Kenny Smith | blog

Thursday, September 30, 2004

More than 1,600 words on the 90 minute debate. I just skimmed the top of the thing really. In the coming days I'll be especially long-winded about the nation's reaction.
Live blogging the Presidential Debates over on FFP.
This graphic will change because it will be dated in an hour, but over on Commission on Presidential Debates the dominant image says, "Carried on most major networks."

That's just sad.
Did I mention that I went to the library yesterday? I'm a wildman. I picked up Lost in Translation last night. Good picture, though we could have tightened up a few of the Shyamalanian scenes. Bill Murray does quality work and, I have to agree with his post-movie interview, one scene in there is among the best he's ever done.

But this isn't about the movie, something just registered this afternoon that I didn't fully notice yesterday. How sad is it that the public library has to hire a police officer to serve as security?

This afternoon I'm skipping out on a company client party in favor of preparing for the debates. Copious notes will be taken.
Company quarterly meeting day.

The lunch -- the most redeeming part of the three-hour plus meeting -- was good. The cobbler can be smelled all the way across the office.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Jefferson County has outsourced their courthouse security. A rent-a-cop was manning the magnetometer this afternoon. Nice guy, but there is a flaw in his security procedure. Picture, if you will: emptying your pockets, holding up your hand (so the watch doesn't set the detector off) but still beeping. "What kind of belt buckle do you have on?" he asks. He gives me the cursory once-over, thinks 'He looks harmless enough,' and says, "OK, go on in."

Suddenly I don't feel so safe.

Next guy behind me, same deal.

Suddenly I want to run upstairs and tell the judges they shouldn't feel so safe either.

But I don't, because there's this long line at the DMV. End of the month, go figure. I know better, but procrastination is fun. Like most places in the civilized, modernized world, you can get your new tag or sticker through the mail or online. It, of course, costs more to do it that way. Two bucks, but there's a principle involved here. A few years back I did this, paid $60 instead of $58 -- or whatever it cost then -- and waited for my sticker. And waited. Finally I call the mostly ambulatory folks working at the DMV only to discover the sticker was sent out, but got lost in the mail. Now I must go to the courthouse, that thing I was trying to avoid, stand in line and pay $2.50 more. For someone else's error. So never again.

I'm not saying anything new here, but it occurred to me today that the DMV is sort of like going to a theme park. You stand in line, jockeying for position, move up every chance you get -- 64 centimeters, take that people behind me! -- and finally it is your turn. Only there's no ride. Well, except the one you're taken on when you write your check. Ahh to live and play in one of the wealthiest counties in one of the poorest states in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

But, sticker in hand, textbooks in bag, movies in den. Time to study and kick back.
Got a nice Email today from Dr. Self:
Your comments and questions tend to be superior to most others. I'm not saying that the overall quality of participation is low. To the contrary, I think it is very good for this stage. We just need a few leaders, and you are an emerging leader. By the way, it is not the quantity of your questions that I am complimenting. I like the quality because the questions challenge everyone AND they raise student awareness and expectations of themselves. At least that is what appears to be happening. We shall see if I am correct.
He's flattering, but too kind.
As for that little matter covered in great detail last weekend about finishing the last of the site ... It is done. Suppose I'll swap everything over tonight. Having been wanting and planning a change for a considerable length of time, I am suprisingly melancholy about the "Out with the old" part. Very strange.
Wednesday at a glance ...

Sleep as long as possible (five snoozes): Check.
Work: Check.
Lunch: Check.
Presidential polling data: Check in a big way.
Pay tuition: Check.
Blogs: Check.
Dread going to the DMV: Check.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The dichotomies of life are awesome.
So Dr. Powell and I have strategized a research (for want of a better term) program revolving around the presidential debates. I'll be observing how these, only unscripted portions of the campaign, will sway voters. If you need me between tomorrow and Election Day, I'll have my head in polling data somewhere.

I really enjoy talking with Dr. Powell. As you'd expect from someone who specializes in political communication he's really on top of his game. The conversation was fun today because we were talking about turning points in previous debates and campaigns and he said, "You remember when Reagan said ..."

The smallest things are sometimes the largest compliments. Here's this very astute and accomplished man who just takes it for granted that I know when "So and so" did "such and such." Its almost like implicit approval from a peer, only I'm clearly not his peer. Neat feeling.
Why does Dr. Powell want to meet today? I could have gone home on time to take a nap. Or worked out or gotten something accomplished. OK, most likely a nap.

Actually this is a good thing as I need to get on the ball with some research and that can't be done until I have this meeting.

Dr. Powell is great though. I used to interview him for stories all the time and could just talk to him for forever. Very fascinating stuff. I'll ultimately have to ask him to be my academic advisor. Hopefully he more than tolerates me. Hopefully he gives me some research ideas today.

Elsewhere, I've developed a new respect for car salesmen. How do they produce their business card out of nowhere? I did that last night. Only took my backpack and a car between me and the person getting the card. But suddenly, pow! there was the thing, appearing as if by magic. If only the recipient knew how I was fumbling with my wallet the whole time. So the list of jobs I can't do now includes car salesman, painter, carpenter and neurosurgeon. This is by no means a comprehensive list.

Monday, September 27, 2004

It felt more like a watch-football-and-baseball night than a write-in-the-blog night. That's why you get this Sunday night story on Monday afternoon.

