Stranded in Memphis for Christmas/snow and ice

I was at work yesterday, out near Whitten Road, when it started sleeting – hard – about 2 pm. By 2:30 the streets were slush/ice and my car was covered. The company’s official policy was to stay open but they understood if people had to leave early. I held out until 4:30, then went and scraped the car (without gloves) and started the drive home. The last time I drove on ice, I was 17.

It took an hour and a half for what is normally a 30-minute drive. Traveling down the I-40, traffic was moving about 10 miles an hour. Once I got on Sam Cooper, I was able to get up to 25. I nearly got sideswiped by a couple of cars because no one could figure out where the lanes were. But I made it home safe and sound. I warmed up with some hot chocolate at the coffee shop, then went to the Flying Saucer with some of my neighbors (it was virtually the only place open downtown – even Huey’s closed, which is highly unusual).

I called in to work today. The streets have turned to solid ice and it’s not worth risking my life and my car to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours.

Little Rock is in even worse shape than Memphis, so it looks like I won’t be going home for Christmas. If anyone reading this is in Memphis (particularly downtown) for the holidays) and wants to hang out, let me know.

What the bums are drinking this week

NOTHING!!!!!!

hahahahahahahaha

What happened was, the liquor store around the corner unexpectedly closed early, but they forgot to turn off the “OPEN” sign. So the bums stood in front of Walgreens for half an hour begging tourists for change, and when they finally got enough they walked over to the liquor store and…DENIED! Ha! Boy were they mad. They cussed and threw things and kicked over the Apartment Guide box on the corner. Then they started on the long trek to the next closest liquor store, 8 blocks away.

My goal for the rest of December

My web site sucks. This journal is relatively new, but much of the site’s look hasn’t been updated in eight years. And the look isn’t consistent from one part of the site to the next. If this were some crap AOL home page I wouldn’t care, but this site has my name on it. PaulRyburn.com. I still get compliments on it, but in my mind it’s an embarrassment compared to what I’m capable of producing.

So I’m going to try to come up with a new site design. Since I’ve now had a web development job for 3 months, I’ve had the chance to sharpen my skills with style sheets, positioning, graphics, tables and the like. For the next few days I’ll look at every web site and print ad I can find and see if I get any ideas. Then I’ll do the work. PaulRyburn.com uses PHP, whereas I use ASP.NET at work, so I’ll have to learn PHP a little bit better.

So we’ll see what happens. If you know of any well-designed sites that might inspire me, let me know (NO Flash though – I’m not using Flash in the design).

What the bums are drinking this week

Several journal readers have told me that this is their favorite feature, so I figured I’d bring it back. And I’m sitting in the coffee shop, so all I have to do is run around the corner and see what boxes the liquor store threw out…

Damn! No trash today! Well, I saw a truck outside unloading the other day, and (surprise, surprise) there were about 8 cases each of Mad Dog 20/20, Wild Irish Rose, and Calvert Extra. Everything to satisfy the $2-and-under customer.

That’s it for now, the laptop battery is about to die. Back soon with more posts, I have plenty more stories to tell…

Thanksgiving in Little Rock

The great thing about this blog is that you, my faithful readers, get to read the same stories I’ve been telling all over downtown the past two weeks. This time the stories concern my recent trip to Little Rock for Thanksgiving with my mother.

As I drove in, I passed through downtown and the hip, trendy Hillcrest district. I was shocked at all the art galleries and coffee shops and fun new restaurants. It was like the South Main arts district in Memphis x 100. What’s happened to my original hometown, I thought. It had started to look like a place I could actually live in!

Then I turned on the TV.

“It’s the Shotgun Special from (a local Ford dealership)! Buy an F-150 or higher pickup this week and we’ll give you a free rifle just in time for duck hunting season! That’s right, folks, we’ll throw in a free shotgun with the purchase of any full-sized pickup!”

WTF???? Who gives away a GUN as a PROMOTIONAL GIFT? And it had to be a popular promotion, because the commercial ran 3 times during the 6:00 news. It made me want to found a new town called White Trash, Arkansas, force all the people who took advantage of the promotion to move there, and encourage them to bring their new guns, so hopefully they’ll shoot each other.

