Kenny Smith | blog

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Saturday was a long, but productive and fun day. I worked out in the morning, mowed the lawn after that and then hit the road for the Auburn game.

It was beyond late, in a dimension of time after time, when the car found its way home last night.

So this afternoon was spent relaxing in the water. The McAlisters extended an invite to the pool, so swim we did. There was diving -- and someone broke the diving board, but it wasn't me. There was the world's slowest game of dodge ball dominating the length of the pool with six to eight players and only two balls. We chased balls more than we played the game.

Someone had modified a Super Soaker in such a way that the entire pool was the shooter's ammunition. It was terrific. But the gun only put out spritzes and before long targets realized they could out-splash the gun holder.

And that was the afternoon, until the pool closed at 6 p.m. Tomorrow it will open again, but I'll be working. After that the pool closes for the season. Because the weather turns to frost in September and no one would be interested in a pool at all. Children -- and adults who would behave like them -- are sold short on the premature pool closing every season. It is a national shame.

After the pool there was a stop at Dreamland to pick up banana pudding. The Yankee and I had been invited to Brooke and Stephen's for dinner. Brooke was hosting Rise, a doctoral student at Penn State and there was a blueberry glazed steak to enjoy.

I was skeptical at first as well. Most everyone was. Why would you ruin a good steak with blueberries of all things? But it was a glaze. It was thick and sweet and tangy and zesty and actually worked very well. I've been promised the recipe.

After dinner we watched Eddie Murphy's greatest Saturday Night Live hits. I'd forgotten Velvet Jones, and how long the assassination of Buckwheat bit became. Some 25 years later that bit is an even more potent commentary on broadcast journalism. Murphy's Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood is a classic, Gumby is losing his punch and the Stevie Wonder stuff is timeless.

So there we sat, a room full of academics, the five of us with 15 degrees. Our brains -- or the mush that's left -- are supposedly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and we're giggling ridiculously at James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub and Joe Piscopo's Frank Sinatra.

My friends are pretty awesome.

Tomorrow: I'm sleeping in, but still going to campus. It'll be a half of a holiday. I'll only labor a little bit. I'll love every minute of it.

Hope you have the day off and have great plans in place.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Auburn struggled through the air, dominated on the ground and rolled to an easy 34-0 victory over ULM.

The Warhawks turned the ball over on their first offensive play. Auburn's Michael Goggins scooped up the ball and scored. The game was never in doubt after that play. The Tigers then broke a 12-year drought in returning a punt for a touchdown and wore down ULM with over 300 yards rushing.

ULM never threatened with anything more serious than a field goal attempt.

A great day on the Plains, with a lot of heat, an announced sellout crowd and a good time had by all.

More pictures in the August photo gallery.

Look for a pre-game video on the site later in the week.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Notes from last night: Took in my first game at Seibert Stadium on the Samford campus. This was Samford's first game in the historic Southern Conference and students and fans for the most part packed the little place out.

Except for a big patch of bleachers in the center of the home-side bleachers which were "Reserved" which apparently means "Must stay empty."

But it was a fun night for football. Dustin Taliaferro started under center for the Bulldogs, going 9-for-19 for 84 yards, a touchdown and a pick. The pass pictured here, actually, is Samford's first score of the young season.

West Georgia struggled and as Sean Gray completed 24-of-50 passes for 315 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also got hit a few times.

The Samford students seem to have a good time, but football appears to be more of a social event. They'll have their real opening game experiences this weekend one supposes.

West Georgia cut the lead to two in the final minutes of play, and threatened again after that, but the Bulldogs held on to win their home opener 21-19.

You can find more from the game in the August photo gallery.

Today, then was the Friday after Friday. Had lunch with the journalism faculty where Sen. Obama's acceptance speech was the topic of the day.

The ad staff came in and shared their successes of the week -- they really did better than anyone would have guessed because of their late start -- and planned for the next sales efforts.

The opinion writers all filed in for headshots that will run with their columns. There's a religion writers, political writers, I-hate-politics writers, humor writers and more.

And so the first week of school ends like that. The first paper is due out on Wednesday and campus is closed on Monday. I predict a late night in the office on Tuesday.

This evening, to prepare for that, I started watching U-571 which is still an unfortunate movie. But at least the sets are nice. The cinematography is nice. The historical inaccuracies are deliberate and fundamentally insulting, but that's an argument Hollywood long since ceased to worry over. The world is full of great stories that are far more dramatic and engaging than anything a writer could produce, but let's say the Americans pulled this off, and not the British, as was actually the case. Fiction, after all, is fun. And it is easier to sell Jon Bon Jovi and Matthew McConaughey.

Thankfully Pie Day came along before the end of the movie, and so there was barbecue and pie, and it was delicious. And I also received a big bag of free ribs just because.

After dinner I visited with Brooke and Stephen and Rise, who is down visiting from State College. It all made for a nice, fun, long, fulfilling day and a late night, just before another nice, fun, long and busy Saturday.

Tomorrow: football!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Samford hosts West Georgia tonight, and there'll be a handful of games on television as well. A nice appetizer to the opening weekend, where all the Tigers and War Eagles will happily celebrate another season.

No one in the South will get any work done between now and ... oh ... say ... Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

There was history tonight, not that I could see it. The digital modem, down for about 36 hours now, was still offline and the television was dead too. It is amazing how quickly you can be disconnected. It is more stunning how unaffected you can feel.

So there was a call to the Dimly Light Building of Cable Regret. This being the fourth call in less than 24 hours and this conversation repeating, almost word for word, the same hopeless discussion of when "later" was and what "is" is.

There's just no satisfying some customers, and getting the run around -- and they're more than dubious track record (see any post circa May through June) -- doesn't help the situation.

Late in the evening a cable truck was driving through the neighborhood lost and confused. He parked in the neighbor's drive and inspected the power pole.

On making his way down the cherry picker snagged something on the line and almost brought everything crashing down around us. When it seemed safe to be around the guy I walked down and mentioned that I was the constant complainer and I lived a bit further up the street, but a-ha! The problem was down the hill.

So away he went. And, later, the cable and the internet returned. And then it disappeared. And then it returned again. Hopefully for good, or at least until Sen. Obama can come fix it along with everything else he's capable of doing.

So I missed the official nomination, but I'm sure it'll be on later. And there'll be his further history-making exploits on the way to the general election. It is enough to know that it has happened, which was the foregone conclusion anyway. Few need see it to believe it.

I'm bemused by the whole thing for two reasons -- we've taken to seeing everything through the television. The live camera is ubiquitous and so we are all party to history, or at least the highlights. It'd be cool to watch Obama's piece of history on the same television in the same room where I watched Mark McGwire break Roger Maris' home run record. But that momentous moment doesn't mean as much any more either, does it?

Which is precisely why I've to this point avoided watching Barry Bonds' big record breaking swing.

But I will of course lean closer in for the football history, and the breaking news history, of which a presidential convention is obviously not.

I'll probably be on hold to the cable company for half an hour the time the next opportunity comes along anyway. They've gotten fairly good at being fairly bad.

Had lunch today at a place called The Rotunda Club on the Samford campus. The university relations staff invited us over to the place, which is in the health and wellness building. The stairs curve ever so slightly. The handrails are brass. Upstairs in the rotunda there are 12 huge columns under beautiful spiritual murals.

Inside the actual Rotunda Club the walls are light and airy. The food is served buffet style but it is of the highest quality. Fried chicken, perhaps, never tasted so delicious. The french doors are covered over by floor-to-ceiling curtains, but push them aside and you could walk out onto the patio.

This is really a beautiful place. I'll bring back photographs next time.

The head of the university relations staff leaned in and said that Rotunda Club dining was by members only -- faculty and alumni had to request membership. The whole places feels very genteel and I really want to find that membership form and fill out soon because, while the cheesecake was delicious, the rest of the deserts were big hits too.

I mean the cafeteria here is good, but this was delicious.

Tomorrow: football season begins. Need there be anything else?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On Monday the rain fell at a 45-degree angle from right to left. Today it fell right to left. Tomorrow, as Forrest Gump said, if the rain seemed to come straight up from underneath no one would be surprised.

Actually the forecast has changed. What was originally thought to be a constant drizzle for most of the week is due to taper off before tomorrow. Three-plus days of rain, though, will skewer your sense of time and place, and sometimes even your purpose.

Here's the scene outside my window.

And with all this rain, coupled with a few hours of internet outage at home this evening, comes a handful of links.

The old expression is "Never get into a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel." It is time, though, that we update that sage advice to include camera, software suite and a broadband internet connection. If parodies of the Olympics are fair game then no one is safe.

You saw this professor's video a few years back and now he's here to expound upon his idea with an ethnography of YouTube. It is a bit long, but a good show. I've watched the first half so far, which includes two good stats, at least three chuckles, four good laughs and posits the idea that Numa Numa was a cultural watershed.

The one problem, of course, being that the story has grown, been reshaped and enriched three times since he uploaded it.

