Monday update

Today’s the big day: The series premiere of Bluff City Law, the law drama starring Jimmy Smits on NBC at 9 tonight. Over the weekend I’ve been asked, “Are there any bars Downtown that are going to show the premiere?” Normally I would say yes…

… But here’s the thing. The show is premiering on Monday night, which means it’s up against Monday Night Football. A lot of people are going to want to watch that too, and it’s traditional for bars to show sports on TV even if they aren’t sports bars. Let’s see who’s playing… the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins. Da Bearsss have fans nationwide. Also, MNF will have been on for an hour and 45 minutes by the time Bluff City Law comes on, giving bar patrons plenty of time to get emotionally invested in the game and want to see the end of it. In addition to that, there are going to be people who aren’t necessarily Bears or Redskins fans but who have some of their players on their fantasy football team.

My advice? The more TVs a bar has, the more likely you are to get them to tune one of them to Bluff City Law. Of course, there’s always the watch party in Court Square if you don’t mind being outdoors.

Iconic late-night bar Printer’s Alley in Midtown has been temporarily shut down as a public nuisance. Undercover officers bought both drugs and illegal liquor there over a four-year period. The owners have to appear in Environmental Court this week, at which time it will be determined whether the bar will be allowed to reopen, and if so what steps the owners must take. Printer’s Alley was one of only a few remaining Memphis bars that was grandfathered in to the current liquor laws and could therefore stay open past 3 AM.

I found out something interesting about one of the Memphis Farmers Market vendors, Thistle and Bee, this weekend. They are a nonprofit that provides jobs for victims of human trafficking and prostitution. So when you shop with them, you are helping young ladies get to a better place in life. I’m told they are known for their homemade granola, their honey, and mint & lemon balm tea. I forgot to take a note on which of my Facebook friends posted about that, but whoever it was, thank you for sharing.

Puck Food Hall at 409 S. Main is having a tasting party Wednesday from 5:30-8:30 to welcome Dr. Bean’s Coffee as its newest vendor. This is a good chance to sample all of the vendors at one time. There are 5:30 and 6:30 tasting rounds and tickets are $50 for adults, $25 for kids.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Opera Memphis are teaming up for Opening Weekend with Opera Classics at the Cannon Center this Saturday.

UGGGHHH I just checked the MemphisWeather.net forecast and it is mostly not good. Tonight and tomorrow, lows are expected to be in the 60s. However, “humidity returns” is in the Wednesday forecast, with a high near 90. Highs creep up into the low 90s later in the week and will be back in the mid 90s on Sunday. Extended forecast for September 30-October 6 shows a very high probability of above-normal temperatures. Remember last fall, when the temperatures stayed in the upper 80s past the middle of October, then fell like a rock into the 40s and 50s? I have a feeling that’s coming.

No idea if Bardog is back open today. If I find out I’ll post.

Off to work then the bank. The University of Memphis FINALLY approved my VALIC withdrawal last Tuesday, so I want to see if the money has hit my account yet. Back tomorrow with more news.

 

Sunday update

Y’ALL! My yoga teacher friend Mary Patrick taught her Kitten Yoga class at the Humane Society yesterday, and it made channel 13 news! Looks like they had a full house. The camera primarily focused on the kittens, and the interview was with a Humane Society employee, but Mary can be seen walking among the students in a gray top and red leggings.

Take a class from Mary! She teaches

Mind/Body HAUS is in Cooper-Young and DwiPada is in the Poplar/Perkins area. In particular I hear that the Sunday Hot HAUS class is extremely popular.

I am now an Apple Watch owner. My friend Randy got a new Apple Watch and gave me his old one yesterday. We were sitting at the Silly Goose and my iPhone detected there was an Apple Watch nearby and asked me if I wanted to scan the watch’s face to set it up. Only thing was, it told me I needed to upgrade my phone to the latest version of iOS, and I have been told not to do that until iOS 13.1 comes out. So, it’ll be a few days. I never knew I needed an Apple Watch, but then I never knew I needed an iPad until I won one.

After picking up the watch, my friends Randy and Theresa and I caught an Uber south to Momma’s Roadhouse, the former Dirty Crow Inn on Crump now owned by Aldo. Here’s a look at the new menu (click to view in a larger size):

They have PBR in 16 ounce cans, and I think I saw 24 ounce cans (a holdover from the Crow) in the cooler as well.

Well, yesterday took a weird turn on social media. A friend of mine, who is a manager at a local bar, made a funny Facebook post about how most schools wouldn’t start a quarterback who was blind, but Tennessee did. That led to a Vols fan responding that he was going to go public that the bar manager’s place of business discriminates against handicapped people. The Vols fan ranted on and on, threatening my friend’s livelihood, drawing “Is he (the Vol fan) crazy?” reactions from people who live and work in the Downtown core. I have had FIVE different women complain about this person even prior to yesterday’s comments. May be time to seek some professional help, dude. Here’s some inspiration for you:

Oh, but, hey. That wasn’t you posting to Facebook yesterday. That was the alcohol posting. You never do anything wrong.

