Not normally a big Christmas season kind of person. I resent what "They" have turned it into. Don't like that we need a season to pretend to be nice to one another. And it is pretending, else we wouldn't need a season to remind us. I abhor buying presents for people that already have everything (why am I shopping for these people?). I really wish they wouldn't buy me presents. Proud you are thinking of me, but really, I have everything too.

Well, everything that is in the price range of people buying me presents, but I digress ... there are a lot of people, adults and children, I'd rather you take that money and put it to good use. Ya know?

But, I cut down my first Christmas tree this afternoon. Always been the fake kind for me. Rick and Matt picked the perfect tree, someone took a family picture, Matt felled the thing, he and I carried it like four acres back to the truck. Tied it down (that boy is all fired up about tying knots after watching Master and Commander last night), brought it home and put it in the stand. Didn't even notice it was 33 degrees out.

The smell of pot roast is wafting in from the kitchen. The ornaments are coming out of the basement. Christmas songs are coming out of the piano. Michelle is fixing the stuffed-animal decorations. The ornaments are about to go up. And the boy who's not the biggest fan of the commercial version of Christmas gets the sage smile of understanding and appreciate a little earlier this year.

Time to decorate!


May we be thankful each day for the things that touch us most. May we remind all those that we hold most dear how we hold them in our hearts. May we never forget to whom the glory belongs. May we always remember to appreciate the small quiet moments which -- in the end -- count the most.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
To be thankful for ...

  • Those that care about me that let me care for them.
  • The health and safety of those I love.
  • The rights and privileges we've learned to take for granted.
  • Those courageously defending them.
  • The blessings of Almighty God.
  • A life of choice in a world of want.
  • 11.26.2003

    Let me just tell you how wonderful a little change of pace can be. I am working the afternoon today, which allowed me to sleep in until about 7:30. I celebrated with a late night dinner simply because I could. Stayed up later than I should. Woke up before my alarm clocks; but not before the sun!

    Hey, I enjoy the feeling of a full work day in half the time that I sometimes get on my normal schedule, but a little change occasionally is great. I was giddy last night. I debate creating an 'I don't have to wake up at 3 a.m.' dance, but decided not to push my luck.

    With the holidays upon us we are all working double so everyone can get a few days off. At least my day is before my vacation; otherwise I'd spend my holiday dreading being swamped. So today I am pulling double-duty, riding both the network and anchoring the venerable Paul Finebaum show. After that I'm be skipping out of town . Six hour drive to a four day weekend. Family and too much food.

    And here's a first: I'm told to take old clothes (which I don't think I packed by the way) because we are going to go cut down a Christmas tree. Never did that. I've always had fake trees (nice and convenient) and lived vicariously through A Christmas Story.

    Even now I'm laughing at that scene. Hehe.

    Also on movies, I read this week's cover story in Opinionweek, which is on the third installment in Lord of the Rings. Good piece. Now I'm just counting the days to see it.

    Well time for the unusual breakfast at home.

    Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the
    nations what he has done.
    Psalm 105:1 (New International Version)


    Sour grapes from the University of Alabama (losers of three out of the last four Iron Bowls).

    Steve Irvine, in today's Birmingham News, reports on page 7B:

    Alabama cheerleader Christopher Bailey has been cut from the squad after admitting on national television that he had feelings for his school's archrival.

    Bailey drew criticism for admitting split loyalties between the Crimson Tide and Auburn on the ESPN broadcast of Saturday's Iron Bowl.

    The school's athletic program received a number of Emails about the interview since the game, and university officials responded to each Email.

    Bailey attended Auburn before transferring to Alabama. He was interviewed during the game by ESPN sideline reporter Adrian Karsten.

    UA spokesman Larry White said UA Athletics Director Mal Moore met with Bailey and cheerleading coordinator Debbie Greenwell on Monday before removing Bailey from the squad.

    That's just offensive on general principle. One more reason to hate Bama.


    Here's the summation of my weekend:

    Friday, a trip to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Brandy and I saw The Secret Garden. This is a kid's play, but more fraught with unintentional innuendo than I remember in reading it. Very cute performance.

    Saturday I stayed with my sickly feelings that had been brewing late in the week and developed into a full-fledged illness almost immediately in the second act of the play. Saturday night was the Iron Bowl. See below.

