At what point are children too old for Halloween? I think its when they don't even try to dress up any more. I had four teenages come by that dressed up pretty well (Freddie, Jason and two of their victims) then I had others that threw something together, probably out of guilty, at the last minute. And then the last two guys I had were just in shorts and a t-shirt. One had a plastic bag and the other had a paper sack! When you don't want to dress up for my candy anymore, you're too old to beg for my candy.

All the churches around here do little festivals now. And the high school football team was way on the other end of the state in a playoff game. It was a very slow night, trick or treating wise. But here's who came to visit:

  • one teenage mutant ninja turtle (leonardo)
  • four kids too old for trick-or-treating
  • one green power ranger
  • a witch, a shadow ninja, a spell spinner and a cat ("but the whiskers aren't real" she informed me)
  • fairy princess (who's big brother -- a generic monster -- accidentally put the storm door in her face)
  • another generic monster
  • a pirate and a generic caped superhero (this kid simply had taken a sheet and clipped it on his shirt)
  • two girls dressed as babies, with two other people who's costumes I couldn't figure out (also getting too old for trick-or-treating)
  • Incredible Hulk, a ninja and a female pop singer (an eight-year-old dressed like Britney Spears)
  • two more girls dressed as babies, two more unknown costumes and a little pudgy spiderman with really big shoes
  • Freddie, Jason and two female victims in camo and blood
  • two neighborhood kids who weren't even dressed up

    By then it was almost nine and the visitors had stopped. So I decided to keep the rest of candy for my ownself. Come over and share!
  • So the boss just called ... and apparently they've realized that the media gets to cover the President (who is coming to Birmingham Monday). So I'll be reporting on Air Force One touching down. Someone else is covering his speech, I'll be saying "He's coming down the steps off Air Force One, he's waving, he saluted, shook three hands and is now climbing in the Presidential motorcade."

    This will be the third Presidential visit I've covered -- though the first at an airport -- more than half dozen cabinet members, but never the Vice-President (though I did run into his motorcade a few times in Washington). I also covered three visits in Little Rock of former President Clinton.

    Its great fun (except for that time the Secret Service almost bounced me out of the room), usually impresses people and always makes me think of the Forrest Gump line, "So I went to the White House ... again. And met the President ... again."
    When we last talked I was ranting about having to do sports reports on both WERC and ARN in addition to the remainder of my duties. First let me just say that I don't mind doing the sports. I like them just fine (except basketball, which will forever remain a mystery). My objection is to the now critical mass workload that leaves no room for error.

    Yesterday was the first day I did them (I wasn't asked if I could or if it was possible, I was just told to do it at almost the 11th hour). Impulsively, when I got to the outtro, I dusted off the classic "SPOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRTTTTS!" we used to do down at The Tiger.

    I wrote Chadd Scott, my radio mentor (currently producing The Tony Korneiser Show) about reviving the beautiful old outtro.

    He respondly thusly, "Just remember this great advice from the man whose name still sends a chill down Andy Burcham's back: as long as the open to your report is as long, overblown, dramatic, Wagnerian and ridiculous as possible, no one will care what follows."

    I love that guy.


    I posted this less than 90 minutes ago and already its starting.

    Now, in addition to doing the news on ARN, producing the weather for ARN, reporting on ERC, I'll be doing the sports on ARN and the sports on ERC as well. These will not be "emergency fill-in" type assignments.

    It'll sound real swell to pitch to me in sports and then pitch to me in news. Not to mention that all but two elements on ARN will now be my voice.

    And I'm already having trouble as of late keeping that intact for five days in a row.
    This excerpt from ESPN.com -- Need a Halloween costume idea?

    "Replicating the outfit of the Chicago fan (Steve Bartman) who gained instant noriety of Game 6 of the NLCS isn't difficult. Bartman had on a Cubs hat, blue jeans, headphones and a sweatshirt with the logo of the Renegades traveling youth baseball team when he tried to catch a foul and knocked the ball away from left fielder Moises Alou."

    Knight Ridder News Services reports that Renegades Baseball promoted the sweatshirts ($35, plus $6 for shipping) from its home page.

    Apparently, they've taken the merchandise link off their page. Shame too, those were cool shirts.
    There goes the neighborhood.

    The 'Powers That Be' have tapped one of our own, Brandi Srader to be the new News Director. Hearty and sincere congratulations are in order. I, and everyone else, maintain the highest confidence that she will perform her new duties very well.

