Kenny Smith | blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Have you ever submitted yourself for Googlisms? I didn't know I was so good!
Productive in every way ... that doesn't count. That should be a motto somewhere. Maybe, today, for me.

I heard about this cool little sale in this little out of the way place and cleaned up. Previously owned DVDs (the discs look perfect). A Mighty Wind, Suicide Kings and One Hour Photo for 17 bucks. Buy two, get one free. Why not. Two great movies I know and love, and One Hour Photo is thought very highly of as well.

Just beat the rain home. Spent time listening to the roaring whisper of angels while adding the second half of November's pictures. About 19 in there for your viewing pleasure. Also fixed a problem with code in the October pictures. One more time friends, when you see something broken around here, give us a hand. Elsewhere, tweaked the blog template the tiniest bit, added another image that will ultimately replace the leaves. But not today. Patience, children.

The best part of tonight, unless you're a Bamer fan, is this video. Share it with the Tide in your family, neighborhood and workplace.

There's one more project tonight and then, fully satisfied that schoolwork has been fully procrastinated against, I'll churn out a page or two of that. Maybe. Productive in every way ...

You know the rest.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Today has been one of those small unexpected gifts of pleasure days. Days like this need a name. How about autumn?

A friend from the frigid north -- OK, Tennessee -- was complaining the other day of a lack of seasons in the Deep South. Today, I must beg to differ. Fall has arrived albeit on November 29th. Oh sure, the leaves have been changing and succumbing to gravity for a few weeks, but today you can feel it. This morning the sun was blotted out of the sky by squaking and shrieking birds. Tonight the air is held together by that certain crispness that carries the scent of a woodfire for miles. That's fall. Take that Tennessee boy!

Anyway, already it was my comp day for working over the holiday. The previously discussed fever was gone, I was all but miraculously healed just hours after ringing death's doorbell. I exaggerate, but only a little.

A lingering car battery issue got resolved. Turned out it wasn't the battery at all, but something even easier, meaning less time (and no money) spent at the shop. The place I had lunch didn't have the guilty pleasure I wanted. That took me out of the vibe for (an unneeded) dessert too. I got a parking meter already loaded up for 90 minutes at the library. Got back in the car with five research books and a minute to spare.

Nice Emails, interesting conversation, a low impact class -- and no big concerns with tonight's presentation -- rounded out the day. There was an academic disagreement with my professor about the role of this one thing related to this other thing. When he started contradicting himself it became obvious I'd won and didn't need to press the issue. There's something to be said for letting the other guy talk and talk while sitting back content in the quiet knowledge that he is totally full of it.

Best joys of the night: our Effects paper has been pushed back five more days and I figured out a way to consolidate that with my Models paper, meaning less work in a two birds-with-one-stone approach.

Perfect way to start the fall, even if the local version lasts a matter of days.
The thermometer said 101.5. My body felt like it was one-third hungover, one-third in a boxing match and two-thirds in a violent car crash. If that math makes sense you understand how I felt yesterday.

I did manage to meet with Gil for lunch -- that was when I just felt weird and not like loopy death. He has all these very interesting and heartily depressing stories to tell about his time in Kosovo and Afghanistan as a police instructor.

Toward the end of our nice long conversation I found it hard to keep my attention on the talk. After I came back home -- I'd intended to go to the library, honest -- and couldn't get comfortable I suspected a fever. Then I meekly crawled back into the bed where I stayed all afternoon and evening, willing the ugly body heat away.

So this morning the fever is gone. The sinuses are back. My shoulder and my back are still sore, but this is all a trade I'd make any day of the week.

It seems like I had something interesting I wanted to write here, but it might have just been the hallucinations talking. As it is, I am going to the library today. I'll be swapping out some books for hopefully other books. I now have nine days to finish the behemoth paper and a vaguely similar time to wrap up the smaller paper of annoyance.

I don't know why, it is not as if I've done much work, but I'm ready for this term to be over.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Children are the best part about the holidays, with the obvious exception of getting home to appreciate your own bed.

I got to play Operation (mostly as the banker), Trouble, Tag and more. Amid the inevitable "When are you having kids?" questions I trotted out the "Cool Uncle Kenny" jokes. About that time came the call from the other room, "Guinea ... come play with us." Somehow the six year old is struggling with pronunciations. I guess that's what happens when you get to see them once a decade.

This morning -- or was that a decade ago? -- we took the three kids (7, 6 and 1) to McDonald's for biscuits and playground fun. Got in a little trouble with Kyle -- click on the picture -- when I carried the still tottering one up the little plastic tubes of doom on the Playplace. Turns out "Kid at heart" doesn't still exceeds the height and weight requirements. They didn't seem to mind that I kept my shoes on though.

