Parent of the South

As a child of the South: born in Georgia and resident of South Caorlina for the last 30+ years, and now a parent in the South, I’ve determined Five values all Southern Parents must instill into their children:

  1. Manners, Manners, Manners
    Above all else, and before all else, you must be polite and show proper respect to all people. This includes proper use (meaning everyone, young and old) of “Ma’am” and “Sir” and continual use of “May I” (even if it’s already yours) and “Thank You” even if you were wronged.

  2. Love of college football
    You must find a team and make them your own. You must love them through thick and thin and you must hate their rivals (I have some ideas of teams you can cheer for, if you need some).

    And most importantly, you must not celebrate special events on fall Saturday’s – especially weddings. No daughter of the South shall ever schedule a wedding between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

  3. Exposure to Beach Music
    You must learn to shag and to make sure your children do as well. And shagging can only be done to Beach Music. While most people are familiar with the Drifters, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, you must also be conversant with groups like Chairman of the Board, the Catalinas, the Embers, and the Tymes.

    If not, how else do you propose to have a Southern wedding?

  4. Wardrobe of seersucker and flip flops
    To not only be Southern, but to also look Southern, your children must have a collection of seersucker suits/dresses and flip flops. Both of these materials breathe the best, which is a necessity in the hot and dirty south.

    There is some leeway here for girls as a good sandal can take the place of flip flops. Should typically be white, or other light color, and be adorned with flowers or fun insects.

    However, please note there are some exceptions to this rule. For guys, no sandals. None. For girls, the following brands are off limits to be considered Southern: Tevas, Birchenstocks, and Crocs – even they make flip flops.

    This should go without saying, but socks with either seersucker or flip flops is explicitly outlawed. In general, socks in the South are optional – even for work.

  5. A few great expressions
    What makes Paula Dean so lovable, besides the butter, are the expressions, and every Southerner must have a few in their staple. They do not need to make sense, but they need to be understood – know what I’m saying? Southern expressions are generally silly, confusing, and grammatically incorrect, when read outside of a Southern conversation – kind of like athletes’ tweets outside of a sporting event. But you must have them.

    Generally, 5-10 will get you through most every situation in life – and you’ll never be at a loss for words.

As you try to raise Southern children, please note, Southern reality tv is not your barometer. You may not use any of the sayings, dress, or tricks shown on Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, Swamp Loggers, or any other “Southern” reality show to increase your Southern standing. It must be legit and from you, the parent, not some terd on tv.

So – how are you parents of the South doing in raising our next great Southern generation? Any other necessities I missed? Am I wrong on any?

Even if I were, would your Southern hospitality and manners be allowed to tell me?


I Vow to Never…

What makes the summer Olympics so relatable is the sense that with proper training, dedication, & diet, we too could become a gold medalist. We feel like we could be the best swimmer or diver or speed-walker or marksman.

I get the same feeling every July 4th watching the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest. When I look at Joey Chestnut, or any other competitor, I don’t see any God-given talent: he doesn’t have to run fast or jump high. He just has to eat.

And as the title character in Antwone Fisher said, “I could eat”.

And not only can I eat, I love to eat. I enjoy and appreciate food – it is more than sustenance to me.

But eating for the joy of it and eating competitively are two different things.

I know, because a few years ago I got my shot to go “All in” with a large cheese pizza. But for me, there was no championship belt, prize money, or live tv crew. There were no fancy introductions, special costumes, or announcers.

My shot at the world of competitive eating wasn’t the main attraction; it was only another cheap crowd pleaser at a minor league baseball game. And most people weren’t even paying attention; they were trying to convince the sun to set so the main act could begin: fireworks. Apparently it takes 15-20 minutes to get fireworks ready, and there is no better space filler than people stuffing their faces with Papa Johns.

And I was only selected when I asked the head of entertainment a question about a totally different topic. She kept ignoring my questions, never even looking up from her clipboard. When she was fully exasperated, she glanced up. And what she saw turned her mourning into dancing. Just to make sure, she took a second glance. Looked me up and down, smiled, and told me I was contest #5.

Contestant #5 in tonight’s eating challenge. And that I should meet her after the game to go on the field and participate.

They didn’t even know my name – never asked. I was just one of six guys selected from the crowd. Four of the guys were part of a bachelor party and were too libated to know better. One was a high school athlete with a daily caloric intake similar to Michael Phelps. And there was me.

They gave each of us a leftover Papa John’s pizza from the concession stand and a small cup of water. We were to have 10 minutes to eat the entire pizza. First one finishes, wins. Crust must be eaten to count.

