Checking the website tracker

It’s always interesting to check the site’s tracker and see who has been visiting. It won’t tell me the exact name or e-mail address of the person visiting, but it will tell me the hostname of their computer on the Internet, which is enough to give me some idea of who they are. Let’s see who has been visiting:

A frequent visitor from or.comcast.net: Well, I know who this is. Nice to see that McConnell still finds time to read my journal. I’m sure he’s pleased with the recent upswing in quantity of entries (although not so much in quality).

Lots of hits from usdoj.gov: Ordinarily it would scare me that the U.S. Department of Justice finds my site so interesting, but then I remember that I have friends there. They’re just tuning in to see if I’ve written anything else about our mutual friend who can put her ankles behind her head. Either that or Bush’s attempt to turn the U.S. into a police state is farther along than I realized, and the government really is watching me.

Lots of hits from kgpt.tn.charter.com: I have readers from Kingsport, Tennessee? I can’t recall knowing anyone there. Well, that’s not true, one night about two months ago I was getting drunk in the Tap Room, and these two tourists from Kingsport were sitting next to me and we talked for a while. Think I may have given them a card, not sure, I was pretty drunk.

Hit from memphis.edu: Former student probably. I haven’t taught there in 6 years, but a lot of U of M students are on the 10-year graduation plan. However, I’d like to think it was the extremely cute girl who works at the U of M who was at the party on my rooftop Thursday night.

Hit from memphislibrary.org: This is a wild guess but I think this may be a friend of mine who I haven’t talked to in a couple of years. If it is, you should e-mail me (paul at paulryburn.com). The last time I hung out with this person I drove her nuts because I’d interrupt mid-conversation to point at someone and say, “Look at that girl! She has a tube top on!” Obviously I haven’t grown up a lot in the past two years.

Dammit…it’s not even June anymore and I’m still talking about them.

Tonight I hung out with my neighbor the caterer. I traded him and his family several glasses of wine for a great meal of shrimp over linguini and marinated green beans. His children are becoming accustomed to living downtown. They’ll be walking down the street with him and they’ll point and say, “Look, Daddy! Bum!”

Still haven’t figured out whether this week’s Sunday drinking extravaganza will happen at Sleep Out’s or the Blue Monkey. Sleep Out’s felt like home last week and I had planned on moving the show back there permanently, but then I heard from several people that I was missed at the Monkey. So I’m absolutely 50-50 on my decision right now…probably won’t decide until Sunday morning.

Sunday night I’ll be on my rooftop to watch the Tom Lee Park fireworks. I noticed that the Madison Hotel is charging $25 for admission to their roof for their event, which is basically identical to the view I have from my roof for free. And I won’t have to pay $6 for a glass of wine.

All right…time for bed. If anything interesting happens this weekend I’ll check in with a post.

What the bums and Tonya are drinking this week

One of my neighbors had sort of a reverse birthday party today. She turned 23 and could have easily been all about “me me me me me my party my presents who’s buying me drinks who’s taking me out to clubs me me me.” But instead, she threw an appreciation party for all her friends, to tell them how special her past year has been because of them. Isn’t that cool? She may be younger than me but in some ways I view her as a role model because of the way she just openly, naturally connects with everyone. She’s going to be wildly successful in business by the time she’s about 27, maybe sooner.

So anyway, I stopped by Frank’s Liquors on South Main to pick up a bottle of wine for her party. Remembering that she gave me a bottle of Boone’s Farm for my “birthday” a couple of weeks ago (see archives from around June 12-13 I think), I decided to get her a comparable gift… THE classic wine of downtown…

Thunderbird.

It cost $3 for a fifth. The store’s owner wrapped it up in a shiny silver gift bag with pretty white bow. “The giftwrap cost more than the wine,” she commented.

At the party I poured myself half a sip. It’s nasty but I HAD to know for myself. It really does smell like Clorox, and it tastes like paint. I only managed to get one other person to try the Bird.

And that’ll do it for the very last post of Tube Top Month, and it’s somehow appropriate that it’s in honor of the birthday girl. God, just that half sip of T-Bird was enough to give me heartburn. Time to break out the Mylanta. I’ll see you in July!

Draft lottery

As usual, I was up on my rooftop tonight, and have a report.

Was talking with one of my neighbors who had been over to the Echelon at the Ballpark apartments lately, and commented that it was a younger crowd. “We need to mix it up a little bit,” he said. “No. 10 has more of a middle-aged crowd, where the Echelon’s crowd is younger. It would be good if we could arrange a draft.” It reminded me of the WWE’s recent draft lottery, where five Raw superstars were drafted to Smackdown and vice versa. Not a bad idea. I’m already drafting my list of neighbors I’d send to the Echelon.