Chocolate salty ball shots should come with a warning label…

I do want to apologize to my friend Will for not letting him change the channel off the Florida game so he could watch his LSU Tigers. I felt bad about that because I know how passionate he is about his team. It’s just that watching Tennessee get stomped is one of my true joys in life. Nowhere else in this state (not even The Pumping Station) will you see grown men in orange and white checkered overall rompers. All they need is an orange clown nose to complete the outfit.

Tennessee has beaten the Gators a grand total of once since 2005. At this point I don’t even know if I’d call it a rivalry anymore.

Next Friday, September 27, on South Main Trolley Night, Stock & Belle at 387 S. Main will have an opening reception for local artist Zac Roach’s “Cosmiks” exhibition. His works have been exhibited in New York, L.A., and even Tehran, Iran.

The annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march happens this Wednesday, September 25. This year it starts and ends at the University of Memphis campus, rather than being Downtown. At this event, men and boys put on women’s high heels and march in support of putting an end to domestic violence against women, rape, and sexual assault.

That’s the news for now. Back tomorrow or Tuesday with more.

Saturday update: Bardog closed this weekend

Well, folks, I have some bad news. Due to ongoing MLGW repairs, Bardog Tavern, which has had to close the past three days, will be closed over the weekend. They posted that Bardog’s bartenders will be practicing their craft at the newest Aldo property, Momma’s Roadhouse at Crump and Kentucky (formerly The Dirty Crow Inn), this weekend.

Today I likely won’t get down there to Momma’s…since Bardog is closed I will lead off at the Blind Bear at 11 to watch the Tennessee-Florida game (CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP). Around 3 I will be meeting a friend at the Silly Goose for D-RANKS with B-RAD.

Tomorrow, however, is a different story. My tentative plan (weather permitting) is to lead off at the Blind Bear as usual. I like to watch my friends John D and Otto do the New York Times crossword and occasionally I even contribute an answer. About 1:00-1:30ish, around the time when they leave, I may make the walk all the way south and check Momma’s Roadhouse out. Couple beers there then head over to Loflin Yard at 4 for Cerrito Bingo, then back to the Downtown core before dark.

Makeda’s Cookies at 468 S. Second is having a 20th anniversary block party today from 11 to 6. There will be live music, vendors and samples. Get your photo taken with the Cookie Monster. Congratulations to Makeda’s on 20 delicious years!

Tomorrow is the beginning of Sporting Dog Days at Bass Pro at the Pyramid. Bring your hunting partner with you for free photo downloads (noon to 4 PM) and hunting seminars at 1 and 3.

There will be an Afro-Caribbean Fusion Dance Party tonight from 10 to 3 at Curry n Jerk, the restaurant on Monroe near Second, next door to McEwen’s. This international event will feature┬áReggaeton, Reggae, Top 40, Soca, Dancehall, Baile Funk, Afro Beat, Trap and Dembow. These international nights will happen the first Saturday of every month and are designed to appeal to people from all walks of life. (Scrolls down Facebook event listing…) Oh God, they have a dress code. No T-shirts no sneakers. How many times do I have to say it… dress codes do not work in this city.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball schedule has been released and the nonconference portion is vastly improved over previous years. You want a few cream puffs in the opening months, but you don’t want all cream puffs or your strength of schedule is so bad that it’s hard to get invited to the NCAA tournament. Thanks to president M. David Rudd’s prodding of the athletic department, the Tigers have the following:

  • Oregon (road game) November 12, 6 PM, on ESPN
  • Ole Miss, November 23, noon
  • Bradley, December 3, 8 PM, CBSSN
  • NC State (Barclays Center, Brooklyn) November 28, 3 PM, on ESPN2
  • Tennessee, December 14, 2 PM
  • Georgia, January 4, noon, on CBS

Cafe Keough is hiring baristas and line cooks. Apply in person 2-4 PM Monday-Friday.

The Grizzlies have announced their 2019-20 promotional schedule. Notable:

  • A sleeve on November 15, when Mike Conley and the Utah Jazz come to town
  • Jonas Valanciunas oven mitts on November 27, the day before Thanksgiving
  • #12 Ja Morant and #13 Jaren Jackson Jr. socks on December 13
  • Ja Morant pocket square on January 17
  • Grizz pillowcase on March 7

The Daily Memphian notes that there are no Wrestling Nights on the calendar this year. As much as I love wrestling, that was the right move. They overdid that concept last year.

BOGO! Buy a ticket to tonight’s Memphis 901 FC match vs. St. Louis, get a free ticket to their match Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh. Here’s the link.

iPhone users: I’m hearing that you might want to hold off on the upgrade to iOS13 until i0S 13.1 comes out next week.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies is hiring experienced delivery staff for their Downtown location.

This past Monday, some lucky diners got a preview of what is to come at Bishop, the French restaurant chefs Hudman and Ticer are opening in Central Station Hotel in about six weeks.

Last night Perjorie T. Roll and I got to try a peanut butter shot made by Mac at the Blind Bear.

I know Skrewball is the base for this shot, but there were a couple of other ingredients that Mac wanted to keep secret for the time being. Delicious – one of the tastiest shots I’ve ever had. If you want to give one of these a try, you can find Mac behind the bar at Blind Bear most Saturdays 6 PM until 1 AM or later. Mac is a huge college football fan, so be sure to ask him how his Tennessee Vols are doing this year.

