This lucky young man is Tux, appropriately named and formally dressed! He is the Humane Society of West Alabama's Pet of the Week.

German-based SAS Automotive Systems will locate in Tuscaloosa County, creating approximately 170 new jobs. The auto supplier will serve as a new supplier for Mercedes-Benz, at it prepares to manufacture SUVs at its Tuscaloosa plant.

Music & Memory Tuscaloosa, a student-driven Alzheimer’s advocacy group at the University of Alabama, will be collecting gently used IPods at the Ferguson Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The group helps brings personalized music into the lives of Alzheimer’s patients, who, through their favorite music, have shown tremendous recall, according to research cited by the national chapter, musicandmemory.org. 

Life is hard. We try to convince ourselves that one day, everything will fall into place just as we wish. We’ll no longer deal with the sting of disappointment. But, that is a day that never arrives. Friends let us down, we aren’t treated fairly, the promotion we know we deserve escapes us, and we are never fully recognized for the contribution we make to the world around us. And yes, even far worse tragedies happen in the world in which we live. The list of ways that life disappoints could fill this column 10 times over. I know I have grown more capable in dealing with these setbacks, but they still surprise and hurt.  

Many people think of kindergarten as not much more than recess, nap time, and the occasional coloring session. However, teachers like Kathryn Maness know the job isn’t as easy as it seems. 

“Teaching kindergarten has been the most difficult, yet rewarding experience I have ever had. I leave work exhausted, but feeling accomplished most days,” Maness said.

If you’ve ever thought about having your pet’s photo taken with Santa Claus, now might be a great time to actually get that done. The Humane Society of West Alabama’s annual pet photos with Santa is happening soon at Pet Supplies Plus on McFarland Boulevard.

Ever since the Pho Town Facebook page debuted earlier this year, people have been chomping at the bit, eager to get their pho on. But what exactly is pho? Pho (pronounced like “fun” without the “n”) is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat … typically beef or chicken.  

As a popular street food in Vietnam, owner Anhtu Bui felt that Tuscaloosa was ready for some authentic flavors in its food scene.  

Druid City Living always wants to recognize our great local businesses. To the new businesses - welcome to town! Remember: Shop local.

Nine area banking institutions raised close to $10,000 in a single day in the inaugural "Battle of the Banks," a charity event held November 17 to benefit the Tuscaloosa Salvation Army.

Here’s wishing all our Druid City Living readers a great week, filled with all kinds of outstanding local events. Get out, get involved, and above all else: Have fun.

And remember: If you’d like to have your event added to our online weekly calendar, just email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’re happy to add anything you’d like to announce.

Enjoy your week, T-Town!

Flu season is upon us, and there are some practical things you can do to help protect your child against the flu.

After enduring a balmy and unpleasantly humid September and October, fall has seemingly arrived, bringing those of us who tend to sweat profusely some relief. Time for turkey! And to climb up in the attic and break out the reindeer décor. 

I thought it might also be a good time to clean out the old electronic mail bag and actually respond to some questions and comments the loyal DCL readers send me or ask me in person (yes… believe it or not, sometimes people actually read my column and send inquiries). Shocking, right?

So, here goes. Feel free to send your own. I’m no “Dear Abby.” But “Dear Derek” has a nice ring to it.  

Q: Derek, will you ever post your favorite recipes or at least your favorite things to cook when at home with your family?

A: Recipes … Eh, probably not. “Executive Director” and “Executive Chef” are two entirely different things. I claim to be the former, but definitely not the latter. I leave the recipes for the experts (see Amy Poore’s recipes section). But I do make a mean jambalaya, which is a slightly altered version of my mother’s recipe.  My better half can also whip up a fantastic dish that we’ve named “Reef Chicken” as an honorarium to a now out-of-business restaurant we used to frequent. You’ll have to ask her if she’s willing to give it up.

Q: Derek, do you see the traffic situation in Tuscaloosa ever improving? 

A: Yes. In the summer when school is out. And during the winter break. In all seriousness, there are strategic plans in the works to relieve traffic issues across our fair county. But as you know, those things take time. And due to construction, the situation will likely get worse before it gets better. When it comes to traffic in T-Town, patience is a virtue (and apparently, a requirement). 

Q: Derek, Walt Maddox is running for governor. Any chance you’ll throw your name in the hat to be the next mayor of Tuscaloosa if he wins?

A: Negative. I honestly enjoy my current employment too much to give it up. Plus, Mrs. Oz might (replace with “could” … no, replace with “would”) take issue with the idea. And besides that, writing a monthly op-ed in a community newspaper does not necessarily qualify one to be THE mayor. Never say never, but replacing Walt with someone that can handle the challenges our growing city faces won't be an easy task, should he high-tail it to exotic Montgomery. And if that happens, all I can say is … choose wisely.  

