Sunday, September 27, 2009


Donna and I went to Nashville last week for our yearly week-long vacation. It was the first one in almost 20 years that we went on by ourselves. We couldn't bring ourselves to go to Myrtle Beach, so we just went somewhere close (Nasvhille). We didn't do a whole lot. We went to see Dave Ramsey's studio (see previous post). We also went to see the Parthenon (upcoming post). We also made a couple of trips to the Opry Mills Mall.

I know some people won't like this, but I am not very enamored with the Opry Mills mall. There are a few things I like. The Tony Roma's is good and there is a place where you can buy fried donuts. I also grab a Strawberry Julius whenever I am there. I don't like how narrow the aisles are. The layout is funky. It has two main pathways and you have to walk all the way to the end of end to get to the other (no cut throughs that I could find). There aren't any stores that just blow me away. I detest how I feel like I am in a carnival with hucksters. There are too many vendors trying to drag you over to sample their wares. Donna walked up laughing just as some girl grabbed my hand wanting to look at my nails.

I think a lot of my prejudice stems from my memories of what used to be. When you come into Nashville, all of the directional signs mention Opryland. This constitutes the Gaylord Entertainment Conglomerate (Orpy Mills, Grand Ole Opry, the Opryland Hotel, General Jackson steamboat and I am sure other stuff). Opryland will always be something entirely different to me.

I remember going to the theme park there. We went in the early seventies to the theme park. They had characters dressed up musical instruments. I distinctly remember Yancy Banjo (for obvious reasons). It was only two hours away, so it was easy to pop down to for a day of fun. I remember going with Chris Leaver and his family one Saturday. We rode the Wabash Cannonball something like 16 times (it was one of those corkscrew type coasters). Donna and I went on a Saturday with Rick Alvey and his girlfriend when we were dating. We went again after we got married. I remember even going there on our honeymoon. The rides were closed for the season (it was March). But, Ralph Embry did his daily show there and we got to be in the audience for that. I remember it being a family oriented kind of place.

Alas, just before the boys got old enough to go (1996 I think), they abruptly decided to close the park. I've read various reasons why. One is the park had no room for growth. It was bordered by the Cumberland River, Briley Parkway and Opryland Hotel. They had to rip out old rides to put in new ones. I also remember hearing that Gaylord Entertainment just wanted to stick with hospitality type services (whatever that means). There was some rumor they were going to keep a few of the rides, but they didn't.

It wasn't widely publicized outside this area. I've even heard that tourists still show up at the site looking for the theme park (given the area is still called Opryland).

This is a good site with all sorts of info including old maps they gave you when you came in plus TV commercials. If you ever went to Opryland, you'll really enjoy exploring it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dave Ramsey

If you don't know Dave Ramsey, he is a financial radio talk show host with a nationally syndicated program. I first caught him many years ago when he did a show called the "Money Game" from Nashville.

His teachings are very straightforward. Live on less than you make. Don't borrow money and especially don't use credit cards. He has a method called "the baby steps" for getting out of debt. We followed his plans years ago and have been out of debt for over 7 years.

He's very straightforward in his radio show. He has little good to say about credit card companies, payday loan establishments, big nationwide banks, and debt collection agencies. He has no trouble being blunt with his callers when the situation calls for it. He also can be very compassionate and generous when the situation calls for it. I download the free hour of his show he provides each day and listen to it when I run each day (the nerd in me coming out of course). I can almost predict what he'll say to most callers, but he still teaches me things about money. I also love to hear his commentary on current financial issues. He of course hated "Cash for Clunkers" because most people would go into debt to buy the new car. His cash for clunkers recommendation was "Drive a clunker and you'll have cash!!".

Dave recently became a part of Twitter. I of course became a follower. A tweet came out saying that listener's were welcome to come to see Dave's studio. Donna and I were going to be in Nashville in September and this sounded like something I wanted to do. I emailed the email address provided in the tweet. I almost immediately got back a very nice response from Martha Thompson letting me know we were most welcome to come. She also said Dave would come out during breaks and talk and even pose for photos.

As we got close to going, I emailed her again and she recommended Monday as being the best day to come. Monday arrived and I very excitedly drove to Financial Peace Plaza in Brentwood (south of Nashville) with Donna. When we came in, we were greeted very warmly by Martha Thompson. She made Donna a fresh ground cup of coffee in an actual mug and even gave her a linen napkin. She also had cookies and gave us both one. She showed us Dave's studio (which is actually in the lobby where anyone can watch) and told us to sit in the chairs facing the glass of his studio. She said he would come out and talk if he sees people sitting there.

True to her word, he came out on the next break. He talked with several people and then it was my turn! We talked for a bit and I thanked him for the influence he was in Donna and my lives. He very graciously posed for the picture you see here.

After he went back in to his studio, we sat and talked with Martha Thompson for a while. Turns out she is the producer's mom (Blake Thompson). Dave always talks glowingly of Blake Thompson and how he "makes Dave look good". She talked of how great a place it was to work. It has won multiple awards for being the best place to work in Nashville. She talked of all the great things he does for his employees.

