Kenny Smith | blog

Friday, December 31, 2004

Three day weekend. Didn't realize that until the last minute. I cheated myself a little this time. The long weekends always seem more valuable when you get to look forward to them from some medium distance.

Later today I'm heading down to the lake for a small New Year's gathering. Brooke and Stephen are hosting, they're so kind. I'll return home tomorrow -- as they head to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl without me. If they were truly nice they'd smuggle me into the game with them. Can't ask for too much though.

Have a few stops to make along the way, so there's no substance here today. Sorry. But what are you doing on your computer on New Year's Eve anyway? Let's all return tomorrow with our resolutions. That should be very instructive.

Have a safe and happy one!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The most uttered phrase around the office lately has been "the mind just can't comprehend it."

Nothing about it makes sense: the waves, the suddenness, the numbers. The only heartening thing to see is the outreach.

Jim tried to make sense of the numbers yesterday when the death toll stood at 77,000.

Wrap your mind around this:
Battle of Gettysburg 51,000 casualties.
Nagasaki 64,000* casualties.
Hiroshima 135,000* casualties.
"Doomsday" a cyclone in Bangladesh claims 138,000.
1976 Tangshan (China) earthquake; estimates vary up to 655,000 dead.
Shaanzi (China) earthquake of 1556 that killed 830,000 people

(*Almost a quarter million more would die in the two Japanese cities from injuries and radiation between 1945-1950.)
In Asia the death toll is thus far 120,000.

UPDATE: Evelyn Rodriguez was caught in the tsunami. That's her first post after the fact. Later riveting posts are also worth reading. Particularly this.

Meanwhile the boss, Jeff Jarvis, is noticing how your little online community is once again changing the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The back is much better, though not perfect. Still getting a little fidgety after being in one position too long. Now pretty much every other body part is a little sore from having to compensate my posture. Thigh is no good while standing. Lower back is no good sitting. Shoulder is tightened: stress of it all.

Hot pads rule.

Thanks to all who've given very excellent advice, though I'm not sure what I was supposed to do with the elderberries. Maybe next time.

Lunch today was at the library. None of the DVDs looked very appealing (why is Weekend at Bernie's on DVD at the library?) but over in the music section I did find some interesting additions. Went originally to the music selection in the young adult section. Presumably this is where they hold everything made in the past 10 years. Everything I ended up checking out was from the old people's catalog. Call me old if you must, but you can't beat Miles Davis' The Complete Birth of the Cool, Nanci Griffith's Little Love Affairs, The Notorious Cherry Bombs or Indigo Girls' Back on the Bus Y'all A few of the other, more experimental, selections didn't pan out.

So who has New Year's plans? I got spontaneously invited on the New Year's adventure of a lifetime. Unfortunately it can't happen this year, but maybe one day. Far more realistically, given the short timeframe is the chance to party like it's 1999. Literally. Once again I may have the opportunity to relive the days of our bygone college youth. The stars and itineraries have aligned in such a way that most of the core group will be close together on New Year's. I predict many embarrassing stories. Or dinner and the need for all of us old people to be asleep before the street lights turn on.

I have leftover fireworks from last New Year's ... wonder if they are still safe to fire. Just to be sure I'll make sure not to say "Hey y'all, watch this!"

More philosophical meanderings to come -- possibly later this evening assuming I can comfortably sit down in a chair -- but first, the definition of irony.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas day's family TV viewing choices were a marathon of American Chopper, followed by a visit to the other grandparents where we exchanged gifts (I got a cool boxing frog pen!) and John Wayne's El Dorado (starring an extremely young James Caan) and Clint Eastwood in Two Mules for Sister Sara. Merry Christmas.

Linked up with Finner, up from Auburn for the holiday. We shared a new tradition while reviving an old one: dinner at Waffle House. Fin is a wise man and a giver of good advice. He also remains one of the funniest people I know. Yo man, time for spaghetti yet?

We followed each other as far as Birmingham where our cars took us two separate ways into the crisp Christmas night. He gave me the finger point. I was so touched.


Got to visit with Brandy. Only took us four years, but we finally got to spend some time together on Christmas day. We did not exchange gifts, but had a nice long talk and visit. Having always been in different places we've long since established our own traditional celebration. That's coming soon, next week though: movies!

Not that you would, but don't ever make fun of someone with back spasms. After seeing Brandy off I shut the door, turned to walk through the foyer and the whole of my body seized up. There's this place about the size of my hand just below my ribs on the right side that wrapped itself around each other two or three times. Doing anything hurts. Took me four or five tries to go from vertical to horizontal. And that became a suck-it-up-and-fall moment. After the slow-motion agony of changing from slacks to PJs. And bending over to reach the Ibuprofen. Forget about turning. And for some reason I can't put all my weight on my left foot without the right side of my back being in agony. And it actually feels better today than it did last night day.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Finally got my introduction to Ma and Pa Kettle tonight. I'd heard probably everyone in the family make reference to them, but never seen their work. Very funny stuff. I especially enjoyed the way this 1951 program made fun of Indians, blue-bloods and uranium. And the site gags, for which I will always be a sucker, were choice. Good stuff.

Then, later it was Secret of Giving, a coming-of-age period piece starring Reba McEntire as a hard-luck western woman who teaches a town, immigrants and a reformed Butch Cassidy the true meaning of Christmas. She also sings the soundtrack in her all too familiar twang. Is it improper to fight for the remote control in someone else's house?

I stayed up late for football (nine whole minutes) and then The Footsteps of Jesus. There was much pontificating this night.

Friday, December 24, 2004

All Christmased out? Now is the season for rushing to the stores for strategic returns and high end value shopping. Where was the star for that one?

Worked Christmas Eve morning and then drove up for the family festivities. I was greeted with words that would floor anyone in a house of this family. So-and-so, it seemed, had to do Christmas with another bunch so "we're not eating." Can I go with them? Not eating? At my grandmother's house? What strange hokum is this?

Well we did eat. But only after I single-handedly -- and unintentionally -- made everyone feel guilty. And then I got asked to say the blessing. Awww look, he's all grown up. I choked up, I think, on the emotion of the moment. Then I sat at the kiddie table.

There's been a strange transformation at that table though; all the kids grew up. They're all in their mid-20s. I'm pushing 30. They're all married. I'm pushing solitude. Because they've all got their own lives now it is about every third big holiday event that brings us together at the kids-not-kid's table. With lapses of 18 months to two years at a pop the changes and the differences are really noticeable. We who could never grow up ... still actually ... can't grow up. We are, maybe, a bit calmer now though. And a tad more introspective.
Gnat keeps asking me what I want for Christmas, and I tell her I don't need anything, just Christmas at home with her and Mommy. This frustrates her immensely. This is not a reasonable reply. I never believed my parents when they said they didn't want anything, either. She'll get it. Give her three decades. But she'll understand.
Don't worry James it's coming a lot faster than that.