But the commercial turned out to be the best thing I saw on TV that night. My mother informed me that we had to watch the 3-hour season finale of The Bachelor. It was down to the final two contestants, and I had to sit there and watch the bachelor meet each girl’s parents, then each girl went on a “date” with him and met his friends, then everyone sat around and talked about their feelings, then he proposed to one of the bimbos, then everyone sat around and talked about the experience in front of a live audience for an hour.

YUCK. It should be illegal to make someone watch that crap without having any liquor in the house to make it go by faster. However, my mother was treated to my running commentary during the show.

“Is it over yet?” (at 7:03)

“This is horrible. Even a 3-episode marathon of Days of Our Lives would better than this.”

“Hell, three hours of Passions would even be an improvement.”

“Three hours of Beavis & Butt-head would be better than this.”

“Bimbo #1 has fake boobs.”

“Are her parents reading off a teleprompter? Sure looks like it to me. I thought this was supposed to be a REALITY show.”

“Three hours of George W. Bush speeches would be better than this.”

“They should come to Memphis and make a reality show about the hooker who works the lobby bar of the Peabody, it couldn’t be any worse than this show.”

The only saving grace was that the Bachelor had good hair. I need to get a screen cap of that show so I can get my hair stylist to cut my hair like his. Why do the crummiest shows have people with the best hair? There’s a kid on Days of Our Lives with great hair as well.

The rest of the weekend was less eventful, most of it spent listening to my mother telling me that I need to cut my hair, dress better, stop spending so much time in bars, go to church at least once in a while, find a nice girl and get married, etc., etc., etc.

Oh, there was one other funny comment. I was telling her about the nightclubs I go to – Raiford’s, 152, etc. And she asked, “When you go to these clubs, do you take your laptop computer with you?” That one left me speechless.

Two more weeks until it’s time to go to Little Rock for Christmas. I’m sure I’ll come back with even more good stories.

Wine tasting, and the difference between downtowners and everyone else

If you ever need to find me on Sunday, it’s real easy – go to the downtown Blue Monkey on Front Street. I get there about noon and order a bottle of champagne and orange juice, make mimosas, and catch up with the other downtowners who come in.

Last Sunday I was there and noticed a card sitting on the bar. “WINE TASTING – 5:30 PM.” Sounds interesting, I thought, so I decided to hang out until then.

So at 5:30 I tabbed out at the bar and went into the back room for the tasting. I paid my $15 and took a seat. The Monkey’s day shift manager, who got off at 5:30, also stuck around and sat at the table with me. There were about 12-15 people at the other tables, and I found out that they came from Collierville and Cordova.

There were six wines, two white and four red. The sommelier, in my opinion, did an excellent job – rather than the tiny sips they usually pour at wine tastings, this guy was pouring full glasses. Only problem was, the tasting was moving along at a brisk pace, about 5-7 minutes between wines. I had to have an empty glass ready by the time the next bottle came around, and I know better than to slam glasses of wine, especially red wine. So I had to do something that goes against everything I believe in – I had to pour the remainder into the discard bucket in the middle of the table.

As the wine began to flow, everyone loosened up and started joking around. “Look at all those different wines in the discard bucket,” commented the day shift manager. “It’s like a Diver from Silky O’Sullivan’s.”

So the tasting went on….three, four, five, six wines. Each time I had to pour out about half my glass to be ready to move on. I enjoyed the tasting thoroughly but was a bit disappointed to see so much of my $15 investment in that discard bucket.

So I did what, to me, seemed like the logical thing…I picked up the bucket and poured myself a glass.

The people at the other tables were appalled. “What are you doing?” they asked. “That’s the throwaway bucket!” I’m sorry, but I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was only sharing the bucket with one other person, who happened to be a friend of mine. How is that any different from taking a sip from a glass that she just drank from, which I do all the time with my friends. I wouldn’t have done it if people I didn’t know were also using the bucket.

