Newsroom humor is often dark humor. Like police or paramedics who see or investigate a little too much about the darker side of life, its sort of a self defense mechanism for people who have to spend so much time talking about it.

That being said, this is the funniest attempted murder story I have ever seen:
(Birmingham -- ) A Pinson man loses his cool after a football game--now he's charged with attempted murder. Joseph Logan alledgedly held a gun to his son's head and pulled the trigger. It happened after Alabama lost their Saturday night football game in double overtime to Arkansas. The bullet just missed 20-year-old Seth Logan. Police say the 46-year-old Joseph Logan had been drinking and threw a fit after the Tide's loss. He was released from jail Sunday on 75-hundred dollars bond.
Apparently young Seth approached his dad about borrowing a car. His dad later told investigators he was upset because his son has wrecked so many vehicles. Seth acknowledges he probably didn't pick the best time to ask for the keys.

See? It is great to be an Auburn Tiger. I never get shot at when the team loses.

Bama fans. What can you do? I mean, besides prosecute them?


I wrote a not-quite-clever post ... and Blogger ate it. Thank you the fine folks from Blogger! Actually it wasn't their fault. It was my ISP's. Thank you the fine people at Bellsouth!

Fortunately for you, it has to get better this time. What with a rough draft out of the way and what not.

A man is yodelling on this CD. Just thought I'd add that.

As I wrote previously, about the most exciting thing that's happened with me recently (and we are talking new watch exciting) is that I've discovered I have some sort of electrical problem with my car all of a sudden. The blinkers don't work. None of them.

Does that make them unblinkers? Nonblinkers? Light bulbs?


The highlight of the day was a story I did on child care programs having their budget cut and a story on alcohol related traffic fatalities soaring in 2002.

Its my favorite time of the afternoon: the sun is low enough to light the bottom of the leaves. There's a thin sliver of gold on the landscape.

Excuse me while I dream.


I'd like it noted in the public record that I am officially jealous. My folks have now just finished the first day of their week on a cruise ship. They're headed to Bermuda. I'm stuck here and have to work tomorrow. They deserve a vacation. They could have taken me though!

I have seven vacation days left ... and its one of those deals that I have to use them by the end of the year or forfeit them. So as soon as we get another warm body at work and that person is up to speed, I am leaving town.

Destination unknown. Mom, she of the up and crusing without me, wants me to do the family thing. But I think I am going to revisit the glory days of college and just get in the car and drive for days. Someone send me an idea for a direction of travel. Note to self: fix CD player first.

The slow journey through the old CDs continues. Semisonic is still Semisonic. I guess. I got my four good songs on it, they can't all be 100 percent winners. Much better is this Dog's Eye View. 10 of 12 good ones.

Let's see, this week, five more fun days of work. Tuesday I am meeting with the director of St. Andrew's place. They do a lot of work with disabled and the mentally retarded as far as advocacy goes and I am going to try and find a way that I can help them. Friday I have my meeting with CASA. I am not going to get to go through their training for the court advocate thing this fall, but we are currently discussing their PR and webmastering needs.

Beyond that, just another week.


So you've got your basic feelings about your craft. In journalism, there's the helplessness of feeling as if tragic things are happening somewhere and what you've done hasn't helped those in need. You've got the joys of exposing corruption, the bile at the horrific stories. You'll also find the frustrations that I wrote about recently. You'll find bitterness that you are underpaid ... and so on.

One of the less frequent ones, at least in the 'potato chip' format of radio news that I am doing here, is a mixture of satisfaction and a little despair.

That's the one I get to end the week on.

The governor has signed a bill streamlining the process through which many felons can get their voting rights back once they've served their time, paid their fines and restitution. He has also signed legislation that will provide for the early release of some six thousand inmates early next year to help ease the budget and prison over crowding crises. (As a practical measure, I understand this: Alabama prisons are housing more than double their capacity. Put in motion, this is wretched policy.)

This has been high profile legislation througout this week during the special session of the legislature. But no one has covered the reaction of victims groups.

Except me.

And so now this afternoon, and all this weekend, the state will hear about people who have to go to bed at night knowing their attackers, the person that stole from them, that assaulted them or in some cases even tried to murder them, could be going free.

All this weekend, the state will hear from the executive director of the group Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL, who sounds like she is crying from the frustration of it all.

She's using words like "upset, sold out, second class citizens and beat down" to describe her feelings and those that she represents. Like one woman, who works in the governor's office who is in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She now goes to work every morning and goes to bed every night, knowing that her attacker could be free in a matter of months. That story, and several others, are being told again.

The victims, the people that were attacked physically or monetarily, are getting their voices heard, alongside those screaming that their lawful disenfranchisement makes them a victim.

I'm doing this.

No matter how frustrated or cynical I become with this business, this pride never lessens.

That's the idealistic satisfaction that makes people want to practice the crude art of journalism. And I'll try to focus on that more than wondering how much (or to the point, how little) of an impact I made today.


Yesterday it was fax machines. Today its the whole network. I am staying away from all things electronic. Apparently I have an aura about me ... some sort of electromagnetic field that disrupts everything. I don't even watch X-files that much and I am causing problems inadvertantly.

One web page note today: I've gotten the 'visual' page fixed I believe. You should be able to see all the pretty pictures now. If there are still problems, or if you find other problems on my website, I'd be much appreciative if you'd kindly let me know.

Has anyone else noticed that, all week, its felt like Friday? From the very beginning, the whole pace of this week just seems to be winding down.

I spoke with Nancy Bush today, over with the Jefferson County CASA people. Someone recommended I give them a call a while back and I finally managed to get in touch with them -- because I'm all about wanting to do good things -- and it looks good. I'm supposed to go meet with her late next week and she if she can put me to work doing something to help out.