So I took a sum total of four whole pictures in my 36 hours on the road. All four of Kyle, this is the best. The sun filtering through was intentional. I'm thankful I didn't go blind while trying to shoot it. And that I got to rock him to sleep not too long after that.
Safely home from the family holidays. On the way back I composed a list of all the things to be thankful for. Then I realized that it wasn't breaking any new ground.

May your family be healthy, may you be happy, fed and wise. Happy Thanksgiving to all and get out of my way while I buy the newest and latest games on sale now!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Without even intending to I managed to get some serious Christmas shopping done yesterday. I merely went to one place to get a badly needed book for new CDs. Between that store and the one right next door, all of the immediate family is now accounted for. I even wrapped most of the presents last night. Now its the even more difficult grandparents and extended family. What do you get the person that has everything?

Why are we shopping for these people?

All the laundry and dishes were washed and the bags packed were packed last night. The partial day at work is done. Time to hit the road for the holidays.

I got a phone call just a moment ago from our old family friend, Gil. He's a retired Bessemer police officer who's been working as security in Bosnia and, most recently, Afghanistan. Back in town visiting, he's looking forward to going to the gun show Saturday. First one he's been to since he shipped off in 2000. "Since then all I've seen have been AKs and RPGs."

He's safely home, though, and that's one more in a long long list of things to be thankful for.

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

May you see and recognize all your many blessings, big and small. May you appreciate them all your days. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Dedo alimento.
I've just been informed by a fellow Thanksgiving traveller that the trees from here to Huntsville are beautiful. Looking forward to it.
Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather.

The meteorologist replies, "A southerly flow of moist unstable air in combination with a low pressure system is providing conditions for abundant heavy rainfall today."

Keeps rainin' all the time.

OK. I confess, after talking up the rain the other day, we've had enough. Flooding, thunderstorms, downed trees, oddball drivers. Enough of all that. Sleeping under the rainy roof, we're supposed to like that, but who's to know? Thunder waking me up all night, a nice novelty; don't bring it back until I've forgotten how annoying it can be, thanks.

Still a lot of dihydrogen oxide falling out there, but later today it promises to be a bad cotton candy blue. That's progress.

Thanksgiving dinner at work today. Someone scheduled this for 1 p.m. All of us early-morning types have been dreading, for weeks, the feeling of wanting to gnaw an arm off before noon. But our small office family will walk downstairs to the ultra-trendy high priced Mexican restaurant. El dia de Thanksgiving viene temprano.

Thanksgiving holidays for me start as quickly as I can get out of the office tomorrow morning. A few hours work and then a few hours drive. Just in time for family, turkey and the temptations of dessert.

On the way up I'll be listening to audio CDs of Dennis Miller's rants. Seems appropriate in exactly no sense, but at least it is something to occupy the mind. Nothing is too psuedointellectual for your humble correspondent.

Also checked out a lot of new music too. Cause you care: Dave Matthews, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Sacred Harp and the incomparable Dean Martin.

A co-worker just loaned me some U2. Most kind, and should get me out of town and back.

So Congress can't agree on reforming intelligence (so many jokes ...) Dan Rather is leaving, Ukraine doesn't does have a new prime minister and the CIA says Pakistan and Iran have been meeting for drinks and nukes. While some of those stories are more impactful than others we're punching holes in the holiday-slow-news-week theory.

I can't be troubled with it; I'm having a good hair day.

Monday, November 22, 2004

So I spent chunks of last week, this weekend and a whole lot of today into this literature review presentation that's due tonight. Show up for class and someone says, "Let's not do it today."

The professor thinks That'd get me out of here by 6 instead of 7:30 or 8. "OK, next week then."

What's the point?

At least that project is done. Two to go, one of which is the logical extension of tonight's. Now to squeeze 10 to 15 pages out of this turnip. But that is a struggle for another day. Having finished the lit review, the reward is the evening off.
Someone put those plastic laminate sticky snowflakes up on the windows at work. Wishful thinking. Of course it looks like it could be snowing out there. The sun isn't even trying today. Didn't even crease the horizon this morning on the way in. Had to double check the clock to see if I was early. Then I thought to double check the cars around me to make sure it hadn't become Night of the Comet.

Satisfied that everyone most likely had a pulse -- if not yet their caffeine -- all was right with the world. The motorcycle police officer sped by me, late for roll call again, and the steel mill smoke stacks were burping fire into the sky. The sun is sleeping in and here we all are.

A Tennessee native is arguing for more winter. Apparently the two seasons we have to offer here aren't good enough. One co-worker is warning of going all Talking Heads on us and a third is dissing a warrior from ages past. Apparently no one will want to see Alexander. Speak for yourself.

