So I'm driving around this afternoon and I notice that the Civic Center is playing host to the Southeastern Region of the National Model Railroad Association. Now, I'm no train enthusiast, but there are granddads and dads and children all being kids together, so why not?

I walk in and meet some nice people; one man telling me of some very historic parts of his collection -- he'd accidentally been given the paperwork that documents J.P. Morgan's purchase of an entire railroad; three men talking at length about how best to paint a cliff face and so on. But the best part was stumbling onto a booth with college merchandise.

I found this tapestry that I love. (Same company, but there are a few differences in the design. Mine looks even better.) These normally retail at $50 and up, but there's no way I'd spend that much money on a throw rug. Today I got it for a song.

Now I just need to figure out how to display it, without it being used for cover.


Watched Open Range last night and tonight. There's something appealing about the simplicity and the implied nobility of hard working people in the westerns that highlight a way of life, but not necessarily gunfights. This movie was marketed with terms like "steadfast," "code of honor" and "true men," so it fell into something that draws my attention. Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner as men's men. Sounds like a good premise.

And there was a lot of that. Honest men, dedicated to their work and a way of life and so on. It was comforting. And the jokes were subtle, but in a movie that deals with understated ways as character attributes, the humor shines through.

However, the love story between Kevin Costner and Annette Benning's characters feels tacked on. We somehow go from strangers to love and marriage with nothing more than a glance and small talk. There were a few production errors as well, but those are to be expected in any movie.

The worst error appears to come in the "explosive gunfight" at the end. Costner's character, looks to have fired his six-shooter about a dozen times. However, moviemistakes.com offers the final say:
Actually, if you look closely, Costner begins the gunfight with a pistol drawn from his holster in his right hand and a second pistol shoved through his gunbelt on his left hip. As is shown in a clip in the accompanying documentary on the DVD edition, after emptying the first pistol, Costner draws the second gun and continues to fire. Because he is not actually shown drawing the second pistol on screen in the finished version of the film, it appears that he is firing too many shots from one revolver when in fact he is using two pistols.
Happily, Costner avoided that amalgamation of the Crash Davis and Tin Cup character in which he normally works. He did a solid job, but look to the incomparable Duvall for an outstanding performance.

Because you can never hear enough yardwork anecdotes. And because I hope you find as much humor in this as I have.

I get out to do the yardwork today. And before I make it out I think to myself: The wisest thing to do would be to trim the hedges first, pull all the cuttings onto the grass and then run over them with the lawnmower, sucking up the trimmings with the catcher-bag.

So I trim the hedges. Roll up the cord and put that stuff away and break out the lawnmower. Put the tire back on after having it fixed again (second time for that) and drive around to the front.

I get the little section above the sidewalk cut (and the trimmings cleaned away) and then my front tire falls off. Just falls right off the axle. Tinker with it, get it back on, make another lap or two of cutting and it falls off again. More tinkering, one more lap and it falls off for a third time. This time, I think to myself, I have it whipped. More tinkering gets me going again, I get from the top of the sidewalk to the driveway and peer down to see that the tire is about to go again.

So the plan becomes fixing it enough to limp the lawnmower back to the shed and then see the lawnmower people next week to solve my problems.

And so the answer to the question, what does it take to trim the hedges:
A hedgetrimmer.
Three extension cords.
A lawnmower.
A jack.
Crescent wrench.
Wire cutters.
Flathead screwdriver.
Second lynchpin for the tire.
Help from a neighbor.
A rake to get the leaves removed the old fashioned way.

Although the Second World War is now far distant, its shadows are long, its echoes loud. How else could it be with an event, lasting for nearly six years, in which courage and cruelty, hope and horror, violence and virtue, massacre and survival, were so closely intertwined? -- British historian Martin Gilbert


I decided that my little corner of the office needed some color. I decided this right after I found a stop sign decorated with Dennis Kucinich bumper stickers.

And then, I found this story today about the Congressman's proposed Cabinet position for a Department of Peace.
Working with schools, community groups and nongovernmental organizations, the department would develop programs to "address the issues that confront us in our homes, in our communities and in our world," he added.
This does not imply an endorsement for Kucinich, but serves only to point out an interesting idea and the humorous timing involved with two unrelated events.


Happy birthday to Brandy! She turned the big 2-1 today! We never thought she'd make it this far.

Sing along:

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Brandy
Now you have to be a grownup!