The countdown begins and away we go. The high school kid jumps out to an early lead, followed by the most drunk of the soon to be groomsmen. I am somewhere in the middle.

After the first few minutes, the high school kid begins to fade as do two members of the bachelor party. They ate the crust first and it killed their buzz. They began to realize what they were doing. I am holding steady, tied for second with the third member of the bachelor party. We both trail the fourth member of the bachelor party, who has somehow snuck a beer into the competition.

At the halfway point, it’s down to the beer drinkin’ groomsmen and myself. He has the lead, three friends prodding him on, and a continual buzz. It’s not looking good for me.

Entering the fourth quarter, I’m still trailing. My jaw is wearing out and it hurts to chew. I look over and this guy is still going strong. And he’s washing it down with more beer.

I give it my all, but in the end, I am no match for beer and a bachelor party. Neither one of us finishes the pizza, but he ate more than I did. I make a comment about beer, crust, and rules to the event coordinator, but she doesn’t care. The natives want fireworks and she doesn’t have the stomach to watch anyone else eat more food, so she brushes me off and declares him the winner. He smiles and shouts his dominance. His friends feed him another beer and secretly take his photo.

I head back to the crowd and find my party. They pat me on the back and give me well-wishes. The pats hurt. So do the metal seats. The pain of eating begins to set in and it forces me to lay across the bleachers.

I vow to never eat again.

Then I think of all the foods I could never eat again. That won’t work.

I vow to never eat pizza again. Then I think of the wood fire grilled pizzas and Mellow Mushroom and dessert pizza. That won’t work.

I vow to never eat too much again. Then I think of Thanksgiving and Christmas and buffets and homemade desserts. That won’t work.

I vow to never compete in an eating contest again. Then I think of Man vs Food and how awesome some of the challenges would be. That won’t work.

I vow to never compete in an eating contest against a drunk bachelor party again.

Now that will work.

Checking in on 40 Before 40

It’s been nearly two months since I’ve mentioned 40 Before 40 and nearly 5 months since I finished the list. And while it may appear not much is happening in the dreams department, nothing could be further from the truth.

I currently own a Ford Explorer, which is still in production, although my version is a few body styles removed from the current vehicle. Does this count? Not really what I was expecting when the dream came about, so it currently stands as no.

And with that said, I still can’t lay claim to completing any of my 40B40 list (like my shortened version?), but I can feel myself getting close. The Tiger Swag is slowly making progress. At its current level, I don’t think it counts as being published, but it may lead to other opportunities. Opportunities like going viral (Tiger Swag was called out on a Gamecock message board), being on radio or tv or podcast (I would consider that a win), or even taking a road trip (press passes, right?).

In better news, I expect to accomplish a few goals this fall. October will be our annual Clemson road trip, which will take us to Winston-Salem, home of Krispy Kreme (emails have already been exchanged). Fall break may contain a trip to DC with the fam, which will certainly include a stop by Busch Gardens. And November will be renamed “No Shave November”, which will be followed by a Floyd the Barber shave.

Other work includes multiple offers for road trips – just need to find the time (and money), minor opportunities to cater an event, negotiations of a hot air balloon ride, research into using my engineering skills to solve problems, and inquiries into hosting a concert.

But more importantly, my list must change. Since I joined Facebook in support of The Tiger Swag, I have actually forever denied myself to accomplish one of my goals. So, rather than rename the list 39 Before 40, I’ve decided to replace Facebook with a new dream.

My new dream – invent something.

I don’t need to be a Di Vinci or Edison or Franklin. I don’t even need to be an Otis (elevator), de Mestral (Velcro), or Judson (zipper). I’d be honored to be like another Powell I know.

Terry Powell – aka Dad. He took used clothes hangers from department stores, sawed off the connector pieces to create his own version of chip clips. I’ve also seen solve many a problem without using the proper tools. Just gettin’ it done any way he can.

Honestly, I’d even settle for an idea. An idea like online police scanners (been done), putting all known leaves in an app so you can recognize vegetation (been done), or packaging crayons based on schools and conferences. Would you want your kids coloring with a Crimson crayon for Harvard or Blue for Yale? I know I would. Heck! I’d have seconds and then polish it off (see the 2:15 mark)…

Unfortunately, Home Depot upped the ante by selling official paint colors of the NCAA.

So, it shall still be called 40 Before 40: 40 goals before turning 40.

And I only have 40 more to go…

The Hottest I’ve Ever Been – Part II

August 30, 2003, Clemson, South Carolina

Clemson was opening the 2003 football season by hosting Georgia for a noon game. The previous year, Clemson took UGA down to the wire in Athens, and expectations were high.

