MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008


Raise your hand if you remember the opening scene, a long gray hallway in a Los Angeles hotel, in the Pink Floyd movie “The Wall!” Remember the cleaning woman switching on a vacuum cleaner and then goes about her business, while inside one of the hotel rooms, “Pink” (Bob Geldof), oblivious to the outside distractions, sits listlessly staring at a television. The flickering, blue-black images resolve into historical footage from World War II, and Pink sees his father killed at the Battle of Anzio.

Well, there are hallways, mostly in hotels, that often remind me of that opening scene. This past week, in a hallway in the building where Smith Barney is housed in Knoxville, I again had that sort of “de’ja’vu feeling” when I rounded a corner and started down the hall to a conference room. There, along the walls, were those half-moon lights, simultaneously spraying light toward the ceiling and diffusing light toward the hall floor, lining the corridor just like in the movie.

In my head I could hear the conversational sounds coming from that TV set in the movie, the sound of the dive-bomber as it released its payload, the vacuum cleaner purring, and the tap, tap, tapping on the hotel door the cleaning lady made as she fumbled her key-ring for the master key.

Some movie scenes, especially those with great sound tracks, are burned into my brain forever, and this is one of my favorites.

The conference room reminded me of nothing in “The Wall”, but out in the hallway, I heard the click as someone started up a vacuum. It was almost surreal, but only to me…the old “Sixties Kind of Man!”

Two other concerned mutual fund investors and I were greeted by our “money men,” Doug Whitman and Scott Rhea (Rhea Whitman Group). We all exchanged pleasantries, then Doug handed us our box lunch (ham sandwich, a fruit assortment, two chocolate cookies, and a cold bottle of water), and we sat down around a long typical conference room table lined by comfortable gray leather chairs.

The topic of the day was “Market Volatility and the Long-Term Investor”. Many people have naturally called the group asking questions related to the recent market fluctuations, the housing market, bank failures, and the “bailout!”

So what does this have to do with Pink Floyd and a “long gray hallway”? Nothing I suppose, just a way of getting to tell you about Scott’s reassuring talk Wednesday, and then a way of wrapping up the tale. His words and graphics really did put my mind at ease.

Back in 2005, I rolled my 401K, managed by Department of Energy, over to a mutual fund package managed today by Scott and Doug’s group, who are a part of Smith Barney and ultimately the Citigroup, Inc. They believe, as I do, that you must “wait out the storm”, and trust that your portfolio will have cumulative growth over time.

This is but one downturn of the market – there have been many, and there will be others. However, the history of the market proves out that the end result will be growth of a properly invested and diversified portfolio.

In fact, the best time to invest (any amount) in the market is when you are at the bottom of a “Bear Market”. Are we there? Only time will tell. But buying shares while costs are low can only mean the cumulative value of those shares will eventually increase!

So, while we walk down this “long gray hallway” of uncertainty, let us have faith in America, and believe that the odds are in the favor of the long-term investor – the bulls! Now is not the time to pull out and give up. Now is the time to buy and/or hold!

Friday, September 26, 2008


On Wednesday, Ron and Neena asked us to pick them up at the Honda service department in Knoxville, and that we would then go see the Farmer’s Market, while their car was being serviced. The Farmer’s Market is held each Wednesday and Saturday at Market Square. It sounded like a good way to get out of the house, so we agreed to go.

We parked in the garage behind the Mast General Store and first browsed the store, picking up a few unique things like a tomato and onion keeper! Nothing you really need, just something to look pretty sitting on the kitchen counter, and might keep the bugs off a once sliced tomato or onion for a day or two!

I perused the candy barrel assortment of bite-sized candies while Dragons touched and felt their way back toward the front door! I have more candy shots over at Flickr!

We left there and headed south on Gay Street toward the First Tennessee Plaza to Garrett’s Downtown Deli! We picked up a couple of ham, Ruben, and club sandwiches to go. We then trudged back down Gay Street and cut over to Krutch Park, found a nice outdoor table and sat down to eat.