Kym made fun of my recent excitement over getting a new watch. Kym, I shall have the last laugh. MUHAHAHA.

The latest Arbitron trends for Birmingham are out. These are our 'ratings' but an indication of what the next 'book' will be.

WERC was up two tenths of a point to 3.3. That's way down in the rankings of overall market share for the city, but the sales people will point out our rankings in our target demographic and also that 'ERC is "the number one talk station in Birmingham." The numbers do support that. One of our competitors dropped a tenth of a point to 2.5, another is up four tenths of a point to 1.9 and the sports talk station has slipped four tenths to 1.6. That despite it being football season.

Well, Arbitron is hardly an exact science. Basically, the ratings company goes around and asks people to write down in a little book what stations they listen to and when. From that sample they extrapolate the whole city. There are all sorts of variables that people must consider. Gives the bosses something to talk about I guess.

I don't even know why I just went through with the last three paragraphs, I'm on the air on that station less every day than it took you to read this. My apologies.

All is well, I've never seen any listenership totals for the Network, but I am sure it reaches more people a day that WERC. And that's fine with me.

OK, its off to run errands ... but I am going to leave you with a little homework assignment. No groans from the peanut gallery! Please read Desiderata.

I hadn't thought of that piece in several years but stumbled on it recently ... and I am once again awed by how things can have a different impact at different times.

Did you read it? Good, now let's lead examined lives. Discuss.


The whole world is sick (or signs you might have a drug problem):

(Mt. Vernon, AL -- ) A Cherokee County brother and sister are charged with robbing their great-grandfather to buy crack cocaine.

89-year old Ernest Goza says he answered a knock at his door and saw his great-granddaughter, Jennifer, standing there. When her brother, Waylon, came to the door he alledgedly began beating the elder Goza with a stick. Jennifer took his wallet and the two left him for dead.

Ernest Goza managed to get himself to his son's home, who took him to the hospital.

27-year-old Jennifer Goza and her brother Waylon Curt Goza are in jail facing first-degree robbery charges.


Alright kiddies, you've all heard about the lists of "Things I'd have with me on a deserted island" (as if one has the opportunity to ever plan in advance for that sort of thing ...)

But I have a less tired mental exercise for you. This is a significant derivation on my soundtrack theme.

Give me 10 songs that when you hear scanning through the radio, you have to stop and listen to. 10 songs, no more, you hear them, you can't reach for the dial. No matter how many times you've heard it, or how many versions of it you own, you have to listen to. You know, "You best not reach to change the change unless you want to draw back a bloody stump" gotta hear it kind of stuff.

I ask this because at the present time, I am listening to John Mellencamp's The Best That I Could Do and there are three songs on this one disc, that no matter where or when I hear them, I have to listen all the way through.

The three songs are, of course, Jack and Diane, Pink Houses and Check It Out.

Incidentally, I once drove through the little south Indiana towns that Mellencamp was writing about and put one of his discs in ... it was a very profound experience. You should do it the next time you find yourself in that part of the country!

I'd like to put into words the frustrations of anyone in their mid-late 20s who's close to being almost marginally successful.

"I'm educated. I'm trained. I'm good at what I do. Why am I doing this drivel?"

OK, that's the edited, second draft nice version.

So this President Bush guy is talking to these U.N. people today. I don't know, maybe you've heard of this stuff.

I'll give you three chances to guess what I was doing when this was happening ...


Try again.

You're really bad at this.

When the President was addressing the world on Iraq -- some analysts say at a critical juncture in modern history -- I was doing a stupid story on the state Department of Revenue sending out surveys to make sure that all registered vehicles have insurance.

Hey, I'd like to be on Fox News Channel, or even CNN (I'd take it, come on, of course I would). I know I won't be any time soon, but I'd like to be. I know I am not good enough to be in a place like that today. Realistically I know this.

But I also wonder why I am stuck doing an absolutely pointless story.

End rant.

Meteorologists at The Weather Channel say that the low tonight will be 54 degrees. Highs will continue in the low 80s through the week, but we could see some of those famous Alabama 30 degree temperature swings on a few of the nights soon to come. On this, the first day of autumn, it seems that Mother Nature is timing herself just right.

Lots of memorials today. This is the second anniversary of the loss of 13 miners in a set of coal mine explosions in Brookwood, AL. This was the worst mining accident in the U-S in 17 years. Three men were trapped in the initial explosion, other courageous individuals went in to try and help their co-workers.

Also today, an even more strange memorial. It was six years ago today that a very famous Japanese soldier died. If you don't know the story of Corporal Shoichi Yokoi
its worth the read.

His amazing feat is bested only by Hiroo Onoda.


Congratulations to me for surviving my first ten-hour anchoring day in a good long while. Mel's gone, we're short a person, today is Tiffany's day off, so we're short two people on Mondays, but still have a full schedule to fill. Could be worse. Believe me. I've been in a newsroom that was short two-and-a-half positions, not counting a news director. Its enough to make you sigh out loud really.

The rain sounds like a waterhose being sprayed on the car. Its a car wash out there. Water is falling off the side of this three-story building and colliding with my window sill. I'm looking out this great big window from my studio high-atop Red Mountain and I can just barely see into the bowl that is Birmingham. It looks cold out there.

I've been watching leaves show their backs all morning long. The drizzle became a hard rain for a short little while. And now its somewhere between there and a sprinkle. Somewhere a director is missing out on the chance for a good rainy, poignant reflection shot.

The first of the maples have started to turn. As the rain lets up a bit I can see it again. Its a bloody red and yellow color. Between that tree and one I saw Saturday, I am hopefully the leaf turn will give off an inspired effort this fall.