    However, Clear Channel has decided to keep the staff understaffed. Much fun will be had by all.
    Sex abuser still in office.

    71-year-old Homer Bundrum was originally charged with felony first-degree sex abuse of a minor. He pled down to a misdemeanor and gets to keep his city on the Jacksonville City Council. At their last meeting, he ignored cries from some residents demanding he step down.

    The fact is, Bundrum has a history. Now a repeat offender, Bundrum plead guilty to a 1974 felony charge of child molestation and served a two-year probation. He was then pardoned, which allowed him to run for office.

    So the questions here are:

    Two convictions in 30 years, what, if anything, has gone unnoticed in the interim?

    Will the good people of Jacksonville, AL maintain their moral outrage the next time they go to the polls?


    Nancy Worley buys SUV.

    In the above AP story, we learn that the Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley (D- Decatur) has endured budget cuts that prompted the layoffs of five people in her office. But she did manage to buy a Ford Expedition on the taxpayer dollar. The story is a great read ... and I encourage you to breeze through it. After that, continue reading the following, which I sent to Secretary Worley, and now post here as an open letter to same.

    So the $19,000 difference between an Eddie Bauer model Ford Expedition and a Taurus wouldn't save jobs? So blow it anyway? Sure it has to be spent somewhere for you to hope for that money next year, but you couldn't think of better ways to spend our money?

    Did you at least get all the bells and whistles? I'm sure all of the people who voted you into office wouldn't want you to do without. Goodness knows, those losing their jobs wouldn't want you to.

    Here's an idea: don't start so late shopping for cars. Or spend more than an afternoon doing it. Or come up with better excuses on why you just had to have the thing.

    When the state voted No against Amendment One Governor Riley said "The people have spoken." Respectfully, Madam Secretary, they spoke against the taxes. The accountability was, and remains, a good idea we'd all like to see put into practice.

    Any day now would be good. Or next fiscal year is fine too. But if that's the case, try to not make this SUV of yours high-mileage too quickly. I don't think I could again stand the sight of state schools superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson (as he was almost moved to tears after the referendum) while knowing this is how my hard-earned money continues to be spent.

    So please, from one taxpayer to another, from one voter to another: Slap some "Vote!" magnets on that SUV, litter it with ads for state Capitol restoration or something to do with the state constitution. Anything. Since you spent so much of our money on the gas guzzling abomination (another expense!) make it earn its keep, just like everyone else. Well, except for those poor souls who are being handed pink slips.

    Another tip: do lots of high profile good deeds between now and re-election. You might need them.

    If you, my fellow Alabama taxpayer, would like to send her a note, this is her feedback page. If the notion of such blatantly wasteful spending angers you, I heartily encourage you to tell her how you feel.


    "We would love to have you join the board and our community here at St. Andrew's Place." -- Dr. Harry Hamilton, Executive Director

    Well, I'm officially a member of a Board. Its all downhill, Fortune 500 and Forbes from here.

    He also writes, "When are you available to receive your official orientation?"

    Didn't I outgrow hazing in the mid '90s?

    Seriously, this might should be a good experience builder for me. St. Andrew's is a nonprofit ministry of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (Birmingham) that provides basic care and training for adults with mental retardation to enable them to live in the community as independently as possible. Hopefully I can help them -- they were looking for a PR or media person to join the board -- and they can help me learn and branch out and make more contacts.

    May my rolodex runneth over.
    Has anyone figured out why you tend to get shocked more in cold weather months than warm weather months? Someone please send me the explanation for this. And why do I get shocked on the door at my office every day, everytime, regardless of the season? And short of a lightning bolt, or other high voltage situations, is there anything more painful than being shocked on the lip by a phone? Yeeouch.
    Enough code to make your head hurt! My after work activities of Thursday consisted of writing a press release about bats, reading the new Garrison Keillor (to know his style is to love this book) and writing computer code.

    First, all the problems with my picture page got fixed. Took longer to upload the corrections than it did to figure it out. About three-quarters of the way through it dawned me that in two months I have to go through every page and change the dating. Talk about tedious.

    Less tedious was helping my friend Kelly with some coding problems she was having. Five or six little changes to correct color problems and the world turns a bit better.

    Nothing like appreciating the tiny things in life.