The day was marvelous – in the high 70’s, low humidity, and the sky as blue as you could possibly imagine! The only problem we had was one pesky yellow jacket that kept landing on Judy’s mayo!

After licking our fingers and lips, we walked on down to Market Square and toured the few vegetable, flower, jewelry, and hotdog stands in attendance for Wednesday’s Farmer Market.

We noted one street corner preacher, hawking the “good news”. I remember coming to the same street corner as a young boy and being amazed at a sweating, white-shirted, weird sounding man standing on a fruit crate screaming at passerby’s about their pending doom in an “eternal burning hell!”

Oh yes, I remember how uneasy I felt back then, as we passed him standing up there, but thank God I know the truth today! I suppose that’s why I felt no embarrassment in taking this guy’s photo. He was just another man, standing up for his beliefs, and I have my own.

A few steps later and we came across a “happy blogger” sitting, what appeared to be, uncomfortably on the concrete square, her laptop plugged into one of the outdoor outlets she found on the side of a light pole. I’m sure she was browsing Mushy’s Moochings, or maybe The Silverbacks!

Judy and Neena bought a few tomatoes and green beans, and we headed out. The intended destination was the Downtown Grill & Brewery, however, on the way, Ron got a call that their car needed to stay over night. So, we decided to head back to the Honda place, pick up Ron and Neena’s garage door opener, stop by Wild Wings, and take them on home.

Wild Wings was a welcome sight, even though we weren’t hungry, Ron and I knew the “cold beers” are fresh and cold there. So, we had about 4 a piece, Ron had the Fat Tire draft and I had the Yuengling draft! Neena had a glass of wine, and Judy ordered the mixings for a “shandy”!

It was a drink that Denise had introduced her to while she and Fat was visiting! Ron said the only thing keeping him from being totally embarrassed was the fact that none of the glasses were labeled, but when Judy started sucking it down through a straw, we both almost walked away! The shame of it!

Did I mention that we weren’t hungry? Well, we weren’t but we tried their onion rings anyway…hot and spicy battered, juicy inside, and ketchup all over the outside. Wow…they were good and spicy hot! We had been ready to go when the “rings” came up, so Ron and I had our excuse for the 4th round!

After two pit-stops on the way home, and barely making it to Ron’s bathroom, Judy and I got them safely home and left.

It was a great day and we are eternally grateful to them for getting us out of the house on such a beautiful day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Blog4Reel is the first-ever competition giving bloggers the chance to have their blogs turned into actual movies, not to mention the chance at winning $2000. So, ol’ Mushy, Suldog, Shrinkwraped Scream, and Fathairybastard signed up! I entered my “Cross-Hairs” site (which could be a great screenplay, but it's fiction), and my “Mushy’s Moochings” sites. Hey, my life could be a movie!

They wanted realness and told us we could write specifically for the competition, link our existing blog/s to the competition, or join just to vote on our favorite blog/s (so I voted for Suldog, Shrinkwraped Scream, and Fathairybastard)! It is that easy! It’s real life to “Reel” life.

If you add yours, let us know and we'll keep voting for you too!

We would appreciate it if you would take a moment to vote for us (see the VOTE in our sidebars), or go there and enter your blogs! Let us know…we’ll vote for you too!

You have to sign up in order to vote, but it’s not big deal…you don’t have to give them your SSN or anything!

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


A life-size, bronze sculpture entitled "The Protector" was unveiled at a memorial service held Sunday, September 21, 2008, in Harriman, Tennessee’s Riverfront Park, as police officers and sheriff's deputies from all across East Tennessee paused to remember their fallen brothers.

This is a beautiful little city park is where Judy and I frequently walk.

The park is situated on the banks of the Emory River, and is full of trees, flowers, and memorials to the fallen soldiers of war. There are also numerous benches dedicated to past city leaders and family loved ones. Therefore, it was a fitting location for “The Protector”.

The city of Harriman and its police department held the memorial service, and dedicated the statue to the memory of the region's 14 police officers and sheriff's deputies who died while serving their departments. The event was organized by Jesse Rittenhouse, the father of fallen police officer Matt Rittenhouse. The tribute also honored those who serve today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


On February 6, 1921, the Yankees purchased 10 acres of property in the west Bronx. The land, purchased from the estate of William Waldorf Astor for $675,000.