The man who once campaigned as Alabama's "education governor" is learning about irony today. Former Governor Don Siegelman has been indicted.

Siegelman, his former Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick and Tuscaloosa physician Phillip Bobo are each charged with conspiracy, health care fraud and program fraud, which involves theft from a federally funded program.
Siegelman and Hamrick are accused of moving $550,000 from the state education budget to the State Fire College in Tuscaloosa so Bobo could use the money to pay off a competitor for a state contract.
UPDATE (2:29 p.m.): Siegelman responds calling the charges politically motivated.
"This comes on the day I was planning to fly to New York to kick-off an effort to raise $10 million for the Democratic Party ... As the facts come out, I will be proven innocent."

Here's an interesting perspective, blogging as more than a hobby. This piece in the New York Times (free sub. req.) compares blogging to alcoholism.

The most liberating comment comes from one executive defending a person's "obligation to the blog."


Three Star Trek programs running opposite each other! This is my thesis man! This is my closing argument! I can stop watching TV! Yeah!

Channel 2 (UPN): Star Trek: Enterprise
Channel 29 (AMC): Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Channel 64 (Spike): Star Trek: The Next Generation


Have you ever noticed that every Rob Lowe and Matt Dillon movie ever made are now living in the DVD bargain bin? Very odd.

For the last two days I've been locked out of my new work building. So today I had a nice half hour of reading under a table awning until the doors opened up on a timer. Apparently the electronic key system is on the fritz. There's nothing really funny to go along with this, I just thought it was interesting. I guess a good old fashioned metal key is just too outdated.

"Could I get five singles back?" I asked the cashier when she gave me my change this afternoon. So naturally she gave me a 10 and two fives. Some pepole should listen more.

Not that I have that problem. At all. I'm sorry ... What?

Found this story on msnbc.com: New generation of black Americans returns to the South

While the story turned out to be pretty banal, what really catches the eye is the teaser. "U.S. Census numbers show a reversal of the historic "Great Migration" north. What's changed in the new South?"

Gee, I wonder where this story was written. Turns out all the roles are changing. But then, in the South, one of the issues we deal with on a daily basis is northern perception.

I love that there was some question as to why a new "Great Migration" is taking place. The reasons assuredly get more to the point than the story alluded to. But when it essentially said, "this has been going on for about 30 years and finally we're noticing it and pointing it out" it drove home the point of how inconsequential we are to the great white north.

That's fine too. Life's better down here because of it.


Ever see a neon blue dragonfly? Me either until today. Driving around, I found this neat hill covered in tall grass and walked up the hill to find my hyper little friend here. Couldn't make him stay still long enough to get a good shot though.

I have an old stereo of my mom's that I pilfered through today. My mom, who's always endured her son's music snobbery because she doesn't frequently associate artists with songs, actually had some good tunes in her 'various artists' records. Total accident I'm sure, right Mom?

And the neighbors loved hearing Billy Paul belt out Me and Mrs. Jones. If you don't know what that's about you need to fire up Kazaa or go shopping.

I've been on a nostalgic trip musically lately: Stevie Wonder most of last week and Frank Sinatra today.

The big question remains, what will I put in the CD player on my way to work tomorrow morning? We'll find out in a few hours. For now, bedtime.

Oh yeah, two new random pictures to the right ...


What about cruel treatment of prisoners here at home?

This is a story of a Massachusetts man freed after serving decades for a murder he did not commit. Fifty-one year old Laurence Adams says "his immediate plans include going fishing and taking a bath, something he has not done in 30 years."

Thirty years with no bath? Talk about smelly!

How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you,
and there is no God but you. -- 2 Samuel 7:22 (New International Version)


Today was a first. For the first time in my young professional career I had to drive to work and then home in rushhour traffic. In the four-plus years that I've been a full time professional I've always had an early work schedule. Today I learned how the rest of you live.

And you people are nuts!

I'd much rather go in at 6, 5 or even 4 a.m. Yes a 4 a.m. schedule was better than this. And quite possibly, I did more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day, but I digress.

Fortunately today was a very one time thing, and my new schedule requires me to be at work at 6 a.m. In some ways this makes me very happy. That way there's no one on the road coming or going. There's still a part of the day to get things accomplished and it goes faster.

So you people sit in traffic and sweat it out about whether that wreck up ahead is going to make you late. I'll be close to my lunch break.