Westy’s is doing First Sundays the first Sunday of every month, the next one being October 6. What’s that, you ask? There will be a local artists’ market, as well as a drum tribe, guitars, and activities for the kids. It will run “2ish to darkish.”

Edible Memphis has a great article about Cooper-Young Beerfest, which turns 10 this year.

Street closures tomorrow (Sunday) from 7 AM to noon:

  • Union between the south leg of Fourth and the north leg of Fourth
  • B.B. King Blvd. between Monroe and Madison
  • Maggie H. Isabel Alley between Monroe and Madison

This is to clear a flight path for a helicopter to lift equipment to the roof of the First Tennessee building at Madison and B.B. King. The same streets will be closed three future Sundays: September 29, November 3, and November 10 from 7 to 11 AM.

Prospero Health, a startup health care company, plans to move into One Commerce Square and bring 249 jobs to Downtown Memphis. The company provides home-based care to the seriously ill and their caregivers.

There will be a modern art market at Loflin Yard today from noon to 6.

Public Service Announcement: If, after several drinks, you get verbally abusive (including electronic communications) with your female friends, and later you apologize and say “that was the alcohol talking, not me,” then you need to curb your consumption of alcohol. Damn… I am very fortunate that my personality does not change when I’ve been drinking. The worst that happens is I get a bit sleepy sometimes. If you want to make fun of that, be my guest. It’ll give you something to do other than taking responsibility for your own words and actions.

All right, time to get dressed. I want to be at the door when Blind Bear opens so I get there before all the Bardog people show up and get the good seats. Wait a minute, on Saturdays I am Bardog people. And actually, I am quite happy to have them there, because I get two of my favorite groups of people in one spot. It’s gonna be a good day. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my pleasure to link you to this Memphis Business Journal article about BOXLOT, which is opening today. BOXLOT is a shopping center made of shipping containers. It will be in the parking lot next to the former Kudzu’s on Monroe Avenue near Marshall. Kickspins, one of the stores in the center, will sell new and used records and equipment and will sell new sneakers and restore old ones. Majik will sell ’80s-early ’00s nostalgia clothing and items. IKEA will have a small showroom as well. Tomorrow there will be an IKEA furniture-building contest, with winners receiving IKEA gift cards and the furniture donated to Hospitality HUB after it’s built.

The former Dirty Crow Inn was bought by Aldo, owner of Bardog, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, and Slider Inn several months ago, and now change is coming to the Crump Boulevard bar. The bar has been renamed Momma’s Roadhouse. Aldo plans to keep it a dive bar as Dirty Crow was. He plans to appeal to industrial workers in the area and truckers coming off I-55. At some point he would like to add a third-shifters’ breakfast, having seen the success of that concept at Bardog.

Bardog, by the way, has been closed for the past couple of days. I hear it’s due to some plumbing issues. They’re hoping to open in the evening today, but I’ve been told it may be Monday. Blind Bear was super busy last night as many of the Bardog bartenders, servers, and regulars migrated there.

One last reminder: Kitty Cats and Yoga Mats is happening tomorrow morning at the Memphis Humane Society. (Click image to view in a larger size)

For a $25 donation to the Humane Society, you can do yoga as adoptable kittens walk around.

The MBJ has a slideshow of plans for the new, improved Cossitt Library scheduled to open next year. In addition to traditional library features, Cossitt will have a recording studio, cafe, courtyard, and meeting spaces with river views. I attended a presentation on the plans back in April, and let me tell you what, this is going to be an incredible meeting space.

There will be a Fall Night Market tonight from 5 to 8 at River Garden, the park at 51 N. Riverside. Vendors include

Rebel Czar
David Yancey III
Lindsey Glenn Design
Cleave
Proud Mary Store
Najee Strickland Designs-NSD
Sawyer Stitches
Mili’s Flowers And Gifts
Leah Sweet Ceramics
TDtangents
K E L L Y. boutique
Head to Toe Best

There will be music by DJ Zetta, the Tapbox will be selling beer, and 4th Cup will be pouring coffee. At 6:30 there will be a special storytelling session based on communities around the Mississippi River.

Yesterday I took advantage of the half-off pizza special from 2 PM to 5 PM at the Silly Goose. I tried one of their newer wood-fired pizzas, The City Block.

The City Block is so named because the Goose sources meats from the pizzas from City Block Salumeria in the Puck Food Hall in 409 S Main. The pizza is topped with Brie spread, Mortadella, Asiago cheese, black pepper, Calabrian chili, and arugula. Never thought of Brie on pizza before but it really works. The Big Cheese remains my favorite though.

The past two weeks have answered a question I had when I first heard the Goose was getting a pizza oven: How were they going to differentiate themselves from Aldo’s Pizza Pies around the corner? Aldo’s is more of a traditional New York-style pizzeria with toppings everyone expects like pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, etc. (Although, they have a list of deluxe toppings too.) Whereas, the Goose serves gourmet pizzas that pair well with one of their specialty cocktails or a nice glass of wine.

The pizzas pair well with PBR too.

CB Bob Sawyer, who played with Nancy Apple and played at Dan McGuinness pub in Peabody Place back in the day, is organizing a good old fashioned pickin’ party to be held at Westy’s next Friday, September 27. Just like the old days at Kudzu’s, bring your instrument, they’ll have a PA, and everyone will sit in a circle and jam out and the mike will be passed from one person to the next.