We're into presentations now in the Models class, the first group going last night. The first lady starts talking about the history of communication models and its all very interesting. The professor, sitting off to the left at the front of the room, nods off.

Poor guy, he doesn't just do it once. The second time he's starting to snore softly and by now most everyone knows. The presentator is trying not to laugh. The third time he nodded off he was in danger of falling out of his chair. I wanted to drop something loudly to wake him up and save him at least a bit of his scholarly dignity. The fourth time he drifts off, I start wondering if he's narcoleptic.

His grandmother-in-law is on the verge of death apparently, his wife just left to be at her side. Its been a hard weekend for him. I don't think anyone is begrudging his falling asleep. At least, I wasn't. First time that's ever happened in a class I've been a part of though.

So anyway, back to the presentations, where someone brought up Cultivation Theory, and that took over the class. So much so, that the third person in the group didn't have enough time to present.

You've heard of Cultivation Theory, even if you don't know it by name. Basically, it states people that watch a lot of violent TV or movies tend to perceive the world in more violent terms. The theory also goes that watching violent programming may promote violent tendencies (opinions vary on this part, however).

Cultivation Theory then gets into something called the Mean World Syndrome, basically stating that viewers derive a lesson from violent-saturated TV that people can't be trusted and are only out for themselves. (For more on Dr. Gerbner's fascinating work, read this essay.)

Sounds like my grandparents fall into this theory. But I digress.

So I ask this question about the study, done in the 1960s. I wanted to know about how various demographics were impacted. Kids, for example, watch different things than their parents. In the 60s, teens were wrapped up in westerns, perhaps their parents watched less TV and different programs. Does that make the teens perceive the world more violently than their folks? Is it cumulative over a lifetime of viewing? I wanted the professor to extrapolate the theory out to today, where those kids of yesteryear are now making all the programming decisions. He says, "That's a big and importation question. What do you think?" Meaning he had no answers, so I had to provide my own.

At least no one fell asleep.
Today we add a definition to the dictionary ...

Irony - "Due to the extensive damage and dangerous aftermath conditions of Hurricane Ivan, the 17th Annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup, previously rescheduled for Saturday, has been canceled."
"You could hear things going by like missiles. I got a little scared when the tractor-trailer was blown across the parking lot."

Those poor people in Florida. They're shell-shocked.

There has been a seemingly earnest discussion about how God is mad that the Republicans "stole the election" in Florida in 2000. This bizarre philosophical debate has raged for weeks in south Alabama -- even through their own hurricane where, conveniently enough, there was also an election mess in the 2002 Governor's race. (The Democrat felt he was cheated there too.) Naturally this became a joke around the office. "Shoulda voted Democrat," we say, as if Al Gore could stave off a storm.

So this morning we're talking about how some people see this string of hurricanes, God's meteorological one-two-three-four punch, as end times. I have my doubts about that, but if I saw a tractor-trailer blown across a parking lot, I might be more convinced. Hard to overlook that sort of physical evidence.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

For the second week in a row and for the third of four weeks, I've picked all the right winners.

And as Brooke says, when you're in the lead, you have to take advantage do the trash-talking. The overall led stays at four, but I've slightly stretched the distance between Brooke and I to 17 points, and am now outpacing Stephen by 38 points.

All this could change in one weekend though. But not if the Pick'em keeps giving us easy games. There's no way I should be winning this much, its just a matter of needing upset games to shake things up. There's only been four upsets (and two hurricane postponements) in four weeks of play. Better games with surprising outcomes would spread the field, and put me back in the middle where I belong.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

One set of Trojans came through for me tonight, the other set came up short.

USC was stunned by Stanford in the first half, but came back to beat Stanford 31-28. Good for me, because I had them picked big in the Pick 'em.

Almost 2,500 miles across the country, the original USC earned a 17-7 victory. South Carolina was too much for the Troy Trojans, who have to feel good about playing an SEC team so close on the road. Troy wasn't in any of of my little pools this week but -- when you're "down with the J" -- losses are tough to handle.

We've also created a blowout game at work, but I don't remember which teams everybody picked.

Now, no more football blogging out of me until next Saturday. Except for tomorrow's mandatory bragging (and screencap) of the Pick 'em.
Ninth-ranked Auburn wins 33-3 to go 4-0 on the young season. No sense wasting thought on an overmatched Citadel. After all, Tennessee is next week and they are troubling.

Elsewhere, Alabama lost to Arkansas, meaning I've lost in the Upset of the Week pool at work.

Down with the J? Troy is playing South Carolina tough. The Trojans need to build a drive, though. Converting on third down wouldn't be a bad thing. As I say that, USC steps out to a 17-7 lead in the third. The question is, can Troy win away from "The Gallery"?

And Southern Cal is in trouble against Stanford. Those Trojans really need to pull that game out or I'll lose in the Pick 'em as well.
What the? Who? Am I in the right place?

Yes, you are. The look's changing. All good things come to an end, and I've enjoyed the old template, but you have to spice things up.

Wow, two cliches in one sentence. I'm the man.

I'm about to reveal the highly anticipated new look for the entire site. I like it a lot. It keeps with my overall less-is-more theme, and also allows me to make big aesthetic changes within the same HTML. That will give you new looks on a regular basis and hopefully keep the site fresh for me as well. What can I say? I quickly tire of my own design.