Our neighborhood dalmation came to visit this evening and I conned her into posing with cheese. Five images are now on the visual page. The direct link can be found here.

Meanwhile, there have been changes to the random pictures to the right. Also, I learned how to make flowers glow.

Too bad that Andy didn't come back. Hard to believe he's been gone two decades. He'd said if he faked his death he would return 20 years from the day.

Anybody else notice this? Today is both the 50th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education ending public school segregation and the first day of government-approved same-sex marriages in Massachussetts.

I love Mellow Mushroom. Even though they do sometimes go a little overboard with the Widespread Panic. The mushroom club is always worth it.


My inner dialogue strikes again:

Me, to myself: Wow, milk freezes in a hurry!
... moderate pause ...
Myself, to me: Well, it is almost 90 percent water.

This is what happens when you think about analogies too much and not enough about biology and chemistry.


I bought groceries yesterday. That was the highlight and why nothing got added here yesterday.

Today I ran an errand for a friend, ran an errand for myself and helped compile the perfect R&B CD for another friend.

Oh but I wasn't done there! When I got home I cleaned, did laundry and other fun things. Tonight I am going to watch a movie.

Speaking of watching, fans of DMB and Phish would be wise to watch the "Dave and Trey go to Africa" program on VH1. It is worth your time.


This church bus was in a mall parking lot in Montgomery. The lame joke that immediately came to mind: Do you think they serve filets?

I picked Brooke up at the airport today. She flew in to Birmingham this morning to spend the week with her family and I volunteered to drive her down to Montgomery to meet her mom. On the way we stopped in Clanton and ate fresh peach ice cream. This is a ritualistic must-do if you're travelling down I-65.

The best part of the trip, though, was at lunch. We meet Ashley, one of Brooke's roommates from her days at Auburn, and they chat up a storm. Eventually, we get on the populist theme in John Edwards' Two Americas stump speech. Just as we open this topic, the waitress comes up to remove our plates and launches into a long and random treatise on staying at a Hilton Hotel -- more expensive, but quieter -- or a lesser hotel when near an airport. The girls were trying to not laugh in the poor waitress' face, and I was politely enthralled with her screed on high dollar hotels.

At one point the waitress says, "It's enough to drive you nuts!" With wide eyes I interject, "I hate being nuts!" My joke was not lost on my lunch companions.

When the waitress finally left our table (without giving us our checks, though she did ask for the fourth time if the tabs were separate) Ashley had the line of the day, "Apropos to nothing ... "

After all that, the John Edwards conversation was sapped of life.


One of the great mysteries of our time has been solved: Fin has been found.

One of my closest friends from school, he's been under the radar for almost a year, and I've only spoken to him a handful of times since I left Auburn four years ago.

He's still down there, working two jobs and getting ready to go back to school. He says he's only going to be at Auburn for one more year max.

I spoke with him briefly today. Maybe we haven't each changed so much that we've "grown apart" or anything like that. If you could give me one part of my Auburn experience back, it would probably be this friendship. Hopefully that's not wishful thinking.

Mother's Day was a reason to get out of town to visit the grandparents and, of course, Mom. It is always nice to know the family is just as I left them the last time. Some things never change.

The drive home last night was pretty bad. I was too tired to spend so much time on the road. Almost a quarter of a century of the same freeway hum is enough to wear anyone's attention down. I had to pull out the unusual CDs to get me safely home after a long weekend with little sleep.

My reward this morning was to wake up a seriously sore throat.


Excerpted and edited from a recent email:
To be sure, I've made a considerable amount of spiritual and religious progress in recent years ... but the journey is long, the steps are short and the terrain is sometimes perilous.

Ultimately it has to do with knowing a great many things, or more than I once did ... And in thinking of that just now, I am forced to speculate on what the next realizations will be.

It has to do with understanding that God is love. And understanding that He loves the least among us, even when He views us as all the same as His children. And, as the preacher quoted a professor at seminary, "If there is one person on earth that you do not love, you have serious spiritual issues." How many layers of this onion can little old me peel back?

It has to do with one theme that Sharon Moffitt returns to on the Beatitudes: about the meek, the humble, the poor. We must often be broken, bottom-of-our-spiritual-barrel, beaten down to our knees in life to realize that that is how we are to best recognize the One we are to worship and serve.

It has to do with being very proud, mentally patting-myself-on-the-back prideful, of the steps I've made, only to know that is one of the biggest steps I must still stride. I'm proud of how I've humbled myself? Only I could come up with something so convoluted.