My cousin, his wife and some other people went in together to buy toys and my Uncle Tony played Santa Claus for children in danger of having no Christmas. Hearing that story, both times, was the best gift of the year. Tony said an eight-year-old boy, while getting these unexpected presents looked up and said "We are so blessed, aren't we Mom?"

No child, we all are. Not everyone has your good sense to know it yet.
This editorial piece in The Birmingham News says it all:
For some, this day comes as a massive relief. They want Christmas to arrive, basically, to end all the madness: the frenzied attempts to find gifts for people who need nothing; the pathetic urge to outdo last year's excess; the endless parade of parties, soirees and special events; the holiday jingles that pound your head like a bad hangover; the kids who are so sugar-crazed and wild that not even the threat of getting on Santa's bad list will whip them into shape.

What a shame. Christmas is a wonderful holiday that we've found too many ways to wreck.

There is a better way.
Rather hard to disagree with this. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The last of the presents are wrapped. There are probably more, but I refuse. Cleaned out the car, now drying the laundry. Got what is believed to be my first ever snowy hug. Played in snowflakes. Watched a movie. Worked half a day. This has been a productive Thursday.

Couple of hours in the office tomorrow morning and then on the road for Christmas. Mom and the family bunch look like they're snowed in. Just extremely cold here.

The great irony of the day is that a yankee friend left me a voicemail complaining about being snowed on here while it is 52 back home. That's meteorological karma for complaining about the lack of weather in Alabama. Yeah, we got 18 snowflakes today, we're experts on this winter stuff.

I'm missing the family Christmas Eve breakfast, but will catch the rest of the festivities. Somehow, though, with the big nuclear family Christmas last weekend, and the weight of last minute errands removed earlier this week everything else over the holiday could be something of a letdown. But there's food, family, and the reason for the season. And this.
The politically correct song of the season. And I quote, "Don we now our alternate-lifestyle apparel!"

Linky appreciation: Dr. Steven Taylor's poliblogger.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

At one point earlier today the folks were bracing for up to 20 inches of snow. Right now their forecast calls for near-blizzard conditions. It has rained here all day. Started sluggishly this morning, unnoticed until all of the earth was wet. All day it has ebbed and flowed, drizzled and poured. Right now it is a chorus rushing through the paces with a medium voice. The drips and drops of it speed up to slow down. Nature's own Morse Code.

This is spring-like rain. Winter's over friends. Hope you enjoyed the whole week of it. Yeah, meanwhile tomorrow we vary from the low 40s to flirting with the teens. Temperatures people, temperatures.

Today seemed like Friday. So slow and quiet and no one around. It seemed like everyone forsaked the office to avoid having to fake the pretense of work. The few that did come in contributed mightily to a wide spread of candy. Because we all need it so. It brought to mind the every-fifth-Sunday covered dish lunch on the ground country singings. Made me want to fill in the harmonies on an old country church hymnal and then have way too much food. Happy times.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Holiday shopping is done. As much as it can be. See below (in the second paragraph) for the grrr on that one.

The shopping is wrapped up, but there's wrapping still to go. Why do I have this comparison to the recently finished grad school coursework? Should the one be as stressful as the other? Hardly. Granted the smiley-happy "I'm done" relief from the classes was greater than tonight's post-shopping glow, but the tension ranks up there. Tonight is all about the unwinding.

Today at work: office bowling. Tomorrow at work: office golf. Right now, for you: the following link. May God bless them. Every single one.
Fan of the Beatles and the Beastie Boys? Your dream has just come true. The Beastles, Beastie Boy's lyrics with Beatles musics, is a shockingly good disc.
I can see the light at the end of the Christmas shopping tunnel. It has not been reached without difficulties. Last night, after running into (and having delightful conversation with) the coolest grad school classmate ever at Barnes and Noble, I walked the Summit. Interested by nothing I then went to the Outlets and finally Wal-Mart (I know, I know) to finish almost all my shopping. Just one or two more things to pick up.

I then went to several more Movie Gallery stores and still did not get the Auburn DVDs of this magical season in review. I wanted to pick one up for myself and a couple for others. So when I got home I sent a scathing Email to everyone involved in that project.

Already Movie Gallery has written back a kind note indicating their willingness to help me out. But after a botched delivery date, no luck in four stores and a general lack of definitive answers I've concluded "It shouldn't be this difficult for me to buy something from you" and politely told them I'll be making these purchases elsewhere.

I've had a string of luck with this stuff lately. Wonder what that's about.

From the Huntsville Times police blotter:
An 8-by-10 framed photograph of Marilyn Monroe valued at $50,000 was reported stolen from an apartment on North Memorial Parkway ...
Yeah. Sure. Right. Then there's this. Having trouble shopping for the Elvis fan in your family?

Hey, slow news day.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I just placed in a caption writing contest. Thanks Jim and Happy Anniversary!
Back to the grind today, after a late-evening flight into Birmingham. Sunday the family unwrapped presents -- and I wasn't as deserving of all the gifts I received -- and then rushed to the airport. Only the flight was delayed by almost an hour. And then the car wouldn't crank. But that was the only knock on the perfect Christmas-time weekend. It even snowed.

Couldn't be a perfect Christmas-time weekend for everyone, but Lord knows
they're trying:
Each soldier's child or children received a white teddy bear with a note attached that read "My dad is my hero."

The parents weren't left out, either. A picture wall proved to be the most emotional part of the event for them.

Earlier in the year, the soldiers were sent Santa hats and were asked to take pictures of themselves and their friends. The pictures were sent back and placed on a large wall. The guests were asked to find a picture of their family member and take it home.
After the great crinkling of wrapping paper with my own family this coming weekend will likely seem anticlimatic. But who knows? Still some presents to take care of, visiting to do, cards to drop in the mail. Somewhere between now and Saturday there will be more poignant music to hear. Surely it'll all just stir more thankfulness of a year and a lifetime of blessings.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Well well. Looks like someoneput me in my place.
Don't you go making fun of Feliz Navidad now. I'm on a first name basis with the man that wrote/sang it, and he's an awesomely amazing guy. Did you know he was blind? Besides, I would so much rather hear that song than the hippo one...
Agreed. And I don't necessarily make fun of Feliz Navidad guy. It's a catchy little tune the first bit. And once in a good while it isn't bad to hear. But you can't escape the Christmas music. There, on the digital cable holiday music channel, is Feliz Navidad ever three and a half hours or so. Just in case you forgot.

And now that song is stuck in my head again. Thanks, I appreciate that.

This one gentleman I saw today had an entirely different sort of problem. We were out running errands -- attempted exchanges, drug store, grocery store, general buffoonery -- and this one man stood out. He was wrapped up in the utterly life-changing significance of which brand of coconut shavings to get.