Finally a reference from this century as I turn to another co-worker and say, "You know, Alexander was the leader of more than half the known world by the time he was your age."

Yeah but he couldn't build a webpage.

Take that Mr. the Great!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Eleven and oh!
War Eagle!

Friday, November 19, 2004

To the self-proclaimed Enlightened: fix yourselves before speaking of the New South.

An idiot with a microphone in Blue Wisconsin proves where the bigotry is:
(WTDY-AM's John) Sylvester, who is white, said he called (soon to be Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza) Rice "Aunt Jemima" on Wednesday's show to describe her and other black officials as having only a subservient role in the Bush administration. He also referred to (outgoing) Secretary of State Colin Powell as an "Uncle Tom."
Technically, a white man can't call a black man an Uncle Tom. Technically, the nation's chief diplomat is hardly "subservient" in the role of co-creating and conveying the President's foreign policy. I'd say something about it, but this ... gentleman obviously does not have the necessary brain cells to rub together for cogent thought.

Enjoy other blatant racism -- from the supposedly progressively and inclusive left -- here.
Woke up to the rain. Made me sleep an extra seven minutes. I've lately taken to appreciate the simple awesome sounds of silence. I drove to work this morning listening to the rain. Three part harmonies or AM radio had to do without me.

Lazy Friday at work. Every day for the last half of the week has dragged and dragged. Not tedious, just long. But today at least seemed peaceful on some subconscious plane that oh-so-rarely shows up.

Had lunch with the boss today. Johnny Ray's barbeque was a good call. The route I took to get there was not. It was the traffic jam of our discontent, with no accidents or delays, just waiting. And, apparently, Friday is Pie Day. Somehow I struggled through it all.

Struggled through the bowling last night too. Had a really fun time with the crazy work folks. Played a lousy first game, won the second and lost the third game by just two pins. In the third game we started annoying everyone at the place by heckling ourselves. As a bowler would approach, someone would scream, "YOU'RE THE MAN!" or "GET IN THE HOLE!" or "YOU GO GIRL!" Oddly, there were no ladies bowling with us. And, of course, bowling has nothing to do with putting the ball in the hole. So naturally we had fun. The police officer working security watched us warily. He thought we were on something. High on life, sir, high on life.

Gratuitous R.E.M segue way: Should we talk about the weather? (Hi...hi, hi)

Talked with a guy who complained about today's inherently slate gray weather.

It is going to be the same for a week.

"No, my friend. Next Wednesday, we're having thunderstorms."

South Seattle anyone? Certainly looks like it. Might be nice for a week. The last of the dogwoods has turned a lusty red and the sweetbush is only a few days behind the piercing gold of the maple tree. Across the way the oak has gone burnt orange. I've got no complaints.

Except for this literature review that must be written. And bills which must be paid. The promise of it all is a long nap. The light at the end of the tunnel? Night-light.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

This is a new template test. Like the new look? Fonts, their sizes and colors are still a bit rough, but this is the new look for the blog. Isn't it swell? Took the picture earlier this week. It will change from time to time, just to keep things fresh.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Rivalry tales. My experience is only a bit different than this story.
As a 10-year-old, (Jeremy) Ingle followed Alabama through its undefeated national championship season in 1992. He attended every home game, was in Birmingham for the first SEC Championship Game and screamed his lungs out at the Superdome on New Year's Night.

The championship season was just one year in Ingle's crimson-colored childhood ...

Auburn's starting center shrugs off the allegiance today.

"When you're a kid," Ingle said, "you're easily brainwashed."
Heh. Ingle goes on to say "I came to Auburn to see friends that came up here and I just thought this place was a lot better."

The last part is lockstep with my experience. My mother still likes to tell the story of my "defection to the dark side" -- with great flourishes and purposefully added inaccuracies. When she gets halfway through the telling I butt in, "And then I saw the light! I saw the error in my ways! Glory, glory to ole Auburn!"
The headline uses the word rump.
A Hueytown man, accused of attempting to stab homeless men in the rear end with a hunting knife, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of first-degree assault.


Assistant District Attorney James Butler said Cone would pick up homeless men under the guise of hiring them for odd jobs. Once on a job site, Cone asked the men to pick up something.

Once they bent over, Cone would attempt to stab them.

One man required extensive surgery, Butler said.
I'm just waiting on the comment from a neighbor, "You'd expect this out of a big city, but you'd never think it would happen here. What's the world coming to?"
There's maybe nothing more lonely than travelling an empty highway late at night, knowing you're only going to be going the other direction five hours later.