Operation Broken Silence is having a spaghetti benefit dinner tonight at Arcade restaurant from 6 to 9.

That’s it for now. Off to work. Back tomorrow.

Not much of a Thursday update

I didn’t have much time to round up news yesterday, because I was

  1. Working
  2. Studying for trivia
  3. Playing trivia
  4. Losing trivia

On Wednesday afternoon, the Blind Bear posts the topics for that evening’s trivia. This is a new thing that started since Patrick took over. Yesterday’s topics were

  • Tiffany & Good Co.
  • Sly Stallone
  • Capitol Cornerstones
  • Bluff City Lawyers

When I saw the categories on Facebook, I thought, “Thank goodness they post the categories in advance. I would have got clobbered in trivia otherwise.”

I got clobbered anyway.

For one thing, I misinterpreted the meaning of Capitol Cornerstones. I thought it would be about the most famous buildings in Washington D.C. No, it was a round of trivia about cornerstones.

Also, I didn’t know how to study for Bluff City Lawyers, considering the show doesn’t premiere until next week. It turned to be a round of trivia about lawyers in Memphis. One of the questions was Corey B. Trotz’s phone number.

No Bear Bucks for our team this week.

Anyway, I only have one news item but it’s a good one, especially for those who get off work early or don’t work a 9 to 5. From 2 PM to 5 PM weekdays, the Silly Goose will be selling their new wood-fired pizzas for half-off. That means the prices will be between $5 and $7.50. Apologies to the fine folks at River Time Market & Deli, but you won’t be seeing me for lunch today. I’m getting a pizza!

That’s it. Back tomorrow with hopefully more news than today.

Wednesday update

Bardog Tavern has a hilarious sign on one of their chalkboards. It reads “NO HOOKERS” and has a cartoon drawing of a woman in a dress throwing bills in the air. I rarely go there at night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if hookers go in there. Come to think of it, I’ve seen hookers in every one of my favorite watering holes except Max’s Sports Bar. Really, that’s no surprise, either, given the number of hotels in the area. This is the part of town where the high-dollar hookers are most likely to make their money. Plenty of men here on business trips looking to get a little action, action their friends and family and possibly spouse will never know about.

Ladies: If your man goes on a lot of corporate business trips and you wonder what he’s doing after-hours, open up the web browser he uses on his computer. Type in the name of a city he has traveled to recently, a space, and the letters “es” and see what happens. For example, if he’d been to Nashville recently, type in “nashville es”. It will probably autocomplete to something like “nashville escape rooms” or “nashville estate sales”, which are the most popular searches that start with those characters. However, if it autocompletes to “nashville escorts”, hubby has some explaining to do.

I mentioned that I had never seen a hooker at Max’s Sports Bar. With the opening of two hotels in the area, Central Station Hotel and the one at 477 South Main, I bet that changes soon. In fact, the hotels are going to change the whole vibe of South Main. For the past 25 years it’s been the neighborhood that was “Downtown, but away from all the hustle and bustle.” Now that’s not going to be the case anymore. Will it be for the better, in the opinion of the longtime locals down there? Not sure, but change is coming so you might as well embrace it. Rizzo’s and South Main Sushi should see an uptick in business, and the new Little Italy location will do well. Stores like Walking Pants Curiosities and the Harley-Davidson shop will get more people in there browsing around.

Memphis 901 FC is having its first-ever Ladies Night on Saturday, September 28. This specialty ticket gets you access to the Party Deck, beer, wine, a BBQ buffet, and a gift bag. One lucky lady will win a Signature Jewelry set from Kendra Scott. Match time is 7 PM and the opponent is Bethlehem Steel FC.

Democrat Kamala Harris will make an appearance in Memphis on Saturday. The senator from California will have a town hall at East High School at 6:30 PM to discuss her “3 AM Agenda,” issues that should be keeping Americans up at night.

The Memphis holiday parade on Beale Street has been set for Saturday, December 14 at 3 PM. This is excellent… they moved it off of the first Saturday of December, when way too many events go on Downtown the same day. I will be there, watching the parade outside the King’s Palace Tap Room. Come join me! Or don’t, if one member of your group pitches a hissy fit about me being there.

Sunrise Memphis will hold a Make-a-Wish fundraiser on Saturday, September 28. A girl named Vega will be there making three specialty biscuits, and if you buy one, $2 of the price will go to the charity. Also, Across the Board Hospitality will donate $1 every time any other biscuit or biscuit sandwich besides Vega’s is sold.

Pabst tweeted that its PBR hard coffee, currently in test markets in five states, will be available nationwide in early 2020.

I tried a sample of Skrewball whiskey yesterday. That is a new whiskey which tastes like peanut butter. Really good!

Action News 5 has the story of how Memphis became the backdrop for new TV series Bluff City Law.

The Peabody is hosting a Dinner & Bubbles champagne dinner October 1 at 6 PM. It will feature Moet & Chandon champagne. Here’s the menu. Registration is $150 and includes valet parking. Register

I went back to River Time Market & Deli on the south side of Court Square for lunch yesterday. This time I got the Court Avenue Cajun. Normally that comes with Cajun turkey, oven roasted chicken, pit ham, and American cheese, placed on a sub roll and heated, then topped with jalapenos and Creole mustard. Based on recommendations I had received from people who had tried that sandwich, I subbed out two of the ingredients. I asked for pepper jack cheese instead of American, and to give it less of a bite I asked for pepperoncini peppers rather than jalapenos.

