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Latest from Allen Tibbetts

    When you’re 14, you’re never going to be old. Until one day you are.  When you get older, the best you can hope for is to be cool - the cool mom or dad, the cool aunt or uncle - and hope the young'uns around you see Rico Suave instead of Ricky Ricardo (who would have turned 100 this year).   That’s not the way it works, of course, but it’s really all most of us have to hang a hat on. That and our increasingly shiny heads.   Part of the perception of cool in this digital world is the ability to keep up with the latest ‘thing.’ Or at least to be perceived as trying to keep up.   So, when my teenage companions suggested I needed to be on Snapchat, I surrendered my phone.   “Set it up.”   If you’re not familiar with Snapchat, my best and shortest description would be that it’s texting with pictures. There’s so much more to it, but that’s the basic function.   Further, unless you make a special effort to save a Snapchat, it disappears for good, typically after 10 seconds. There is a lot to like about that, especially if you are fond of sharing pictures of you doing stupid or illegal things (I’m guessing).   I suppose it’s because your chats disappear the Snapchat logo is a ghost. The ghost is actually a blank canvas. You can insert a photo of you or anything else in that space. I had chosen to do nothing, and it was not sitting well with the 16-year old beside me.   She suggested I needed an avatar. In digital-speak, an avatar is a digital representative of you.   Think of it as a personal emoji.   For example, take your basic smiley face emoji 😊. Now, give Smiley Face some of your features, like the same color hair, that same skin tone, your dimples, glasses, if you wear them, etc.   You’re basically creating a cartoon character in your likeness.   You bet there’s an app for that. Several, probably.   Let the games begin.   She would look at me, then look at her options for designing me. “You need a longer face,” she commented as she picked a template to make that happen.   “His nose isn’t long enough,” her brother offered, thus involving himself in the process.   It started getting personal. Really personal.   My wrinkles were discussed. Scars and moles were talked about. And I guess I had bloodshot eyes that day because the question, ‘can you make the whites of his eyes red?’ was asked.   Assigning my avatar white hair was a no-brainer, but they argued over which available option looked most like a guy going bald.   Ultimately, my avatar was finished. It's not easy seeing yourself through the eyes of a teenager, but I wasn’t too disappointed. Given that they were only creating my face, I avoided some other pitfalls common to men of a certain age:   -pot belly  -corroded toenails  -ear hair  -nose hair  -turkey neck  -baggy pants (‘cuz you got no butt)   I thought I got off pretty easy. The 14-year old thought his sister could have done a better job around my eyes.   “He’s got some pretty gnarly eyebrows.”   I do. And he will too one day. As we’re all fond of saying: There’s only one option to getting older, and you ain’t gonna like it much.   But I’m good with where I am in life. And I'm keeping busy by working on my own app, inspired by Snapchat. Since it will only work on teenagers, its working name is Teenzap.   Here's how it will work: use the app to take a photo of any teenager, and in 10 seconds, they will disappear.   Not the photo. In fact, you may want to keep the photo. It will be all that remains of that precious pimply face.   I'll keep you posted.
  • It’s a very special smehell. I made that word up. It's a cross between 'smell' and 'hell.'  We need a new word describing what it’s like walking into your house after your refrigerator/freezer has died and been left alone. Putrid, nauseous, toxic, oh my god, and liquid death don't get it done. Who knows how long it had been dead. It had been two weeks since we had been around. Neighbors discovered the problem. Ours is a close-knit community; everyone knows where everyone else keeps a spare key. If you don’t have something you need but your neighbor does, go get it. That’s how this started. I received a text that someone or something was dead in our house. “It’s not bad,” she wrote. “It’s really, really bad.” She could have – I think I probably would have – just walked out and left it for the homeowner to figure out what was wrong. Instead, she and her husband decided to do a little investigating. “Sniff the shower drain,” I suggested, thinking the septic tank might have a problem. By the way, you want to be pretty good friends with folks you suggest to go into your shower and sniff your drain. Profanities could follow. Looking for any obvious problems led them to eventually opening the refrigerator door. And immediately slamming it shut. It was a morgue in there. Actually, no. There was life. You know how your fridge has little vents? When motors aren't running and coolants aren't cooling, those vents become doorways for small creatures, hungry for a meal of spoiled, rotting food. There were bugs. Among the damage, a sealed pack of chicken that had swollen up and burst through the packaging. Same for the venison. Packs of ground deer meat had all breached the seals of their vacuum-packed plastic, warming to room temperature, oozing blood. Yogurt had burst the seals of their individual cups and grown hair. Whomp buscuits – those you whomp against the counter to open - had broken through without being whomped and were molding. And the bugs. It may have smelled like death, but certain unidentified insects were loving life: crawling, flying and feasting. Clearly, the refrigerator had not just conked out yesterday. Alien life forms of this magnitude take time to manifest. Public service announcement: Frozen okra will thaw into a gooey mess but will not explode through freezer bags. I’m not sure why you need that information, but now you have it. Hazmat was called but refused to respond. So, friends stepped in to do what friends must occasionally do. Once in a while, you gotta step up to the plate. First, all windows were opened. They found of couple of fans in our house, then brought a couple more of their own to prop up in those windows. This cancelled the plans of our immediate next-door neighbors to eat lunch out on their deck that day. While they are a good 30 yards away, the stench from our kitchen was uncontainable. Those folks had other options of where they could be, so they packed up and left. Like I said, it’s a real special odor. Neighbors from both sides of the house came with garbage bags, willing to help clean out the fridge. While tossing out our food, one of them tossed his own cookies. Fortunately, he managed to make it outside, hanging his head out over the deck railing before that happened. Ten full garbage bags and $5 later, the offending mess was deposited in the local dump. The same friend who had lost his lunch cleaning out the refrigerator was around when we finally arrived two days later, offering to help me move the refrigerator out of the house. To fortify ourselves, we both took