Kenny Smith | blog

Friday, September 30, 2005

I'm about 75 percent today, thanks. Haven't eaten anything of substance, but did have some Powerade, juice and a few crackers. Its a beginning.

For dinner I had a half a plate of spaghetti and reveled in my newly shrunken stomach. Why won't you stay that way? Why can't a big scoop of noodles be enough?

This is the pressing concern of life.

This weekend its all about the sports. Lots of football, lots of end-of-season baseball. I need more televisions.

OK, that's the really pressing concern of life.

And the eventual -- but not today apparently -- return of Pie Day.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sick. Fever. Last night's nachos are today's lamentations. My theory: I've gotten my body trained on good food and a one-night fried relapse was bad.


And I'm saving you from the details.

I wanted to go outside at one point this morning to warm up. I looked online at the temperature in town: 73. I walked to the thermostat in the office: 74. That will break a fever-strained morale.

Later in the day sitting in the sun at the park was the best thing to do. Finally I could be warm. And the sun turned my cheeks flush, a nice change from the dehydrated pallor I've taken on in a day.

The fever is from sparring with whatever I am enduring. The lymph nodes are properly sore and swollen. I have that post-10-round fight most of us equate to the flu.

I did manage to down seven strawberries and a banana today. That's plenty at this point. Discussing food further is not a wise idea.

I'm a mess, and thus ... Zzzzzz.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dinner with friends. Nachos, which I don't normally care for, were delicious. The sandwich was forgettable. Grilled chicken can have that quality.

A friend is moving away, getting set to take over Memphis. Sounds like he has a sweet deal. Or that he's a con artist huckster of the magic variety. He got a house, moves the family up in a month, starts Monday. He's slated to be a hero in the office as soon as he walks in. Nights on the town won't be nearly as fun here, but its a good move for him.

Chris, we hardly knew ye, too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Here is the moment we've all come to dread for six months and one day of each year. We agonize over the little card, we put it off until the end of the very last month. We contemplate ways to avoid the face-to-face interaction and then, finally, we suck it up and take a deep breath and open the door that leads to the DMV.

I fear for the safety of the people in the courthouse. They have a magnetometer, you walk through BEEP, HONK.

"You wearing a belt? OK."

We all feel so much safer now, thank you deputy.

Through another set of doors, time for the real bracing now, the short walk down a hall of faux marble. To find ... exactly two guys in the DMV.

The 27th, late in the afternoon, is the day to go. Call Dan Brown, I've solved the code.

And was out of there in four minutes.

Salad for dinner. (I'm starting to like this, and that's more than a little scary.) Some studying. Some conversations with friends. Another perfectly even day.

That little bumper sticker on the left rail below the blogroll? Sold almost 30 of them now. That started out as a joke and is now just getting funnier.

Buy one! I make $.51!

Monday, September 26, 2005

There has been a loss in the working family. I arrived this morning to hear the grim news from GregGreg The Story Man.

One of our colleagues had picked up two goldfish for the solarium. She had asked the weekend crew to please feed the fish on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday comes along and Greg feeds the fish, telling everyone else that this chore had been done. All is well. Sunday Greg comes in to his desk, another co-worker, who we'll call "R" as he is currently a suspect, sits down and says, "I think the fish are dead."

There was some question as to whether they were just working on their 100 meter backstroke, but alas, the fish had left this mortal realm.

The second co-worker, R, had apparently fed the fish again Saturday night upon leaving. To be fair, the jar of fish food said feed two or three times daily. But, apparently, R isn't big on directions or he would have seen the part about how much to feed the fish.

Greg walked to the aquarium, declared them deceased without need of a coroner and then said, "Well I guess we should do something with the fish." R agreed. R later asked if Greg "was ready" to take care of our dearly departed. Greg, having not been a party to their senseless death, saw the responsibility falling to someone else and had used the term "we" rather loosely.

Greg leaves, the fish stay. I arrive this morning to hear the tale, Greg and I decide the fish must now sleep with the various high-end organisms that live in the Birmingham Water Works system.

Time was imperative because our colleagues needn't start the week with such a grisly reminder of the precious amount of time we are each given. This seemed important, but we weren't sure why; we hadn't had the fish long enough for anyone to become attached to them.

And they looked so peaceful, floating upside down in a sea of fish food flakes. It is the sort of way any of us would want to go: at the buffet at Western Sizzlin.

That aquatic peace was shattered forever the moment Greg grabbed the container. The water shifted and the odor rose. We quickly retreated with our floating friends to a quick, modest ceremony -- they would have wanted it that way -- and ensuring that the restroom would be an olfactory memorial for hours to come. The lesson: hustle the bowl to the downstairs bathroom that other offices in the building frequent.