The new stadium favored left-handed hitters with the right-field foul pole only 295 feet from home plate, while it was 429 feet out to right center. Though the left-field pole measured only 281 feet from the plate, right-handed hitters were neutralized by a 395-foot left field and a whopping 460 to left center. In the beginning the new stadium had only eight toilet rooms for men and as many for women! During a remodeling 50 years later, renovations included more than 50 restrooms!

The first construction contract was awarded to New York's White Construction Co. on May 5, 1922 with the edict that the job must be completed "at a definite price" ($2.5-million) and by Opening Day 1923. Incredibly, it was. In only 284 working days, Yankee Stadium was ready for its inaugural game on April 18, 1923 vs. the Boston Red Sox. They won the game!

This year in August, I was privileged to have the opportunity to experience a ballgame in this great “cathedral” to the sport!

I wrote, after that experience:

Our seats were very high up in the stadium, but almost directly behind home plate. It was easy to see the little “ant” players swinging, spitting, scratching, hitting, and running around below us. Frankly, it took me several minutes before I ever got into the game, or even looked for the score. I wanted to take it all in…the people, the sounds, the smells, and most of all to feel myself sitting in an aisle seat and watching a professional baseball game – not just any ol’ game, but a New York Yankee’s ball game!

At the “seventh inning stretch” everyone stood and sang along to “America”. I choked…I could not sing more than 3 or 4 words; it was just too much for this ol’ fat boy! “What a moment this is,” I thought, “I’m here and I am feeling so very blessed.”

I looked out over the center and right field walls and on over into the Bronx and it was full of Americans…all kinds of Americans. “Do they feel like I do? Do they realize how blessed they all are?”

Then, just as I succeeded choking that back, they began playing and everyone was singing, “Take me out to the ball game…

I looked out over crowd and wondered if they realized the tradition in the moment! “Man, just think of the people that have played in that stadium and who had watched them play…the luckiest people in the whole world. Thank God I’m an American,” I was thinking, “Why aren’t we all just blubbering around the stands and hugging each other, swapping hotdogs, and bumping plastic beer cups!?”

Tonight the Yankees play their last game in this wonderful old facility. Many hearts are broken that the games are moving from there, and that the facility that built father/son/daughter memories for 85 years will be torn down.

Hopefully, new traditions and family bonds will be built in the new facility just across the street. It will take time, I’m sure, but one day, say another 85 years from now, other fans will feel the same way about this new “cathedral!”

Thursday, September 18, 2008


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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Judy and I don’t usually have too much company on Sunday mornings, but Katie Bug spent the night Saturday, so she could have some of Papaw’s famous pancakes.

After breakfast, Tracy came in, carrying her new “daughter” Roxy, a cute little Boston Terrier, to visit her mom (Judy).

Soon after, Charlotte and Gary came by looking for some computer help. They are leaving this week for Florida; the first road trip in their new RV. Gary’s computer would not recognize the upgrade CD for his GPS, so he brought it over to try it on mine. It opened fine, but the reason it would not upload the new map information was that he didn’t have a blank SD chip. Problem solved – he knew then what he had to do!

Tracy let Roxy down in the yard to let her play for the first time with my dog Baylee. Baylee probably outweighs her by 80 pounds, but she was receptive to the little pup and they played hard together. They chased a tennis ball, rolled in the grass, and chewed on each other’s ears for a long time.

We took Roxy in and she was soon fast asleep. Once asleep the pup sleeps so soundly that you can pick her up and move her around without waking her. She lay across Tracy’s chest, the place she loves most to sleep, and then lolled her head back over Tracy’s shoulder and kept sleeping.

Just thought you would enjoy seeing something so cute, sleeping soundly, with no cares at all!

The best photo, I think, was of here at Tracy’s feet in the yard. Look at those ears – head cocked so perfectly, trying to figure me out!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Neither had I, until Ron and I decided to make that today’s “boy’s day out” destination!