Maybe that's the thing we should be studying, how quickly new developments shift the stream of things. We'll call it accelerated digital dynamics.

Know what else is changing really fast? That happy, glowing Olympic story. All it took was for the journalists to leave the country. Here's one about agricultural regions enduring man-made droughts because of the Olympic Games.

Even the biggest cities stretch themselves to the limit or flirt with bankruptcy putting on the event. It'll never happen, but there should be a dedicated home for the quadrennial games, just so the infrastructure becomes worth the investment. Somewhere near Greece. Maybe Vatican City, managing only a small geopolitical area anyway, could oversee the thing.

The Star Tribune is dropping their contract with the Associated Press. What was unthinkable just a year or two ago has become no surprise at all. And you'll see more of this in the next few years.

And, finally, watching the Democrats meet in Denver this evening my Twitter account has officially endorsed a candidate for the fall election. Surf on over and see who's getting the vote.

Monday, August 25, 2008

That is a lot of rain. Thanks Fay!

We could certainly use it, and we're still getting it. I've spent the day alternately typing away and watching the drops hurtle to the ground at a 45-degree angle. After eight or nine hours watching that the subconscious prepares the rest of the body to brace for cold.

And so, when you finally emerge for a brief walk in the damp you're almost surprised that it is still August, and not February.

I found the campus post office this afternoon. It is conveniently located in the basement of the Beeson University Center, which is where my office is located. It also houses the cafeteria, food court, coffee shop, bookstore and more, making it very convenient on a rainy day like today.

And how about that rain? We received more than two inches so far today, almost on par with the August average, which we've now almost tripled. And there's more rain through Wednesday perhaps.

(We won't talk, yet, of that pesky little thing now growing south of the Caribbean.)

This is the drive home. The rain has been around long enough now to distort many of our senses. That's a fiesty, drunken, angry Rudolph in front of me. One of those spooky Moth Men is in the background.

We need the rain, but 15 more minutes of sunshine, just to balance the left and right sides of the brain would be nice, too.

Tomorrow I'll do a video of the rain. Riveting!

While staying dry I've also been writing a fair amount today, but we'll get into that later this week.

At home there was a great effort to clean off the TiVo. The machine has been holding onto several programs for some time now, so this evening was spent removing four episodes of Cheers -- a show that is growing funnier, and occasionally culturally intriguing, with age.

There was also a documentary that was supposed to be one program, but turned out to be about Japan, which was interesting enough for the first 40 minutes, after which I dozed off.

So my night owl tendencies haven't yet completely returned. By 9 p.m. I'm already considering bed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

So it seems I fibbed a bit last evening. Today hasn't been especially more productive.

Today I only had to try a little bit harder to convince myself that it was OK. Not much, only a little. Working at it too much would have taken effort, you see.

But! But I deserve the break. Football starts next weekend and that, coupled with the silly travel season of autumn, means there'll be no breaks between now and, roughly, January.

And if that sounds like a complaint you're not really in tune with the tone of this place, are you?

So I did straighten up the tiniest bit today. The tiniest bit. A big stack of books was moved from here to there. A stack of boxes was moved from Staging Area A to Staging Area B. From there items inside the boxes will later be redeployed for use or shipped into Staging Area C, which stands for "See, I thought I owned something like this!" when the box is reopened again in 12 to 18 months.

A few dishes were addressed, clothes were manipulated into less conspicuous locations. I stood in the doorway of the extra bedroom for some time admiring the new ceiling fan and light.

I watched a fair amount of weather. The last two years of rain intend to fall from the sky this week, it seems. Better late than never, agriculturally speaking.

This evening I attended a meeting of the newspaper staff. I only dropped in for about 10 minutes, just to say hello and get out of their way. From the sound of things they were in good hands when I left for dinner.

Chili's, where the hostess admitted to slack service, was the first choice, but the honesty proved that exiting sometimes is the best strategy. If the hostess had been the least bit concerned about this it would have been useful. As it was the apathy was telling.

Italian then, DeVinci's for a delicious calzone -- which was better than Chili's anyway -- before returning home to an evening of ... not much else.

Did you pick up a theme this weekend?

Next week: Classes start at Samford. The students are all pack and ready to take on the world. The paper will start covering all of that next week too. That should keep everyone busy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh yes, I did nothing of merit today, as promised.

Slept in, woke up and had a bowl of cereal. That it was a full bowl was the most ambitious task of the morning.

And then I retired to the sofa where I watched bad movies, high school football (of all things) and threatened to dose off throughout the afternoon.

Didn't even feel guilty about this until the evening -- I was too busy feeling tired and fighting off a headache and enjoying the inactivity.

So there's not really a lot to discuss here for today. The Yankee and I tried Mexican for dinner, which was good again. There's a new Habaneros in my neighborhood, as has been mentioned here before -- they are four-for-four on my experience thus far, and have been well received by everyone else that knows the place.

Coincidentally, a fine Mexican restaurant a few miles up the road has seemingly vanished into the night. They are far enough removed so that it wasn't the competition. Perhaps a few of us had favored the closer store, but surely that didn't drive them to close up shop.

At Habaneros there was a guy who's sole existence in life was to fill your drinks. Now they've added another guy to the task. I think they must be paid on the basis of the empty pitchers they bring back to the kitchen.

If your glass get down to 75 percent here you'll have a fellow in a red shirt with two pitchers in his hands leaping over other tables -- pouring water to other customers backhanded mid-flight no doubt -- to fill your drink.

Ultimately this makes you dine with one hand, covering the glass because at some point you've just had enough. But they'll keep filling it. And do you know how hard it is to eat a juicy taco with one hand?

At one point one of the red shirted gentleman sprinted across the restaurant to fill my glass while, at the same time, his counterpart soared in from a line attached in the rafters. The sprinter was first, the other guy was wearing the most disappointed expression.

That's just the way of it there. Give them a try. And don't let the small leak by the door dissuade you. It is a new building and that one's on the contractors.

Also walked into the new Target for the first time. Got into an umbrella sword fight, lost, picked up a few cards, dodged a bunch of kids, made Target jokes and left with a smile.

The cashier almost dropped my receipt but after two or three stabs at the air I finally caught the thing. She was so upset about the entire ordeal that I wanted to spend the next 10 minutes trying to restore her back to her good spirits. It is all still very new here, and a happy place. May it continue to be so.

Believe me when I ay that's really about it for the day. That's somehow been enough. Tomorrow might be a bit more industrious, but at this point the only constant is rain.

The remnants of Fay are upon us. And while Florida -- getting hit 47 times by this storm -- got more than enough, we're having to have our chance at the rain. This storm might cause flooding and still not be a drought buster. We're going to all wear slickers for the next four days, so it'll surely help the water levels a bit.

Hope all of your levels, water, weekend enjoyment, satisfaction of laziness and whatever else you might calculate are serving you well!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My day: trimming a few dozen pages of notes and rules into a five page document.

I've been tasked with writing a set of guidelines and today stripped it down to the basics -- be accurate, ethical and newsy, respect your deadlines and so on.

This took a while, longer than I wished, but it was surrounded by lunch, a handful of phone calls and being neighborly. Even still this is only a draft and will likely have revisions on Monday.

And then there will be more such manuals to create as well.

All of the students are on campus now, the upperclassmen having arrived early in the week and the freshmen yesterday. There were plenty of mothers having stirring emotional moments and plenty of fathers looking for a television on which to see the Olympics.

At the end of my first week I've learned the following:
It is remarkably easy to get out of an early morning habit.

I'm readjusting to the pace and rhythms of campus life.

The cafeteria food is pretty good, though it can be a chaotic place.

There is a post office in my building somewhere.

Everyone I've met here is very nice and always wears a smile.
I'm going to like it here.

Having established all of that we can get back to the normal tone of the blog which on Friday, of course, means Pie Day.

It was a toned down affair this week. We dined on the patio, enjoying a nice August evening breeze, quiet atmosphere and, of course, delicious pie.

Never fails, by the time that pie arrives I'm ready for a good long nap. And that sounds like a good idea right about now.

Big weekend plans? Hope so. Me? Nothing. Not one thing! I'll be decadently lazy on a scale unseen for some time. I'll be busy next week to make up for it, but tomorrow I'm going to hang out with the sofa.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Met the ad manager today. Very nice, smart lady. She's getting thrown right in and is doing a nice job of hiding any feeling of being overwhelmed. I also met the business manager today, which should round out the faculty and staff meetings. These are all very nice, enthusiastic people. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

I would have thought that the advertising would be my weakest side of the enterprise -- and it is -- but I kept surprising myself by knowing the answers to questions that the new ad manager asked.

Turns out she had a few inserts sold already, and a few messages from people looking to buy ads. I set her up with all of the issues from the paper last year and suggested calling on those companies for repeat business.

I also received my new Email address today. Not a big fan, it has a number in the address, with the implication of being a johnny come lately and not even the second person with my particular arrangement of letters. They don't take custom email address requests.

I promptly broke my Email account. Seems I changed the password with too much haste and then tried too much to use it. Hopefully I can get the right person on the phone tomorrow for an easy repair.

