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What's New?: Roger's Infrequent Blog Archive 2005-2006

December 24-27, 2006: We traveled to Baltimore to see Linda's sister and our niece. The weather was milder than usual. On the 26th, we went to Washington DC to visit the Botanical Gardens Conservatory, located near the Capitol building. It was beautiful and very crowded. Then we went to the National Art Gallery, which is a wonderful museum, and looked at some of the paintings. It was crowded as could be, but we enjoyed it. On the 27th, we visited Edgar Allan Poe's grave, and a house that he lived in before we departed Baltimore for home. This was the first time I have been to these Poe sights, and I have been meaning to for a long time during our many visits to Bawlmer.

December 18, 2006: We had a pretty busy weekend. Saturday evening Reanna and I went with our church bus to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens Lights Display. It was crowded, but nice. And on Sunday, Reanna's Girl Scout group went to see the Nutcracker, performed by the Nashville Ballet and Nashville Symphony, at TPAC. I got to go, and it was a wonderful show. It was also the closest I have ever been to a Tennessee Titans game. We drove right by the stadium while the Titans were playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. It turned out to be one of the Titan's most opportunistic defensive games ever, as they scored three TDs on defense and beat the Jaguars 24-17! I usually watch the Titans on TV, but this time, even I forgot to set the VCR, but fortunately, Linda set it for me, and I got caught up with the game Sunday evening.

December 11, 2006: Sports Update: The Saints-Cowboys game last night was exciting, not only because the Saints seemed to do everything right in gaining an impressive upset of the Cowboys, in Dallas, in which Saints coach Sean Payton pulled every trick in the book to show his mentor Bill Parcell's what a good pupil he is. My dad was also a teacher of Sean Payton when Payton attended Eastern Illinois as an undergraduate. Not only that, but dad had Cowboys quarterback, and November offensive player of the month for the NFC, Tony Romo, as a student at EIU as well. Plus, it is exciting to be a Titans fan again! Vince Young has made a believer out of me after winning six of the last eight, and defeating the Manning's in consecutive weeks.

December 1-2, 2006: Reanna was in the Tullahoma Christmas Parade, Friday night. It was the 50th annual parade, and she rode on the Girl Scouts float (she is a Brownie). It may not have been the prettiest float (it was sort of thrown together at the last minute) but it was the biggest and held the most people. It was a super-long tractor trailer flat-bed, decorated with lights, a Christmas tree, snow flakes dangling, and hay bails to sit on. I would have ridden it myself, but it was too full, so I walked beside it. The temperature was a bit chilly--mid-30's, but it was fun.

On Saturday, Reanna's gymnastics school did a program at the Stamps Civic Center. There must have been over 50 girls in the program; it was long, but very interesting from a parental point of view.

November 24, 2006: We have not done much sightseeing lately, but today we went to Russell Cave National Monument, located near Bridgeport, AL, in the NE corner of Alabama. Russell Cave was declared a Natl. Monument in 1961 by President Kennedy, and has a long history of Native American habitation, and is a very interesting place to see. There is a nice Welcome Center and museum there, and there is a self-guided tour of the cave that does not go very far, but you can get permission to go further into the cave. This corner of Alabama is mountainous, and offers a lot of pretty scenery. We also spent some time driving around Bridgeport (pop. 2,728), and ate lunch there. This town has a somewhat somber and unlucky history, but has also prospered a good bit through shipping, being located on a busy rail-line and being right beside the Tennessee River. The atmosphere of the town was sort of "stuck in time," a bit like Stevenson (pop. 1,800), a town located about a dozen-miles away we visited last February.

Dad carried his metal detector and we stopped at two country churches where he did some coin detecting (his favorite hobby). Also, not far from Bridgeport, we saw the Rocky Springs Church of Christ building. This church claims to be the oldest Church of Christ in Alabama, and started in 1807!