a shot of tequila. (We do a fair amount of fortifying around here.) During the process of rolling it out on a hand truck, one of the fridge doors popped open. His tequila shot left his body as quickly as it had entered. We refortified. Eventually, we were able to wheel the refrigerator into my neighbor’s yard. The same neighbors that had left. Their yard. I used their hose, their water, to wash out meat juice and mold. Can’t wait for them to return. Precious memories aren’t the only things that linger. The fridge made nice yard art, and we considered just leaving it there. Back inside, my wife Beverly wiped down every counter and cabinet with all manner of cleaning solutions, going so far as to take down the curtains and wash them. Floors were mopped. Disinfectant was sprayed on the furniture. Plates, glasses, silverware, every pot and every pan got washed. In tossing out all of the spoils of the refrigerator, the neighbors had left glass and canned items. Without much hesitation, we made the decision to toss everything that smehell had touched and start over. Everything except the beer. It’s good beer, and the cans had not popped opened. I deemed them salvageable and safe. Now, you could argue that beer which has been refrigerated, then brought back to room temperature, then refrigerated again will lose some flavor. You’d need to argue with someone else. My palate won’t notice, and I ain’t listening. You could also argue, as my buddy did, beer cans that have been in such close proximity to the funk of rotting deer carcasses are contaminated and need to be replaced. But again, my ears don’t hear. Those cans have taken a gentle bleach bath and are now chillin’ in a brand new refrigerator. My friend has vowed not to accept my offer of a beer for the next year. Beverly has vowed that lips that touch those cans of beer will not touch hers for about the same period of time. Don’t tell me I don’t know what it means to sacrifice.
  • Boy, I didn’t see this one coming.    Hanging up the phone after talking with our niece, my wife turned to me and said, “She wants to know if you’d officiate her wedding.”    Do what?    “She wants me to marry them?” I asked.    Yup. That’s what she wanted.    Heck, yeah, I’ll do that! Several reasons:    #1) I’ve been a part of this child’s life since she showed her sweet face to this world, so I’d probably do just about anything for her.    #2) She and her fiancé share a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. Anything that went wrong at the wedding would just be a funny memory for them. (That’s the way we should live our entire lives, I think.)    #3) - and this is where it gets selfish - I always harbored this notion that when I retired from radio, I’d become a tent revival preacher.    I’d buy a big tent, hire a couple of corn-fed gals with high hair and the voices of angels, and I’d hit the road with my own traveling salvation show.    Look out! The Right Reverend Tibby is coming to your town!    I’d pitch my big tent right next to the local Wal-Mart, set up the folding chairs, and set out my hand-painted plywood sign that says “Gospel Sing & Healing Tonight. 7 p.m.”    The heavenly voices of my gospel girls would rain down on the ears of believers, getting them in the mood to hear some good words from Reverend Tibby, who would take to the stage and whip the flock into a frenzy with a bunch of ‘amen’s and a whole lot of ‘hallelujah’s. Then we’d top off the night by beseeching the sick and afflicted to come forward for a-healing, hoisting them from the quagmire of holy dilapidation.    In my younger years, I’d watched the Rev. Ernest Angley do such work on TV. Cripples would rise up from their wheelchairs. The blind could see. And the deaf would hear.   
  • I know it works. It said so in Reader’s Digest. (Gimme a break. I was at the home of some older relatives, and it was the only thing available for bathroom reading.) The premise is pretty straight-forward: the body metabolizes food differently during daylight hours. To that end, if you eat all of your meals while there’s light in the sky, your tummy will evaporate and your love handles will fall off. That’s not really the end conclusion, but it’s what I was going for. There is some research that supports this notion. One of the subjects of the RD article was a woman that had gained a lot of weight during pregnancy. Following the birth of her child, she had either a new job or new working hours. Regardless, because of that schedule change, she needed to eat supper by 5 each day. Then, it was off to work, arriving back home around 11 p.m. The big change for her was that the 5 o’clock meal was not just her last meal of the day, it was her last food of the day. Upon returning home in the evening, she showered and went to bed. The way I remember the story, she lost over seventy pounds of baby fat with just that one change. No change in her diet, only in the times she ate. A lightbulb went off over my head, however dimly. Could this program help me lose some baby fat? In my case, baby back ribs fat. February was about to begin. That seemed like a good starting point. New month, new plan. My wife was onboard; she thinks we eat too late, anyway. Initially, the hardest part was that it was, in fact, the beginning of February. It gets dark early! In order to have supper consumed by dark, it needed to be completely ready to eat by 5 o’clock. As the month wore on and the days grew longer, having the meal prepared by 6 or even 6:15 still had us finishing before dark. There were a couple of exceptions, as there are bound to be, but I was faithful to the plan. Thinking back to when I announced the new diet on social media, the very first question that came up was, “Does that go for liquid consumption after dark, as well???” It came from this girl I used to work with who is now a fitness queen and is trying to eat all healthy and probably assumes that I enjoy a toddy or two in the evening. Knowing her, she wanted me to fail. I did. It didn’t work. Oh, I lost two pounds, but I was hoping for twenty. Now for my analysis of what might have gone wrong: liquid consumption after dark, probably. I admit, I am a man of many empty calories. Supper may be over, and I may have finished eating before dark, but that wine bottle is still half-full. Or half-empty, depending on your point of view. From my angle, there is still some work to be done, and that article didn’t say anything about wine. To be fair to me, I do try to limit my wine intake to two glasses. But then there’s the splash or two of a good bourbon over ice that soothes the soul and helps one sleep at night. You don’t want me to not sleep well, do you? I do want to point out one HUGE positive to this particular eating arrangement. If you have decreed that all meals must be taken during daylight hours, you have effectively made late-night snacking against the law. That’s a really big deal for those of us that are prone to getting the munchies because that steak and potato and beans and salad and rolls and wine you had two hours ago suddenly is not enough, and you must go thrust your spoon into that jar of peanut butter… twice, maybe three times, or you will die - quite literally, die - of starvation! (A very small half-pound sliver of cheddar cheese will also do the trick.) This plan sets the rule: when dinner’s over, eating is done for the day. I liked that, and I stuck to it. So, I’m going to hang with it for a while. If nothing else, I quit gaining weight. Best case, I’ll hit my target weight in 8 -10 years. My wife has had more success than I have, but then, she has taken a month-long sabbatical from all alcohol. She suggests I do the same. I have found that staring at her blankly, like she’s a martian (which of your 7 eyes should I be looking at?), is an effective response.  