In his eyes swirled the possibilities. "With the name brand the children will love me more, ask me to teach them to ride their bikes and think I'm the swellest dad ever. The in-laws, the &*$^#* in-laws, may finally take me in as one of their own. Neighbors will come by in the hopes that I'll share my blue-ribbon recipe. But, If I get the knockoff brand the shavings will be more wide than long, more dry and less fluffy. The kids will tell me they hate me again. The wife will banish me to the garage. The fellas will come over and we'll drink our coconut troubles away. The in-laws, the &*$^#* in-laws, will laugh and I'll probably be living in a trailer park come spring. But I could save 15 cents on the pound ..."

Clearly this man wrestled with demons on a daily basis. The coconut may as well have been the weight of the world.

It was either characterize him or tell you about the the lady working at my favorite punchline ... err ... store. It seems Ms. Threepackaday was at the end of her novelty item rope from the Donald Trump "You're Fired" noisemaker pen at the cash register. But the boss, "the &*$^#* boss," couldn't fire her. "He's already let two other ladies go and he isn't so stupid as to work himself. Oh and Walgreens will soon no longer accept American Express." Take that Seinfeld!

Feel free to guess which one of these colorful characters is entirely real.

Matt and Michelle are off in the hinterlands of north Indiana, so we've been having an adult day. That's cooking, present wrapping, errand running, online shopping, etc. There has also been music to listen to (Christmas-themed and not) and notes to write. Perhaps the accomplisment I'm most proud of is that I took the cover off the chocolate cake and then put the knife back in the drawer. We all stood amazed as the sweet tooth finally lost a battle.

Tomorrow is nuclear family Christmas and, later in the evening, the adventure of the return flight home to Birmingham. Momentarily we'll be watching movies. And they will be the most positively heart warming Christmas themed movies ever! Feliz Navidad!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart

Couldn't that guy think of more words for his song?

And why do musicians insist on recording still more subpar Christmas carols? Even the syrupy sweet sign of untold and wicked damnation, Delilah, is in on the game.

Oh Bing why do they keep trying when you clearly set the bar far higher than any contemporary artist can reach? Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song is fine; Rosie O'Donnell, Barbara Streisand, you ladies put the tinsel down and slowly back out of the studio why don't ya?

Here's an example of genius and genius waiting to happen. Sitting at dinner tonight Michelle produces this perfume sampler. Something called August. Though it smelled more like the lusty grandeur of spring than the solemn introspection of early fall. "Smells like April," I say. Then it hits me: market 12 scents. No fashionably savy person would be caught wearing the muted tones of February when the "my-God-but-its-beautiful-out-here" of July rolls around. You have to buy each one or your months behind. Later, the horse and carriage folks pull up. Seems they'd lose business in the near-blistering cold. Then someone climbs on board. And the blankets come out. Where's my carriage? Where's my date? Where's my blanket? There's the genius.

Then the play. Friends, if you ever get a chance to see A Tuna Christmas go. Buy the tickets, dress Friday casual and go. Read that description and realize it is the most underwritten advertisement you've ever seen. You'll laugh, you'll laugh, you'll laugh. And then the alien shows up. And then a 6-foot-plus woman (OK, man in drag) dances with a 5-foot man. And you'll laugh some more. All in a Texas accent.

Happy birthday to Mom. Just 28 years ago this moment she began the dutiful and the beyond the call mothering that's been my greatest blessing.

All together now:

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to Kenny
Happy birthday to you.

Now, let's not make any more fuss over me, at least for a year.

And if you ask do you feel any older? the answer remains "Just a day. And what a great one."

Time for cake!
Sometimes, if you pretend to be asleep on the plane, the flight attendant still leaves you alone. Getting out of Birmingham was a fun time last night. In the spirit of the season we'll pretend that the parking deck fun never happened and skip straight past the magnetometers and down into the concourse.

It seems that a United flight was broken, then fixed, then broken again. The final solution for many of those now weary travellers was to be shoehorned onto our plane into Louisville and later into Chicago-Midway. For the man I was sitting next to the problems started with Midway. His car was at O'Hare. That may as well stand for oh well.

So sitting between that nice gentleman and a look-a-like of comedian George Wallace we flew off into the ether of the night, intent upon arriving in one piece, and not over a body of water. Someone tell me what good the flotation device does me when I'm cruising over only the Tennessee River.

Arrive in Louisville, my bag newly damaged. But nothing, probably, that a vice grip and a sledgehammer can't fix. Cross the river Ohio and sneak into the folk's house. They promptly had to show me the finished media room. I constantly felt the need to warn grandmother not to dally in the hallway, or in this corner. After all, I'd done some of the framing in those areas. So the media room is nice and beautiful. Loud. It is apparently my new bedroom here. Talk about your hard sell.

This morning I shopped for birthday presents. Mom took me to New Albany, a quiet town of humble midwestern values and dreams. We went to my favorite little used music store in all the world. It earns this distinction, these days, by attrition. More or less it is one of the last ones of which I know.

The only problem with used music stores is that you're scouring through other people's discards. In itself this is a fascinating exercise. Here you see the cast-offs of someone's hard earned disposable income. Why did he sell back this band's second album? Did they change from their first that much and I didn't realize it? Often you're looking through stuff you would never want, but other times you can't believe your luck and everyone else's lack of musical taste. What finds! Also attractive is the idea that I can buy three CDs for 20 bucks. Which I didn't originally buy individually for the same price. For the boy that has some 500 plus CDs this is ideal to round out the things that slipped through the cracks. This particular store, too, also sells used books. If you can't get excited about the subtle smell of mildew around the holidays, well, you're not really living the examined life now are you?

Who were these people? That left their homes to buy these things, read them, listen to them, enjoy them or not and then discard them. Is track two really that bad? Was the ending of the book that totally out of left field? And what of the people that put all this together. How would Rod Stewart feel, today, if he walked in that store to see his work next to some god-awful punk band that should have never toured past their garage?

The other fun thing about these types of stores is that it takes an awfully long time to get through all the product -- both good and bad -- and you have plenty of time to think up these rhetorical questions of great gravity.

So I got myself three CDs from Mom for my birthday. Filling in a few more holes in my home catalog. And thanks to Mom, who refuses to let me say, "I have enough already."

Met Rick for lunch. Try the chargrilled chicken at the House of Bread in New Albany. And also the spinach dip. Good stuff, light but filling. Afterwards he and I had a trip into Louisville for a few Christmas presents. The kind of present that you have to fly three states north and then drive one state south to shop for. That special. A certain present might be intended for a certain reader -- no, not you -- so I can't divulge any more details at this time.

Then we bought a miniature Christmas tree. And bananas. Somehow they are holiday traditional maybe?

