Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Memories

As part of the Cultural Diversity series at work, they requested employees submit their favorite Christmas memory or tradition (in 200 words or less).  I didn't submit this, but wrote it up any way.

Through the years, there has been one constant in my Christmases.  Though people may have changed through the years through marriage, birth of children and death; there has always been Christmas Eve communion. This service is the most moving services of the Christian year for me.  It typically starts at 11:00 pm and involves singing, the reading of the Christmas story, and receiving communion.  After communion, the congregation sings Silent Night as the lights are dimmed and everyone is holding a lit candle.  When the service concludes, it is past midnight and therefore it is Christmas.  Some years there is a bonus – snow.
As a youngster, it was an excuse to stay up late and help pass the time before the fat guy showed.
As a college student and single adult, it was very similar to a homecoming; allowing me to see people from my home church.
As a husband, it was an opportunity to share a tradition with my bride.
And finally, as a father, it is a chance to hopefully instill a tradition with my children that hopefully they will come to love as much as I do.
Looking forward to sharing the magic again this Christmas Eve at Kingston Springs United Methodist Church.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Day that Will Live in Infamy

On December 7, 1941, FDR uttered these words as our country reeled from a surprise air attack on our navy in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Much like the 9/11 attacks, this sneak attack from the Japanese caught us off-guard.   I am sure you are familar with the images, but here is one to refresh your memory:

I bring this up because I think we are close to forgetting about this day or simply filing it away as another event in history that happened a long time ago.  Growing up I remember all of my teachers talking about Pearl Harbor day and asking us to remember those who gave their lives.  It was mentioned as a day of remembrance and reverence.  Every newspaper would carry a story of Pearl Harbor on the front page and include interviews of PH survivors or a story of survivors who gathered to observe the day.

Today, the PH story was a tiny one on page 3 of my local paper.  Myabe it's the fact that the number of people who remember that day occurring is shrinking.  Regardless, I wanted to pause, and make you pause, to remember this day.  A toast to those brave men and women who survived or gave their life there will be in order this evening. 

Zach,  An appreciative Tennessee Squire

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Every time I see or hear that word, I think back to rocking my boys when they were babies and we rock them to music.  Often, it was Jimmy Buffett’s Ballads, Linda Rondstadt’s Lullaby, or Harry Chapin’s Gold Medal Collection.  The Gold Medal Collection also included clips of interviews with Harry.  As you may know, he was very involved with hunger issues, etc.  One clip in particular started with Harry yelling “THANKSGIVNG!” before going on to explain how he wished schools would focus on feeding the needy year round, not just at Thanksgiving.  That would always come on and give the boys a startle and often wake me, as well.
Sorry for the digression.  I do feel obligated since I blog to post one for Thanksgiving waxing poetic about what I am thankful for.  I will go ahead and tell you that I am thankful for a loving beautiful wife (I know I married up), two great boys, a great new job, great friends, and God’s mercy.  Now that those obvious ones are out of the way, there are a few slightly off-the-wall ones that I have.  I am thankful for:

  • The person who came up with the “Right on Red After Stop” rule.
  • The fact that the Bellevue Pub was packed on January 15, 1993 and there wasn’t a parking spot.
  • That second trip through the charcoal in Lynchburg.
  • Fredrick Banting for discovering that particular hormone which has a unique smell and regulates blood sugar.
  • The fact that Alex Van Halen had to deliver papers so he could pay for his guitar.  This enabled Eddie to pick up said guitar while Alex was gone.  The rest is history.
  • A community who doesn’t wait for government to act.
  • A place called the Fillin’ Station where everyone knows my name.
  • A great group of ladies at JDRF – Middle Tennessee who are working for my Kyle and millions of others.
  • A coffee shop named The Red Tree whose owners have hearts of gold.
  • A company that not only allows me to perform charitable work, but encourages it.
  • The ability to download just one song on iTunes vs. buying a CD for that one song.
  • That I was able to get tickets to the Jimmy Buffett benefit for W.O. Smith School many moons ago.  Best show ever.
  • That I have a decision to make on WHICH benefit plan I want at work.
  • A company named HealthTrust, Inc. where I started my career.  Made lifelong friendships there.
  • Martin Methodist College – a place where deep friendships were made and still exist today.
  • Caller ID
  • Neighbors who make life fun.
  • Friends made through JDRF, but we all wish we never had to meet.
  • The backup warning beep on my F-250.
  • Microsoft Outlook’s Meeting Planner
  • Rosa & Miguel and their smile, their food, their free chips and salsa, and their margaritas.
  • A church known as the church that cares for its community.
  • That the traffic light and lanes are repaired at the middle and high school.
  • The fact that I am able to write this, post it, and that you can read it.
 Please feel free to add your own as a comment.