October 21, 2006: We went for a hike to Lost Cove (six-miles south of Sewanee, TN) and explored Buggy Top Cave (AKA Carter Cave, or Peter's Cave). This four-mile round trip hike is from Hwy 56, down a mountain to one of the most dramatic and remote coves (hence the name "Lost Cove") in Tennessee. Dad, Reanna, and I were accompanied by Jody, a former grad student of Dad's. It has been eight-years since I last hiked to the cave. It is one of my favorite natural sights in the Cumberland Mountains. There isn't much about it on the Net, but I did find this site, which provides some photos and details from The Florida Speleological Society. The cave is situated in a 150-foot-high bluff, with a creek streaming out of the entrance of the cave. We only had two flashlights between us so it wasn't easy to see. Other people were exploring the cave in groups, but it wasn't possible to keep up with them. We just went from the main entrance to the second entrance via the largest room. A passage to the third entrance is an option, but I didn't think we were experienced enough to try it by ourselves. It is very long and more dangerous to navigate. Reanna had a great time, and wants to go back again someday soon (but I'll give it three more years).

October 14, 2006: Dad, Reanna and I went hiking on the "Fiery Gizzard" Trail, near Tracy City, TN. We only went about 1.5 miles and turned around and came back (we have to stay within Reanna's limmits of endurance), but this trail is very beautiful. It went along a lovely stream, with lots of big rocks, and woods, which included a lot of Hemlock trees and evergreen trees. We saw the "Chimney Rocks" which were 20+ foot tall rock formations in a wooded area. Earlier, we drove to the opposite end of the FG Trail to see Foster Falls (a 60-foot waterfall). The falls were reduced to a trickle (due to dry conditions) but the hike down to the base of the falls was challenging and beautiful. The weather, today, was perfect for hiking--cool and sunny. Lots of people were out on the trails today. See these sites for more info about South Cumberland Recreation Area: South Cumberland State Park, and Friends of South Cumberland Recreation Area.

October 6-8, 2006: Reanna and I went with our church youth on a camping trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park. It was a much anticipated, much longed for, and much needed break for me from the toils of work, and during the kids fall break from school. We camped in tents, which was the first time for Reanna and the first time for me since I was about 10-years-old. It turned out to be about 10-degrees colder at night than we expected--a cold front came through--but we had a good time. I didn't sleep very much either night, but Reanna slept well. We had about 30 people from church, which was a lot of people to cook for and plan activities for, but everything went very well. Our theme was Back to the Basics. Reanna and I went peddle-boating for the first time, and we hiked down to the bottom the the 256-foot falls twice. The campgrounds were packed with campers this weekend for the changing of the colors of the leaves. It was nice fall-like weather. One interesting side-note: was the spontaneous celebration around the campground when UT came-from-behind to beat Georgia on Saturday night. Lots of folks were listening to the game on their radios. It was a nice outcome for Vols fans, for a change. Here's a few photos.

September 24, 2006: Yesterday, I finished reading this book: A Sense of the World: How A Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler, by Jason Roberts. This, I have to say, was a very inspiring biography about an Englishman, James Holman (1786-1857). I might have heard of the "Blind Traveller" before, but I didn't know his story. Check out the author's site and find out more about Holman. You may want to read the book. I appreciate his travel desires, and I am awed by his tenacity, whereby he traveled mostly before the age of steam and rail.

September 10, 2006: A Sports Update: I haven't mentioned any sports in a while. My teams aren't doing very well for the most part. The Chicago Cubs have suffered through one of their worst seasons in living memory. I can't stand to watch them now. The Titans had a terrible pre-season, and lost their season-opener, at home, to the lowly Jets, who have a new coach and a new system. So, the Titans had every advantage in this game, except at quarterback, and still played way below expectations. UT is showing some promise, but I don't want to jinx them. Lastly, the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament was copiously observed in our house, as usual, and I have to say I mourned the retirement of Andre Agassi. I have followed his career since 1987, and he has been one of the most entertaining, and admirable athletes I have ever seen. I cheered him through every grand-slam title that he won (and some that he lost) in his illustrious career, I think. If John McEnroe and Rafael Nadal can admit they cried when Andre lost his last match, so can I!