At home the extra bedroom is now completely usable. The light fixture had been out of commission for some time. The delays grew long simply because no one would come fix them. At least four people said they'd come do the job, but never showed up.

Finally, though, I found a handyman service willing to do the work. So the guy climbed into the attic today -- where it is surely 110 degrees or worse -- and replaced the junction box for the light fixture. He added a piece of hardware to hang a ceiling fan. Since I've long grown disgusted with the project I asked him to do that too. I've only been able to use one electrical outlet in that room since the light fixture had been out of order, but they all work now as well.

No longer will guests look up into the ceiling and wonder what is going on there. Now they can look into the ceiling and wonder why the bed is off-center. But at least they'll be able to see it clearly in the light, and with the refreshing whir of a quietly spinning fan.

Life is good.

Meanwhile, Superman II is playing. Kneel before Zod and all of that. The movie almost 30 years old -- and funny how I refuse to consider that any great length of time -- but it plays like a period piece.

Were men still wearing fedoras in New York in the late 1970s? Did the buses all look like World War II surplus?

Does it bother anyone else that, as the president addresses the nation to announce the unilateral surrender to Zod, he uses the phrase "This is your president"?

Can't imagine Ronald Reagan saying all of that can you?

Tomorrow is Friday, a day for which I'm ready. That'll be eight work days in a row -- eight great days to be sure, but I'm looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I suddenly feel so ... oriented.

I received my new employee orientation this afternoon. (And no, the blog isn't becoming all about work. Far from it. The newness of it is just grand and several people have asked, that's all.)

I met the human resources folks earlier in the week and they're trying out a new system where they visit with new people two by two for an hour presentation. They talk benefits, security, insurance and all that stuff. They have a big according binder ready for you and we all read along with the PowerPoint presentation. As these things go it is a very painless process.

I spent part of the morning chatting with the guy that runs WVSU, the campus radio station. They play a smooth jazz format; my office shares a common wall with one of their studios and occasionally I can hear the music. Not a bad perk.

He and I actually worked together years ago on a late night show. Our paths almost crossed again on another project -- missing by only a week or two -- and otherwise I haven't seen him since 2004.

He had a newborn then. Now the kid is going to kindergarten.

One other work-related piece of news: I've learned that if I get here around 7:30 I can park just a few feet from my office. This is golden information on campus, of course, and will make sure I'm here early every day.

This might have been, though, one of the few mornings worth parking elsewhere. On my way inside this morning tiny gusts of wind were coaxing little yellow leaves from the elm trees. This is a great time of year, and it shouldn't all be spent indoors.

It is a bit difficult to think of it that way sitting in the heart of August. The early days of the month are filled with an inevitable dread: August's heat and humidity. The last two days we're usually swallowed by the bliss of football. Here in the middle it seems an odd time to note cooler temperatures and the weaker leaves giving way.

Students are filing into campus and we're all counting the days until kickoff, but can it be possible that we've somehow snuck into fall? It won't stay as mild as it was this morning for the next six weeks, but maybe this is a brief apology for the long and punishing summer we endured last year. Maybe this is meant to placate us in the midst of a two-year drought.

Sorry about that. Here's an early and unanticipated taste of fall.

Can we have about four months of that, please?

One final note for the day, which will lead you to two neat videos. David Griner notes the power of the blog and companies that pay attention to their online reputation.

First watch this video.

And then watch this one.

That's some fine marketing.

Incidentally, the technique they use for that video is very low-tech. The Vietnamese, for one, have been using it for years. It came in very handy in handing footbridges from aerial reconnaissance.

No one who's ever worked on that sort of bridge -- nor the person who wrote about it years ago in some book I read and long since forgotten -- would have imagined this application.

That's enough for today. Come back tomorrow for a little who knows what. That, too, can be a useful marketing technique. "On Thursday you will be blown away. By something."

And if it moves you even the slightest bit that will count too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Met with the editor today. We discussed a great many things. She has a great many ideas and we're all very enthusiastic about the year.

So what is my new job? It seems I'm a sounding board for the student-journalists, an advice giver, a cheer leader, a question answerer and a general facilitator of good journalism.

There's also the interacting with the department and other portions of the campus, helping out the television students, ultimately revamping a web page, supporting the reporters should they have questions about content and (hopefully this doesn't happen a lot) helping them stay out of trouble over questionable content.

Beyond that we're going to make it up as we go a bit. I'm the first person to formally fill this role at Samford, so I'll be establishing the precedent. That's great, the only concern being that I might overlook something somehow. But the faculty are very good and very supportive. The students are bright and I'm the lucky person that gets to work for both groups.

From the beginning of discussing this position my stated goal has been to help prepare the students for the rapidly-evolving newsrooms they'll encounter when they leave Samford. The curriculum here is solid and well-intentioned, but no curriculum is able to keep up with how quickly things are evolving in the newsroom. That's just a fiscal and practical reality.

So we'll spend a lot of time laboring over the newspaper for a while and then I'll take the students genuinely interested in a news career and teach them the principles of the 2.0 world; I'll make sure the quality reporters the school is training can also hold their own in photography, video, editing and everywhere else. I want to help give them the experience that makes them a no-brainer when it comes to hiring them.

The journalism department here is home to people that are progressive enough to appreciate that. We've discussed how we'd like to ultimate revamp the website to maximize what we can do there so that the students are well-equipped for their future roles. That'll be later this year, or in the spring term.

First we're going to work on photography and copy editing -- everyone needs to be a copy editor these days because the industry has begun to look at that as a position of luxury. Those are many of the folks who, unfortunately, are looking for work while the newspaper business tries to save itself. The theory goes, though, that if you can write, report, edit, shoot video, have the ability to master a few software programs and can take on any project then you've become an invaluable addition to the newsroom.

Helping the student-journalists do that is the best part of my job.

I'm still pinching myself.

But you want pictures.

I work in this building. Somewhere. There's the paper, a radio station, a cafeteria, food court, book store, campus security and more in there.

Still trying to find my way around. Once I master this building, then I'll take on the rest of campus. I'll hopefully be an expert soon. (Half the joy is in learning.)

Nearby is the Beeson Divinity Hall. I haven't been inside yet, but the pictures I've seen are beautiful.

Around the back is another chapel.

And we'll explore more of the campus this week.

This evening I developed a headache which turned into a nap from which I never really woke up so I've felt fairly useless in that post-groggy kind of way. No matter, the things left unaccomplished today will still be here to heckle me tomorrow.

Tomorrow is new people orientation day! I'll a full-fledged member of the place by then. Which is good. Students have been filtering in and, I believe, the freshmen report on Thursday. And I've yet to find a good blazer with patches on the elbows!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I forgot to reset my alarm clock this morning for the later time, so I woke up at 4:30 all the same. Changing the time while half-asleep I managed to get another hour or so of rest. Already the benefits of the new job are tangible.

So I drove into work with the rest of the crowd today. This is that rush hour thing I've been hearing so much about.

I've had an early morning schedule since undergrad. My first radio job demanded my appearance at 6 a.m. My next stop required a 5:45 air time. After that the times got even earlier. My last turn in radio called for a 4 a.m. arrival. That just seems perverse now. The 6 a.m. arrival at was also growing old.

So in all of that time, a decade or so, I never had the need to drive anywhere in rush hour traffic. It probably happened a half-dozen times. And then this morning I joined the crowd.

Great, one more guy on the road.

Made it to campus right on time. Got a parking tag for my car. Learned I could park in any space on campus -- making up for all of those same frustrations as a student -- and worked my way up to my new office.

And then I spent the better part of the day cleaning. There are a lot of newspapers floating around. There are great old issues of The Samford Crimson from the 1970s just sitting in a file next to my desk. I'm reading those with interest, but studying the more recent issues with greater care.

Can't wait to walk over to the library and read some of the papers from the early 20th Century.

Talked with the new boss a bit and found out what I'll likely be teaching in the spring. Met one of the reporters, cleaned up a bit more, toured a tiny bit of the campus and otherwise had a nice, peaceful day.

Faculty are returning to campus this week, classes start next week. Soon the halls will be bustling with students, much like the downstairs ballroom today, where the occasional row of laughter could be heard. They were playing a musical chairs version of Never Have I Ever.

Tomorrow I'll meet the paper's editor. Soon the schedule will pick up. Soon I'll also be shopping for a new computer. Anyone want to help with that?

In the meantime I'm already reminding myself 9 p.m. isn't especially late. 6 a.m. is especially early.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I packed up the last box of things at the office, carried it down to the car and then spilled it across the parking lot.

And so it was that my last official action there was to kneel on a hot August asphalt and dump trinkets and papers and Band-Aids and cough drops back into a box.

These are the sort of characters you accumulate in four-plus years somewhere. You find yourself one night at home or a store and think This would be useful in an office drawer.

The Donald Duck toy was there only because we'd assembled a famous collection of toys to bemuse salespeople and entertain the occasional child. Or ourselves. It became a collection that grew into something a little larger than its original idea. Toys started trickling in as gifts around Halloween and Valentine's Day. Now these toys need a new place to go.