May sweaters and hot cocoa keep us warm when autumn finally does arrive in the south.


Ever notice how you can have profound realizations at odd times and places? Six or seven years ago I made an observation about myself so sudden that I said it out loud. To my reflection. In the bathroom mirror. As I brushed my teeth.

Tonight, I had another, but this time in the dairy section of the grocery store.

And after I tried it on for size, saying it to myself a few times as I passed by the juice section, I decided that I felt OK with the realization. I was fine with it. At peace with it even.

What will come of it? Probably nothing, I was in the dairy section for goodness sake. But I'd like to hear where you have your profound epiphanies.

So much for my supposed first step into a new medium. I was promised a phone call from a producer that never came. How am I supposed to show up somewhere to tape something when no one tells me the details of where to be when? Oh well.

I ended up going to Huntsville Friday to visit my great-grandmother in the hospital. They had put her back in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, but she was doing pretty well. They had to go back into the bottom of her incision to drain fluid off from around her heart in the middle of the week. Bless her soul, she looked pitiful, but then, she did just have open-heart surgery at 84. She's supposed to go home at some point this week. I find it amazing that someone that age and in that condition can go home so quickly, or have even been walking around a little.


For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. -- Romans 1:20 (New International Version)

When the wind blows, I know precisely what this means.

And moving quickly away from philoso-theology...

I'm getting flattered from the other side of the nation! Rob Chapa, who's link can be found to the right, is saying far too many nice things about me in California. I am grateful, humbled and confident in the knowledge that a.)I can never live up to that or b.)I really have that guy fooled!

He's added me to his Hall of Fame links. A prestigious honor that I am definitely going to use to some unscrupulous advantage later in life.

Rob's got great taste in music, finds quirky things online and has a massive book collection that I would raid. And aside from that whole Dodgers, Bruins thing, is an all around good guy. But nobody can be perfect they say.

I'm out the door like a ... like a ... like a good metaphor (leave me alone, its the weekend!). The only question now is where to eat on the way up I-65. I'll be back in Birmingham tomorrow night.

This was initially supposed to be posted last night at about 10:30, but there were some Internet connection issues.

Thought we'd start this one with the obligatory aside rather than its customary position somewhere in the middle of the entry. So if you don't care, skip the next two paragraphs.

I've been pawing through the old CDs, listening to old discs that these days get neglected for newer stuff, talk radio, books or sleep. It has dawned on me this week that, over the years, I've managed to acquire some pretty good stuff.

Tonight I'm listening to The Wallflowers. This is "Bringing Down the Horse," their second album, which most people still probably think of as their first album. But no, One Headlight and 16th Avenue Heartache are actually on the second album. This CD hasn't aged at all and I am a little mad at myself for forgetting my not-hardly-old stuff.

Well, I met this afternoon with one of the producers of the television show I wrote about earlier today. We talked for a couple of hours about a variety of things. But, ultimately, it seems as though I'll be taping my first TV thing Sunday. Nothing like moving quickly into unfamilar territory I always say.

Jot this down somewhere: the first few go arounds at this I will be tragic ... but I'll catch on.

The fringes and the perks might not be too bad either. We'll see.

Also tonight, we had the farewell dinner for Melanie. Our news director has stepped down to go make real money and have a normal work schedule as the PR person for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. May we all be so lucky. Have fun Mel.

I believe I am going to try and sneak up the road tomorrow and spend a day or so in north Alabama. Ocie should be getting out of the hospital early next week and I need to have her some flowers to take home. A visit is long overdue anyhow.

"Man I think I'm gonna buy myself a Rolls
Maybe a Chevrolet
One where I can pull that top down
Just let my radio play"


I'm about to stumble into the world of television. A new business show that's about to air locally. They want me to be a correspondent.

The job calls for doing segments highlighting technological innovations. Its more feature story stuff than hard news. Leaning more toward consumer affairs than a blatant commercial. Its strictly a part time thing. The advantages being a little extra disposable income and the all important VHS resume tape for TV (the thing I woefully lack).

Occasionally I make jokes on myself and the quality of my work - just for my own entertainment - but honestly I'm not sure how I managed to walk into this. (I feel a wholy different philosophical essay coming on about this issue.) But back to the larger point, I have to go meet the producer this afternoon, and the way he talks, he's looking to start shooting as early as tomorrow. I'll, of course, post the latest developments this evening.


Had a nice long chat with J. Elbert Peters yesterday. He's a former chairman of the state Republican party, an active member of Citizens for a Sound Economy and was a critic of the governor's proposed tax plan.

Well, now he's critical of the governor's budget cutting plan. Mr. Peters makes it clear that he wants to be supportive of the Governor and wants to see the administration be a success, but he thinks he's found an error in the logic being used now that the state is trying to craft a budget for fiscal '04 which starts next month.

Mr. Peters thinks Governor Riley is not accounting for 229 million dollars that the state will still have at the end of the next year. He agrees cuts need to be made, but somewhat less drastic ones than are now being proposed. The way Mr. Peters figures it, about 150 to 200 million need to be cut, less than half of the number now being tossed around in Montgomery. He says prior-year-budgeting (basing the coming year on the last) is a mistake considering the current economic trends. Mr. Peters feels the figures being used in the Governor's math are selling short state growth (and thereby, revenue) for the next year.

229 million dollars. He says he's done the math several times over. Makes you wonder why he's been denied an audience with Governor Riley to consider the matter.


More good news on the homefront. Ocie has been moved out of ICU and has been asking for her glasses and dentures. So the thinking is that she must be doing pretty well considering a woman her age had her chest cracked open and a valve in her heart replaced Monday morning.