The telling of the story was such that only Greg could do it. We placed a marker on the table where our friends had given us so much joy. Two replica paper fish were lovingly selected -- each with Xs over their eyes -- to commemorate their passing.

R got some new goldfish, instructions on how to care for the real variety and a new name: Johnny Goldfish. There is a concern that the story will grow out of control and his transgressions towards humanity (because fish are people too) will become legion. He'll return to the office Wednesday and his reaction should be worth a laugh.

But the passing of our friends is sad indeed.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I OF'ed. Overfootballed. Lots of beautiful gametime action. Everybody important won. Bama did too.

I also cleaned many things. Me and my friend, football, even got the top of the fridge scrubbed in a fit of obsessive cleanliness not often seen around these parts. Other things were cleaned too. Laundry has been washed. And dried. Even put away. A day at home spent very productively. You have to do that when you beat the alarm awake.

Even watched a movie this morning. The Cooler:
Comfortable and low key, like good jeans. Macy, Baldwin are always on.
Threw away a bunch of junk, got in some reading. Its been so productive one might otherwise think that I should be studying. Not yet, but soon. Might start this week to avoid the rush.

Rita's remnants are coming tomorrow. If that doesn't get here too early I plan on a photographic expedition in the morning.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Went to a library bookstore today. Everything for under four bucks. But I only found one book, so I didn't buy it. It came highly recommended, but it is the type of thing that will be on the shelf when I go back there two years from now. Obscure reading tastes -- Justice Warren Berger's court decisions -- is the kind of insurance that make a person feel solid.

It will probably be purchased by Tuesday now.

I played with cats. I stole a popsicle. I read a magazine. I watched football.

College football on Friday night. So much for not wanting to "steal the spotlight" from the high school kids. Way to go ESPN. Give them this: Friday night has the quickly earned reputation of wacky games. Games so good I even stayed up for some of the late night game, but at 9:30 I'm tuckered. And quite possibly old.

Now I'm going to read myself to sleep. Schieffer's getting to the good stuff: the 1972 campaign.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I began reading States of Mind in the spring. Mentioned it here, but never said anything else about it. Which is a failing of mine, and certainly not the book -- which was a good impulse buy judged (initially) solely by the cover.

So I come to work this morning and what do I see? An E-mail from Brad Herzog waiting for me. I don't know about your reading habits, but it is unusual for me to get notes from authors of things I'm reading.

So I'll write him back, telling him how much I enjoyed his work. And if he reads my E-mail he'll see how people with the courage to do that are very inspiring. He and his wife, after all, packed up their lives for a year and went on the Great American Roadtrip. He'll learn of my admiration for buying an RV and doing this in relative comfort. He'll be happy to find out that there are other people in his approximate generation (he has just a few years on me) that appreciate his optimism.

Hey, the man's got six books and is plodding around the Internets looking for what I have to say about him. And he's a brave guy to randomly surf into sites he finds on Google. No telling what you might find. Especially if you're searching for "Brad Herzog caramel." (What's that about Brad?)

A new catchphrase is born. Stephen Green points us to this from Hugh Hewitt. Read the text, or better, listen to the audio.

Never heard a reporter handled quite like that. There are pluses and minuses to it. And so the Generalissimo asked for bumper stickers and he received. So can you. See the image on the left rail? Click it, buy from Cafe Press and I'll earn 50 cents. Or don't and just enjoy the picture, I'll earn your admiration. Either way I win. Also got a link from Stephen Green for my troubles, so I win big. Yeah, I'm small potatoes enough to denote links. Thanks Stephen.

Who didn't give a link: Hewitt had Glenn Reynolds on his show and the Instapundit properly bragged on's sister site for their Katrina work:
Hewitt: Now, third thing, and perhaps the most important. Live news blogging by major newspapers. Of course, the Times-Picayune did a lot of this [...] I think a standard has been set now for newspapers in a hyper-news situation, is that they've got to go 24/7.

Reynolds: I think that's right, and I think honestly, it's a huge edge for them over TV, because you watch TV, and you notice they tend to keep recycling the same video over and over again. Where if you went to the weblog, they had actual new news on a regular basis.
Kind of like us. A year ago.

