Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ... By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1,3 (New International Version)


I feel so old. For the first time ever, I have encountered a piece of "user friendly" technology that I can't figure out. I can't figure out how to program my new cell phone put a Welcome Note (like that shows up when you turn it on) and a note that sits on the main screen (where you'd have Cingular, the clock, the batter and the signal) when its idle.

Any ideas?

Here's your cult trip of the day. I just downloaded the rarest of rare. Counting Crows performed August and Everything After last December. The title track to their first album from 1994, but the song wasn't on the album and they have literally never played it. Adam's more than a minute into the song when the crowd hears the chorus and finally realizes what they're hearing.
Wind is whipping down the hill. I can hear it stirring inside the angles of the house. The wood has groaned. The trees outside are barely moving.
Someone, quick! Think of a smooth, grateful and inoffensive way to say "Thanks, but no thanks" for a job you are too overqualified (and too prideful) to have. Someone called me and is thinking of offering me a position ... but the thing is that what they want me to do is about five years ago in my work experience.

I really don't mean this to sound disrespectful, but when the guy got to the part of "Well when person X has something else going on, you'd get to do such and such!" I apologize to you, dear reader, for the vagueness, but rest assured, the thing that I would 'get to do' is a little too disheartening to get to look forward to. Does that make sense?

So I'm thinking to myself, "Thanks for thinking of me. I don't mean to sound haughty, but I'm not an intern or a high school kid or a newbie." Hey, any time I'm thought of I'm flattered, but this conversation was demoralizing. And so now I must find a way to not be insulting to the people behind the offer.
You know that dream you can have after you've been awake but fall back asleep? I had the strangest one this morning: I was back in the FFA. The time was now, so I'm nearly a decade removed from active membership, but I'd been re-elected as state president. And I delivered a killer speech to kick off the new year.

It has been 10 years -- and I don't mean to sound callous here -- but how strange to have a dream of a time and place you rarely think of anymore.


Take note future world leaders, 24 words on loyalty:

It is difficult for aides to remain truly loyal to a leader who does not value them and cannot distinguish bad work from good. -- Lou Cannon


More signs your humble correspondent needs a life:

The early highlight of the day was Alabama Power coming out and moving a light from one pole to another! Took them about three weeks to finally come out and do the job. The task itself too about 20 minutes. Impressive work all the way around, so I stood in the doorway and gawked. I think I made the poor guy uncomfortable.

But wonders never cease ... and unexpectedly, I managed to get my cell phone package changed. And the improvement required a new phone!

Ooooh! And later this evening, I'm going to change a lightbulb!


I just added (yet) another banner to this page. You now have 14 to see. Happy reloading! This most recent one is a sunset. And please don't anyone call it symbolic. I might not like that.
I am beginning to seriously consider a full site redesign. I am also very interested in hearing the ideas of others about what should happen here. So you know the drill: Email me some thoughts!
Saturday was Picture Day at Sloss Furnaces. Check out my amateurish snapshots -- all 16 of them worth posting -- on the 'visual' page.
Sister Hazel. Maroon 5. Michael Penn. Wallflowers. Good music night.


I went to World Market for the first time this evening. That store is great. Neat stuff at affordable prices. I just walked through real quick and saw all kinds of things I had to talk myself out of buying.

And I have to think, the person with the glow-in-the-dark stars is so cool.
Well, this place will now be undergoing some unexpected changes. Things are changing, and these things will ultimately be positive. Of this I have no doubt. Faith is good that way. So while this page is going to be somewhat limited for a time, you'll get your fix and a better explanation later.

I'd also ask for your thoughts and prayers for a few family members that have been ill recently. Out of respect for their privacy I won't get too detailed, but if you have a list of people you pray and think positively for, "Kenny's family members" should be get the job done.

Until next time (like probably tomorrow) ...
We can never look at barns the same.
Funeral services are being held today in Trenton, Georgia for maybe the most widespread painters you've never heard of. Alabama native Clark Byers, who painted "See Rock City'' on barns in 19 states, died earlier this week.

Byers began in 1937, offering to paint the barns of farmers who allowed him to add the famous slogan to the roofs. By the time he retired in 1969, Byers had painted about 900 barns.