The last version of the page (here's a screencap) has served me well. It lasted for two years, easily a personal best in my eight years online, and still has a special place in my heart. But change is inevitable, the original point after all being to learn new things. So the old four square look will be stored away soon in a dusty subdirectory, but it will never be forgotten.

I hope you enjoy the new look. Bear with me through the growing pains over the next few days. I'm proud you're here period, and hope you like the new look enough to come back again and again. And of course, your comments and constructive criticism are always welcome.
One of our interns is getting married. And they've built a site as a shrine of young love. Brandon is a good guy, and his fiance is a nice young lady as well. We're all very excited for them and hope we get invitations.
It's irrelevant, really. The idea of governments, nations, it's mostly a public relations theory at this point, anyway. -- Martin Blank

Practical political points aside, -- G8 anyone? -- this comment came to mind today. Eating Mexican while reading about the perception of Islamic culture in the Western World will do that.

Friday, September 24, 2004

You have to play the right music to compliment a lazy Friday night. Tonight somehow called for Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.

My Little Brown Book sends me 14 floors above Allis Plaza in Kansas City where the Marriott offered a spectacular view of the sunset on one cold November night in 1993. Back downstairs, walk empty downtown streets, talk the night away, a slow dance in a jazz joint.

The cymbals in that song feel so lacy, Ellington's piano so timidly flirtatious and Coltrane with his usual self-assured frankness on the tenor and soprano sax. It now somehow seems foreshadowing of much of the three years that would follow.

Ahhh, happy nostalgia.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Beautiful night for a walk, don't you think?

Steely Dan is tops. God Bless Bobby Moody.
Turns out I'm farther along than I thought in the grad school game. Everyone else is faking it. I'm in good shape and shouldn't worry. So sayeth the academic advisor.

What, me worry?

His assurances -- and annoying habit of answering questions by simply repeating the question -- aside, I still feel lost. Now I just know I can feel lost for about a year and its perfectly normally.

Seems that I prefer structure in my academic life. Here's this deadline, that benchmark and this goal. Everyone around here insists on the grad school experience being a different animal. Adjustments will be made.

I went to this place last night where you can borrow movies and CDs and - at some of them -- even video games. The library, who knew? Watched Pushing Tin last night. Pretty good movie starring John Cusack (the thinking man's Tom Hanks) and Billy Bob Thornton. But -- is it just me? -- everytime I watch Cusack now I have 1980s flashbacks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Its Tuesday evening. The week is all downhill from here. After Sunday night class, Monday work and class and an always hectic work-Tuesday the rest of the week just seems like cheating. What's more, I'm out of the office early Friday.

Felt like I was getting sick early today. I was tired and grumpy and ... well, you can see for yourself just below. Now I wonder if I had something on my shirt or in the office that my delicate sinuses didn't care for. Offensive allergens!

Quiet lunch from Wendy's because it was there and a good idea at the time. Visited with Brand for a while. She's off studying and I'm here trying not to. Tomorrow. Thursday. Weekend. Plenty of time.

Might be scaling back a tiny bit on the reading anyway: Dr. Amsbary is changing his whole class mid-stream. This is a first. He pitched an idea, the class pretty much nixed it. We'll be doing it anyway. Fun time though, as I am at this near-crisis point of scholastic identity. A brief meeting with Amsbary tomorrow will hopefully address some of those issues. Love the program thus far, just confused about what paths I should be taking and how best to get there.

What else ... oh yeah ... finally started work again on the great photography project. I know have 19 pictures picked out for the den. Now to decide sizes, frames, mattes and where. Tedious work this.
The family are now trying to get me to come up for family portraits in fall colors. If it weren't for this crazy over-worked schedule! How's a boy to get away for picture taking? The view is so much better from the side of the camera without the lens. I'm trying to talk them into just putting a caption on it, "Not pictured ... " Maybe a silhoutte treatment. Anything more would just be ruining an otherwise nice family portrait.
Finally heard from everyone that had to duck from Ivan. Happy news: everyone survived with only slight inconveniences. Sadder news: the house that Fin grew up in down in Foley (map) was apparently destroyed. Tough thought to deal with even if your family moved from the area years ago. Sorry about that big guy. Meanwhile, he still has an aunt and uncle down in that hard-hit area. Haven't heard how they fared yet.

We're dealing in photographs of Ivan's damage by the hundreds at work, they're still hard to look at. The most amazing perspective came in an Email today, showing before (taken in 2001) and after pictures.
Eyes: watering. Back: hurting. Mood: grumpy.

Someone's coming down with something!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

So we're talking about perception in class and the professor just sort of hands it off to me. Nothing I could do at that point but hold forth on media and politics for the next 10 minutes.

I think the professor likes me because I give him time to have water. I think the rest of the students think I am the extra homework guy. This is probably an outmoded way of thinking as they all probably secretly want extra homework. Grad students. They're all "Rah rah!" and "Give me another study to consume."

But it led to an interesting conversation about international politics, (in)stability and the mechanisms that drive social change. Or socialist presidents of Brazil and prime ministers of India. I expect this conversation to continue. I like it very much.

Somehow this allowed me to hand out two more business cards. I better slow down or I'll have to order replacements!