Further down in that link to the Hewitt show there's mention of Porkbusters (see yours here). The goal is simple: identify the pork and persuade our elected representatives to get that money spent in hurricane relief. And with a second once-in-a-generation storm bearing down inside of a month, we are going to need a lot of relief monies. One congressman's pet is another man's pork, but special interests should always take a side step in the face of pressing urgencies. So get involved, won't you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Had a lunch meeting with a Board I serve on. We're talking fundraising and awareness. I've distilled down the whole process to a concept of conversation through one message and one voice and one story. The CEO and the Chairman of the Board like the idea. Eventually we'll have to rework a website. Now I'll write PSAs. Any takers? Should keep me busy volunteer-wise.

Left that to go right back to work. So the day went work, working lunch, work. Parking wasn't even a problem. We should all be so lucky.

Went to the library. The biggest traumas of the day came from there. They think I still owe them a movie from last week; I do not. And I tried to check out The Incredibles. Alas, one of the two disc set was missing. The important one. The one with the movie on it. Only The Shadow knows.

Curse you Mr. The Shadow!

Got some other movies for weekend watching. Picked up one CD. Didn't even know this Hank Williams tribute existed. It has given me a newfound appreciation for Tom Petty and intelligible lyrics and a zydeco feel from Bob Dylan. Keb' Mo' and Beck sound as country as Hank himself. Ryan Adams is great, Johnny Cash was discovering mortality four years ago. Sheryl Crow somehow also made this CD. She should never warble again.

Put the disc in for the semi annual trip to the grocery store. It was fully dark and the perfect room-temperature as to feel uncomfortable. It should not be room temperature outdoors. Its the same disorientation of your first few minutes in a cave. The mind says, "We're outside, there's a roof over us and its cold. In July." Same kind of internal conversation, "Its room temperature and you have a high visible ceiling," but with this soundtrack. I'll have to go dig some original Hank out, because now I'm wondering if every road can feel like The Lost Highway.

Got something like 12 meals, a gallon of milk and apple juice for $44. Why? Because I feel the compulsive need to rationalize that sort of thing while I push my groceries out to the car.

What's more, all of it was healthy. I had a salad -- no extra dressing -- tonight. You get on a health kick long enough and it really takes over. Its the alien behind your face in Men in Black. Only he's not looking for a galaxy on a cat's collar. He wants produce. Fruit. He wants the strawberries and carrots now pre-packed for tomorrow's lunch.

I should stop this train of thought before I raid the fridge.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Today, after work, was the near perfect day. It was one of those days without seam or friction that just go completely right. I have these days a lot. I'm very fortunate.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Drove to Atlanta, where there was plentiful amounts of chocolate cake and Chinese food and chuckles. It was a gathering of frivolous words that begin with C.

There was also football. Lots and lots of football. And then I discovered TiVo. Apparently it has the ability to make the living room travel back and forth through time.

Hurry! We'll miss the end of the Florida State, Boston College game!

I don't care what that commercial was, Tennessee is losing, but driving in the final minutes! They must be stopped! How will we -- oh, hello TiVo.

I'm not hooked on it, don't need it and can't afford to be, but I can see how people are. My argument has always been that I don't watch that much teevee (except for sports) now as is. A colleague says he actually watches less television than before, but its all stuff he's wanting to see, thereby eliminating hours of dreck. Isn't that what VCRs are for?

I am a CroMagnon man in this way. The time travel of TiVo makes it possible.

Everybody wins except for Troy. Auburn had no trouble with Ball State. That's my brother's school. If he cared I'd razz him. Bama handled Carolina. Hoped that'd be a little more competive. UAB beat Jax State. Nobody cared. The men of Troy couldn't follow up last year's stunner of Missouri.

I remain third in the college pick'em, trailing by only a few points. I'm tied for the lead in my NFL fantasy league after two stunning wins to open the season.

But how 'bout those Commodores?

One last football note. I noted in an Email on Friday that Auburn is going hyper-nomenclature again. Love this headline: Auburn foes can come to Dye. So I asked my immediate Auburn Family how the naming will go.
Me: Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium? Or does that make it Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium across from Plainsman Park?

Wads writes: See, after they had the triple named baseball stadium I sort of viewed that whole corner as Plainsman Park. Beard-Eaves-Memorial, Jordan-Hare, and well Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park. Maybe I'm overthinking or they're overnaming these things.

Wendy solves the riddle: Actually, it would be Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium across from Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park. One day, when we're all famous, it'll be Wendy Brown Tailgate Parlor- attached to Wadsworth Liquors - catawampus to Kenny Smith Tailgate Supplies - adjacent to Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium across from Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park. And we'll all be multi-millionaires! It'll be great!
That girl dreams big. And she knows how to use her catawampus.