The first football game is always the most exciting. We were pumped as we headed from Waterloo to the Promised Land. Everything was going just as planned until we hit Anderson. At that point, 20,000 Clemson fans met 20,000 UGA fans.

Traffic stopped. Temperatures were high. Tempers were higher.

We finally made our parking space 15 minutes before kickoff. We literally ran from the car to the stadium. We were then stuck in the concourse waiting to get to our seat. It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s smelly.

We finally make our seats just as the Tigers are coming down the hill. They were pumped. We were pumped. The crowd was pumped.

All 80,000+ fans were jumping up and down. It was downright sweltering in there.

But we didn’t care. Football was back and we were playing the silver britches.

Then the second most beautiful play-action pass I’ve ever seen occurred (see Chris Weinke vs Clemson). David Green faked, Justin Miller bit, Fred Gibson scored.

UGA 7 – Clemson 0

Unfortunately, the temperatures continued to climb. So did Georgia’s side of the scoreboard.

The afternoon sun never relented. Neither did Georgia’s defense.

Final score: UGA 30 – Clemson 0

At the end of the day, we were sweat soaked and sun burnt. And humiliated.

That day will not set any temperature records as there were many days as hot or even hotter, but to me, that was the most miserable football game I’ve ever been to. Add in the traffic before the game, the shut out, and the fact that’s it at home to your rival, and it all points to the hottest I’ve ever been.

Ton of Ted’s & Mike’s

Two things I will not be doing this weekend – going to the movies to see “Ted” and going to the movies to see “Magic Mike”. But since they are getting some buzz, it made images of other “Ted’s” and “Mike’s” come to mind. So seeing as this is my place to share my random thoughts and musings, here is a list of Top 10 Ted’s & Mike’s that come to my mind (not necessarily the most famous):


    1. Ted Dibiase, “The Million Dollar Man” – Cause everybody’s got a price

    2. Ted Kaczynski, Unabomber – More famous than Gerald Lambeau

    3. Ted Bundy, the serial killer

    4. Ted Turner, Cable Mogul, Ex-husband to Jane Fonda, and Jesus Freak spotter

    5. Ted Nugent, Full time Political Activist & reality star & part time musician

    6. Ted Kennedy, Senator, Designated Driver, & Supporter of the Disabled

    7. Ted Williams, aka “The Splendid Splinter”, “Teddy Ballgame”, & “The Kid”

    8. Ted Danson, aka Sam Malone the ladies man

    9. Ted Mosby, from How I Met Your Mother – Architect & great storyteller

    10. TED (Technology, Engineering, Design) – Purveyor of conferences, talks, & warm fuzzies


Is There a Correct Color?

I’ve never really been in a fight. Took a swing at a kid once in high school, but he’d already turned around and was walking away. Needless to say I missed – and he never even knew.

My freshman roommate and I wrestled once – over video games.

I was nearly involved in a melee at a Georgia Tech game, but luckily (for them is how I remember it) their frat boys walked away at the first sign of beer.

And then there is my run in with the small town of Jackson, South Carolina.

It’s bright and early on a September Saturday and I was feeling a little frisky – and rightfully so. My wife was pregnant and we were nomads living in a house with someone we didn’t know. As such, I decided to go “All In” for this adventure, which meant orange everything: shoes, socks, shorts, drawers, shirt, and hat.

My buddies not all that thrilled, but not surprised. But not embarrassed either.

The trip to Clemson starts off innocently. And then we realize no trip is complete without boiled peanuts. As we leave the Bomb Plant (just Google it), we decide the next place selling boiled peanuts is getting our business.

We came down a huge hill that leads into Jackson and we could see the sign from about a mile away. We ease into the right lane and make our stop.

As we pull up, the worker is watching college football by antenna on an old black and white tv. He looks at us, stares, sneers, and then says: “You boys are wearing the wrong colors!”


I don’t do well in discussions about my team. Especially when I don’t start it. Especially when the last time Clemson and Carolina played, Clemson won 63-17. Especially when I am with someone my size. Especially when speaking with someone who’s accent is more pronounced than mine.

Rather than let the comment slide, I ask: “What color should I be wearing?”

His answer: “Carolina”

Uh-oh. Again.

Me: “I didn’t realize Carolina was a color.” And I follow with: “How did the color Carolina do against the color orange last time they played?” And then: “How does the color Carolina usually do against the color orange?”

He snorted. And sold us some boiled peanuts.

Then said: “My paw wants to talk to you”

Uh-oh. Serious uh-oh.

Paw comes around the corner standing less than 5′-6″ and weighing just under 150 pounds. All muscle. And he has two friends. And they’re all smiling a crooked smile.

