The things you learn about in bars: Wheelchairs, beer cooler scooters

I may as well have my mail redirected to the Flying Saucer, because this week I’ve been spending more time there than I have at home. I have to say, you certainly do learn some interesting facts from the people sitting next to you at bars. For example:

– I learned that Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway personal transportation device, has invented a wheelchair that can handle off-road terrain, can raise you to eye level for conversations, and can even climb stairs. So I Googled it this morning and found it – it’s called the iBOT Mobility System. Pretty cool.

– I was also told about a vehicle that is a combination beer cooler and electric scooter. So I Googled that too and found it here. This company should open up a dealership in Downtown Memphis, they’d make a fortune.

– And I even stayed up on the day’s news while drinking beer at the Saucer, learning that Grizzlies head coach Mike Fratello has been fired after getting off to a 6-24 start this season. Director of player personnel Tony Barone Sr. has been named interim head coach. I wish they’d throw a big pile of money Hubie’s way and convince him to come back for one more season.

The streets were packed yesterday with Houston fans and South Carolina fans in town to party before the big game today. Those South Carolina fans are something else – half of them would yell “GAME!” and the other half would yell “COCKS!” I guess I’m going to have to root for Houston, because I find it hard to support a team whose fans go around yelling “COCKS.” Also there was a really cute girl at the Saucer last night who was dancing her ass off and she had a Houston shirt on. So, yeah, I guess I’m for Houston, although “don’t care” is more my attitude toward the whole thing. And for those of you who think I’m a traitor for not supporting an SEC team, STFU, I’ll support an SEC team Monday when Arkansas plays Wisconsin.

Yay! According to WeatherBug, it’s 61 degrees out right now, which means I’ll be invoking my “rule of 60” today (if it’s above 60, I wear shorts). Time to go people-watch and drink some more beer.

New news article up on Residents for a Safer Downtown Memphis site

Sitting here in the Second Street branch office with my Residents for a Safer Downtown Memphis co-founder Mike King… we just updated the news section of the RSDM website. To check it out, click here to go to the website and then click the “Latest News” link. We have details of a resurgence in downtown crime in the fall and winter, and our plans to have a meeting early next year.

Lots of activity on the streets today – they’re full of South Carolina and Houston fans in town for the big game tomorrow. I’m about to put the laptop up and head down to the parade.

Popular downtown gift shop closing

Carabella, a gift shop on Second Street across from the Peabody, is closing after nine years in business.

As you can see they are selling their remaining inventory for 50% off. Carabella has a lot of unique wine and martini glasses, cookbooks, cocktail napkins, girly-girl gifts, wine openers, and such. So if you need anything you better hurry down there before it gets picked over.

A disputed second-place win

BREAKING NEWS: Former President Gerald Ford died this morning.

Last night at trivia, our three-person team consisting of the Nuh-Uh Girl, Mikey, and myself tied the 18-member Weiss Ass team for first place. So Pete aka Trivia Guy did a tie-breaker question. He asked us, “How many live trees were sold in the US in 2005?”

We thought, well, of course a lot of live trees are sold for Christmas. But considerably more than that are used for landscaping. So we put in a guess of 300 million. We were told we lost, and were given the $25 second-place certificate, bringing our running total to $125.

After it was over, my teammates left, and since I’m off work this week I stayed and hung out for a while. One of the Weiss Asses came over to shake my hand. “What’d you answer for that tie-breaker question? How many live Christmas trees did you think were sold?”

“Wait a minute!” I said. “He said to you, live CHRISTMAS trees? He just said ‘live trees’ to us!”

I think we were robbed out of $25. Congrats to the Weiss Asses on a well-played game though. And congrats to us for keeping up with a team that outnumbered us 6 to 1 until the end.

The correct answer, by the way, was 32.8 million trees.

Be sure to check back tomorrow – a store downtown is closing and is selling its inventory at a discount. I promised my trivia teammates I’d give them a one-day headstart on shopping before I post it here in my blog. Tomorrow I’ll reveal the store’s name and location.

Events this week: Liberty Bowl and parade, art gallery tour

Thursday, December 28, 4 pm: Liberty Bowl parade on Beale Street. Yes, I know that’s during the workday, just tell your boss you need to leave early because you’re sick. If you feel guilty about lying you can stop by Wet Willie’s on Beale Street and order a large Call-a-Cab, then you really will be sick.