August 27, 2006: August is almost finished and I've neglected to mention our hiking on Saturday's. On the 12th, we went to see the Natural Bridge near Sewanee, a very unique geological formation for these parts, and we hiked on the Perimeter Trail on the west-side of Sewanee (further than I'd previously done). On the 19th, we went to Altamont, TN, and hiked to Greeter Falls. Unbeknownst to me, the trail to the falls had deteriorated so much in the last few years that the South Cumberland Recreation Authority had installed a spiral staircase directly beside a bluff as a short-cut. It was a brilliant solution, unfortunately, the drought conditions on the mountain had rendered the falls to little more than a trickle. We also hiked to Broadtree Falls, not far away, for the first time, but it, too, was dry. Apart from that, the scenery was beautiful. On the 26th, we hiked on the Short Springs Natural Area trails, near Tullahoma. We saw the very inspiring Machine Falls, which had a normal quota of water flowing, and then, we hiked to Busby Falls and Adams Falls, which we hadn't done before. Busby Falls looked somewhat impressive, but we couldn't get down to it from the trail, and Adams Falls was completely obscured by vegitation. The trails were hilly, and we frequently encountered spider-webbs stretched across the path. Even with a stick in my hand, I walked into many annoying spider-webbs, but overall, it was a good hiking experience despite that fact that the temperature was in the mid-to-upper-90s. Reanna is getting more used to hiking, and only occasionally complains about being tired.

August 22, 2006: Well, here it is. I know you've been waiting for it. Southwest Trip 2006.

August 17, 2006: Here's a little bit of fun. I found a site that displays all the icons of Metros from around the world, and it lets you check the ones you've ridden and paste the icons to your blog, or webpage. Check out what Metros I have ridden.

P.S. Just to prove my point about yesterday's blog, the record low for today, in my county, was 34 degrees Fahrenheit in 1978. That blows my mind!

August 16, 2006: The usual hot summer temperatures are, as always, an uncomfortable part of life in the Southeast, and this year is no exception. However, there have been exceptions to this indisposition that I hadn't known about until recently. The record low temperatures for the months of July and August would surprise you. I've been listening to a local radio station (WMSR 1320 - Manchester, TN) on many of my daily commutes to work, especially tuning in about the time they tell the weather history, i.e. the record high and low temperature for this local area on the particular day, and I have been amazed to learn that many of the record lows during the height of summer have been in the mid-to-high 30s F. That is amazing. Many of these records were established in the 1960s and thereafter. It simply amazes me to know that the over-night lows have been that cold right here in Middle Tennessee at certain times of summer in the not-so-distant past. Unbelievable!

August 10, 2006: On a morning which brings more bad news about the prospects of airline travel to and from Britain, something that I find worrisome, I was at least able to see something which gave me a smile and a slight chuckle. On my drive to work I saw a spry, helmeted older gentleman riding a touring motorcycle, and smoking a pipe. I don't think I have ever seen that before. I wish I had that kind of verve.

August 7, 2006: I have gotten my photos a lot more organized at, and at long last, I've included some photos from our vacations in 2004, and 2005. They are arranged into sets, which are groups of photos that go together. See Trinidad 2005, and London/Berlin 2004. I don't have all that I want there yet, but it's a start.

July 23, 2006: You can see some of my Southwest vacation photos (66 total, for now) at my page. Have a look! You can click on them individually, and see the comments I've included, or you can see them as a slide show. I think you will get a good idea how things went. I'm still learning how to use flickr, and it's a neat way to post photos. You can download any of the photos if you want. I am about finished with my trip videos, but the travelogue is going slower.

July 10, 2006: My thoughts on the World Cup: I watched as much as I could on TV and kept up with it on the Net. Our trip was smack in the quarter finals but we tried to watch some from motels early in the mornings. The USA could have done better, but a 1-1 tie with Italy shows they deserve some respect (even if their goal was scored by one of Italy's players). Trinidad & Tobago represented themselves very well with their performance. Germany, I thought, would win and get the big-head, but then I heard how young they were. They were quite young, and did well nonetheless. England, always my sentimental favorite, didn't excell much. I don't think they proved a whole lot. France, I'm sad to say, had the chance to write a beautiful ending to the WC, whether they won on Sunday or not, but things got knocked out of shape pretty bad with Zidane's unfortunate loss of composure. I thought all along that Italy must be treating their opponents a bit rough, and as it turned out, they were using some mean mental tactics as well. I wouldn't say their WC victory is because they were the best team out there, but they certainly did show their endurance.