But at least I got a little sleep last night. Breathing is an underrated thing, and four-and-a-half hours later, I felt more refreshed than the last two nights. Still it promises to be a long day.

Two things I learned at the newspaper last night (having written for papers before, most of their daily work wasn't a mystery): all of the design and copy editors like Star Trek and they are all diminutive speakers. Reporters, already gone for the day, are generally louder. So they probably didn't care for the reporter in me being loud and animated. I'm sure they didn't care for my continual hacking and wheezing.

I am getting better though. Should be at least, I've been popping enough pills to make Keith Richards blush.

Here's something that is blushworthy. While at the paper last night the sports guys were talking about the college football polls. Apparently the Huntsville Times Tide beat reporter is voting Oklahoma as number one. Hastared. I asked the very pointed question, "Is that common knowledge or just something you guys know?" The very adamant answer I got back was, "Everyone will know tomorrow."

But it didn't make the paper. Someone probably thought better of it as a professional courtesy. But I smell conspiracy!

That's all I can smell. My nose, never a strong suit, is still denying me the olfactory pleasures. Maybe in a few more days. But only if I can stay awake long enough.

Today I have pictures to go through -- took a lot on my day off yesterday -- and a meeting with Dr. Self. After that it is home and rest, blessed rest.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A few days ago Brooke was telling of how some of the people at Penn State have been reacting to the Presidential election.

Some of the transplants are "So proud that I come from a state with a female Senator." Good for them. A notable achievement in the history of that august body, to be sure, but the implications of superiority and condescension aren't lost in the statement.

"Just remind them," I said, "that the most powerful black woman in the history of the modern world was born in Birmingham, Ala."

And, progressively enough, is soon to become Secretary of State.
The end of the media card saga: an excellent recovery program could not find any of those countless, priceless pictures. They are gone.

And so many of them I had not used for anything yet. Once upon a time I was so diligent about taking a picture off the card, using the image for whatever purpose and then erasing it so I could have the disk space. This made sure that pictures didn't languish on there for a long time. But lately this nasty habit has developed and the end result is the still-sickening thought of maybe a hundred or more pictures forever gone. Hopefully this will teach me a lesson.

Meanwhile, I am off to see the world. Going to grab a snack and kill part of the day until it is time to go do the job shadowing thing. Maybe I can find something to take my mind off of today's tragedy. Maybe I'll take pictures.
Good news is the 128 MB media card is working again. Bad news is that really, really great pictures were lost. Including an anniversary, a trip to Auburn, and some other things I am sappily sentimental about. I'm almost sick with the thought.

That's not melodrama.

But, at least the card works. And now I'm downloading a media recovery program to see if I can recover at least some of those priceless, once-in-a-lifetime (literally) images. I'll seek out the tech master at work tomorrow too. At this point getting a few back, any few really, would be a win.

So I'm thankful for the camera people's tech support, but also vainly angry, because he could have told me to do Step One before Step Two. He was right there on the phone and let me do it. Guess it is somehow my fault for not asking meticulous, tediously detailed questions dealing with stuff I know nothing about.

Sickening. Really.

Monday, November 15, 2004

New pictures are up this evening. You can see them by going to the picture page or look at 19 images right here.

Remember, the digital camera was in the shop for most of this month, so the picking was a little thin and the theme a little repetitive. It gets better.

Meanwhile, just as I finished resizing the images and uploading them to the server my media card decided it didn't want to be read anymore. This, of course, was the super-expensive 128 MB card, so someone please help me out with advice on this one.

Class tonight was interesting. The first group did their presentations in our Effects class. It was rather anticlimactic. Also found out the paper that accompanies our lit review presentation is expected to be around 10-15 pages. No big deal. I think my group presents next week (or the week after) and the papers are due in December. Anxiety -- for a time -- rolls away. Come around on December 7th and see how I feel. Hopefully the whole paper is done and the feelings will be good.

But right now, the feelings feel like sleep. Interesting day tomorrow. The boss has us job shadowing at The Birmingham News. I'm sure to return breathless with exciting stories about the guys that play with the newsprint.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

So yeah, I've been sick.

Let me save you the trouble right here: yes I'm taking medicine, OJ, humidifier, etc.

I had some of those use-them-or-lose-them type vacation days at work, I had been planning for weeks to take them last week. Maybe a trip out of town, go somewhere new, take pictures or something like that. Then the camera breaks (now working), and the car eats a $400plus bill and then I got sick. Apparently it was my destiny to stay home this week, precisely the thing I wanted to avoid.

So the sickness is now reduced to just sinuses. The first presentation in classes was completed tonight. That went over pretty well and might have been the only upside to being sick, had no excuse to not do the research.