    Take travel days for instance. And thank goodness for them ... after two nights in a row of late night down-to-the-wire finishes in games four and five, I can finally go to sleep tonight. Watching the Saturday game won't be so bad, it has an earlier start time.

    That paragraph makes me sound old.

    Weep for me.


    A prominent economist recently said that the textile manufacturing portion of our nation's history was just that, history.

    That's been seconded this week with the closing of yet another cotton mill in Alabama. That makes three (two in the Pillowtex bankruptcy) in less than three months.

    Almost two dozen textile plants have closed in the state in less than two decades according to the American Textile Manufactures Institute Every blame is pointed at a soft domestic textile market and a rise of imported products.

    The allusion is to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The 1994 pact encourages more trade across borders and sends jobs out of the U-S by the thousands.

    You can see state-by-state and industry breakdowns of American job loses here. Alabama lost 16,865 jobs because of NAFTA between 1993 and 2000. By comparison, the state gained 39 jobs attributed to NAFTA in the same period, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

    Public Citizen, Ralph Nader's consumer advocacy organization, says NAFTA is responsible for the loss of 783 jobs in rural Fayette County, AL (the site of this week's mill closing) in recent years.

    There was a particular sect of political science that we have not seen ring true. Loosely, the idea was that technology would make such great leaps that it would allow us to free ourselves from laborious work and concentrate instead on philosophy, the arts and the like. Problem is, there are generations of people working (or losing their jobs) who sadly are qualified for only those jobs being shipped overseas or eliminated in technology.

    Not coincidently perhaps, Massachusetts playwright A.R. Gurney said, "I tend to write about people who kind of have a sense of their own obsolescence in a changing world, and I should think the Southern mentality would respond strongly to that. Southerners have been living with that sense of history for a long time."
    "I'm blaming this on you - it snowed today. " -- Mrs. Wads on the weather conditions at State College, Pennsylvania.

    What she can look forward to for the rest of the day: Mostly cloudy with scattered flurries ... cold with highs in the mid 40s.

    Just because I made fun of the cold there yesterday when it was 82 and gorgeous here, I get blamed. Like I made her pursue her doctorate at Penn State.
    Still not sure what to do with your pumpkin this Halloween? Might I suggest extreme pumpkins? The name sort of says it all.

    Inside are tips on tools to use, preservation techniques, how to advice, patterns and more. Check it out.
    So maybe I oughta rethink this whole poor thing ... According to the Global Rich List I'm doing OK.

    I'm the 601,655,887 richest person on earth!

    The site says, based on my income, that I am in the top 10.02% of the richest people in the world and that there are 5,398,344,113 people poorer than I am. Globally that makes sense. Especially when considering the abject poverty statistics.

    I wonder what the percentage slips to on a national rich list.
    Hey I'd love to stay up late and watch what has become a fairly entertaining World Series, but this job thing keeps getting in the way. I missed the Ruben Sierra triple in the ninth simply from falling asleep. Not to mention the game ending home run in extra innings. Please tell us Fox, why must the game start so late?

    Here's a good argument for East Coast media bias. Its New York and Miami that are your primary television markets here. East Coast. The game last night started at 8:30 Eastern. There's no need for that.

    Bump up the pregame, tape the national anthem, first pitch that joker half an hour earlier, something ... you put your audiences asleep to the sultry sounds of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. World Series game four ended at 12:28.


    A late night vote for Aubie shows we are definitely getting the job done. The five time national champion mascot has pulled within a tenth of a percentage point of third place behind the deplorable UGA mascot. Hairy Dawg is going down! And then we start cutting into Cocky's advantage. Remember, the voting runs through December 22.

    If you vote every day between now and then, we can help right this horrible miscarriage of justice! But its going to take us all ... so vote! And then encourage all your friends to put Aubie back on top!
    Got the good news about an hour-and-a-half ago. Rick has emerged from his double hernia surgery and is doing very well. He's staying in the hospital tonight and is expected to go home tomorrow, depending on his comfort/pain.

    After that, he's supposed to be in bed for about two weeks and should be able to return to work in four to six weeks. Any prayers and well wishes you can spare to send to the Louisville would be appreciated.
    82 and not a cloud in the sky this afternoon. What a gorgeous day. I've been gloating, writing friends who are in the low 60s and 50s with heavy clouds and rain. They should have stayed in the South, all of 'em.
    Today is the start of week seven in the search for a new news director. Mel announced seven weeks ago that she was leaving and did so five weeks ago. We've been told at least three times that "We'll have someone hired within a week or so."

