WESTIN—CHATTANOOGA

November 18, 2018


Just about every Friday evening my wife and I celebrate the weekend by going to dinner.  We like to go early, i.e. 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. In other words—happy hour.  The crowds are smaller and the prices are much more in line with a reasonable budget.  This past Friday, we tried the Westin—Chattanooga located at 801 Pine Street. Pine Street is just west of the “main drag” and close to I-27.  Great location for a restaurant.  We heard the Alchemy Bar and Restaurant on the tenth (10th) floor of the hotel was great.  We were not disappointed in the least.

The Westin was at one time Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Chattanooga.  A digital picture of that building is shown below.

This building was called the “Gold Building” for obvious reasons.  The gold windows reflected sunlight, thus keeping the interior office areas much cooler and saving considerable utility expense.  Blue Cross basically outgrew these facilities and relocated some miles away.  Westin purchased the building some time afterwards and spent millions and over one year of time in refurbishing it and turning it into a marvelous hotel and commercial facilities.

As mentioned, the Alchemy is located on the tenth floor.  We will take a pictorial tour of the facility.

You are greeted with a plaque indicating the location and name.

One of the great features of the Alchemy is the lighting.  Lights everywhere and beautifully done.

I hope you can tell the restaurant is “kid-friendly”. When we were there, there were children ranging from infant to young teen. All very respectful of the furnishing and QUIET.

The dining area is very spacious with plenty of room to move around.  I did not include it in the pictures but here are high tables along the picture windows to the left of this JPEG and to entry of the facility.

You get a great view of the famous Lookout Mountain.  Lookout Mountain is noted for the “Battle Above the Clouds”—a famous battle between the North and the South during the Civil War.  This profile is on the City seal just as you see it here.

The picture below shows a small portion of the Chattanooga skyline.

LOBBY:

The lobby is really inviting with an exceptional amount of space.  The pictures below will definitely give you that reality.

I want to note the “picture wall” below.  The Westin has hung pictures of Chattanooga new and old to show a very brief “evolution” of the city center.

CONCLUSIONS:

You really need to make Chattanooga one place on your agenda while driving South.  We have become a destination for visitors due to the following: 1.) Great dining, 2.) The Tennessee River and all the “stuff” you can do on that river, 3.) Great accommodations, 4.) Wonderful tourist attractions in the downtown area and the surrounding tri-state areas. It’s a great destination summer, winter, spring and especially the fall.  Come on down.

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MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

November 6, 2018


Atlanta is the host city for one of the most beautiful stadiums in our country.  Also, from an engineering standpoint, one of the most complex.  You can see from the digital above the stadium at night.

My wife and I traveled to ATL recently to visit our granddaughters and thought we would take a tour of the stadium prior to our visit.  The Atlanta Falcons were not playing so things were relatively quiet; otherwise, you could not get within ten (10) feet of the places we were allowed to go on the tour.  The prices for a tour are as follows:

  • Adult Ticket-$25.00
  • Senior Adult Ticket: $20.00
  • Parking: $15.00 (In the parking garage.)

I don’t think this is too bad for the “look” we got.  The entire tour is about one hour and twenty minutes.

STATISTICS:

Let’s take a look at several statistics to get some idea as to the immense project this was.

  • Arthur Blank indicated the groundbreaking of the stadium would be conducted the last week of March 2014. The stadium opened in 2017.
  • Cost to build: $1.15 Billion (Yes that’s billion with a “B”.)
  • Construction time: Thirty-nine (39) months
  • Parking space: 21,000
  • Stadium height: 305 Feet
  • Field level: 1018 Feet above sea level.
  • Total stadium footage: 2,000,000 Square Feet
  • Total concrete: 150,000 Cubic Yards
  • Total structural steel: 27,000 Tons
  • Roof size: 14.5 acres
  • Total seating capacity: 71,000 expandable to 75,000
  • Club seats: 7,600
  • Number of suites: 190
  • Concession points of sale: 673
  • Bars and restaurants: 24
  • Beer taps: 1,264
  • Escalators: 25
  • Scoreboard: 63,800 Square Feet

In other words, this is one big place.  Let’s now take a digital tour.  I made all of these pictures so please forgive, in some cases, the armature nature.