Best story you'll see today. Click it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

So we went for breakfast today. There was confusion at the counter. They ran out of biscuits. They had more biscuits. We wait on our to-go order and after 20 minutes (seriously) we ask about the third and fourth order.

"We ran out of biscuits again."

We got lapped. And, somehow, that's a lot funnier now than it was this morning. Now, though, I see why this place isn't busy during the morning hours. The lunch crew, however, has their act together.

To be fair, after that omelette -- misspelled on the menu -- I wasn't hungry again until supper.

The quiet library attracts me. The numbering system confuses me. Picked up, rather by accident, a copy of David Housel's Saturdays to Remember from the UAB library. Read the first 70 pages or so in one sitting.

Housel, say what you will of him, though most of it has to be good, is an excellent storyteller. And here he's telling his favorite story: Auburn. He's recounting key games from the Shug Jordan era that launched the University into a powerhouse. He tells it with the characteristic passion that the Auburn Family knows him for.

My favorite anecdote is Shug Jordan first applying for the job in 1948, being turned down and telling friends "If they don't have confidence in Auburn people then they ought to close the place down."

Pretty much.

Anyway, after three depressing seasons under a coach from, of all places, Notre Dame, Jordan got the job in 1951 and the rest is orange and blue history.

Sat through class, where the highlight was a classmate giving me a bag of Charleston cookies for taping last week's "lecture."

Moving on.

Almost fell asleep during The Last Shot. An Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick film from last year of which no one's ever heard. I stumbled across a preview for it last week. So far it has lived up to comedic expectations.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

There is much laughter in catching up with acquaintances.

Why hasn't that been on a fortune cookie? Maybe the printer has difficult a time as the rest of us spelling that word.

Sat in a second floor joint around a circular table sitting on hard chairs under a vintage basketball scoreboard. Authentic. Had the controls and everything. Right about now I wish I'd made a note of the model so I could look it up. Guess I'll have to go back to that restaurant next week.

After a while we moved to an even larger circular table. This one was faux marble, but the real attraction was the red plastic swivel chairs. The sort of thing one falls into with relief. The body of the chair wraps itself around you in a clumsy three-sided hug. Then you spin. Decades ago we sat in the hard back chairs at burger joints and swiveled in the chairs, the first sweet taste of independence, the first dare against parental authority.

These chairs were like that, somehow. And the humor being passed around the room was of the kind you would only say when you knew the folks weren't home. One of the guys there is a filmmaker. He was talking of the big plans for his next production. I won't repeat them here because my mother reads this site. Sometimes you can't shake parental authority.

Our first look at Atticus. Hopefully all the former colleagues will get to pile in and visit soon. His electronic family friends are in the meantime being kept informed by Email and blog. Crazy world you're inheriting young man. Atticus, though, is in good hands. See?

Those are the last of the first pictures to launch a long run of firsts. Like the time, a few years from now, when I get to hang out with him and introduce him to Coldstone Creamery. His parents, health conscious eaters, will not be able to understand why he's running laps around the dining room table all night.

Mom and Dad: Atticus, what are you doing?

Atticus: Running.

Mom and Dad: Why?

Atticus: I don't know!

Mom and Dad: Kenny!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Had a salad with Brandy this evening. Nice to catch up and visit, varying and demanding schedules being what they are. She's doing well, thanks for asking. She dashed off to study chemistry. Or statistics. Or some other smart thing which she pretends, for the rest of us, to not understand. She'll fuss about it and complain and worry. And then bring you an A. Its annoying, in a charmingly academic sort of way.

Home, my one day of the week free of class, to get ready for more work. Mobile had a municipal runoff today and I was on poll results duty. But they never got sent to me. Staying up late for it and everything. By nature I am a night owl, by profession I am an early bird. Now I just want to go to sleep. Time has made me a fuddy duddy.

Everyone under the sun has called me tonight. Casey called and we hatched a Christmas scheme. Last year part of the family surprised a less fortunate home with an unexpected Christmas, showering them with presents. From it we got a host of feel-good stories and I got an idea.

This summer I floated the notion of doing that as our Christmas. Because, let's be honest, I need about as many more gifts as everyone else in my family. So my suggestion was: buy for your kids (all of us now grown) and your parents/grandparents as you like; take the money you'd spend on me and put it to children whom are more needy and I'll do the same. Have a holly, jolly Christmas.

So tonight the wheels have been put in motion.

Sorry about the cliches. I had an afternoon meeting with a volunteer group and they just began spewing forth. We're laying the groundwork for a new fundraising, awareness campaign and throughout the brainstorming I just kept offering one tired phrase after another.