July 9, 2006: Today marks the 20th anniversary of my first trip to London, England, when I went to live for the first time! I think London has improved in a lot of ways since then, but I wouldn't exchange those quirky, post-punk, cold war, funky old bus, bitty old ladies walking their dogs, pre-cell-phone, stand in the queue, pedestrianized, snail mail, never home-sick, Thatcherite days for anything! Check out my description of living in London the first time.

July 3, 2006: Well, if you've been wondering where I've been, I've been on vacation. We had a great trip to the Southwest, and for the first time in my life, I think, I can honestly say I saw everything I wanted to see. I was done, and I was ready to come home. We flew to Las Vegas, rented a SUV, drove for 3,773 miles through six states, stayed in eleven motels, and lived like bandits, but we saw everything I wanted to see, and more. So, stick a fork in me; I am done! I'll include a lot more details later, but briefly, we went to Ridgecrest, CA to visit a cousin of mine for a couple of days, named Greg Watson, and drove up to a grove of Giant Sequoia trees, then we went to Death Valley, Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon Dam, Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Arches NP, Mesa Verde, Four Corners, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, The Petrified Forest NP, Saguaro NP (to see the tall cactus), Lake Havasu City (to see London Bridge), and, in the process, we saw a lot of Vegas from the Interstate system (criss-crossing the city a few times), and visiting an old friend of mine from Nashville, named Brad Ward, who is working for Cirque du Soleil's newest show about the Beatles (see Now I've got a lot of catching up to do on things at home, and sorting out all my souvenirs, photos, and video. Yikes!

June 15, 2006: Traffic for Bonnaroo is showing up, as expected, in Manchester (as I passed through this morning), and a big sign says "Bonnaroo Festival Sold Out" next to the access road, but there is nothing out of the ordinary to report about it so far. My mind is about 1,700 miles west right now. Boy, am I ready for a vacation! (We are flying out west on Monday.) And, I am interested in the outcome of the England-Trinidad match today in the World Cup.

June 3, 2006: Dad, Reanna, and I hiked the Walls of Jericho Trail (some unfinished business we started in February) which was a challenge with Reanna in our company. She showed a lot of stamina, and endurance for a six-year-old, I must say. The trail was up and down, with numerous switch-backs, almost the whole way, except for the relatively small part in the valley between the mountains. We stopped to rest a lot on the way back. The clear sky and mild temperature (the high-70s, which is cool for June) was perfect for hiking, but the rain the day before made the trail slick and muddy in a lot of places. The Canyon-like rock formation (a giant drainage spout on the mountain) was less exposed due to the foliage, but was still impressive. This was the biggest hike I have attempted in several years, at least since Reanna has been born, and I was amazed how well she handled it.

May 31, 2006: See my P.S. to the list of the "30 best" travel books of all time, below.

May 29, 2006: Linda, Reanna, and I went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival on Memorial Day (the last day of the festival). For Reanna and I, it was the second time this month. This time Linda and Reanna rode the camel. It was a hot day; it was very crowded, and I ate a "leg of fowl."

May 20, 2006: Dad, Reanna, and I went on a field trip to Cannon County, looking for important tombstones; library research in Woodbury, and other parts of said county. This was a productive day in terms of tracing more links to our early ancestors who came to Tennessee in the 1830s and settled around Woodbury. We found the tombstone of Christopher Columbus "Lum" Merritt (1867-1957), who was a grandson of Thomas Merritt (my earliest Tenn. relative).

May 13, 2006: Mom, Dad, Reanna and I went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, near Triune, TN. It was like Elizabethan England in the year 1580! It was the closest thing to the Glastonbury Festival in England that I have seen in this country. The costumes, the shows, and the jousts were terrific. It was well worth the visit, and Reanna and I got to ride a camel!

May 2006: A site I like,, is posting a list of the "30 Best Travel Books of all time" during the month of May. They are counting down a different title each day. I am interested in their list to see just what they consider the best thirty are. Here's their list...

1. Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger (1959)
2. The Road to Oxiana, by Robert Byron (1937)
3. The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux (1975)*
4. The Soccer War, by Ryszard Kapuscinski (1978)
5. No Mercy: A Journey to the Heart of the Congo, by Redmond O'Hanlon (1997)
6. North of South, by Shiva Naipaul (1978)
7. Golden Earth, by Norman Lewis (1952)
8. Video Night in Kathmandu, by Pico Iyer (1988)*
9. The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain (1869)*
10. In A Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson (2000)*
11. The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen (1978)
12. The Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin (1987)
13. Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck (1962)*
14. Riding to the Tigris, by Freyda Stark (1959)
15. Europe, Europe, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1989)
16. City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple (1993)*
17. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, by Eric Newby (1958)
18. All the Wrong Places, by James Fenton (1988)
19. Hunting Mr. Heartbreak, by Jonathan Raban (1990)
20. River Town, by Peter Hessler (2001)
21. Road Fever, by Tim Cahill (1991)
22. When the Going Was Good, by Evelyn Waugh (1947)#
23. Behind the Wall, by Colin Thubron (1989)
24. Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, by Jan Morris (2001)
25. A Time of Gifts, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (1977)*
26. Baghdad Without A Map, by Tony Horwitz (1991)
27. The Size of the World, by Jeff Greenwald (1995)#
28. Facing the Congo, by Jeffrey Tayler (2000)
29. Venture to the Interior, by Laurens van der Post (1952)
30. A Turn in the South, by V.S. Naipaul (1989)

I am curious to see how many of these I have read. I have already purchased a couple of them, very recently, to read in the future. P.S. (May 31): Turns out I've read 7 of them already. The * indicates which ones I've read. The # indicates which ones I've bought recently as a result of seeing this list on, and plan to read soon. It's not a bad list, overall, but I don't know enough about many of them to comment. The list seems to cover the world in a fair and balanced way, considering travel writing has not been a popular genre, or at least an official genre for very long. I certainly admire a lot of these writers, but a lot of great titles also didn't make the list, in my opinion. It is subjective after all. See a list of all the travel books I've read. I own copies of some of them, but many I have borrowed from libraries and friends.

April 29, 2006: We received a visit from some distant cousins of ours for a special Merritt family reunion. Greg Merritt, of Mary Esther, FL, and Rob Merritt, of Houston, TX, both share the same Great-Great-Grandfather with me (John Merritt). Greg and Rob's parents, Ray & Katie Merritt, of Houston, TX, came with them, and we had a fine time getting to know each other, and touring the area to see some tombstones, and places where our ancestor's lived. Greg found me on the Internet in January 2005, and we have been corresponding off-and-on ever since. We have learned a lot more about our family history as a result.

April 22, 2006: I discovered that our prior assumption that John Merritt lived in Bell Buckle, TN in 1880, was wrong. After double-checking a photocopy of the 1880 Census it revealed that John lived in Normandy, TN, in 1880. So, now we know that John lived in the vacinity of Normandy from at least 1880 til his death in 1914. It is still quite a mystery to me why John, who was born in 1830, possibly in McMinn County, TN, but grew up around Woodbury, in Cannon County, TN, suddenly moved to Normandy, in Bedford County, in his late-forties, and stayed the rest of his life as a farm laborer. Normandy became the hub of his existance for the last 34-or-so years of his life! Why? I don't know, but it is quite an interesting coincidence--to me--that the earliest known ancestors of the name Merritt came from Normandy, France. I wonder if he knew that?

April 21, 2006: Well...this is a black Friday for me as a Cub fan! After they got off to a good start on the young season the worst thing possible has happened to them (almost a year to the day of the bad Nomar Garciaparra injury last year). Derrek Lee is on the DL with a broken wrist after a freak injury against the Dodger's Wednesday night. Now they have to do without their best player for 2-3 months. This is a nightmare. Something has to happen every year to mess them up.

April 20, 2006: It looks like this blog is turning into a genealogy site, but the truth is, I'm just not up to anything more interesting than that lately. I've done some work in the yard in my spare time, but that's not news. On Good Friday I went to Argie Cooper Public Library, in Shelbyville, TN, and searched the microfilm for marriage and tax records. I was looking for the elusive John Merritt (my G-G-Grandfather), or any of his sons in Bedford County. I found John and three of his sons in the 1890 tax records for the Normandy, TN area. That was exciting, but there was no property listed for any of them. I'm thinking they must have been tenant farmers. By accident, I found my maternal Grandmother's parent's marriage license (Henry H. Holt & Odell Neece, 1900). I wish I had more time to search the tax records. They are a good substitute for the twenty-year gap between the 1880 & 1900 census (1890s census was completely destroyed by a fire in Washington D.C.).