Then the son fills his paw in on the story – his side.

They’re about ready to “do this”. Us? We’re more talkers than doers.

At this point, it’s time to go. But I’m still caught up in the moment.

My buddy turns to get the car. I start slowly walking to the car, backwards, saying something I’m glad I don’t remember. Paw and crew keep walking toward us.

My buddy runs to the car.

Paw, very calmly, asks: “Whachu runnin’ fer?”

My buddy yells: “Willy! Run!”

I do some quick math. I don’t like what I’m coming up with.

I run.

Paw: “Why you runnin’?”

Us: Gone

About six hours, a bag of boiled peanuts, and an incredible story later, karma made her appearance and the world was introduced to Calvin Johnson.

My only regret, besides everything I said and did during that brief lapse of judgment, was that I never figured out the correct color.

So you tell me – what is the correct color?

What is Stealing in a Digital Age?

As I write this post there are two files downloading in the background – each a fairly new release that we may never watch.

And every time I do this, I wonder to myself where the line between stealing and borrowing falls.

As technologies and the ease of file transfers continue to develop, we will be faced with a new set of ethics related with the copyright and ownership of digital media.

I want to be clear – this is not an issue of piracy or peer to peer networking (where you both host and download). Piracy involves the reproduction of copyrighted material for distribution or financial gain and in peer to peer networks you are uploading content that others may use for illegal purposes.

This is about whether or not it is okay to download material produced by someone else without their consent.

While a senior in college, Napster emerged. Content was no longer confined to cd’s or dvd’s. Once we figured out how it worked, it only took a week to exhaust the list of known songs and artists. We then used Netscape Navigator to search Billboard’s lists to think of any others we may have missed.

And we never thought twice about the ethics of what we were doing. For one, we were in college and everything goes – and two, we didn’t know any better.

And then Napster was deemed illegal. Plausible deniability was no longer a viable defense.

A decade later the debate still rages on. What is stealing – and who is the responsible party – the one who uploads or the one who downloads.

The first question we must ask is whether or not the internet is open source. When someone posts something to the web, do they still retain ownership of it? The platform with allows it to be available to millions also allows it to be copied by millions. Words and images can be copied while music and videos can be downloaded. Does the opportunity to share your work override the ownership of it?

My personal opinion is the content is provided on an open source website, such as Google, YouTube, Vimeo, etc… then it is fair game. This is not content produced by them and is available to the public for free. However, if it is behind the walls of a paid site like Netflix or an official journalistic website like ESPN or NY Times, then it is off limits without consent or proper crediting.

The next question we need to asked is whether or not it is okay to download content from the internet. Even if we’ve already established material from the internet is open source, is it okay to download it? Some websites offer links directly from their pages to download content while most browsers offer add-ons to allow you to do the same thing. And if neither of these work, shareware products are readily available.

The silence of large corporations against the use of browser add-ons and shareware for downloading has only further solidified my opinion allowing the downloading of open source content.

The next question we need to ask is whether or not downloading content from the internet is any different than the use of VCR’s and tape decks, the ripping of CD’s, and the use of Tivo and DVR’s. Other than the time lag between the DVD release and the TV premier, not much. DVR’s already allow for the skipping of commercials, the exportation to the computer, and the burning to DVD. Sounds pretty similar to me.

The final question we need to ask is if all content is created equally – and to me it’s not. Downloading music and adding it to your library is different than dowloading an episode of a TV show or a new release movie – it’s worse.

Music is created by an individual or group, contains their creative licensing, and is for enjoyment over a period of time. It’s like stealing art and should be treated as such.

Also, avenues exist allowing for the previewing and listening to music without the requirement to download. And if the music is worth listening to over and over again – and on multiple devices – it needs to be purchased. It is of higher quality and supports the artist themselves.

Movies and TV shows, on the other hand, are totally different. They are mass produced and insanely expensive all the while being made for a singular viewing.

And this is how I treat the two. I will download a video, watch, and delete. And if the movie is worth watching multiple times, then I will get it. Or if it needs to be watched in higher quality, I will purchase it. But if it’s just the latest episode or another Nicholas Cage movie, I’m not paying for it. If you make me, I just won’t watch. Your call.

So – all that said, music is off-limits except for streaming and freebies while movies and TV shows are fair game – as long as it is not for multiple viewing or distribution.

The written word needs to be purchased, rented from the library, or borrowed from a buddy and photographs most belong to their creator and need to purchased, unless they have been released to open source websites for viewing and distribution.

For further reading, check out Derek Webb’s take here.

What about you? Your thoughts? Am I a bad guy? Did I confuse you?