But, as I'm thinking of having to get up early for work in the morning, it dawns on me, I didn't get to have any fun or otherwise enjoy myself during my time off. I should get a do-over.
Number two in the nation.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Dominate. You can really hear that punkish Auburn vibe starting to rise now. No longer the getting kicked around predisposition, this is the rare "Here's our idea what you can do with yourself." It is in the voice of the play-by-play man Rod Bramblett and in the crowd -- 87,451 strong -- a rock concert at an airport.

Somewhere around halftime the whole season seemed real. Somewhere mid-3rd quarter it was time to bring on Bama, the SEC championship game and maybe, just maybe, the Orange Bowl. The Tigers, while whipping fith-ranked Georgia post-to-post, showed national sports writers just what they wanted to see; they're a threat. Dominate indeed.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A soldier's miracle:
(Sgt. Jesus) Vidana was standing behind a cinder block wall, his adrenaline fighting off the exhaustion from a day of ducking bullets and lugging ammunition, radio equipment, food and water.

A radio operator, Vidana was barking orders relayed from his commander when a bullet pierced his helmet.

His colleagues scrambled to revive him, but one medic declared him dead minutes later. Hours later, on a flight back to a field hospital, another medic examined Vidana and listed him as a casualty.
Find out how he lived.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Good news friends: the digital camera is back. You know what that means. That's right, pictures of the ham I just picked up for the holidays.
As is common, the dead have their praises sung. Today the eulogy is off key. The AP, Reuters and others are taking a longing, revisionist look back at Yasser Arafat. Don't you believe it. For the things left unsaid, go here.
Sleeping in is nice. Sleeping in while it rains is better.

I woke up in the fall. There's a chill in here. My throat is sore. Peeked out the window to see the oak trees in full retreat. The one directly across the way is a flaring golden orange this morning.

Shopping for food will take place today. Nary a good late-morning snack in the house. And then after that it is back to the books. Have I been talking/thinking about that too much lately? Certainly haven't been getting enough accomplished lately. Trod trod trod.

Things are actually going a little faster. At least we're all working on it now, which is better than you can say for most group projects. I drafted out about three pages of stuff and still have the promise of four or five more old books to leaf through. Finding everything, and putting it together in a way that makes sense, that's a challenge for later.

But, the good news is, ready or not, this part of the workload will be over and done Sunday night. Always late in the term it seems that way. The sense of priority lends itself to chronology. What's due now? Finish that. Turn it in, move on to the next thing. Somewhere over Christmas break there will be the chance to reflect on the mountains of disinformation you've just contributed to academia. But that's another day and several projects away. In the meantime, I am trying to avoid papercuts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Chadd's in town. Had our regular lunch this afternoon. Talked about radio and Auburn and ESPN and UAB and a couple of other things with acronyms. He likes ESPN still, but not the brutal winters of Connecticut. "By March and April it seriously starts to impact your quality of life." Says the guy who grew up somewhere just south of Canada. How can you be from anywhere in the Wisconsin-Minnesota area and be beaten down by a New England winter?

Anyway, Chadd's good, visiting his brother and sister-in-law still in town. He's trading on his good ESPN name for passes to see the Georgia-Auburn game this weekend. I offered to go with him, no dice.

Remember earlier this week when I begged for money to fix the car? All that effort netted me a dollar today. I can't share with you the name of the organization that was so kind -- this is a family site, but their acronym is SAA. And many thanks are in order to that august body. Though I was surprised to learn that such generosity (and great forethought) took two cosigners. But, dollar clenched tightly in hand, it occurs to me that maybe I should start begging for more things around here.

Well, guess I'll study a bit now. I'm enthused, just in case you couldn't tell.
Happy Birthday Marines. Fortitudine.
Just remembered this: on the way home from Florida we're desperately driving through south Alabama and looking for a place to make a quick stop. Just when we can't take it anymore Michelle says, "We're in the middle of nowhere!" as we pass the sign announcing we're 18 miles from Opp. You have no idea child, no idea.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Had lunch with the uber-psuedo intellectuals today. Charming stuff. Their fingers are squarely on the pulse. We ranged from Arafat to Jesse Jackson to business models to local politicians. We shunned Disney, chastised publicly owned companies and I learned a new phrase. But I promise I'll try not to use the words "poverty pimp" too often.

After work I contributed to another author's retirement fund, having been forced to pick up the APA Stylebook.

I later dropped in on Dr. Powell, my politically minded department head. He's now agreed to be my main professor. Great for me, but I feel a little bad for him about the whole deal. Studying under one of the most highly recognized men in communication research has to be a good thing. So after impressing him with my knowledge of absolutely nothing, I hiked over to the library.