Over the past week, I’ve told this story to numerous people and have noticed two distinct reactions. About half the people have responded, “You drank out of the wine bucket, what’s wrong with that? You paid for it, after all.” Nearly all of those people live downtown.

The other half have said, “Paul! What’s wrong with with you? Drinking out of the discard bucket is just gross! Wine tastings are classy events, you need to act appropriately when you attend one.” Almost none of the people who responded this way live downtown – they live out east, in the suburbs, or (surprisingly) in Midtown.

So there you have it. The difference between downtown and the rest of the city. I’m glad I’ve picked a neighborhood that shares my attitude and values.

Pigeons and people

Part of living downtown is sitting in my favorite coffee shop and watching what I call the bum-and-pigeon show out the window.

Today, the pigeons took center stage. There were two of them on the Main Street Mall, hunting and pecking for food. It was interesting to watch them. Whenever one would turn, the other would turn as well, even if it could not see the other pigeon. It was instinctive. It was like a dual-pigeonal unit of consciousness.

They stayed out on the street for about 30 minutes. Later on, one of the pigeons turned around and discovered, to its horror, that it was more than an acceptable distance from the other pigeon. So it rushed to catch up, bobbing its little head all the way.

Later this evening, I went out to Club 152 on Beale Street. There were a lot of people on the dance floor and I grabbed a beer and watched. There was this cute Asian girl who was dancing with an American girl, a brunette. It was interesting to watch them on the dance floor. The American girl would turn, and the Asian girl would instinctively turn too, even if she couldn’t see the Asian girl. Or vice-versa.

Later in the evening, the American girl turned around and discovered, to her horror, that the Asian girl was more than an acceptable distance away on the dance floor. So the American girl rushed to catch up, bobbing her little head all the way.

I bet I could have gotten the girls’ phone numbers, if I had thrown them a cracker or a piece of stale bread.

Catching up on the mail

I’ve been busy lately, so I’ve gotten behind reading through the e-mail in my Inbox, so let’s see what’s in there.

Subj: add 3 inches to ol johnson

Obviously, this e-mail was sent to me by mistake. It was intended for a Mr. Johnson, who seems to be looking into methods to make himself taller. I’ve heard that it’s possible to undergo a surgical procedure that can make a person several inches taller, but involves breaking both legs and there is a danger that they won’t heal properly. I would advise Mr. Johnson to look into platform shoes, or perhaps take a self-esteem class – adding three inches of height won’t necessarily fill the emptiness he feels inside.

If anyone knows Mr. Johnson’s e-mail address, let me know and I’ll forward the message on.

Subj: U R Stupid Dumbass If You Pay Full Price For Softwarees!

Gotta give the sender an “A” for marketing. After all, do I want to go around thinking, “I M Stupid Dumbass?” Of course not! Therefore, I will seriously consider buying his softwaree, or so0ftware or soooffftwares as it is referred to elsewhere in the message.

The main program they are promoting is W1ND0WS XP Pro. They point out that when I shop and buyyy it in a box I paayy $299.00. But they can seeell it to me for only $32, which according to them is a saav1ngs of $254. These people obviously have the world of software figured out. I don’t know whether to be more impressed with their spelling skills, or their math skills. I better start ordering those softwaarres now. Oops, I accidentally deleted the message. Too bad.

V1agra, Xan@x, more – no doctor visit required! zxqvba shjol

This V1agra must be good stuff, because I have received over 1000 messages about it over the past month. Obviously a lot of people I’ve never met before are concerned with my health and well-being and thought I should know about this. The world is full of wonderful souls, isn’t it?

As for Xan@x, I’m sure it’s great too, but don’t you think people might mistake it for an e-mail address? Someone might think it’s used to send mail to Xan at x (I think they may have meant Xan at x.com though) and miss out on the amazing benefits one gets from taking Xan@x.

And no doctor visits – that’s just brilliant. I hate going to see doctors. They poke you with needles and charge you lots of money. Who needs doctors?

I clicked on the website listed in the e-mail, and discovered to my delight that they also had Phenterem1ne as well! How lucky am I?

Well, that’ll do it for e-mail today. Feels good to be all caught up.