    I'm just saying ...
    So I'm thinking about a master's degree.

    UAB has postgraduate studies in communication that I have been mulling over in the back of my head. First there are the really practical concerns. Can I get in? How long would it take? How much would it cost? Would my seemingly advantageous work schedule stay in such a way to allow me to pursue another degree? Would I be in Birmingham long enough to finish the degree if it takes a long time?

    Unlike a bachelor's degree, you can't typically transfer all of your hours. So you lose some of them if you want to go somewhere else. There's also the consideration that the next somewhere else might not have similar programs. I don't plan on leaving town tomorrow, but what might be considered the perfect opportunity could pop up over the course of two years of grad work and a significant amount of class work could be lost, or the perfect job, depending on that decision.

    Also there's the slightly more intangible questions. Do I have the discipline to stick to it and perform well? I'd really like to improve on what I did at Auburn. (There's that maturity thing again.) Also, would such a degree be helpful to me in the real world? Or is it one of those issues where enough experience in the real world equals a postgraduate degree. Some fields are like that. And this one is just performanced based. Which poses another question: would this degree help me if I decided to change fields?

    UAB just called and is sending me an Email with some of the answers to these questions. Let's find out.
    It was the American Dream. 22-year-old Sokki Khak Ung was born in a Philippine refuge camp after his father escaped the deadly Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Seeking peace, they later made their way to America.

    Ung joined the military for a chance at a college education and became a U.S. citizen in August. The Marine, now a Lance Corporal, was twice injured in Iraq, earning the Purple Heart.

    But Ung made it home to California last weekend on leave. And Sunday in his backyard at a welcome home barbeque, from the other side of the fence, a shot rang out.

    Lance Corporal Ung, due to be discharged in only 10 days, died in his father's arms.

    It was the American Dream.


    We were all captivated by the tragedy of it. We were griped by the end of it. And now there is the intrigue of the legal showdown. The Virginian-Pilot has a reporter in the courtroom writing a blog of everything that happens in John Allen Muhammad's first murder trial in Virginia.

    As you kow, Muhammad is representing himself now:

    "The judge overruled an objection by Muhammad that the prosecution's case consisted merely of "a car and a gun" that didn't prove anything. The judge explained that the prosecution was entitled to use circumstantial evidence to make its case."

    Absolutely enthralling. Better add this one to my daily list of reads.


    We're making a difference! I just went for my daily vote for Aubie in the Capital One 2003 Mascot Bowl. And good news! Aubie is pulling up on the absolutely worthless Hairy Dawg from UGA. He's less than half a percentage point off! Also, if you check the momentum meter Aubie got the second most votes last week.

    But we can't stop now! Vote every day, once a day. Vote from as many computers as possible.

    Again, Aubie is in fourth place, but closing fast. This contest is half popular vote and half judges scores, and Aubie (a five time national champion mascot) should in no way be behind the likes of Hairy Dawg, Cocky or the abyssmal Brutus. So vote!

    War Eagle! Go Aubie!
    The first real thought of the day was: "I am entirely too lucid for 4:30 in the morning."

    It seems the Saturday night extreme insomnia has caught up with me. Now, at the end of my work day, I am having the dreamlike experience I should be having at 4:30 in the morning.

    Note to self: Self, always remember, that most days, time at your job absolutely flies by. No matter how upset you get, self, with anything, remember its a quiet place and time seems to move quickly.

    What a gorgeous weekend huh? Looks great today too.

    At least it does now that the disturbingly brown and disturbingly persistent haze has finally wafted away from the city out my window. Its more of a sand brown now. I wonder how much money the state and the local government along with the feds spend each year on monitoring the bad air quality of Birmingham. All they need to do is come look from Red Mountain, that could be their indicator.

    Poor Birmingham, more than a million people in the metro, everyone has these tremendously long commutes on interstates that can't cope with the strain anymore and there is no mass transit (Or sign of it. Ever.) in town.

    The federal matching money has been in place, we (finally!) have a local government that has been proactive in making something happen on the mass transit front, and the state lawmakers have clamped down on the whole deal.

    There was a time, not too many years ago, when people around here would call in to the local talk shows and take up the airwaves with "We should be like Atlanta, we could be a great city too."