  • I am friends with the anti-Christ of Valentine’s Day. Every year, he plasters his office door with cute little signs proclaiming, “St. Valentine Was Beheaded” and “Valentine’s Day is a creation of the floral industry.” When he was a single guy, I thought it was a brilliant move. Hey, ladies, you can have this guy, but you’d best know, upfront, he ain’t spending a dime come February 14th. You’ve been warned. There’s a politically correct version of Valentine’s Day now. Some use the date to celebrate S*A*D. Single Awareness Day. That’s right, celebrate your singleness. Who needs a soulmate when you have six feline friends and a house that smells like cat pee? If you don’t live alone, though, Valentine’s Day might come with some guilt. “What? You say you love your wife, yet you won’t spring for a few flowers or a handful of chocolates?” On the other hand, couldn’t you – shouldn’t you - use that day as the one day out of the year you actually brought her some flowers? There’s some conflict there. I don’t feel an obligation, but this year I bought flowers. In fairness, it was only because we were out of ketchup. (We need ketchup, and the grocery store also sells flowers, so while I’m here…) I also bought beer, but the beer/wine aisle is right beside the floral department. That may not be just coincidence. I used to think buying Valentine’s Day flowers from the grocery store instead of the local florist was a complete cop-out, a version of running down to the drug store at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve to do your Christmas shopping because it was the only place left open. And what woman wouldn’t appreciate a bag of red and green candy corn and some toenail clippers? Anymore, though, the grocery store is the local florist. In my neighborhood, it’s the only place left to buy flowers. Some yellow roses caught my eye, and my wife, herself a yellow rose of Texas, prefers them to red roses, so I was in business. In my defense, I could point out that Valentine’s Day is not the only day of the year I buy flowers, and that would be true. But it’s also true that I was buying them on that day because it was in fact Valentine’s Day, and the flowers would be the extent of any sort of recognition of the occasion. What’s happened? What brought us to this? Used to be that Valentine’s Day was a day a guy might ‘get lucky,’ so any effort was worth it. Nowadays, getting lucky is finding a quarter in the parking lot. It’s not that time just wears us down, nor that we don’t love our mates. Those are not problems in our house, anyway. Sure, we both suffer from a lack of creative ideas, but mostly, it’s that we don’t need anything. The whole digital shopping thing hasn’t helped. It’s hard to compete with a computer and a credit card. Anything that pops into my brain as necessary or amusing, I buy it. A couple of months ago, I got the bright idea that we needed a new knife sharpener. Hello, Amazon! You needn’t think I’ve used it. I don’t even know where it is. It’s good that my wife thinks the same way. I’d have never thought to buy her a lovely jar of deep tissue moisturizing cream designed especially for the neck no more than she would have thought to buy me some cacao nibs for making a steak rub. So, there I was, waiting in the checkout line with this odd assortment of items that probably would have attracted some attention, anyway. But being Valentine’s Day, I could just feel other people gawking at my basket and thinking, ‘At least I’m not that guy.’ Or perhaps, ‘At least I’m not married to that guy.’ I have considered that Valentine’s Day occurs too close to Christmas. In our house, we really don’t do much for Christmas anymore, either. Other than eat like starving baby pigs. Maybe I was buying the flowers out of guilt. Guilt that manifests itself as a loud booming voice screaming at me to DO SOMETHING! JUST TRY, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD! So, I formulated a Valentine’s Day poem. Roses are red,So are your lips.Didn’t get you no chocolate,It’d go straight to your hips. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it. Hard to beat roses, ketchup and beer.  
  • Dear panhandlers: I’m done. It’s over. Don’t ask. Yeah, yeah, I know. No big loss for you. I don’t usually give you money, anyway. I want you to know that it’s not that I don’t want to help. If I could know for certain you genuinely needed help, I’d buy you a burger, take you shopping, even make your house payment. But I don’t know for certain, and frankly, I don’t believe your stories. The carboard sign that you ‘dream of a cheeseburger, or that you’re ‘homeless with 3 children,’ just doesn’t resonate as sincere. Adding “GOD BLESS” to the bottom of your sign doesn’t make your plea more plausible, either. I have my reasons for doubting you. I’ve seen you guys and gals take each other’s place and pass off the same cardboard sign. I’ve seen you bum a couple of bucks and walk straight into a package store. Hey, I’m all for you enjoying a cold one, just don’t ask me to pay for it. It’s how you’ve decided to make a living. Got it. Just doesn’t seem like you’ll ever get promoted to something better at that job. I’ve had quite a run with some of you recently. Back in September, passing through Memphis, I encountered a middle-aged, rather small black man as my group walked down the street.  Yes, that he was black and I am white comes into play in this particular episode. As we walked toward the street he was ‘working,’ we could see his game. He would direct cars looking for a parking place to an open spot. That of course is something they could find on their own, but if he could run ahead of them and point it out, might there be a ‘tip’ for his help? That appeared to be his pitch. As we walked past him, he joined us. He was energetic and friendly, asking how we were, how we were enjoying Memphis and where we were from. The jovial banter continued for several minutes until we were clearly getting out of his territory. “Can you give me money for a sandwich?” he asked My standard answer: “Sorry, man, I don’t carry money.” That’s usually the truth. I almost never have dollar bills on me. I’m a plastic man. Credit cards. Whether it was true or not on this day made no difference. I wasn’t giving him money. I had seen him a block away and knew that if he came up to us, there would be a motive other than serving as the city’s official welcoming committee. He responded to being turned down by