I was just tasked with wrapping a present destined for Grandmother. At the end of the wrapping experience I felt the need to point out, "If you want me to wrap it don't expect it to be perfect." The problem, you see, is repitition. By the end of the season I am fairly well accomplished at the activity. But who has a need to wrap presents again until next December? All of my hard-earned skills are lost and forgotten in the interim. So, just as I finished wrapping this present -- fairly well satisified with the job -- I put the scissors in my pocket, pick up the present, stand up and promptly rip all of the paper off. Scissors go point down kids.

So at this point I'm starting to think of wrapping paper as a metaphor for life. Fragile, delicate, precision work. Colorful on the outside. Something of a waste of trees. And tape. This line of thought goes a long way until I realize that I didn't cut enough paper from the roll.

On round three, the wrapping took. And this is why that 'I've got the whole process down by the end of the season' makes sense. I wrap a lot of the same presents over and over. The nice ladies at the department stores need not fear their job security when I come around.

More family fun through the rest of the evening. There's dinner and a play tonight -- you should come along -- and then birthday festivus for the rest of us.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Finishing out the work week. Ran errands, washed clothes, visited with friends and packed yesterday. Today, presents to buy and goofing to do this afternoon before getting out of town. Time for the annual early Christmas in southern Indiana, where the Sunday night low is forecast to be 11 degrees. I'll be returning here Sunday night though, to the balmy climes that come when the mercury climbs all the way to 13 degrees. At least I won't be doing anything like this:
In conjunction with a drive to raise money for their annual toy donation campaign, members of the National Honor Society at BCHS in Bay Minette are planning to sleep outside Friday night to raise awareness of the homeless.


Society members were advised this week to find cardboard boxes or some type of similar housing, Reid said. Only items that would be available to the homeless are allowed, including some fire barrels the students will use for heat and lighting.
While it won't be freezing, it will be freezing. The Friday night forecast for Bay Minette, in the southernmost portion of the state, is 39 degrees.

Next week all the kids will report to the local hospital -- where they are donating toys from this fundraiser -- for hypothermia.

None of this compares to 60 years ago today. That column, well worth a minute or three to read, overviews the stand at St. Vith and Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Today, being the 15th, is picture day!

Just added 30 new pictures from the first half of December to the picture page linked above. Direct link is here.

Before you jump, though, please realize that there's not a lot of variety this time out. I spent most of the first half of December with my nose in books on classwork. Most of the pictures this time around are from the trip to Auburn, so if you want to see Toomer's Corner get rolled you're in luck. Beyond that it is a tad skimpy. Enjoy anyway.
"Why is my alarm going off? Why is it cold? Why is Tim McGraw on my radio?"

-- Me, about two hours ago

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

And now finally, the end of the fridge saga. Took about 27 hours to get the guy out here and about an hour or so to fix it. So I badmouthed Ken's Appliance to this other really nice guy. He couldn't believe the story. Everything will be in working order tomorrow morning.
There's been long and interesting talk lately between classmates about the "Yes, please" list. This is a list of things that, if offered to you, the reply would be "Yes, please." Pretty self-explanatory. So here -- in part -- is my list, even if it does read like a diamond commercial.
  • listening to crickets, looking at the stars
  • sleeping during the rain
  • knowing, eyeful glances
  • a good book, shaded hammock and a drink with an umbrella
  • letting my family watch me walk next time
  • helping make someone happy
  • 8mm films with Joe Cocker's With a little help from my friends
  • road trips
  • peace that surpasses all understanding
  • This is in no way a comprehensive list, or even the total list I scribbled the other night. Longtime readers, meanwhile, may recall that I've done something similar before.
    If this blog had titles, the header on this overly-long post would be "How NOT to run a business." To some readers this will be a consumer affairs warning. To others this will be instructive.

    So the fridge breaks last week. I get a solid suggestion for Ken's Appliance in Hueytown. Tell Appliance Guy what the sypmtoms are. He says it is either one of three things, all fixable, when's a good time to come out? So I book him for last Friday afternoon. Friday at closing time I decide to call Ken's Appliance in Hueytown to find out the latest. No word from the guy supposed to come out. But I'm promised a call back. That never happens. Saturday, I call again to Ken's Appliance in Hueytown. He got tied up in one project and didn't make it to anything else the rest of the day.

    Fair enough, things happen. Just let me know a time that we can get this problem fixed. I've now lost all the food, but am getting ready to leave town for the holidays, I want to get this problem resolved before then. So, now on Saturday, I'm promised another call either within the hour or first thing Monday morning. No call.

    So yesterday about mid-morning I call my friends at Ken's Appliance in Hueytown once again. This is a new fellow I am talking to. I basically tell him the backstory. Here's the deal, where's your guy? Or do I need to take my business somewhere else?

    Take your business someplace else. *Click.*

    So I book someone else to fix the fridge. He'll be out today. But now, friends, the story gets good. I later call back to Ken's Appliance in Hueytown, asking to speak to the manager. I get Kenneth on the phone.

    "I understand how difficult it is to run your own business. Also, this nice gentleman was just telling me that you go out on your service calls so I know you aren't always in the office to keep track of things. As a professional courtesy I wanted to let you know what's going on in your office." I catch him up on all this, just as I'd wanted to know what my staff was doing. If I had one.

    So apparently Kenneth, of Ken's Appliance in Hueytown, has heard of me too. His guy hung up on me because I was being "rude." Which is ironic because everyone within earshot of my office was just as stunned as I when the hangup took place. I was going out of my way to be nice, truth be told, in the hopes of getting a little consideration on the end of the whole deal.

    "Kenneth," I say, "if I came off as being rude, please apologize to that gentleman for me. What I am, however, is frustrated, because I can't get any information from you."

    We get about 10 calls a day of people being rude and it is easier to just tell them to go somewhere else than deal with them.

    "Whoa Ken, you have 10 disgruntled customers a day? That's not a good sign. But I am proud that you have so much work that you can brush them away like that. Listen, this isn't about my refrigerator anymore, I've got a guy coming out tomorrow. This is about the customer service being offered in your store; in your name."

    In this business the customer isn't always right.

    This is client-side service here.

    "Kenneth, is it right of the customer to expect you to come out at the time scheduled? And, failing that, expect any number of promise call backs that were never delivered?"

    No it isn't.

    "This is a bad business model man."

    No, what's a bad business model is me talking to you anymore.

    Then Kenneth, owner and proprietor of Ken's Appliance in Hueytown, also hung up on me. Suddenly his employee's move didn't seem so out of place.

    Friends, in your job, do your job. And don't do business with Ken's Appliance in Hueytown.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    Hooray, paper done, charts done, references done, semester done.