As you approach the stadium you get an idea just how big it is. This is the walkway leading from underground parking.

The most prominent indicator announcing “we have arrived” is the Atlanta Falcon—otherwise known as the “dirty bird”.

We mentioned earlier the number of escalators used to access seating. From the JPEG below, you get some idea as to the layout.

With out a doubt, the most prominent feature of the stadium is the dome and the skylight.

As you might expect, the roof is an un-suspended design with no supporting internal posts or columns blocking view from any seat.  The complexly of the superstructure may be seen as follows:

This is a civil engineers dream, or nightmare.  Choose one.  There are eight (8) petals to the retractable dome and they actuate like the shutter on a camera lens.

CLUBS WITHIN THE STADIUM:

There are various clubs within the stadium, each bearing the name of the sponsor.

The AT & T Perch is the first you encounter.

Atlanta is the hub for Delta Airlines so you know they will be involved in a big way and support a club—a beautiful club at that.

Mercedes-Benz sponsors an equally beautiful restaurant and bar called the Gullwing.

 

Another “Benz” club is shown below with internal seating.

PLAYING FIELD:

OK, this is a football stadium.

LOCKER ROOM:

By far, the most disappointing aspect of the entire facility was the locker room.

We are taking bland and generic although, maybe for game day, things improve greatly.  After all, this was a guided tour.

CONCLUSION:

I can certainly recommend to you taking the tour the next time you are in Atlanta. It is well worth it to see the come by itself.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

September 11, 2018


Do you remember where you were this day seventeen years ago?

I was working for the Roper Corporation, a company owned by General Electric; sitting in the “cube farm” working on a project for the appliance group.  My “next-door” neighbor, Dwayne Lee, came over and told me he had just gotten a telephone call from his son.   A small private plane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York City.   My very first thought was possibly a pilot, maybe a student pilot, had gotten into to high winds, lost control, and impacted one of the towers.  As tragic as this seems, I honestly did not think we were under attack.  The wind patterns around high-rise buildings are very troublesome and even experienced pilots have difficulties when flying close to tall structures. Every pilot, according to FAA rules, is supposed to keep

A few minutes went by and I decided to call home to see if there were any updates to the story.  At that time, my son told me a second aircraft had flown into the second tower.  This never happens by accident.

At 8:46 a.m., American Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At first, newscasters were not sure whether it was an accident or a deliberate attack.

At 9:03 a.m., United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, leaving no doubt this was an attack.  Some news channels captured the moment on live television.

At 9:40 a.m., American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Five minutes later, for the first time in history, the FAA ordered all aircraft to land at the nearest airport.

At 10:03 a.m., hijacked flight United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane’s target was believed to be the US Capitol. The passengers on board tried to gain control of the flight and divert the hijackers after learning of the other attacks.

By this time the news at Roper had spread to the point where we all had to find a television to see just what was happening.  There was a TV in our test lab so we all hustled downstairs to find the set already on with coverage that lasted the entire day.  The day was shot as far as work so we all gathered around the TV huddled like cowboys in winter around a campfire.

About an hour after the second strike, three of our guys who were in the National Guard, were called and told to report to their duty station immediately.  They were not allowed to go home first—just report and do it now.  They left, came back the next day and waited for orders.  Those orders came fairly quickly and all three were shipped out within the month.

  • 2,753 people were killed in the New York attack.  That number includes 342 firefighters and paramedics and 60 police officers who rushed to help in the aftermath.
  • Another 40 people were killed in Pennsylvania
  • 184 people died in Washington, DC as a result of the strike on the Pentagon
  • Rescue efforts at Ground Zero continued until October 9, and the flames from the collapsed burned until December.
  • Over one thousand first responders have since died of cancer resulting from the rescue and cleanup efforts.