You're supposed to avoid cliches like the plague. (Get it?) Some people can't help themselves. Some people need to hear them as a reinforcement for the other things they're being told. And today I was only too happy to accomodate that need, whether they were that type person or not.

Watched a movie tonight, as I waited for the election results that still haven't arrived. Badder Santa:
Badly profane. Irreverent. Tears-of-laughter funny. Put the kids to bed.
Funny how I had this movie and that phone conversation in the same day. If I thought more on it I could probably come up with three more paragraphs on life's symmetry. The thesis of which would start with great promise, or perhaps poignancy or humor, and then melt away. Doomed snowflakes in the thought of winter in September.

Someone new to buy presents for: Atticus is here!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Most popular site on the web today? Baby Atticus. Justin and RaDonna were expecting him Friday, now we're all just counting the hours it seems. Track the latest along with the rest of us. Its all very exciting, this 21st Century voyeurism we're about to throw this child into.

Justin wrote today to say he's now officially reached "Dad" with the purchase of a nifty new camera. I congratulated his new official nomenclature by offering the advice to tape everything, invest in good video software and then make us all DVDs.

He's selling Atticus-wear (the new black) and has a poll question up. Why not distribute DVDs too?

Political communication had a guest speaker tonight. A local lawmaker came to talk about what, he perceives as the four different types of campaigns. We break them down and he asks the class what Governor Riley will be saying next year as he runs the Incumbent Protect campaign. No one answers, so I blurt out, in rapid succession, the more obscure ones. My thought was a rapid-fire list of four or five ideas would spur the discussion.

The speaker asks his question again. I look across the room at the professor and mouth the words Should I do more? He nods his approval, so I list the obvious topics the governor will use. The speaker then moves to the Governor's presumed opponents and asks what they'll use as they run a Challenge campaign. No one says anything, so I do that one too.

This goes on for the duration of the class.

Me: It has worked on the national level and, as you say, campaigns are always evolving. I want to know your thoughts on when new media makes an impact on the local and state level. Perhaps not in the Wiregrass or in the Black Belt, but considering the affluence of your constituency whoever figures this out first wins.

Lawmaker: I've had a webpage every time I ran.

Me: You need more than a static website. You need a conversation.

Professor: Websites actually cost more than they earn (in terms of votes).
He then goes on to explain why, which made since and has to do with the person or people running the site not being in lockstep with the candidate. From that point the conversation continued.
Me: So you need a press secretary-slash-web team. That should put me in a good spot in a few years.

Lawmaker: You'll be valuable next year ... Do you have a card?
A year ago I went to an Auburn game and, from across the stadium I took a random picture of the student body. Later I asked my friend Melanie to find herself somewhere in that crowd. I missed by just a few rows from 100 yards away. A twitch or a sneeze would have put her seat in view.

This year, sitting across the width of the field, I took another picture of the student body and asked her, once again, to find herself. Without knowing where she would be, I put her just above and to the left of center frame. Chance in inches.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Went back out to the Katrina drop-off/blood drive today. Saw the Stormtracker, the Fox affiliate's answer for all things bad weather and promotional. Big bad Hummer, tricked out with all kinds of radar and live feed capabilities. Mean looking machine. Just three seats. Everything else is wires and guts and monitors enough to make the technoweatherphiles queasy with delight. The guy babysitting th eit says it earns 7.6 miles to the gallon.

I hear they protect it with orange cones in their own parking lot.

The guy was talking about how they put a webcam inside the last two times they've been out chasing down hurricane landfalls. I sat inside it. I plan on making a coworker very jealous.

From that carefree delirium came a sobering conversation with a couple from New Orleans. They've been staying in Alabaster, but she's a nurse and he's a
postal worker. He has to go back to work Tuesday so they are planning out their trip. She told of a relative also here who lost his house and his business, like so many others. He borrowed some skates to get outside one day here, wasn't prepared for our hills (New Orleans: flat) and broke his jaw in two places. This is officially a bad month.

Said their time here has been very good though. Everyone and every thing has been well taken care of, even her nephew's surgical procedures, where the hospital staff was very accomodating.

Saw a former schoolmate and her two cute little girls. Caught up with someone I never really knew in school. "You should have some," she said. The girls gave me a fan while I stood in the most disorganized line for giving blood. They'd been there for a couple of hours, were on number eight. I was 37. Give Red Cross this: you're in and out in an hour.

There will be other blood drives in the coming days.

Went for Mexican, the one cheating meal of an otherwise (tough, but) successful beginning to South Beach. Sat across from four kids who had risen to the ubercoolness that is Our Own Table in Public. This was new for them, you could tell. From two buildings over.