I'll be at Samford tomorrow. The students will be there next week. They'll bring their own toys, no doubt, so mine may stay at home. Except for the comical pens. Those things are fun. I've a fighting frog, a spooky skeleton, a bizarre basketball game and a few more. They'll all entertain for a good 90 seconds or so.

So today was my last, last day. I gave my notice two weeks ago, and promptly fled to Chicago for the AEJMC convention. Worked a few more days, received a few very nice well-wishes, worked Friday and said goodbye and then worked the weekend.

And with my keys turned in I can finally say this: Meant every word. I've been very lucky the last four years at a nice place with great people in a nice atmosphere. I talk up whenever I can because the people there work hard and their successes are evident. We've parted well. I'm better for the experience and the site itself is far larger now than it was four years ago.

When I started there we were celebrating 550,000 unique visitors a month. Just this week it was announced that we know have more than one million uniques each month. For whatever small role I played in that I'm thankful.

This experience led me to the new adventure and, what's more, I've been fortunate enough to cultivate some lifelong friendships from my time there. Not a bad place to work, good people and a good product, so visit early and often. I do.

Right after I visit the Crimson.

And while I start at Samford tomorrow I visited the dollar theater today to take in Iron Man:
Good thing this movie debuted before Dark Knight, against which it pales.
There's nothing wrong with this movie. Iron Man was my favorite comic book as a child, Tony Stark is cast well and the plot moves along in that nice blend of Ohh pretty CGI! and establishing the particular characters, but it feels like a chapter and, compared to the latest Batman, a bit empty.

The director apparently described it as "a kind of independent film-espionage thriller crossbreed; a Robert Altman-directed Superman, with shades of Tom Clancy novels, James Bond films, RoboCop, and Batman Begins."

Yeah, that should do it.

Steak for dinner with The Yankee. And now an early, quiet night -- albeit with no Michael Phelps, but Olympics all the same. The night is trending longer since I don't have to be up before dawn. That's another perk of the new job.

I give it a week before I've rotated back to my natural night owl tendencies.

Hope your weekend was restive and wonderful. Hope your week is a calm and quick one!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Worked today, just me and the interns on a quiet morning and a listless afternoon. The Saturdays of August are delicious and slow days. Aside from the waking up part the day's a breeze.

And by the time the afternoon rolls around, and the work is done, it is hardly as if you've been to the office at all.

This was my next-to-last day at that office, as mentioned yesterday. I've been saying goodbye for a few days now, with the more public and formal one yesterday. Tomorrow I'll just sneak out, frame the room with that last glance like theatre professors all talk about and then move on.

I start at Samford University on Monday as the student media adviser for The Samford Crimson and its website. I'll work a bit with the television students. I'll teach a few classes.

I'll have the summer off.

I've been reading a lot of back issues of the paper, had a few meetings with the enthusiastic and supportive new boss, the chair of the journalism department, and the delightful dean of Howard College. I've spoken briefly with the editor of the paper. We'll meet more formally next week.

The feeling is that there's a lot of potential for the paper. The goals are lofty, but they are expectations that can be met. I'm eager to do my little part to help the students achieve those goals, and even more excited about helping student-journalists prepare for the news business.

It seems a noble thing. When the guy who had this job at Auburn announced his semi-retirement earlier this year my second thought was that I'd like to be him one day. The first thought was how that had become an important role for myself and so many young reporters. Now I have the chance to try and do that too. It is a humbling, exciting thing.

So after lots of talks, meetings, panel discussions and prayers I'll start Monday.

Despite all of that the weekend continues in a normal fashion. There was a book sale at one of the local libraries where I picked up three books. One covers pre-World War II icon, another is an history of the House of Representatives and finally there's a book on Disney animation. For the buck it cost me there'll be at least two or three cool illustrations inside.

I looked through several old issues of Colliers and Saturday Evening Post from the 1930s and 1950s, but didn't pick any up. They'd split the book sale into two rooms and there was no one place to make your purchases. Pulling out the card twice just seemed like too much effort.

There was a trip to the gym for more running and more weights. There was a quiet evening with the Olympics and Mr. Olympic Record Man Michael Phelps. After all we've seen during the week's swims the medley relay almost seemed an anticlimax, but it was a great week in the pool.

Auburn swimmers earned three more medals:
Three more former Auburn swimmers earned medals Saturday night at the 2008 Olympics, the final session of the swimming competition. Mark Gangloff earned gold as the United States men won the 400m medley relay while Margaret Hoelzer and Matt Targett each took silver.


The track and field portion of the Games began Friday with 12 current and former Auburn athletes competing.
Many of the track stars have advanced through preliminary races and more medals should be streaming in for Auburn men and women throughout the week. As best I can tell this seems to be a fairly up-to-date medal watch for the Tigers. I'm still waiting for a podium ceremony to play the fight song.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe your tomorrow will be a grand, fine, restive one with family and friends. Stop back by and tell us all about it, won't you?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Big day today. The first highlight of the full day was around noon for a big lunch. Quite a few people went to send me off.

This is my last lunch at

Someone, or several people, bought my lunch. I got razzed all day. It was a nice goodbye. Except that it isn't. After this afternoon I'm working the weekend and then my tenure -- four-plus years at the place -- will quietly come to an end.

More on all of that over the weekend.

Hey, if you've got a good story to tell you may as well milk it for all you can.

So it was a full from start to finish, from 6 a.m. until 11 or so. After work there was the gym, a nice long run and some weights. Mixed in with all of that were the grunts, the sweat and wondering why my feet hurt. Really, they should stop doing this by now.

After the gym, and a shower, there was Pie Day. Brian's parents joined us for a table for seven. Since I work (worked?) with Brian, and since his parents are awesome, I was the target of more jokes all evening. The ultimate retort, however, was that I wouldn't be there Monday. That I'll have a few more dollars. That I'll have a normal work schedule. And a few other things too.

More on all of that over the weekend.

We were headed to the pool after pie, but learned that the swimming facility had been destroyed by an overly enthusiastic baseball team. Hope they get billed. And where do we make our psychological damage claims? I wore swimming trunks to the restaurant for nothing. I'm scarred.

So we did the next best thing, which was all get in our various cars and race home to watch Michael Phelps with the are-you-kidding-me-a-fingernail!?!? finish. We could all be critical over Olympic coverage -- as much as NBC is offering it is easy to nitpick -- but they've all but nailed the swimming and Phelps coverage in particular.

The cameras are everywhere, on the sides of the pool, looking down from heaven, looking up from the pool tiles, shots into the crowd for coach, family and everyone else. The producers almost took a reaction shot from your living room too, but the Croatians filed an appeal so they went to the poolside report.

While Rowdy Gaines dissected the thing beautifully -- gliding and short strokes and indomitable will -- we learned that the judges examined the video down to the ten-thousandth of a second to determine the win. If Michael Phelps wanted to change the sport of swimming he just advanced the theory of filing nails down to a point, just for that last bit of an edge.

That's the moment we'll have for a generation of sports highlights. And tomorrow, if the men's medley relay wins another gold as expected, Phelps will have eight from Beijing and we'll hear of Phelpsian feats for just as long.

Every bit of the pool that Phelps hasn't splashed out has been dominated by Auburn swimmers, who claimed two golds and a silver today:
Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry was first to pick up a gold medal as she took first in the 200-meter backstroke with a world record time of 2:05.24, becoming the first swimmer ever to break 2:06 in the event. Her former teammate, Margaret Hoelzer (United States), followed right behind her in second place, earning the silver medal with a time of 2:06.23.

Thirty minutes later, Brazilian native Cesar Cielo earned Auburn's second gold medal as he posted an Olympic record time of 21.30 in the 50m freestyle.
The best part? "If Auburn were its own country, it would currently rank 10th in the medal count with 10 medals so far."

No other university has earned so many medals so far. And more will come. Think we could get them to play War Eagle at the medal ceremony?

Come back tomorrow for details on the mystery above and more. Hope you have a great weekend lined up!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slept in this morning until the delightful time of 8 a.m. Normally the sun is still resting below the horizon when I wake up, but this morning it was high in the sky.

What day is it? What time zone is this?

Oh, yes. A mid-week weekend.

So I got up, enjoyed a bowl of cereal and a banana and went to the gym. Pounded a couple of miles through my feet and moved an ab machine around the floor. If we could count the weight as one unit, that'd be a fairly impressive number. This evening my back only ached a little, which is acceptable for moving a bit more than a ton of weight.

Had a lunchtime meeting, which turned into two meetings, lots of handshakes and paperwork. There'll be more on all of that in the next few days.

After that the day has been fairly peaceful and quiet. Which is a good way to begin the night's viewing of the Olympics. There are more than a few places that NBC is earning some criticism -- supposed live coverage, glossing over Chinese human rights issues and so on -- but in the spirit of NBC's presentation Games, we'll concentrate here only on the very good.

Meaning the pool.

