks Partnership, has said that construction on Tom Lee Park will begin on June 1, as soon as the Memphis in May events end. Wonder if the construction will be done by May 2020, or if Music Fest, BBQ Fest, and 901 Fest will be moved to another location that year?

That’s the news for today. Back tomorrow with more.

When a loss is a win + Sunday news (Cidery coming to The Edge!)

I watched the Tennessee-Memphis game at Blind Bear yesterday. The Tigers lost 102-92. While I hate, hate, hate losing to the Vols more than just about any team, there was a lot about this game to show that good things are to come for this team. For starters, Memphis didn’t get blown out. 92 points against a top 3 team in the country is nothing to sneeze at, and is something neither Gonzaga (#1 at the time) or Kansas (#2 at the time) was able to do.

Imagine if Tubby were still the head coach. Being a huge rivalry game, I do think FedExForum would have been full to the tune of maybe 10,000, not near the 18,500+ who attended yesterday’s game but still busy by the standards of the past few years. However, if Tubby had come back, Alex Lomax wouldn’t be here. Tyler Harris wouldn’t be here. Kyvon Davenport, who scored 31 and surely impressed the scouts of 5 NBA teams who were in the arena yesterday, would have transferred. Memphis would have lost by 45 to 50, and that would have taken the air completely out of the program’s sails. It would have been the official death of Memphis as an elite college men’s basketball program. Game attendance would have fallen to the 2000 range, and the Tigers would be lucky to draw 1000 to weeknight home games.

Instead, the team established that we really do have something special here. Yes, this is a rebuilding year, but Memphis is still one of the elite. Yesterday’s game showed that Memphis has a real chance of making some noise in the AAC and possibly earning a bid to the NCAA tournament. And even if the Tigers don’t make it this year, we’ve got help from James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, and Malcolm Dandridge on the way. Good game, Tigers! Well done!

I watched the end of the game with my neighbor Mac, a big Tennessee fan, and at the end of the game we said “good game” and high-fived each other. It was nice to have a reminder that there actually are some Tennessee fans out there who don’t suck. Not many of them, though.

As your #1 source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my pleasure to link to this Daily Memphian article about a new cidery, Century Tree Cider Co., coming to that neighborhood. The cidery will move into a nearly 100-year-old building at 484 Union and will have a taproom and a rooftop deck. It will be short walk away from The Ravine, the $5.7 million urban park covered in yesterday’s post.

I’ll keep reporting on Edge news as I get it, to make sure all of you stay informed… there is a news page maintained by a resident of that neighborhood, but the top story on that page (as of the time I’m typing this, about 8:30 AM December 16) is about a dog party that happened a few days after Thanksgiving.

This week’s Wednesday night British Bingo at Belle Tavern will include a tacky sweater party. In addition to six games of bingo with $100 total in prizes, there will be an extra bingo card for anyone wearing a tacky sweater, and $25 prizes for the best sweater worn by a male and a female. They’ll have mulled wine too.

There will be a Christmas candlelight service on the river tonight at Church of the River, 292 Virginia Avenue. There will be a cookie reception at 4:30, and at 5:30 there will be a traditional service with choir music, special readings, and carols by candlelight. Childcare will be available for kids 3 and under. Attendees are encouraged to bring “gifts for the baby” which will go to mothers of newborns in need.

That’s it for now. Be sure to tune into NBC around 7:20 this evening for the Cris Collinsworth Sunday Night Slide-In. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sat update: My pop-up volunteer experience, Downtown news, and the Cris Collinsworth Slide In

Yesterday I called it an early weekend and headed out to lunch at Blind Bear about 11:45. However, I made an unexpected stop on the way.

Outside 60 S. Main at Volunteer Odyssey, a lady asked me, “Would you like to come in and volunteer? We have projects you can do in as little as 60 seconds.” Volunteer Odyssey does good work connecting folks with volunteer opportunities and writing about them. How could I say no?

I got my fortune told by Nicole, the fortune teller who would predict where I would volunteer next.

Nicole asked me a few questions about myself – my favorite hobby, whether I’m into nature, how I feel about children. Then she looked into her crystal ball and predicted my future.

“I see you helping the homeless or those in need,” Nicole told me, underlining a couple of organizations on a card. “Refuge Memphis serves the homeless with food, clothing, and shelter.” I have to admit I had not heard of them before. “The Memphis Crisis Center helps people who are struggling in life.” I had heard of the crisis center. One of my classmates volunteered there when I was in college.