    Sorry, but we'd have to work hard at this point to catch up to the Chattanooga's of the world in terms of prominence.


    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
    1 John 4:18 (New International Version)

    "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."
    John 15:12 (New International Version)

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
    Romans 12:9-10 (New International Version)


    If you read this story in today's Montgomery Advertiser, you'll learn about a group of Air Force reservists that tour the nation "providing musical entertainment with a drug-free message to school children living near military bases."

    And then you get to the part about their message being mixed in with R. Kelly and Christina Aguilera.

    Real nice guys.

    If you live under a pop-culture rock, here are the two "artists" in question.

    R. Kelly

    Christina Aguilera

    Yes, a drug-free message for elementary and middle school kids mixed in with songs from a man facing several charges of statutory rape and ... I don't know if there are appropriate adjectives for Aguilera. Real nice.

    You can't blame the Air Force people. This lands squarely on the entertainment industry for churning out, encouraging, and continuing to promote these people. Way to go media moguls! Don't worry about your children or your grandchildren or nieces and nephews, get that almighty dollar!


    Aubie needs your help! He's one of the finalists for Capital One All American mascot. Its a two part selection process. One half of the final decision is based on judges, the other half on popular vote. And somehow, the five time national champion mascot is only in fourth place in the voting.

    What's worse, at least two of those at the top of the poll simply can't measure up.

    So help get out the vote!


    It was a latent thought that quickly became a reality, but sometime yesterday I decided to climb back on the wagon.

    No more sodas for me.

    I don't drink coffee. Never have. Made a bet with a friend when I was a prefrosh at Auburn that I would make it through school without coffee, and I did. In its place, what was once just a beverage became something that would have been more efficient in an IV bag.

    I started drinking massive amounts of sodas. Pepsi mostly. Because I prefer it, not because I have communist tendecies as some people would have you believe.

    Anyway, when midterms or finals would come around I'd go buy a case of sodas and drink the night away as I "studied." And then one bleary eyed morning I realized that I was sometimes drinking a whole case a night. I vowed then and there, "If I ever get out of this place, I'm not drinking these things anymore!"

    Well I did get out, and in August 2000, I weened myself off of all carbonated beverages. I was really proud of myself. And this lasted for almost two years.

    And then one night in July of 2002, I was in Heber Springs, Arkansas and I said to Brandy, "I want a Pepsi." She said, get one. I said, No I can't. Anyway, I finally caved. So its all her fault!

    It is actually not her fault at all. I had been craving a soda off and on. It was only a matter of time.

    So anyway that was almost two years on the wagon. And sometime yesterday, after one year of being off the wagon, I decided to stop my drinking ways again.

    I didn't even buy any soft drinks at the grocery store last night. And all I've had this morning is a glass of V-8 and water. I'm so proud, its been 24 hours already since my last soda.

    Now if this caffene headache would go away ...


    "When elected to office, I'll pass a law mandating more maple trees!"

    It was an all family weekend for me.

    Friday night it was high school football and Matt's marching band. I finally got to see his solo and they also finally got around to putting the finishing touches on their set. They are doing a celebration of 100 years of flight. At the end of the performance, they have this huge banner that they carry over the entire band. It looks pretty neat. I still like Matt's idea though, having someone fly a model plane over the formation as the finale.

    Saturday morning we were up bright and early to travel two hours north to watch the band march in a competition.

    The highlight of the trip was the leaf turn. Absolutely gorgeous maples. Reds and yellows and oranges. The treelines were alive with an artist's palette of wonderful colors.

    Here at home, we have mostly the evergreen pines and the old sturdy oaks, but never the same vibrant colors that we saw this weekend.

    The other super-great part of the trip was in this truck stop along the way. I found the coolest videogame ever. You put this hood-type thing over your head and you have a video screen that grants 360 degree horizontal rotation and 180 degrees vertical, and you just shoot and shoot and shoot. You've got machine guns, cannons and missles (which I never used) to wipe out soldiers, APCs, tanks, helicopters and airplanes. I probably spent about three dollars playing this game.

    The tragedy here is that I don't even remember the name of it (or if I even bothered to look up to find out) but if anyone has a few thousand dollars and feels like they owe me a particularly cool gift, I'd sing your praises as I shoot up guys parachuting to the earth. Awesome game.

    At the band competition, Matt's band placed third. His band played well, I thought, but Matt was more critical. He has the trained eye and ear, so I will defer to him.