And at this rate Auburn swimmers will finish the games with more medals than most countries. Here's today's success story:
Three former Tigers will get the chance to compete for a medal Friday night as Cesar Cielo, Kirsty Coventry and Margaret Hoelzer advanced out of Thursday's semifinals at the 2008 Olympics.

Cielo (Brazil) won the 50-meter freestyle semifinal while Coventry (Zimbabwe) took top honors in the 200m backstroke. Hoelzer finished fifth in the 200m back to earn one of the eight finals spots.


Two other Auburn swimmers, George Bovell (Trinidad & Tobago) and Gideon Louw (South Africa), were also competing in the (50m) semifinal.


Fred Bousquet, Mark Gangloff and Alexei Puninski will wrap up the preliminary session in the second relay heat. Bousquet and Puninski will swim side-by-side against each other as France will be in lane one with Croatia in lane two. Both are expected to swim the butterfly leg of the relay. Gangloff, who is expected to swim the breaststroke leg, and the United States will be over in lane four.
Let's face it, these Games wouldn't be half as interesting without the Auburn element.

And we haven't even made it to track and field yet.

The other half of the interest is, of course, solely on the kick and turn of Michael Phelps who dominated again for another gold as the assault on Mark Spitz's record continues.

Just for fun we could compare the times, but Phelps won a gold tonight in the 200 meter individual medley (1:57.70), a race in which Spitz did not compete.

Spitz, for his part, is a gracious guy, but feels he's been snubbed since he didn't receive an invitation to Beijing.

The upcoming pay-per-view Champions for Charity race (Phelps and Spitz: Making Waves in Washington!) should smooth over any hurt feelings. And if no one has thought of that yet it can serve as my gift to the entertainment industry for the week.

And, after a great idea like that, I shall retire for the evening. I must actually get up and go to work in the morning. The nerve, right?

Hope you're Friday is a breeze. Mine'll be a whirlwind.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

That beautiful, abnormal Wednesday. Slept in, waking in the mid-morning to discover the sky cloudy and the temperatures low. No one call Al Gore. Mid-70s in August is delightful and we'd like to just keep it this way if at all possible.

The skies were due to clear later in the day and the temperatures would soon sneak up to their delightful Alabama norms soon after, so I moved quickly to the yardwork this morning.

Even still it wore me out.

There was a great deal of moisture in the air, and even more on the leaves of things, but at least it wasn't terribly hot to start things off. I figured out a pattern for trimming the hedges that allowed me to saw off branches holding a lot of water each time I needed a little refresher. Since the weather was so nice I pulled up a few other undesirable growths that have been listed as future projects.

Autumn: When outdoors no longer seems an improbability.

So one little mangy shrub disappeared, a few unnecessary young trees were removed. Old growth from the dogwoods got trimmed away.

And then the real fun began with the weed eater. More little sprouts met their maker. Unwanted vines and weeds were dispatched. Ambitious grass was edged and topped.

The sun returned. It was late, but upset it might have missed something. It was determined to make up for the oversight and pressed down upon us in much the same way you might put spatula to beef when cooking a hamburger.

It was the removal of the branches, the dead sticks, vines and weeds became painful. There's a simple process of getting all this stuff to a little burn pile -- another project just waiting for the drought to disappear -- but the sun conspired with the earth at that moment to move 15 miles closer to one another and it was noticeable. Sun, heat, 80-plus percent humidity will lay you low.

So you rightly concede that this is workout enough for the day, there'll be no need to visit the gym.

Instead you finish up the projects, put away the shovel, trimmer, weed eater, tarp and ladder (I have tall hedges) and stagger back inside with the satisfaction of a yard that looks 41 percent better than it did when the day began. Cool off, clean up and then, just for fun, you go to the big blue box store to learn a valuable lesson.

New policies make it easier for you to leave with things -- purchased or perhaps even stolen -- than to enter the store with return items.

The returned products must now be zapped by the ray gun that the kindly old woman at the door has no hope of understanding and then tagged with a sticker on which she has written the day's date. Incorrectly.

This must happen to each item. While this takes place four or five shoppers, with bags or carts full of items, approach the exit with their receipt in hand waiting to be given the cursory glance of quality control inspection that the retiree can provide. Two of whom make eye contact with the nice lady. The others she does not even see.

The entire process take about eight painstaking, it'd-be-easier-to-sell-this-stuff-on-ebay minutes of your life. But it seems that the customer service desk has had their responsibilities streamlined. It moves in a fast, efficient manner with largely pleasant people who are happy to give you money, take your goods and no longer need to hear you stumble about an explanation for the return before they throw it -- even the breakable stuff -- into carts.

There's no way this new system holds up through Christmas. It'd just make too much sense to handle the volume at the desk this way. As for the lady at the door, well, too many consumers are coming and putting items on the shelves. This is messing up inventory and the distribution process and will not stand.

Finishing up yesterday: For whatever reason TiVo only recorded the first 55 minutes of Eureka last night. Usually this means someone messed up a clock somewhere. As my television is beyond reproach -- and my TiVo is controlled by tiny impish men who like to play tricks on me but respect the virtues of the 60 minute clock. Since I'm tied into the Naval Atomic Observatory and various satellite uplinks the only remaining option is to blame the SciFi channel.

I showed them. I watched the last segment on their website this morning.

An OK episode, fun and all, but not the sneaky bit of drama they occasionally aim for. Next week's looks promising however.

This is interesting. It seems that the UAB Hospital System enjoyed the opening sequence of an HBO miniseries so much they borrowed the template. Here's a UAB spot and, in case it has been a while, here's the opening credits to Band of Brothers.

More Olympics. Just can't get enough it seems. Love the competition, but I've reached the same conclusion as Paul Firhi:
yes, the pictures are gorgeous, from the steadicam flyovers of the Great Wall (all hail HD!) to the underwater shots at the swimming arena. But the journalist and human being in me isn't quite so amused. It's what NBC hasn't, and probably won't, show that gives me pause.

Political protests? Not on this channel; no sir. Beijing's fearful pollution? Maybe, but only if a marathoner coughs up a lung or it spoils a beauty shot. Doping scandals? In passing, perhaps. Tibet? China's role in Darfur? Now, wait just a second. . . The aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake? Why be unreasonable. . . Tiananmen? Mao's barbarities? No, and hell no.

Okay, that's not what the Olympics are about. The Olympics are basically a big international sports festival and global media event attached to a massive corporate marketing opportunity. I've got no problem with that. But they're not not about those other things, either. Especially these Olympics, which are freighted with as much political baggage and extracurricular significance as any Olympiad since Moscow in 1980 -- whether NBC wants to own up to it or not.
The Olympics is a great postcard, a beautiful valentine in particular for one with such a talented and graceful people as the Chinese. That the other side of the coin is being ignored here is going to make for a compelling story after the Games are completed.

And aside from China itself, there doesn't seem to be any mention of international extracurriculars either. No Iraq, Afghanistan or even the newest developments from Russia, Georgia and the growing Eastern European worries.

Auburn's Cesar Cielo, of Brazil, won a bronze tonight and he'll be swimming for more later in the week. Tomorrow a dozen Auburn swimmers will be in the pool, which will be colored the appropriate shades of orange and blue (and it won't be CGI) ...

I don't know about you, but I consider the games by the year and the host city, so these would be the Beijing Games or we might discuss Atlanta 1996. I've never paid attention to the Roman numerals until this evening when I noted that these are the 29th Games. London will be the 30th. Chicago hopes to land the 31st Games for 2016. Birmingham's Mayor Larry Langford has his ambitious eye on applying for the 32nd Games, yes, Birmingham will have Perfect Vision in 2020.

Most people rightly scoff at the idea but tonight I realized that Vulcan's weight is perfectly divisible by 32. It is further no coincidence that Vulcan is the Roman god of the forge and that the Olympics are marked with Roman numerals.

Do not trouble yourself with the idea that Rome is also on the list of hopefuls for the 2020 Games. For one thing their Colosseum is in even greater disrepair than Birmingham's Legion Field. And Romans, historically, were more into gladiators than the Olympics.

Maybe we can syndicate the rights to American Gladiators and take the 2020 Games for Birmingham and everyone will be happy.

One big problem with having the Games here now is that Coach Pepper won't be there to run the public address system. The Birmingham News' Solomon Crenshaw wrote a touching column on Simpson Pepper's passing:

The sound reverberated through the structure and touched your very being. You knew you were someplace special. And if you heard your name called over the public address system, you knew you were someone special.

And that's exactly what Simpson Pepper wanted you to know.


Robert "Smoke" King, Mr. Pepper's longtime spotter, told us Sunday that one of Mr. Pepper's greatest moments came when he shook hands with Alabama native and track and field legend Jesse Owens.

"He was proud to be an American on that day," King said, "because Hitler refused to shake hands with Jesse Owens."
That was Simpson Pepper. Local sports won't sound the same without him.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yesterday was the catch-up day and the readjustment day. Today was any regular Tuesday which is your Friday.