    Sunday I began to feel better and we went to see Matrix: Revolutions. Which sounds an awful lot like Revelations, Brandy pointed out. At least it wasn't as confusing as the second, which is not to say I understood what was happening too much more, but I've found this interesting site that points out all sorts of things you missed in the movies. Drawing the anime series into the storyline as well corroborates some evidence, but this site doesn't necessarily explain everything.

    And if you know where that site can be found, please let me know.


    One of the best parts of the Iron Bowl was courtesy of the TV crew late in the game. When it is obvious Auburn has the game in hand, the color analyst starts making his consolation remarks for the losing team and says "Mike Shula has got Alabama on the right path."

    Literally, as those words are said, this graphic pops up.

    Fourth losing season in 45 years, third in the last seven. Yes, we love this path.
    'Round the bowl
    down the hole
    roll tide roll.



    All I did was have an idea. Now the good people at St. Andrew's place took that and figured out a way to try and get legislation started in the statehouse. Ideally it would work toward easing the funding woes for the agencies working with the mentally retarded.

    I simply looked up when the proper awareness month was (March) and said, "It would be neat to get a little PR by having some dignitaries out, tour the facility, let them give a short speech ... I could get TV out here for that."

    One brainstorming session later ... all we need is a date, RSVPs and a sponsor for legislation.

    I cover it, of course. I study it, of course. This would be the first time that I've been fortunate enough to be involved in something that could potentially be impactful to a lot of people. I have a very, very small roll in this, but how much bigger is the feeling that comes from it.


    This was me earlier today. The storms -- which we'd started watching closely more than a day ago -- finally hit us, bringing two small twisters (one in Tuscaloosa and another in Walker County), some straight-line wind damage and lots of rain as I was getting off of work.

    So I was all gung-ho to go find a good part of the storm and do a little field reporting. Only by the time I got out of the studio the storms were moving swiftly on and there was only the one place in Tuscaloosa that had any significant damage (and thankfully not much). All the same, I wanted to chase some weather. Its been a long time since I had the chance to do that. Its fun every once in a while.

    Probably for the best. I've had the hiccups all day. And the sugar trick is just barely working.


    Wasps in the office: 26! (destroying the previous record of 18)
    Times the janitor has removed wasp corpses: seven
    Times the building has tried to fix the problem: zero
    Maybe it is true what they say about the South. MSNBC reports:

    Southern drawls have thwarted voice recognition equipment used by the Shreveport (La.) Police Department to route non-emergency calls.

    The voice-recognition system asked people to name the person or department they wanted. More often than not, the system just didn’t understand, and they wound up at the wrong place.
    Nice. Wonder how that software would work in Maine.
    Had a long wait at Olive Garden yesterday afternoon. They ran out of stuffed-chicken (their new signature item) at 4:15. Tough spot for a restaurant to be in and precisely why I don't pick places to eat.

    The entrees finally came an hour later ... and the food was on the house. Maybe I should pick where to eat more often. Oh yeah, and the pumpkin cheesecake (scroll down to see it) is pretty tasty.

    And of course, I forget the leftovers in my car. That smelled nice this morning.


    Auburn, in its five (FIVE!) losses, has been outscored 121-37. And don't let this preseason number one fool you into thinking this is an offensive juggernaut; 20 of those points came in one game. Oh sure, 208 points combined were posted against Vandy, Western Kentucky, a hapless Mississippi State (fresh off of their coach announcing his retirement) and Louisiana Monroe, but really now.

    We did at least manage to stumble into two quality wins against Tennessee and Arkansas.

    You know, when Tommy Tuberville lied to his team at Mississippi and took the Auburn job, he brought with him "the best junior college team money can buy." Now, in his fifth year at Auburn he's still searching for that elusive first 10-win season. And he's (in all honesty) assembled great talent this year. Talent which scares the daylights out of Division II football teams. But its cool, he makes more than a million dollars a year.

    That bio states: "Tommy Tuberville has revitalized Auburn’s tradition-rich program and guided the Tigers back among the nation’s elite during his tenure as head coach."

    Uh huh. In just under five years he's compiled a 36-24 overall record (22-17 in conference). That's a 60 percent record overall and 56 percent record in conference. Time to update the bio guys.