Ahh, there's nothing like the sweetly dry smell of not-yet-ready-to-mildew books. You have to be moved by three floors of almost-fulfilled ambitions. No idea why I thought of that; it was just the phrase that came to mind when the book smell registered. I found it tonight at least. The library I mean. Then I spent an hour in there chasing down books. So I ask the nice man working the counter how many books I can check out at once. "15." I plop my books on the counter as he gets on the phone and cancels his evening plans. I later slip a disc toting 11 books to the car.

I picked up such dusty and revered tomes as: Human Communication as a Field of Study, New Models for Mass Communication Research, Communication Among Grandmothers, Mothers, and Adult Daughters: A Qualitative Study of Maternal Relationships, two on qualitative theory and two more on human communication.

All that's for the presentation this Sunday for the Models class.

For the upcoming Effects class I picked up Presidential Debates, the seminal Televised Presidential Debates and Public Policy and The Joint Press Conference by a man I've long admired (and interviewed often) Dr. David Lanoue.

These presentations better be well received.

Oh, I also picked up American Politicians and Journalists. But I got that one just for me.
This kind of makes you consider spending your Christmas money somewhere else. Doesn't it?

Maybe if Charles Dickens were alive today he would consider writing A Christmas Carol with a different sort of protagonist.
There's something about sleep that makes a man feel ... awake.

Wonder how long this enthusiasm will keep up. Got the car fixed. Feel free to send in those donations any time you like. Tried in vain to make some serious headway into one of these class projects. I was stymied last night, but am determined today. Had a quiet and productive hour alone at work this morning. Maybe that feeling will hold out too.

Bad news is that the digital camera is busted until at least next week. I could break out the 35mm for my supposed long weekend, but it looks like this project is going to shoot down that possibility as well. So I'll have two days off and spend it in a library. Charming, charming thoughts there.

But that's why I'm motivated today and tomorrow. If I make serious headway, maybe I can knock out my portion of the group project and get it behind me. Because then it'll be time to wrap up the other three remaining projects. Fortunately two of them are related and done with the exception of the busy work and the paper.

So, with rock 'n' roll in the headphones, I'll continue to mainline the caffeine if you please ...

Monday, November 8, 2004

Safely home from Florida. Best thing about the dive trip: no one died. Turned in my Models exam in class night. Somehow I managed to miss things on a take-home test. Only me ...

Get to put the car in the shop today. A weekend of driving too hard on two lane country roads didn't help. The line to donate to the tires and brakes fund forms directly behind my wallet.

Also supposed to register for classes today. Looks like my evening classes in the spring term will be in the middle of the week. Hopefully those will be easier to want to attend than a Sunday night class.

Notice how there haven't been any sports updates lately? I've settled comfortably to the middle or the back of every one of these little office and friend contest I am in. Hard to brag about that. Meanwhile Auburn is still number three and preparing to host Georgia in the South's Oldest Rivalry.

Seriously, chip in for the brakes. You don't want your faithful correspondent to not be able to stop.

Friday, November 5, 2004

See this fork going into my Models exam? It is done! Didn't take all week -- thankfully -- but it sure did feel like it at times. Here's to hoping the returning score is a good one.

The week is winding down nicely. After the political non-upheaval early on things have settled around here. The big questions of today have been, "Is Arafat dead yet?" and "Where is the normal Friday car chase on Fox News?" Just doesn't feel like a Friday without seeing some suspect slung onto the pavement after 45 minutes of suspense.

Before getting home last night I made a stop off at the newest tribute to capitalism. "Blasting away of a hilltop" is accurate, because now it feels like a mesa. Except with lots of neon and tungsten to make your skin eerie colors.

The first real chills of the season snuck in last night, under clouds that looked like someone smeared charcoal across the sky. I didn't buy anything -- nothing on sale captured the eye -- and couldn't even putt at the sporting good store's make believe putting green. Some old guy wouldn't leave it alone. Sadly both the rock climbing and the driving range were also shut down. And I so desperately wanted to "play ball in the house." Surely the Republicans are to blame. Oh wait, white trash living out in the sticks ... slack-jaw ... bigots. Yeah. Sorry about that.

Friends, I give you something so aptly subtitled The unteachable ignorance of the red states.

Didn't we all want help, or hope, or whatever was being promised at the moment, to be on the way? Funny thing is, the help or hope or the great big Whatever that we wanted were different things. But, millions of people have been waking up in "ignorance" all week.

Let's leave it to the "naive and stupid" to remember the vitriol from the ... ahem ... kinder, gentler, party of the people.

"Wasn't it a few years ago that everyone was complaining about the GOP being the inaccessible party, the one who had no connection to the people?"