One of my neighbors left yesterday, by the way. Not as a result of a draft lottery. My favorite neighbor, a very precocious 5-year-old who could carry on a better conversation than most people six times her age. She went to visit her grandparents and will be back next month. There will be a little less sunshine on the roof until she gets back.

Later in the evening, I was talking to several of my neighbors, including the one who doesn’t understand the difference between a halter top and a tube top. I won’t mention her by name but check the archives. Anyway, at one point she was stretching and she put her ankle behind her head. I’ve gained new respect for this neighbor. If she’s reading: Hey baby. How YOU doin’? What other moves you got? She’s a dancer. Not the kind of dancer I usually go for (i.e. she doesn’t work in a purple building on Mt. Moriah), but, again, what other moves you got?

And that brings another in the series of stupid journal entries to a close. 25 1/2 hours until July.

Yet another in a series of really stupid blog entries

So tonight I was sitting up on the rooftop talking with two of my neighbors, both attorneys and close to my own age. For about 40 minutes we watched the sunset and talked about relationships, movies, plans for the Fourth. It was nice to just sit back and relax and enjoy some adult conversation.

Then it went downhill. My neighbor who lives on my floor – won’t identify him but he has the same first name as me, and remember, I said he is an attorney – asked me, “So, you’ve been hanging out at Raiford’s recently, haven’t you?” I told him I had. He replied, “There’s a picture of me somewhere on the Internet dancing with the pole at Raiford’s.” SOMEBODY PLEASE SEND ME THE URL OF THIS PIC – I think a linky-link can be arranged.

So that got the conversation onto the topic of my blog, which meant we were soon talking about tube tops. (They brought up the subject, I didn’t. I’m getting positively sick of tube tops. Talking about them, not seeing them.) “Are you going to the concert at Court Square tomorrow night?” asked the other attorney. “My friend and I are going, and we’re thinking about both wearing our tube tops.” Oh, that SUCKS! I have an Mpact meeting tomorrow night and it will be the first Court Square concert that I miss. Could somebody go and take a camera?

And then she went on to say something I found really offensive: “I have a wrap that I wear over the tube top so it looks classier.” No. NOOOOOO!!!!!! Tube tops are completely classy the way they are. No additional accessorizing is needed. Are we clear on that?

I still have “Love Child” stuck in my head.

The song I currently have stuck in my head

“Love Child” by Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Yesterday I made a run across the street to Walgreens, passing a girl in a tube top on the way (remember, it’s still June). As I was getting my shopping done, “Love Child” was playing on the store speakers.

Now I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve been playing it over and over nonstop for the past two hours, alternating between dancing around the apartment and writing the previous blog entry.

What sad lyrics.

I’ve changed my mind: July WILL have a theme after all

This is going to be a stark contrast to tube top month, but it’s a series I’ve been thinking about writing for a months and months now. I’m going to call it “Life Lessons.” It will be a summary of some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years, usually presented with examples. I haven’t thought through the exact format yet. It will probably evolve over the course of the month.

I will be writing these for me as much as for my blog viewing audience. But, you the reader are encouraged to send me comments and life lessons of your own.

Unlike June, I am not promising that every journal entry will be about life lessons. So you may well tune in and find me talking about how I went down to the basement of my building and watched a cockroach lay an egg. Or what the bums are drinking this week. But I will say that I am going to make a good faith effort to make this series happen.

It’s not July yet, but how about a little preview anyway:

Life Lesson 1
Enjoy the process, love the process, focus on the process. Not the outcome.

My first exposure to this lesson (at least when I recognized it as such) occurred when I was teaching college. It drove me positively crazy to see my students overfocus on grades.

I’ve got to pull my average up to 90 so I can get an A!

Please, sir, can I get some extra credit so I can add two more points to my grade? It doesn’t have to be meaningful or anything, I just need the two points.

I hope I can memorize this list of facts long enough to get through the final exam and get my B.

I tried so hard to make them understand that they should be focusing on the process of learning. That if they took full advantage of all the resources they had – textbooks, their teacher, supplementary materials, their naturally curious minds – good grades would be a natural consequence. Some of them got it. Some didn’t. But those that did were generally the ones that were happiest and most successful in the real world.

If you work in sales, you better take this rule to heart. Last year when I tried my hand at credit card merchant sales, I hadn’t and I positively SUCKED at it as a result. I’d get most of the way – I’d get a second or third meeting with a fitness center, or restaurant, or limo service. And at that point I’d start thinking, “I have to make this sale. If I do, it will prove that I really can do this. And if not, oh my God, I’ll be a failure, and this is my livelihood, how will I eat? How will I pay my rent?”