“It’s not on the card, but Urban Bicycle Food Ministry might also be a good fit for you,” she continued. I told her I had heard of the food ministry and know people who volunteer for it. “You can help them in the kitchen making the burritos, or riding around down distributing the burritos to those who are hungry, or both, whatever you choose to do.” Nicole told me.

I thanked Nicole then walked to a table to perform one of three 60-second volunteer activities, and her prediction immediately came true – I did something to help the homeless. “We’re writing cards of encouragement and homeless to be given to them around Christmas,” the lady at the table told me. “You can come up with something original, use Google to find an inspirational quote, or copy what someone else wrote.” I thought for a minute and then came up with something.

They also had a virtual-reality machine where you could experience volunteering with VR, but the rain was starting to pick up and I needed to get down the street so I skipped that one. What a neat experience! They have these pop-up volunteer parties several times a year. Check one out if you get a chance. I think you’ll enjoy it.

On to the news…

Memphis 901 FC, the city’s new professional soccer team, has announced the date of its first home game at AutoZone Park. They will host the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, March 9. Kickoff time will be determined at a later date.

An urban park costing $5.7 million is coming to The Edge District, picking up where Union Row will end on the eastern side. The park will be called The Ravine, so named because it actually will be an adaptation of an existing ravine running between Union and Madison.

The Daily Memphian reports that repair issues could bring down the curtain at the Cannon Center if they are not addressed soon. The building is still safe and no shows have been canceled, but many spotlights and stage cables have had to be taken out of service.

I saw on TV yesterday that the Cris Collinsworth Slide In is a thing now. At the beginning of Sunday Night Football, the camera starts off on Al Michaels only. After Al spends about 20 seconds setting up the situation for the week’s came, the camera pans over and Cris Collinsworth slides in.

People apparently gather in bars in large numbers, and wait for the Collinsworth Slide In to happen, and when it does they all cheer as loudly if not louder than they do for any touchdown. I would agree, the Collinsworth Slide In is something I look forward to every Sunday night. For someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of interest in pro football, it’s the best part of the NFL week.

That’ll do it for now. Off to watch the UT-Memphis game.

Friday update

Yesterday I was at the Silly Goose for happy hour, and one of the other regulars came in wearing a bow tie. He told us that he posts photos of himself in bow ties to Instagram, and it’s attracted attention from tie companies. They’ve contacted him and said, “Would you like some ties?” I need to start posting photos of myself in my PBR hoodie to Instagram. Maybe I’d get free PBR.

Actually, I’ve been told you need 1000 followers on Instagram to start attracting that kind of attention from companies. As of today I have only 667. Follow me at @paulryburn and help a brother out.

Nikki’s Hot Products has another local collaboration going on. Last week I told you how they’ve teamed up with food truck New Wing Order, and you can now get their spicy dry rub on New Wing Order wings. Well, this time around, they’re teaming with a local institution, The Peanut Shoppe on Main Street, to produce Nikki’s Hot Nuts. This will be a combination of the Peanut Shoppe’s top-quality cashews, almonds, and peanuts and Nikki’s spicy Bloody Mary mix. The hot nuts are coming soon and you’ll be able to get them at 24 S. Main.

By the way, I posted this to Facebook yesterday and someone commented, “I thought that place was closed.” No, the Peanut Shoppe on Main is alive and well. It was a different peanut shop on Summer that closed.

The @memgrizz account tweeted photos of the Mike Conley Elf on a Shelf that will be given to the first 5000 fans tonight:

The Green Beetle is seeking a bartender/server. They’re looking for someone with a current ABC card and 4 years experience.

My neighbor Mary Ann Gross will be back with her pop-up shop from 11 to 5 tomorrow at the Center for Southern Folklore.

Mary Ann will have jewelry, mixed media, and hand-made ornaments. Other artists will have their work for sale at well. Come back to the Center at 7 this Saturday for music by Zeke and Paulette.

There’s a seasonal Partner Activation Assistant job available with the Redbirds.