Glad you asked that question; believe it or not, someone did. Mark Hasty beat me to the answer. Read the whole thing, insightful stuff from an insightful man. The only thing lacking from his study of 16 years of policy is pointing out that the President today often speaks better Spanish than he does English.

This is about populism and common thought at the instinctive, kitchen table level. Democrats used to be populists, but the GOP grew into it, populism has outgrown the Dems while they've been stuck in the 60s for the last 40 years. "Reporting for duty," anyone? (There is an argument that Senator Kerry is the closing bookend on that generation as a way of thought.)

We are They and the Democratic party hasn't seen it.

So I, the stupid slack-jawed man of poverty, am now taking the weekend off. That's right, I'll be leaving my higher education and the quiet affluence of my middle-class suburb behind to go SCUBA diving for two days.

Stupid, canceled by higher education. Poverty, canceled by affluent suburb. SCUBA diving to point out how bad off I am. Check.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

His end all but here, Yassir Arafat ... we felt we knew ye too well. May your eternal fate be better than you deserve. May all of the innocent peoples in your part of the world find a peace that you helped prevent.
Heard Zig Zag talking about this yesterday. I was considering supporting arguments this morning and then found this story:
If Tuesday's election returns were a bitter pill for Democrats nationally, they were pure poison for Democrats in the South. Five formerly Democratic U.S. Senate seats were up for grabs. Republicans swept them all.


From North Carolina to Louisiana, Tuesday's returns may have also dealt a lasting blow to Democrats' efforts to stay competitive in the region. Of the 22 Senate seats located in the states of the Old Confederacy, Republicans will now hold a historically unprecedented 18, said Earl Black, an expert on Southern politics at Rice University in Houston.


In Alabama, the party has already struggled at times to find credible candidates for state and federal offices. On Tuesday's ballot, the re-election of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, to a fourth six-year term was no surprise. But Democrats lost all three state Supreme Court races, meaning that the high court will be entirely Republican for the first time since Reconstruction. Democrats also didn't come close to regaining any of the five congressional seats held by GOP officeholders.

The most telling defeat came in east-central Alabama, where freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, skated to a second term in a district drawn to elect a Democrat.
The 3rd district seat hasn't been occupied by a Democrat since Dr. Glen Browder left in 1997.

The story warns of a continual decline of the Democrat party in the state legislature. The one body of the government to remain a Democrat stronghold, numbers have been on the decline there over the last decade.

Policies and the public politick are changing; there is a strong sense that the Democrats may now move further away from the moderate vote.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

It is amazing how quickly the mind can adjust, learn or unlearn something. Felt like I was at work for 20 minutes today. Forgot to eat lunch and everything. This happens when you have the opportunity to make fun of geopolitics all day. (Google up your own real stories and satire, plenty around today.) Makes me remember how quickly the days used to go.

Take a moment, and think about this: imagine if we ran a campaign or -- dare I say it? -- our nation with the sort of feelings laid bare in the concession and acceptance speeches today:
Don't lose faith; what you did made a difference. And building on itself, we go on to make a difference another day ... But in an American election, there are no losers. Because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning, we all wake up as Americans ... I saw in them the truth that America is not only great, but it is good.
And then after an eloquent, though long, address by Senator Kerry, comes President Bush:
Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans. So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us.
If only these sentiments would hold out -- on both sides -- for longer than this rainfall.

Before the rains came in heralding tonight's cold front the sun was breaking through. Big creamy layers of UV punching holes in dark, bullyish clouds. When it hasn't been raining today, it has been rainforest-steamy. Just the way we like it. Keeps the ... interlopers out.

By the way, if you search on for "coldfront" it asks you, "Did you mean girlfriend?" Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Something else realized: Artists who take pride in their artistic integrity shouldn't allow their songs to become Muzak. With or Without You means many things to many people -- brooding introspection, desperate realization, finite resignation -- but it does not mean easy listening at Stein Mart. Et tu Bono?

Three days late -- What? Election and school stuff aren't good excuses? -- there are now 46 new images on the picture page. You can thank me later for putting them in their own group. These pictures make up the last half of the month, including a trip to Nashville, another to Auburn, a massive truck fire and more. Not included are the separately published bridge out pictures. Sorry for the bulk, but with the digital camera temporarily down these may (or may not) be all you get from me for a while.

Dear readers, friends, I need your help. Saw a friend of the family this afternoon, her son has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a trip to Australia next summer. To be a part of People to People is an honor that comes to very few (the selection process is quite rigorous I understand). And simply put, to have this opportunity it would be criminal to miss out on the experience for a lack of funds.