And inevitably, the deals would fall through. The limo service went with their bank. The fitness center owner had a friend in the same line of work as I was. The restaurant cancelled their order for my $800 terminal and bought a $200 used model on eBay. And my day would be ruined. There would be days when I’d knock off at noon and just go sit at the coffee shop because I couldn’t deal with that again.

Sometimes I’d get one. But I’d still be so attached to the outcome – the sale – that I’d negotiate away all or most of my commission. So I’d come out feeling miserable even when I won.

How much better would it have been if I had said, “Let’s go in there and see what happens. Maybe I’ll get the sale and maybe I won’t, but if my goal is to learn from the situation and improve my game so that I sell more effectively in the future, there’s a 100% chance of success.”

Then I would’ve looked at the encounter with the limo driver and thought, “Yeah, I didn’t get it, but I got him to the third meeting. I obviously peaked his interest or he wouldn’t have invited me back. What did I do right those first few times that can be repeated on future sales calls?”

I could also have said, “There was a point when I blew it, when I didn’t get the sale. What can I notice about that, so I can head it off next time?” And then learned the lesson, and put it aside.

Perhaps the most important application of this rule, however, is in relationships. Focusing on one particular outcome is the kiss of death. “I have to be with this person. If only I could get them to like me… how will I live without them?” This kind of mindset will make you too serious, smothering the lightheartedness/playfulness that is so very important to success in relationships.

When I’ve successfully applied this rule, I’ve found that getting the “does she like me? does she like me?” question out of my head allows me to focus on her. It allows me to notice when I’m really connecting with her, so I can take steps to make that happen again in the future. It allows me to notice when I’m doing something that annoys her, so I can learn not to do that again.

This is a hard one to actually apply in practice though. For every time I’ve gotten it right, I’ve messed it up dozens.

All right. That’s the first in the series. I’ve thought of two more as I typed this one. Some of these are going to be basic, some complex. Many of them are ones I’ve compounded from various sources; a few will be completely original. Over and out.

Mail bag

As promised, it’s time to catch up on the mail once again.

Subj: Have more fun in the bedroom

You know, I’ve been thinking about buying one of those ten-in-one game tables and putting it in my bedroom. One of those ones that lets you play checkers, chess, backgammon, parcheesi, and some other games. That would certainly add more fun to my bedroom, don’t you think?

Subj: Bigger? My, my!

Okay, this is one where the image in my head is so funny that I can’t stop laughing long enough to think of something witty and amusing to type in response. I mean, imagine if I had a girlfriend, and I bought the penis enlargement system advertised in this e-mail. And one night we’re getting it on, and she sees it… and says, “Bigger? My, my!” Oh god that’s hilarious.

Can’t wait to sober up and see if it’s still as funny then. I have a feeling it will be Monday before that happens, because it’s almost time to go to church. And by church, I mean Sleep Out Louie’s.

My friend/neighbor Carmel owns a tube top now. It’s baby blue, according to her. Haven’t seen it yet. That has nothing to do with anything else in this post, but I had to get the theme in there somehow.

Oh, and Meredith had a tube top on last night too. Most of the people reading this blog don’t know Meredith. Then again, as drunk as I was she could have had on an Eskimo parka and I would’ve mistaken it for a tube top.

Is it July yet?

Subj: paul is your pen1s on call all the time

Some of my friends who are employed in the information-technology sector have to be on call every other weekend. Meaning, if the server goes down, they have to go in. If a critical bug in their code causes their applications to crash, they have to go in. That absolutely has to SUCK. Their weekend is not truly their own. So, I wouldn’t wish that on my pen1s. I want my pen1s to be free to do whatever it wants. Sounds like I should stop wearing underwear.

Subj: Girls like it

Must be an e-mail about Tupperware.

God. This blog is hitting an all-time low. June, hurry up and get over.

All right. It’s 10:15 AM, which means the bars will be open in 45 minutes. Plans for today:

1) Go to Sleep Out’s and drink a bottle of

Wait, scratch that.

1) Go up to the roof and see if my cute neighbor from the second floor is laying out in her bikini.

2) Go to Sleep Out’s and drink a bottle of Tott’s Brut. And probably eat some fried crawfish tails.

3) Come back home. Pop open one of the bottles of Cook’s champagne in my fridge. Drink it.

4) Pop open the other bottle of Cook’s. Drink it.

5) Write a blog entry even stupider than this one, if that’s possible.

6) Back up to the roof to watch the sunset and see if Carmel has her new tube top on.

Obviously a very full day. Whew, it’s 88 outside already! Time to get started.