Friday, December 29, 3:30 pm: Liberty Bowl football game, Houston (10-3) vs. South Carolina (7-5). I won’t be present at the bowl, but will likely be at the Flying Saucer watching the game. And the waitresses. And I’ll be drinking beer. And the game will end just in time for me to walk to the next event:

Friday, December 29, 6-9 pm: South Main Trolley Art Tour, with many of the galleries in or near the South Main district open to the public, and most importantly of all, many of them will be serving free beer, wine, or drinks. The good thing about winter art gallery tours is that they don’t attract crowds as large as spring and fall, which means more booze for the people who do show up.

Sign of the times: I need to mail a letter and I don’t know how much a stamp costs anymore, because I pay all my bills online. I guess I’ll have to look it up on the US Postal Service’s website…. 39 cents, that’s what I thought. Haven’t bought any stamps since they were 37, guess I’ll have to stick two of them on there.

I’m back in town. Going to take it easy and get everything put away this afternoon, then head out in time to make it to trivia night at the Saucer at 7.

I have a huge problem with this children’s book

I work as a contractor at the Board of Education. Every year around Christmastime, the Board has a competition involving holiday-themed door displays. This year, one our office neighbors down the hall did a display based on reading and children’s books. This is one of the books they featured:

I have a BIG problem with this book. Just take a look at the front cover (pictured above) and I think you’ll see why. Now, on the cover, we see Froggy reading a bedtime story to his doll. I have no problem with that. But look more closely, over to the right.

Look at the owl. Look at him peeking through the window, staring at Froggy. That owl is teaching our children that it’s all right to be a peeping tom!

Furthermore, I’m assuming that Froggy is a young frog, given that adults usually don’t read bedtime stories to their dolls. So, the owl is not only a peeping tom, but a pedophile as well. Who knows what disgusting and perverse thoughts he’s having about young Froggy as he watches the bedtime scene from the window. If I were Froggy’s parents, I’d head to court first thing in the morning and get a restraining order against that owl.

Normally I don’t support book banning, but I might be able to see the need for it in cases like this, where perverted owls like this one use children’s books as a vehicle to corrupt our nation’s youth.

Shame on you, Mr. Owl. Shame.

Lots to see on the wild animal cam

In my last post I talked about the wild animal cam on a South Africa game reserve that I’ve been watching. Things have been getting good on the cam. Saturday night when I got home, I turned it on and they had a close-up of a zebra drinking. Sunday morning when I woke up, there were wildebeest and zebras grazing, and about an hour later a giraffe showed up at the watering home. The camera was able to zoom in so close that you could see its tongue moving as it drank.

Then things really heated up last night. Several lions were asleep near the watering hole. After about an hour, the camera panned around (it is mounted on a tree and can pan a full 360 degrees) and we could see a herd of wildebeest approaching. Uh-oh, I thought, those wildebeest don’t know what they’re about to step into. The cam panned back around to the watering hole for a close-up of a lioness. About 30 minutes after that, it panned back around to a shot of three more lions standing over a dead wildebeest. They rested for a while, then began to feast. Surprisingly, no vultures showed up.

8 to 10 AM our time (Central time) seems to be a great time to view the camera, as that’s right before sunset at the game reserve. Sun comes back up around 9 PM our time, and that’s a good time for viewing too because all the animals come for a morning drink. The camera is active during their night/our day, with black-and-white night vision images. As of right now the lions are still working on the wildebeest.

I got mostly books for Christmas, including trivia books, a bartender’s guide, a 2007 World Almanac, and Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope.

I’ll be back in Memphis tomorrow night in time for trivia night at the Saucer. In the meantime, I have Internet access here in Little Rock and will continue to post if I think of anything.

One of the wildest links I’ve posted in a while

Over the years I’ve been addicted to a site called Africam, which has live webcams focused on watering holes in Africa, where wildlife come to drink. Since discovering the site in 1999, I’ve seen zebras, elephants, leopards, antelopes, and other critters on the cams, in their natural habitat.

Well, now they’ve added a live cam with streaming video at one of the watering holes. I’ve been watching it for the past 10 minutes or so. South Africa is 8 hours ahead of us, which means it’s about 4 AM there as I type this. The cam has night vision, but things have been pretty dead so far. I did see one animal wander by, possibly a hyena or wild dog. Things should liven up in about an hour, at 9 PM our time – that will be 5 AM their time, and given that it’s just past the summer solstice there the sun should be coming up around then. That should draw some herds of animals for their morning drink. If you’re at your computer tonight, pull it up and take a look. The streaming video feed has sound too and I’ve heard some unusual animal calls.