Yesterday I learned of another reason to love late president George H.W. Bush. He and his wife Barbara were both wrestling fans and according to his former press secretary, they watched wrestling every Saturday. In 1992 the Bushes had to fly through Charlotte, and his staff contacted the WWF office and invited Ric Flair to fly on Air Force One with them. When Flair met them, he turned on the charm, causing H.W. to comment, “After 48 years of marriage, I think I’ve lost my wife to someone named the Nature Boy.”

That’s it for now. There may not be a post tomorrow because I’ll be under a time crunch, but I’ll be back Sunday at the latest.


Thursday update: I was feeling a little crabby at lunch today

Today I walked over to the Thursday food truck rodeo in Court Square to find some lunch. I wanted to try a new food truck, and I walked over to the Stanley’s Sweet Street Treats truck to check out their menu.

Soft shell crab BLT? That sounded like something I had to try. I went to the window and placed my order. The lady at the window said, “Would you like a side of smok’d Gouda mac & cheese to go with that?” That brought back memories of smok’d mac & cheese in the Moody Ques BBQ team booth a couple of years ago. I wasn’t about to turn that down!

Just look at that thing! That’s an entire crab, covered in aioli, on a bun with bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Fantastic! The Gouda mac was every bit as good as I anticipated. My compliments to the folks at Stanley’s truck!

For those of you thinking, “Wait, Paul… you posted a food photo without the troll in it?”, there was a reason. I told the lady at the counter I write a blog, and she left the container open when she presented it to me so I could take a photo without messing up the aioli. I didn’t bring the troll with me to Court Square. Don’t worry, though, she will appear later in this post.

The food truck rodeo happens every Thursday 11 AM to 1:30 PM in Court Square. About 15 food trucks show up (sometimes not as many if rain is expected during the lunch hour). Trucks vary from week to week, but today I saw BBQ, burgers, fried Cornish hens, Mexican food, hibachi, fried rice, Asian noodles, and a lot more.

The Blind Bear has its Christmas party this Friday at 8. Jeannette couldn’t decide upon a theme, so she’s doing a little bit of everything: Naughty Santa, funny hats, funny pants, ugly sweater, whatever you want to do. Spiked eggnog, $3 moonshine, $3 cinnamon whiskey. The band A.M. Whiskey plays at 10 PM.

The Daily Memphian is selling gift subscriptions. I am a subscriber and I can personally attest, this is worth the money. It’s people who live in Memphis and love Memphis writing for people who love Memphis. It’s not like turning on the local news and hearing, there was a shooting over here, there was a carjacking over there. The DM has stories about things going on that matter in Memphis. It’s a nonprofit business model, placing an emphasis on quality writing, rather than circulation numbers or ad revenue.

Speaking of which, here’s a Daily Memphian story. Mighty Lights, the project that lights the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi, is seeking dedications for individual lights.

Here’s a great piecce of journalism from the Daily Memphian’s Geoff Calkins: Is it possible to be a fan of both Memphis and Tennessee? NO! “You cannot be a fan of Memphis and Tennessee. If you are, you are not really a fan.” EXACTLY! In all the years I’ve been reading Calkins, this may be his finest work ever.

Dillon Brooks, doing commentary in the booth while out on injury reserve for the Grizzlies, had a sport jacket and a hoodie on last night. I think I may have to try that look. My PBR hoodie would look great with a blazer! Then again, what doesn’t look good with a PBR hoodie?

Check out this mini sampler from The Peanut Shoppe on Main Street just north of Monroe Avenue. They can take care of your chocolate, nut, and candy needs for the holidays, and they have decorative tins that look so pretty that there’s no need to gift wrap. This is a wonderful  local business and one I stopped in many times on the way to go see my mom for Christmas.

The Vault on G.E. Patterson will become The Vault Gastropub with a new menu and new branding for 2019. Some of the old favorites like the Smashburger will be retained, but there will be a lot of new dishes and new hours as well.

MakeUseOf compiled a list of the best online sites to shop for ugly Christmas sweaters. Hmmm… the other day I saw a photo of my friends Rahul and Tony at the Electric Cowboy in matching Western wear. If I could get that image on a sweater, I’d win every ugly sweater contest in town.

Our team name wasn’t good enough to win Best Team Name in trivia last night, but we came in second on the questions.

Always nice to place well in trivia and get a few beers knocked off my tab.Having Perjorie T. Roll on the bar seems to make my teammates and me smarter.

That’ll do it for this post. Back tomorrow with more news.