    This, too, was an adventure. As I finished the whole chart process I tried to save the document. Only it wouldn't. No trick I knew could solve the problem. Fearing a crash I printed out the hardcopy for the professor. If worse came to worse at least I could turn it in. Now it was time to try and save a file version for posterity.

    Called in the big tech guru, who was stunned by my problem. Finally he has the problem narrowed down to the charts. And then to a specific chart. So now I can have the whole paper -- sans one chart -- to refer to in the future if necessary. Brian saved about 95 percent of the work. And thank you Brian!

    With that adventure behind me, this afternoon I have to swing by and pick up my BC. That's buoyancy compensator. Apparently some people don't know this. Its an important piece of equipment for SCUBA diving. Have to grab a late lunch and also get a haircut.

    Since I have nothing witty to end this on, I'll just share this with you. Bad News Bears in 2006. All the good ideas, and even the average ones, have now officially been taken.
    Can a soldier sue a military doctor?
    Doctors were preparing to cut off (Marine Lance Cpl. David) Battle's ring to save as much of his finger as they could.

    "But that would mean destroying my wedding ring," he said. "My wife is the strongest woman I know. She's basically running two people's lives since I've been gone. I don't think I could ever repay her or show her how grateful ... how much I love my wife, my soul mate."

    With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring.
    That should have been a scene from M*A*S*H.

    Meanwhile, Art from the front.
    A diver left at sea overnight by his boat. I can't imagine how difficult this is:
    As night fell, the temperature dropped to the 50s. Winds picked up from the north, churning the seas and tossing Siberio around as he clung to a buoy.

    "You have to concentrate mentally in an extraordinary way so that you don't get to the point that the cold, the danger, and the fact you are helpless make you quit," (80-year-old Ignacio) Siberio said. "When you quit, it's over."


    Siberio had to apply all he knew just to live, and spent more than 18 hours holding on to the buoy in the cold, rough ocean before he was found by a relative Sunday, ending an exhaustive search in the Atlantic.
    Just wow.

    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    Funny, I don't feel any different. Well, my first graduate level course is done. Tomorrow my second class wraps up. One-sixth of the way through. All downhill from here boy.

    I'm off until just after New Year's, then I have a class on Wednesday night and another on Thursday night. Of course, no one knows where those classes will meet. They're tearing down our building and no one bothered to mention that to the scheduling people. So there's a scramble to figure everything out. Hopefully they'll know before January 4th. Typical of UAB.
    Finally we can stop talking about this. The paper studying the communication effects of the 2004 presidential debates was completed yesterday. The reference page was finished moments ago. Tomorrow the last of it, when I proofread, get meticulous with pagination and drop in the tables. Let us mention this no more! Without those graphs -- which I originally wanted to add thinking I'd need to pad the length -- this paper is 15 pages long. As for the references, there are 25 of them. In terms of raw text size, the whole thing is 25K. Wonder if the professor hates me after I turn in this behemoth.
    Took Chris Rock's advice today. "If you're one of the lucky few people on this earth than can have a steak, bite the ... out of it." So yummy lunch indeed.

    Took in a few putts at a local sporting goods store. I love those forgiving and all-slopes-are-good fake grass putting greens. Makes me and any old $150 putter look brilliant.

    Tried to do a little Christmas shopping at some specialty shops. Went into one of those team sports stores. It was right next to the other team's sports stores. So I figured same owner, cashing in, good business model. Walked in and it is the same store. This is how you know capitalism has gone too far. I'm calling right now for a congressional inquiry and action into solving this problem. Auburn and Alabama apparel should not be grouped and sold in such high concentrations with nothing more than a two foot strip of carpet separating them.

    Saw this story today. You think your college has trouble? These people laugh at your thoughts of trouble. The AJC version of that story has a different angle, but they are subscription based and I have qualms these days about linking to subscription based news copy when I can offer you similar content without having to register. Take that AJC! Your walls are crumbling!

    Well, enough stalling I suppose. Back to the final touches on this paper.

    But first I must vote. And you should too.

    Saturday, December 11, 2004

    The paper is done. Pardon me if I become overwhelmed by the sound of blood rushing to my head. Fourteen or 15 pages does that.

    Wish I could come up with some answer as to how long I've spent working on this paper. At least several minutes a day during the 14 days around the presidential debates. There were three debates, 90 minutes each. I won't count the veep debate. Handful of hours over the course of a couple of days at the library. Several hours reading through that treasure trove of findings. Two or three hours compiling data. An hour or two coercing help from others. Two big days of writing last week. Two more this week.

    In summary, a long time and a good learning (about the paper's topic) experience.

    Can't wait until thesis time!

    Still have to proofread. That's Monday. As is putting the charts in the text. Tomorrow I'll finish the last third of the references. Even when I'm finished I'm not finished. One day we'll all look back on this and laugh.
    For once I am not stood up by the service industry. The carpet guy just left. He was working alone today. Apparently none of the help wanted to show up on a dreary Saturday morning. So, explaining that I'd had his job more than a decade ago when in high school, I acted as his assistant. After moving furniture and pulling his slack we discussed the many great stories and colorful characters you meet in such a job.

    I wanted to top him, I really did, but he told the story of a time he almost got shot at. After a year or so working the same job I believe it. Though I was never threatened that badly. My best three stories were cleaning up after suicides, old ladies hemorrhaging in nursing homes and once being accused of stealing some woman's jewelry. Good times, happy memories.

    Anyway, since I helped him out, the carpet guy helped me out. I got a room cleaned and another room of scotchguarded for free. A decade plus later and that job is still paying off.
    Nothing quite like the feeling of waking up at the duly appointed time only to realize that you don't have to get up and be anywhere. But this pillow and blanket sure are awfully nice places to be.

    Four hours later I get up. May as well be productive at something today. But just a little. Wouldn't want the neighbors to start talking.

    You're at the end of your procrastination rope when cleaning the house sounds more attractive than doing the work you're supposed to be doing. Guess I'll straighten up some and then dive back into this paper where I belong. Hopefully I can kill most of it dead by this evening. After that it is time to coast.

    But, now, it is time to vooooooooooote.

    Friday, December 10, 2004

    The sky this morning was a peculiar shade of purplish blue. When I locked the door of my sanctuary I noticed the tiniest sliver of moon being watched over by a nearby star. The horizon wore a tres chic seasonal shade of burnt orange. It somehow made me think of Peter Pan. Is it that I'm trying to hard to stay a boy or trying to hard to grow up? Like so many things in this life, it is all in your perspective of our old friend Petey.

    Busy day at work today. Co-workers taking personal days mean full full days. Good day though. Lunch with the whole crew, as we plotted on how to take over the world, one gun show at a time.