It was piled so high with meat, it barely fit in my mouth! Yummy combination of flavors. Once again, this is only half the sandwich. I have learned that I get better photos when I photograph half the sandwich instead of the whole thing.

To thank me for being a good customer and for writing about River Time in my blog, Miss Pam put a sample of her blackberry cobbler in my bag. It was very good too.

Gotta get to work, so apologies if there are typos in this. I didn’t have time to proofread as well as I usually do. Back soon with more news.

Tuesday update

One thing I have discovered while working in Brinkley Plaza is that there’s a fine art photography gallery called Kandy Gallery on the lower level. The images are really beautiful outdoor scenes, retouched and lit from behind for effect. They are the work of photographer Neil Dankoff. Check out the gallery sometime if you’re into photography. This is the third Kandy Gallery to open. There are also galleries in Montreal and Toronto, with a fourth soon to open in Dallas.

Bardog Tavern is looking to hire a delivery driver. Driver must have transportation with current registration and valid insurance, and must have open availability.

LGBTQ-friendly nightclub Atomic Rose raised $2200 for Friends for Life on its opening weekend. Friends for Life is a Memphis nonprofit that provides support to those with HIV/AIDS as well as their caregivers.

Memphis 901 FC will hold family day on Beale Street Sunday, September 29 from noon to 2 PM. 901 FC players will play soccer with the kids who show up, and also pose for photos and sign autographs. There will be live music, cornhole, an inflatable slide, and interactive games.

The Beach Boys are coming to the Orpheum on February 11. They will perform their greatest hits. Mike Love is the only member of the current Beach Boys who was an original member.

White Claw and its competitor drinks have gotten so popular that Jon Taffer, host of the TV show Bar Rescue, is getting into the hard seltzer game.

The Triple-A National Championship game is tonight at AutoZone Park at 7:05. All fans receive a free order of BBQ nachos and a free soft drink or bottled water, compliments of Dave & Buster’s.

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

Yeah not a lot of news to report today

I tried. I tried to find some interesting stuff to talk about today but there just isn’t much. If you subscribe to The Daily Memphian there are a couple of good articles about the Union Row complex that is being built on the south side of the street in the Fourth/Danny Thomas area.

Cordelia’s Market will have a fall festival on Sunday, October 26. There will be music by Marcella & Her Lovers and treats from the market’s vendors, as well as a costume contest. 5% of sales that day will be donated to the Maria Montessori School nearby on the Island.

Blahhhh… MemphisWeather.net’s forecast has the highs near or above 90 every day through Monday of next week. Their extended outlook for September 23-29 shows temperatures above normal are likely. We may not get a break from this heat until October!

If you’re on the WWE Network and haven’t watched Clash of Champions, the pay-per-view that happened last night, it’s worth your time. I thought it was one of the better PPVs of the year. All three tag title matches (Raw/Smackdown/Women’s) were good. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks was outstanding. Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair was so-so and very short, but I really like what they’re doing with Bayley’s character. The WWE World and Universal title matches are worth a watch too.

Well, that’s it. Just wanted to post something so y’all wouldn’t worry. Back tomorrow, or soon, with more news.

Sunday update #2: This one’s personal

If you’re looking for the Downtown news (and my weekly bashing of the Tennessee Vols), scroll down to Sunday update #1. This is going to be an update of what’s been going on with me the past week or so.

A couple of notes before I get started:

First of all, I am not writing this to impress anyone. What I have been doing the past week or two is going to differ from what a lot of people think I “should” be doing. That is fine. If you wish to respond to this via email or text or PM, you are welcome to. The wide variety of responses I received to my post two and a half weeks ago really helped.

Second, I want to make it clear that I am not bashing any former employer or any person I worked with. Actually, the last two jobs I held were with great companies and the people I worked with on web development are amazingly talented. I was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole.

The job

So, I have now worked at a law firm down the street from where I live for 7 days, working 9 AM to 1 PM. I really enjoy it, and I am not just saying that in case the people for whom I work read this. I truly like my job. It gives me a purpose and makes me feel much better about myself than I have felt in a long time.

Basically, I see my role as to make sure the lawyer I’m working for doesn’t have to deal with technical minutiae, so that he’s able to spend as much time as possible building his case. I am happy to wrestle with things like footers on Excel worksheets so that he doesn’t have to.

I try to arrive by 8:55 every morning. I’m of the belief that arriving early is on time, and arriving on time is late. Since there’s no vehicle commute it’s nobody’s fault but my own if I’m not there on time.

I don’t have my own office; rather, I am at a desk in a large conference room that is sometimes used by the attorneys to collaborate on cases. Still, though, 98% of the time, I am by myself in the room. And for the first time since 2010, my workspace has four walls and a door.

I can stand up in my workspace and I don’t have other people looking at me.

Anyone else in the office can stand up in their workspace and they won’t be looking at me.

There are periods of 20-30 minutes of total silence at times. When I do hear co-workers’ conversations, they happen in a space I perceive as different from the space I am in, which makes them a lot less intrusive.

