Thursday, May 24, 2007

Live Fire!

There is a wilderness fire in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park right now. As of yesterday, it had burned approximately 150 acres, and was only 10% contained. From what I've heard, the fire was started by an irresponsible hiker/camper in a popular backcountry campsite. It's really quite ridiculous. As a former hiker/camper and an Eagle Scout, I'd really expect more. Most hikers/campers are nature lovers, and you'd think they would generally know better. However, the GSMNP is the most visited National Park in the U.S., so I suppose it stands to reason that we'd get the most idiots.

The fire happens to be in the southwestern corner of the park, which puts it about 10 miles east-southeast of our house. We're not in any danger, but it does place the fire in the mid to right frame of the webcam up at Look Rock. So if you'd like to see a LIVE wild fire, check out the link over to the right. I'd snag a picture for you now, but it appears that the site is overloaded at the moment. If I catch it back up, I'll save a picture and edit this post.

EDIT: I just got one, and it's a great dawn shot.

EDIT #2: I snagged a dusk shot as well.

Weight Watch 2007 Week 7

Well, I'm pretty well stagnant, so I think I'm going to have to start doing something else I suppose. I'm hoping to include a little more activity, but we'll see.

Friday, May 18, 2007

To Start With...

Everybody likes pictures. So, I'll start with a couple. Then you can skip the rest of my aimless rambling if you want.

Three weekends ago I went on a ride with some friends from EastTNRiders. The final leg of our trip (for me anyway) was passing through Deals Gap. David over at got a couple of shots of me that I liked, so I bought them last night. And, due to their new feature of being able to download your pictures, I got them this morning. So, here they are:

As problems go...

Well, as you faithful readers know, I've been talking about buying a car for a while now. I had pretty much settled on a Subaru WRX, but at the current time I'm really leaning away from it. I'm beginning to think that it's just too much money to pay for a Subaru. That, and I've seen the new body style that will be out this fall. It looks roughly like a Honda Accord had a one night stand with a Toyota Echo. Seriously, it's that bad. So, I'm back to square one.

I've been really frustrated with myself over not being able to come up with a new vehicle that I want. I mean, there are some high-end vehicles that I want, but don't we all? But this morning I remembered something that helps me a little, at least with the frustration part. The last time I bought a vehicle for myself was 6 1/2 years ago. For some reason, it took me until now to remember that it took me about 8 months to pick what I wanted last time. I drove EVERYTHING then too. I drove sedans, I drove sports cars, I drove sport sedans, I drove SUV's, and finally settled on a Silverado (yeah, kinda went out in left field on that one). So, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that it's slow going this time. I'll keep plugging along, and eventually I know something will jump out at me. Until then, be praying for Christal (I think I'm driving her crazy).

Weight Watch 2007 - Week 6

Ugh. This week didn't go so well. I was actually up 2 pounds yesterday, and honestly another one today. I suppose some weeks will be like that. I just can't let it become habit.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Remembering a Good Man

Sorry about missing last week. The pollen season finally caught up with me, and I was definitely under the weather. I get a certain number of sick days, right?

I had a very happy couple of posts that I started yesterday. You'll find them below, I went ahead and finished them today. But before we get to that, I want to take a moment to remember a good man.

When I started riding motorcycles about 5 years ago, I knew NOTHING about it. But, I found it was something I really enjoyed, so I started learning about it and checking out all the motorcycle shops I could find. I found a little parts store called Gear Up Motorsports over on Clinton Highway in Knoxville, about 3-4 miles from work. It was a VERY small shop, only three employees. I would later find out that they were all co-owners. Two of the guys there were very helpful, and would become people I was proud to call friends. Jay Luttrell and Jimmie Warwick. I spent a lot of lunch breaks in there just hanging out, talking, asking questions, laughing, and learning.

About a year after I starting hanging out at Gear Up, there was an accident. Jimmie, Jay, and Dave (the other owner) were leaving work, all on motorcycles. When they reached the first light, Jay turned left to go to his house, with Jimmie and Dave continuing down Clinton Highway. At this particular intersection, there are two left-turning lanes. Jay was in the right lane, and a woman in a generic import car was in the left, talking away on her cell phone. When the light turned green, they both turned left. Mid turn, with the lady not paying attention, she changed lanes, running over Jay. It was a very low speed wreck, but the consequences would be more major than anyone could imagine.