How do children get like this? The cackling laughter and inattentiveness from the next table over offered the answer. Roosters crow with more discretion, to say nothing of dignity.

The mariachi at Guadalajara, a Sunday evening treat for the boisterous, would have been quieter.

Two of the four children ended up in a Greco-Roman wrestlefest. The little one gave up a big weight advantage and it's going to cost him an eye one day.

"You should have some."

Uh huh.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fifty yard line seats for Auburn hosting Mississippi State. Flyover by an all-Auburn contingent of jet pilots. The Tigers looked very good and made it a methodical, some might say boring, game. Had a good time watching the return to form against the overmatched Bulldogs.

Walked up the new Thach Avenue. Five years spent walking these streets, they come along and turn it into a pedestrian path and none of it is what you remember. The mind reels for purchase, trying to make sense of the argument going on between your intuition and your eyes.

Sounds like I'm locked in a half of a decade in the 90s doesn't it?

All of these things are different now. I've reached old person status at Toomer's Corner, dodging children and college kids alike. More of a spectator than participant. Toomer's as a family friendly celebration, wildness calming itself, will always be worthy of watching.

And though the city, and now the campus, seem to be changing each time I visit. For a long time that progression bothered me. Still a bit unsettling, but understandable now. The place moves along at its own steady organic pace, I seem to be steady at the pace they helped set. My visits don't change so much though.

A day of football has to have lemonade of course. Watch the game, make my way back to the Corner. Stand on the north side of the trees -- it has never occurred to me until just now that I might take part of rolling Toomer's from anywhere else. Being in the tree notwithstanding (the good old days), I've only found myself anywhere else one time in ten years of that particular party.

It was almost a perfect day of football, but Alabama has to win some games too. See that catch though? Unbelievable.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

I've been concientiously watching movies to at least have a few hours away from hurricane coverage. I'm not complaining. At all. In fact, I've spent most of the last two weeks wanting to complain about something or another when The Mighty Hand of Perspective swats me. I'm not living this or forced from my home by it, and everything here seems rather minor, trivial and downright petty in comparison.

Still, it seemed wise to remove my attention from the devastation for a few hours at a time. Sometimes being a news junkie, even away from the office, can have a downside. So last week I went to the library which was on half-power itself and got movies.

Probably a wise move, each story gets more and more troubling. The whole issue, it appears, is going to boil down to FEMA and local government pork and incompetence. Many of our learned friends (especially Drs. Joyner and Taylor) in the link box to the left have some very interesting reading if you'd care to know more.

Left work today for class, where we talked more about the hurricane's aftermath. The discussion centered on political socialization and shared, common experiences. New Orleans seems to be a good example for a lot of things. Current events conspiring with a multitude of stories and perspectives on this wide of a scale and with this much stage will do that.

Jeff Jarvis and others are applauding the media. They're getting the story, one of such mammoth scope, as well as can be expected. Tens of thousands of stories will go untold, those are the ones I really want to hear now. Much of that is coming out in first person accounts, like this Email I've just received:
I see nurses reaching into their own pockets and giving people cash to buy gas to get to Lafayette and Jackson and Atlanta. The girl who I am staying with took care of hooking an elderly man who has lost his whole family up with the State Police missing persons to see if he couldn't track a family member down. He carried a paper with him that has a name and phone number of someone to call written on it. But he couldn't do anything until Bonnie helped him because he cannot read and write and doesn't have a phone. These are not people you send on their way, these are people you find a way for.


there aren't snacks and meals and gas and blankets and cell phones and lap tops and people to just hold their hands and listen. It's all about process, not a response. That's what's not coming through on TV, but stated by
so many victims.


please make a contribution to your church or other charity to help people put out their hand and give a meal ticket, or a blanket, or a gallon of gas, or a little bit of hope or comfort to the those who are in terrible need.
That nurse, a friend of a friend of someone who is in someone else's Email address book is seeing "grandmas and brothers, and sons and daughters, moms and dads just looking for a place to rest and an arm to comfort them."

In aggregate -- as statistics and fatalities and money and bottles of water -- this story is too much to understand. Nor do anecdotal tellings do this story justice. Tens of thousands of versions of that story.

I stopped by one of the many local donation drives this afternoon. Stood at the bottom of the line and unloaded cars for 90 minutes. Most rewarding fun of the week. Sun didn't seem to hot. Trunk loads of donations didn't seem to heavy. Smiles couldn't be big enough.

The words "thank you" were pushed to the mind numbing delirium of meaninglessness, but when the people driving by are thanking the organizers for putting it together it truly registers. These, too, are important stories.