April 11, 2006: We had some very rough weather in Tennessee last Friday, the 7th, with several tornadoes resulting in about 11 deaths, and hundreds of homes destroyed. We had some tornado warnings in Tullahoma, but fortunately, it never got very windy, and seemed to pass to our north. April is rolling along, and my genealogy research has been sporatic lately because of the fickle weather. I've learned some interesting tid-bits in my local public library, and I've physically checked some more cemeteries around Normandy, and Bell Buckle, TN. I'm pretty sure we have found my Great-Great-Uncle, Thomas D. Merritt (1863-1930), and his family buried at Cross Roads Cemetery, west of Bell Buckle (see map). I have photos of their tombstones, and a funeral record for Thomas, which says his father was John Merritt, and his mother was Sarah Whitt (Merritt).

And, now that Baseball season has started, I have the added compulsatory reflex of checking the Chicago Cubs status, day-to-day. Just waiting, and hoping to see if they can do something this season.

March 27, 2006: Well, after consulting the 1860 Census records it's clear that my G-G-Grandfather John did not live on the Civil War era farm at Fairfield, TN. Oh, well, there are still some interesting things to look for concerning John. I've searched some more cemeteries this week around Normandy, TN, and I'll continue till I've checked them all. Hopefully. If that doesn't turn up anything, I'll check the Bell Buckle area, for he lived there somewhere by the time the 1880 Census was taken. On another front, I now have a good idea where my Great Grandfather Benjamin M. Merritt (1852-1929) lived the last three-decades of his life after moving to Coffee County from Cannon County; at a farm near Gnat Hill. P.S. I may have located one farm, but he may have actually lived on two, or three different farms, I'm now thinking.

March 25, 2006: Prompted by some recent correspondence with a distant cousin, I got renewed interest in searching for family history. I am very interested in finding the grave of my Great-Great Grandfather John Merritt (1830-1914), who died in Normandy, TN. Dad, Reanna and I went driving to look for old cemeteries, and that took us to Normandy, Wartrace, and Fairfield. All small towns in Bedford, County, TN. We didn't learn anything new, but we satisfied a lot of curiosity. We also drove around Fairfield looking for the location of a Merritt farm which is marked on an 1863 Civil War map of Bedford County that we have. I think it would be great if we could prove John Merritt owned this farm. I've got a lot of exploring to do for family history!

March 2006: Reanna is now six-years-old this month. I'm making some changes to the look of this page. I have not called this a "blog" before, but I might as well. I added the calendar at the top for reference only (to look at). It doesn't possess any mystical powers to conjure up other pages. I'm not in love with the icons on top, but I am looking for something that conveys my general interests.

March 4, 2006: We went to the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show at the State Fairgrounds. Boy, was it packed! The garden display galleries were impressive. They were real plant gardens, with rock features, fountains, waterfalls, etc., built indoors for the show. See

February 28, 2006: A new series of the Amazing Race started tonight on CBS, and it looks like it promises to be exciting. It started in Denver, CO, with eleven teams, and they all flew to Brazil, where one team was eliminated at the end. Catch the show on Tuesday nights at 8:00PM CST.

February 25, 2006: Dad, Reanna and I went looking for the Walls of Jericho, a natural rock formation recently opened to the public (2004), straddling the Alabama-Tenn. line, about 25-miles to our south. The hike was a bit more strenuous than we expected, about 3.5 miles one-way, down a steep mountain-side. So, we only walked about a mile of the zig-zag trail, and turned around. We'll try again some-day when we have more time, because it looks like it is worth the effort to get to it, from what I've read on the Net. Next, we drove around north Jackson County, in northern Alabama, and we were impressed with the mountainous scenery. We ended up going to a little town called Stevenson, AL, that looked and felt slightly stuck-in-time. Then, we headed back home via Sewanee, and Winchester,TN, a 115-mile round trip. This was quite enough to wet our appetites for some weekend excursions in 2006!