Clark Byers was 89.

TGIF. And we're now on the downside of that, thankfully enough. Networking problems the last two days keeps the office from being anyone's favorite place.

Poor engineers, we look to them like it is their fault the system went blooey. And why isn't back on yet? As soon as I stop giving them the third degree myself, I'll remember to feel bad for them. They just want a quiet Friday too, but can they have that? Nooooo.

As my mother said the other day, after getting a voice mail six hours after I left it, "Modern technology...faster than a speeding bullet...yeah, right."

Let's all go churn butter, make our own clothes and communicate through smoke signals. I bet I'd beat you back in the race to return to the conveniences of modern technology.


That little yellow guy on the far left -- and about 70 of his friends -- took a trip of about 200 yards just a few minutes ago.

First time I pulled the clubs out of the bag this year. The driving range felt good despite the layoff. The planets lined up and all my clubs worked. Except the eight, which never works.

Have to work out lengths on a few irons, but the driver was going 200ish every time!
I am conducting an informal poll regarding a story at work. Please read the following paragraph and then Email me. The story follows:

Motorists in Birmingham may find their car has a little accessory. If they can find their car at all. Tire boots or a tow might be considered as the city tries to collect on some 1.4 million dollars in unpaid parking tickets last year. Mayor Bernard Kincaid, already looking at cuts, says the Magic City is missing out on too much revenue. Some fingers are being pointed at Commercial Legal Services, a private collection agency under contract to collect traffic fines.

The question I want you to answer is this: if you do not live in Birmingham (or the metro) do you care about this story at all? Remember, all you have to do is shoot me a yes or no answer at smitken@mail.com

You can always tell me why you do or don't care. I'll welcome that input, but a "yes" or "no" answer is all I ask.
In the black some $350 million, some state lawmakers are calling again for a lottery, despite the issue being overwhelmingly shot down in a statewide referendum just five years ago. Meanwhile, think tank Alabama Policy Institute says the state missed the boat.
The economic consequences of legalizing casinos in Alabama vastly outweigh any benefits they might bring ...

While establishing casinos would likely generate between $105.3 million and $131.6 million annually for the state, the public and the private sector costs created by an increase in pathological gamblers would be approximately $187.5 milion per year. Other costs, such as suicide, are very difficult to calculate.

Government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, not make them economic slaves to it. In the words of Robert Goodman, author of The Luck of Business:
To move away from the culture of chance and toward policies that promote genuine economic development will mean going beyond the hype of magic bullet cures ... we should seek to better understand and correct the economic circumstances that have forced state and local governments to consider gambling in the first place


Here's before and during of Rick's Dreamland ribs experience.

You guess which is which.
The second-best thing about taking a Monday and Tuesday off is only having a three-day work week. One day down, two to go.

Rick is headed home this afternoon. We're going to meet for lunch and then I'll be sending him away to his rightful place in Ozzie and Harriet land. I have a great picture of him to add later today. Think barbeque ribs.

Oh and they were delicious. Just right now I want to go back and have some more. Why do I never eat at Dreamland? Who can overlook something like that? Oh well, I guess my arteries will thank me. But it is so good.

So I guess it is back to normal around the house. That may include a nap today. Someone up my street was doing construction until almost 10 p.m. last night. What with the beeping of the dump trucks in reverse and the constant yelling ... I'm not even sure why I went to bed early. I'm starting to wind down a bit now. One more hour to go.


Rick is here. We've been having fun! So you've been neglected!

Sunday evening we went out for Mexican, and then Monday I took him down to Auburn for his first visit. I gave him a riding tour around campus. The highlights of his trip included lemonade at Toomer's and dinner at Cheeburger. Rick ate the semi-serious -- I couldn't talk him into the pounder -- and then complained all the way home about eating too much.

Today we've fixed a TV problem and are about to go looking for a hat for Rick, electronics stuff and then on to Dreamland.

And after that, it is right back on the diet!