Zach, a very thankful Tennessee Squire

Friday, November 5, 2010

School Pride

Well, Kingston Springs Elementary had its 15 minutes of fame on Friday, October 29, 2010 when it was the subject of NBC’s School Pride (http://www.nbc.com/school-pride/episode-guide/season-1/48294/rising-from-the-flood/episode-103/52245/).  For those who don’t know, think Extreme Home Makeover for schools.  NBC chose Kingston Springs Elementary (KSES) because of the flooding we received back in May.  The school was under about 8 foot of water and everything in the school that wasn’t concrete was destroyed.  Both of my boys attended that school from K-4 and Momma Squire and I have numerous friends who work there or have children attend there.
I am not naïve enough to think that everything I see on TV is true nor do I believe everything I read on the Internet.    It was very interesting to see the show, how they portrayed our town, and wonder if who you could pick out on the TV.  Yes, there were viewing parties all over Kingston Springs that night.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I am very appreciative of what School Pride did for our school and our county.  Our county can’t fund the schools sufficiently to buy copy paper (another blog for another day), so I know that our county couldn’t have afforded to refurbish the school the way School Pride did it.  In fact, because we had insurance, the insurance proceeds were able to be used for basic items and donations from around the country and the School Pride project were able to outfit our school with items (think technology and creature comforts) that normally wouldn’t be available.  For that, I thank you, NBC. 
But, I love it when media or music folks “pull back the curtain” and tell or show us how things really happen.  Well, here is my chance to “pull back the curtain” on some things.  None are really bad, but mostly attributed to staging, etc.   Basically, the folks on the show are a muscle-bound dude, nerd dude, big black comic lady, and a former Miss America. 
Momma Squire, the eldest offspring, and I volunteered during the week the “build” was occurring and here are some tidbits from ”behind the curtain".
  • The show opened with the team driving to KSES and Kingston Springs for the first time.  Well, based upon the clip, they were about 1.5 miles past the school and driving away from it!  As the team was talking about the damage, they showed clips of River Plantation damage in Bellevue – 10 miles away .
  • The team had a huge countdown to start the clock ticking from seven days.  The problem was that the clock start was filmed in June at the announcement and the build was in late July.
  • They showed and promoted that Lady Antebellum performed a concert for the school on the reveal day.  Well, only Axel Rose would count it as a concert. They played one song and then did a second take of the same song.
  • During the week of the build, we “had” a huge bake sale in the city park to raise money for the build.  Well, we down there in the 100 degree heat to watch brownies melting.  They filmed the bake sale, even having the sale change its time to accommodate their filming schedule.  They had the teachers play in the splash pad with a local photographer taking their pictures to hang in the teacher’s lounge.  None of this made the show.  None.  Notta.  Zip point squat.
  • Kingston Springs overwhelmed these folks with our volunteer spirit.  They actually cut-off the volunteer sign up.  There were over 1,500 folks who came out and volunteered the week of the build.  I had a problem with the fact that they showed the team “working” and not any of the volunteers working.  The team would trot out, film a scene, and then go back into the RV (donated by a local resident). 
  • The show also leveraged local businesses into donating items such as landscaping, sound system and then when asked for a free plug – they were told that $100k got them on the banner and much more would get them a shot during the show.
  • Speaking of shots on the show – here is my favorite blooper.  We have a coffee shop (www.redtreecoffee.com) run by two sisters, Amy and Katie.  These ladies served as the volunteer deployment center immediately after the flood – well before the various governmental agencies responded.  The School Pride team decided to profile the coffee shop and sisters for all their hard work.  Well, Nerd guy jumps in his car, pushes the OnStar button and asks for turn-by-turn directions to Red Tree Coffee.  Don’t need that GPS feature.  Turn left out of school, go maybe a mile and the shop is on your left.  Right after that, the OnStar commercial came on.
There you have it.  That is your behind the scenes look at a reality show.  I am very very grateful to School Pride and what they did for our elementary school and our community.  Speaking for that, sales tax collections for the month of July were over budget.  Thanks – our city and county needed that.  I just wanted to shed a little light on the subject.

Zach, A School Pride volunteer and a Tennessee Squire

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Only Children

I bet your mind immediately went to a visual of a screaming, kicking child who wasn’t getting his way and was having a “come-apart.”  Right?  Well, this entry isn’t about that, but we will explore the deep complexities associated with folks who are only children.

Hi, my name is Zach.  I am a Tennessee Squire and an only child.  There, I said it.  Some maybe saying “Oh, that explains it!” or “Wow, he is very well adjusted socially to be an only child.”  Put your seat belt on because here comes another revelation – I am an only of two onlies.   Yep – Mom is an only and so is Dad.  No aunts.  No uncles.  No cousins.  Family reunions could be held in a Mini-Cooper.  I give you this background because Momma Squire and I had a discussion the other day concerning kids being at the house that weren’t our offspring.  So, I thought it would be a great public service for me to share some insights into only children and how we think.  Maybe this is worth what you paid for it or maybe it will be a revelation that will help you break through those relationship issues with your only child spouse or it will give you something to read while you are eating lunch.  Bet you thought I was going to say reading while in the bathroom, but (are you really coordinated enough to carry a laptop in there with you? (for typing ease, I will use OC)
Only Child Time - OC’s are used to being by ourselves.  We typically think it is ok to eat alone in a restaurant.  We grew up alone and have grown to like having solitary time.  Most OC’s require a certain amount of alone time each day.  Mine is early in the morning from 5:00 until it is time for the rest of the family to wake up.  This is why we get grumpy on holiday trips or vacations when there are people around us 24/7.  It is also why we will disappear during family events, weddings, etc. and our spouses will find us on the back porch or in the car.
Inappropriate Games – Please think before purchasing a game for an OC.  No, I’m not talking about Halo or Grand Theft Auto.   I am talking about two person games.  I remember receiving Candyland as a present one year – Yes, Mom was a stay-at-home Mom, but really?  Who would sit and play Candyland with me?
I also got a croquet set.  Really?  You think I would set up the hoops, sticks, and then go around the yard banging a ball with a mallet?