February 9, 2006: This is to note the passing of Kipling, my sister's dog. He was 12 years old, and probably the most revered pet ever in our immediate family. He was special. He was a small, black & white Rat Terrier. On a lighter note, I was tickled that U2 got the Grammy for best album of the year last night.

February 4, 2006: I attended my great Uncle Julian Hix's funeral (1923-2006) in Ringgold, GA. He was my last maternal great Uncle.

January 31, 2006: I had to go to TTU again for more Innovative training (see Dec. 20-21, 2005). I still made it home in time to take Reanna roller skating with her school, fortunately. Yes, I'm one of the few parents that skate.

January 24, 2006: I have made a new page displaying maps showing where I have been. With a neat site called,, I mapped my travels, and it was easy. Check it out. I want to thank a blogger, named Tony, for bringing this to my attention.

January 17, 2006: I've been engrossed lately with C.S. Lewis, due to the new Disney movie that's out, Chronicles of Narnia. All three of us went to see the movie last night, and we enjoyed it. I have been familiar with Lewis for years for his books on Christian philosophy, but I have never read his children's fiction before. To be honest, I probably would have given the movie a miss if it weren't for our niece, Marissa, who lives in Dublin, Ireland. We received an audio book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe from her as a Christmas present. Listening to that got me hooked, and I think Reanna really likes it, too.

January 3, 2006: I finally finished the book Bono: in Conversation with Michka Assayas, and I must say it was a timely book, since Bono was just named co-person of the year by Time magazine. I admired Bono from afar before I read the book, but now I feel like I've met him for extensive conversations, and know what makes him tick. He's quite a good guy in my opinion. I can't think of many Rock Stars who have become so recognized for their humanitarian work, and his faith in God is very commendable. I've been a latent U2 fan for years, but lately I've become a more earnest one.

January 1, 2006: It's hard to believe, but it's 2006 already!

December 26-28, 2005: We went on a quick trip to Savannah, GA and Stone Mountain, GA after Christmas. We usually like to go somewhere after Christmas; often to Baltimore, MD, but this time we decided to go to Savannah. Savannah is one of the most beautiful and historic places in the country, I must say. We were definitely impressed. We took a trolley bus tour, which was enjoyable, with a humorous tour guide, and then we walked along River Street, Factors Walk, Bay Street, City Market (where we ate lunch), and then drove around, and walked around some more in some of Savannah's 24 squares, including its Colonial Cemetery. It was bright and sunny all day, if a little cool, but it was a fine day. Savannah is positively dripping in history, serenity and charm. On the 29th, I phoned one of my old roommates from college, Steve McLeod, who grew up in Savannah, and caught up with him. I don't think I've spoken to him since my senoir year. He is now settled in the Memphis area.

Stone Mountain, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing because the weather was densely cloudy, and misty, but we saw the mountain from below, went into some of the shops, and the museum. We'll have to go back when the weather is better sometime. Also, of note: on the 26th, we met my old friend from college, Gene Fletcher, for lunch in Chattanooga. Gene was my co-worker in London 1986-1988, and we hadn't seen each other for eleven years, so we had some catching up to do. He's lived in Denver, CO since 1994.

December 20, 2005: To all who read this, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

December 20-21, 2005: I got to go to TTU, in Cookeville, TN for some training on Innovative Interfaces, a new automated system we will be using in the library, when it is finally installed sometime late in spring 2006.

November 1, 2005: We are big fans of the TV show The Amazing Race. This season features teams of families, with four-member teams, and it is interesting as they travel around the world on a sort-of-scavenger-hunt to win the prize. It's on Tuesday nights at 8PM CST. Check it out at P.S. There was a lot less foreign travel in this series than normal (just Central America and Canada), but it was still a good series. The next Amazing Race series will start in February 2006. Also, for re-runs of past Amazing Race shows, watch the Game Show Network, nightly, at 8PM CST. See

October 2005: Needless to say, the Cubs were a big disappointment this season, but I have found solace in the White Sox. Yes, I've converted to the CHI Sox for at least one World Series. P.S. Congratulations to the Sox, and to Chicago. If there was ever any doubt, we Cubs fans now have undisputed whining and complaining rights over everyone!

I normally devote my leisure reading to travel books, but I am taking time out to read Bono: in Conversation with Michka Assayas. It's an ok tome about the lead singer of the band U2.