These and so many things show me how far I have to go. And that doesn't mean, "I have to go to school today." but rather, "I get to make this journey." It doesn't dishearten me about that journey, but it does about what it says of myself. Does that make sense?

I suppose I could have just transcribed this paragraph of Moffitt's, which I fell in line with totally the other day. And as I read it again for a third and fourth time, still find very moving, only to wish it were my plea.

"I want to erase every unkind word and hateful epithet I've ever uttered, rid myself of every covetous thought. I would like whatever good works I've done to have been done out of love for God rather than out of a need to win the approval of my peers. I would like, once and for all, to accept the grace and forgiveness of God. The litany of things I would change is endless and an exercise in futility and, most frightening of all, born in an ember of pride still alive in me, a desire to somehow be just a little better than all the other sinners who continually need the salvation of Jesus Christ. I would no doubt be farther along on my spiritual journey if I could accept my brokeness for the felix culpa that it is, a gift of self-awareness that leads me ever back to God."

I have more than an ember of pride, and I wonder if this self-awareness is bringing me ever back yet, but otherwise this is EXACTLY me and an excellent searcher's prayer.


I've just been informed of a tragic loss. The Grille has been shut down.

I spent countless hours during college sitting there, staring at pictures of Auburn notables, eating spaghetti and the complimentary second plate. I can still taste the bread.

I made friends in the old diner seats of that restaurant. A girlfriend broke up with me there. It was a place where professors became people and not a man standing at a podium controlling your life. The guy or the girl waiting on you invariably had a class with at least once person at the table.

And the brownies were good too. Oh the many afternoons when I bought a brownie to eat on the way out. The place was the center of anecdotes, the beginning of many nights out and weekends in.

A friend, whom I've also apparently lost, used to call me at least once a week for a midday trip. "Hungry as wild animals" we would descend on the place, sometimes in twos. Or fours, or even sevens.

But no more. Spaghetti will never taste as good again.

A few weeks ago I made mention of pictures taken in Rick's backyard. Now that I am back home I've finally had the chance to put those up. Seven images can be found on the 'visual' page.

For those of you that are having difficulty finding that, try typing the URL into your browser:


If you are still having difficulties, get in touch with me and I'll point you directly to the pictures. I know there are problems with the site and hope to have all that solved in the near future, as detailed yesterday.

Just added two pictures to my post from May 1 on the Kentucky Derby. If you are having a slow day at work click on the May archive to the right and then scroll down.


I hinted here a few days ago about lots of rustic pictures. Well, if you're on the edge of your seat waiting on those, you'll have to wait a bit longer. I've decided to incorporate those into the next design of this page.

Where we are on that: I'm looking into finally buying my own domain name. There have been several problems around here that are beyond my control and patience. I still have to get the last details on pricing, hosting, storage and all that, so over the next weeks or a month or so this place will move. You'll suddenly see a redirect on these pages and a brand new look on a new corner of the Internet, one with my name on it.


Home again. Been gone so long that everything looks new! My own bed! And most importantly, nothing made the kitchen stink.


Me (working in my folk's basement): Thank you, Lord, for not making me a carpenter.
Rick: Jesus was a carpenter.
Me: He had skills that weren't even supernatural that were better than mine.
Me: But, if I had to do this until I was 30, I'd probably start preaching too.

More details on the recent debacle at Auburn. There's nothing big and new in this piece from today's Huntsville Times but Phillip Marshall's story does flesh out some previously murky parts.


Went to my first Kentucky Derby party today. People, food, and shouting, kind of like any get together. Only they are screaming for all their worth about horses running around in a circle. There's nothing like people wearing silk, holding a stick and turning left.

Kentucky has really dropped the ball with the Derby from a promotional standpoint. This is undoubtedly their biggest event and most positive national publicity of the year, but there is nothing in the programming that sings the praises of anything. The governor needs to send his people to Churchill Downs and insist that for the next round of television negotiations, part of the deal is 60 seconds of promo time for state use.

Somewhere before the race, you run your commercial (or two 30s). The spot says basically, "We know you're here for the Derby, but stay and see the rest of the Commonwealth." Make it a tightly produced spot, lots of camera cuts, lots of scenery, horses, smiling faces, upbeat contemporary music playing underneath and so on.

It would be the best promotion they've got, and would hit a nice target demographic.

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