I also got Yard Darts (Yarts!) one year.  Use some common sense people and I’m not talking about stabbing myself in the temple with one.  That would be hard for an only child to do.  Wait – maybe.  Yarts could be only for only children; but I would get tired of throwing them and then having to fetch them since no one was there to return them.   Having these multi-player games actually make only children more creative.  We had to figure out how to play them or change the rules so we could enjoy them.

Touching my things – Yes, we have issues with people touching our things.  I really don’t think it has to do with selfishness.  It has to do with location.  If you touch my things or play with my things, it won’t be where it was the next time I want it.  That’s why I don’t let people read my newspaper before I do.  You will probably turn it inside out, get it out of order, or the worse thing – when it is time to read the next session (yes, I have a particular order), you will have that section.  This is where the discussion with Momma Squire centered the other day.  She asked me whether I ever had folks over to spend the night with me when I was a kid.  My response – “No, because they would touch my things.” 
Hopefully these points will help you understand OC’s.  We really aren’t bad – just misunderstood.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire and an Only Child

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How Did It Get Around - carrier pigeon?

Talking with my old college roomie about his son getting a car (YIKES!) reminded me of a couple of stories from my youth.

The first involves a brand new Trans Am or Camaro that someone bought from the police department for $500.  The story behind the car was that someone was driving it and it left the road and ended up in a field.  The driver died, but wasn't found for several months.  As a result, there was a smell in the car that wouldn't come out, thus the cheap price.

The second story involved Rod Stewart and having to have his stomach pumped after falling ill during a show.  For decency's sake, I won't mention what was pumped, but safe to say, it wasn't Krystals.

When I left my small town (Waverly) for college, I started meeting people from other areas and states.  Through conversations (how, I don't know), these two stories popped up over time.  Ironically, several people indicated they had heard these stories as well.  While the details may have differed - some indicated it was a Mustang that was wrecked and the amount of "substance" pumped from Mr. Stewart varied from a pint to 2 quarts; the gist of the stories was the same.

So, what is so big about these stories?  Well, for those of you who have always had a cell phone, computer, or access to the Internet, you may assume these stories started in a single location and went viral in the Internet and e-mail worlds, Well, you are wrong.  The only methods of communication we, as teens, had were actual conversations (weird huh), wired telephones hanging on the wall in our parents' kitchen, and letters that were written out and given to the US Postal system to deliver. 

So how did these stories make the rounds?  I seriously doubt anyone wrote about these or called out-of-state friends/family.  These weren't in the Star or National Enquirer rags.  Could there be some margin of truth?  Who knows?

Have any of you heard of these? 

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Monday, September 27, 2010

It all comes back.....

Saw this story today in the Tennessean and it brought back flood memories - http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100927/NEWS01/9270326/Body-of-Nashville-flood-victim-found-family-says 

I can't imagine what that family has been through.   In case you missed it, here is my take on the May floods:


Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The ever handy Wikipedia defines serendipity as “propensity for making fortuitous discoveries while looking for something unrelated.” I have always interpreted it as “something cool happening when you aren’t really expecting it.” This happened to me back in May as I was waiting for a flight in D.C. My flight home was scheduled to depart Reagan National at 8:40 a.m., but it actually left @ 12:30. Needless to say, I had some time to kill. Boy, am I glad I did.

I heard an announcement in the concourse to go to a particular gate to welcome the honor flight. What is an honor flight? In short, they are flights that transport World War II vets from across the country to Washington D.C. to tour the WWII memorial. Information about the honor flight can be found at http://www.honorflight.org/.

What a sight. The airport fire department provided a water cannon arch for the plane as it taxied to the gate; the “airplane parkers” used American flags instead of the orange sticks, any military person in the concourse lined up, strangers lined up in the concourse, and the West Point alumni glee club was there to sing those good ole patriotic songs.

As these guys deplaned (challenge you not to think of Fantasy Island), all in the concourse started applauding and the glee club started singing. Some were in wheelchairs, some had walkers, some canes, and some walked without any aid. Everyone single one of them walked or strolled with their head held high and proud.