I'd been fearing where this class was going, but tonight it got interesting. Models of Communication was initially a vague title, and the first three meetings didn't give me a lot of confidence of how it would be relevant to my work. However, the class is full of some very thoughtful people -- and me, hoping that something psuedointelligent will fall from my mouth -- and I now see how this class will be beneficial.

Didn't really want to go to class this evening. I was tired for some reason, but I sucked it up. Good thing too, as Dr. Self is giving extra credit for the intrepid souls who made it around the remnants of Ivan cleanup.

Oh, remember two weeks ago where I discussed trash talking in my college football Pick'em? I was four points ahead in week one. Last week I dropped to third place, but just one point out of a two-way tie for the lead. This week, once again, I've picked all the right winners. You can see there that I'm pack out to a four point lead.

More importantly, I have a 14 point lead over Brooke, who won last season. As you can see, she has slipped to fourth. Trailing far behind is her husband, and league commissioner, Stephen. While the season is long from over, he's going to have be more consistent if he wants to overcome that 32 point deficit.

You know, I've never been one to talk the smack, but I must say it is growing on me. This is all Brooke's fault you know. All together, "Thanks Brooke."

Saturday, September 18, 2004

My only reason to care about Alabama football had a good night against Western Carolina. Matt Caddell caught two more balls, including one in the second quarter that he turned into a 41 yard touchdown. He's now second on the team in receiving yards with 105 yards on five catches in three games.

As I've said here before, Matt's a great kid whom I've known almost all his life. His father -- a great man himself -- was one of my high school teachers. Despite Matt wearing Crimson, I couldn't be prouder.
AP -- ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Miss Alabama Deidre Downs is crowned Miss America 2005.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! 10-9 over the National Champs. Go Tigers!
This morning I re-discovered the therapeutic qualities of not having to get out of bed the moment you wake up. That was a nice hour of dozing. How do I manage to forget important lessons like this?

Four hours and change until LSU v. Auburn.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Dig this: I'm in this raffle today at work for tickets to the LSU-Auburn game tomorrow. Just me and one other guy in it. I figure the odds are good. But I don't win in (what I assume to be) a fair and unbiased stroke of luck. So no big deal. Anyway, I get home, start working in the yard and my phone rings.

Justin -- who attended two separate schools (neither Auburn), cheers for Vandy and is seen here wearing an Alabama shirt -- calls me and asks the best way to get into Auburn on GameDay.

You have to rub it in too?!? No justice I'm telling ya, no justice.
The story below, I'm sorry to say, may work against my mother in the not-really battle of retirement plans. She wants the beach, he wants the mountains. I fear, in my zeal to pass along a cool science story, that I've given the step-dad ammunition in the debate.

Elsewhere, the work environment is calming down a bit today. It only took a hurricane cutting a swath through the state to make us work real hard. Things are now getting back to normal for us in the workplace. Thinking of what is now passing for normal in less fortunate parts of the state is very sobering.

Brian's daughter came to visit us at work today. My co-worker had sent his family to Huntsville to ride out the storm and Taylor had missed her father. She's the cutest little thing. And she's not at all above hamming it up for the camera.
For the record: My house is fine. The oak trees in the yard lost some weight and I'll be picking up branches all afternoon. Beyond that, a very small amount of water seeped into the basement, but everything at home is fine.

The eye of Ivan passed to the east of our community and we were very fortunate. Rain-soaked, but fortunate. The most damage I have seen so far in our area are two downed trees and lots of standing water. Nothing compared to what many people had to wake up to after Ivan.
Damage totals already reaching $10 billion, weeks without power and water in some places. Oh, and this good news, more hurricanes may be on the way:
Homeowners ritualistically re-hammering the same plywood over their windows figure it can't get much worse, right?

Brace yourselves: Scientists say 65 million Americans living on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts should expect weather like this for another 30 years. Maybe more.
Suddenly Iowa sounds good. That's a fascinating story if you like meterological stuff.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

More than 825,000 of the 1.3 million homes and businesses that are Alabama Power customers are doing without at this hour. That's the largest outage in the state's history, and not nearly a complete figure. Smaller rural electrics and TVA must also be figured into the final tally, plus whatever further customers in east Alabama lose service as Ivan moves through.
Some 40 people waited out Ivan on the USS Alabama. Read the story here:
One wind gauge on the ship broke after registering a gust of 105 mph, said Thompson, who said he heard that another gauge on the vessel recorded a 112-mph gust. "You could feel the whole superstructure of the ship move when a big gust would hit."

Teresa Phillips said her two school-age children watched cartoons on board the 680-foot-long warship until they fell asleep. She said she felt perfectly safe on 80 million-pound Alabama, which has survived the worst hurricanes Mother Nature could hurl at the area over the past 40 years.
You have to respect something that can move an 80-million pound battleship.
The worst part of Crazy Ivan has, it seems, now blown past us. The winds have slacked off a bit, the rains should be skating west within the hour. Eastern Alabama will get a good soaking, the worst of it looks to be in either Georgia, eastern Tennessee or the Carolinas.

But, ultimately, we've survived.
The southernmost portions of Alabama have been devastated by Ivan. Read the map as I relate info.

In Gulf Shores, Front Beach Blvd is believed to be eight feet under water. Three-quarters of a mile away roads are now under the ocean.

Apparently Mobile County was relatively lucky. Across the bay Baldwin County took a huge hit. North of them, Monroe and Conecuh Counties have been hit tremendously hard.