I cannot tell you what a difference this makes to my sanity.

Most people seem to be able to adapt to cubicle life, and I’m happy for them. But I’ve never been able to. I would guess my productivity would be reduced by 30 to 50 percent if they had me in a cubicle in my current job.

You know, a doctor can write a prescription for an emotional support dog, and restaurants, public transportation, businesses, your apartment leasing office, etc. have to honor it. I wonder if I can get a doctor to write me a note that I need four walls and a door where I work to preserve my mental health.

But anyway, I appreciate the opportunity that the law firm has given me, especially because they took a chance on someone without a legal background. You’ve probably seen the meme that it doesn’t cost anything to show up early, do extra, be coachable, etc. That’s the philosophy I try to carry with me from 9 (or really, 8:55) to 1.

IT and me

By IT I mean information technology, not a movie character.

In 1994 I got my Master’s degree in computer science. For the next decade I got to work on some fun projects.

In 1994-1995 I wrote software to be installed on touch-screen laptops that would sit on crash carts in hospitals. If would advise doctors on what to do when a patient needs advanced cardiac life support. I programmed rules like, if the patient is in this arrhythmia, give 1 mg epinephrine, and if that doesn’t do anything give them 1 mg atropine, and if that doesn’t work it’s time to get out the shock paddles. (I may not have that in the right order. It’s been 25 years after all.) It felt really good, knowing that the work I was doing was saving lives.

In fall 1997 I was in my fourth year teaching math at the University of Memphis. All the time I would have students come to me, and ask., “Paul, I made 89 on the first test and 86 on the second test. What do I need to average on the remaining tests if I want to make an A in your class?” and I would sit down and do the math with them. I got asked that kind of thing so much that I decided to build my students a tool they could use to do their computation. I had a place where they could enter their grade on each test or assignment, and how much weight that test or assignment counted toward the overall grade. I then had them input their desired target grade – so if they were taking a class from me and wanted an A, their target would be 90 (unless they were taking calculus from me, in which case I lowered the criteria to 87. Calculus is hard). My students loved it. It meant the time they spent worrying about their grades could now be redirected to learning the course material, which made them more likely to get the grade they wanted.

In 2000 I worked for a company in San Diego for a bit. I used server-side Javascript (yup that existed back then) to build e-commerce applications that allowed businesses to bid on government procurement contracts. Eventually I had to move back to Memphis, but while it lasted it was a lot of fun.

From 2001 to 2003 I worked for a household products company in Arkansas. I used Visual Basic and VB.NET, Classic ASP and ASP.NET, to modernize their website and build applications. I built an electronic Bill of Lading that allowed them to do business with Walmart. I eventually left the company because the commute was putting too many miles on the car, but it was fun while I was there.

From 2004 to 2006 I worked for a company near Appling Road creating rebate websites for national companies like York, Panasonic, and Wrangler. I wrote them in ASP.NET/VB.NET whenever possible, and Classic ASP/Visual Basic when not. That job was really cool because I was an account manager as much as I was a programmer. I’d often spend time on the phone with the client company’s marketing director, going through the details of how their rebate program worked – and oftentimes, they had not thought through the process themselves and I had to walk them through it. It was very rewarding when I finished a website and handed it over to a client.

When I built those websites in 2006, at the beginning of the project I would think through how long I thought it would take to complete, then I would pad it by 30% and give that estimate to the client. I wasn’t trying to be deceitful by doing that; I was just giving myself some breathing room in case anything unforeseen came up. So, for example, if I thought a project would take two weeks, I would probably tell the client 2 1/2 to 3 weeks. Then when I got it done in two, they would be impressed that I got it done ahead of schedule.

Now let me tell you about some of the things I didn’t have to do in the years 1994-2006, when programming was a fun activity I enjoyed and I was thrilled that I got to do it for money.

When I was writing those rebate websites, I wasn’t assigned a “sprint” where I was given the amount of work I thought I could get done in a week. I simply told them how long it would take and then I went and did it.

I didn’t have to record the number of hours I worked on the project in an online ticketing system, so a project manager could track my time.

I didn’t write part of the code in the data access layer, and part of the code in the data model layer, and part of the code in the business logic layer, and part of the code in the controller, and part of the code client side, and parts of the code in 8 other places in the project.

I didn’t use a server-side framework like Entity or Zend or Laravel.

I didn’t use a client-side framework like React or TypeScript. (Although, I have to admit client-side frameworks are a lot of fun.)

I didn’t use Twitter Bootstrap or a similar framework to make my sites mobile-friendly. (Although, I have to admit Twitter Bootstrap is really cool.)

I didn’t have to follow SOLID object design principles.

I didn’t program against abstractions rather than concretions.

I didn’t use models and views and controllers and ViewModels.

The applications I wrote weren’t RESTful.

If I wanted to set up a new development computer, I got out the CDs and started installing stuff. I didn’t go out and find a recipe that Chef or Vagrant could use to spin up the environment.

I didn’t write unit tests against my code.

In most jobs I held before 2006, I didn’t push from dev to test and from test to prod.

If I needed to create a database table, I opened up the SQL Server or MySQL console and created the table. I didn’t write a migration.