Symmetry is restored when the couple dropped off supplies left off donated to them last fall after Ivan. A little ray of hope comes with every Little Golden Book young Charlie and his mother proudly dropped off -- a minivan full. Or the young man, slowed by Down's Syndrome, who went door to door in his neighborhood and collected hundreds of dollars to donate, showing the tender story of humanity we musn't overlook in trying times.

Go give of yourself.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

I cut the grass today. (Kelly breathes a sigh of relief.) Didn't really want to, but had to be done. The neighbors were probably talking again.

I got fruit today: a watermelon and two tomatoes. This was the mid-day highlight. Every day should offer such simple pleasures.

The end of the day highlight involved watching Office Space:
Funnier each time. Stephen Root's a genius. Ron Livingston is always great.
For that matter, my dozen-word movie reviews have fallen behind.

Not good and terrible, but terrible and good. Odd mix. High quotability.
The Hunted:
Second viewing, not as good. Tommy Lee Jones should be more pithy.
Johnny English:
Mr. Bean meets Naked Gun. Cute movie. Holiday, "gather 'round family" movie.
That was today. Well, the last three movies weren't. They were weekend. Everything else is a fitting description. Diet Lifestyle change started this week. Not a lot of energy today. Tired earlier than usual. A correlation? No tea since yesterday morning either. Haven't missed it yet.

Monday, September 5, 2005

The weekend:

Saturday was the Lovliest Village. All Orange. Lemonade. Tailgating. Laying under a shade tree, just like the old days. Tiger Walk. The game (the less of which is said the better). Many of my dear Auburn friends could not be there. I taped the day, and you can hear highlights of the sounds (except, unfortunately, Toomer's Corner) here.

Sunday was restive, until showing up for work. A few extra hours here and there while chipping in to help out is easy and I'm proud to do it.

Monday was another restive day. How can you sleep until almost noon, almost fall asleep at 5 p.m. and then be on my way to bed by 10? I did it. You can too! Have a three day weekend soon!

Or give me another.

Also, August pics are up. Just 25 or so in there, but if you count the several dozen from a trip up north (listed separately) there should be plenty to breeze through.

Friday, September 2, 2005

CNN is spending today blasting everything about the government -- federal and local -- in terms of hurricane response. It is harsh, maybe overly so, but there is an urgent point there. Cooper Anderson completely lost his composure and blasted Senator Landrieu of Louisiana. The imagery was a little much and attacking a sitting Senator might be unnecessary coming from a news anchor, but still, it had to be said. She sat stone faced.

There is a lot of criticism now flying around. Political upheavals have hinged on far less disaster in this nation, more of that could come after this week.

Here at home the relief donations are about to come online. That's where I'm donating: for the folks that have a new (at least temporary) home in the Birmingham area. I hope you're getting involved too. If you promise to roll up your sleeves in this effort I won't mention it here again? OK? Promise? Good.

I semi-sort of wrote an apology here for all of this on Sunday or Monday. Life tells you in advance, sometimes, when you'll be innundated, and we all knew that while bracing for the storm. Today had a very much more detached air to it. "Those poor people, how terrible. But at least we can go out for a burger and talk about our holiday weekend plans."

And so it goes, we empathize from a distance and help out where we can. Oh, the stories that you hear of generosity. I wish there was a clearinghouse of that information somewhere. We've seen the worst of man's folly and nature and the worst of man this week. Going largely untold is the best of humanity. It is a shame that it falls that way.

But, before long, the psyche insists on repairing itself to the daily routine, the life lived 18 inches from your face, and so here we are.

Got my tickets. The woman I bought them from is an insurance agent now looking at 12-hour days, seven days a week for the next two months at least. She's a season ticket holder alum and is hoping to be out in time for the Iron Bowl. I hope she is too.

She sold me her tickets for the Tech game at face value. "I don't want to make money off them, I just want Auburn people to be able to enjoy the game." Me too, I will likely be selling some tickets later this season, feeling much the same way.

So I got end zone seats, not bad. Went to the bank, got the tickets, had lunch, came back in the office to learn that they were giving away a pair of Auburn-Georgia Tech tickets. I won. Anyone want to go? Hopefully I'll be able to find someone that needs them. I just want Auburn people to be able to enjoy the game.

Tonight is resting, tomorrow is going home to the Plains. Tiger Walk. Lemonade. Tailgating. Watching Tiger (or Spirit) fly. Sitting on the 30-yard line (or thereabouts). Rolling Toomers.