Also, I hear now that a little cousin of mine made it through his surgery this afternoon, safe and sound. Zachary, who recently turned four had to have this lump thing removed from his throat. I know that's a pretty vague story on my part, but I've forgotten the details involved, its been so long now that they've been considering this surgery.

Poor reporting aside, I'm just relieved that the oldest surviving member of one generation of my family and the youngest of the newest generation of my family are both resting relatively comfortable after surgeries in the same week. I think I need a tranquilizer.

Also, my apologies, but its been brought to my attention that I made a dreadful ommission in one recent entry. In addition to being an excellent movie picker, Brandy has two other important picking talents.

Two pictures. Two thousand words.


There was this party once, years ago that I only remember only one of ... (because we're talking like almost a decade ago now ... pardon me while I gasp at that realization) ... Anyway, there are a bunch of people at this party. Everyone's dancing and singing along to the song and doing party things.

The song has what we in the radio business call a false ending (real creative huh?) where Adam sings, "Well I said I, I, I, I, I yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, well IIIIII am the Raiiiiiiin King ..." and a few people start talking. Only to stop a half second later when Adam belts out the perfect, "YEAH!" Every time I hear that song I think of that party. Great memory.

Oh, it seems night endlessly begins and ends
After all the dreaming I come home again

Good news on the homefront. Got a call about 10 minutes ago. My great grandmother, Ocie, is out of surgery. It went faster than expected and she is said to be doing fine. Family at the hospital are still waiting to see the surgeon, but that should be happening within the hour.

Its a long road ahead, starting with a day or so in ICU, and then into a normal recovery room. After that Ocie, never one to sit still, will be down for several months recuperating. But the most critical hurdle seems to have been cleared without problem.

They sure don't give you much heads up time on this sort of thing. I found out Sunday evening that doctors in Huntsville will be -- or rather, are at this hour -- performing open heart surgery on my great grandmother.

I talked to her last night. She was in pretty good spirits, though a bit concerned about whether she'd made the proper choice. She's worried about not being able to rake leaves this fall.

So thoughts and prayers, if you can spare a moment, would be tremendously appreciated at this point.

That news put something of a damper on a fine weekend. I got nothing accomplished. Good thing I wasn't trying to get anything done I guess.

Saturday I bought a new watch! Yes, that's a highlight in my life. Its a European design, retails at 150 dollars, I got it for less than a third of that. And, no, it was not stolen. It has three little mini dials on the face, 1/10th sec, seconds and minutes. I am infatuated by watching them tick. Moreso because of the reset button and how they fly back to their starting place. Pretty neat.

Saturday night I went to venerable Legion Field for a UAB vs. Troy State game. When I got to the Old Grey Lady I learned that my job for the evening had changed. I was originally supposed to do the press box P.A. for the journalists, but ended up doing the espn/sportsticker internet play-by-play. I got a few nice compliments out of that, so I was pleased.

Brandy and I went to Visionland Sunday afternoon. It was the last day of the season for the water park, so we said our goodbye for the winter to the lazy river. It'd been good to us many days in the summer.

We also had Popeye's chicken Sunday evening for dinner, courtesy of a fundraiser coupon books from my brother, Matt, sold me. Coupons are great. I've only used it three times and already I've recovered the cost of the book. And it put some money in Matt's marching band's coffers.


Four hours of rest makes Kenny a tired boy!

Normally I'm not a clock watcher, but because its Friday and because I have not slept so well this week ... four-and-a-half hours until I am out of here!

A few updates to the www in recent days. If you find yourself addicted to the audio portion of the page, you might want to go back and listen to what's been added there this week. There's a silly report I did, a more serious one, an hysterical (if I do say so myself) parody commercial and a legitimate newscast from this very morning.

So go check 'em out if you like. As always, that page runs chronologically from top to bottom. So if you haven't been in a while, you better start scrolling!

The last few days I've watched The Insider which was a fine, fine film. It was one of those movies that intrigued me a bit, but I never got around to seeing it. Kudos to Brandy for picking that one out for me. We'd never discussed it and she grabbed a good one! Again!

She's very good at movies. Except for The Ring which I didn't enjoy so much. But then, I'm not a gruesome, horror movie person, so its a matter of taste really.

I also watched Hamlet. Love the play. The movie was OK, but it takes me so long to catch up to the speech patterns I normally lose out on Shakespearian movies. That and the bit about them being in Denmark, the writing being of a different language but the speech being English, but that's nitpicky.

I've seen two Shakespearian movies that I've enjoyed very much Othello and Much Ado About Nothing (watching Michael Keaton flexing his comedic muscle here is golden.)

Still have to see Branagh's Hamlet, but otherwise, I'd prefer reading them.

And currently I am kicking myself for not doing it earlier in the year when I had the chance, but I want to go back and find the complete works of Shakespeare I saw. I feel like I enjoy it a lot more now than I did in high school when they force fed the stuff to us. Most impressively, the whole volume of all of Billy the bard was only 20 bucks!

And that's the end of my literary and movie rant for the day.

This weekend, its grass cutting time again. I have a UAB football game to call Saturday night and Brandy and I are trying to find time to go to Visionland.

Who knows what other trouble I might get into? Probably none, actually. Still, its always good to end on a rhetorical question that may imply I've got a wild streak.


Experts say those of us removed from Washington D.C., New York City and Shanksville, Pennsylvania are moving on with our lives, but that the horrors of the terrorist attacks remain powerful memories to those that were closer to the situation.

That day will never become a blurred memory.

It was my first week working in Little Rock. The top local story of the day was the Little Rock Zoo regaining its accreditation. The anchors there could not pronounce that word correctly, but that was the big story for the day.