Computer problems – Windows Recovery, Portable Linux (scroll down for Wed update news)

I’ve already done a Wednesday Update post, so for those of you just here for the news, scroll down and you’ll see it. However, I thought I’d post about the computer issues I have had lately in case anyone has suggestions.

In April 2017, my MacBook died. At that point I started using the Windows 10 laptop I inherited when my mom passed away. For over a year and a half it served me well, but about a month ago I ran into problems. It tried to do a Windows 10 Update, but the update failed, so it tried to roll back to the previous version, and couldn’t. So I’ve been stuck on the blue “Automatic Repair couldn’t repair your PC” screen, with options to shut down or try advanced options.

A little research revealed that I was supposed to have used Windows 10 to create a Windows Recovery DVD or USB drive in case I ever needed it. Well, since I inherited the computer I never knew to do that. There was what seemed to be good news though – there’s a Windows 10 Recovery image online that can be copied to DVD or a USB stick, and because Windows 10 was a free release you don’t need a product key.

I went to Walgreens and bought a 16 GB USB drive. I plugged it into the little 9-year-old blue netbook I use as a backup computer, and started downloading the Windows Recovery image to it… but download failed. Odd, because the recovery image was 4.7 GB and should easily fit on a 16 GB drive. However, on several attempts it failed at the 4 GB mark. I concluded, incorrectly, that I must have a defective USB drive.

I ordered a 64 GB USB drive from Amazon and tried once again, but it too had the download fail at the 4 GB mark. Now I thought maybe it wasn’t the USB drives that were the problem. I did some research and learned that the real culprit was that the USB drives were partitioned as FAT32, which cannot handle single files of sizes larger than 4 GB. My netbook gave me the option of re-partitioning the drives as EXT4, which would allow larger file sizes. However, when I tried to partition the 64 GB drive, I got “partition failed.” At that point I gave up and just accepted the fact that I’d be stuck using the 9-year-old netbook with the dimly-lit 10-inch screen for the time being, as the working but unusable 3-year-old laptop with well-lit 15-inch screen sat there in a chair.

Earlier this week I was having a discussion with a friend about what’s known as “The Dark Web,” and he told me, “You can access it from any computer. All you need is a USB drive.”

“Yeah, I know how that works,” I replied. “All you need is a portable version of the Linux operating system that’s entirely on a USB drive, and have the computer boot from the USB drive rather than an internal drive. There’s a version of portable Linux specifically designed for hackers.”

A few minutes later, an idea popped into my head. I could not care less about hacking or the Dark Web, but that’s hardly the only use for portable Linux. There’s quite a few flavors of it out there. I could put a portable Linux installation on my 64 GB USB drive, configure my mom’s laptop to boot from USB, and I’d be back in business on that computer. No, I wouldn’t have access to my Windows applications, but that wouldn’t matter much. All the programs I use regularly – WordPress, Gmail, Evernote, Dropbox – are in the cloud anyway, accessible through a web browser. Plus Linux is a fun operating system to play around with. I could install a web server on it and teach myself some new programming languages and frameworks.

I Googled and found a recent article on the 7 best portable Linux distros to run from USB. The distro the hackers use, BackTrack/Kali Linux were on there. However, it was not the one I chose, because I have no interest in “The Dark Web” and because it’s more command-line-based Linux. I want a pretty window-based graphical user interface.

The distro I decided upon was Porteus. It can work with a variety of window managers included the widely-used KDE, and it has a footprint of only 350 MB. That would be less than 1% of my 64 GB drive, leaving plenty of room for saved files and add-ons. I grabbed a copy from an FTP mirror, did an MD5 check to make sure it downloaded without error, used 7Zip to unpack the ISO, and copied the directories I needed to the root of the USB drive. I ran a program to make the USB drive bootable, and at that point I appeared to be good to go.

I took the USB drive out of my little netbook and inserted it into my mom’s computer. Still on the Automatic Repair blue screen, I clicked Shut Down. I did a little research and found that on an HP Pavilion 15, I needed to hit F10 upon startup to access the computer’s BIOS menu, where I could tell the computer to attempt to boot from USB drive first and the internal hard drive second.

I restarted the laptop and furiously hit F10… but the computer didn’t notice, and after a minute that blasted blue “Automatic Repair” screen came up and I was right back where I was before. This time I clicked the Advanced Options tab, and there was a “Restore from USB” option. That was as close as I was going to get to “boot from USB,” so I gave it a try. The computer shut down, restarted, and immediately told me “Cannot boot from this device.” However, it gave me an option to go to the computer’s BIOS menu, which is what I had intended to do all along.

