Encyclopedia Brown and the Mystery of “Who Farted?”

Encyclopedia Brown author Donald Sobol has passed away. As a tribute I dug up this Encyclopedia Brown fanfic I wrote but never posted as a response to a comment Jim Collins made in this long-gone Nashville is Talking blog post. It wound being too long a comment and too short a post to ever go anywhere:

“I am unaware of any legal right to pollute the air that as a human being I have to breath,” Jim Collins typed into a comment on a Nashville is Talking post announcing that the House Agriculture Committee voted 13-1 to kill a bill sponsored by the House’s only physician, Rep. Joey Hensley, to ban smoking in restaurants that employ people under 18.

Jim pressed “Send” and turned off his monitor. Then he combed his hair, went into the garage, and pushed back the kickstand on his non-polluting bicycle. He had a lunch date with the Junior Science club at Battered and Fried and he wanted to be on time. Encyclopedia Brown was this week’s guest speaker and Jim wanted a good seat. He hopped on his bike and sped off, his pinwheel turning in the wind.

Bugsy walked over to Encyclopedia Brown and begged him to take his case. “It wasn’t me. I was framed. I need you to find the real farter.”

“OK, we’ll take the case,” said Encyclopedia Brown. “Our fee is fifty cents.”

Bugsy walked over to a table where the people had just left and swiped fifty cents from the waitress’s tip. “Here’s your money,” he said with a big grin.

“Let’s get started, Sally,” Encyclopedia said.

“One minute,” Sally said, talking with her mouth full. “Those people left some fries on their table.” After Sally polished off the fries and half a bowl of clam chowder, they started their investigation by interviewing Tommy Clark. He had been sitting right next to Jim Collins.

“Sure I smelled it,” Jim laughed. “Someone played an entire stinkhorn solo.” I was enjoying a healthy plate of tofu that I as a human have to eat.”

“Butt, Jim, we talked to the waitress and she said you had the shrimp.”

“Okay okay! It was me, Jim Collins. I farted. And I’d fart again. Bugsy’s cigarette smoke was polluting the air that I as a human have to breath, and that’s not his right. So I let one to clear the air because my farts smell like roses.”

Bugsy looked at Jim like he was retarded. The human rights police showed up and took Jim to pollution jail.

Sally said, “Well, Encyclopedia, I guess that solves the case of ‘who farted?’. This will be one for the books.”

“That’s right, Sally,” said Encyclopedia, “I guess we can call this one the case of ‘who smelt it dealt it’.”

And everyone laughed.


Yoga is to the Baptist Church

(I found this 2004 draft while applying the “fried chicken” tag to some old posts. For some reason I never published it until now.)

Yoga is to the Baptist Church what stretching is to fried chicken. That’s my theory, anyway.

Melissa has been taking pre-natal yoga classes. Thursday was spouse night, so I got to go.

I took yoga classes about five years ago. I liked the exercise, but didn’t like the religious aspect the teacher was pushing. The friend who invited me to the class went to a retreat in Florida, realized that they weren’t just pushing good health, and backed out.

Melissa’s yoga instructor didn’t seem interested in more than a token reference to the spiritual aspects, which was fine by me.

I Miss Triticale

He passed away this time a year ago. This comment thread is one of my favorite gags of ours.

Awesome Photoshop photo technique – “Match Color”

Change the color mix of your photo by matching it to another photo or even a painting whose colors you like. Clickey.

See Chris Range at DragonCon this weekend

My pal and Knoxville artist Chris Range will be at DragonCon this Labor Day weekend signing copies of his new puzzle book, Emblems from the Runes of Magness. The show runs August 29 – September 1 in Atlanta.

Word of the Day: Transient Synovitis of the Hip (Medical)

From Family Doctor:

What is transient synovitis of the hip?
Transient synovitis of the hip is an inflammation and swelling of the tissues around the hip joint. Usually only one hip is affected. This condition is called “transient” because it lasts only a short time. Transient synovitis of the hip is the most common cause of sudden hip pain in children.

Transient synovitis of the hip usually occurs in children between 3 and 10 years old. Sometimes it occurs in children younger than 3. It is more common in boys than in girls.

Our three year old had this last week, and it was no fun. Luckily it passed in a little more than 24 hours.


“Mister, here’s your problem!” Blog hiccup revealed

Since the site was having trouble with comments hanging. I decided to upgrade the blogging software to the new version, which is reputed to be much quicker.

Installion of the new version kept quitting during the import of the old comments. Then I found a mention in the installation notes that large numbers of comments (usually spam comments) could cause the upgrade to fail.

So I checked and holy frijoles! I had 271,833 spam comments and 47,586 spam trackbacks. The built-in spam filter kept them from appearing on the blog, but they were still in the SQL database. Gory details of the cleanup after the jump.

Even after the cleanup the blog is having problems so I’m going ahead with the ugprade.

Read more of this post

Light blogging; upgrading to MoveableType 4.2

I installed Moveable Type 4.2 last night. I’m trying to finagle it through the upgrade process, but it’s stalling out when it tries to import comments. I’m starting it again as I leave for work. Light blogging today, but I hope to finish the upgrade this weekend.

New to Downtown Maryville: Swank’s Jazz Club and Two Doors Down



The newest arrival on the Maryville restaurant scene is Swank’s Jazz Club. We got there early on a Saturday evening so we were too early to take in any music, but they have live shows almost every night of the week. The interior was well done and the food was good. We sampled the filet and the shrimp alfredo and no one was unsatisfied.