"Monroe County has so many tall pine trees and 100 mile an hour winds are snapping them like toothpicks. What used to be woods is now bare. When they say this is Hurricane Fredric, they weren't lying. It looks exactly like it," says Charles Murph, the local EMA director.

We still can't communicate with Escambia County (Florida or our own), Wilcox or Butler Counties.

About three hours ago the state broke its power outage record. At last count more than 670,000 homes are without power. Alabama Power has about 1.3 million customers in the state. TVA, it is presumed, has not had any power outages in the northern part of the state.

Here in Birmingham, hundreds of trees are down. Dozens of powerpoles have been snapped. Miles of lines are on the ground. And the worst of what is left of Ivan is still yet to get here.
Really nice words from the big boss today:
Kind words from someone I respect. (Rex Hammock runs a magazine company.) Your updates are good.
Don't know how you may be related to them in your day job (if not directly, certainly spirtually?) ...but these guys are pulitzer prizing their blog today. Especially great for those of us with ties to the area but who are not
Its good to be noticed. And lots of people are noticing. More on the hit counts later. But for now, check out Storm Central.
Just called my grandmother to assure her I was safe. She had some news to pass along as well. Apparently my step-sister was shipped last month to northern Iraq. Hopefully I can find out more in the coming days.
Wake up at 5 a.m. Power was still on. Visibility started dropping quickly on the way into work. A 20 minute trip turned into almost a 40 minute drive. Forecasters say, the worst part has yet to move into our area.

For the latest on Ivan, go here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I'm going to bed now. But I'll keep posting periodically throughout tomorrow as the weather -- and a busy day permits. At this point, I'm hoping to make it to work, but I may be there for the duration. I'm not too keen on driving in winds that approach 70 mph. It'd be a first. If I don't feel up to that adventure, an overnight bag will be packed just in case.
Still no big winds blowing outside here. But that's to be expected. Within another eight hours we're anticipating 30-40 mph sustained winds. But the real fun is going to be early in the evening with sustained winds at 60-70.

Here's the latest in the Gulf.
I've been watching break-away coverage of Barry Bonds pursuing his 700th home run. He's forcing too much right now and may not even hit it tomorrow on the ESPN game. If he doesn't hit it soon this means that every Giants game will be on ESPN forever. If he does hit it soon I'll miss it.

And that reminds me of the conclusion I came to earlier today. The power's going to go out tonight or tomorrow. The cable goes down too. We won't be able to see the Auburn-LSU game (if its played). In the scheme of things this is the least of our worries, but comes in as a minor annoyance; about liking cleaning out the fridge when everything spoils with no power.
8 o'clock and all's well on the western front.
We're expecting to get our brush with Ivan after midnight. The worst of what is left of Ivan isn't due until sometime tomorrow. The barometer is certainly falling. And so is the patience and common sense of people around town.

I saw an almost-wreck. In a parking lot. Of a gas station. Then the two people yelled at one another throughout their fill-up experience. People were contemplating how best to eat canned beets. There is no ice nor bread at the local grocery store. Every other store that sells groceries is doing tremendous business. There is a great concern all over town for batteries. I went to four places that had batteries.
Mobile County EMA are not nice people. But they are under a lot of pressure right now. So I'll cut them some slack. This guy started chewing me out, "Do you know what is going on down here right now!?!?"

So I only partially gave it back to him, "Yes, I know, I also know what's going to be going on down there tomorrow. And I also know that a lot of people you sent north are going to be wondering about how their community fared. I know they're going to find out that information from me."

"Oh, you're the media."

Sometimes, yes.
I really wish I could be out reporting on this storm somewhere. Its killing me.
OK, Ivan is going to be pretty rough on the coast. Two hundred miles inland, the experience will be just like any other severe weather we've endured. But here's a genius down in Baldwin County:
Man plans to ride out storm at RV park

At the Alabama Port RV Park on Alabama 193, one man said he was intent on riding out the storm in his camper or, if things get too rough, in his black Ford Mustang. Dennis Tew was talking on a cell phone, holding his 6-month-old Chihuahua named Gidget. He sat on the rear fender of the Mustang by his tiny, peeling camper.

"I've been through hurricanes before but only on a boat, never on land," said Tew, who said he works as a supply boat captain for the local natural gas industry. "If it gets bad, I think the Mustang will be the best place for me and Gidget."
This guy should know better. Hopefully we won't be reading his obit next week.
Somewhere amidst the Hurricane Ivan talk someone realized that, "Hey, its the beginning of Rosh Hashanah." Talk turned to holidays, and one person wanted more holidays. "I'm tired of being a Gentile," someone said.

That was just funny to me.

But, if she were Jewish, she couldn't be at work today, for work is forbidden on Rosh Hashanah.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Its hurri-ific! Get the latest.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I wrote something that had to do with crickets a few days ago. And then James Lileks rips me off. Of course he did a much better job.
The windows are open and the crickets are loud. Every so often you can hear them drift out of sync as the temperature wanders down. It doesn't take them long to regroup. Odd how the song of crickets gets twinned with Peaceful Summer Nights; they're hardly relaxed. If you spoke as fast as the crickets, one syllable per chirp, you'd sound like a motormouth maniac. But somehow the manic two-stroke beat lulls us into drowsy smiles. Why? It's the sound of time's implacable passage, the second hand of the universe. Ticktickticktick, with frogs noting the minutes with ripe wet belches.
A much better job.
I shouldn't enjoy this so much, but I can't help it. For the first time in the history of anything Alabama ranks third in-state in Division 1 NCAA football.