The phone in the newsroom rings, I pick it up, and our traffic reporter is on the other end. He'd just landed from his morning flight and says, "You might want to tell the (people on air) to turn on a TV, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center and they are talking about the zoo."

I flip around on my own TV, finding smoke billowing from a gaping whole of a building on CBS. 'How could a pilot make an error like that?' I wonder to myself while rushing into the studio, while they are on the air, to announce that a plane has struck the building.

They quickly get up to speed, and moments later, the second plane strikes. I'm standing right under the TV, frantically dialing for the ABC newsroom in New York. Brian Gumble is interviewing an eye witness. A camera is pointed up into the sky. The eye witness broadcast the second plane crashing. It could no longer be an accident.

My producer later tells me that I was so surprised, watching it happen in real time, that I just announced it out loud. He could hear me two rooms away.

Word begins to spread, and the newsroom fills up as co-workers crave information. I'm frantically calling New York on one phone, dialing the NYC area codes and pushing random numbers hoping for a connection.

Anyone, stick your head outside and tell me what you see.'

Because so much communications equipment was tied into the Towers, seemingly the whole burrough is down.

Jammed to my other ear is a phone with the Pentagon. They aren't confirming it was a terrorist attack, but they are beginning to look into it a spokesman says. He can offer no more information.

Moments later I try to reach my Pentagon source again, but this time there is no answer. We find out soon after that a plane has crashed there.

I found out about a year later that the guy I was talking to was located not very far from the impact site at the Pentagon.

The phones in New York are still out. The newsroom is crowded. Mute, but thunderously loud all at once. Its hard to move until someone runs them out.

We start calling local officials, just to try and make a local angle on the story. Its what we do.

There's a bomb threat called in to a prominent Little Rock building.

An announcement that planes nationwide are being pulled out of the sky. They're landing at the first airport that has an appropriate runway. This is an unprecedent move in the nation's history of flight.

I dash across town to the airport. I'm to talk to people getting off planes. 'What have you heard? What did they tell you on the plane? How does it feel to know that, but for the Grace of God, 'there go I'?'

I can't see a TV, but pulling into the airport, the first building collapsed on itself. ABC's Peter Jennings, now being simulcast on ABC radio very somberly says, "Oh my God."

The airport is packed. Randomly it dawns on me that I've lived here for less than a week and already been in the airport five times. This time its bustling. Confused. Tears. Cell phones and scrambling for rental cars and hotels. I talked to dozens of people. They all had tremendous stories.

Some where travelling across country, heading to the northeast. One flight was told they were having mechanical difficulties and had to land. It wasn't until they could called their loved ones that they knew. One man wasn't sure he could find Arkansas on a map.

And then the man, dressed all in white, a Sikh, was there. All alone. In his eyes, he knew. He seemed to understand what had happened. He was afraid. Enraged people would soon be turning to him, his family. It didn't matter that he was of a different religious and cultural sect. He looked and spoke a certain way. He may as well have been one of the bad guys himself. I want to stand beside him to make sure nothing happens to him.

His fears would later be borne out, as Muslim American hate crimes were inevitable in the days to come.

Of all the things to do when I leave the airport, I get lost. I'd only been in Little Rock for six days and take the wrong interstate interchange.

By the time I get back to the station we have broken away from network programming and gone all local. And we produced great work that day. I was proud to be a part of that product.

Inanely, our lead host is saying continually that Rush Limbaugh was OK. He broadcasts out of New York of course, and was pre-empted that day. People are calling in so frequently asking about him, that we had to turn it into a story. Rush Limbaugh was OK, he was actually on a plane himself out west when he, too, was grounded.

We're thinking the unthinkable at this point, up to 20 thousand dead, but folks Rush is OK.

I finally made it home. By then, every television station, broadcast, cable, QVC, everyone, has realised the enormity of the day and gone to their sister networks for wall to wall coverage.

It had been 10 hours of death and mayhem and I was ready for a break. A movie channel was showing a highly violent action film. I had no desire to see that in fiction any more after watching it in reality.

I mulled over the irony and conflict in my own heart. A horrible day. I profited from it professionally. I was as proud of myself as I ever let myself be. But sitting at home, I tend to turn off the professional part and watch this story unfold as a human being. Gult trickles in. Guilty for enjoying the work I'd done. Even that little tendril of hope I always maintain, 'What I am doing here today, is doing some small good for my community'. I begin to feel guilty for my pride. It took several months to shake this feeling. Watching the video of planes crashing and bodies jumping for weeks on end did not help.

I watch the Congressional leadership pledge their support to the nation and the President. And finally it starts. Someone starts singing God Bless America. I cry myself to sleep.

Distinctly, I remember a horrible waking memory from the following morning. The sun was warm on my face, the fabric of my sofa was coarse. I woke up with a smile on my face. For a moment, I'd forgotten. That was the last time.

All the friends and family
All the memories going round round round
I have wished for so long
How I wish for you today

Eddie Vedder and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan


Spooky ghost stories.

The science that solves them.

Fascinating stuff.

By an overwhelming 2-1 margin, the governor's 1.2 billion dollar tax plan -- largest in the state's history -- has been shot down.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the vote was 866,623, or 68 percent, against the plan to 416,310, or 32 percent, for it.

Impressive enough that almost 1.3 of the just over two million registered voters went to the polls.

But now the bitter fun begins. The fiscal year starts Oct. 1, legislators have to go into special session to pass a new budget. And officials say we're some 675 million dollars in the bad color.

Legislators plan to meet Monday in special session to begin crafting the budgets.

Lawmakers and aides to Riley said they will have no choice but to slash funding for schools and state services.