immediately veering away from our group and saying, “That’s because white is always right and black is always wrong.” I’m used to some sort of comeback when a beggar is turned down, but that one caught me off-guard. All of that friendly chit-chat suddenly became a racial divide when I didn’t give him money. As we continued to walk away, he continued to yell, eventually hollering that if I came back to where he was, he would put me in the hospital. He said that twice. I wondered what he was expecting by threatening me. Seriously. Did he think I’d stop, turn around, apologize for every historical wrong that had happened to the black man and give him a twenty? Did he think I’d suddenly sympathize with him and say, “Hey, dude, I’m not like you think. Please take my money.” Next stop, West Coast. Passing an older, worn out-looking gentleman on a pier in wharf district of San Francisco, I could feel it coming. “Can you people help me get some food?” I probably would have been better off just handing him a couple of bucks, but I gave him my standard line and kept walking. That set him off. “Go on back to your rich-people hotel, ya f****t!” I’m not going to lie to you. Having a homophobic slur hurled at me in the middle of San Francisco has some entertainment value. Even my gay friends have found that story amusing. Finally, Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a city we love visiting. In fact, we have two more visits on the agenda this year. My wife and I had taken my mother to a Christmas show at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Vince Gill and Amy Grant. It was fabulous! As we sat in the hotel lobby the next morning eating breakfast, a young woman approached, wanting to know if she could ask us a question. My radar lit up. More often than not, when someone is trying to put the touch on you, it starts with, ‘can I ask you something?’ or ‘hey, mind if I ask you a question?’ She started her pitch. She and her kids didn’t have enough money to pay their hotel bill. She said she needed $26. That’s pretty specific. People doing what she was doing will usually take anything you offer. My wife, the softest touch on earth responded, “I’d love to help.” She grabbed her pocketbook and offered to accompany the young woman to the front desk to pay her bill. Wait for it…wait for it… “Well, we’re not staying at this hotel,” the woman said. “We’re at a hotel down the street.” That’s when I jumped in and, as politely as I can speak, told her, “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to help you.” She stared at us for a few seconds as though we might change our minds, then moved on. My wife excused herself from the table and went back to the room. She was aggravated, mostly with me. It’s not that she didn’t know the woman was begging, nor that she didn’t understand why I sent the woman away. She just wanted to help. She wants to help them all. I had interfered. Mom got weepy. Now, Mom lives in Atlanta. She’s very familiar with the hustlers. As we talked about the incident, she even allowed how most panhandlers involve their children in their stories. She was 100% on board that the woman was out bumming, but the story made Mom really sad. She was also sad that my wife had been so willing to help only to find out it was an obvious ruse. So, to everyone out on the street with your hands out, I hope you have a nice day. Mostly, I hope you find the motivation to make your life better. But you made my mama cry. We’re done.
  • It’s January down south. Even down here January is cold. Supposed to be, anyway. January is in fact our coldest month, historically. This morning, I can’t even find the cool side of my pillow. In a one week period, we’ve gone from freezing temperatures to planning our gardens. That's planning, not planting. It is warm, but we're not there yet. Even if it doesn't last, welcome to our January summer. While I’ve enjoyed playing golf in shorts for the last 3 days, I want the other January. The cold one. At least, the cold mornings. I want the January where you wake up in the morning, slip into somebody’s hip pocket and go back to sleep. (That’s not dirty, y’all. It’s my own terminology for ‘spooning.’) This time of year, if there’s another person in my bed, let’s get personal. If there’s a dog beside me, come a little closer. If there’s a cat on my feet, I’m surely blessed. It’s January, it’s cold. Let’s be friends. But it’s not cold. And a boy in his undies has just kicked off the covers. Hey… maybe he has a motive. Maybe if he can create a cool enough climate, maybe he can slip into someone’s hip pocket. It is January, after all. Let’s test the waters. Let’s have him throw an arm over that lumpy thing beside him and see if there’s any reaction. There’s a reaction, all right. In a king-sized bed, someone who is already three feet away can make it four with a simple roll-over. Lumpy thing has just indicated she will be driving in her own lane – alone. So, thanks, January. Men of a certain age have enough trouble generating interest in snuggling to begin with. The least you could do is let it be cold enough that her very survival depends on her dancing cheek-to-cheek with me. Not happening. She just got up to turn on the ceiling fan. Good. I’m hot, too.
  • Fidel Castro is dead. One down, one to go.  That is, one Castro down, one more to go.  That is the clear message I got from visiting Cuba four years ago.  I consider myself a lucky man. I went to Cuba before the United States offered an olive branch to that little island. So, I got to see ‘old’ Cuba. The Cuba in ruins. The Cuba in need.  But it was a Cuba with hope. Hope that one day America would show them some love, and hope that one day, they could participate in their governance. That would mean life without the Castros.  For clarity on my visit, it was part of a larger tour that was visiting for the purpose of seeing agriculture in that county.  It was weird from the get-go. First of all, flying to Cuba from Miami, we didn’t do normal customs. Best I recall, we went to a terminal where things were handled differently. Bags weren’t inspected, and aside from previously filled-out paperwork, questions weren’t asked.  What I didn’t know is that Cubans with relatives in the States can fly back and forth pretty easily, if they can afford to. And leaving the U.S., Cubans could take things, like TVs or toasters, back to Cuba on those flights.  In fact, knowing Cuba was the land of rum – and I am not a rum man – I packed two ‘handles’ of bourbon in my bag. That’s two 1.5 liter bottles.  Arriving in Cuba, there are occasional random inspections. Had I been picked out, it would be interesting to see if they cared that I carried basically a gallon of bourbon.  In the Havana airport, I immediately encountered what would become a bit of a Cuban signature: begging. At the entrance to the restroom in the airport were two lovely, young ladies, clearly waiting for a ‘tip.’  Not knowing how to handle the situation, I gave one of them a dollar. The other smiled, and said, “Nothing for me?”  I obliged.  And on that note, I want to introduce you to the people of Cuba that I encountered.  