    That gun runs shows in Nashville several times a year, big draw, lots of hunters. Turns out that it only costs $50 to get a vending table. I work with a bunch of entrepreneurs, so naturally we're scheming. Many great ideas in the last week, but we've finally seized on a winner. When you read about us in the magazine Unfathomable Success Stories you'll see the words gingerbread gravy ice. Don't ask, just assume it is pure comedic genius, because it is. That was today.

    No idea why. Other than to say that it was Friday. That was the inescapable feeling of the day. In a subtle fashion an inner sense seemed to be saying Easy Like Friday Afternoon. Somehow that song got overlooked. Travesty, really. There's nothing like sharing a knowing look Yeah, I'm coasting, but this is Friday buddy. This is why I worked the last four days, for that pure happy feeling of the last 15 minutes of the work week. Couldn't disagree with that expression. That's philosophy of the highest order. The only other more strenuous mental exercise deserved on a day like today -- the look of spring and the vague feel of winter -- should be deciding what music to listen to on the way out of town. And how loud.

    Really, as it turns out.

    I even figured out -- OK, Justin figured out -- how to make nice, pretty tables for my paper. If this thing lasted much longer I'd have to name it. But, better or worse, it is almost over. Trying to wrap it up tonight and tomorrow.

    Only one thing has spoiled this great day. I've been stood up by the refrigerator man. Even called them back and was promised a return call. Didn't get that. Need to vent? Think I will. Problem: life is beautiful.

    Maybe he'll show up tomorrow, with a sheepish refrigerator man grin. Sorry, I got caught elbows deep in ice makers. No worries, friend, you're here now. Come sit a spell. Actually, just fix the fridge. And tell the boss you guys might want to work on the in-office communication skills. Need a hand? I work cheap. As luck would have it, my consulting fees are exactly what you have on that invoice. Now get out of here before the carpet cleaners show up. Don't want them to be wise to my shakedown.

    If life is so beautiful and has such clarity that you see so many blessings in so many unthinkable places, what else can you rightly ask for?

    Not much?

    Not much. Now fix my fridge.

    Thursday, December 9, 2004

    Good news - bad news.

    Bad news: the fridge -- sweetly ancient -- is on the fritz.
    Good news: an appliance guy will look at it tomorrow.
    Bad news: stuff in the freezer started stinking.
    Good news: the freezer is now cleaned out.
    Bad news: food choices at home are currently limited.
    Good news: hot tub still works.
    Another beautiful December day in central Alabama. Brings to mind those old Christmas classics: "I'm Dreaming of a Wet and Windy Christmas" and "Let it Come a Tornado, Let it Come a Tornado, Let it Come a Tornado."

    Brings to mind a question. What did tornados sound like before someone invented trains? And how did people describe the size of hail before the invention of sporting equipment?

    Wednesday, December 8, 2004

    Turns out that Auburn can still win a national championship. And you can help. Polls open this weekend. Hey, this is just as good as some of Alabama's national championships. A mythical title is a mythical title is a mythical title.

    Never mind that the company that's putting this together is from Auburn's sister city of Opelika. It is a trophy company that looks to honor the winning team with a trophy and a banner. And possibly confetti.

    Don't throw haymakers, though, or you might get a slap on the wrist. The "basketbrawl" charges just came down. Yes, someone put together a website. If you've somehow missed the video, you no longer have to do without. Some district attorney saw this as his opportunity to get face time. Thousands of pages of reports, hundreds of man hours, for nine misdemeanors and one felony. Next time we charge whoever uses the word basketbrawl.

    Hey, I went to sleep early last night while contemplating life, the universe and everything. Don't expect any keen observations today. Actually I was unconscious before I got to the universe. So like me, muddled halfway through life and -- Zzzzzz.

    I tried to watch The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Thought it might be captivating. You can't have Jon Voight and Jeff Daniels and not be captivating. Hmmmm. The Karate Dog. My Favorite Martian. I take it all back.

    So yeah I went to sleep. And then woke up. Fired up and ready to go. Only it was 11 p.m. Once upon a time if you stayed up all night it was an accomplishment. Remember that? You'd cheated the stars. Or the sun. Or the parents. Or something. But these days the opposite is true. Anytime I wake up and feel awake, but still have hours or even minutes left to sleep, well that's just reason to celebrate later by hitting the snooze button for half an hour. Which I did this morning.

    Lunch at Mellow Mushroom today with Justin. We discussed people with various mental maladies and I offered my silent thanks for not -- what? -- sorry, the voices are telling me to stop now.

    Will I work on this paper this afternoon? Here's to hoping.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2004

    Got a Gollum fan on your Christmas list that's hard to shop for? I've sent this idea to two people. I got the same response from both.


    Linky appreciation: Mac Thomason.
    Santa comes through.

    Auburn University released from academic probation

    The quote we're using, "We're absolutely delighted," isn't saying the half of it.

    Degrees are safe. The ability to get quality professors, though a bit tarnished, is safe. Federal funds -- including grants for students -- are safe. This is a big BIG deal.

    And sadly will get less copy this week than the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiasco Bowl.

    Terry has the bottom line.
    Early morning this morning. Always early when you wake up wondering why the alarm didn't go off.


    Staring blankly out of the night.

    Stare back. Dumbly at first. When the mind catches up you find yourself wondering why the alarm clock is staring at you.

    What? You wanna go? I've heard you snore. I'm not impressed.

    Clocks can taunt you that early in the morning. It can be a vicious -- .

    Oh. There's the alarm. Time to get up. Made it out of the house on time this morning. Drove in under sheets of rain. Supposedly, someone said, there's a cold front moving in behind this. Down into the 60s and 50s until the weekend. I'm dreaming of a climatically appropriate Christmas. Ahhh Bing Crosby where are you now?

    The first hurdle of the day -- aside from people who've apparently never previously driven in a heavy sprinkle -- was rain related. How does one navigate the puddle larger than your career best long jump? Going around it isn't an option. No fun there. Now my toes are wet, but I had fun. Fun!

    The irate Auburn Email is coming in. As if our place of business has a say in how the team fares in bowl selection. One snippet mentions "fradulent BSC system than defending the kids and the integrity of the game." Integrity of the game. Woooooo. When you get done laughing come back and read some more.

    Better? No? ... Composed once again? Good.

    We have a Letters to Santa feature, that always brings us good Email. My favorite so far:
    Dear Santa,

    I am writing for my entire family as we have been very good this year. We've had tantrums and spats in the past -- who hasn't? -- but we've really been cleaning up our act lately. So, since we've been so very good I'd like to ask for two things: off SACS probation and a National Championship.

    From: Every Auburn fan. Everywhere. Ever.
    Maybe the jolly one will come through.

    Monday, December 6, 2004

    I must fully and openly apologize to a few of my fine Yankee friends. We've been having spirited conversations recently about the South and winter.

    Turns out they want cold. And something called "snow." Another wondered if I'd ever owned a sled.