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.      

Gratitude is the sentiment at the heart of Thanksgiving. Recently, gratitude practice has been a major area of study in psychology. More than any other personality trait, gratitude is a predictor of good mental health and life satisfaction. For a list of research on gratitude, check out www.centerforhealthyminds.org.

Caroline Boxmeyer, Professor in Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama, has found that gratitude practice is useful in her professional and personal life.

Beaux William,

I am four years into this mama life, and I am truly thankful for …

Anyone need some new dishes to enjoy at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner? Both of these dishes are perfect for the occasion. The Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash looks gorgeous, but it’s fairly simple to make and it takes just a few ingredients. And the Pear Cake offers a delicious alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving desserts (though certainly include them, too).

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays, and bon appétit!

For the fifth year in a row, City of Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Auburn Mayor Bill Ham Jr. will continue their tradition of a $100 Iron Bowl wager to benefit local charities.

It was a late spring Saturday of fine weather and with topgallants flying, the Ship Tuscaloosa left the Pacific Ocean. She was sailing east, thirty nautical miles* beyond Cape Horn as she cleared the dangerous Drake Passage between the tip of South America and Antarctica. Soon, Captain James Goodrich would steer her north into the South Atlantic, bound for their home port of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Captain Goodrich recorded the date—November 8, 1834.

The Tuscaloosa was a wooden sailing vessel, rated for 284 tons of cargo. During her 1834-35 voyage, she plied the California coastal trade and returned with 220 tons (4400 quintals or hundredweights) of pearl shells, almost 13 tons of copper, cow hides and horns, and silver and gold bullion. These items would provide raw materials for the industries of New England and other areas. The shells could become mother-of-pearl buttons, inlay, jewelry, dinnerware handles, and firearm grips. The hides were destined to become shoes and countless other leather items. The horns could also be fashioned into buttons or used as containers for gunpowder. The copper might become cookware, and the precious metals used for plating and jewelry, or exchanged at the US Mint for coinage.

When manned by an experienced crew, vessels such as the Tuscaloosa were capable of long duration voyages to almost any of the world’s seas and oceans. In early January 1835, two months after rounding Cape Horn, Tuscaloosa was about 400 miles south of Bermuda where she was hailed by Captain Elihu Coffin of the whaler Mary Mitchell.  Coffin was steering her for Nantucket after a 43-month cruise that began in 1831.

A sample of Capt. Goodrich’s handwriting from an unpublished report summarizing the 1834-35 voyage of the Ship Tuscaloosa. From the author’s collection.

Initially, the Tuscaloosa was part of a large fleet of cargo, passenger, and whaling vessels operated by Grinnell, Minturn & Co. In later years, this company’s fleet would include the famous Flying Cloud and other clipper ships that offered passage and cargo service to Europe, the California Gold Rush, and the Orient.

On subsequent voyages, the Tuscaloosa was operated by Howland & Hussey Co. as a whaler in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 1840, she returned with 1868 barrels of whale oil, and in 1844, she landed 1663 barrels of sperm whale oil. Both oils were burned for illumination. Whale oil was smoky and gave off an odor, but the more valuable sperm oil (from cavities in the heads of sperm whales) burned cleaner. It was used as a fine lubricant (especially for clocks and watches) and was made into cosmetics and other products. If commodity prices and shipbuilding costs are adjusted for inflation to the 21st century, Tuscaloosa’s cargoes would have fetched almost $500,000 in 1840 and nearly $1.3 million in 1844—quite good returns from a vessel that likely cost less than $500,000 to build. 

During her years of service, the Tuscaloosa sailed vast distances over the world’s oceans. Why she was named for a relatively small inland city, county, or river far from her home port is a mystery. Perhaps the name was noticed on early maps or there were family connections, since a number of early Tuscaloosans came from New England. Whatever the case, it is possible that some of the products made from the raw materials transported by the Ship Tuscaloosa eventually found their way to her namesake city.

Suggested additional reading and viewing: 

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. 

Two Years Before the Mast (film), directed by John Farrow (1946). 

Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

*A nautical mile is a unit of distance used by navigators. It represents the distance between minutes of latitude. One nautical mile equals about 1.15 statute or land miles. Thirty nautical miles is approximately 34.5 statute miles. 

Thanksgiving in the South is about enjoying time with friends and family in the comfort of home to celebrate all that is good in life. 

 For some people, that means popping off the top button off their pants and taking a nap as soon as possible after the big meal. For others, it is about enjoying a beautiful meal that is an Occasion (with a capital “O”) by breaking out the good china and silver. 

Eating healthy is important. So is spending quality time with family. Family meals are a tradition that can make a big difference in your family’s health.

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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