Troy, after their beat-down of Mizzou last week, got more votes in this week's AP poll than Alabama. The rest of the season for both teams looks to be very interesting.

Oh, and Auburn is ranked 14th heading into LSU weekend.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A fun Sunday in which nothing happened, except study and class. The amusement was all internal dialogue -- and thus -- you are spared.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

When you walk into most stadiums in the SEC you're really walking into a cathedral. There are hallowed legends, murals of saints long past and the echoes of years-old prayers. Songs of praise are sung and the visitors speak in tongues.

When you walk into Davis Wade Stadium at Mississippi State, you're walking into a really nice high school stadium. Lovely campus and very nice people, but its not a proper place to play a game if it seats less than 60,000. And there's no offense intended by that statement. I had a great time at Starkville, I'm just spoiled by 86,062 of my closest friends making a noise so loud that its been compared to a rock concert at an airport.

But, we weren't at Jordan-Hare today. Starkville was a nice, if hot, experience.

Pictures -- 37, went a little overboard -- are now up on the visual page, or open them directly from here.
Safely back and slightly sun-burnt -- who knew SPF 36 expired? -- from Starkville. It was a 43-14 final score in Auburn's SEC opener. It wasn't that close.

I think I have some great pictures; they'll be up later today.

War Eagle!
I'm gone to Starkville. Be back later this evening with many fine pictures and a victory cheer.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What does the J on the Troy uniform signify? Kelly chimes in:
It's a bad example of logo design. I'm sure it was supposed to balance out the word "Trojans". I think the designers name was Jeff and he just wanted to be recognized!
You can thank me now for having contacts in the design industry.
If you're still unconvinced about the viability of this "Internet thing" I urge you to read (in full) this self/reader-congratulatory-moment-of-awe at Power Line. I must add my congratulations to the chorus as Power Line has been one of those leading the way on this story.

This, as my corporate boss has said, is a format of journalism that is driven by the dialoge between us all. Its a conversation between people reading the Internet and people writing on it. In this conversation everyone is equal. And we've become wonderfully conversant.

Cross posted at Fear, Folly, Politics.
After their stunning win last night and front page coverage today in the Mobile Register, Trojan mania has taken over. One co-worker is even starting a fanboy site. I'll provide the link when its up.

My fellow Auburn men and women in the office are left to ponder the chain of events that led to Larry Blakeney taking the job at Troy. One even asked, "What if?" But, clearly, The Fighting Larry Blakeneys belong to Troy. Indeed, they may belong to all of the state, or perhaps the nation.

The Birmingham News' Kevin Scarbinsky is breathless.

Yes, friends "the Jans" -- as we're calling them around the office -- beat back the evil communists and cured cancer. All during halftime of upseting Missouri last night. How sweet it must be.

The one unanswered question is why the J on their uniforms is so much larger. The current prevailing theory is that it must be some sort of gang sign. Today, we're all "Down with the J."

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Mizzwho? Trojans (Troy State, yall) are worldbeaters, defeating 17th ranked (USA Today/ESPN poll) Missouri going away 24-14.

Shocks is a good word.

This is the same story twice, but enjoy it anyway: here and here. Just the stats.

Troy, for at least 40 hours, has the most wins of any D-1 program in the state (Alabama, Auburn and UAB are all 1-0). They're also the only program in the state to have thus far beaten a ranked opponent.

Congratulations to the men of Troy.

Update: Prominent blogger and Troy professor, Dr. Steven Taylor is a happy Trojan tonight. The shock wave from the win was as felt as far away as Wisconsin.
Rick, the converted fan and devoted step-father, just sent this along. It came out of his pilot union's newsletter today and has to do with research down at Auburn. War Eagle!
The FAA is establishing a new "Center of Excellence" for Cabin Air Quality. Auburn University will head the new center which will research cabin air quality and conduct an assessment of chemical and biological threats. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey says "we've brought together some of the brightest minds science has to offer to focus on cabin air quality and chemical and biological threats to protect passengers and crewmembers." The FAA is pumping $1 million into the center for the first year.
Good for the FAA, great for Auburn. "Making America safer" will be in all the University promotional material next year. The irony of course, if I remember correctly, is that the air quality tests will be conducted in two of the smelliest buildings on campus.
I'm going to Starkville this weekend!
Football season is here, even half a world away. An open letter from my friend Captain Frank Myers, serving in Baghdad, to Alabama football coach Mike Shula:
... College football can even be a uniter. As personally repulsive as it may sound, I found myself arguing alongside a Florida, Auburn, and yes, even a Tennessee fan, as we defended the correct notion that the SEC is America’s superior football conference.


What we are doing here is very serious and important, but what you are doing there is important also. For we do not only fight to free other people from oppression, we fight to protect what we love about America. College football is part of what we love. That’s why the soldiers seem so happy now that their beloved teams are playing. It reminds us of the good, fun things about our country we love so much.