Two Doors Down is a rock ‘n’ roll centric bar that is well-arranged for live music, with an elevated stage and shoebox layout. (For Knoxvillians of a certain age: it’s like a slightly reduced scale version of the Library/U. Club/Barley and Hops on the UT Strip.)

This is the same building that previously housed the Lighthouse Cafe and – three decades ago – Burns Drugs. The stainless steel lunch counter from the drugstore days survived into the Lighthouse Cafe era. I ate a pot roast lunch at the counter in the last several years. Alas, it didn’t survive the latest transformation. The owner told me the floor underneath the stainless kitchen was rotten, and it’s now in possession of a pal of his for future projects.

The blue and white building next door is 114 East Broadway and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally the Samuel A. Patton Building and dates from 1875. The tilework at the entrance reads “HOPE BROS JEWELERS” and a stone medallion in the second floor architecture reads “WATCHES AND JEWELRY.”

Samuel A Patton Building. 114 East Broadway Maryville, Tennessee. Currently The Sandwich Shop.

Today it’s better known as The Sandwich Shop. It’s been a downtown Maryville beer bar for as long as my 40 year old memory can recollect.

Just beyond that is Brackins Bar, the upstairs of which was once the public library. It’s only been a bar for the last decade or so. Not long after it opened I talked to the owner and he recounted all the businesses that had been there previously. At one point it was a barbershop. In a great example of how new things build on old things, the barbershop mirror became the bar mirror.

UPDATE: This City of Maryville history page notes “1919 – First public library opens in room over Service Barber Shop, Miss A. Belle Smith, librarian.”

Site Issues

I’m having some server problems right now, particularly with comments. Sometimes when you leave a comment the page seems to hang. I’ve contacted my host and restarted the system, but it seems to keep happening.

There’s a new version of the Moveable Type software that runs the blog. It’s supposed to be much faster. I’m going to experiment with that this weekend.


“Nothing is stupider than litigating against people who are hiring lawyers with other people’s money.”

Sad and creepy

In a comment to this post someone named Niamh writes:

I just wanted to let you know that a young girl on the site gurl.com is using your son’s ultrasound picture and claiming it’s her son. Here is the link:


She’s already been caught, but I just wanted to let you guys know. I know I’d want to know if someone was using MY ultrasound pictures and claiming it’s their’s.

And from that post on gurl.com:

from: kalulugirl 7:09 pm
To: ALL 1 of 9

okay to all of you people who dont beleive me that my kids are 11 months apart or that i dont have 2 kids here are my ultrasounds i found one of each

this is Annabells

here is Chaz’s 3d ultrasound


there you go now you have your proof

Like I said … sad and creepy.

Can anyone ID these lilies?



LATER: Consensus in comments is that it’s a spider lily. Here’s another picture from the same day and same garden that’s more characteristic of spider lilies.

Sad news, Waffle House fans

According to Barry, Knoxville’s duelling Waffle Houses have finished their duel and only one survives. Someone took a pre-demolition video for posterity.

Hat tip to Michael Silence.

Bought a gun at Wal-Mart for the first time

Next month I’m attending an Appleseed shoot in Manchester, TN. None of my guns is quite right for an Appleseed shoot, and the 10/22 is their recommended gun barring anything else appropriate.

Friday I strolled into the sporting goods section at Wal-Mart to look at .22 rifles. I was glad to see L. manning the counter. (Doesn’t everyone know their Wal-Mart gun counter clerk by name?)

I asked to see the Ruger 10/22 in the rack. L. said he loved his. I mentioned why I wanted it and he had heard of the shoot I was going to, and we swapped stories about travelling that part of Tennessee on Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. Another customer came by and endorsed the 10/22. He had replaced the barrel and stock on his with custom parts. (The 10/22 rifle along with the AR-15 rifle and Colt 1911 pistol is one of the most accessorized and customized guns in America. You can replace every single part on those gun with a different part made by someone other than the original manufacturer.)

To buy a gun in the United States you have to provide a photo ID and fill out an ATF form 4473. I’ve done it more than a few times, but Wal-Mart was by far the most exacting about it. As L. told me, “You’ve probably filled out one of these before, but it’s a little different at Wal-Mart.” He cautioned me that Wal-Mart doesn’t accept abbreviations. I’d have to spell out Tennessee and Street, Avenue, etc., and that I’d have to give the year of my birth in four digits.

When I finished the the 4473 I was asked to put N/A in spaces I had left blank, such as my Social Security number, which is optional. The form went to NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) for approval. A little while later NICS came back an approval number. An assistant manager and co-manager came to the gun counter to verify the paperwork and to make sure the serial number on the paperwork matched the serial number on the gun.

After I paid one of the managers escorted me to the exit. He carried the gun, not me. On the way to the exit he told me I’d need my receipt. At the exit he asked the greeter to check my receipt, even though he had watched me pay. Lots of folks are unhappy about Wally World’s rules for buying guns, but I guess they feel the need to protect themselves from potential liability. I knew what to expect and it didn’t bother me.

Ruger makes several dozen variations on the popular 10/22. The one I bought isn’t listed on Ruger’s Web site because it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive. It has a 22″ stainless steel barrel, a little nicer stock than the standard Ruger 10/22 Carbine with checkering and no barrel band, a longer length-of-pull better suited to an adult than a youth, and standard sling swivels. Price was $238 before tax.

The Appleseed folks recommend folding down the 10/22’s standard folding sight and instead using a TechSight brand aperture sight. That works for me – I much prefer aperture sights to open sights. The Tech-Sight extends the sight radius another eight inches and is easier to adjust for windage and elevation than the 10/22’s standard sight. For sixty bucks or so the TechSight is a square deal.