I sat and just watched for a while. The lobby is set up very nicely for visitors with chairs and tables to sit and watch Dave in action. Martha also runs the gift shop where you can buy any of Dave's material (CDs, t-shirts, books, etc.). I finally had to drag myself away....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Coach Cal

Unless you have no interest in college basketball at all, you know that John Calipari is now the head coach at the University of Kentucky. He's done a good job of going all over the state and being "an ambassador" for the team. He finally made it down to Paducah tonight to speak at the Carson Center. I hadn't planned on going at first, but Donna convinced me to.

My first thought when I arrived was the huge crowd already there and wouldn't it have been nice had that many shown up for the Area Wide Gospel meeting there a couple of months ago. Sports outweights spirituality for many and can even be their idol.

I settled in and after a few opening remarks by Jeff Bidwell (the local Paducah TV sports anchor), Coach Cal came up to a thunderous greeting of the crowd clapping to the UK fight song.

He talked about his book that just came out called "Bounce Back". He was pushing that really strong (he was signing books afterwards). It talks about failures he's had in his life and how he's "bounced back" from them. He brought up his brief tenure as head couch of the Nets and how he was fired. He discussed how close his Memphis Tigers team came to winning a National Title.

He stressed two philosophies in his life. The first was to do some thing nice for at least one person a day to show you appreciate them. The second was that leading (like a coach) wasn't how much he could do for himself but what he could do for others.

I've heard these teachings before..

Galatians 6:10 - As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Matthew 20:27-28 - And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

It would be a much better world if we took these verses to heart.

UK 2009 football preview

Yeah, I know I should have done this sooner but I have been busy with "insert lame excuse here".

UK has produced three splendid years (well for them) in a row with three straight bowl appearances and wins (something even Paul "Bear" Bryant couldn't do here in the early 1950's). Things were looking really bright with their best defensive players (Trevard Lindley, Micah Johnson, and Jeremy Jarmon) opting to not jump to the NFL. Alas, Jarmon was banned for the year by the NCAA for taking a dietary supplement available over-the-counter (I'll not start a diatribe on that one). Anyway, without further ado, here's my preview

Miami (of Ohio) - At first glance you'd think "Wow, what an opening game" til you add "of Ohio" in there. This game was played at the home of the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. Kentucky looked quite bad for about a quarter and half but ended up winning easily 42-0. Rich Brooks is never one to run up a score so it could have worse..

Louisville - Well, well, well, how the mighty have fallen. Three years ago, Louisville capped a strong season by winning the Orange Bowl. Bobby Petrino left and its been downhill all the way. Many are expecting an easy win for UK, but I think Louisville will give them a good game. Steve Kraigthorpe is trying to save his job.

Florida/Alabama - These games are at home, but it would take almost a perfect game from UK to win either. The main goal is not to get anyone critical to the team hurt. If they manage to win one of these, a really special season is in the making.

South Carolina/Auburn - It'd be nice if these two were swapped with above and at home instead of on the road. Kentucky really needs to take one of these. The Auburn game is probably more likely, but I wish they'd beat Steve Spurrier just once (they never have).

Louisiana-Monroe/Mississippi State/Eastern Kentucky/Vanderbilt - This starts a four game string of games Kentucky really ought to win. Of course, UK lost to Miss State in 2007 at home (a game everybody thought they'd win). Jonathan and I saw Louisiana Monroe give UK a great game at UK (losing only 42-40). Vandy beat UK last year at UK so these are not givens.

Georgia - Winning "between the hedges" is always tough. UK could win here, it'll depend honestly on how the season is going.

Tennessee - The streak. Uk hasn't beaten Tennessee since 1984, they haven't beaten them at home since 1981. Let me give you some perspective on that. In 1984, I had just started dating this gorgeous 19 year old girl. I was just 6 months into my job at Martin Marietta in Paducah. If you had told me that I would have been married to that beauty for 23 years, worked at "Martin Marietta" for 25 years and had a son who is a freshman at UK and UK would not have beaten UT in all that time, I would have never believed it. I SAW the last time UK beat UT at home. It was 21-10 in 1981. I was a junior at UK at the time. It was cold and spitting snow and UK was 2-8. I remember leaving early had I known the significance that win would have years down the road, I'd have stayed for the whole game. I am certainly hoping Josh's presence there this year will do the trick. Then, we can shoot for Florida (the next longest streak) in 2011.

My guess for their record this year is 8-4 which we get them in the Peach Bowl (oops, Chick-Fil-a Bowl) in Atlanta. I am really wanting 9-3 and the Outback and a trip to sunny Tampa though.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Delta Gone....Hello United?

In the continuing saga of who will be the carrier at Barkley Regional Airport here (or if we'll even have one), a new development has sprung up. When bids were opened yesterday, United put in a bid to have twice daily service from Paducah to Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Not only that, but their cost would be almost half of what Delta's bidding to charge the government.

I'm torn. O'hare would have many more connections. I'd even consider flying to Chicago instead of driving (since it's direct). On the other side, I'd hate to see Northwest/Delta employees lose jobs here. I've become very acquainted with the Memphis Airport. I know where the best places for food are and where the restrooms are. I know Donna will miss my singing "Walking in Memphis" every time I have a flight into that airport.

Stay tuned...