    Extolling, again, the virtues of the South, I could not understand why these otherwise charming and talented people would want to live in an environment that unforgiving.

    After all, we have winter here. It last two weeks, it rains and occassionally we have to wear jackets. Once, about a decade ago we got a serious snow. Two years ago I had to wear a long coat. We have winter.

    And then, on my way home tonight I passed my favorite new punchline ... err ... store. Out front they have the glowing time and temperature sign. Big huge red letters, blotting out the sky. Announcing, to all the world, that it is 9:45 p.m. And 72 degrees.

    OK, maybe the cold days, blanket and book is a good idea.

    Sunday, December 5, 2004

    This has been a productive weekend. That is uncharacteristic. Usually, so much of the week is spent approaching a pretend-productivity that I refuse to do anything on the weekend just for general principle.

    But deadlines have a way of rushing upon you. That scary thought promotes work. So there was all Friday night and then more Saturday morning work than I've known in years. I once worked hard, even on weekends. "Paying your dues" they called it. I'm all caught up on my dues now, thanks.

    So after another several hours Saturday morning on the Effects paper there was the quick half-day roadtrip to Auburn. All of today was spent worrying over my other paper. That one, for the Models class, has been completed and delivered. On its own merits it is a good paper. Is it exactly what the professor wants? Is it exactly according to APA style? Time will tell. Dr. Self is an extremely casual guy though, I don't think it will matter too much.

    At any rate, I'm now down to just the Effects paper. Five or six pages are done. Graphics are done. Almost figured out how to put those charts in the text. Maybe two more evenings of writing and then a separate session to work on the reference page and it is completed. Due on the 13th, I hope to have it done before the 10th. After that, my semester is essentially over. I'm sure your proud, maybe I'll then be able to write about something else. I know I'm ready to be able to think about something else.

    One final note on the Models paper handed in tonight. Dr. Self said it should be about two or three pages. I turned in nine total. Cover, abstract, three full pages of copy, a chart, the required diagram and two pages of references. Ten sources in that little paper.

    I refuse to write, read or even consider my Effects paper until Tuesday.

    Saturday, December 4, 2004


    First perfect season since 1993.
    First SEC championship in 15 years.
    First ever BCS bowl berth.
    First ever 12 win season.
    Domination of the nation's 9th toughest schedule.
    Arguably the best Auburn football team ever.
    War Eagle!

    Meanwhile, top-ranked USC comes full circle on the season by escaping late against mediocre UCLA, much like they did in September against hapless Stanford (who would have finished at 5-6 if they'd pulled off the upset). Oklahoma is so paranoid they had to run up the score against a dreadful Colorado team. Guess they should be concerned after having to win at the buzzer against the likes of Texas A&M and Oklahoma State mid-season. Clearly USC and Oklahoma deserve to be in the championship game.

    You detected the sarcasm, right? I am laying it on thick. All Auburn did was beat three top 10 teams. One of them twice. They allowed only three rushing touchdowns all season. Had maybe three bad quarters all year. In fact, they only found themselves in a hole twice all season. Once to the defending national champions. Whom they beat.

    They beat Tennessee tonight though. I watched the Tigers claim their SEC championship at Buffalo's in Auburn. Drubbed them pretty well. The game seemed close only the one time, but even then everyone knew it was an inevitability. That's the strength of this team. Historically, heartbreaking things inevitably happen to Auburn; these men overcome it. Run away from it. Run through it. Break its ankles.

    It has been hard to untrain the mind however. The Auburn family has been hungry for this. This was a night of firsts and first-in-a-long-times. Auburn men and women were desperate for good news while still awaiting the SACS decision. It was time for good news.

    So we gathered for the game just feet from the center of the Auburn Universe, Toomer's Corner. And the Auburn family was nervous and superstitious. One man took off his sweatshirt, only to put it back on as Tennessee started to gain momentum. Another left from the big screen and vowed not to return for fear of hurting the team. A lady swore off trips to the bathroom because the Vols had scored her last time up. A young woman wasn't sure what to do: everytime she moved something different happened. I didn't wear the lucky sweatshirt. From 110 miles away from the game, we were trying our best not to let the team down. We cheered and screamed and yelled at portly Phillip Fulmer. No one would admit it, but everyone was nervously eyeing the large rolls of paper towels on our tables.

    And the clock ticked away. Tennessee was beaten. Auburn was victorious.

    Rolling Toomer's is one of the most enduring and special of college traditions.
    The joy and significance of rolling Toomer's is hard to express. Trying to verbalize the feeling just turns into bad poetry. It is enough to say the spirit of Auburn is on display. Fin and I took turns hurling rolls of paper towels and toilet paper (both household and the big industrial stuff) into the trees.

    Here's two short video clips for anyone feeling nostalgic. (Toomers1 and Toomers2) Being night, these are dark. Being new to video on my digital camera, these are amateurish.

    There are lots of cheers at Toomer's corner. I called and left messages on friends' answering machines while all the college students chanted Great to be an Auburn Tiger. Then I thought to call my own machine, a little audio posterity. What do they scream then? Track 'em. Scrolling exactly halfway down that page will give you the worst cheer ever.

    Proudly, rolling Toomer's has remained a family affair. At Auburn we scream cheers into the brisk night air and play with the children. It seems the most natural place in the world to see three and four generations of a family there together. It is also probably the only place in the world you can say aloud, "I need to find some toilet paper" and have it land right in front of you, as if on cue.

    The line of the night, however, was when one guy said, "Just think of all the children in third world countries who don't have anything to wipe with. And look what you're wasting!" He then fired one of those industrial strength public restroom rolls -- the kind larger than your car's spare tire -- into the darkness of the night. Suffice it to say whenever Auburn wins all the local restaurants have to re-stock the all important material.

    Oh yes, the interstate signs heading back into Birmingham offered one other piece of
    good news.
    After working on this paper all of Friday night the culture shock continues today. I woke up at 8 a.m. and started again. Saturday work. Spreadsheets no less. This is tedious work for a simple boy like me.

    Having gotten the hardest parts now out of the way (except for the evil reference page at the end) I am now calling it a day. Any more of this and you'd have to call me productive.

    Besides it is Game Day. SEC Championship.

    Friday, December 3, 2004

    So this bear of a paper ... mostly it is data gathering and analysis. I watched the debates and presidential opinion polls throughout the fall campaign as closely as an staffer.

    Having scooped all those tedious numbers together I pushed them into a dark closet for a while and went to the library. I picked up about a dozen books, thereby severely limiting the educational opportunities of some poor political science undergrad.

    Spent about two weeks thumbing through all of that, surfing the web and trying to make sense of abstracts. The end result: the bed in my extra room is littered with literature. Somewhere along the way I wrote an outline in the course of a day. Looks like it is going to hold up with only slight revisions, shocking even me.