I'm working this upcoming weekend so Wednesday and Thursday are my Saturday and Sunday. Anyone need a flow chart to follow along? No? Could you provide one for me?

Oh there's a lot of Olympics, we're all being shuttled back and forth between the pool and the gymnasium and I'd much rather see the swimming and the outdoor sports at this point. Michael Phelps, just another day in the water. Basketball is cruising along. Baseball is beginning and Cuba looms large as it ever does on the diamond. (The new tiebreaker is reason enough to get ready of this as an Olympic competition. I will protest this no longer.) Softball is set to begin and so on. Next weekend the track events start. Couldn't be happier about that.

Tonight I caught up on last week's Eureka and am about to go watch tonight's episode on the TiVo as well. Last week's was great, and they are playing out a few interesting little story arcs to keep one of the cutest summer shows around full of life. Though this week's show was supposed to be about dogs, which makes one wonder.

It is pushing midnight and I'm wide awake. Fortunately I don't have to be anywhere in the morning. My night, though, has been spent putting together photos and audio from the architectural tour we took in Chicago last week. I turned on a Flip camera and let it record the sky and the boat deck while the tour guide talked about the buildings. I shot photographs of everything have been putting the two together to make a bulk addition to the site.

If you'll go over to the audio/video page you'll see new links for the huge Sears Tower, the new Trump project, the beautiful Wrigley Tower and more.

A whole lot more ... 15 in all. And that's not counting the rubber ducky sidebar video which has, tragically, been lost. But you know the story. Buy a duck for five bucks, the money goes to Special Olympics and then they race your duck down the river. Fastest floating rubber ducky wins prizes for its sponsor. Provided the ducky passes a doping test. The Ducky Federation Internationale is very precise about these sorts of things after the 1908 Helsinki incident, and I think we all recall how that turned out.

So that's a lot, but a little all at the same time and now I'll -- we interrupt this stream of consciousness for an email ...

Cari Kates, my old radio friend writes a bulk email to let us all know that she's no longer in Birmingham but in ... California?

Wow. Seems she got discovered by a talent scout and things worked out to allow her to make a big move out west. Yet another legend in the making we can point to from way back when.

I worked with Cari when I first moved back to Birmingham after college. She was a DJ waiting for her break and it came along soon enough. I was a reporter waiting for my break and it came along about that same time. She's done some really nice work in the market and it is sad to see her go, but we all move to grow, as one boss famously said to his many employees.

And then all the employees nodded, thought about it and left. This put the boss in a bind for a short while, but then he was able to brag about how he's sending people up and out to great big opportunities.

I suppose all of that has happened somewhere, at some point. I'm just guessing.

There's two things I do know for certain here: There's a lot of that change stuff going around and Cari is going to be great in California. I'll have to listen in somewhere in the next few days and see how she's doing.

One other change that's coming: One of the local radio stations is about to slide into their new format this week. I've been told some not-exactly insider information on the arrangements. Some of it is still shrouded in mystery. Radio people love their mysteries. Despite being fully in love with the satellite radio I'll try to give it a listen when the change comes. If only because this station has (soon to be even more) tenuous ties to historic call letters.

But that's on Friday -- the real Friday. Not today, which is my fake Friday.

On my fake weekend? Yard work and research. If you had a fake weekend installed in the middle of your week I know you'd find equally exciting things to do with your time. Make your weekend plans now or you might be invited over to my place for hedge trimming duties.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I've long advocated a mandatory two day buffer for big trips. One day would be spent the day before your trip so that you could leisurely get all of your ducks in a row. The other would be spent at the end of your trip, recuperating, before you head back to work. These days would be guaranteed, but you could only use them for this purpose, or the Vacation Police will swoop in and drag you back to work.

And now I'd like to add another rule. Someone in your office will cope with your Email while you are gone. There's no need for the first three days of your welcome back to be spent apologizing for the delayed reply on something that had to be addressed RIGHT NOW four days ago.

When I rise to power it will be a wonderful and benevolent place. The people will love me, all the downtime for daydreaming and cloud-staring will be impossible to resist.

So I spent the first half of the day filing through Email and remembering where everything was on the work computer and updating files on the site and generally trying to be useful. The rest of the day I spent wondering how I could implement that buffer day plan.

It is a solid campaign plank.

All evening there was catching up on a week's worth of reading. Trips are great, but they sometimes turn into a media blackout which is painful for the news junkies in your life. I'll never be up-to-date on all the Beijing controversies or the goings on in Russia and Georgia now. Never! Much sleep will be lost over this. How am I to cope?

In between all of that I went to the gym and ran a mile-and-a-half. As a whole it was a disappointing run, but I hope to break the two miles of pain and torture and fun by the weekend. Mostly because I'm now running while watching the Olympians and that makes your pesky little treadmill trouble seem very insignificant, doesn't it?

Doesn't it?

I couldn't hear the answer over my gasping and wheezing for breath.

In other news I've become reacquainted with the weights, and I'm realizing I actually enjoy them which is a first ever for me.

I find myself watching a lot of the Olympics this time around. I'm waiting on some Chinese blowback, but that's not going to happen from NBC. The performances themselves have been terrific, especially in the pool. Makes you look forward to the track next week.

I'm looking forward to Wednesday and Thursday. Those are my next off days. I'm working the upcoming weekend, so the mid-week will be my days of rest.

And your week? How's that shaping up?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back home again, exhausted but wired. One of the more unusual feelings the human body can offer: Must alertly do every*yawn*thing! So sleepy ... the mind won't settle down ...

Again, this is the only thing I can complain about; life is beyond grand.

Had breakfast with the best hosts in the midwest at a place called Orange. It is a brunch restaurant. I had the pancakes and the omelette because we skipped dinner the night before. The menu did not disappoint.

They also serve fruitshi for the discerning yuppie.

The flight home was easy. We took off a bit late, and from a different gate, but we arrived early.

Apparently the dangerous liquid rules have been modified once again. No longer is it four ounces or three, but 3.4 ounces. It is the inconsistency of the rules that keeps us safe.

In Birmingham the baggage was delivered with speed. The car ride home was uneventful. The house itself was just as I left it.

And now the evening is filled with laundry and the Olympics, where the vignettes have been written with poor grammar and we can't get enough of swimmers, Auburn swimmers, Michael Phelps and the gymnasts.

Also President Bush is on NBC with Bob Costas. Not to parse the interview -- others will and my effort is not needed here -- but note how Mao is perched ever so careful over his right shoulder. Who didn't notice this and insist his seat was moved 18 inches? Someone's going to realize their error when they get back to D.C. and read the memos now sailing around the White House.

Meanwhile, if you're into broadcast industry news, here's an interesting read on the NBC coverage of the Olympic Games and how they hope to remake the revenue model on the basis of these games.

Best race ever? If you stayed up long enough you watched the Americans overtake the French in improbable fashion. You don't have to know anything about swimming to get wrapped up in that. Rowdy Gaines, an Auburn man, is the color announcer there. Whenever the fastest swimmer on the planet starts screaming you know you're seeing something monumental, and that's the race that'll encapsulate these Olympic Games.

And that's it for now. Back to work in the morning, so it is beyond bedtime. In the next few days I'll add some of the architecture tour highlights to round out the Chicago trip. In the meantime, be sure to visit the photo gallery.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I am now a Guitar Hero. It only took last night's practice and this morning's perfection -- and also the easy setting. It was rock I hoped for, and rock I do. Except for the Poison song. The fans get frustrated with me at 96 percent without fail.

So, for all your three plastic button guitar needs ... call someone else because, really, I've reached the pinnacle of my powers.

Slept in this morning. And that was much needed. This has been a great week, a busy, great, exhausting week. I feel much better today, but I'm tired of walking. I think we all are. Our Friend Andrew estimated that he's walked five miles on the day, and about 15 on the week. That keeps you from griping, but I've been carrying around my backpack full of cameras all week.

For you. I've been doing it for you. You're getting pictures and video and I do it without complaint. This doesn't count as complaint.

After a light breakfast we set out again for Millennium Park. Yesterday we only saw The Bean and today we were exploring a bit more. Including The Bean once again.

Not far away we met this guy who was giving out free hugs. I did a quick interview with him and you might be surprised at what he had to say. Check it out.

We walked across the BP Bridge, designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, to go from Millennium Park to Bicentennial Park.

Note that swirl of aluminum in the background, that's the Pritzker Pavilion, also designed by Gehry. It has a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art sound system that brings an indoor acoustical sound into an outdoor setting and it is convincing from a distance.

All parks, indeed all venues, should have great speakers with music selections designed to augment the conditions of the moment. Raining? Here's the right aria. Brilliant skies? I've got the symphonic movement for you. Think of how many underemployed musicians we could put to work picking out just the right soundtrack. Forever thereafter, that brilliant day in Chicago would come to mind whenever you heard Chopin or ragtime blues or Sinatra or whatever.

But I digress.