I’m not saying college football is as important as fighting a war. After all, while a 19 year-old kid in Bryant-Denny stadium was returning an interception for a touchdown, a 19-year-old kid in Baghdad was returning small arms fire. I’m simply writing to make sure you know that what you’re doing really lifts our spirits. You have definitely lifted mine.
That's a neat little letter, even from an Alabama alumnus. It is, also, surely a sentiment shared by all those fans braving unsafe conditions for the rest of us.
So we all know I love the policy stuff, so I have to read the politics part of the paper. Here lately I've grown to enjoy the insightful 'Sound off' section of newspapers. Oh how they tell a story about the people around you.

Anyway, now I'm beginning to enjoy this one little insert from the Baldwin Register. They just write about people in their community, usually older folks or people who aren't native to the region.
While in Panama City, (Dawn) Malec was instrumental in organizing a bone marrow drive, which assisted medical patients in need of healthy cells. "Even though I was registered, it was nine years later before my marrow had a match. On the day of the procedure at the University of Florida Hospital, I had Henry write on my backside where the marrow is extracted, 'Go Noles' for the Florida State Seminoles. When I awoke from my procedure, the physicians had written on a strip of tape -- Go Gators,'" she said.
Somehow that's just funny.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Well ... disappoint will likely be the word to use on the $260 million project that is Genesis. The parachute on the capsule failed to deploy, hurtling itself toward the earth at a tremendous speed. Considering that NASA had hoped to catch the parachute midflight to preserve delicate materials inside, slamming into the desert floor was not the best outcome.

Update: "We seem to be able to land on Mars, but not on Earth," -- John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, noting in the 9/9/04 edition of the New York Times that NASA had never before tried to bring back a craft from deep space by this method.
Dinner in Cullman today. Get to visit with Kelly. The running joke is that I haven't eaten in weeks, but before she lets me go to Ruby Tuesday's we have to first find a bookstore. In Cullman.

Do they even read there?
Today helicopter stunt-pilots will try to catch the Genesis capsule. The capture today will be a stunning visual, but the truly amazing part of the program will only then just be getting started:
Genesis, bringing back samples of the solar wind, is NASA's first sample return mission since Apollo 17 returned the last of America's lunar samples to Earth in December 1972 ...

The samples Genesis provides will supply scientists with vital information on the composition of the Sun, and will shed light on the origins of our solar system.
They've been practicing for this event for years, and is a high-profile, outcome-uncertain event that is sure to thrill. Or disappoint.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

I woke up before the alarm went off this morning. That, and the shrinking days, have me totally thrown off.

The sun, lulled by what's left of Frances, must have hit the snooze button this morning. The freeway's flyover exit was unusual because there was suddenly this field of bright white halogen lamps to the right I've never seen. Very dark, very odd.

I had too much to think last night. Went to bed too awake, the brain too active to drift away. The oak trees were vying for attention. First the ones up the hill in the yard would move in the wind, sounding like water on a beach. And then a different breeze would catch a different set of trees on the other side of the yard.

Sat outside and looked for stars, but even the clear parts of the sky wouldn't spill their secrets. Listening to the crickets, which always seem to be talking to one another, I separated the nearest ones from the rest of the late summer sounds. In the distance there were countless insects with so many voices so close together that they seemed a continual chorus.

Monday, September 6, 2004

Someone will have to explain this Open-on-Labor-Day, Closed-on-Labor-Night philosophy that we have going on around here. Its Monday, why did everything close at 7 p.m.?

I think I left the house twice this weekend. Now that's a holiday. My best laid plans feel victim to the restless calling of a pillow. Four hours later, the sun is not so high in the sky anymore.

The wind has been beating up the leaves pretty well today. What's left of Frances is moving in. We're due only a day or so of rain, but the wind is the first clue of the coming changes. Still a month or two off from autumn this far south, but the signs will be mounting. The maple leaves, the arboreal lightweight, have already delivered their sigh of resignation; they're giving up early this year.

In a few months it will be sweater weather!
So after Week One I am enjoying the cosmic accident that allows me to be on top of our college football Pick 'em. That image is the chart showing the proof. Note the arrow pointing to the top spot and my group. 'Behind Richardson's Woodshed' of course, is my thinly veiled Auburn reference of the year.

"You'll do well if you pick nothing but the favorites," Brooke, the returning champ, said. But no, I didn't pick the favorites, I picked the winners. That's why I'm first and she's seventh.

Next week I'll surely be in the basement of the group. Better enjoy this while I can.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Distressing news from Will Collier today:
Unless you grew up in the Southeast, or wandered a bit off the drunken path during Spring Break, you've probably never heard of it, but Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City Beach, Florida opened up its gates for the last time today. The site has been sold, and will be razed to make room for condos and upscale shops. If you needed proof that the old, familiar, seedy, but still comfortable as an old pair of flip-flops Redneck Riviera is going the way of the dodo, this is it.
We'll all weep next spring.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

History made: Sylvester Croom, the SEC's first black head coach, gets his first win. The MSU Bulldogs dominated Tulane at home 28-7. Truly, the only color that matters is maroon.

Until next week, when they'll be Orange and Blue.
Coach is lamenting yet another football season by Internet. And we all miss Jim.

And I can't wait to hear Will Collier's reaction after the day at Jordan-Hare.