There is so much to say about how, 50 years ago, Cuba’s leadership ‘sided’ with Russia and adopted communism, and how Russia later left them hanging when Russia itself was undergoing massive changes.  But that’s a whole lot of history lessons I didn’t learn.  So, this is about the Cuban people I saw and met, filtered, of course, through my own lenses.  Cubans so badly want to be friends with you. You, Americans. They want a relationship with us. They want the life we have. They want to be happy. They’ve smuggled their families to our shores for the last 50 years to get away from the nothingness they’ve had under the Castros.  Most of them only know communism as a failed ideology. They hate it.  They want the dream.  Under communism, they are paid wages set by ‘the state,’ and they know there’s something better. They know that in America, there’s the possibility of being paid for what you know and how you perform.  They know that in America, food is not rationed. It is in Cuba. I didn’t know that.  Begging is rampant in Cuba. But I quickly learned that begging pays better. If an average Cuban can get one dollar from a visitor, that’s a better day’s wages than they would be paid by the state.  So why would you not beg?  Our guide was an attorney that hadn’t practiced law in six years, because tips from being a tour guide paid better. Doctors act as taxi drivers on their days off because of the money they could make on tips.  Why would you not beg?  Some Cubans try to be creative in their panhandling. They dress up in old plantation-style costumes and hope you’ll want a picture with them. A tip is expected.  In need of a restroom on day, I approached a group of young men and asked where I might find one. They eagerly showed me the way, then asked for money for helping me. One even when down on his knees, begging.  I recall a gentleman following our group for a few moments, singing songs and playing a guitar. He cursed us when we didn’t tip him. It’s not that we didn’t like him or his singing, but when there are so many palms out, you learn that you can’t grease them all.  Beggars were like flies around tour buses. Some looked very pitiful and were hard to ignore, but once you saw them there every day, you understood the routine.  Havana was romantic. You’re in Havana, Cuba, for heaven’s sake! The land of mobsters and Frank Sinatra. Redundant, I know.  Much of the city was in tatters. Scaffolding everywhere and not a lot of work was being done.  “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.” It’s an old, familiar joke Cubans like to tell. Except it’s not really a joke. They get paid the same wage for working on a job or standing around doing nothing. Best I could tell, they generally chose to do the latter.  What struck me was how easily they spoke of communism, of their government, of their distaste for the Castros, Fidel and Raul. But mostly, of how they looked forward to a Cuba without them.  The Cuba I saw was the old Cuba. The one that got stuck in time when Fidel Castro thumbed his nose at the U.S. He had climbed into bed the Russians, and it turns out they didn’t pay for sex.  The Cuba I saw was pretty much the same as it was 50 years ago. In our ‘nice’ hotel, bare wires dangled from sockets, and the bed linens were straight out of your great-grandmothers closet.  You see pictures of the old ‘50s and ‘60s cars in Cuba. That because there’s not much else. And they keep those cars in such pristine condition because you will pay cash to have them shuttle you around in them.  There’s a whole lot of bondo and rubber bands holding those things together. They have precious little access to parts.  Arriving back in the States, we actually did go through security.  “Do you have any tobacco?”  “No,” I answered.  “Any alcohol?”  “No.”  Of course, I had both. Almost everyone had Cuban cigars and rum.  Turns out, this particular ‘American’ border agent was a native Cuban. Rather than concern himself about cigars and rum, he used our time together to lecture me on how relations between our countries “must” normalize. “Cubans,” he said, “want to be included.”  I knew what he meant.  When President Obama opened the freezer door and started thawing out relations with Cuba, I watched with interest the reactions here at home. Many old-timers, including Cuban ex-patriots and others with direct ties to Cuba wanted us to have nothing to do with Cuba until the Castros are gone.  They are other voices, of course, that want normalized relations. I am among them.  I am among them, because I met a lot of Cuban people that had nothing to do with the politics of their country. They are our neighbors. They want to be our friends. I hope that happens one day.  Maybe with Fidel Castro’s passing, we got a little closer to that.
  • Over breakfast, my wife accused me of being unable to eat scrambled eggs without cheese. Rather than starting a nasty spat, I played the bigger man and conceded this one. For starters, cheese is the perfect food. That aside, however, I don’t do simply scrambled eggs and cheese, I do ‘cheggs.’ Cheese with some egg in it. On the morning in question, however, there were more than just eggs with cheese. I was also serving grits with cheese and toast with cream cheese. Cheese on everything? Hardly. The bacon was naked. There’s an art to cooking with cheese. If you simply throw cheddar on every dish, you are going to be considered an unsophisticated rube. Ignore the haters. While this is elementary ‘cooking with cheese,’ you’re on the right track and should be proud of yourself. You can never go wrong with cheddar on about anything. In fact, my rule of thumb is, if that dish is going into the oven, it can handle some cheddar. Including, but not limited to, apple pie! I want you to get to know your cheeses and experiment some, so let’s cover the basic categories: -String Cheese. What you serve your kids to make them shut up. And to start them on their way to coronary disease later in life. -Easy Cheesy. These are easy-eating, everyday cheeses: mozzarella, Monterey Jack, etc. (Fresh moz should have its own category: cheese with no flavor, but there’s not enough time here to cover everything.)  Easy cheesy is cheese that don’t stink. -Stanky Cheese. Cheese that do stink. This includes your blue – or bleu – cheese, gorgonzola, and others, like limburger, which you may never be exposed to. Stanky cheese is my favorite category. Hard Cheese: Parmesan Melty Cheese. Think fondue cheeses, like Gruyere, queso, Velveeta and chocolate. Some will say because Velveeta is ‘cheese food,’ it’s not real cheese. Cheese isfood, so hush up, and let’s move on. I do recognize that chocolate is not technically cheese, but given that milk is the number one ingredient in both cheese and chocolate, and both make outstanding fondue, I thought it deserved inclusion. Notice how cheddar is not in any category. That’s because, depending on the age of it, cheddar can fit into almost all categories. And that’s why everything’s bettah with cheddah. Unless you use mild cheddar, in which case you’re just being a sissy. Now, go cut some cheese.
  • Allen  Tibbetts

