Tuesday update

How would you like to get up close and personal with Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff? You’ll have the chance next Monday at Hard Rock Cafe on Beale. Grizzlies Coaches Corner will feature an insider Q&A with Bickerstaff from 5 to 6, hosted by Grind City Media Senior Editor Michael Wallace. After that, stick around for live music and more. Tickets start at $10 and include light appetizers. $5 more adds a drink ticket for one call drink.

Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick does not normally open for Sunday dinner, but this Sunday they will, for people who want to pre-game for the Mellencamp concert at the Orpheum.

The Vault on G.E. Patterson will have St. Patrick’s Day music by Jeremy Stanfill and Josh Cosby Sunday afternoon 3:30-6:30.

The Peanut Shoppe has introduced a new item: sarma. This dessert is imported from Jordan, made fresh for the shop’s customers. It consists of blended pistachios in phyllo dough, rolled in more pistachios and drizzled in simple sugar syrup. They have it in stock now! The Peanut Shoppe is located on the Main Street Mall, a couple of doors north of the new Starbucks at Main and Monroe.

Memphis River Parks Partnership will present a Spring Night Market Thursday, March 28 from 4:30-7:30 PM. Ummm… it will still be light outside at the end time, how is this a night market? Anyway, there will be fire pits and s’mores. Lil’ Buck will be on hand giving Jookin lessons. TapBox will be there serving up some craft drafts. The following artists and craftspeople will have their products for sale:

Danielle Mora Jewelry
Dolly Doe
Jacko’s Pepper Jelly
Larksome Goods
Marsena Signatures
MEK Design
Mbabazi House of Style Memphis
Mili’s Flowers And Gifts
Primas Bakery and Boutique
Terri Scott Illustration
Vice & Virtue Coffee

The third installment of the In This Place speaker series at Clayborn Temple will happen next Monday, March 18. Tami Sawyer, County Commissioner, mayoral candidate, Managing Director for External Affairs for Teach for America and speaker-in-residence for this speaker series, will facilitate the discussion, entitled Dangerous Women: The Case for Never Being Safe.

Joining Sawyer in the discussion will be Anasa Troutman, Executive Director at Clayborn Temple; Jasmine Tasaki, Executive Director at WeCareTN; Terri Freeman, Executive Director at National Civil Rights Museum; Erica Perry, Partnership Director at Law For Black Lives; Aimee Lewis, Vice President of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi; Zoe Tripp, student at Middle College High School; Andrea Morales, photojournalist; and Lori Spicer-Robertson, Chief Communications and Engagement Officer at United Way of the Mid-South.

Memphis basketball players have been collecting honors all over the place this week. Starting Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was named the Western Conference Player of the Week, (surprisingly) his first time to receive that honor. Jeremiah Martin of the Memphis Tigers was named to the all-conference first team, and his teammate Tyler Harris was named to the all-conference rookie first team. The AAC Player of the Year will be announced Wednesday and Martin is a strong candidate for that accolade.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Jennifer Biggs of the Daily Memphian has the best job in the city. Her most recent task? To go eat at the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck and report back to subscribers. Man, that Connecticut Roll looks superb. I must try that truck soon. Possibly Saturday, when the truck will be at the Ghost River taproom from 1 to 8. Hmmm… watch the parade, walk down to Ghost River for lobster and (hopefully) Tiger basketball, then back north to Earnestine & Hazel’s for Nate’s anniversary… yes, I believe I see a plan coming together.

Edible Memphis continues in their consistently outstanding series of articles with a day trip to Little Rock, my hometown. As soon as I read that their first stop was Lost Forty Brewing, a rare brewery with a full food kitchen, and they had the Petit Jean bacon cheese dip, I knew this was going to be legit. Can’t argue with any of their suggestions. Little Rock is indeed the cheese dip capital of the world, and I will warn you that if you take this trip, Memphis cheese dip will be ruined for you. Damgoode Pies is excellent. I recommend the Hillcrest location (2701 Kavanaugh Blvd.) in particular.

Time to nerd out

If you’re not into techie stuff, you’re dismissed. However, a number of people have been wondering what I’ve been up to lately, so I thought I would give everyone an update.

For a period of months I was kind of down on the world of computers and IT, other than using a computer to write this blog. Holding the same job for almost 9 years is generally smiled upon. “Oh, he’s loyal to his company.” “Oh, he’s the kind of person who grasps on to a project and sticks to it.” Yeah, but working for one company for 9 years is a disadvantage as well, when you’re in IT. You end up knowing only the programming languages, frameworks, databases, etc. that you used in that job. In the meantime, various other technologies spring up and pass you by. I ended up feeling useless because there are so many in-demand skills that I didn’t have.

I also was bummed out about computers because the 15-inch HP laptop I inherited from my mom died. Well, it didn’t die – the hardware still works perfectly – but it stopped being able to boot into Windows, and I tried every recovery trick in the book and none worked. That left me working from my 10-year-old, 10-inch dimly-lit screen, underpowered netbook, and let me tell you, that was not much fun.

Last month, I started experimenting with portable versions of the Linux operating system. I got a flavor of Linux called Porteus installed on a USB drive and made it bootable. That brought my mom’s computer back to life. Porteus wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but even so, being able to access my favorite websites on a beautifully lit 15-inch screen was an improvement. I went through several other portable Linux distributions, including Slax and FatDog64.

Then I found Linux Mint. It is the most intuitive form of Linux I have ever seen. The graphical user interface is friendlier than Windows 10, and nearly as friendly as MacOS. It comes with a ton of programs installed, including an office suite, the Firefox browser, and an open-source clone of Google’s retired Picasa photo manager (which solves a major question I had about how I would manage BBQ Fest photos this year). If you want additional programs, there’s a software manager that makes getting them a piece of cake. And yet, because Linux Mint is based on one of the best Linux distros around – Ubuntu – if I need to go to the command line and deal with sudo apt-get and .tar.gz files, I have that ability too. Linux Mint turned out to be so good that after a week of running it from USB, I installed it on the hard drive.

I installed the Apache web server, PHP, and MySQL. I also installed the node.js Javascript web server, and I plan to get the Laravel framework on PHP. After that my task will be to learn all the popular client-side Javascript frameworks – Angular, React, Knockout, Vue, and maybe one or two others. What I want to do is grab JSON from a source that freely provides it – currently I’m working with OpenWeatherMap – to write service endpoints in PHP/Laravel that go get the data and provide it, then use Javascript on the client side to consume and display that data.

On the server side I may learn Python too, and maybe Ruby on Rails. There seems to be a lot of work in Python these days. I’m going to try to avoid getting back into .NET. I like C# but I’m a person who likes to think outside the box and people working in open-source tend to think outside the box more than Microsoft people. I’m a better personality fit for open-source.

Once I get up to speed, it’ll be time to get back in the game. There’s a lot more remote work out there than I realized and I am going to try to pick up some remote contract gigs in some of the technologies I have learned. Contract because I prefer that to being tied to a single company, and remote because sitting in cubicles has taken more years off my life than Fireball ever did.

So basically, for the first time in months, I am excited about computers. In addition, that book The Gaslighting Effect that I’ve been recommending finally gave me clarity about a situation which for years I had none. In short, I’m feeling better mentally than I have in a long while. I believe in myself again, where there for a while I didn’t.

Another reason I feel better today is the weather. As I type this, it is 56 going to a high of 61, with the temperature not expected to fall below 56 tonight. In other words, today is a perfect PBR hoodie and shorts day! Going to mess around on the computer for a couple more hours, then get out there and enjoy. To those of you who have kept reading, thanks for sticking around. Back tomorrow with more news.