Non-profit expo a smashing success

Tonight I went to the Mpact Memphis/Volunteer Memphis Non-Profit Expo, where over 75 non-profits handed out information and recruited volunteers. As I turned onto Cherry Road and made the last leg of my drive to the Botanic Center, I thought, “It’s 5:35, only 5 minutes after the event started. I bet there’s no one there.”

Was I ever wrong. Five minutes later and I wouldn’t have found a space on the Gardens’ parking lot. It was packed. Nearly the entire indoor center of the Gardens was filled with booths, full of people eager to talk about their organizations. By the time I left (about 6:30) cars were parked up and down Cherry Road for a good two blocks in each direction.

This is more evidence that Mpact is really making a strong comeback… the Non-Profit Expo has always been one of their best events. And this year they made it even better, partnering with an organization (Volunteer Memphis) that has all the contacts and knows how to throw a volunteer fair… great job to everyone involved. I brought a big bag of pamphlets and goodies home, and hopefully this weekend I’ll type up a post highlighting the three or four most interesting non-profits I saw.

Stopped on the way home for Taco Bell. The spork has got to be the greatest invention ever. No, wait, the tube top is the greatest invention ever. The spork is #2.

Annoyed, and a good movie link

I’m finding myself a bit annoyed with my fellow members of the human race this morning.

First of all, I arrived at work, nearly done with my current project, just needed to figure out why a few items aren’t being saved to the database. As you know, I work in Cubicle World, in a big room containing about 20 people. Many of my cubicle neighbors are mainframe programmers who are about 20-25 years older than me. So, this morning, as I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my code, this is the conversation that was struck up in the cubicle behind me.

“I’m going in to the doctor for a procedure… a colonoscopy.”

“OH! I’ve had one of those! Let me tell you ALL ABOUT IT!”

At that point I decided it was time to take a long walk.

As of now (lunchtime) I still haven’t gotten the last bugs out of my project.

So, at lunch I made a run to Bookstar to buy a CSS book (thanks to Justin for e-mailing me some recommendations). Picked out one I wanted, walked to the cash register, where a woman beat me to the front of the line by just a second.

At Bookstar you get 15% off if you have a Barnes & Noble membership card. Well, the woman in front of me didn’t have one. But her mother did. So she asked if she could use her mother’s. But she didn’t have it. They said they could look it up by account number or phone number. She gave a phone number. But it wasn’t the one registered to use the account. So she called her mother at work. And she got the receptionist. And they had to page her mother. Meanwhile she asked if the account number could be looked up by address. It couldn’t. She got her mother on the phone and asked for the correct phone number. Her mother gave her a number. It didn’t work either. So her mother started looking for the B&N card with the account number on it.

By this time more than 5 minutes had passed. I started rolling my eyes to express my annoyance (a trick I learned from The Romanian Sensation, who would roll her eyes when people didn’t tip her well enough), and the cashier saw me and called for backup. A second cashier arrived and I was out in 30 seconds.

Oh, by the way, the major purchase that this woman was trying to save 15% on came to $10.87. That’s not the discount but the amount of the purchase. So she held the line up for more than five minutes to save A DOLLAR.

If it had really been that important, couldn’t she have found out the correct number BEFORE getting in line?

I hate people sometimes.

All right… you’ve kept reading this long, so you get a reward. I discovered a good site last night. A lot of old comedy shorts and classic movies from the ’20s through the ’60s have fallen into the public domain. This means that either their copyrights expired or the studio forgot to renew them, and so they’re free for anyone to distribute. So, if you go to this site, you can watch a lot of movies and comedy shorts online. Some of their offerings include

  • Several Three Stooges episodes
  • A couple of Bugs Bunny cartoons
  • Some Popeye cartoons
  • A Tom and Jerry episode (from 1931, I didn’t realize that Tom and Jerry had been around that long)
  • An Our Gang episode – “School’s Out” – from 1930. It’s listed as “Spanky and Our Gang,” but this pre-dates Spanky, it’s a Jackie Cooper/Miss Crabtree episode
  • Nosferatu, the first classic vampire movie ever, from 1922
  • Several Tarzan movies
  • And about 100 other classic movies. They have some pre-1927 movies on the site, which means they’re silent. I’ve never seen a silent movie before, and may watch one when I get the chance, just to see what movies were like when my grandmother was little.

