Category Archives: Personal

On Holiday

We’re off on holiday as the Brits like to say.

Loading up the truck and headed to LA (lower Alabama) for some sun and sand (and maybe some oysters).

What is it though about getting out the door and on the road? There’s so much yelling in our house this morning you’d think we’re going to church. “I don’t want to take a shower!” and “Dad, she’s not taking a shower!” is the hot topic right now.

I’m busy loading up. Not the suitcases and bags but the iPod and other electronics. It’s going to be a long drive and I need my own music and earbuds. That way Cameron can turn up Lady Gagag as loud as she wants. I’ve also loaded up 8 episodes of “This American Life” from NPR. The last time the kids and I took a long drive I introduced them to Ira Glass and they loved it. So last night I cherry-picked from my podcast downloads with children-friendly stories.

I did the man stuff too. Checked the oil, filled the tank, cleaned out the hiding places under the seat for extra legroom.

We’re staying in a condo instead of a hotel so we’re discovering things we need to take with us. Extra towels, tp, coffee filters etc.

The beach forecast couldn’t be any better: upper 80s during the day, 60s at night. I’m going to be blogging and posting some video as part of the Travelling’ Mama’s vacation prize package. They didn’t ask me too, but I want to send some traffic their way. Full disclosure, they’re picking up the tab for the whole condo stay.

Off we go


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Back To The Beach

“If we decide to go somewhere on your fall break, where would you choose?”

My kids stopped what they were doing. A Corn Pop dangling from his upper-lip, Trey was speechless for a full 9 seconds. “I’ll give you a choice” I said, “Gatlinburg or the beach”.

Now that’s quite a decision for my kids. The beach is a place we skipped out on this past summer because we (or I) didn’t want to spend a lot of money only to be close to a black oily mess.  My children associate Gatlinburg with shopping, mini-golf, go-carts and eating candy as we watch it being made.

So this was no easy decision.

First, some perspective: my children have never been to the beaches on the Florida panhandle.

I know, I know…but before you pick up the phone to call child protective services, let me explain. When we go to “the beach” we go to Southwest Florida. Every year or so we hop on a plane and fly to Fort Myers, then rent a car to drive to south to Marco Island. My wife grew up there, has family there, and in the summer months it’s off-season there.

My kids do love it but Marco Island has spoiled their idea of what a beach is like. The sand in Marco is hard and with lots of shell-fragments. Nothing like the mounds of snow-white sand I grew up visiting in Alabama and Northwest Florida.

Last year after leaving Marco Island, we had a serious discussion about shaking things up and going to Gulf Shores or Destin. I told them stories about vacations when I was their age and how different the sand and beaches are there. We talked about how much fun it might be to drive instead of fly, take the dog, talk their grandparents into going with us.

I sold them. June 2010 would be our first family vacation on the white beaches that I grew up visiting.

Then the oil.

We kept holding off on going anywhere. We waited to see what would happen, how far the oil would spread. And before we knew it, vacation was over and school started. We could have gone of course, I know that now.

“Gatlinburg or the beach?”

They both said Gatlinburg.

But remember, their idea of ‘the beach’ is limited to about a 200 yard span of sand in south Florida. Mom placed her vote for the ‘beach’ (she always chooses the beach by the way) so the final vote was mine.

I went to Destin, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, or Fort Walton every year as a kid. Some summers we’d go 2 or 3 times. Once I remember sitting around with a couple of buddies and someone said “Let’s go to the beach” and we went.

I thought every beach was as white and sandy as those beaches. My children think every beach is like the ones they’ve seen in Marco Island. This morning as I write this, my 12 year old looked at the picture and asked “Is that sand real?”

Yes it is and for the first time my kids are going to feel it between their toes.


Oh, I wrote this because we’re pretty excited about going to the beach in a few weeks, but I also write this as part of a contest and I need to include the following sentence.

“This post is part of the Tripapalooza Contest.”

Which, by the way, I found this morning while looking for vacation deals. If you love the beaches of Alabama and NW Florida, you’ll enjoy their website.


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Snowed In: Day 1

We’re stuck. The roads are covered in snow and ice and rather than shovel off the driveway and slide our way UPHILL and then DOWNHILL to go anywhere, we’re staying put.

But there’s this great hill on our street that is the perfect spot for sledding. There’s no grass to catch the blades, just a couple of driveways to dodge. Our friend across the street broke her arm last night hitting one of those driveway culverts.

Today there must have been 80 people going down that hill. I was about to setup a camera and laptop for a live UStream broadcast but didn’t feel like hauling it down there and finding a dry spot to put it on.

This video was shot with my Kodak Zi8 camera in 72p 60 fps.  To watch in HD, you’ll have to click twice and watch at YouTube.

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These Are Better Days

For the first time in at least 5 years, we made it through another year without major drama (job loss, move, illness, etc).

Here is, in 3 parts, the year in review for The Tuckers.

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Facebook Hackers Adds Comments to Posts

We’ve all gotten those Facebook messages we think are from friends. “Is this you?” or “You weere caught on our secret cmera!”
By now most of us know these are from hackers, gaining access to our Facebook accounts and then our passwords and finally our computer.

Many Facebook users have figured this out and delete those messages rather than click on them.

But now, those hackers are trying to add some credibility to their creepy messages.

I got one the other day from a high school friend that read “You weere caughht on our secreet cameraa!” and included a shortened link to a site.

But below that message were comments from some of my other friends. Drew wrote “Have a HAPPY Thannksgiving see you soon” and a day later Donald posted the comment “Thanks , and may you have a great Thnksgiving day!”