    The past couple of days I've been vainly trying to cobble all those poll numbers into something that makes sense. I'm a journalist for a reason, folks. Numbers aren't my friends. Don't let the undergrad emphasis in economics fool you. Anyway, I'd say about two thirds of those numbers are now ordered up neatly.

    That left really only the writing. With outline in hand and books scattered everywhere it promises to go smoothly. But. Wait. There's this new stylebook -- just ugh -- and APA style must be learned. This is documented proof that the two years of graduate school adventure will be underscored with days of white-hot blinding fury.

    Fortunately I am blessed with the kindest of friends. Brooke can quote APA guidelines from memory now, depressing us both. But she was kind enough to be home on a Friday night -- Stephen is on campus grading papers -- and she talked me through my first three citations on this paper.

    All that leads to this study break and, as of this writing, three and a half pages done. Wait. Ctrl+S. OK, now done. It will go fast from here on in. The writing doesn't bother me. I know what I want to say, at least until the end discussion and conclusion. There the rest of those poll numbers will have to be unraveled.

    I'm adding nifty graphics. Mostly spreadsheet stuff. Those will take a few minutes to compose, but there again the data is in hand. So the evil lurking lurker lurking ahead is within the stylebook. The third one I've had to learn in my short life. Just isn't natural.
    Home alone on a Friday night. Drinking Pepsi, listening to Better Than Ezra and writing a massive paper on the communication effects of the 2004 Presidential debates.

    And I feel fine.
    It isn't my birthday, but it sure seems like it. Now a second person is mad at me!

    One of my classmates works at a local television station and tells this story of an anchors going ballastic over something I wrote on FFP. From the best classmate ever comes this gem:
    You $#&*@ someone off up here with that commentary. Oh my god. I was in the afternoon news meeting and said person went off for like an hour about "Who was this person? Why do they write things? I am more than a talking head. This person obviously doesn't understand anything...blah blah blah." We all had to immediately go check out this horrific entry and flame whoever the monster is that dared write such astrocities! Thus, we all discovered the commentary ... And then were massively disappointed to find that the entry was nothing like it was made out to be. So much for the drama.
    Funny on so many levels. While I'm pleased they read me, one of the local personalities needs to lay off the caffeinated beverages. Here's the scandalous post in question. As the permalinks seem to be goofy, scroll to the first post dated November 2nd.

    Anyway, as a former talking head, that part of the night isn't fun. There is nothing to do or cover, but you have to say something. Witness the hokum Dan Rather was giving us election night. And for the record, I wasn't talking about our charming local anchors. I was referring to the smarmier national heads.
    Not every day a County Commissioner calls you. I've met and covered enough governors, senators, presidents and other big names that I'm not in awe of Shelia Smoot; though she's always treated me well professionally. Just odd that she dialed my cell phone.

    Once upon a time we tried to work out a deal for me to report on her TV show, but it never worked out.

    She's trying to get in touch with someone at ERC and still had me as her contact. Time to update that list Shelia.
    I think I just got insulted by a total stranger. "I do purely despise liars and prevaricators, specially Christian ones." All this nice feedback from work stems from this. Seems I made the nice lady mad for pointing out a lawsuit in California where a teacher claims the school board is "systematically" censoring him from handing out historical handouts. Like the Declaration of Independence.

    Thursday, December 2, 2004

    Found the site that signaled it is time for sleep. The sad thing, really, is that Freddie has gotten twice my hits. In 45 posts.

    Just imagine the traffic Uga would do.

    Goooooodnight everybody!
    For the Auburn refugees elsewhere: Melly got around to posting a picture of Toomer's after UGA.

    Kinda gets you right there doesn't it?
    Yeah ...
    So Rick says last night "I sure wish Kenny was here so he could go camping with us."

    I said "Well, I think school is taking all of his spare time."

    He said "Yeah, I know, but I still wish he was closer so he could do these things with us."

    So I said, "Well, even if he was here and not in school he'd probably say something like 'Are you kidding? Camping in December in Indiana? No way! That's a sport for October and April!' He hates cold as much as I do."

    He said "Yeah, well, I still wish he was here. At least he'd have the opportunity to go."

    I said "Well, that's sweet, but if he is like his mother he would probably prefer to stay home in the warmth and read a good book. But it's still sweet that you want him to go so badly."

    "Maybe some day."
    Are you kidding? Camping in December in Indiana? No way!
    Top of the world Ma! A picture I took some time ago has made the front page of This isn't my normal job, so it is a rarity when it happens. You've seen the picture, one of the series I took after we roasted marshmellows on the burning overpass downtown. It has now been treated by the graphic design guys and put up with the story about the new bridge soon to open.

    The 'flag' as it is called, won't be there forever, so if you care to see what it all looks like, here's a screencap.

    A co-worker was just joking that our design doesn't allow for photographic credit. "That's OK." I said. "Tomorrow we'll look at the hit count and I'll have the satisfaction of being able to say 'These many thousands of people have seen my work.'"

    You take your victories where you can get them.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2004

    This is a red letter day. Not a scarlet letter day mind you, that's a different shade of excitement. But this is the sort of day you'd write home about. Except the point of all this is for you to come to me.

    Why all the hubbub? You haven't heard already? I've finally and firmly been indoctrinated as a member of the Axis of Weevil. For more info on the beginnings of this powerful and manipulative sect, visit Dr. Weevil himself. Many thanks are in order to the Possum-in-chief.

    I'm moved by the moment. This must be what it feels like when Olympians stand on the podium to hear their anthem played.

    No word yet on the required duties. Details of my secret-agent plan are forthcoming.
    The world is alive with the smell of smells. This is different because normally my smeller isn't very good. The downside is that to get to work I drive through a heavily industrial area. And, having skipped breakfast in favor of more sleep this morning, everything vaguely food-related smells delicious. I also think my mind is remembering smells from times past. Clearly I've been taking too many antihistamines lately.

    You know what else smells funny? Books, when they burn. Check out Fear, Folly, Politics today for the latest on a state legislator who wants to ban some books from libraries and universities. There's been something of a mini-hiatus ongoing at FFP, but several fun stories today.

    We're all remarking about how it is the first day of December. It happens, yes, but why is it that the older you get the quicker it goes? What about life makes the mercury of time come together so much more quickly than during the agony of say, junior high?

    Then the days waxed and waned into one long blurry afternoon with no end in sight. One of the few signs of entropy available to the fragile young mind is that your birthday couldn't show up fast enough. But not anymore. Suddenly the methodical plodding of time doesn't seem so deliberate. The crazed dash is on; the blurry downhill of a roller coaster. Here is time moving forward in slivers of wrinkles and wiry silver hair that betrays your cool youthful attitude. How did we manage to let that happen?