Jay was wearing all of his gear. He didn't have a scratch on him. However, his right shoulder impacted the pavement incredibly hard. So hard, in fact, that there was skeletal, muscular, and neural damage to his right shoulder and arm. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where they attempted to re-insert his dislocated shoulder. The muscular and neural damage was too great though, and his shoulder would not stay in place. His arm stayed in a sling, with his shoulder dislocated, for the next 8 months. At that point, he finally had a successful surgery that held it in place. Unfortunately though, 8 months is a LONG time to endure the pain of a separated shoulder. He had developed an addiction to prescription pain medication.

Over time, the three owners of Gear Up had a falling out. They parted ways, and the shop is now a tire store. The only one of the three I was able to keep in touch with was Jimmie. I got a call from Jimmie yesterday. He told me that Jay had finally given up his fight with his addition Tuesday night. He shot himself.

I know there are a lot of motorcyclist friends of mine that read this blog. For those of you that aren't, it takes almost no effort to pay attention to your surroundings. And it could save someone's life. Even mine.

I rode my bike to work today. It's not that it's a rare occurance, but it's also not an every day event. I think it was just my own little memorial, because I know that if there were a bike and a way to ride it, Jay wouldn't have been in a car. Jay was a good man with a heart of gold. He'd give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it. We lost a good man this week.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

West Side Story 2007

Every now and then, you see a news article that you feel is so strange, there can be nothing more odd. This week, I found that story on

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — A man died while trying to outdo a rival with an acrobatic move while "battle dancing," police said. Robert Stitt, 48, and his rival were competing in a parking lot Monday night when he tried a forward flip and landed on his head. "It was just two guys dancing. Everybody was laughing," Stitt's friend John Boxley said. Boxley said James Brown was on the radio and Stitt wanted to outdo a rival dancer, who had flipped in the air. Police said the victim went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead a short time at a local hospital. Police said several people were in the parking lot drinking and battle dancing — a competition in which each dancer tries one-upmanship with unique moves."

I fear I will never get the disturbing images from this story out of my head. Does this really happen? I thought it was just a story line that gay people made up so they'd have something to write plays about. And if this were high school kids, I could at least blow it off as kids being stupid. We've all done stupid things when we were kids. Of course, I don't think I ever had a battle dance, but to each his own.

This guy, however was 48 years old! Can you imagine that you're 25, you're married, and you've just had a baby. You've got an entry level job, a mortgage, and a mini-van. You've just watched the 11:00 news, and you're settling in for the night. The phone rings. It's the police, telling you that your father was just killed "battle dancing" in the abandoned K-Mart parking lot. Do you assume it's your friends playing a cruel joke on you? Can you really take that phone call seriously?

Of course, the above scenario would never happen. I just can't imagine that a man that's "battle dancing" in a parking lot at 48 years old has ever gotten laid. I can only hope that wherever he's at now, James Brown is pimp-slapping the shit out of him.

Weight Watch 2007 - Week 5

While I sat out on posting last week, I did post my weight. Which, unfortunately, wasn't good news. I've come to believe, however, that last week was a fluke due to my illness. I think this week better reflects my progress. At least that's what I want to believe anyway.

So to recap, that's a total of 11 pounds in 5 weeks, or 2.2 pounds per week. Weight Watchers claims that by loosing the weight slowly, your body adjusts to your new eating habits and you're more likely to keep the weight off. Their goals are 2 pounds per week. And I do believe that they are right. When I first started this, I found myself having to fight off temptation to snack during the day. Now, I don't really even think about it. Keep in mind, I'm not "dieting" per say, yet, nor am I instigating a formal workout plan. All I've done is 1) quit snacking between meals, 2) make better choices at meals, i.e. stay away from greasy, fatty foods if possible, and 3) not sit on my ass so much. Basically, common sense. Don't eat so much and be a little more active. As long as this keeps working, I've got no plans to change things. If I stall out at a weight that I feel is too high, well, I guess I'll have to bite the bullet.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Taking a Sick Day

Sorry guys, I've got the funk. I'll check back in next week.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!