    I’m a Georgia boy, born and bred.

    Born in Rome, my family didn’t live there long enough to ever know it as home. I spent my grade school years in Aragon, Georgia, before we moved to Tifton in South Georgia, the city I call my home town. A lot of my family still lives there.

    I started working radio as a junior in high school in Tifton at a little AM station, WTIF 1340. It was a weekend job in the beginning, but I somehow managed to parlay that gig into a 41-year career in radio, mostly as a morning show host - or co-host, as I almost always had a partner clowning around with me on the air.

    After almost 20 years of working radio in Tifton, I started dating the woman that is now my wife. We had gone to school together in Tifton, but she was living in Athens as we reconnected.

    Ah, Athens… home of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs. Shouldn’t I live there, too?

    I sent an application to the only station I knew in Athens, 960 WRFC, and was hired as the morning show host in 1990. As the radio market evolved and stations in Athens merged, I was moved to the morning show at Magic 102.1/WGMG, an adult contemporary station.

    Best I can figure, I spent about 18 very happy years on that station before I turned off the mic.

    My wife, Beverly, was an entomologist who finished her professional career serving in administration at the university. When she decided to retire, I figured it was time to quit leaving her in bed alone at 4 a.m. every morning, and I retired, too.

    We still live in Athens, at least part-time, with no kids, no cats, no dogs, and no obligations other than to family and friends. We tend to wander around a lot.

    What are Tales from Tibby?? 

    During my 41-year career doing morning show radio, what I found most rewarding was taking the slices of life I observed and making them into fun, funny or satirical stories that, hopefully, the audience would enjoy. That usually involved altering, embellishing or flat-out lying about an actual incident, but I got pretty good at it. When the time came to back away from the microphone, I realized that I still tend to see life as a morning show host. My brain still processes everything as a possible story to tell on the air. So this blog is a written extension of my radio show, a series of true or semi-true stories could just as easily be called, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ALLEN. Born and raised and still living in Georgia, my stories often have a Southern slant. I offer no apologies for that. I know how to properly prepare grits and cannot imagine life without them. I can also fry up a rabbit. While I cannot avoid a little commentary now and then, the aim is to entertain, and I hope you enjoy reading these Tales From Tibby.

    Read More

Local News

  • The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help from the public in identifying the man seen in store surveillance video. Investigators say he might be linked to a retail theft case.  From the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page... If you can identify this individual, please contact Investigator Smith directly at ssmith@oconeesheriff.org or 706-769-3945.
  • Billy Payne ruled more with an open mind than an iron fist. As the sixth chairman of Augusta National Golf Club — and the first with no direct link to co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts — he held fast to the heritage and traditions of the club, while looking beyond Magnolia Lane at how the Masters could wield influence around the world for more than one week of the year. Women joined Augusta National for the first time. Juniors were allowed to attend the Masters for free with an adult. Amateurs from the Asia Pacific region and throughout Latin America could dream about competing for a green jacket. Payne announced Wednesday that he is retiring after 11 years of change that made the Augusta National logo more powerful than ever. 'There are two people that matter here — Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones,' Payne said. 'The rest of us are custodians. We do our best to first embrace, and thereafter hopefully to advance their philosophies for this club and for the game of golf — their obsession for detail, their passion to be the best. And I've done that now for a considerable number of years.' He officially retires on Oct. 16 when the club, which is closed during the summer, opens for a new season. Payne will be succeeded by Fred Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president who is chairman of the Masters competition committee. Ridley will be the seventh chairman, and the first to have played in the Masters. Payne stays on as chairman emeritus. Augusta National speaks with one voice, and in that respect, Payne was no different from the other chairmen. With his Southern, homespun style, the 69-year-old Georgia native was more about collaboration than calling all the shots. Payne ends a remarkable career marked by two sporting events in which he had little previous experience. He had never been to the Olympics when Payne, a little-known real estate lawyer, led a long-shot bid to bring the Summer Games to Atlanta in 1996. He relied heavily on corporate support, and he showed early signs of his commitment to diversity and inclusion. He chose two women among the first five volunteers he selected for the Atlanta organizing committee. Payne did not take up golf until his adult years. He was invited to join Augusta National in 1997, a year after he concluded his work with the Atlanta Games. Nine years later, Hootie Johnson selected him as his successor as chairman. 'I committed my entire life to both at those respective times,' he said of his work on the Olympics and at Augusta National. Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore became the first women to join Augusta National in 2012, no doubt an influence when the Royal & Ancient at St. Andrews, and later Muirfield and Royal Troon, added women to its membership rolls. That was but a small part of Payne's influence over the club and the Masters. Wanting to expand the reach of golf, he worked with the R&A to start the Asia-Pacific Amateur, awarding the winner a spot in the Masters with hopes it would create heroes in an emerging market. The second winner was Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who now is No. 2 in the world. The USGA and R&A then joined with Augusta National's next venture, the Latin America Amateur. Payne also brought in the USGA and PGA of America to start the Drive, Chip and Putt competition, which attracts children all over the country to compete in golf skills, with the finals held at Augusta National on the Sunday before the Masters. 'Forget about the fringe things,' former USGA executive director David Fay said. 'He took the opportunity to make sure that Augusta National was not just one of the four majors, but that it had a role at the table in decision-making for the game of golf.' Payne also invested heavily at the club by scooping up land around the perimeter to enhance the tournament. That includes free parking for the spectators, and the opening of Berckmans Place, a state-of-the-art hospitality area just beyond the fifth fairway. Payne loves to tell the story of how his father would always ask him, 'Did you do your best?' Payne says he never felt he could answer affirmatively, which drove him to a relentless work ethic in bringing the Olympics to Atlanta and in his role as Augusta National chairman. 'Yes, there's a striving for perfection,' Payne said. 'Striving for perfection is truly an obsession here, in the context of the Masters. We want to be able to provide for our patrons, our fans around the world, the absolute best sporting experience they have ever encountered. And we go to extremes to try to do that. 'We never get it quite right,' he said. 'But man, we try hard.' Ridley first met Roberts when he played the Masters in 1976 as the U.S. Amateur champion. Like Payne, his background is in real estate law. Payne recalls that when he began his tenure as chairman, his predecessor told him the most important job he faced was finding his own successor. Payne says health was not the reason behind his retirement. He had triple-bypass surgery when he was 34, and another triple bypass in 1993 while working on the Atlanta Games. He was more concerned about his back, which has kept him from playing golf as much as he would like. 'This honor ... is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time,' Payne said. 'I retire knowing it is simply the right thing to do — and at the right moment — to open the door and invite someone new to be called upon to lead.