If someone had said to me, “Come out to the airport today and let’s salute these guys”, I probably would have had something to do; but I can honestly say that I am glad my flight was delayed so I could see this event. Maybe you, too can have a serendipity moment as cool as this.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Tale of Three Zach's, or Zak or Zack

One of my volunteer activities with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is volunteering as a cyber-volunteer with the Online Diabetes Support Team (ODST). Members of the ODST answer questions posed by people via the JDRF website (www.jdrf.org). The questions range from detailed questions about diabetes and school to general about how to cope with a newly diagnosed child.

When my youngest son, Kyle, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 18 months old, our world was rocked. There wasn’t an ODST to turn to or an organized outreach effort. Besides JDRF, one of the places I turned to was a website tailored to parents of kids with Type I (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com). One of the features of this site (CwD) is an e-mail group of parents. These e-mails deal with support, gripes, fundraisers, etc. I really don’t get too involved by posting to the group, but I read the e-mails that come across.

Now that you have that background, here is the story. I received an ODST request from a newly diagnosed family in South Africa wondering about online support groups. Since JDRF doesn’t have a chapter in South Africa, I referred the father (Zack - #1) to JDRF’s social networking site – www.juvenation.org. About a week later, I was reading the CwD e-mails and someone indicated that they couldn’t make a fundraiser due to the distance. As I looked at their sign-off, I first noticed they had a son named Zak (#2) and that they were in South Africa. They also were “experienced” Type I parents meaning that their loved one was diagnosed a few years ago. The light bulb went off immediately. I asked them if they would mind if I shared their contact information with the newly diagnosed family. Of course, they said “no problem”; so I did share the contact information. About a week later, I got an e-mail from the newly diagnosed family indicating that contact was made and they were even able to meet at the doctor’s office.

Hard to believe that this Zach (#3), sitting in Kingston Springs, TN could hook up two people in South Africa.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Changing the World's Perception - One Person at a Time

Having returned from vacation, I was going through a week’s worth of newspapers and an article caught my eye (http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100701/NEWS01/7010342/Car-stickers-could-help-diabetics-get-help-faster). The headline indicated there were stickers for people with diabetes to place on their cars so medical personnel and police would be aware the driver’s erratic behavior may be related to a low (hypoglycemic) or high (hyperglycemic) blood sugar episode.

Before I even read the article, I realized that I had someone that I needed to educate about the “D” word. Yes, I am talking about “diabetic”. For a long time I have lobbied against the use of this word. In short, labeling someone as a “____ic” assumes that the disease defines or becomes the individual. While diabetes is serious, my son is a boy who has diabetes; it doesn’t have him. For a longer discussion on this, see my blog entry titled “What’s in a Name?” located at

As I continued reading the article, I came across a term in the article that both made me laugh and fume. I quote the writer “Some people aren't aware of the symptoms of a diabetic attack. Victims may be dizzy, confused, nervous, agitated or drowsy. They also could have fruity breath or start to vomit.” My first response was “what the hell is a diabetic attack?” Does it mean that diabetes reaches up and attacks my child or my child labeled as a diabetic goes ballistic and attacks someone? I am being facetious, but that term conjures up images people having fits or something. I would prefer the proper terms of hypo- or hyperglycemic episodes.

I realize that I may be hyper-sensitive and some folks, including diabetes folks, may not agree. However, I view it as another opportunity to educate people about diabetes and the fact that you can’t catch it, there is a difference between Type I and II, my son didn’t develop diabetes because he ate too much sugar, etc.
I dropped an e-mail to the writer expressing my thoughts about her use of “diabetic” and “diabetic attack”. She hasn’t responded. Maybe she brushed me off as a whiner, but at least I tried and hopefully have made you think about it as well.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

P.S. I was asked to convert the letter I wrote into a blog format and it was posted at a friend's site (http://www.daddybetes.com/2010/07/changing-worlds-perception-one-person.html) as a guest blogger.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Wow, this might get bad."

These words were uttered while sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings in Hendersonville on Saturday May 1, 2010. Little did I know how prophetic these words would be as a friend & I sat watching TV in between Will’s AAU basketball games. It had been raining hard all day Saturday and I had witnessed several wrecks throughout the day as the rains continued to pour down. We were watching the soggy Kentucky Derby on the large screen while keeping an eye on the local weather on some of the smaller TV’s. There were sporadic thunderstorm warnings flashing across the screen as the local weather folks went into “let’s see how many ways we can show you what a thunderstorm looks like” mode with their state-of-the-art radars, Dopplers, and spotters. There was one image from an interstate traffic camera (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5gYhLKwSp4) that will always be associated with this flood – the sight of a school portable building floating beside the interstate and then slamming into the interstate which was full of stalled vehicles with water almost submerging the cars. At that precise moment I uttered “…wow, this might get bad”. Luckily, the remaining game was cancelled and we headed home. I called a neighbor who told me that one of the two bridges into our section of the Ranchettes had been damaged and the creek by our subdivision was the highest he had ever seen. As I pulled into the driveway, I could hear the creek across the golf course. I normally can’t.
As Sunday dawned, it was still raining and as I checked Facebook, I noticed some friends from my hometown, Waverly, were posting that Main St was flooding due to Trace Creek rising. I saw some pictures of my hometown flooding.