Governor Riley, talking about travelling the state in his campaign for the tax plan, says he's heard the voices of people. They want a more honest government that can be trusted and that (he said last night) "starts tomorrow".

Cuts will be made, hard decisions will be reached, but "the least among us" will be spared as much as possible the Gov says.

"They said very clearly, `We do want you to be good stewards, but we want a smaller government until you prove to us that you are stewards of our money.'"

Hundreds of people packed the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex exhibit hall for a celebration by opponents of the plan. Cheering began shortly after the polls closed. Loud boos rose from the crowd as they watched Riley via television as he approached the lectern to concede.

Poor Ed Richardson, the state school superintendent, at one point last night looked like he was about to cry, calling it "the worst day of my life."

He's blaming demagogues for helping to convince voters that state government can't be trusted with more money.

Richardson said state funding for K-12 public schools will be chopped by $100 million, or 3.4 percent, in the new budget. He will recommend no new textbooks, no money for teachers to buy classroom materials, and cutting money for technology, library purchases and teacher training.

Richardson warned that without new taxes, 4,000 teachers would have to be pink-slipped before the 2004-2005 school year.

"I would say we are dismantling public education in this state," he said. "You're going to see test scores start to go down, the dropout rate start to go up."

But Richardson will continue to collect his $158K a year. Ranked in the lower 40s in almost every statistical category for education, our superintendent is the third highest paid in all the land.

Some are already encouraging Riley and lawmakers to follow (Great Depression) Governor Miller's precedent and try again with an altered proposal after the effects of the impending cutbacks sink in.

Lawmakers have already said that, if the referendum was soundly defeated, they would not move to raise revenues themselves.

A shrewd move for them politically, as many people echo the sentiments of Ronald Roy, a Shelby County voter on Tuesday as he left the poll. "I voted no, and I'd vote that way all day if they'd let me," he said. "We already send too much money to Montgomery, and they waste it. Now they want a billion (dollars) more. I say use what you have."

Very interesting times to be in Alabama.


So here's the Tuesday evening nutshell version of all the things that have happened since I wrote last Friday.

Got home Friday, cleaned house a tad, went to sleep early. Woke up with the sun on Saturday. Cleaned a bit more. Brandy came over, we went for food and snacks for a day of football and movies.

I bored her with a wretched Auburn game. Bless her heart. She tried to stay with it, but that team is so bad, I don't blame her for wanting to tune out. I'll spare you further details or editorializing of the game. Suffice it to say, the highly touted Auburn Tigers highly suck.

The loss (read: whipping) at the hands of pitiful Georgia Tech was mitigated only by Alabama losing to Oklahoma.

We also watched movies. Analyze This and The Story of Us. Both fine movies. I'm not sure how the Story of Us managed to escape me for so long, I'd never heard of it until Brandy mentioned it recently.

Unfortunately, Saturday night late was ruined by this railroad spike of a headache I developed and carried through Monday. So I didn't get much done Sunday either.

Monday was a typical day at work. Then I went and looked at, but did not buy, a digital camera. Just can't find one that will fit my taste and needs. Monday evening Casey, my cousin, came to town. He was passing through on his way to Atlanta to visit an ill friend. After spending a day or so over there I am sure he will be back to crash again. The only bad part about that is that he likely won't have new fire department stories to tell me. Always a highlight.

Tuesday, more normalcy.

And that's what you missed!

So I go vote this afternoon on the Governor's 1.2 billion dollar tax plan. A Republican in Alabama, (Only the third since Reconstruction) Governor Riley is proposing the largest tax hike in the state's history. Here's the ballot.

"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, establishing the Alabama Excellence Initiative Fund which may be used to fund programs including, but not limited to, the furtherance of excellence in public education, college scholarships, health care benefits for senior citizens and job training programs to attract new high paying jobs and otherwise provide for distributing state tax revenues; to adjust income and property taxes; to establish the General Fund Rainy Day Account; to provide for the replenishment of the General Fund Rainy Day Account and the Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account."
"Yes ( ) No ( )"

Now, we knew that's what it would say. Students of Alabama politics have seen this whole sordid mess play out this spring and summer. And today's the referendum. It would have been nice had not everyone went negative, but instead discussed the issues. What this place desperately needs is constructive talk. Kudos to the Governor for at least trying to do that.

So I go and fill in my little circle. Ominously, the thing going through my head as I bubble in my little mark is Shakespeare's Caesar.

Very strange indeed.

Anyway, the Secretary of State told us this morning she should have the results by 9 this evening. And then we'll wake up tomorrow being either much more taxed or in the same regressive situation. Pick your poison.


Beloit College, in Wisconsin, has for the past several years been publishing an interesting insight into their incoming freshmen. You might have seen these lists before. They basically start with "This year's freshman class was born in 198_. They've always had Mtv. They don't know Elvis." That sort of thing. The purpose is to help the professors understand the mindset of the new kids on campus. The secondary purpose is to make the rest of us feel really old.

Anyway, here's the Beloit College Class of 2006 Mindset List. Just scroll below the release about a quarter of the way down the page.

You know how people make lists to do things? Well, I have things to do. Only, when I make lists, that piece of paper is usually lost and gone forever. I don't even get to put check marks by tasks accomplished. Usually I don't accomplish the tasks.

So today, I did a little something different. I typed out a list of things for the weekend. And the title of the list is not "To Do." It is "Things You Are Going to Do This Weekend."

I'll let you know how that turns out.

In other news, the click of cameras and the prettiness of pictures is calling me. I should probably wait another few weeks, but I may end up bringing a new digital camera home with me later today. Its been months since I could snap a picture and post it immediately (I have no scanner, or all my nice prints would be online too) and I'm having withdrawals.