Every now and then someone I meet will ask about constantly being surrounded by talk of all of the horrible, horrible things that are covered in the news business. The answer: dark newsroom humor.
(Muscle Shoals-AP) -- A search for the remains of a five-year-old girl presumed dead for more than a decade began yesterday after Franklin County authorities received a tip that her body was under a house in Muscle Shoals. Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott says he received a tip about two weeks ago that Andrea Gonzalez's body may have been moved to the spot underneath the house sometime after her death.
Sheriff Plott: Excuse me sir and/or ma'am. I don't really know how to say this. See, I got this phone call about two weeks ago and ... Well, uhhh, its actually kind of embarrassing because I didn't know how to come ask you this but uhhh ... Well, here's the thing: It turns out there might be a body under your house. So would you ... You know ... Mind staying at the Days Inn while we look?


Dear God,

Thank you lord, for giving me these many gifts you have bestowed upon me. Thank you Lord, for allowing me to turn a phrase with such ease. All the praise is yours for allowing me to be a halfway eloquent speaker. Thank you Lord, for touching me with my dry and sarcastic wit, that sometimes serves me so well. Thank you for the skill to communicate with others on a large basis each day. Thank you, Lord, for all of the rest of my potential.

And Lord, I'm glad you didn't ask me to be a painter. As I learned today, neither of us would have been satisfied with the outcome.

I painted my upstairs hall and the entrance foyer today. Snicker if you must, but it was the first time I've ever had to really paint. And no one was here to tell me when I messed up (which I did). Oh there were moments of intelligence -- you might call it actual thought -- on my part. But they were far outweighed by the many incidences of ignorance.

Going into the job I think to myself, "I can do this. Lots of people paint. I'm a fairly smart guy. Paint, brush, wall, no problem." After cutting in the first part of the first door, I'm about ready curl up in the fetal position. Halfway down the first hall I realize, "If my landlord fired the painter, I wouldn't be offended."

Three-and-a-half hours after I started ... I finally wrap things up. That long. Less than one gallon of paint. In my defense, there was a lot of cutting in that had to be done. And, also in my defense, the good Lord obviously didn't want me to be a painter. Thank you Lord.
Quote of the day ...

"I feel sorry for Russia if people like this want to govern it." -- Albina Rybkin

This comment about her husband, Ivan Rybkin. The presidential longshot turned up missing a few days ago and some thought him killed by political enemies before the election. He says he just took a few days off to go to Kiev.
Milk does a body good, but as one Mobile elementary school learned, cleaning fluid does not. Officials tell me this morning that a mix up at the Dairy Fresh plant ended up with a sanitizer in half pint containers clearly labeled for fat-free milk. One student and a teacher at E.R. Dickson drank from the sanitizer, noticing a strong vinegar taste. The problem was quickly discovered, and nearly 100 other containers were quickly disposed of. No one was hurt. The principal says she's glad it wasn't the chocolate milk, which a lot of the kids drink.

But if you're Dairy Fresh, when you clean your plant, do you really want to dispose of the sanitizing fluid in milk cartons?


What was it that Einstein said? About relativity?

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."

Depending on which part of the day that I think of it, each of the last two days have passed either incredibly fast or incredibly slowly. Weird.

Today I was so proud of myself. Such accomplishments! Such drive! Such ambition! And then I recalled all I did do. And then I thought of all I didn't do, because of the little I did do.

That was: work, add another task at work of updating their web page, pick up the reference letters for UAB, buy Valentine's Day cards, mail all of that stuff ... and that's it.

Elsewhere, excuse me while I pat myself on the back. My site now has its first addict. Maybe I should make a seal or a or logo or something. Of course, the site's first addict (in just under seven years of existence mind you!) is my mother. And that's wonderful. At least she's giving the stat counter lots of hits.

You can be an addict too! You'll have to conform to the newly established criteria and ... well ... you might want to clear your afternoon to reach such rarefied air.

Interesting side note discovered from this post: Blogger's spell check doesn't have the word "stat."

Time to recharge my batteries.
The Air Force Thunderbirds will be at Maxwell Air Force Base this summer. Quick, someone find the company stationary so I can get in my request to fly with them! They do a very few of those -- and they are always in high demand. I wonder what the odds of being picked would be?
Two down, one to go.