I’ll admit the comments below the post made me look twice and even think briefly that it might really be a link that other friends found useful.

But it isn’t. Hackers are able to get your Facebook information because just one of your friends clicked on a similar link. So now, they’ve figured that adding fictional comments to their fictional posts might encourage you to click on the link. Don’t fall for it. Generic messages of “is this you on a hiiden camera” are from hackers. Always from hackers.

No matter who you think may have commented on it.

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Life Comes at You Fast

Whenever I watch my kids participate in a play or musicial or anything else really, I feel like I’m in one of those insurance commercials. You know, the “life comes at you fast” ads.

I picked up a new video camera a few months back. It’s a Kodak Zi8 which shoots high definition and fits in your shirt pocket. The advantage of having a video capable of capturing such high quality within reach at all times far outweighs the disadvantages that a pocket-sized camcorder brings with it.

Plus, this one has an audio-input so I can connect a wireless or wired microphone for interviews.

One of the neat features of this and some of other flip-style cameras is that you can hook it up to your computer and in a few minutes( seriously, 13 for this one) you can upload it to YouTube.

Sunday night, Delaney was part of the “He Has Been Good” musical at our church, FBC Hendersonville, TN. It’s an annual production just before Thanksgiving where the children’s choir sings and we collect new toys to give to kids whose parent’s aren’t able to give this year.

I’ve uploaded the performance of the song her group danced to.

Once the video starts playing, you can click the HD button on the lower right (the red one) to watch in High Definition.

Happy Thanksgiving!




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My Favorite Interview

When I heard Garth Brooks announced he is out of retirement and preparing for an extended string of shows in Las Vegas it made me flash back to 1990 and my favorite interview of all time.

Ask most reporters in Nashville who their favorite person to interview is and they usually say Garth Brooks (I’ve asked several). He is genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, or one of the most genuine nice guys I’ve ever met. Not only nice, but engaging.

I haven’t shaken his hand since interviewing him in 1991, but I’m told that he is the type who never forgets a face and would likely say “Hi Jamey, didn’t we meet years ago?”

I was vj’ing Fan Fair working for WJSU-TV40 in the spring of 1991.  I talked my news director into letting me go with the promise that I could send back stories each day to run in the newscasts, plus I would write and edit a 30 minute special on country music that the station could sell and place advertising.

Garth Brooks was a tough interview to get. Everybody wanted him after his “No Fences” album hit #3 on the pop chart (unheard of back then Taylor Swift).  In addition to shooting, writing and editing a story every day and then feeding it to Anniston from WTVF, I started positioning myself to be somewhere around Garth’s publicist.

“Be at his booth tomorrow morning at 5” she said. “He’s doing ‘Good Morning America’, maybe I can let you ask him a few questions.

I stumbled in, lugging my tripod, gigantic camera and portapack (an enormous contraption that held the ceiling tile sized videotape and connected to the camera using something we called an umbilical cord). Garth was sitting in his autograph signing booth, wide-eyed in a cowboy hat like he’d just slept the best 8 hours of his life.

The “Good Morning America” producer immediately started shouting at me to get out and not come back. The network morning shows, if you are not aware, are very protective of their guests. “We have an exclusive with Garth” she said, and “You cannot interview him today.” I tried to explain that the interview I wanted would not air for a few weeks and even then, would air only in the 172nd market in the country, but she didn’t care. Garth looked at me like “sorry dude, wish I could”.

I didn’t leave but hung around hoping for an opportunity.  Willard Scott was interviewing Vince Gill and Patti Loveless who would also sing their hit “When I Call Your Name” in the booth next to Garth’s so I figured at least it’ll be a good show.

Garth’s interview with Charlie Gibson by satellite was about to start. The lights came up, a photographer framed the shot, Garth started to answer Charlie’s first question and….everybody stopped. New York lost the satellite connection. I could see Charlie on a little tv monitor apologize for the technical problem and everybody, including the rude little producer woman, started scrambling.

In a few minutes it was discovered the problem was in a cable running out of the camera. It couldn’t be fixed in time. GMA’s big get, was gone. My camera became important.

The nasty producer demanded I let the photographer use my camera so ABC could try the interview again in the next hour.  “NO”, I’m not doing that. Since I can’t interview him, I’m leaving” I told her. The photographer was nicer, explaining if I let him use my camera it would bail him out of dealing with that horrible woman. “Only if I can interview Garth and you shoot it”. She relented and during the hour-long wait, I not only got my interview with Garth, I had a photographer shoot it for me.

It was the best interview I’ve ever had. Garth was completely engaging, answering each question with interest. I had heard him tell a story about one of his first concerts that coincidentally came in Anniston and asked if he would explain “The Anniston Nine”. His story is still the longest on camera interview answer with no video I’ve ever put on tv.

Afterwords, Garth introduced me to his mom and dad who watching their suddenly famous son. Later that day after he performed in a downpour at the Fan Fair stage, Garth saw me backstage, called me over and introduced me to his wife Sandy, and then asked someone to take a picture of us. I’ve got it around here somewhere.

I’ve interviewed my share of celebrities and it’s not always good. I know many reporters who refuse to interview or even meet their favorite artist for fear it will destroy what they think of that person. Famous people get asked the same questions over and over again by different reporters in different cities. They can have a bad day. They can just be tired or uninterested. The reporter can be a jerk.

But I’ve never heard a bad story from anyone about interviewing Garth Brooks.

He’s my favorite interview. Do you have one?

Garth Brooks is still the coolest guy I’ve ever interviewed. A lot


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