Even our friends in Wisconsin are watching the SEC ... OK, former SEC coaches ... OK, former Alabama coaches. Anything that let's me plug Mark Hasty's site.
31-0, Auburn. Its a better start than last year, but they were playing a glorified high school team in Louisiana-Monroe.

I watched the game at a sports bar where they had five huge screens. This was actually sort of a bad thing. Sitting right in the middle of the room I couldn't decide which one to watch. I also counted 30-something regular sized TVs hanging from the ceiling. And two mounting inside the wall in the restroom. I definitely need a set up like that.

Sat next to this older guy who said he had three daughters get their bachelor's and master's at Auburn. His wife also went there. "I figure over the years I've put a half-million dollars into Auburn," he said. Himself, he was a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech, but he was cheering for Auburn. He also bought my lunch, so for the span of a game this total stranger was my best friend. I'd forgotten what happens during football season when you mention to older folks that you're in school. Tailgating alumni fed me for years at the Loveliest Village.

Friday, September 3, 2004

So I called the Associated Press this morning ...

"You guys going to run anything on this abduction in Anniston this morning?"

"Uhh ... what abduction is that?"

"You know the one in which they called the Amber Alert on this morning and then canceled it about a half-hour later. The man is recently out of jail has killed two people and has kidnapped a child and is now in a standoff at a motel with police."

"... I'd seen that they declared an Amber alert, but I didn't know they'd canceled it."

The suspect is also wanted on rape charges.

Yeah, AP is on top of their game today.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

The President talked for an hour, and I blogged for an hour at FFP.

The news gets a little better out of southern Russia as 31 hostages have been released from the school that's been held captive for the past day.

This is intrinsic with the way the world must see terrorism. Chechen rebels have taken blame, as have militant Islamic groups, but there are disturbing signals that there are Russian and possibly Christian ties in this ongoing stand-off.

It is at this point that we have erred in combatting terrorism as we know it in the world today. The traditional definition holds that a terrorist groups stated goal is to strike fear into those they oppose. The denotation must be more precise: coercion, mayhem and murder are the goals.

There is a shift to be made in how our enemies are perceived. They don't want to invoke fear to evoke a social change, they seek to create social change by attrition. For this, a law enforcement approach will not suffice. The issue -- larger even than a global and reasonably organized al-Qaeda network -- is not a matter of religious zealotry or cultural disharmony, but a more fundamental and simplistic concern. The weaponery is readily available and those who would destroy us are motivated. We are vulnerable.

The war, going on without us for some 20 years and with us for just a few, is only now getting started. George Bush, in the now oft-misquoted interview with Matt Lauer, seems to be grasping the timeline:
Lauer:Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?”

President Bush: "I have never said we can win it in four years."

Lauer: "So I'm just saying can we win it? Do you see that?"

President Bush: "I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world -- let's put it that way. I have a two pronged strategy. On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us, and that's necessary. I'm telling you it's necessary. The country must never yield, must never show weakness [and] must continue to lead. To find al-Qaida affiliates who are hiding around the world and ... harm us and bring 'em to justice -- we're doing a good job of it. I mean we are dismantling the al-Qaida as we knew it ... (a question later) I know if steadfast, strong and resolute -- and I say those words very seriously -- it's less likely that your kids are going to live under the threat of al-Qaida for a long period of time. I can't tell you. I don't have any definite end. ... If we believe, for example, that you can't win, and the alternative is to retreat ... I think that would be a disaster for your children."
As I wrote last week at FFP the President is fighting a war of ideology. In many respects this President is correct, but just as he is espousing a multi-pronged approach, we must realize that we're fighting a multi-pronged enemy. This isn't a two-front war requiring armies and supply lines that are thinly stretched, this is a multi-front war that threatens us not only logistically but, more importantly conceptually. Until we properly conceptualize the challenge (Sun Tzu's chapter six comes to mind) we will stand on improper footing.
Its pretty well established that I loved radio. So I have mixed emotions on its local death. Relieved to not be on the inside during this dreadful time and sad that this is going on.

Driving to work this morning I thought I would give the local morning news talk shows another listen. On one I heard:

Host to co-host: "So, what did you think of (Senator) Zell Miller's speech (at the Republican Convention)?"

Co-host: "I didn't turn on my TV last night."

Those were the first words the co-host had said during the show. It was like watching two old men play checkers, only I couldn't enjoy the checkers game. This is a news/talk station. Further down the dial on their competitor's station:

Host: "This day in history ... "

When did people stop caring? Or, more appropriately, when did management start hiring people that no longer care?

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

I'm live-blogging the RNC over at Fear, Folly, Politics. The first time I've ever live-blogged anything. I'm still getting the delayed thing down, so cut me some slack on the live variety. And, also, I am just writing this to say I'm blogging on two sites at one time.

Aren't my folks proud?
"Did Arnold really say girlie men again? He's got to stop doing that. He's probably offended 70 percent of the nation."
Now, there's another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy. And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie-men.

Full transcript.

So let's hear it, are you offended?
Watching coverage of the protests in New York outside the RNC. I'm reminded of a conversation with people who remember the Vietnam peace protests, but remember it through the softened lens of the irrelevant South. Life went on.

1,900 people were arrested Tuesday in New York. I went home from work and had a sandwich. Now I'm watching protestors violently disrupting the GOP's youth convention. I wonder "How did they get in there?" and then turn back away from the TV.

Later, I may go get a haircut.