Which reminds me, something else that needs to go on the weekend list is fixing the picture page of my www.

It will be a two-day stretch filled with little tasks like that.


Because I know you care about physical ailments ... the bruising on my arm seems to have stopped growing. Though, today, it has gotten much more colorful. And thankfully, my back (or kidney or whatever it was) is showing worlds of improvement. It was giving me a bit of scare, but it seems to be recuperating nicely on its own. Let's keep our non-typing fingers crossed.

The story won't go away. And probably rightfully so. Its a big issue and important to many people and it should be important to all. Of course, we're talking about the 10 Commandments case. And it should be important to all, not only for the Commandments but the legal ramifications. So even if you're an American who doesn't believe in God, you have to believe in the legal system that's effecting us one way or another every day. Plantiffs in the original case have long said its not an issue of religious restriction, but an issue of freedom of and from religion.

Well, on the state level there aren't too many supporters of suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore still standing. The extreme right is still with him, but most of those folks have been bussed in from out of state, which is fine.

But an Alabama voice, long quiet in this debate, is now speaking up, and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions found himself speaking in the most equivocating way possible on Wednesday.

The following is a direct quote from his teleconference with Alabama media, in which he came down (almost, sort of, kinda) supporting the suspended judge:

"I think everyone should obey court orders, unless they believe so strongly that it violates matters so important to them they choose not to. But if they choose not to, they have to pay the price for violating them. That's all I'm saying."

Using the algebra I learned in junior high, the positives and negatives in that statement effectively cancel each other out to a perfect zero. Which, I suppose, makes Sessions the perfect politician.

Senator Sessions, a Mobile native and active Methodist, went on to compare this issue to Nazi Germany, the Nuremberg trials and the obstacles Martin Luther King had to overcome. I'm not even going to start that soapbox.

I am, however, playing the above quote all morning, he's taking 17 seconds to say precisely nothing. Well, except for its OK to not do as a court says. So if I am convicted of a heinous crime, but I don't agree with the jury's finding or the judge's ruling and sentence, I can just walk away? Because I believe in my innocence so strongly?

Now, I want to say that I like Senator Sessions just fine. He's always been polite to me on a professional level. I am not taking shots at the man or his politics. Especially when I would more often than not fall in line with his belief systems.

I understand that Senate has been recessed for their summer break and there hasn't been a lot for him to talk about to keep his name out in the public. I know how important that is to his political livelihood. I appreciate his effort at trying. But Senator, as a man who has often said "That's a state issue, I don't know anything about it" even when it is your state that we are discussing, get educated, take a stance or change the subject. Please.


Not to continue talks of bodily ailments, because no one cares less than I do, but I have been meaning all day to follow up on the apheresis comments you can find a few posts below. I wrote yesterday that I had a seven inch bruise on the inside of my left arm, presumably from the saline. Well, its grown. And as of right now its almost a foot long. I just measured it. I'm wondering what it will look like tomorrow. Tempted to go to a blood donor site Friday (because that's the first day I can give whole blood again) and asking, rather sarcastically, "Does that look normal to you?" So long as the thing doesn't fall off I'm fine with it I guess. At least it doesn't hurt. But it sure looks gross!

So of course its past my bedtime. And of course I am here on my computer rather than in bed. The curtain in my bedroom is making a metal-on-plastic sound and I've been having trouble falling immediately into oblivion, so I thought I would come downstairs and listen to melancholy music. And congratulations, you're reading it!

Let's start a dialogue. What is it that you want? I mean after the easy answers, and the lottery has paid off all your debts and secured the tuition of your children's children's children. After health and the long life of your significant other and after eternal salvation, what is it that you want?

I want any given day from the first half of 1983 back. I'd like a particular November night of 1993 back. I want to make a few different choices in my teen years. I'd like to figure out where I hid the almost-carpe-diem attitude I once carried around. In order, I want a May 1996 night, a May 1997 night, a June 2000 night and a particular evening from last month to re-live, loudly, and over and over.

I want to write things that make people cry. I mean unabashedly bawl over something I'm putting on paper. I want them to share it with friends. I want to learn to play the mandolin. I want to be a roadie for a couple of musical acts, just for a while, so I can see them set after set. I want to live under a palm tree. Little fruity drinks with umbrellas in them by day and ice water by steamy night.

I'd like to know what Jon Sitz is doing today. I'd like to be fearless about my career and the choices made and those to come. I want to go rapelling, bungee jumping and fling myself from a perfectly good airplane. All in the same day. I want to swim with a shark. Just one will do.

I'd like to line up a list of a few too many people and have them listen to sincere and heartfelt apologies. And I'd like to line up a list of significantly fewer people and tear them to shreds. Then they could go read the paper that makes them cry.

Right about now I would love some of my grandmother's chicken noodle soup and her super sweet tea. In the red cup of course.

I want to walk home from church with my great-grandfather one more time. I'd like to talk about theology and technology and any ology my grandfather wants for as long as he would care to sit down with me. I'd forget the rest of this list forever if I could have this paragraph.

I want to look up Professor Tibor Mcahan and ask him to refresh my memory about a few philosophical sects I can't seem to remember.

I want a videotape of a particular roadtrip from Montgomery to Auburn. Nate and Kev and I sang three part harmonies to the silliest, serious song you've ever heard. I want to hear that. That was what being 18 was about. I like being around the corner from pushing 30, but that's a nice memory.

I want the courage and the ability to pack up my sedentary life for a year or so and just go. I'd like the resources and ability to satisfy every restless bone in my body, so I can say I've driven across the States and have seen Europe, Tibet and the Asian Steppes.