    And while I hate to offend the marching band purists of the world, but the Bloomington High South band which played later in the day, was the coolest marching band I have ever seen.

    One of their drum majors was in a crushed purple velvet suit (with leopard trim) and pimp hat! The other drum major, a white guy, had a huge afro (which I'm told was real). The name of their show is, "You got to funkathize." Everyone says they never win at competition, because their show isn't that rigid formal thing we've all come to expect ... but who cares?

    They played Earth, Wind and Fire and Booker T and the MGs! They danced! The crowd was into it! And the drum major had a pimp hat!

    You could look at the faces of those kids and tell they were having a ball. And in a crazy part of the world where people patiently tolerate the football to see the band, the entertainment is what counts!

    After the competition we went to Harvest Homecoming where the most delicious fresh-off-the-grill corn was to be found. Follow that up with sandwiches, apple dumpling, the smoothest fudge ever. Oh yum.

    We watched Michelle try to climb a rock wall, but bless her heart, her longs just aren't long enough yet. Though she tried and tried for about a half an hour. The National Guard people running the wall gave her one of their prizes for her effort.

    I also found a little used cd/movie/book store and picked up a few things I passed over when they were released. Five discs, 10 bucks.

    Sunday afternoon Matt and I moved a freezer to the basement and a refrigerator from the garage to the mud room. At the end of all that I almost had my right index finger chopped off. We were putting up the trailer that we'd hauled everything around the side of the house and it rolled on me, mashing my hand between the trailer hitch and the bumper of the 4Runner.

    It felt like I could feel the hitch going between the index and middle finger at the ball of my hand. It hurt a little. And its a bit bruised this morning, but so long as I don't touch the ball of my hand to anything, its fine.


    Can't write much now, but I just had to add this before I forgot.

    I was on a plane this afternoon to Louisville for a weekend with the family, and sitting next to me is a guy who is also heading home.

    He says, "I went to Florida six months ago on vacation, and now I'm finally going home off probation."

    Couldn't ask the guy what he'd done. Just couldn't bring myself to do it. But he was a very polite man.
    After pumping gas earlier this week, I walk into the little mom-and-pop place near my house to pay and see this flier. The gas station shares half of the building with the failed-project-of-the-week. Right now its this restaurant, making it ... well, I lost count of what number that makes it, let's just say a lot. And like all those failed entrepenuers before him, the owner is having trouble generating a customer base. But he's going all out for Halloween.

    (All this serves as a warning, budding young businesspeople, Wadsworth's Third Law: Never open in a place where another business has folded.)

    Anyway, the outside of his sandwich shop is highly decorated. And believe it when he says it is the "scarest" restaurant you've ever seen. It will scare you mad!

    If you go inside, you can eat or be eaten? What? I'm going there today!

    Now, to be fair, Brandy picked up lunch there one day and the food wasn't bad. But man, you have got to proofread. Or at least find someone that can.

    Ahhh, another product of the public education system.
    So there is this bomb threat over in Gadsden at an Air Force recruiting station yesterday. It shut down the major highway through town. Around noon the explosives experts decide that there is nothing in this coffee-can-sized container that will explode. So they open it.

    Inside were shotgun shells, a knife and some 50 caliber rounds.

    That was yesterday morning. By yesterday evening, authorities have arrested their suspect. And this genius talked to the media during his perp walk.

    Donald Argo says he placed the fake bomb, and I quote "In hopes that uh, the government would uh uh, the Navy and the Air Force, it was just a momentum of my gratitude for their service in Iraq."

    I especially liked the part in that newspaper story about how he left a "gift" at the Navy recruiting station and then "worried about not leaving anything for the other two armed forces offices." So then he left the other package which prompted the scare.

    Argo is now charged with making a terrorist threat, but says he's not concerned about that, adding "there's nothing dangerous about unloaded shells."


    The lamest stories that were ever lame ... I am pondering this idea right now, based on an interview I just conducted with a nice NASA spokesman.

    I am sure there are equally dumb stories I've done over the years, but the one that really stands out is one that I watched a colleague write.

    Sadly enough, when I was working in Arkansas, Congressman Snyder mourned the loss of a hunting dog.

    So my news director, who shall remain nameless (unless I parenthetically say Terry Easley) asked one of our reporters to interview the Congressman on his loss. The reporter was stumped, I mean what do you ask a U.S. Congressman after his hunting dog gets run over?