If I needed to populate a database table, I opened up the SQL Server or MySQL console and used the import tool. I didn’t write a seeder.

I didn’t use dependency injection in those days.

I never once heard the term “Agile” as applied to web development.

Okay. Every one of the things I described above are absolutely software design best practices in 2019. I am not disputing that in the least. Nor am I saying we should return to the way things were in 2006. That would be backward. Nor am I trying to put down anyone who follows those practices and really enjoys what they do for a living.

However, all the modern IT practices have caused me to feel a disconnect with the products I create. Programming in the enterprise isn’t fun for me anymore. I find that for programming in the enterprise, I don’t even have one percent of the passion that I have for writing this blog.

I know there are going to be people who respond, “Suck it up, buttercup. There are lots of people who have jobs that they don’t enjoy. You can too.”

The thing is, when I was home from college during the summer of 1988, my mom came home from work many days crying. She had no energy; she was too worn out to function, almost. She was an executive secretary at the Arkansas Gazette, which at the time was being sued by the Arkansas Democrat. That caused her work life to be very stressful and something she didn’t enjoy – but she’d been there 28 years and didn’t feel like she had any other option. I thought to myself, I never want to have a job where I come home from work feeling like she feels.

(The Arkansas Democrat won the suit and the Gazette had no choice but to sell out. The newspaper became the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.)

When I was a little boy, the cat was bad and I whacked her with a broom. From that day forward, the cat was terrified of the broom. If someone as much as picked it up, she’d scurry under the bed.

(As an adult, I regret terribly that I hit an animal.)

But anyway, the thought of going back to enterprise IT terrifies me as much as the broom terrified my cat.

So here I am, two months away from my 50th birthday, and I guess you could say I’m having a midlife crisis. A friend told me, “Paul, you’re one of the smartest people I know. Somewhere out there there’s a career you would love that would pay you a million dollars. You just have to figure out what that is.” That’s the problem. I don’t know what that is.

As I’ve written before, I’m a connector of people, I’m an inspirer of people, I’m an excellent communicator, I’m an excellent teacher. I want a career that uses at least some of those strengths. Enterprise IT really doesn’t.

Baby steps

When I wrote my post two and a half weeks ago, there were people who apparently thought I was going to give up drinking completely, start seeing a therapist, go to 7 AA meetings a week, and never set foot in a bar again. I can’t do all of that at once.

The biggest stressor of all was that the request for a distribution from my VALIC retirement account was being held up in some unknown red tape. The anxiety I felt over that was so intense that all I could do was go out and drink. The anxiety was so great that I couldn’t even call VALIC or the University of Memphis and figure out what was going on. It was a catch-22.

The job at the law firm absolutely saved me. For one thing, it brought in enough money to cover my August rent. It also put me in a mindset of getting things done. On Tuesday, my fourth day at work, I was enough in that mindset that I was able to break that cycle and call the University of Memphis’ HR department after I got off work. They figured out the problem: I last worked at the U of M so long ago that I’m not in the system. They said they would have to pull the microfiche to verify my employment, and that it would take several days. That’s not ideal but it was still a relief. I filled out a new copy of the VALIC form, scanned it, and emailed it to the University of Memphis HR department. When they verify my employment, they are going to fill out their section of the form and email it back to me along with a termination letter. I will then print out the form and the letter, fax it to VALIC, and a few days after that I should have my money.

I still go out to bars. That’s where all my friends are. I will never be able to give that up. And yes, I still drink. Maybe the day will come when I’m able to go to a bar and just drink a Coke or a virgin cocktail (Lord knows that either one of those taste better than beer). I’m not there yet though. If you are disappointed in me for that, I understand. Just please don’t lecture me. Offer advice or suggestions if you want, but don’t lecture. That doesn’t help.

For the first three days I had my job, I was still drinking to get to that third beer or shot so the anxiety would be dulled. But after I made the call to the U of M on Tuesday, the anxiety was largely gone. That was a step in the right direction. Since then I have been able to get full nights’ rest, instead of waking up at 4 in the morning terrified. Since then, when I have gone out to bars, I haven’t been drinking to dull the pain, and I’ve been better able to enjoy the company of friends.

I’ve made another baby step. I no longer feel the need to spend every minute of the day, other than when I’m working or sleeping, at a bar. The fact that I’m sitting at home at 3:04 on a Sunday typing this is evidence of that fact. I have not been out yet today. Sundays are the days with which I wanted to start this process of weaning myself from the bars, because it has become the least fun day for me to go out. The crowd at Blind Bear gets super random and often I’ll be sandwiched in between people I don’t know. Pontotoc gets super crowded, which is testament to Brad’s popularity, but it’s just not as much fun now that Sunday brunch there has been widely discovered. So I don’t mind staying home until 4 or later.

I’m working on cutting back on the weekdays too. I get home from work at 1. Since my friend John usually gets to the Silly Goose at 3:30, I wait until then to go out. He doesn’t go there at all on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I’ll wait until 4:30. That will give me time to write in my personal journal, run errands that I have put off, and work on a consulting project I still owe a good friend.

Like I say, be disappointed in me if you want, call me irresponsible for going to bars at all if you want. You wouldn’t be wrong to say that. But, I have to take baby steps. I have to deal with my problems in my own time, in my own way. I can’t do what someone else thinks I should do. I’m not them. I’m proud of the progress I have made in the past two and a half weeks.