… And that’s it for now. Don’t forget the Non-Profit Expo at the Botanic Gardens tonight, 5:30-8:00. Going to power down the laptop, read the first chapter of my CSS book, and head back to work. Hopefully we’re done with colonoscopy discussions for the day.


I’m in the process of setting up a second blog – not a replacement for this one, but a blog I will write in addition to this one. I’ve done it before… as many of you remember, from April to December of last year I had a second blog, then gave it up. This new blog will be a better, bigger deal than the last one.

For all my new blogs, I want to use the WordPress publishing engine. So I’ve been working through a tutorial explaining how to create WordPress themes and templates (those are what give a blog its unique look). As they were laying out the table using CSS, they commented, “Of course, no competent web designer would lay out a site using HTML tables, which should be used only for tabular data.”

Uh-oh. I’ve created some nice looking sites over the past two years – for example, and the redesign of my grade calculator. But those sites were laid out using HTML tables.

Sounds like I’m incompetent.

Sounds like I need a crash course in CSS, before I even bother with WordPress and its templates and themes. I’ve tried converting existing sites from tables to the CSS model, but the “float” tag and some other CSS elements remain a mystery.

I’m not giving up though. If I got through college having had to pass Calculus III at 8 in the morning, surely I can get this. If I got through grad school programming in languages like Ada which have the most f-d up syntax this side of Mars, surely I can get this.

Tomorrow I’m going to search Amazon for good books on CSS, then go to Bookstar on my lunch break and buy the one that looks the best. I’ll pay about $10 extra not ordering it from Amazon, but I’m too impatient to wait for it to be shipped.

Wednesday update

Gotta clarify something… I promote a lot of events in my blog, but unless I say I WILL BE THERE it doesn’t necessarily mean I will be there. Last night I had people asking me, “why weren’t you at the State of the Union Party at Sleep Out Louie’s? You talked about it on your blog.” Well, last night was trivia night at the Saucer, and the fact is, I enjoy my trivia team more than I enjoy listening to George W. Bush. So that’s where I was, and my team The Rapscallions took another $50 first-place gift certificate home, bringing our total stash to $275.

Sample question from last night: Who was the first president born in the 19th century? The answer was Millard Fillmore, born January 7, 1800. Although, now that I think about it, that’s incorrect, because 1800 was the last year of the 18th century. So the correct answer should have been Franklin Pierce (born 1804), who succeeded Fillmore. Anyway, we guessed Fillmore and got it counted correct.

Great teamwork by everyone last night, and it was good to have the Nuh-Uh Sister join us. The Nuh-Uh Sister thinks she needs a new nickname… she better be careful what she wishes for. We also had a really cute dietitian join us, and it’s probably a good thing she didn’t get there in time to see me wolf down a plate of chili cheese fries.

Back in Cubicle World after two days in class. Interesting statistic I learned in class (alert: non-geeks might as well skip to the next paragraph now): Salary surveys indicate that C# programmers make 20% more money than VB.NET programmers do, for doing the same work. Why? Because C#’s ancestors, C and C++, were considered powerful, prestigious business programming languages in the 1980s-90s, whereas VB.NET’s ancestors (BASIC and Visual Basic) were toy languages up until about 1999. Nowadays, VB has caught up and the two languages are essentially equivalent, yet there’s still the difference in pay. Moral of the story: If you’re learning to program for Microsoft platforms, learn C#.

Plans for the rest of this week:

Tomorrow evening: Mpact Memphis/Volunteer Memphis Non-Profit Expo at the Botanic Gardens, 5:30-8:00. I WILL BE THERE. Not necessarily looking to get involved in more non-profits, just going to socialize mainly. Although, you never know, since they’re expanding to 75 non-profits this year it’s possible I’ll find something I’ll like.

Friday evening: South Main Trolley Art Tour, 6-9 pm. About an 80% chance I WILL BE THERE since many of the galleries serve free wine.

Saturday: No idea.

Sunday: Brunch at Sleep Out’s, probably a few beers at the Saucer and then THE DEMPSEYS at DOWNTOWN HUEY’S!!!! from 8:30 until midnight. I WILL BE THERE!!!!!

Also, one event where I won’t be there (because it would involve driving), but if you’re in the neighborhood it’s worth going to: The Charlie Wood Trio at Midtown Huey’s, 4 to 7 PM Sunday.

That’s about it for now… probably going to stay home tonight, but you never know.

This should reduce the number of car break-ins downtown

The Commercial Appeal reports that two crack houses were shut down in the 300 block of Abel yesterday. The inhabitants of these houses were breaking into cars around downtown, particularly during events that brought heavy traffic to the area. They were then selling what they stole in order to buy drugs.