We met Andrew on the bridge and then turned toward Navy Pier, waiting out a brief rain along the way. There's a huge Ferris Wheel climbing 150-feet into the air. They say it takes seven minutes to complete a circle, which is impressive considering the ride never stops. Also, for Ferris Wheel purists, this ride sits just off the location of the World's Fair display of the first Ferris Wheel.

You stand in the short line and climb on for the views of lakefront Chicago. Here's hosts Diana and Brian, again two of the sweetest people you could meet, on the Ferris Wheel.

Also there are the fan-favorite fair swings. Everybody loves the swings, The Yankee takes a spin, as does Brian.

There's also a three-minute video of the swings, which shows a bit of Andrew and the very excited young man ahead of him. The music is Ralph Vaughn Williams' The Lark Ascending.

After the rides we wondered down the pier, a big tourist trap, but we found a place with Chicago Dogs. All agreed, even the experts, that this place got it right. Celery salt, poppyseed buns, the proper slice of pickle and everything. Delicious stuff. We ate and then sat down under a weary sun and listened to a cover band for a while. The band was OK, but we were just happy to sit and enjoy the scenery. The whole week has been fairly busy and, after a few moments, even the sitting felt guilty.

So we wandered over to the other side of the pier and met police officers. They were working security at a cancer fundraiser and told us an off-color joke or two before asking where we were from and why we were in town.

The convention.

"The Wig Convention?"

No, the Association for Education in Journalism ...

Which was the exact moment he froze. Talking to a handful of recovering and working journalists gives one pause, but soon we were all exchanging great cop stories.

And then the sun slipped behind the buildings. We caught a bus to the train, and then the train to Brian and Diana's condo. We played Wii late into the night, skipping dinner in favor of shooting and bowling and golf and tennis.

I'm terrible at all of these, so it is clear that I need a Wii.

When we gave up on Wii there was Olympic coverage and, finally time for bed.

Tomorrow is the flight home. Hopefully it will be less adventurous than the trip up. The visit has been great, the hosts even better, but I am ready for my own bed.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More conference stuff today, my last day in attendance. The Yankee and Our Friend Andrew presented a paper this morning. I took in a few panels today, one disappointing, one very good; the best I've watched this week.

The discussion was to be about teaching student journalists how to blog, but, as these things often do, the subject changed to teaching student journalists how to write satire, how to write provocative things without being a provocateur and so on.

The conference continues tomorrow, but I'll be a tourist, thanks.

As if I haven't been tourist all week. As if I wasn't a tourist today. This afternoon The Yankee and I bought tickets for the architectural boat tour. While waiting for the start time we walked up to nearby Millennium Park to see The Bean. Admittedly I wasn't sold on the idea, but seeing it in person is far better than seeing it online

The Smurfit-Stone building is one of the few that can be captured both in real life and in The Bean's reflection. Here's a (mostly) vacant reflection.

Apparently if you look up into The Bean like this you feel like you're falling. This little girl loved it. What do those reflections from above look like?

Here I'm standing under the exact center of The Bean. The contours give me at least four reflections, including the clean one right in the center.

The architectural tour, by the way, is terrific. The boat takes you up the Chicago River and down through the lock and out to Lake Michigan for a peacefully stirring view of the city's skyline. We picked absolutely the right day for it: bright blue skies, big fluffy clouds, a light breeze and low 70s.

Lots of pictures, and some audio, from the tour, but that's a treat for next week.

When the conference ended this evening the weekend began. Had dinner with Our Friends Diana and Brian, who are kind enough to host for the week. They're about the nicest people you could hope to meet. They're also making me reconsider my hosting abilities, and by way of complimenting them for their generosity I will now apologize to everyone who's visited me. I'm sorry for my shortcomings and I'll try to do better.

If they'd put a mint on the pillow I wouldn't have been surprised. I got turn-down service as it was.

Anyway, we dined at Streetside Grill where the quesadillas are flavorful and the turkey burgers are quality. The neighboring tables are very witty, and blessed with high intensity olfactory powers. "Is that cucumber?"

Why are you smelling our food from a table away?

Played some Wii for the first time. Shot up bad guys with Brian in Ghost Squad and then failed miserably at Guitar Hero. I'll be better tomorrow.

Finally, as estimated yesterday, I finished Tim Egan's Worst Hard Time. The book covers the people who stayed in the Texas panhandle and in western Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. Egan does a terrific job of filling a narrative. He's certainly immersed himself in the research and found a large group of people who lived it.

And he can almost make you live it too. Probably the only shortcoming of the book is that his subject is so tactile you can't really get a sense of the crushing wait of dust and dirt. You'd almost have to feel it, watch it sneaking into your homes and cough it up from your lungs to empathize properly. That's a shortcoming of the medium not able to answer the challenge, not the author. Egan labors mightily at putting you in the scene and his efforts give you a gripping story.

Circumstances came together to give a perfect recipe for grief and misery. You've got the ramifications of over-farming, the Great Depression, drought and basically the pitiless earth conspiring against the people. And now, 70 years on, the only thing I wonder about here is how much that tale has grown. The Dust Bowl was no picnic, but seven decades can add a bit of largess here and there. If you read it you might reach a point where you mentally brace yourself against the elements just before opening the door to go outside. That makes for a successful tale here.

This might be the most disjointed post here in some time, but it has been a long week and I've felt exhausted throughout. I'm sleeping in a bit tomorrow (oh, beautiful 8 a.m.) so it'll be better. You'll see.

Hope you've lined up a great weekend! Can't wait for mine!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A big, full day of heaping mounds of conference panels. Professors and a few students talking on about their research. It is all very interesting, but inevitably it turns into a thesis and statistics.

Called a cab for the morning, but the cab did not appear. Strolled to the bus stop, vainly waved at a few cabs -- they're always going the wrong direction -- and then finally hiked to the subway. Got on the proper train and then got off, walked a bit and hailed a cab for the last bit of the trip.

This morning I watched presentations on newspaper multimedia practices. Researchers the past two years or so have finally started embracing the inevitable, but there is still some skepticism. These days it seems to be couched in a concern for higher quality content. This is a concern across the industry, and an even bigger challenge now that the ranks of editors are being thinned.

One researcher here, who attempted to survey every paper in the country, found that papers weren't really changing that much. (I paraphrase.) But then he pointed out that the vast majority of papers are now shooting video, and a large number of papers have staffers with video as their sole job. So, in fact, they are changing. Blog credibility, content analysis of multimedia packages and television-newspaper partnerships were also discussed. Somehow the Tampa Model became a whipping boy in the talk, but one could say there was a sour grape or two in that chat.

I watched a larger panel discussion on "teaching in the age of entitlement" that feature a few cynical professors on the modern student and helicopter parents. Interestingly enough all of the blame is being placed on the kids and none on the parents, despite at least two of the panelists fitting the entitlement bill themselves. These are probably the exact things they said about Gen Xers and the group before that and the baby boomers before that. Nothing new here, move along.

There was a panel on the 1968 Democratic Convention held here in Chicago, but it's "impact on American institutions and individuals" has been done to death.

There was what the program called a "high density panel" which consisted of 10 paper presentations rather than the usual four. Most of these topics covered blogs or Korea and went faster because the researchers had to present their findings in a much more concise manner. Later we discovered that the panel's organizers were disappointed with how that turned out.

For lunch The Yankee and Our Friend Andrew decided to try a nearby hot dog stand, but the place had closed. A cabbie drove us to another place, which was good, but Andrew condescended because they weren't true Chicago Dogs. We'll try again later in the week.

Took in a student media panel in the afternoon. There was discussion on corrections, a radio station case study and talk of students' use of new media. The conversation after the presentations was very good, and I made two new friends out of the session. Caught part of another panel on trade publications and then filled in the rest of my evening with a little quiet reading. I'll probably finish Timothy Egan's Worst Hard Timetomorrow. If you enjoy literary journalism you might like to look into it.

This evening a small group of Alabama people visited the nearby Pizzeria Uno. The place has been around since 1943, serves up the ideal Chicago-style pizza and is a must-visit restaurant. Four of us dined on the crowded little patio, watching the world walk by.

Here, though, is a look inside Pizzeria Uno. Just go there. The ordering is odd -- you put in your pizza selection and then wait to be seated with the hopes that you'll sit as your food arrives. This doesn't pan out. The wait is significant, but the pizza is delicious.

Tomorrow an architectural tour of Chicago. That should be a lot of fun. Until then, check out more photos from the trip.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The conference begins in earnest today. Earnest always gets the worst of this. No other name from our antiquity is used in such a thorough (Get it? Hah!) way.

These are 13- and 14-hour days, but they aren't all full of work. There's a lot of fun to be had on this trip, which is what we'll concentrate on here.

I'm staying with friends in Chicago, but they aren't downtown, so the commute requires a small amount of effort. Caught an early bus to the train station, hopped on a train to go the last bit of the trip and then realized this is the wrong train.

Chicago color-codes their trains for just such an event. Somehow I confused brown and red. It was early in the morning, that will be my excuse.

Took the closest stop possible and walked the rest of the way. Walked right past the hotel where the conference is being held.