One of the most absurd things I have been told is that people in the service industry are not my real friends, that they care more that I continue to tip them well than they care about me. I don’t buy that for one second and I find it insulting to many people I love. As a matter of fact, the person who made the connection that led to my job at the legal firm owns a bar and knew that if I took the job, I’d be spending less time there.

So, that’s what’s going on with me. I am by no means fixed but I am far less broken than I was two weeks ago. Thanks for reading. If you want to leave feedback, email paul@paulryburn.com or text me or PM me on Facebook.

Sunday update #1

Going to do two updates today. The first is going to be my normal news post, and the second is going to be an update about what is going on in my world and in my mind.

Yesterday’s photo of my cornbread breakfast sandwich from River Time Market & Deli on Court Square, as of the time I type this, has 137 “Likes”/reactions on the Memphis Sandwich Clique Facebook group. You remember when I first tried Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos a few days after it opened? I wrote on here that Maciel’s was not an “I’ll get around to trying it in two or three months” place. It was a GO THERE NOW place. River Time is the first restaurant that has opened Downtown since then for which I feel the same way. I know, some of you are thinking, “C’mon, Paul, it’s a sandwich. How good could a sandwich be?” but trust me on this one.

Tennessee 45, Chattanooga 0: Wow, the Vols are not the worst team in the state of Tennessee! I can imagine the conversation in Knoxville today: “I TELL YOU WUT, BOY, THAT THAR PLAYOFF COMMITTEE HAS PICKED 2-LOSS TEAMS IN THE PAST. ALL WE GOT TO DO IS WIN OUT AND IT’S GONNN BEEE ARRR YEARRR.” Yeah let’s revisit that after you play Florida next week, and again after Bama drops 62 on you in October. But hey, the chance to play in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is still a (probably unattainable) dream for you!

Let’s look at the Vols’ remaining games and their ESPN estimated chance of winning and see how likely it is they win 6 games and get to a bowl:

  • Florida: 13.9% chance of winning. Oh this game is going to be a joy to watch. I really love Bardog on Saturdays but I’m going to be tempted to go to Max’s Sports Bar and watch the corner table clique drown their sorrow in chocolate salty ball shots and buckets of Miller Lite. Maybe they’ll ask Bjarni to change the channel to cricket or water polo.
  • Georgia: 11.7% chance of winning
  • Mississippi State: 37.6% chance of winning
  • Alabama: 3.1% chance of winning, which seems awfully generous to me. Maybe a piano will fall on Saban as he’s walking down the street. Otherwise I don’t see how the chance is anything other than 0%.
  • South Carolina: 42.6% chance of winning
  • UAB: 92.2% chance of winning. I didn’t check, but I bet that’s approximately the chance ESPN gave Tennessee of beating Georgia State in week 1.
  • Kentucky: 29.5% chance of winning
  • Missouri: 26.8% chance of winning
  • Vanderbilt: 74,9% chance of winning

So if ESPN’s predictions hold true, Tennessee is going to go 3-9 this season. That’s not going to sit well on Rocky Top, but what can you do? The aura of losing lingers on the hills of east Tennessee like a thick fog. Tennessee ranks 10th in total spending on athletics, and yet its football team can’t even make it to a bowl game.

Arkansas 55, Colorado State 34: The Hogs avenge their nasty loss to the Rams last year. This week on social media, I have seen several people say that the Razorbacks would be a better fit for the Big 12 than the SEC. I cannot disagree. They’d be back in the mix with former Southwest Conference rivals Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, and TCU. Arkansas has had some classic bowl games with Oklahoma. The Hogs’ basketball program has strong ties to Oklahoma State via Eddie Sutton. And Arkansas would be out of the brutal SEC West, where they have zero chance of winning as long as Nick Saban is coaching. Kansas would be an easy football win, as would good ole West Virginny whose football program has really fallen off a cliff this year.

Memphis 42, South Alabama 6: Well that result was never really in question. The Tigers have a bye week this coming Saturday, then have a nationally-televised (ESPN) game vs. Navy the following Thursday. The Tigers are listed as an 81.8% favorite in that one, but Navy is a team you never, ever want to underestimate.

Kooky Canuck’s Double Your Dollars gift card sale returns Wednesday, September 25 from 10 AM until they run out of gift cards or 10 PM. For every dollar you spend on your card, they’ll match it. If you’re a fan of Kooky food this is a chance to get twice as much for your money. Minimum purchase is $10 and you can buy the cards in any increments you like.

It’s Chicken Sandwich Bingo at Loflin Yard this afternoon (4-6 PM). The winner of every round gets one of Loflin’s famous hot chicken sandwiches. Dress up as a chicken and get an extra card.

Loflin Yard will host a Wild West Nerf Battle on Saturday the 28th.

It looks like B-RAD will be the regular Saturday bartender at Silly Goose, day shift from 2 to 8. I am going to have to figure that one out because Bardog is my regular Saturday spot, and I have friends I like to see who don’t get to Bardog until about 3. I guess there’s plenty of time to do both.

Since I have a time-sensitive event (the chicken bingo) I’m going to go ahead and hit Publish. Back in a bit with a post about me.