October 7-9, 2005: Reanna and I went on a church retreat to the Wear Valley, near the Smoky Mountains with about 25 people. Check out the nice lodge we stayed in at La Porte Au Smokies. It was built and owned by a couple from Louisianna.

September 26, 2005: Reanna rode her bicycle without training wheels for the first time. Progress!

Labor Day, 2005: We went for a picnic with our friends, the Johnson's, at Stones River National Battlefield & Cemetery, near Murfreesboro, TN. Since the price of gas is over $3.00 a gallon, we decided to meet somewhere between their home and ours. I'm not a big Civil War buff, but it was a good compromise. The sombreness of the museum and cemetery was appropriate given the current mood of our country.

September 1, 2005: The devastation from Hurricane Katrina is beyond comprehension. Our problems at home, at work, the drought in Tullahoma, car problems, or the Cubs terrible baseball season are all minuscule compared to what the people down there are going through. My concerns and prayers are for the people down there.

August 2005: After our trip a number of things around the house seemed to break down at the same time. A trusty wrist-watch I'd had for 21-years needed replacing; our 10-year-old Sentra wouldn't start, so that compelled us to finally trade it in for a used Maxima; our 6-year-old washing machine broke down, and our two lawn mowers both refused to start. A big change in Reanna's life occured as she started kindergarten!

July - August 2005: We went to Trinidad for a three-week vacation. It was hot and rainy much of the time, but we made a few excursions on dry days to some interesting places. We had four relatives visiting from Germany which made for a full-house, and created a few tense as well as enjoyable moments. Hurricane Emily made a surprise visit just a little to our North, which had an impact on our plans. Read my travelogue about Trinidad.

June 14, 2005: I haven't mentioned much about death on this page, but all the family was shocked with the passing of my uncle Steve last Thursday night. He was my Dad's younger brother, and today was his funeral. It has been a time of reminiscing about Steve with relatives, some of which, I haven't seen in many years.

June 9, 2005: Driving through Manchester, TN on the way to work gives me the thrill of Roon Spotting, on the eve of the Bonnaroo Music Festival, once again. See my report.

May 23-25, 2005: For the third year in a row, we went to Hamilton, Ontario to visit Linda's sister and her two daughters. On the 24th, I went to Toronto for the first time ever and visited the CN Tower, the tallest tower in the world (over 1,800 ft). I explored by foot and by car "Old Cabbagetown" before returning to Hamilton that evening. The weather was early spring-like, and and we had a good trip. See my Canada trip report.

Late April, 2005: This has been the coldest end-of-April-weather I can remember in the whole time I've been living in Tennessee. This is reminds me of English weather!

April 18, 2005: I drove to Cincinnati, Ohio with Dad to see the Cubbie's lose to the Reds 6-7. Oh, well, it wasn't all bad. We saw a multitude of fellow Cubs fans there. The Cubs hit four home runs in the game and got off to an early lead, but the Reds made a "textbook" comeback, and along the way, got a good relief performance by a former Motlow student, named David Weathers. Of all things!!! Ain't life funny?

April 4, 2005: I was excited to see Illinois in the NCAA men's final (I lived in IL for eleven years), but alas, UNC was too physical inside, but it was close! Say Hey, the Cubs won their first game of the season today. Like last year, they look like they have the talent to do well. I hope they stay healthy this time!

March 2005: Reanna turned five, and she is very excited about that. I have been making videos of our summer vacation last year with Microsoft Movie Maker. It is a lot of fun, and it really brings back memories of the trip.

February 16, 2005: Well, after giving it some thought, I decided to register my own domain name, and to have it hosted at It took less than a day for the site to be online--all they had to do was move my files from (which I started a little over a year ago) to the new domain. My new Web address is Please bookmark the new page, because my MSCC home page will not last much longer. I've been on the MSCC Webserver since 1996, and I appreciate their generosity, and tolerance. I just felt like the time was right to register my own name. I know that .name is a little unusual, but I think it is appropriate. This site will continue to have the same design for now, so nothing looks any different. It will continue to be about me, my family, and the same things it always has been.

January 3, 2005: Reanna started pre-school for the first time. It is three days a week, and she loves it.

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