NEVER FORGET

THE STATE OF CONFUSION

September 2, 2018


One of the most interesting new restaurants in Chattanooga is called The State of Confusion.  The history of its location will indicate how the name came about.

Fifteen months after the eclectic salvage outlet known as Estate of Confusion closed, the Main Street facility has opened as a unique, indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar known as State of Confusion.  The next two digital pictures will give you some idea as to what existed on that location prior to becoming Chattanooga’s newest eating facility.

The Estate of Confusion served as the location for art-related artifacts needed for photographers, sculptors and fabricators seeking something different.  In other words, it was a high-class junkyard.

The new facility at 301 East Main Street features made-from-scratch Latin American, New Orleans and low-country food, including Peruvian ceviche and wood-fire grilled meats and vegetables.  Their Peruvian ceviche menu is remarkably complete and with an extensive variety.  Approximately $2.5 million was spent to renovate and reactivate the former junk yard, which was owned by Greg Ross for nearly two decades of operation.

The new 330-seat restaurant includes indoor and patio seating in a variety of casual settings.  The design has retained the metal hangar, concrete buildings and foundations of the former salvage yard while adding locally made and unique bars, picnic tables and seating around wood-fired grills.  The outdoor terrace and indoor area are shown as follows:

(I want to apologize for the picture below.  I did not realize I had the bright light in the frame.)  You can get some idea as to the construction of the indoor eating area.  The owners made great effort in retaining the overall design, which explains the ceiling.

“State of Confusion is all about levity and fun with the highest quality, authentic food and fusion of flavors and dishes that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Allen Corey, CEO of Square One Holdings. “We traveled to Peru, the birthplace of ceviche, to understand ceviche; to New Orleans to craft the best muffuletta bread and bologna, and up and down the East Coast to curate the best seafood boils.”

The nearly 11,000-square-foot restaurant opened two weeks ago for lunch, dinner, brunch and special occasions and will offer both sit-down meals or just a place to hang out and sip ice-cold beer (served in ice buckets), cocktails or aguas frescas — a traditional chilled Spanish beverage of water and fruit.

Two bars with inside seating open to the outside terrace and face each other across the patio. State of Confusion will have its own sugar cane expeller to make its mojitos — a cocktail made from white rum, sugar cane juice, lime juice, soda water and mint.

At the front of the new restaurant in the former Main Street storefront, a small bar and takeout facility is being developed known as the Pump House. Sit-down dining will be in both the bigger building on the rear of the lot as well as outdoors in a giant patio, where the restaurant developers plan to put in Igloos in the winter for patio dining in colder weather.

To offer something new to the Chattanooga market (and also not available yet even in Atlanta or Nashville), the ownership decided to bring to the  Chattanooga market a seafood dish popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America known as ceviche, which is considered a national dish in Peru. Ceviche is made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers.  According to the owners, “This is something totally unique for our area and we think will be very popular.   “It’s light eating, very healthy and sophisticated and has a unique and great taste — if you do it right.” “We really had a crash course with some of the best ceviche chefs in Lima because we want to make sure we offer genuine, Peruvian-style ceviche here in Chattanooga,” Heckler said.

The new restaurant also plans to offer Argentina-style wood-grilled entrees, including house-ground burgers, steaks and seafood and its own unique Bologna. Most of the menu entrees will range in price from $9 to $10 for sandwiches up to $40 for the most expensive ceviche, steak and seafood items. Appetizers will start around $6.50.

To prepare other menu items, restaurant crews traveled to New Orleans and Miami to study menus and food and drink preparation styles and techniques.

“When we started out on this project we knew we wanted authentic cuisine so we traveled to Peru, New Orleans and Miami to be able to deliver these specific culinary items,” Walton said. “We also want to have the levity and the ultimate hang out place that is very casual to allow you to have this great made-from-scratch, unique food in a very fun atmosphere.”