As bad as it was, little did I realize that the flooding in Waverly would literally be a drop in the bucket compared to what South Cheatham would be facing. As the day went on, more & more pictures and stories were posted to Facebook. The picture was becoming very clear that the rain was continuing and Kingston Springs would not be the same when it quit. We went to the golf course by our house to see how high the creek had gotten. We quickly saw that the golf carts that were supposedly on higher ground weren’t high enough. We called some neighbors and we pushed about 15 carts to even higher ground. Pushing golf carts in 3 foot water is very difficult. It got a lot easier when we found that there was a neutral, just not labeled! Here is what the clubhouse looked like on Sunday:

We got word that one of the main roads (yes there is one) in Kingston Springs was flooded at both ends; leaving two large subdivisions essentially on what was called Island 249. Right after that, the cable went out, so we were forced to monitor Facebook mobile. Thank goodness for the Blackberry! In addition to Island 249, Kingston Springs itself was literally an island. With the interstates and Highway 70 closed due to flooding, travel out of our town was severely limited. We didn’t realize how bad it was until the next day when we ventured out a little. Then pictures started coming in:

These are by the City Park over the Harpeth River


The next image we saw was a video clip taken by Kyle & Will’s school that slammed home to me how bad this flood was:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVYPnTp-k9g.  This first picture was taken during the flood along the road by the boys’ school that I described earlier about being washed out.

Here are shots after the waters have receded. Note the sections of road that were moved around. The areas where you see people standing is where the three houses once stood.

This last picture is of a house which was moved off its foundation. If you see where the items are sitting in the cleared-off area that is where the house once stood.

The flood not only closed our schools down while the waters were high, it closed them down for the remainder of the year. In our community, the Middle School was being used as a disaster relief shelter and here is our elementary school:

 Here are some interior shots. Look closely and you can see the waterline.

One silver lining is that NBC is producing a makeover show similar to Extreme Home Makeover that focuses on school. They are considering our elementary school to be one of the ones made over.

Well, the flood came, it destroyed, it wasn’t picky about who it impacted, it showed no mercy, and made my town learn a lot about itself. You’ve seen the destruction in pictures above; now let me tell you about how Kingston Springs reacted.

Through Facebook, word went out that if you could make it to our little coffee shop, Red Tree Coffee (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1644043794), some folks were organizing help for folks impacted by the flood. Immediately, a network of folks planned a response to this flood. The two sisters (Amy & Katie) who run the Red Tree started a list of needs and began matching them with volunteers. All details were covered from feeding the volunteers to childcare for volunteers. My church, Kingston Springs United Methodist, became sack lunch and potluck dinner central serving an estimated 3,500 meals over the course of a week. Leave it to the Methodists to feed folks! A work day was organized for the Saturday after the flood. Additionally, volunteers were working during the week as well helping people gut homes, clean out, haul off rubbish, and feed them. A local TV station came out and did a story on the Red Tree (http://www.wsmv.com/video/23562193/index.html) that sums it up pretty well. Additionally, our middle school was established with as a shelter and supply center where people could come and pick up needed items such as brooms, shovels, food, personal hygiene products, and even pet food. Once again, social media came to the rescue because a Twitter account was set up to send out requests and information. A Tweet would go out for needed items and folks would get the tweet as they were shopping and bring it to the school.

As a town, we didn’t immediately start blaming others nor did we go Detroit and burn cars or loot our businesses. We stood beside each other and helped our neighbors. We met people whom we have seen for years, but never knew. It didn’t matter where you lived or what you did for a career – we just helped. We didn’t whine and immediately hold out our hand and wait for the government to come in and help. As a matter of fact, the Red Cross volunteers said that our town was an example of what to do and that we really didn’t need them. I am glad that we didn’t wait on the government because I lost a lot of faith in our government because of this (not that I had a whole lot to begin with). Some government officials seemed to be more concerned about meeting and posturing than helping. As Momma Squire told a group of them one night who were watching us prepare hot meals to deliver – “if you are gonna be in here, you need to put some gloves on and get to work or leave.” Love that girl!

I saw God a lot over the last couple of weeks. I also saw some folks not doing the right thing – thankfully, God won by a landslide. Below are the times where I personally saw God:

  • Wondering how we were going to feed extra volunteers we hadn’t planned for and out of the blue a Nashville restaurant calls and said they had a catering job cancel and wondered if we could use the food.
  • The seven year old girl who had lost her home coming into the shelter wanting a toothbrush to give to her Mom for Mother’s Day.
  • The kids in our town out volunteering day in and day out. They were pulling drywall, loading cars with supplies, unloading supply trucks, and delivering meals.
  • The sight of Kingston Springs Volunteer Corps shirts all over the community on our big volunteer day.
  • The sight of our middle school commons area being filled with supplies.
  • Hearing my oldest son tell Momma Squire that he knew he needed to mow the neighbor’s yard, but he just couldn’t when there was volunteer work to be done for people who had lost everything.
  • Being in the coffee shop when a group of volunteers came in and said they were from Ohio and wanted to help. They said they got in the car and prayed on where to go and God led them to Kingston Springs and the Red Tree. They showed up with trucks, tools, and trailers and immediately went to work. Ironically, they own a coffee shop in Ohio.
  • Delivering meals and supplies to people who had damage, but was told to give it to someone who needed it more.
  • And finally, I saw God in everyone who helped their neighbor after this disaster.
Well, I know this is long, but if you want more information on how to help, more pictures, more videos, or see other stories, here are some links for you:

Proud to be from Kingston Springs, TN

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Office Pet Peeves

There have been many books and articles written about office etiquette, e-mail etiquette, and general manners. This is my attempt at letting you know my Office Pet Peeves; and let me know what bugs you.

Passing in the hallway without saying hello – we are the only two people in the hall and I say “hello”. Don’t flippin’ ignore me. At least grunt or something. Makes you look real bad and arrogant.

Coffee Pot – The Company spends money on the coffee service and even gets the deluxe model with the direct feed water supply and pre-packaged coffee. If the pot is empty or even close to empty, MAKE A NEW POT!! It isn’t that hard. Just empty the pouch and push the friggin’ “brew” button. I will give you a pass if it is after 3:00, but not making it in the morning reeks of elitism.

Walking two wide & not moving – You aren’t that skinny! Go single file when meeting people. Chances are, you won’t survive a hit from me.

Lurking while on phone – If I am on the phone, pacing back and forth will not make me finish up quicker. Leave me a note, voice mail, e-mail, or give me the “call me” signal.

Ignoring signs/mentions regarding delving into conversation while lunching, etc. – If I am eating or tell you that I have a meeting in 5 minutes, that means that I don’t have time to chat.

Follow up communication – If you send me an e-mail, don’t call and tell me that you sent me an e-mail.

“Reply All” – Think before you hit this button. If you are telling a sender that they inadvertently chose the “everyone” distribution, everyone on the distribution list does not need to know.

Elevator Pile-In – Wait for people to exit the elevator before you charge into it.

That is a start of the list. Let me hear what your office pet peeves are.

Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam

“Ain’t it great to be alive and be in Tennessee!” With those words, Charlie Daniels kicked off the first Volunteer Jam I ever saw. He also kicked off every Vol Jam with those words. My first Jam (I think) was Vol Jam iX back around 1980 or so. I was talking to a co-worker a few days ago about the Volunteer Jams and it brought back great memories. For those of you from the Nashville area who are over 40 years old, you know about the Volunteer Jams. Read on for a walk down memory lane. If you haven’t a clue, read on about some great musical events that occurred several years back.

Charlie Daniels started the Volunteer Jams back in 1974. As the name suggests, it was basically a jam session where he invited all of his musical friends to stop by and play. The venue changed through the years from the War Memorial Auditorium to the Municipal Auditorium, to Starwood Amphitheater. The early Jams, including the first I attended, were truly spontaneous. Charlie didn’t know who was showing up until they were backstage. Each act would come out and play anywhere from two to five songs. Even lead singers without their bands would play with whoever was backstage. Charlie would typically open up the Jam with a set of his own. I noticed through the years that the length of his set depended upon how deep the lineup was backstage – the more people backstage, the shorter the set. It was fun between acts to try & guess who would be showing up next. Once my friend Joe & I saw a flute being brought out with the electric guitars. We immediately thought it might be Jethro Tull. Wrongo – Marshall Tucker Band. The number of acts was typically in the low teens, so the show typically ended around 2:00 a.m. The show would close with all acts (who were still around) coming back on stage to play a couple of songs together. Throughout the night, Charlie would introduce each act and come out and play with them.

The acts spanned all aspects of music and locale. There were gospel acts (Jordanaires), country (Roy Acuff), and rock (Ted Nugent). Some of the acts I have seen are: Billy Joel , Roy Acuff , Leon Russell , The Jordanaires , Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie), The Marshall Tucker Band , Molly Hatchet , Crystal Gayle , George Thorogood , Bill Monroe , Papa John Creech (90 year old fiddle player), The Outlaws, Delbert McClinton , Quarterflash, and Ted Nugent (picked up Charlie).

The latter Jams were broadcast on a radio network so they weren’t as spontaneous. However, all the Jams were great and allowed me to see a wide range of acts that I probably wouldn’t have gone to see by themselves. To answer Charlie’s question – Yes, it is good to be alive and to be in Tennessee.

Zach, a Tennessee Squire

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Concert Memory

It's amazing how a concert can stick with you. I saw a picture in the local paper the other day of Rascal Flatts performing at the W.O. Smith benefit concert here in Nashville. The W.O. Smith School provides music education and instruments to those students who would not otherwise have the opportunity. Seeing that picture took me back in time to a previous W.O. Smith benefit and what was one of my favorite concert events.