My current boss and my former boss have been kind enough to recommend me for grad school. Hopefully I won't be asking them to put their integrity on the line too much in vouching for me. Now I'm trying to get in touch with a professor from the undergrad days to acknowledge that I can occasionally be a good student.
Would it be too geeky to put a countdown on my page somewhere so we can all keep track of how long until pitchers and catchers report to spring training? Football's over and I have to sit through basketball and hockey until April. Cruel and unsual punishment indeed.

Speaking of sports, anyone paying attention to this mess in Colorado? I'd like to say the Alabamas and Auburns of the world are truly amateurish at getting themselves in trouble compared to the University of Colorado. I'd like to say that. I won't, because two weeks later we'd find out that the same things were happening here.


As I say of the Atkins diet: Dr. Atkins, you know what happened to him? He died. Turns out I was more right than I knew.
(New York-AP) -- A new report says the founder of the famous Atkins Diet died obese and with a heart condition.

Doctor Robert Atkins died last April at the age of 72, after he fell on an icy street in New York.

The Wall Street Journal -- citing a report from the city medical examiner -- says he weighed 258 pounds at his death and had previously suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension.

His widow says she's outraged that the report has been made public. She also says her husband's doctors insist his health problems weren't related to diet.
Where did I put my carbohydrates?
Alabama facts

The state of Alabama's $11.9 billion verdict against Exxon Mobil wasn't just the biggest jury verdict of the year in the United States. It was bigger than the rest of the Top 100 verdicts combined. The National Law Journal and VerdictSearch have come out with their annual compilation of the top 100 jury verdicts for 2003.


On the speaker outside of my studio I hear ...

Bridge Over Troubled Waters? Simon and Garfunkel? This song is playing at 9:30 in the morning? Who programmed this? Zzzzzz.
" ... "

Me, biting my tongue at work.


Happy birthday Pawpaw!

That's Charles (pay attention here) the father of my Mother Number Two: Kym's dad. Their whole family had the misfortune of "adopting" me before they realized how much of a problem child I can be.

Today is Charles' birthday. He's sixty-mumble-mumble. We took him out to a mexican place -- he brought his own hat -- for dinner, cake and fried ice cream.
Cold, overcast, windy, snow flurries ...

Naturally I went outside to take pictures. I found an old building that had been turned into a hay barn. Four pictures -- the ones where I wasn't shivering -- have been added to the 'visual' page. One of the pictures I took has become the newest banner for the top of this page (we're up to 12 now).
Awfully foggy around here yesterday. I just put four pictures up on the 'visual' page. That fog hung on the mountain all day. Couldn't even see the lights down in the valley.
A cultural icon of Birmingham, Andy Spinosi, has died.

I knew him only in a passing way, but that was enough to appreciate his genius and kind-heartedness. He was loved and will be missed by friends, family and the total strangers that made up his always-laughing audience.


Excerpts from Congressman Mike Rogers' bi-weekly radio address ...
So what happened during the Super Bowl (halftime)?

That 30-minute fantasy of filth shattered every conceivable standard of decency ever established for a public audience that large

Shame on the executives at CBS, Viacom and MTV. Shame on them for reacting with false shock and outrage at a stunt so clearly planned in advance.

Apparently, 'decency' just isn't something they value in their big-city board rooms.

But, my fellow Alabamians, here in the South we do. 'Decency' is something we respect. 'Decency' is something we love. And it's time we stood up and brought an end to this kind of public injustice ... As of today, I am asking each and every one of you to join me in this fight.

To write your letter, visit my website. Submit your letter to me. I will send it to CBS executives along with the thousands of others I have already received.
Congressman Rogers also attacked "raunchy, vile and baseless" Super Bowl commercials.

But you have to agree with the veterans: what about Kid Rock's wretched use of the American Flag?

Quote of the day ...

Birmingham City Councilwoman Gwen Sykes has been fired from her job as an assistant principal at Green Acres Middle School for failing to report to work. Interim schools Superintendent Wayman Shiver says everyone must follow the rules, "If Governor Riley works for the Birmingham Board of Education and does not follow the established policies, we will terminate him."