State of Confusion is one of the biggest restaurants to open on the Southside and is among a half dozen eateries that have or will soon open in and around Main Street and the Choo Choo in the past couple of years.

My wife and I walked in about 5:30 P.M. on 31 August to give it a try.  It was already packed with a capital “P”.  Take a look at the experience.

Our waitress was Trystan who turned out to be extremely knowledgeable and very accommodating.  She had sampled all of the entrees and side dishes and came with great recommendation.

We decided to order from the “STARTERS” menu so we might sample multiple dishes. My wife, LOVES shell fish so she had the muscles.

I, on the other hand, really enjoy calamari.

One of the most interesting dishes is the “Monkey Bread” shown below.  It was fabulous. I can certainly recommend it to you when you visit.

CONCLUSIONS:

Reviews are important so let’s take a look at what others are saying. As I mentioned earlier, it’s only been open two weeks so the number of responses is, for the time being, somewhat limited although we loved it and definitely will go back.

I keep saying it’s about time you visit Chattanooga, Tennessee to put “some south in your mouth”.  You are going to love the dining experiences and the scenic experience.  To be a “river city” we offer a great deal. Come on down.


There’s a little something for everyone at Magnolia Market at the Silos. Shopping, games, the garden and even a bite to eat. The Market itself is staged and set up with one goal in mind: to inspire you to own the space you’re in. We hope that you’ll come to visit and leave excited about your home. It’s with a grateful heart that I welcome you to magnolia.com. Chip and I run a few businesses here in Waco, Texas, but Magnolia Market holds a special place in my heart. This entire business idea was born completely out of a dream I didn’t know could ever come to life. It’s truly only because a fiercely faithful, brave and bold husband pushed me to pursue my dream that it ever came to be.

In 2003, we bought our “Little Shop on Bosque” and opened the first Magnolia Market. In that store, I developed and sharpened my design style and skills, grew as a business owner, and gained much needed confidence in Magnolia Market and myself.”

Those words were uttered Joanna Gains of Waco, Texas. Magnolia Market at the Silos is a thriving business with very upscale merchandise for the home.  Chip and Joanna are shown in the digital below.

While visiting our son, daughter-in-law and grandson in Dallas this past week, my wife, our third granddaughter (shown below) and I traveled to Waco to take a look at the “Silos”.  The trip from Dallas is a little over an hour and thirty minutes.  Not bad with great interstate roads.

You know you are here by the sign on the gift shop.

I think Chip and Joanna selected a perfect location for their facility.  The vacant silos give a very distinct appearance to the location and can be seen from several blocks away.

A very nice and usable map of the Silo District locates everything within the grounds.  Everything is within walking distance and no motorized vehicles are permitted on the grounds.  They would be absolutely unnecessary anyway.

The entrance way runs just to the left of the silos.  Their size and height relative to people visiting the facility shows how massive they actually are.

When taking a left turn after the silos, you see an open “game” area.  There are bins located to the left of the game area where balls, Frisbees, and other toys are located for the benefit of anyone wishing to spend time while the family is shopping.

If you visit Magnolia at the Silos you are interested in shopping, eating and visiting the newly opened bakery.

There is food and a great variety, BUT it all comes from food trucks located just behind the game area. There is a Magnolia Restaurant but that facility is off-site.  We did not visit the restaurant.

The next three digital photographs show the shopping area.  It is a huge area and the pictures really do not do the size justice.   The merchandise is top quality and not cheap.   No Walmart here.  You get what you pay for and people were lined up at the cash registers.  People were definitely buying.

I thought it was interesting that Chip had his own small space and I do mean small.  You get the picture from below.  The overwhelming number of items available for sale relate to decorating home interiors.

“We can’t wait to welcome you to Silos Baking Co., our on-site bakery filled with Joanna’s personal recipes and hand-picked favorites—like “The Silos Cookie”, “The Prize Pig” bacon and cheddar biscuit, and the “Nuts & Bolts” cupcake. We don’t want you to miss this little corner of the Silos—it’s definitely the sweetest!”