It was about 20 years ago when I saw the announcement that there would be a benefit concert for the School featuring Jimmy Buffett at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). Having been a Parrothead for a few years, I jumped at the chance to go see Mr. Buffett. It was in winter and cold outside, so the chance to experience an indoor beach party was something I couldn't pass up. Having been to a couple of his shows at an amphitheatre, I was anticipating tiki torches, sand trucked in, half-nekkid island girls, etc. Boy was I wrong.

The show had sold out in about 15 minutes, so I was very lucky to get my tickets in the top section (glad I had binoculars). Where were the torches & the scantily-clad dancers? Oh, they must be hidden behind the curtain and there aren't any torches due to fire codes….. Wrongo. What happened next literally blew me away.

I look down and see what appears to be a stage hand walking out in jeans, shirt, and no shoes. The roar of the crowd below told me that it wasn't a stage hand, but the man himself. He literally plopped himself down, dangled his feet off the edge of the stage and started singing "It's My Job". That song is probably my second favorite JB song and it is written by Mac McAnally. The curtain then opened and there was Mac McAnally and Josh Leo. That's it. Nobody else. Mac is an accomplished songwriter who has literally had a song on almost every JB album and written scores of hits for Alabama and Sawyer Brown. He now plays in the Coral Reefer Band (JB's backing band) and back then would always come out and play with Jimmy when he was in Nashville. Josh Leo was a very early member of the Coral Reefer Band (original maybe?) and at the time of the show was a Music Row executive and has produced a bunch of albums. What followed that show was basically Jimmy Buffett unplugged and he dug deep into the past with gems like "Coast is Clear", "Frank & Lola", etc. It was a chance to hear the music in a way that I would never get to again. This was before my habit of writing down set lists, so I don't have one, but I can tell you that it was a great night. Clint Black (country singer) even came out and joined Jimmy on stage. This was also during the time that Jimmy was living in Nashville (second stint).

I guess this goes to show that sometimes you may be expecting one thing and the unexpected is better than the expected. Thanks for a wonderful night Jimmy, Mac, & Josh.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire (and Parrothead)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Same Time, Next Year?

No, I'm not talking about the Alan Alda/Ellen Burstyn movie where a couple carries out an adulterous affair that occurs every year at the same hotel on the same weekend for numerous years. My title refers to a unique location that has been a part of my life since 1978. I was chatting with a friend online (Facebook) the other day about some pictures that got posted of this place and it got me thinking.

My parents have camped (and still do) for as long as I can remember in a recreational vehicle (RV). Back in the late '70's when I was a young teen, my family camped with a couple of other families from our church and town. We had planned a two week vacation in the Florida Panhandle with these families and had planned on staying in a campground between Ft. Walton Beach & Pensacola. When we arrived, the campground was run-down and we decided to try somewhere else. One of the families had stayed before at a campground called Holiday Travel Park on the other side of Destin. We took off to the Holiday Travel Park and started what would become a family tradition.

The Holiday Travel Park was a campground that sits directly on the Gulf of Mexico. At the time, it was about 10 miles east of Destin proper. Back in the late '70's, Destin was still a quaint little fishing village. The only grocery store was basically a Tom Thumb convenience store on steroids. Sandestin had not even built across Highway 98 (beachside) and only had 18 holes of golf. It was like a little slice of paradise with a good stretch of beach, a couple of houses on each side, and some great places to eat some fresh seafood.

That first summer, we met a bunch of people (adults & kids) who we would see again. One of those families, we had met the previous spring camping in Kentucky. The Graves family had twins the same age as me and it was great to see them again. Later on, I found out that Kim & Keith shared the same birthday as I did. Then in an even stranger twist, Kim would up on a random draw as a freshman roommate to one of my best friends from high school. Small world.

Through the years, my family would see the same people year after year as we all ventured back to the Travel Park like some kind of sandy Mecca. This continued for almost ten years. Each year we would roll up and immediately start looking for familiar faces. Through the years, great memories were made at that place. There were great friendships made, relationships started (and thankfully in the past), mischievous deeds, and just all around good fun. As work would take me to various parts of the country, I would have occasion to look up some of these folks and some would look us up as they came through Nashville. It really was like a homecoming each year.

Why did I think/blog of this? One of the friends had posted some pictures a few weeks ago & through the magic of Facebook, I actually found another long lost person from the Travel Park. Everyone of us always talks of how special that place is to them. My folks are still camping and are actually camping at the park (different name and owner) as I type.

Lori and I are actually talking about taking our camper down to the beach to pass the torch on to the boys, so to speak. Like most things, I know it won't be as special as it was and is in my memory. But maybe, the boys will get to make their own memories. It's worth a try.

Happy Camping
Zach, a Tennessee Squire

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nature’s Beauty

Just a quick post to show a little of nature's beauty captured during one of our recent snows. Momma Squire had threatened to go "Shining" on me if we didn't get out of the house. So we went walking & I saw this scene by a neighbor's house. Just had to capture & share.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Decade

A decade. As most know, a decade is defined as a period of ten years. Today marks the end of a decade for me and my family.