Yes, another day on our own, while Judy, Neena, and Terri went their own way shopping and to eat at Gridiron Burgers. Ron and I will report on that someday soon!

Anyway, after walking around Gander Mountain, looking at what was on sale, picking up a couple of rifles (M1A, M-16, Mini-14, etc.), pointing out a 1911 or two, and then standing in the kayak area talking to Ron’s buddy that works in that department, we made our way on to Abuelo’s in the Turkey Creek area of West Knoxville.

I am used to walking in and instantly recognizing a place as a Mexican restaurant, but Abuelo’s is different…it looks fancy! Oh, it has a Mexican theme, it’s just more upscale than what I’ve been used to! Even the music playing in the background was not just some regular mariachi band, but some great band music accompanying some more modern sounding singers! I even got into a couple of them and one or two sounded like Mexican rock!

The adobe colored walls were broken by big white arches and columns, and accented with very dark molding and trim. The bar continued the dark wood theme, with large mirrors, a dark green granite looking bar, and matching tufted green leather topped bar stools.

The booths were plush with matching green seats and dark paisley designed back rests.

We ordered two large Dos Equis drafts from the lovely waitress and we were off!

I scanned the menu and knew immediately that this was going to be a wonderful taste experience. The items on the menu had more traditional names and beautiful photos of the selections.

Soon, we were ordering our second draft and placing our lunch orders.

Ron ordered The Monterrey from the “combinations” section of the menu, while I picked the Stuffed Chicken Medallions from the “senior” menu! Don’t laugh…it was great…look at it! It was wonderful!

Medallions of chicken breast were stuffed with chorizo, Poblano and cheese, and then lightly fried to perfection. It is served with refried beans and your choice of Papas con Chile™ or Mexican rice. I chose the rice!

Ron’s fare included a sour cream chicken enchilada, an avocado enchilada, a spinach enchilada, a chicken ranchera enchilada, a cheese chile relleno, and a crispy chicken taco and guacamole!

I took a photo with Ron’s hand showing for scale…it was huge, and he took some home!

We’ve decided that the next full family gathering should be at Abuelo’s!

Friday, September 05, 2008

LEISURELY LUNCH - Calhoun’s At the Marina, Lenoir City

Neena and Ron met Judy and me for the wonderful lunch buffet at Calhoun’s today.

They have a wonderful assortment of tasty food on Wednesday and Friday each week. For $12, including the tip, it’s all you can eat of fresh vegetables (white and green beans, yellow corn, fried okra, carrots, cheese and cauliflower, mac’n cheese, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and more), breads (sweet rolls and cornbread), fried catfish, chicken strips, fried chicken livers, and pulled BBQ. Sometimes there will be ribs!

Of course there are the usual condiments (honey mustard and tarter), and coleslaw!

Today there were chocolate chip cookies, or you could have all kinds of fruit, and cottage cheese.

Back at the table, the waitress keeps the glasses filled with un-sweet tea and water.

While we ate, we discussed upcoming plans to spend 3 or 4 nights in a cabin in Big South Fork, and of course, what we were going to eat then!

Out the window, we watched as boats entered and left the marina area, the geese and ducks caucusing along the bank, and schools of tiny minnows darting in and out from under the floating piers.

I saw this unique looking “houseboat” tied up opposite the restaurant, so I stopped by as we left to get a closer shot. It looked like on of those European canal boats to me (a smaller version of one of these), but it was a lovely thing and in tip top shape. The name on the side was Amalla. She was tied up at the visiting dock, so I’m assuming the owner was just passing through, on his way to who knows where.

If you haven’t, you should visit Calhoun’s at the Marina in Lenoir City, Tennessee sometime for lunch. Or, visit either the indoor or outdoor bar sometime for great fun. I’m sure it’s hopping on the weekend too! Who knows, you may even be invited over to a party on one of the resident houseboats under the big shed!

If you prefer a quieter time, then sit by the peaceful Fort Loudon Lake waters, held back by the Fort Loudon Dam, and just watch the wildlife play.