    She was uncomfortable. Snyder wasn't sure what was going on ... but the best part was when she asked him to describe the dog and he just starts laughing. Either at a funny memory of the dog or the absurdity of the situation, I don't know.

    Maybe the best part was that we aired the story.

    Anyway, what got me thinking of the lamest stories that were ever lame (and around every corner lurks this opportunity) was an interview I just finished. Its Safety Day at NASA.

    When you hear the words "safety" and "NASA" you think space shuttles and that sort of thing. Particularly when the problem with the Columbia tragedy has been attributed to foam from the external tank, which is the responsibility of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

    And in truth, space operations do have relevance to the Safety Day story. But its also about safety in research. Safety in office work. Safety in your personal life. They have a day for this.

    It is "encouraged, actually heavily encouraged" by officials at NASA according to the spokesman I talked with.

    At the end of the conversation I could only say, "You guys be careful up there today."
    I would appreciate the help of any of my lawyer friends in helping me to understand the following:

    (Montgomery, AL -- ) A federal judge has refused to stop Thursday's scheduled execution of David Larry Nelson. The convicted killer's attorneys argued before U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson that the lethal injection would be cruel and unusual punishment. The attorneys say the procedure would be painful for Nelson to endure since his veins are collapsed. The judge says Nelson waited too long to raise that issue. His attorneys are planning an appeal. Nelson is to die Thursday evening for killing a man in Jefferson County about 25 years ago.

    He was also convicted of another murder, in the same crime spree. But what I want to know, dear attorney friends, is how could you file this particular appeal with a straight face?

    "Errr, judge, you know, we all know the man's been convicted of two murders, but you see Your Honor, putting a little needle in his arm would hurt. He's got collapsed veins. And since we are here Judge Thompson, we'd like to file a suit against the makers of Mr. Nelson's blood veins. We're asking for 48 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the trauma our client suffered from not being able to donate blood and help the community."

    Two shootings are fine. A needle would hurt. Next case.


    One other neat Auburn note:

    Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is in Auburn this evening, discussing international leadership. As he continues his nationwide tour Auburn is one of only two universities that he will adress.

    Why couldn't UPC book quality guests like that when I was in school?

    I saw the advance release on this some time ago, but Saturday night I heard for the first time the promo for the 1990 Nobel Prize winner's visit.

    And if I ever sat down and compiled a list of "Things I would never witness" it would have to include hearing long snippets of the Soviet National Anthem being played in Jordan-Hare.
    10 A.M. -- Feels like the day should long be over. I've hardly done anything.

    Every once in a while, this whole schedule really messes with my head.

    Good weekend. Friday I went home and did nothing. Got up Saturday morning and went down to Auburn. Walked around a cemetery for a while and then finally made my way over to visit with some friends. Tailgate, Tiger Walk, Auburn beat Tennessee 28-21. The Tigers dominated the game and, truth be told, the score should have been 35-14. The officials continue to abuse Auburn at home. But anytime those big sherbet looking people have to sulk home is fine with us. War Eagle!

    Let me just say this: it was the first time I've sat in the pressbox at Jordan-Hare with a full crowd. All my years there I stayed with the students or haunted some upper level seat ... but when you get 80 some thousand home fans screaming their lungs out ... it was loud. LOUD! A lot louder being out of it than being in the middle of it actually.

    Annoyingly, the Tennessee fans that came down tried to do one of their silly little cheers. You know how fans on one side say one color and fans across the way will say another? Well, Tennessee is orange ... and orange. So the cheer sounded just like that. "Orange (pregnant pause) Orange." After a round and a half of that, the Auburn people just drowned them out. It was beautiful.

    Also nice, I got the chance to talk with a colleague from one of our primary news rivals. He's always been a nice guy, there was some animosity built up between the two entities at one time (power hungry manager gets vindictive or something, I don't know, I wasn't here yet) but it was great to sit and talk with a guy I hadn't seen in a while.

    Later in the game, another colleague came by to tell me he'd been fired earlier in the week. The reason, he said, they gave him: budget. Yeah, I know, times are tough. Lots of places are having cutbacks. However, to stay apolitical in the working world I'll just say bad things, good people.