Once again, the words of Chip and Joanna.  The bakery is truly a must-see.  Be prepared to wait in line about twenty to thirty minutes.  The bakery goods are top quality, fresh, made that day and very well displayed.

My wife and our granddaughter indicate shopping was good.  Hopefully you can see the menu from the picture below.

CONCLUSIONS:

I think Magnolia at the Silos is a marvelous success story and a wonderful place to visit.  It’s truly a fun place.  You can spend all day or as much time as you wish.  Parking in their lot is ten dollars with the lot definitely in walking distance of the facility.

 

CENTRAL MARKET—DALLAS

July 14, 2018


When we visit our family in Dallas, Texas we ALWAYS make at least one stop at the Central Market on 5750 East Lovers Lane.  The digital below gives you some idea as to the size of the facility—its is HUGE.  Everything from soup to nuts, all fresh daily, with an amazing verity of choices for every want and need including ethnic.   In this case, a picture or pictures, are better than a thousand words so this post will be pictorial in nature.  I do not think you will regret the digital visit.  Here we go.

The outside is not very dramatic. Pretty much “plain Jane” as it were but wait until you see the inside.

No way we start shopping without taking our grandson.  As you can see, he is driving the bus.

VEGGIES:

If variety is the spice of life you are in “tall cotton” when you first visit the vegetable section. This is the very first area you come to when you enter.  The picture below does not do the area justice.  There are three additional long tables and one shorter table loaded with anything you might want or need including vegetables I have never heard of much less eaten.  The citizens of Dallas represent a very diverse culture so Central Market caters to those cultures.

FRUITS:

Same way with fruits. You name it—they have it.  Again, four tables of fruits neatly arranged and labeled to provide any customer with a superb selection.

FISH DEPARTMENT:

All fresh although there is a frozen fish section in coolers located within the department.


 

$26.99 per pound for lobster tails.  You might also notice the size of the bay scallops.  They are absolutely huge.

MEAT DEPARTMENT:

Two sixty (60) foot counters of meat for consideration.  If they don’t have it, you done need it.  There are even “exotic” meats such as ostrich, buffalo, snake, etc etc.

GRAINS:

This is one of the most intriguing displays in the store.  Each container carries a different consumable.  As you can see, there are well over fifty (50) to consider.  Again, Dallas is a diverse city and many shop here because they know they can find foods and ingredients common to their upbringing.

COFFEE:

The various coffees displayed cover the field and come from many many different countries.  You can buy the bean or grind in the store.

BREAD SELECTION:

To me, the most impressive section of the Central Market is the great variety of bread they offer.  ALL bread, including muffins and pastries are baked at the store on a daily basis.

CHEESES:

The second most-impressive displays are in the Cheese Department.  Again, if they don’t have it you don’t need it.

WINE:

With bread and cheese, you have to have wine and of course they do.  Take a look.

PASTERIES:

We may as well finish with dessert.  Take a look at the selection below.

CONCLUSIONS:

I obviously do not know if you ever travel to Dallas but if you do, here are several places you need to visit:

  • The Central Market
  • AT&T Stadium (Home of the Cowboys)
  • The George W. Bush Presidential Library
  • The Perot Museum of Natural History
  • The Dallas Arboretum
  • Pecan Lodge (Best brisket in Dallas)

Just a thought.

DISCRIMINATION

June 20, 2018


When I think of discrimination I automatically think of whites discriminating against blacks. I’m sure that’s because I’m from the southeastern part of the United States although there is ample evidence that discrimination occurs in all states of the United States.   There are other manners in which discrimination can occur.

From the New York Times we read the following:

“A group that is suing Harvard University is demanding that it publicly release admissions data on hundreds of thousands of applicants, saying the records show a pattern of discrimination against Asian-Americans going back decades.

The group was able to view the documents through its lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 and challenges Harvard’s admissions policies. The plaintiffs said in a letter to the court last week that the documents were so compelling that there was no need for a trial, and that they would ask the judge to rule summarily in their favor based on the documents alone.