Why July will not be a theme month

June is drawing to a close. Only 4 more days left to celebrate tube top month. But, as I mentioned in the last entry, July will not be a theme month for my blog.

Ever watch The Real World on MTV? The first few seasons were just awesome. Remember the San Francisco season, with Puck? Good times.

Then they ruined it. They started doing a theme every season. The roommates had some kind of job that tied them all together. One season they worked at a radio station. Another, they gave tours on sailboats. Another, they volunteered at a children’s center.

The roommates couldn’t be themselves anymore. The common/shared job became a limitation more than a uniting factor. We couldn’t see them being spontaneous. In the early seasons, some of the roommates went to school, some held jobs, some pursued music careers. They all did their own thing. But once the job came along, all that changed. And they had to start recruiting neurotic/psycho roommates to make the show interesting.

Anyway… point is, in July I want to be free to express myself, without limitation. So, no theme.

Hope this made sense. It’s almost 10 AM as I type this and I’m still drunk from last night, and not in the best of moods. Maybe doing a “Mail Bag” will turn me around, there’s lots of mail in the inbox. There may be another entry coming real soon…

My work, featured in an art gallery…sort of

Last night I headed to South Main for the monthly Trolley Art Tour. My first stop was 314 S. Main, where my friend Danita Beck was having her farewell-to-Memphis show. As I was walking around looking at her work, what did I discover on the wall but a quote from this very blog!

June 3, 2004: “Friday night I will be attending a reception for my friend Danita Beck’s exhibit “Biopic – A Narrative in 25 Images” at Universal Art Gallery, 111 G.E. Patterson near the corner of Main. Not only is Danita an accomplished artist, but she’s also the chair of Mpact’s Community Involvement Pillar. Please come out and support her! The reception lasts from 6 to 9 pm.”

It was on the wall in two places. As far as I know, that’s the first time anything I ever did was featured in an art gallery. Probably the last, too.

About an hour and five glasses of wine later, I ran into a friend of mine who is a regular Trolley Tour attendee and also a regular reader of this blog. She and I had a great conversation about what qualifies as a tube top, and she made some very insightful comments. “If it’s a real tube top it should be form-fitting all the way down,” she said. “I’ve seen some that are tight at the top, but then they flare out. I don’t think those are tube tops. They’re strapless tops, but not tube tops.” Excellent, excellent point. It’s a pleasure to speak with someone who communicates herself so eloquently.

She continued, “If it has straps that tie around your neck, it’s a halter top, not a tube top. If it has straps that go over the shoulders, it’s a tank top. A tube top doesn’t have any straps.” She also agreed that untying the neck strap of a halter top and saying “see, it stays up without the strap” does not turn it into a tube top. (ATTN CARMEL: Go back and re-read this paragraph a few times)

Today is June 25…just think, only five more days and this will go back to being a regular blog and you won’t have to read this idiotic blabbering about tube tops anymore. I’ve decided there will NOT be a theme for the month of July, for reasons I’ll explain in a future journal entry.

So, anyway, not much else happened for the remainder of Trolley Tour night. By 9:00 I had drunk an astounding TEN glasses of wine, and then I went to Earnestine & Hazel’s and had a beer at Nate’s upstairs bar. I was home passed out by 10:45.

Other random stuff:

– Happy birthday to my friend Kenny, who is one of my oldest drinking buddies from my Six-1-Six days in the 1990s. Kenny is one hell of a good pool player, and taught me how to use english, draw, follow and other concepts that vastly improved my game. One hell of a good guy too. Gonna try to make it to his birthday party tonight.

– Plans for the remainder of the month: Was going to go to a wine tasting this afternoon, but am now leaning toward skipping it because I need to get a friend’s website done. Tomorrow I’ll start the day at Sleep Out’s, and probably hang out on my rooftop later on – one of my neighbors is talking about having a Jimmy Buffett party. (How to get mentioned in my blog: wear a tube top or bikini, feed me, give me a vacuum cleaner, or have a Jimmy Buffett party.) Wednesday is the Mpact General Membership meeting at DISH, and I think I have a Membership Committee meeting afterwards. Thursday the Dempseys are playing on the Madison rooftop. I may have to take off after their first set though (dammit, that means I’ll probably miss “Thunder Road”/”Summertime Blues”, which lately they’ve been doing in their second set).

– If you live in Memphis and you’ve ever wondered what Los Angeles looks like, go outside. The worst smog I’ve ever seen is covering the city. Worse, these huge droplets of rain, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, are falling from the sky. Smrain?

Well, this journal entry certainly wandered all over the place. Guess I’ll get some work done on my friend’s website, and then go out and enjoy the weekend downtown. Ryburn’s Tube Top Removal Service is open for business!