    That minor frustration aside, it was a good Saturday. Got home way late and then spent Sunday with Brandy. She invited me to impose on her family for dinner, which was good and tasty. Though Rhonda's porkchops aren't as good as Brandy's!

    We then watched The Core. I can't wait until someone revisits the Mystery Science Theatre concept and reviews this movie. If you haven't seen it, run! Run now and rent this! And then grab your smartest friends to sit and ruin it with you! If you have seen it were you, like me, waiting for the ugly troll-like monsters to start crawling around in that exterior subterranean scene?


    I wish I were Theodore Roosevelt. I've read both of Edmund Morris' biographies on him. (here and here) He was just the sort of man that could say, "I will get this done!" and by sheer will, charisma and smacking of hand into fist, it would be done. I wish I were that intensely productive.

    Its a problem I have: the impetuousness of youth. So somewhere today I found myself thinking about Roosevelt.

    All that aside, and the possible exception of totally blowing my voice out at work (for the third consecutive week) I've been pretty productive lately.

    Early this week I had my first meeting with Dr. Harry Hamilton, the executive director of St. Andrew's Place. He's asked me to serve on the Board of Directors. St. Andrew's is a nonprofit ministry of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church (Birmingham) that provides basic care and training for adults with mental retardation to enable them to live in the community as independently as possible. Thursday evening I attended a Board meeting and heard some of the most heartbreaking stories of people they serve. In a way that is hard to explain, it was both tragic and inspirational to hear. Anyway, at this point, Dr. Hamilton is polling the board members to determine if I'll be added.

    Also this week I visited Mark Driskel with the Alabama chapter of the Nature Conservancy. I've offered to do a little photography and similar low impact things for them.

    Today, I meet with Nancy Bush, with the Jefferson County CASA. These are the court appointed advocates for children in family court. I know at least (oh say ... ) four people reading this that will scoff and chide me for saying it, but I question whether I am cut out for that sort of important work. (And no, you four, I don't say that as a statement of some deficiency, rather the observed truism that no one can do every thing.) However, Ms. Bush and I discussed other possibilities and I'll be a proactive person for CASA in terms of public relations and recruitment of volunteers.

    I noticed, about a year ago, that I missed school. After having done something for 18 years (K through University) it was sort of my identity. This year, I realized I missed doing good things for the people in the community around me. I'm ready to atone for that now.

    Here's my exciting Friday night so far: I've written a speech for CASA and a query letter for politicians to attend a St. Andrew's function.

    I'm a wild man!

    Tomorrow its "onward to Auburn" once again. I'm finally going to get to work on my findagrave.com project. A trip to Chewacla is also in the works, as is the football game. The hated Tennessee Volunteers are coming down to stink up the loveliest village.
    We love because he first loved us.
    1 John 4:19 (New International Version)

    This is another one of those times that I've stumbled upon a piece of scripture that is so assuredly perfect that commenting on it would seem trite.

    So naturally I commented about not commenting on it.


    I have seen the error of my ways. I (and you, as well) work too hard. So I'm joining the "simplicity movement."

    October 24th is Take Back Your Time Day. Organizer, and documentary maker, John De Graaf says we are on the verge of a huge social crisis.

    There is growing evidence that most of us want more free time. Our opinions of work are on the decline and a recent Conference Board survey reflected the lowest job satisfaction in years.

    U.S. working hours have risen to among the highest of developed nations within the past generation. A drive to overwork, obsession with consumption and disposable income, longer corporate hours where jobs are cut but productivity is increased and narrowminded views on the economy are to blame he says.

    De Graaf wants us all to take October 24th off to contemplate how we organize our lives, with the working self the priority over family.

    He believes the problem has grown to a point that many of us now feel awkward when we have too much free time.

    Amen brother.

    Well, back to work.
    Check this out ...

    Monday morning, I am getting ready for work and I realize that, finally, the big bruise on my arm is completely gone. Still a little tender in one spot, but now it has a normal flesh color, of which I am surprised by, having grown so used to blue and purple the last four weeks or so.

    Less than six hours later, I am sitting at work and the phone rings. Its the apheresis people, asking if I'd be willing to come in and donate again.

    You know, I told them I would. But I think I want to enjoy a few days of my arm not being sore first.
    Hey! Blogger fixed my direct post linking problem. I've asked them for help on three separate problems in the past two months and each time, they've responded and we've gotten the issue resolved in less than 24 hours. A help staff that helps! Thanks guys!

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