The Good News: I'm not asking for your money. The Bad News: I am asking for a little of your brainpower and an Email. Send me any and all ideas for successful fundraisers that might fit the bill. In this way, please help me help a deserving young man.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

What? You wanted to know what I got from the library today?

Alright then. First there was Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Matchbox Twenty and R.E.M. Pile on with a little U2, John Prine and Sinatra.

And, for the drive Friday evening, I picked up a little bit of Cronkite.
Today I left work to fulfill my civic duty. I put money in the bank, visited the library and paid the car insurance.

I also spoke to a kind old gentleman who gave me a little sticker, just for sliding a piece of paper into a machine. After I voted I talked to the deputy sheriff who's always on hand at our modest little polling place. He said that this had been the slowest moment of the day, yet I'd never seen it so crowded. The machine that ate my ballot called me voter "1910." There were two other machines on hand for this quiet little community. We truly turned out.

For the past hour I've been trying to decide when I've been more proud. They broke up the voters into four lines by alphabet, with two lines snaking around and through and out of the gym. I sat down to vote -- for the first time with our soldiers at war -- and was more awed by this election than by any previous fill-in-the-bubble moment.

Armed with any sense of history, you have to be thankful of all that makes a simple day like today so beautiful. The blue sky was brushed into fading clouds so fine that the sky was a perfect quicksilver. Fitting for a day that we've learned to take for granted, yet would fight most desperately to preserve. It has been said by more wise and eloquent writers, but needs to be repeated continuously, this opportunity cannot be overstated.

Turn away -- for a moment -- from the dirty pool of a negative campaign and look at the positives of the day.

A degree removed from whom will serve as President, the nation has wondered about potential terrorist attacks slated for today. Thousands of people in this one insignificant community, along with millions and millions of others across the nation, stood in defiance of that threat. The government has been bracing for months, particularly after the dreadful attacks in Spain, but our courage would not be bent or frayed. For our own varied political reasons, we strode in: young and old. We the ordinary, the prosperous, the powerful, the United.
I'm getting conspired against at work. On Tuesday we pick the next weekend's underdog game. When it came my turn to pick I seized on a good one -- I won't bore you with further details -- but "Nooooooooo; it's a typo!" Apparently the rules we spelled out at the beginning of the season don't mean a lot three quarters of the way through.

Typical. Just scared I might win. OK, with that pick I would have easily won the season, but I had to put up a good fuss. Such is the chore of those appreciating the fine art of antagonism.
Been missing the dry wit this morning? Cruise on over to Fear, Folly, Politics, where I'm sparingly blogging about this election/voting thing.

Rained on the way to work and most of the morning after that. Now the sky is some sickly cotton-candy blue color. Looks like a bad matte painting from a movie. Or one of those movies that Ted Turner colorized.

At 10:45 this morning, the sales guys were already wandering over, "Heard anything about the numbers yet?" Treated with the proper disdain early on, this question is asked only once.

Ralph Nader, to virtually no fanfare, was in town last week. We were discussing his appearance with one of our interns, who covered the story for the school paper. We asked about the turnout for his speaking engagement, whereupon she unleashed the best lead ever: "They looked like a bunch of Widespread Panic fans that had nowhere else to go."

That's why our interns are the coolest.

Monday, November 1, 2004

I have a friend -- alright, a couple -- who spend a lot of time being negative about whatever comes to mind. Tonight would be one of those nights, but this was never intended to be a forum of griping.

Maybe I'm just tired. Yeah, its the clock changes. Got dark too early. On the upside, it was daylight on the way to work. Of course it was one of those days where the sun is selfish and lazy and never really comes up, choosing instead to appear halfway through its daily sojourn across the sky. Definitely the clocks.

Has nothing to do with a class. For the second time since classes began, though, I half-wonder why I came back. The first time was just the other night, while trying to do the last minute studying for the midterm. Today's half-thought has to do with a lackadaisical lack of direction in my Effects class. Maybe it is just my perception, but that's how I perceive it, leave me alone. Gripe gripe gripe.

On the subject of that exam, it is now almost finished. Doesn't matter to you, but I've been fixated lately. Other fixations: broken camera dropped off at the camera shop, first of the week's two SCUBA errands ticked off the yellowing checklist.

You know that phrase "One step forward, two steps back"? That's how my checklist seems right now. I'm back in the slightly crazed, slightly comforting and familiar role of having so much to do that the mind just constantly reorganizes the list: one question left on the exam; weekend dive trip; just under two weeks until a presentation for Models; piece together a separate presentation for the mysteriously vague Effects class; another project in Models and an enormous paper in Effects.

Somewhere in there add work, travel and Thanksgiving and anything else that might happen until mid-December. Now mix all those pieces and rearrange. Repeat.

Tiring just thinking about it.