    Auburn people wonder why we're considered a second-banana in this state. In a place that identifies itself with football, church and barbeque (probably in that order) we consider this "revitalizing the program." I'd say more, but this really is starting to speak for itself.

    Oh yeah, and for the record, Auburn is oh-and-two since inexplicably pulling my media credentials. Kharma Meredith, kharma.

    Bama comes to the Plains next weekend, and it could be the third consecutive loss to the Tide at home, all under Tubby's watch.

    War pigeon on steroids.


    Life has been ... sorta bland the past few days. So I apologize, dear reader, for not spending much time here.

    Actually, parts have been very nice. Mom was in town this week working and I got to spend a little time with her. Rare is the day when we can just visit without others being around. So that was fun. And she took me out to eat a lot. That was nice. And I did a little work for her (which, I know, I probably can't talk about) and she overpaid me. That was good. In fact, on the basis of that small amount of work and the ridiculous pay, a sane person would give serious thought to changing career paths.

    The Onion reports on a mom finding her son's blog.

    Blogger offers advice for dealing with the situation.

    I went to sleep early last night so I woke up around the time that I would normally get up and go to work. I finally got out of bed before 7, but it was nice to wake up off and on for the next three hours and realize I could sleep. Good times. Already I've watched a documentaries on Ford and Remington, dusted the dining room and ate breakfast. Even on the weekend I do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day. I need a nap now.


    The last dozen things that brought random people here ...

    Google: "Homer Bundrum" (A Jacksonville, AL city councilman embroiled in a scandal involving sex abuse of a minor ... he's since resigned.)
    Yahoo: kenny's temperature during day and night (The searcher found something I'd written on the temperature swings of autumn.)
    Google: alabama Secretary of state SUV (My rant against government waste.)
    Google: espn 10 commandments of football (This person found everything except what they wanted.)
    Google: "her arm" needle platelets donate (The bruising debacle courtesy of Red Cross.)
    Yahoo: auburn tigers webpages (*cough hack wheeze*)
    Google: comedian kenny smith (Glad someone thinks I'm funny.)
    Yahoo: aubie voting machine (The hype and the voting continues. Aubie now stands alone in second place. )
    Google: Chief Kenny Smith (Words cannot express how flattered I feel at this moment.)
    Google: teenage mutant ninja turtle sweatshirts (I detailed who showed up for Halloween.)
    Yahoo: "why do I get shocked" (This person found my open question -- still no answer has been provided to me. It would have been funnier had the Yahoo user stumbled upon my butt-shocking anecdote.)
    Google: tommy tuberville lied (Yes. He did.)


    My great-grandmother is not doing so well. She fell recently and broke some ribs and fractured her shoulder. And a further test revealed a broken sternum. She believes she did that in another spill a few weeks ago that she didn't tell anyone about.

    Now, at 98, she's just two weeks away from her birthday and is not her usual brand of optimistic about it. Sometimes people just know, and she might.

    Her stay at a rehab center is being considered almost as a transition into a nursing home (at 98, she has lived alone, and done so for more than a quarter of a century now). Its hard to be hopeful even for that at this point. Already a frail lady, she hasn't been eating anything and complains of food getting stuck when she tries.

    I went to see her this weekend and she just asked me to hold her hands. She and my mother sang songs together. I put lotion on her hands and arms. And while the rest of the 'family' is off busily doing other things, I was proud she asked me to do that.


    There's an Andy Griffith reunion show next week! It airs Tuesday night at 8/7c on CBS. I just found out about this and wish it were Tuesday already. Here's the story.
    You might recall that I posted my rant a few days back on government spending in the case of Secretary of State Nancy Worley.

    This morning I received a reply from her office. In the interest of fairness, I present her side of the story:
    First, the Secretary of State's budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, made by my predecessor, included $25,000 for a new cargo van for our warehouse, since our van was old and in poor condition. Secondly, I inherited my predecessor's Crown Victoria with 91,000 miles on it in January, and I fully intended to drive it for four years. After we added 30,000 more miles to it by July, the transmission began to slip and we needed a new car also. By that date it was too late to order a vehicle to specifications; therefore, we had to buy one off the lot which was listed on the state contract specifications. Woody Anderson Ford in Huntsville had two Crown Victorias, two Expeditions, and one Excursion which met the state contract bid. They were getting their 2004 models; therefore, they had few 2003 models on the lot which were on the state contract list.