Sykes is expected to appeal her termination.


The 10 Commandments are back in the Alabama Judicial Building. My co-worker, Tiffany Davis reports:
The 10 Commandments are now included in a display with seven other historical documents that helped form Western law. The display is in the rotunda just yards from the spot once occupied by former Chief Justice Roy Moore's granite monument of the Commandments. Moore was expelled from his job in November for refusing to follow a federal court order to remove the monument. He says the display is a museum piece rather than an acknowledgment of God.
The key word here is "museum." That's a distinguishment used for similar displays elsewhere versus the one that got Moore tossed out on his ear.

Somewhere Justice Potter Stewart (b. 1915 d. 1985) is looking down on all this with a smile.
"That's an expensive two dollars," Captain David Wilson of the Daphne Police Department

After a man took two bucks from a convenience store clerk, ran from police, was hit by a Taser and tried to jump into Mobile Bay while handcuffed. Charles Wayne Padgett Junior could get 10 years.


Because I like it when you click, I've now added two more of those banners to go on the top of the page. If you're keeping count, we are now up to 11. Get to know your refresh button, won't you?

Should I continue to add those things? Rotate out the old for new? What do you say? Your opinion is the most important one!
As promised, here are pictures of the studios, old and new.

Notice how the keyboard won't fit in front of the monitor in the new place? There's no room for it because of the control board. So I have to type in my lap or off to the left. My neck and wrists hurt just thinking about it.

The boss has assured me that the primary studio, still under construction (and lock and key, go figure) will not have this problem. If we can get a few more sound issues fixed, and the computer arrangement improved, the new place won't be so bad. Plus the heat works! This is a big deal after you spend enough days in sub-60 degree studios.

In other, even more tedious news, my ISP is horribly slow tonight. Fortunately for me I don't have much else to say right about now.

But, if you are looking toward downtown Birmingham, or you see a sign with a particular 'S' on it, cross your fingers for me and say a little prayer.
Pardon my incessant sleeping Tuesday afternoon. I could not drag myself out of bed to talk to you. Or you. Or you in the corner over there.

We've been moved into one of our new studios. The powers that be have consolidated ARN with the cluster. One of our two new booths is operational. (Later today you'll be able to compare and contrast new and old.) Big change, when it comes to live radio, can be risky. So many things can go wrong. But the engineers have handled the task of moving us well. Still bugs to work out, but that is to be expected.

We now have to get used to new studios and control boards and things ... that's always a lot of fun. So far, the pluses are faster computers, rooms with heat and a better view. Hearing Michael Bolton and Celine Dion through a speaker just outside my door has been the big negative so far.

And that has been the biggest news of the week here.

The state legislation has gathered again in Montgomery. Governor Riley has called for a special session to address government accountability, while at the same time announcing plans of a budget with $300 million in cuts. Should be an interesting spring in Montgomery.


My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. Psalm 71:8 (New International Version)


It is not entirely finished yet, but you can take a small look at some of Brandy's photography from our picture day at Tannehill. The larger pictures haven't gone up, but the thumbnails will be enought to tell you she's got a better eye than me. She'll discount herself, but don't be fooled. Anyway ... here's the page http://brandpics.tripod.com.
"They'll catch a hard time for this ..."

And that was my thought before Janet Jackson lost ... ahem ... Control.
(New York--AP) CBS apologized on Sunday for an unexpectedly R-rated end to its Super Bowl halftime show, when singer Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson's top, exposing her breast.

"We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show," Joe Browne, NFL executive vice president, said. "They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show.

"It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime."
MTV not up to the Standards and Practices of the NFL? Who knew? The bigger question is, who thought this was going to be a good idea to start with?

The NFL is the organization that quietly dismissed plans to raise awareness of the global aids crisis in the form of a performance by U2's Bono. Wouldn't want to take a stand or otherwise jeopardize ad revenue, would we?
Saturday was Picture Day at Tannehill State Park. Brandy schooled me with great photographs. She'll have a site to display them soon. Though they are inferior to hers, I've added 20 images on the 'visual' page. Enjoy!

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