Southern Man

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Even though this was Southern Man's weekend with eleven-year-old daughter he hardly saw her at all other than on the drive to fetch her on Wednesday (her Fall Break was at the tail end of the week) and to return her on Sunday after church. Grandma had her Thursday and Friday while Southern Man worked; Friday evening she went to her old church's "Fall Fest" and had a great time running around with friends; Southern Man's sister had already bid for her on Saturday and they went to the "Corn Maze" (an annual tradition) that morning and a neighborhood trick-or-treat fest in the evening; and on Sunday Grandma nabbed her again for services before returning home early for "official" trick-or-treating in her Mom's neighborhood. It's a longish drive to make every other weekend - three hours up and three back - but that's two three-hour blocks of nonstop chatter and singing and road games which is always a lot of fun. And the little Hyundai gets 33 MP on the highway no matter how conservatively or aggressively it's driven.

And what a week it was. Pretty much every committee upon which Southern Man sits met last week. Much of Monday morning was consumed by a student fair. Two-thirds of Southern Man's deans are "in transition" so there were additional multiple meetings and gatherings and a very nice farewell luncheon on Friday. And on top of this unusually busy week Southern Man has major, major reports due on Monday so he'll go in before dawn tomorrow to knock the rest of that out. It will be a relief to get back to the simple pleasure of teaching.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Photo by Southern Man's Sister

Eleven-year-old daughter with her new skateboard. Since it's 2010, also with new helmet and pads.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy ISS Day

Today the International Space Station finally broke Mir's long-standing record for longest continuous habitation in space: 3,644 days.

Elapsed time since the last human traveled beyond near-Earth orbit is closing on thirty-eight years.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Smoke On The Water

Ingredients for a relaxing weekend:
  • Good friends
  • Fishing poles
  • Steaks grilled over a campfire
  • Potatoes baked in the coals
  • Cold beer
  • Quiet conversation until the full moon was high in the sky
Two nights in a row...

Friday, October 22, 2010


The political blogs are all abuzz with the firing of Juan Williams from NPR, who apparently irritated listeners by daring to appear on Fox News and utter opinions that they found unpalatable. Yet, Fox commentators regularly appear on the liberal media and do much the same thing - Bill O'Reilly comes to mind - and Fox viewers do not make regular demands for Bill's head. And there was no outcry when Williams, an NPR regular, appeared on Fox. Could it be that Fox News listeners are more tolerant of diversity and opposing opinions than are NPR listeners?

Michael Barone says this much better here. Hat tip to - well, a bunch of political blogs.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Birthday!

It's teenage son's nineteenth birthday today. He posts on Facebook that his only wish is to "not look like Kevin Bacon."

You be the judge.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cooking Fail

So Southern Man has his Easy Chicken 'n Rice in the oven when teenage daughter comes dragging in from work, tired and hungry, so he is delighted when she says sure, I'd love some dinner.

The timer beeps and Southern Man pulls the meal out and sees that it really doesn't look right and then notices that the oven temperature was set a hundred degrees too low. Daughter is a bit upset as it's late and she wants to go to bed but Southern Man consoles her and ups the temperature and puts the meal back in the oven and sets the timer for forty more minutes.

Forty minutes later teenage daughter comes out of her room and wanders into the kitchen and says "Dad, is this oven on?"

We ordered pizza.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Orson Wells

Way, 'way back in the day Southern Man and his other middle-school-aged friends coaxed our parents to take us to a fairly large Star Trek convention. It was wonderful geek fun in too many ways to describe. And in one room we noticed a largish, somewhat sad-looking man sitting in a chair in the corner. We wandered that way and soon found ourselves sitting at the feet of none other than Orson Wells.

He entertained us as a king might treat honored guests. We offered the microphone of a cassette tape recorder we had and he uttered his famous tagline from The Shadow radio series. Southern Man still has that tape, somewhere. He regaled us with stories and hours flew by as though they were mere moments. At that age we had no idea of the real depth of his history or influence; only that a man with a name we vaguely recognized had treated us well.