    My Finance Director and Legal Counsel encouraged me to get the Expedition in order to SAVE money by purchasing one vehicle instead of two. As a result of our taking a vehicle on the lot and buying a 2003 model, we did make a much cheaper purchase than those ordered to specification which most of the office holders and agency heads are driven in. There are over 500 utility vehicles owned by the state; however, mine was singled out for personal and political reasons. When one starts to uncover where the "bodies are buried" in state government, one gets lots of criticism.

    I can assure you that we do everything we can possibly do in the Secretary of State's Office to save money -- use the back of printed paper, re-use envelopes, get numerous bids before buying, etc. We shall continue to look for additional ways to save the taxpayers' money.

    If I have a car with reportedly 120,000 miles on it and the transmission slips, I fix the transmission. That's cheaper than buying a new vehicle.

    Meeting contract specs? Did I tell you about the $7,000 in optional packages (forbidden in state contract law) her Expedition has? That saving money by buying one is a pretty thin argument too. She said the Expedition was needed to haul boxes and computers. I've hauled the same around for years in the back seats of my cars.

    I won't criticize her position on the relative cost compared to other top government officials. They all have costly transportation as well. I will disagree with her implication of this attention being the result of uncovering where 'bodies are buried' in government. While they are there, to be sure, she's not doing a lot of uncovering. Unless she would like to say the media isn't telling all of that story either.

    As for reusing paper and obtaining many bids for contracts, congratulations. What do you want? A cookie? That's what you are supposed to do.


    Love to eat turkey
    Love to eat tur-ur-ur-key
    Love to eat turkey cause its good
    Love to eat turkey like a good boy should

    Yeah, its that time. I just dusted off Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving Song for the first time of the season. May we all (soon) O-D on tryptophan.
    Is it Friday yet?

    President Bush visited Monday. The Supreme Court says no to Roy Moore. Richard Scrushy's 85 count indictment is unsealed. The Birmingham mayoral runoff was resolved.

    Fortunately when Wednesday rolled around, everything returned a bit to normal. Today was about the same. Tomorrow will get completed only because the promise of sleep at the end.

    "We can do it. We'll be fine." That's what was said when it was announced that corporate was going to leave our newsroom short staffed. As we've learned from experience, Yes, it can be done. For a while. But its not going to be pretty. And the quality will ultimately slide.

    Anyway, I'm just proud we haven't had any other breaking news this week ... and that the boss believes in comp time.


    Here's my advice to anyone running for office: Read Edmund Morris' The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.

    Pay particular attention to his time as a police commissioner in New York City. Note how he starts using the media to his advantage.

    Carole Smitherman would be wise to heed this advice. Working with the media might have changed the results from last night's mayoral runoff. As it stands, she lost by four thousand votes (nine percent of the popular vote turnout).

    Covering her watchparty last night, none of the campaign workers "OKed" to speak to the media would come out. I was told by the media liason (who mostly just said, "I'm sorry, no. I'm sorry, I can't.") that those two people weren't available. Two people. On election night. And that's the way she ran her whole campaign.

    There are three news/talk radio stations in Birmingham, two daily newspapers, five television stations providing local news (not even counting public television stations). My question is, how are you not constantly on somewhere?

    But Councilwoman Smitherman wouldn't return our calls. She wouldn't even talk to the media after her concession speech. Her press liason weakly and meekly offered yet another excuse and apology. I just walked away mid-sentence.

    Campaign finance reports show that Smitherman raised more than 604 thousand dollars this year. She did a very small handful of television spots and no radio spots that I heard ... she had signage and neat t-shirts, and that's about it. Where did the rest of that money go?

    Roosevelt was a master of public awareness. He was so popularly set in the minds of the people that by the time he was in the White House, letters addressed only with a hand drawn image of his glasses were delivered to 1600 Pennsylvania ... Name recognition truly is everything.


    Scrushy indicted.

    Eighty-five counts on ousted HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Go Sarbanes-Oxley Act!

