Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Brotherly Three Hour Cruise up and down I-40

So my brothers Peter, Danny, and I set off to attend the Tennessee/ Vandy game in Knoxville on Saturday afternoon. We left around 2 pm for the 6 pm kick off. Normally, I can make it to Knoxville in under 3 hours, even on game day. That would give us plenty of time to park, and hit a tailgate party, possibly quaff a brew, and get to our seats in plenty of time. We intended to drive back that night and be home by midnight.

Everything was on target as we headed out of Nashville . We sped through Lebanon, Carthage, Cookeville, all was okay.

Then, we hit a wreck on this side of Crossville, that slowed us down for 15-20 minutes. Nothing too bad. We were just slowed to a crawl for a while. Then we sped right back up (to my normal 80 mph).

No more than 8-10 miles later, we come across another more complete stoppage of traffic. The friendly truckers (the best source of information if you just roll down your window and ask for it) told us that there was a really bad wreck that had completely stopped the west bound traffic. The east bound traffic was being subjected to rubber necking and was stopped for a helicopter landing for Life Flight according to our traveling compatriot. Thoughts for the injured aside, we were starting to get a little worried that we might miss kick off.

After about 20 minutes of stop and go traffic, we slowed to a crawl. We were starting to have some major second thoughts about the game. Why get to the game late, and more than likely leave early, and sit in traffic again on the way back?

Mind you, I had done this three times already this year, Up and Back on the same day, with no issues, major or minor. I guess my number had come up for having traffic issues. That's what usually happens when flying. You have a few great flights with no delays, and then , bam, you get hit with an outright cancellation or a major delay. Nothing good lasts forever.

After another few minutes, we came up on one of those paved cross roads between the East and West bound interstate lanes..HMM...It looked tempting to turn around....We could get back by kick off, or stop off at a restaurant and watch from the Lounge, and then head home. But we were 2/3 of the way to Knoxville.....what to do?

Then I looked up and traffic was stopped completely. I took a vote in the car. My brother Danny casted the deciding vote---"Turn around, and let's head back" , he said.

And so we did! We made it back to Mt Juliet for kick off, stopped in a local Do Drop In, and then proceeded to my house. Sharon had a big fire waiting, plenty of food, and the game was barely in the 2nd quarter!

In my 40 plus years, that is the only time I have ever turned around heading to a UT Game because of traffic! I hope whoever had the wreck was okay by the way.

FDA Attempts to Ban Raw Oysters During Summer months

For the past 7 years, we've been vacationing on St. George Island, Florida, which is close to Apalachicola, Florida, and for the past 3 years, we've owned a home on St. George Island, with our good friends, The Chip and Mary Loch Smith family. I subscribe to the Apalachicola Times, the weekly newspaper to try to keep up with local news and events. It's interesting to observe, contrast, and compare what makes news down there and what makes news up here in Nashville. We have become big fans of eating raw oysters, and subsequently, have become aware of how large and how potent the seafood industry is to the local economies in North Florida.

One news item that didn't even make a blurb up here was the recent attempt by the FDA to completely shut down the harvesting and selling of oysters during the summer months. Apparently, there are about 30 people per year that lose their life to eating a raw oyster and ingesting a bacteria by the name of Vibrio Vulnicifus. This bacteria is found between April and October in warm waters off the Gulf of Mexico. Never mind that most of these deaths occur by people who shouldn't be eating raw shell fish anyway, to wit, people with weak immune systems, or with weak kidneys or livers.

The FDA actually announced the ban about 3 weeks ago, to take affect starting with the harvesting season commencing in April of 2011. There was a HUGE outcry from the local seafood industries all up and down the coast, all the way to New Orleans and beyond. The only option according to the FDA at that time was for post harvesting irridation controls. Such processing, done through pasteurization and irridation techniques, destroys the bacteria, but can as much as double the cost to consumers, and alters the taste and texture of freshly shucked shellfish. I've tasted an irridated oyster right next to a raw oyster, and the tastes are comparing cardboard to a good piece of bread. Butter makes no difference with cardboard, hence no matter how one dresses the oyster that has been irridated, the quality is horrible.

So anyway, after an outrcy by a unified chorus of Gulf Coast lawmakers and oyster industry executives in the past few weeks, the FDA has officially put the plan "on ice" (with horseradish and hot sauce too), and will hopefully back off altogether.

Here's a quote from the US Senator from Florida, Sen Bill Nelson--"While it's a victory that the FDA has stepped back from implementing this new policy, we still have to be careful because they have yet to altogether rule out a ban on raw oysters up and down the Gulf Coast". So stay tuned, the Government knows what's best for us consumers, don't you see.