I went to the Configuration menu and set USB as a higher priority boot device than the hard drive, and tried again, hoping Porteus Linux would appear on my screen along with the beautiful KDE windowing system a minute later.

It was not to be. The computer ignored the USB drive and went right back into “Attempting Automatic Repair…” and that led me to the blue screen again. Once again I found myself stuck in a loop where I can’t boot into Porteus and I can’t boot into Windows. What I need to do is tell the computer “Forget you ever had Windows installed on you, and look for any other boot device attached to you that has an operating system on it.” As of yet I can’t figure out how to do that, though. So here I type on my 9-year-old netbook.

If anyone reading this has ideas I haven’t thought to try. I’d love to hear them. Email me at Thanks.

Wednesday update

Yesterday I found myself screaming obscenities at a computer that wasn’t doing what I wanted, and decided to turn on the TV and find something mindless to lighten my mood. The 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter was on. It’s a comedy about four students and their teacher in a Brooklyn high school.

In yesterday’s episode, one of the students, Vinnie Barbarino, played by John Travolta, was running for president of the student body. His social studies teacher, Mr. Kotter, was trying to prepare him to properly campaign. “Vinnie, you have to do this the right way,” Kotter advised. “You need to have a platform. If you were president, what would you want to do?”

Barbarino smiled and said, “Not get caught.” It’s amazing how a sitcom recorded 43 years ago can be so relevant today.

Yeah, yeah, I know I normally save anything political until the end of my posts… but this was humor, not politics. And now, let’s get on with the news.

There will be an ugly sweater party at Earnestine & Hazel’s this Friday. You can win some fabulous prizes, and the Fireball Girls will be there and Fireball will be on special for $3.

The last Songwriter Night of the year happens at South Main Sounds at 550 South Main this Friday at 7 PM. Casey Weston, Daniel McKinnon, Brandon Ingle, and Allie Keck will perform.

This is not Downtown news but it’s still news that is going to matter to a lot of people. Both locations of Fino’s on the Hill will close later this month. I lived in the Gilmore at Madison and McLean for two years, and it was so nice to be able to go in the back door and get quality food without ever leaving the building. The open-faced roast beef sandwich was my favorite.

The Memphis River Parks Partnership has a survey you can take about Tom Lee Park. They want to know how you use the park now, and what you would like to see in Tom Lee Park in the future.

There will be Labatt Blue specials during the Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks game at Kooky Canuck Tuesday, December 18 6-11 PM. $7.50 for a 24 oz. can or $25 for a bucket of four. There will be Predators and Labatt Blue giveaways during that time.

If you want to help migrants passing through Memphis, there is an organization called Mariposas Collective where you can do that. Currently they are in need of non-perishable food snack foods like chips, granola bars, and cracker packs. They also need fruit, jackets of all sizes, bottled water, toothbrushes, travel toothpaste, and deodorant. These can be dropped off at the rear (hostel) entrance of First Congregational Church in Cooper-Young, 1000 S. Cooper. The Facebook post I saw said these can be dropped off “at” 6 PM. I think they mean “until” 6 PM? Anyway, this is a way you can show our migrant brethren that the spirit of Lady Liberty, of Ellis Island, of the great melting pot that is America still lives on in the hearts of many U.S. citizens.

700 jobs are coming to the Toyota Center in Downtown Memphis. Boston-based Indigo, an ag-tech company, will be hiring. Toyota Center will be renamed Indigo Plaza.

The Grizzlies return to FedExForum to host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 7.

The Orpheum will start offering regular tours beginning in January.

Watching Local 24 News as I type this. They’re reporting that first-team All-American running back Darrell Henderson will not play in the Birmingham Bowl for the Memphis Tigers, and he has already hired an agent. That’s disappointing but understandable. If he thinks he will go high in the NFL draft, an injury in the Birmingham Bowl could cost him a lot of money.

Michael Cohen has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for a variety of crimes, including felony campaign finance violations committed at the direction of President Trump. He will serve that sentence concurrenrly with a two-month sentence for lying to Congress.

That’ll do it for now. I may do a second post about the computer problems I am having, in case anyone has ideas.