    Now, if we could just see the Enron and Worldcom people (and all others with no corporate scruples) prosecuted so intensely.


    You've all heard of Bushisms. A new example follows.

    First, I wanted to point out something else that the President spoke about during his short time in Birmingham today.

    In his speech on the economy at CraneWorks, President Bush said, "And then, as you well know, we marched to war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the security of our country and for the peace of the world, all of which affected our confidence. It affected the economy. I mean, Alabama has been hit hard by -- in the manufacturing sector and the textile sector. These are challenges. But we met the challenges with action. We took tough action in order to move this economy forward. "

    I found the part about the localized impact of a struggling economy particularly interesting. And then I saw this story on the Associated Press wire:

    "They are some of President Bush's staunchest congressional supporters, but Republicans from textile states are sending him an ultimatum: limit the influx of Chinese textiles or see future free trade deals defeated in the U-S House. It's a battle Southern lawmakers have been fighting since 2001, when China won a membership in the World Trade Organization that released it from numerous American quotas. "

    Remember, the President said, "We took tough action in order to move this economy forward."

    Some Alabamians might say otherwise, 632 textile jobs have been lost in Alabama since August.

    As I've written previously, we are likely nearing the end of that type of industry in this state and, indeed, the nation. Problem is, we have an entire segment of the workforce who are good at those jobs, who've worked hard at them all their lives, who will soon have nowhere else to work.

    And finally, my Bushism of the trip:

    The President, in that same speech at CraneWorks (owned by "the Upton boys" David and Steve), remarked, "The Uptons bought nine cranes last year in order to rent them out. And they told me one of the reasons why is because of the tax relief -- it provided an incentive for them to purchase additional equipment.

    "Now, that means a couple of things: somebody has got to make the equipment, which means somebody is working; somebody has got to maintain the equipment, go rent the equipment; it means people here at CraneWorks are more likely to keep a job, but in the Uptons case, or this case, it actually added 15 jobs this year."

    Somebody has got to make the equipment. The ironic thing about this statement is that President Bush was indicating a crane standing behind him made by Demag.

    Clicking on that link will show you that Demag is a German company, leading us to believe that "somebody" that "has got to make the equipment, which means somebody is working" would actually be German workers.

    Someone on the President's research staff goofed today.
    So I go to cover the President landing in Birmingham today ... who scheduled a brief swing through town to talk about the economy and drum up campaign funds. I leave my studio early and head over to the 117th Air Refueling Wing base at the Birmingham airport to meet Air Force One ...

    (As a sidebar, let me just say, what a massive and beautiful plane. In covering three Presidential visits this is the first time I've gotten to see it.)

    So the President is expected at 9:45, but the media has to be there early for security. I go even earlier to report from the scene of his arrival. "Its good imaging," my program director says. I agree and arrive early enough to do a live report on WERC at 8:30. At 8:40 I tape reports for the Network for use in the next hour. I do another live report for WERC at 9, then again at 9:30.

    The plan was to break in on the syndicated Glenn Beck program (the President's arrival is sort of considered breaking news and all) but the President was running late. So we skip the 9:45 planned break-in. I do another live report at 10 a.m. and stretch that as long as possible, still no President.

    At 10:10 he is landing. I call back, "Last chance," I say, "to break into programming for the President's arrival."

    "We can't do that, its too close to the last news break."

    What? Of all my media counterparts, every television station is live, even the one other radio guy there went live. Every other journalist there was covering the news, except for me.

    Know what I did? As they were moving the stairs into position for the departure from Air Force One, I recorded a report using past tense as if the President had just gotten off the plane, shook hands and got into his waiting car.

    It is, indeed, all about the imaging when you send someone out to cover breaking news and then you don't actually cover it when it breaks.


    Strong! That's all I can say. About 10 days ago Aubie was running neck and neck with Hairy Dawg for third place in the Capital One 2003 Mascot Bowl.

    All the votes are paying off, Aubie has left Hairy Dawg behind and is closing in on Cocky (South Carolina's mascot).

    But we can't stop yet! The voting runs through December 22. Vote every day! The contest is one half popular vote and one half judge's scoring, and if the gap is closed Aubie will surely win another title!

    So get out the vote! And then copy this URL and tell all your friends to vote as well!


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