The plaintiffs also say that the public — which provides more than half a billion dollars a year in federal funding to Harvard — has a right to see the evidence that the judge will consider in her decision.

Harvard counters that the documents are tantamount to trade secrets, and that even in the unlikely event that the judge agrees to decide the case without a trial, she is likely to use only a fraction of the evidence in her decision. Only that portion, the university says, should be released.”

There is no doubt that Harvard University makes considerable efforts to be “all-inclusive”.  They discriminate against whites and Asian-Americans in favor of African-Americans, Hispanics and the LGBT community.  That is a fact and a form of discrimination.

The EEOC tells us the following are methods of discrimination:

I recently read a horrible story about a young man in the country of India.  This guy had completed a course of study at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi with a Masters Degree in computer science.  He came to know a fellow classmate.  They fell in love.  He asked her father for her hand in marriage.  He said absolutely not.  “My daughter will not marry an untouchable, a Dalit.”  Now, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution abolishes untouchability and makes it punishable by law, and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 spells out the safeguards against caste discrimination and violence. His daughter honored her father and they did not get married.  The young man moved to the United States and now is a citizen working for an aerospace company in New England. He is happily married with three children—all citizens.

The term caste was first used by Portuguese travelers who came to India in the 16th century. Caste comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word “casta” which means “race”, “breed”, or “lineage”. Many Indians use the term “jati”. There are 3,000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes in India, each related to a specific occupation. A caste system is a class structure determined by birth. Loosely, it means that in some societies, if your parents are poor, you’re going to be poor, also. Same goes for being rich, if you’re parents were rich, you would be rich.   According to one long-held theory about the origins of South Asia’s caste system, Aryans from central Asia invaded South Asia and introduced the caste system as a means of controlling the local populations. The Aryans defined key roles in society, then assigned groups of people to them.

If a Hindu were asked to explain the nature of the caste system, he or she might tell the story of Brahma — the four-headed, four-handed deity worshipped as the creator of the universe. According to an ancient text known as the Rigveda, the division of Indian society was based on Brahma’s divine manifestation of four groups. Priests and teachers were cast from his mouth, rulers and warriors from his arms, merchants and traders from his thighs, and workers and peasants from his feet.  Others might present a biological explanation of India’s stratification system, based on the notion that all living things inherit a particular set of qualities. Some inherit wisdom and intelligence, some get pride and passion, and others are stuck with less fortunate traits. Proponents of this theory attribute all aspects of one’s lifestyle — social status, occupation, and even diet — to these inherent qualities and thus use them to explain the foundation of the caste system.

The caste structure may be seen by the digital below.

India’s caste system has four main classes (also called varnas) based originally on personality, profession, and birth. In descending order, the classes are as follows:

  • Brahmana (now more commonly spelled Brahmin): Consist of those engaged in scriptural education and teaching, essential for the continuation of knowledge.
  • Kshatriya: Take on all forms of public service, including administration, maintenance of law and order, and defense.
  • Vaishya: Engage in commercial activity as businessmen.
  • Shudra: Work as semi-skilled and unskilled laborers.

You will notice the “untouchables” and not even considered as a class of Indian society. Traditionally, the groups characterized as untouchable were those whose occupations and habits of life involved ritually polluting activities, of which the most important were (1) taking life for a living, a category that included, for example, fishermen, (2) killing or disposing of dead cattle or working with their hides for a living, (3) pursuing activities that brought the participant into contact with emissions of the human body, such as feces, urine, sweat, and spittle, a category that included such occupational groups as sweepers and washermen, and (4) eating the flesh of cattle or of domestic pigs and chickens, a category into which most of the indigenous tribes of India fell.

As mentioned earlier, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution was introduced to eliminate the caste system.  Do you really think that happened?  Of course not.  Indians of the Dalit classification, and there are thousands, still face rejection and discrimination on a daily basis.  Maybe we here in “los estados unidos” have it better than we think.

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