Abel is the street just east of Third, and the 300 block would place the houses just a couple of blocks south of the FedExForum. Therefore the crooks had easy access to Downtown’s entertainment district, and the South Main district as well. 13 people were indicted as part of the Blue Crush sweep that closed the houses, and having those thugs off the street should make Downtown a safer place.

Great job, MPD.

In class

Today and tomorrow I’m in class at Quilogy out near Mt. Moriah and Kirby Parkway. The city schools sent me out there to take a 2-day course on the new features in ASP.NET 2.0, so we can quickly get up to speed on cutting-edge programming. It’s a great class and I’m enjoying it. The instructor saw that we were a little more advanced than typical students who take the course, and he stepped up his game and gave us lots of useful information. I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. I’d definitely recommend Quilogy to anyone who needs computer training.

I also have to tip my hat to the city schools, the first company for whom I’ve worked in seven years that has paid to send me for training – and technically I don’t even work for them, I’m a consultant. They really believe in employee development – the managers actually get graded on it. Once again, my respect for MCS continues to go up.

I meant to write a post at lunchtime, but then I remembered I was within striking distance of Popeye’s and couldn’t resist a trip out there for some spicy chicken and Cajun rice.

Hmmm… not a lot else to report. Taking a rare night off from the bars so I can get a quality night’s sleep and be in good shape tomorrow for class. Watching The Apprentice which I DVRed last night. That’s about it. Maybe tomorrow’s post will be more interesting…

Skippy beat me at trivia

He’s demanding that this be posted. “It’s a once in a blue moon occurrence, and a blue moon occurred twice today.” Referring to NTN Trivia at Sleep Out Louie’s.

Now we’re all at the Saucer and Blue Moon is the Fire Sale. Also, Mikey says hello.

Obviously we’re all drunk.

Shopping link section online

I just added the Shopping links section. To see it, scroll down and look at the left menu pane. I’m going to start the Shopping section small and build it over time, so there are only 5 links so far. I’ve tried to add links that downtowners can appreciate. is the place to go to buy absinthe, or “the green fairy” as it is sometimes called. Usually consumed with a cube of sugar on an absinthe spoon, it is a liquor made from a blend of herbs including wormwood. It was banned at one point in the US, but purchases you make from are now completely legal. Absinthe has something of a cult following among downtowners; come find out why people are talking about it. has costumes, hats, masks, capes, maekup, beads, trinkets and more for this year’s Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday falls on February 20 this year. is the website I mentioned in my blog toward the end of last week. They sell $25 restaurant gift certificates for $10, and $10 certificates for $3. Some of the biggest name restaurants in the city are participating. Keep in mind that in most cases, the certificates can be redeemed for food only, not alcohol, so it’s probably best to redeem these as a group. supplies chef-quality meals shipped to your home. These can be prepared with minimal effort; most involve placing them in a pot of simmering water for 10 minutes or less. The Chef Specials section of their site looks particularly good – haven’t drooled that much since The Romanian Sensation walked up Union Avenue in a pair of tight red shorts last July.

VistaPrint was the printer that handled Residents for a Safer Downtown Memphis’ business cards. They offer 30-60% off what you would spend at local printers. You can design your cards using their convenient web interface and have them shipped to your door.

That’s a start; I’ll add more links soon. Heading out east for an ASP.NET class tomorrow, so my posting schedule may be a bit different than most workdays.

State of the Union watch party @ Sleep Out Louie’s Tuesday

The local chapter of Drinking Liberally is hosting a watch party for George W. Bush’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. The party will be held at Sleep Out Louie’s, on Union Avenue between Front and Main downtown, and will start at 7 PM. Convenient parking is available across the street at Parking Can Be Fun. All are welcome, although if you’re a Republican you’ll probably find yourself in the minority – but at least then, you’ll have something in common with your Republican brethren in Congress.

A quick web search revealed that the State of the Union drinking game has been updated for 2007.

About to head out to the Union Avenue branch office and am taking the laptop with me… I have a lot of work to get done. I should have the Shopping section added to this blog later today (look for it on the left menu pane, you’ll probably have to scroll down). I also have some other cool stuff I’m working on, which I’ll be rolling out in the next two weeks. Glad I don’t have the Deal of the Week column to distract me this morning… ’cause I’m in the process of putting together a better, bigger deal. Stay tuned…