I want to be a historian and a journalist. I want to be a journalist historian. Current events and what got us here. I want to be a recorder of great things in minutiae. If I stay a journalist, I want to find a format that is a little more substantial than my beloved "potato chip news." I want the time to tell people not only that 'something' has happened, but how and why and what it means.

I want to write a song, just one, that AD would say, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that." Then the guy that arranges for Jars of Clay can do the instrumentation and Peter Stuart can sing it.

Not a bad off-the-top-of-my-head wishlist. I'm sure there's plenty more I could think of quickly (like the ability to sing along and type at the same time), but mostly, I'm interested in the things that you would want. And I hope you email at smitken@mail.com to share your thoughts with me.

And to wrap this one up, I'd just like to say that I hope my list hasn't come off as pretentious. And that my list isn't a list of regrets -- with the exception of people I'd like to apologize to -- but a list of things far happier.

My back hurts. I'm trying hard to convince myself that its a muscle or a bruise. I am trying even harder to avoid the sneaking suspicion that I am developing a kidney issue. If its not better by Friday, I'll go ask people about it. Just thought I would share my medical condition with you. Party on.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and me continually waiting for the punchline) I realized that I'll be bossless again in two weeks. Anybody want to be a News Director? One day I'm going to stop counting how many of my hiring-bosses have left where we work. The number is getting depressing.

But its good news for Melanie, who's going on to be the PR person for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Better, more normal hours and presumably more money. More power to you sista.


Know the best thing about a three day weekend? Four day work week!

What happened to you during your Labor Day holiday Kenny?" I'm so glad you asked.

First, I went to Indiana for birthdays and the holiday. I ate way too much junk food and watched movies and hung out with Matt and Michelle and Grandmother Erwin. I think the most strenuous thing I did was getting up to go to church after four or five hours of sleep. Matt and I always talk about everything and nothing until late in the night. So, it was of course a laid back weekend.

The lowlight was watching Auburn look just plain pitiful against USC. I don't even want to think about this, it was so bad, so I will refrain from my usual coach bashing. It was bad.

The highlight of the trip was playing "Chubby Bunny." This is the game where you all take turns stuffing giant marshmellows in your mouth and trying to say Chubby Bunny. You can't swallow or anything. You get this weird dry mouth, wet substance phenomenon going on. And trust me, you don't want to start laughing. Michelle won, but she cheated. We caught her on video twice. So I say Matt won with his 12 marshmellow performance. I had the gag reflex kick in somewhere around eight. Two of Michelle's girlfriends also did very well. As did Rick and Grandmother Erwin. It was a lot of fun. But the end result could be kind of gross.

Also fun was, as you were eliminated in Chubby Bunny, you got a prize. You had to put on the costume piece and perform a skit for it. I got these really big, silly glasses and really bad fake teeth. I'll try and get Matt to do a screen capture off the videotape so I can put it here. It was scary looking. And of course my goofy, willing to make a fool of myself attitude took over and I looked like an idiot and stole the show.

Thinking of some of the other faces people made, I'll have to get several screen captures.

Anyway, I flew back to Birmingham Monday. Brandy and I had an appointment to donate platelets at Red Cross. So I picked her up and we went out to eat. We had planned to head to Mellow Mushroom, but they were closed so we went for Surin West instead. Brandy had a spicey beef salad and I had the usual Chicken Noodle Bowl. I finished that this morning and like anything with pasta (and rice mind you) it is even more delicious the day after.

But I digress.

So we finally get to the proper Red Cross place, an adventure in misunderstood directions itself, walk all the way around this big building to find the entrance, do the paperwork and get settled in for a two-hour process called apheresis.

Ahh, if anything in our time together could be so simple. Brandy and I always have adventures. It makes me laugh just to think about it. Anyway, Monday's were very unique, to say the least.

Now, in apheresis, they stick one arm, take the blood out, remove the part they want and then put the rest back in the other arm. So they stick me in both arms. Not too long after that, they decide Brandy has a rolling vein in one arm, so they have to do both parts of the process in her other arm. So they stick her. And, for reasons that still have not been explained, Brandy says they gave her five Tums. Brandy being Brandy, she's laughing at something, and she starts choking. So now she panics and in the process pulls her needle out of her arm. But they won't stick her again for whatever reason. So she's done.

My donation is going almost as well. I notice my left arm, where they are withdrawing the blood, is starting to tingle, and then burn. And then burn more. With every breath its like more acid is being poured into the muscle. Finally its bad enough that I have to complain. They do something that stops the burning sensation. For a few minutes. And then it starts to burn again. Only much worse. And at this point, I've given up trying to not be in pain and am concentrating solely on staying in my seat. Mid forearm to mid bicep is on fire. And I say something else about it. Two of the workers confer and take the needle out of my arm.

The boss lady would not tell me what had happened ... already I'm a little upset about her evasions. Finally I corner the other, and sweeter, lady into explaining it to me. As they withdraw your blood, they are pouring saline into your system. Except it wasn't going into the vein (nurse error or occasional fluke incidence no one would tell me). Instead of the saline going into the vein (which feels a little odd) it was going into the tissue, which, as it turns out, feels very painful.

So after taking me off, they can't restick me either. So neither of us were very helpful. We cheered ourselves up afterwards with smoothies. This morning, I have a seven-inch-long bruise on the inside of my left arm. Fortunately it doesn't hurt much. Last night it didn't hurt until I had to move my elbow.

The funny thing was that they were telling us that they sometimes have difficulties in the process, and the nice lady that was overseeing my donation kept pleading for us to come back and try again. "Sorry we messed up, but do come and let us hurt you again," was the way I took it.

Think I'll wait until I'm not black and blue first, thanks.

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