At noon on January 31, 2000, Dr Jennifer Najjar altered our lives forever with the words "Kyle has diabetes." "Isn't that what old people get?", "what did we do?", "can he get rid of it?", and "how will this impact his life?" These were some of the thoughts going through Momma Squire & I's mind that day. Kyle was diagnosed with Type I (juvenile) diabetes when he was just 18 months old. Ever since that day ten years ago, he has had to have insulin injected into his body in some form or fashion. That is 3,653 days of watching what he eats, monitoring blood sugars (minimum of 5 finger sticks a day), counting carbs, and dosing insulin. While I would give anything for Kyle not to have endured this, some blessings have come from this. Sound strange? Let me explain it on two different fronts.

First, when Kyle was diagnosed, we both were working full-time jobs, running crazy, and our idea of eating in was ordering pizza. Lori had quit her job @ HCA to go to work in a bank branch for less pay (35%), but more potential (bonus). I think that step down in pay was God's way of preparing us for what was coming. When Kyle was diagnosed, Lori quit her job to stay home and take care of Kyle. Thankfully, we had taken that intermediate step down in pay so it wasn't like suddenly stopping from 70 mph; it was more like stopping from 40 miles mph. Kyle's diagnosis slowed us down and made us focus inward on what was really important - our family.

Secondly, when Kyle was diagnosed, I heard about an organization called Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). We immediately got involved by walking in JDRF's annual Walk to Cure Diabetes that fall. Ever since that day, Lori & I have volunteered with JDRF on the local, regional, and national level. We have met people who have become life-long friends by working side-by-side for a cure. These friendships were forged by having a common bond and we have leaned on each other through the years and we are the richer for it. We have met medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping find a cure and caring for those with Type I until that cure is found.

Speaking of cures, when Kyle was diagnosed, we were told that a cure would probably be here within 10 or so years. Well, we are now on the "so" part of that expression because right now, Kyle's insulin pump is putting insulin into his body as he sleeps. Honestly, my idea of a "cure" has changed over the last decade. I believe there won't be a "magic" pill or potion and "poof", Kyle's diabetes is gone. I think it will take multiple steps to finally realize the cure. A cure could even be in the form of an artificial pancreas. Who knows?

God has blessed us in so many ways in addition to those mentioned above. Yes, it is a nasty disease that keeps everyone on their toes, but when Kyle was diagnosed, God helped us with that as well. The only bed that was available for Kyle at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital was on the oncology (cancer) floor. Kyle was the "wellest" baby there. Daily we would hear parents wail as physicians told parents bad news regarding their children and we would see very sick children in the halls. We realized that most of these kids would not be going home with their parents - ever. Our Kyle would get to go home and live a full life.

A decade does make a lot of difference.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas 2009

As I sit and write this, I realize that I must return to work tomorrow. The last time I was in the office was December 23 - gonna be hard going back, but I have enjoyed myself over the last couple weeks. Here are some random happenings/thoughts that happened during the Christmas/New Year's Eve break.

My parents spend Christmas Eve night with us and we exchange presents on Christmas morning. As I find my way to the coffee pot, my father scares the crap out of me because I wasn’t expecting him to be sitting in the living room. Later he proceeds to ask “did you know that if you don’t wash the Metamucil granules off the spoon, it will become hard as a rock & won’t come off.” I reply “no, I didn’t know that.”

I brought Will along with me on my annual pilgrimage to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve to pick up food for that evening’s dinner and some last minute shopping. Nothing says Christmas like watching red-necks choosing between blenders or coffee pots for their sweeties. (Momma Squire got the Dirt Devil!)

Attending the candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church. This has been my favorite church service of the year for many decades.

Youngest son, Kyle, giving the blessing on Christmas Eve and after blessing the food and every person (including dogs) in the family, closes with “well, I guess Happy Birthday. Amen.”

The Mother-in-law got Van Halen Guitar Hero for me. My friend Joe came out and Joe, Will, & I played Van Halen. Since Joe & I have traveled all over the Southeast to see VH, it was kinda cool sharing it with Will.

My mother-in-law fretting over where Will’s sleep pants were. She is famous for not labeling packages. Well, she had mistakenly put the wrong name on the package. No one was leaving the room until we found those pants.

Momma Squire beckoning me to the garage to show me presents for the boys that we forgot about.

Got tickets to the Vandy-Manhattan basketball game from Joe for the week after Christmas. Took Will and one of his basketball teammates. Was kind of like déjà vu since Joe & I would always to go to the Music City Invitational tournament after Christmas with his folks and family.

Took the boys to see The Blindside. Great movie with a great message. Kyle gave me a hug after the movie was over and said “thank you for taking me to see this movie. It was great.” This meant a lot since Kyle really wanted to stay home & play X-Box when I told him we were going. Sandra Bullock – “WOW” on many levels.

Spent New Year’s Eve with some friends in the neighborhood. Always a great time.

If you look through the list above, you will see a couple of common threads – family and friends. As I look back over Christmas break, I realize that is what it is all about. Peace to you & yours in 2010.

Zach, A Tennessee Squire