  • A Walton County School bus driver faces a DUI charge: Catherine Etheridge was allegedly drunk behind the wheel of a bus that was loaded with school children. She’s facing 16 counts of child endangerment. Walton County School officials have not said where the bus was headed at the time of Etheridge’s arrest, which happened earlier this week.  They do say Etheridge has been fired from her job as a Walton County school bus driver.  “The Walton County School District does not tolerate any behavior that jeopardizes the safety of our students,” district spokeswoman Callen Moore said in a statement. “We appreciate the swift action of our Transportation Department and local law enforcement officers to ensure the safety of our students.” 
  • The National Institutes of Health has awarded $2.6 million to University of Georgia researchers to develop new drugs to treat human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as African sleeping sickness. African Trypanosomiasis, commonly known as HAT, is caused by a single-celled parasite called Trypanosoma brucei, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of a blood-sucking insect called a tsetse fly. Following a bite, the parasite multiplies in subcutaneous tissues and eventually crosses the blood-brain barrier to infect the central nervous system, causing changes in behavior, confusion, poor coordination and sleep disturbances. Without adequate treatment, the infection is almost invariably fatal. Rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa that depend on agriculture, fishing, hunting and animal husbandry are most likely to be exposed to the tsetse fly bites, according to the World Health Organization, which has led sustained control efforts to reduce the number of new cases. 'There are immense challenges in understanding trypanosome biology because a significant number of their genes are not found in humans or yeasts, which are more intensely studied,' said Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, professor in the department of cellular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences whose team was awarded the NIH grant. 'Using chemical biology tools to identify disease-relevant genes in the parasite, we discovered a small-molecule that prevents duplication of the nucleus in a trypanosome, and arrests proliferation of the parasite.' 'Our goal is to translate this basic science finding into the design of drugs to treat HAT,' he said. Using an animal model for the disease, the UGA-led team administered a drug that cured HAT in mice. 'HAT is a disease of poverty, so there is little incentive, understandably, for large pharmaceutical industries to be heavily invested. Two compounds are currently in clinical trial, but the pipeline for new anti-trypanosome drugs needs to be bolstered,' said Mensa-Wilmot, who leads a UGA Chemical Biology Group and is a member of the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. Collaborators in the UGA-led consortium are Andrei Purmal of Cleveland BioLabs Inc. and Michael Pollastri, department of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern University.
  • After a year of intensive planning and design work, the University of Georgia will begin construction next month within the Lake Herrick watershed to enhance water quality and reopen the lake to the public for recreation in fall 2018.'This is an exciting moment for our university community and the broader Athens area,' said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. 'This project will not only improve and protect one of the most beautiful natural areas on this campus but also create new opportunities for recreation, research and experiential learning.' Initial construction will involve two phases with a completion target of summer 2018. The first phase will focus on improving water quality within the watershed by revitalizing the upper pond, which acts as a stilling basin to prevent sediments and pollutants from passing downstream to Lake Herrick and the North Oconee River. This phase will include removing more than 50 years of accumulated sediment, replacing invasive plant materials with native flora and installing multiple stormwater control measures, among other improvements.The second phase will expand recreational opportunities at Lake Herrick by improving conditions around the pavilion area. A lakeside lawn for passive recreation and events will be developed, and a stepped dock will be constructed for launching canoes and kayaks in the lake. A lakeside walking and running trail also will be installed in the second phase.This project, announced by Morehead during his 2016 State of the University Address, has developed through broad collaboration across UGA. An interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff and students helped to define the project timeline, identify related research and experiential learning opportunities and secure private funding.'Renewed use of Lake Herrick will provide unique outdoor learning and recreation opportunities to students and community members,' according to Kevin Kirsche, UGA's director of sustainability, 'hopefully inspiring healthy activity, an enhanced sense of place and a growing appreciation for the natural treasures right here on our own campus.'Private support is playing a critical role in advancing the watershed cleanup and lakefront renovation. The Georgia Power Company—one of UGA's key corporate partners—has donated $300,000 to support the project, and the Riverview Foundation also has contributed funds. The Office of the President-as the lead campus partner on the project—has allocated $250,000 in private resources toward the effort.'Georgia Power has a longstanding history of working with UGA, and we are proud to partner with them on the restoration of Lake Herrick's watershed,' said Chris Cummiskey, Georgia Power's executive vice president of external affairs. 'Our commitment to this project, and others like it, reinforces our philosophy to be ‘A Citizen Wherever We Serve' and provide a sustainable environment to be enjoyed by the community today and into the future.'The Lake Herrick restoration project is one of several strategic initiatives launched in recent years to advance campus sustainability. In 2015, UGA replaced an aging coal-fired boiler with a more cost-effective and energy-efficient electrode boiler. In 2016, UGA partnered with Georgia Power to install a solar tracking and demonstration project to offset a portion of campus energy use through on-site renewable sources and to create solar energy research and learning opportunities for faculty and students. In addition, UGA is in the process of converting one-third of its buses to electric vehicles, reducing fuel use, operating costs and tailpipe emissions in the nation's largest campus transit system.