Orson Wells passed away fifteen years ago today. He will of course always be remembered. Southern Man will watch Citizen Kane tonight in his honor and will never forget the kindness shown to a pack of annoying kids.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Southern Man was just about to walk out the door this morning when Casa Southern Man rumbled and shook for a good ten seconds. He thought at first that perhaps the neighbor's washing machine had run amock, then later heard the news that the epicenter of a magnitude-4.3 earthquake was a mere twenty miles south. Southern Man's little corner of the world actually experiences many per year but the vast majority go undetected by anything other than seismometers.

This is exciting 'cause it was Southern Man's first real earthquake. He was pretty animated about it at first but the first couple of co-workers he talked to were from California and that kind of took the wind out of his sails. But he will always remember where he was during the Great Southern Earthquake of 2010.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Southern Man's recent post on education garnered both praise and critisism (that is, if personal attacks qualify as critisism), as did his comment on a recent Facebook post praising Glorious Leader's decision to pour even more money into a broken system. Southern Man has a couple of vo-tech teachers in his evening classes who decry the slow but steady demolishion of career education in the public schools. So here's a Reason TV spot, about three minutes long, that further explains why big government top-down "solutions" to our education problems simply will not work:

I especially liked the little statistic that the NEA - the largest labor union in the country - makes more political contributions than Microsoft and Exxon/Mobil combined and that 95% of that money goes to Democrats. Don't call them "partisan," though - that'd be rascist or something. One wonders who the other 5% are.

Hat tip to InstaPundit.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Elements

On the first day of a quantum mechanics class in graduate school the professor said that we'd spend the entire semester studying hydrogen - and believe me, we did - but that we'd cover the rest of the periodic chart on the day before the final. Given that said professor could easily have had a career as a stand-up comedian we weren't surprised when he pulled out this Tom Lehrer classic.

And here it is again in Japanese.

The Elements sung by the autotuned disembodied heads of cute Japanese schoolgirls. Is the Internet great or what?

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Piano Tale

On Monday this week a Steinway grand piano appeared in the rotunda of Southern Man's building. Upon investigation it appeared that a student pianist was scheduled to appear from eleven to twelve every day and play for whoever happened to be walking through the building, so Southern Man made it a point to wander that way every morning and enjoy the music and chat a bit with her. And as Southern Man is unable to walk past a piano without playing something he took many a brief turn on the ivories himself over the next several days. Apparently others feel the same way and Southern Man enjoyed many an impromptu concert as students passing by succumbed to that same temptation to sit down and play for a bit.

Well this afternoon Southern Man walked by said piano to see:

Well, this is a liberal arts university so we must be wary of unauthorized persons who might dare play our pianos; someone might actually enjoy themselves or learn a bit about music outside of the classroom or something.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Well, this is an odd post that arose from a conversation with some female co-workers in which they haughtily concluded that Southern Man, a single with no woman to "take care" of him, must subside on fast food, Chinese takeout, and cold pizza.

Without mentioning that in Southern Man's last LTR he did pretty much all of the cooking, here's his diet since the beginning of the workweek:

Breakfast: Cereal with a nectarine and milk, fruit juice.
Snack: Chocolate muffin, diet soda.
Lunch: Hamburger-and-noodle casserole (OK, Hamburger Helper), diet soda.
Snack: Brownie, hot chocolate from Starbucks.
Dinner: Beef-and-green-pepper fajitas, tortilla chips, salsa, and a beer.
Desert: Dark Chocolate Lindor Balls.
Breakfast: Cereal with a banana and milk, wheat toast with apple butter, juice.
Snack: Banana bread, diet soda.
Lunch: Beef stew, diet soda.
Snack: Hot chocolate from Starbucks.
Dinner: Salad (romaine, green onion, bell pepper, croutons, peppers, dressing) and a beer.
Dessert: Handful of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.
Breakfast: Chocolate muffin and a diet soda consumed on the way to a one-day conference.
Snack: Cookies and juice at the conference.
Lunch: Taco Bar at the conference, more cookies, water.
Dinner: Freshly-made chicken and rice with a mixed drink (Diet Sprite and Triple Sec, if you must know).
Dessert: Handful of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.
Breakfast: Steak, eggs, cinnamon-raisin toast with apple butter, juice.
Snack: Chocolate muffin and diet soda.
Lunch: Beef stew, diet soda.
Snack: Dark chocolate Snickers, hot chocolate from Starbucks.
Dinner: Leftover chicken and rice and a salad with a beer.
Dessert: Handful of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.
Well, as you can see Southern Man's night job at the local community college (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday) typically includes a visit the Starbucks in the student center which is conveniently located only a few steps from his classroom. Monday night's brownies were a surprise provided by an older female student; Southern Man is usually cautious of student-provided food but these were both unadulterated and delicious. The Lindor Balls ran out Monday evening so it's M&Ms for dessert until a trip to the store. Pretty much everything listed was homemade during the weekend when Southern Man cooks and bakes a week's worth of meals and other goodies - last weekend it was muffins, the casserole and a terrific beef stew. Southern Man is a firm believer in the hobbit practice of "second breakfast" and usually takes banana bread or a muffin to work for a mid-morning snack. His taste in adult beverages runs to Mexican beer and his 'fridge is usually stocked with Corona, Cantina, Pacifico and Tecate with occasional appearances by Heineken, Red Stripe, Miller Lite, Carte Blanca, and Negra Modelo. He takes his one-beer-a-night habit seriously and keeps frosted glasses in the freezer and 'rita salt handy for the rims. For mixed drinks vodka, tequila, Triple Sec, and Grand Marnier are generally on hand. Southern Man isn't a wine drinker but past girlfriends attest to his talent for selecting good wine and there's usually a bottle or two in the wine rack - just in case.

[added later] And then teen daughter comes in late this evening tired and cross from work, pokes around the kitchen for a bit, and then complains "Why isn't there any ever any food in this house?" After a bit of discussion it turns out that her idea of "food" is a meal that (a) requires no assembly and (b) doesn't involve the use of the oven, microwave, or stovetop. Upon further inquiry this definition was refined to (c) something she can order at Chili's. Apparently Southern Man needs to add wait staff and a drive-thru to complete his kitchen.

Recipes for Men

Inspired by the Food post, here are a couple of simple dishes.

Southern Man's Beef Stew

Package of cubed stew meat.
Potatoes and carrots, one bell pepper, one yellow onion, a few stalks of green onion, and a couple of mushrooms.
One can of stewed tomatoes.
One beef boullion cube.
Dice, chop, and cube the veggies. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Add just enough water to cover the meat and veggies. Season to suit; Southern Man throws in a healthy dash of Hot Shot along with various salts and peppers and other seasonings. Mix well and cook on low all night. Eat at home with garlic cheese toast, and divide into containers and take for lunches at work.

Easy Chicken and Rice
One bag of Cheddar Broccoli Rice or Mushroom Rice.
One can of Cheddar Cheese Soup or Cream of Mushroom Soup.
Two boneless chicken breasts.
Combine a bag of rice, a can of soup, and half a soup can of water in a 9x9 glass baking dish. Mix well. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Lay chicken on top; season with lemon pepper and other spices as desired. Bake at 325o for one hour and fifteen minutes. This takes all of five minutes to prepare and is delicious; eat half of it that evening and package the other half for lunch at work.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Relaxing Weekend

Well, relaxing might be the wrong word, but certainly enjoyable. It's Southern Man's weekend with eleven-year-old daughter, so he ducked out of work early on Friday to deal with the aforementioned automotive problem, then headed north to rendevoux with his ex and pick up his daughter, then we headed back home (with her happily chatting the entire while) where we found teen daughter at home (a rare sighting) so the two sisters had some time together. To her surprise and delight Southern Man had secretly arranged a play date with one of her best friends on Saturday; we ended up at the local amusement park and rode rides and ate overpriced amusement park food and generally had a great time. That put us home late and very tired so we slept in Sunday morning and just relaxed until time to head back up to return her to her mother. Enjoyable, and altogether too brief.