Since updates to the site are late (next week, I promise) I hope to make some of them with treats coming from this trip.

Have a great weekend. Give where you can and War Eagle!

Thursday, September 1, 2005

The blogosphere donations have been tremendous so far. The last time I checked, more than $31 million had been pledged in one day. Tremendous effort. For donations in Alabama I am suggesting that everyone consider ServeAlabama. I've spoken today with the lady in the Governor's office who is heading up the program. She says the donations they receive over the course of the long-term giving will go to hurricane victims in Alabama and Mississippi. They are very mindful of the donations from previous efforts that have been well intentioned but gone to waste and are hoping to be far more systematic this time around.

We're still looking for all of our co-workers at our sister site at they and their colleagues at The Times Picayune were forced to abandon the newspaper building because of the flooding. One of the nola guys is here. He is tired, trapped in memories and fears and bravely moving through a nightmare the rest of us can barely fathom. His family is safe, he says, he believes his friends all made it out, he's still waiting on word on his co-workers. I can't imagine those feelings.

The stories have gotten worse out of New Orleans. The criticism is starting to fly. There are a lot of salient points floating through the air. I believe the most useful agency to date has been the Coast Guard, who's mandate is to save people. Seems like everyone else is miredin bureaucracy. I won't pretend to understand the logistics of herculean relief, rescue and rebuilding efforts, but I've been pointing out a lot that we knew this day would one day come, that we knew for several days it was coming now and we still got caught flat-footed. People are dying -- now, not during the storm, but now -- because of it. There's no reconciliation of that. This is Thursday, basic needs should have been met by now; not being planned or just getting underway, met.

So we're working hard, the devastation is unescapable, but out and about people are beginning to return to normal here. Our part of the storm was fortunately very minor. Power is returning, conversations are turning to more mundane details of life and work politics. At least that's what I hear when I eavesdrop at lunch.

I don't see how, there are far too many ramifications here that should shake us all up. And I don't mean gas prices. Which, by the way, stay home (or at least away from gas staions) for a day or three. We're panicking en masse and that's only causing problems. Thank you, don't drive through.

Happier news: I'm getting last minute tickets to the Georgia Tech game this weekend. Wreck Tech! War Eagle!
The real stories of Katarina are now coming in, each more horrifying than the last. We'd been discussing how the immensity of the tragedy and the incoceivability of the story: its too large for us. There's one set of images that really offer a scope of the natural devastation. Dr. Steven Taylor has NASA pictures showing the before and after of the area.

Meanwhile, the stories of the third world atmosphere in New Orleans, always seemingly just a breath away from third world, are completely abhorrent. Some of those stories are true, others are unconfirmed. The stories will get worse and then later we'll find that it wasn't quite as bad as we'd heard. We're listening to the hype machine that is the echo chamber of cable news after all. Horrific things are going on, and the Superdome sounds like Hell, but on balance these stories will later be realized to be somewhat overblown.

Around here there were a lot of power outages. Some 650,000-plus in Alabama. More were out during Ivan last year, but our friends at Alabama Power say this was the worst storm for them in terms of damage and repair. Those lineman, though, are the most underappreciated people around, they'll have everyone back up soon.

Got my car back finally. More odd drama in a week already full of it. Tuesday just felt completely ... something. Anxious was the word I'm going with, though I never could figure out why I was so edgy. Something in the atmosphere I suppose.

Hadn't slept well the night before, working hard and this story everywhere, it was a day that couldn't end quickly enough because I was surely going to snap at some nice and pleasant person who didn't deserve it. Managed to hold my tongue, which is what I should be doing for the next several weeks. The woman who took my tuition check yesterday could not, complaining to her coworker about not getting any sleep the night before. Could be worse, I said as kindly as possible, we could have all been sleeping on our roofs last night. We shared a look of an unspoken almost promise: I will not say another word.

The blogosphere is alive with generosity. Gary Reynolds, Hugh Hewitt and NZ Bear, who says there have been blogbursts in more than 20 nations. All of us should understand that there is a need here that won't go away for some time.

You can find more ways You Can Help on that page, which I will be a continually organic list I'm building at work. Agencies say monetary donations first, it' cheaper to ship money to the hard hit areas to spend on food, water and ice than it is to ship those products right away. The Attorney General advises donating by check or money order and being cautious of people trying to take advantage of other people's losses and your donations. After that come the blood donations and then the donations of physical products. I'm sure our office will be involved in one of those efforts, they're sprining up everywhere thankfully, and I plan to donate goods to an organization that will distribute them to hurricane refugees that our area takes in.

Say a prayer for all of them, everywhere.