Bulldog News

  • Billy Payne ruled more with an open mind than an iron fist. As the sixth chairman of Augusta National Golf Club — and the first with no direct link to co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts — he held fast to the heritage and traditions of the club, while looking beyond Magnolia Lane at how the Masters could wield influence around the world for more than one week of the year. Women joined Augusta National for the first time. Juniors were allowed to attend the Masters for free with an adult. Amateurs from the Asia Pacific region and throughout Latin America could dream about competing for a green jacket. Payne announced Wednesday that he is retiring after 11 years of change that made the Augusta National logo more powerful than ever. 'There are two people that matter here — Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones,' Payne said. 'The rest of us are custodians. We do our best to first embrace, and thereafter hopefully to advance their philosophies for this club and for the game of golf — their obsession for detail, their passion to be the best. And I've done that now for a considerable number of years.' He officially retires on Oct. 16 when the club, which is closed during the summer, opens for a new season. Payne will be succeeded by Fred Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president who is chairman of the Masters competition committee. Ridley will be the seventh chairman, and the first to have played in the Masters. Payne stays on as chairman emeritus. Augusta National speaks with one voice, and in that respect, Payne was no different from the other chairmen. With his Southern, homespun style, the 69-year-old Georgia native was more about collaboration than calling all the shots. Payne ends a remarkable career marked by two sporting events in which he had little previous experience. He had never been to the Olympics when Payne, a little-known real estate lawyer, led a long-shot bid to bring the Summer Games to Atlanta in 1996. He relied heavily on corporate support, and he showed early signs of his commitment to diversity and inclusion. He chose two women among the first five volunteers he selected for the Atlanta organizing committee. Payne did not take up golf until his adult years. He was invited to join Augusta National in 1997, a year after he concluded his work with the Atlanta Games. Nine years later, Hootie Johnson selected him as his successor as chairman. 'I committed my entire life to both at those respective times,' he said of his work on the Olympics and at Augusta National. Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore became the first women to join Augusta National in 2012, no doubt an influence when the Royal & Ancient at St. Andrews, and later Muirfield and Royal Troon, added women to its membership rolls. That was but a small part of Payne's influence over the club and the Masters. Wanting to expand the reach of golf, he worked with the R&A to start the Asia-Pacific Amateur, awarding the winner a spot in the Masters with hopes it would create heroes in an emerging market. The second winner was Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who now is No. 2 in the world. The USGA and R&A then joined with Augusta National's next venture, the Latin America Amateur. Payne also brought in the USGA and PGA of America to start the Drive, Chip and Putt competition, which attracts children all over the country to compete in golf skills, with the finals held at Augusta National on the Sunday before the Masters. 'Forget about the fringe things,' former USGA executive director David Fay said. 'He took the opportunity to make sure that Augusta National was not just one of the four majors, but that it had a role at the table in decision-making for the game of golf.' Payne also invested heavily at the club by scooping up land around the perimeter to enhance the tournament. That includes free parking for the spectators, and the opening of Berckmans Place, a state-of-the-art hospitality area just beyond the fifth fairway. Payne loves to tell the story of how his father would always ask him, 'Did you do your best?' Payne says he never felt he could answer affirmatively, which drove him to a relentless work ethic in bringing the Olympics to Atlanta and in his role as Augusta National chairman. 'Yes, there's a striving for perfection,' Payne said. 'Striving for perfection is truly an obsession here, in the context of the Masters. We want to be able to provide for our patrons, our fans around the world, the absolute best sporting experience they have ever encountered. And we go to extremes to try to do that. 'We never get it quite right,' he said. 'But man, we try hard.' Ridley first met Roberts when he played the Masters in 1976 as the U.S. Amateur champion. Like Payne, his background is in real estate law. Payne recalls that when he began his tenure as chairman, his predecessor told him the most important job he faced was finding his own successor. Payne says health was not the reason behind his retirement. He had triple-bypass surgery when he was 34, and another triple bypass in 1993 while working on the Atlanta Games. He was more concerned about his back, which has kept him from playing golf as much as he would like. 'This honor ... is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time,' Payne said. 'I retire knowing it is simply the right thing to do — and at the right moment — to open the door and invite someone new to be called upon to lead.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs are the 15th ranked team in the preseason AP college football poll: Alabama is number one, followed by Ohio State, Florida State, Southern Cal, and Clemson. The Dogs open the season in 11 days at home against Appalachian State.  Kickoff on September 2 is set for 6:30. Alabama (52) Ohio State (3) Florida State (4) USC (2) Clemson  Penn State  Oklahoma Washington  Wisconsin  Oklahoma State  Michigan  Auburn  LSU  Stanford  Georgia  Louisville  Florida  Miami  South Florida Kansas State  Virginia Tech  West Virginia  Texas  Washington State Tennessee  Others receiving votes: TCU (98), Utah (85), Notre Dame (65), Boise State (37), NC State (26), Northwestern (25), Pittsburgh (23), Oregon (21), Houston (19), Colorado (18), UCLA (9), San Diego State (9), BYU (5), Appalachian State (4), Nebraska (4), Tulsa (4), Kentucky (3), Texas A&M (3), Michigan State (1).
  • ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia soccer defeated High Point, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon for the Bulldogs’ first win of the 2017 season.   In the 71st minute, Maddie Burdick passed to Caroline Chipman, who played the ball into the box, allowing Katie MacGinnitie to kick it into the back of the net, putting the Bulldogs up 1-0.   “We’re happy to come away with the win,” Georgia head coach Billy Lesesne said. “I think our effort was there, just as it was Friday night against Wake Forest, but today we ended up grinding it out and getting a hard-worked goal. It was not a thing of beauty but the players kept it alive until Katie was able to put it away. It was a really nice finish and a determined effort at the end of the field.”   Georgia (1-1) controlled the ball offensively throughout the first half of the game, taking nine shots to High Point’s (1-1) one, but the score remained 0-0 after the first 45 minutes of play.    The Bulldogs came out determined in the second half, continuing to control possession.    High Point’s best chance for the equalizer came seven minutes after Georgia took the 1-0 lead with a penalty kick that hit the left goal post and went wide.   Georgia hits the road for the first time this season when the team travels to take on Charlotte on Friday, August 25 at 7 p.m. before continuing onto Blacksburg, Virginia to play the Virginia Tech Hokies on Sunday, August 27 at 2 p.m.   Fans now have the opportunity to enjoy Georgia soccer games with a UGA soccer seatback. The seatbacks are thick and comfortable, and can be purchased at the Fan Info table located in the plaza of the Turner Soccer Complex for $5 per game. You can also save $15 by purchasing a soccer seatback for all nine home matches of the season for a total of $30.
  • ATHENS, Ga.--- Three members of the Georgia soccer team have been named to the Southeastern Conference Soccer Preseason Watch List announced Wednesday by the conference office. Since 2011, the SEC has named a watch list in lieu of selecting preseason all-conference teams.     Seniors Louise Hogrell and Mariel Gutierrez, as well as freshman Katie Higgins joined players from each of the other 13 member institutions on the list. Hogrell receives the honor for the third consecutive season, while this marks the second consecutive season Gutierrez was named to the list.    Hogrell returns in goal for Georgia after playing all but 15 minutes during the 2016 season. She led the SEC in saves (94) and ranked second in saves per game (5.22). The Asa, Sweden native ranks near the top in several UGA career records following her junior season, including fifth in career shutouts (14), fifth in saves (262), and fifth in wins (21).    Gutierrez is back for her senior season as Georgia’s leading returner in assists with four in 2016. The Mexico City, Mexico native started all 18 games at midfield for the Bulldogs last season and scored four goals.     Higgins kicks off her collegiate career after leading PDA O’Reilly to an ECNL U-18 Northeast Conference championship and a quarterfinals finish in the national playoffs. The Andreas, Pennsylvania native was an early enrollee who contributed in the spring in preparation for the 2017 season. She started in the exhibition game against Auburn and took one shot.   Georgia will officially kick off the 2017 season at the Turner Soccer Complex against Wake Forest on Friday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs cap off opening weekend in Athens against High Point on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. Admission is free.