"How come you aren't staying there?" you ask. It is expensive and I am poor.

"How did you manage to miss the skyscraper you were walking toward?" you ask. See the early-morning excuse above.

The conference got underway with a breakfast and a few sessions. I won't trouble you with the details here -- but if you really must know, send me an Email. At mid-day The Yankee and I skipped out to go see the Cubs host the Houston Astros. This is my first trip to Wrigley and I've been very excited about the experience.

The home team did not disappoint.

Aramis Ramirez walked, got a hit and scored two runs. Alfonso Soriano went 2-5, drove in three runs and scored once. Carlos DeRosa turned this pitch into a grand slam, the first I've witnessed in a major league park.

Jason Marquis pitched six-plus innings and took the win drubbing. Brandon Backe allowed all 11 runs on nine hits and six walks in just three-plus innings and suffered the loss.

Great game, 11-4 Cubs.

And, of course, there's always the seventh inning stretch video.

Another video? Sure. Here's a musician we met while waiting for the train. That guy was good.

There were more panels and meetings in the afternoon, and on into the evening. Took a cab back to the hosts. More on them soon, but now it is time for rest after a long, terrific, exhausting day.

As always, there are more pics from the day in the August photo gallery.

Tomorrow is another early morning which will turn into a day full of conference panels. Good stuff if you enjoy it and, when the topics are right, I do. Not bad for a conference that technically isn't even mine.

Hope your tomorrow is a great one!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Last night was late, after a busted trip to the airport. This morning was early.


But, it was a successful trip to the airport. And a long day thereafter.

Got on the plane, flew to Dallas -- last night's trip was to be a direct flight. Boarded the new plane in Dallas and then took part in that neat trick where we pushed away from the terminal and then waited for half an hour.

So the pilot shut the plane down.

In August.

In Dallas.

A few moments later the flight attendant announced that the pilot had been made aware of the temperature, which was an interesting nod to their own separate cockpit environmental systems.

So he turned the plane on again, which is good. Because we were otherwise a big aluminum tube sitting on asphalt.

In August.

In Dallas.

So we got off the ground late. We were re-routed in the air. We landed late. Another plane was docked at our gate so we had to wait. These are the trials of the modern air traveler it would seem.

Also, the flight attendant was reading Tolstoy. She could have read the whole book during my trip. What was to be a three hour direct flight turned into a 20 hour adventure.

After a cab ride from O'Hare we dropped off the luggage at the conference's hotel and took another cab to the first panel of the week at the Chicago College of Journalism, arriving a bit late. Fortunately we didn't miss much. The topics ranged from citizen journalism, hyperlocal web sites and "what blogging did for me."

That was an interesting, if personally anecdotal panel. It reminds you of those diet commercials with the disclaimer "Results atypical."

Leonard Witt, Mindy McAdams, Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis were among the evening's panelists. They are all some of the more thoughtful bloggers of the journalism genre (and great reads if this is a topic that interests you).

Jarvis is actually a former boss. He was once the president of Advance Internet, and so on up the corporate chain from I'd hoped to see him this evening, but unfortunately he was calling in from New York.

And no, I won't write bios for everyone at every panel I attend this week. Odds are good though that one of those four will Google themselves and find themselves here. (Hi Jay!)

They're encouraging journalism and mass communication professors to start blogging, singing the praises of training future journalists these many skills for a brave new world.

These panels are great, but I'm not in the intended audience having been at for so long. The panel offered a glimpse at the Columbia College of Journalism's convergence newsroom.

They've built a very nice place, an attractive television studio in the middle of it all. I'd anticipated more computers for students to use, but there are probably eight different ways to grab a WiFi signal in there, so surely no one is left out.

After the last of the panels we took a cab out to Our Friends Diane and Brian. They're about as nice a set of people as you could hope to meet, and even grilled up a delicious burger and a hot dog when the luggage got settled. Now I'm fighting the urge to crash.


More conference fun tomorrow. Hope you're doing something fun too.

Whatever it is it won't be as cool as this: We're going to the Cubs' game.

There are many more photos from the day, of course, now available in the August photo gallery.

Monday, August 4, 2008

After work -- and lunch with Mom and Brian -- there was a dash home to get ready to leave again.

The airport was the main setting for the day. The Yankee and I are heading to a conference of mass communications researchers and journalist types in Chicago. We should be there, but I'm writing this from Birmingham.

We made it to the airport with no trouble, met one of the faculty from the University of Alabama who's also making the trip. Boarded the plane. Sat there for half an hour waiting on storms in Chicago to pass. We were told to get off the plane. There were big storms moving in over Chicago. Tornadoes even. We had calm skies here.

The ground crew, when asked, said there would be no pre-boarding procedures when the go-ahead came along. "You get on the plane and we go."

We watched a beautiful evening pass. After a few more hours of sitting in the airport -- chatting about the Olympics, reading Egan's Worst Hard Time, talking to my step-brother on the phone and watching the sun melt into the hills -- they canceled the flight.

I got the bags -- mine, the professor's and The Yankee's -- from baggage claim. New arrangements were made for tomorrow. The professor, meanwhile, came equipped with a lot of luggage, a huge poster and a bad back.

So I carried her luggage from the airport out to the parking deck. Where it was dark. And humid. And very still. With no air moving through the air and the car exhausts not escaping it was fairly miserable out. In other news, it is August. And hot.

So now I'm soaked. And, at 10 pm, I left the airport, five hours after arriving. We'll try all of this again in the morning.

On the other hand, while waiting for the flight that wasn't I met a gentleman who missed his flight and another family who'd been trying to fly out of the city for a day.

I'm going to get to sleep in my own bed tonight. I'll wake up at about the same time I usually do. I won't miss anything from the conference -- or the fun parts of the week either. I can remove one day's worth of clothes from the suitcase. This is working out just fine.

Tomorrow I'll be in Chicago, taking in a panel session from the convergence newsroom of Columbia College. Should be fun. I'll let you know of course. Meanwhile, let me know what you're doing, and that your Monday plans didn't turn into Tuesday plans. But, if they did, hopefully they're still turning out fine, just like mine.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another day at the office. A warm day, so it is just as well. I could be at home looking out the window thinking Sure is beautiful, I should go outside. Wow it is hot out here. Back inside it is.

At work, though, there's excuse enough to stay indoors.

So I climbed up on the roof.

I've shown you this before, but here's a ghost sign on our office building. The Martin Biscuit Company moved to this site 80 years ago in an expansion. The part of the building on which I'm standing is the new part, now 50 years old. The ad is hidden from the road because of the Biscuit Building annex. Aside from roofers, the occasional maintenance worker and the air conditioning guys (and we call them every two weeks it seems) no one has seen this paint in half a century.

There are three stairwells in the building. One of them has a skylight. I often look up through the glass when I'm hiking up the stairs, but I'm not sure what reaction I'd have if someone was looking through the skylight waving.

We have a lot of these pipes on the roof. They provide water to the air conditioning system. Apparently they are never the problem with the often-broken units; the pipes are never replaced. There is always work being done above our heads. It'll probably happen in the next two or three weeks.

After work there was shoe shopping. This weekend is the sales tax holiday for back to school shoppers, a weekend for all of us to enjoy the simple satisfaction of escaping paying The Man. Gas prices are free of any such tax holiday and the government got theirs from me in that department. The problem with having big feet is that your options are limited, meaning many store visits.

First there was DSW, which had little to nothing in the way of running shoes for my size. The three pairs they displayed were either obnoxious or obnoxiously priced. Same story at Dick's Sporting Goods, where all of the running shoes would run you three-digits, easy. Next door the shoe store was closed -- this is a big sale weekend, why they were shuttered is a mystery.

Finally I visited the outlets where I found a pair of New Balance sneakers that might be running shoes. The city tax has been canceled for the weekend. One of the county taxes has also been removed. The other is still in place. Not that you can blame them. If you were on the daily verge of declaring bankruptcy -- super sewer, how you vex us so -- you'd take as much money as you could get too.

And now my feet hurt. These are in older shoes, and that might be why, but ouch. In other news it is August, and ridiculously hot.

Tonight there's been laundry, putting away about two baskets into the various drawers and closets of life. Later tonight I'll pull them some of them out again to pack into the suitcases of life. There's a trip coming, more on that tomorrow. For tonight, though, Mom (and Coco! is coming for a short visit ... no, wait, she's now here.Better go visit.

Hope you're looking to the start of a great week. I am, but we'll get into that tomorrow.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

At work this morning, normal time, normal alarm clock and my sense of the week is such that I didn't notice any of this was different until other people didn't show up at the normal times.

Some people might grouse at the weekend work, but I think we all secretly like it in our office. Flextime means an upcoming four day weekend whenever it happens. The day moves at a special pace. It is quiet. Little happens.

Two interns were in the office to entertain today, but otherwise the day went peacefully.

Really getting up that early is the only complaint. Just means I'll go to bed earlier tonight, to do it all once again tomorrow.

Hit the gym, jogged a short bit and then made the mistake to glance at the clock. So I sprinted through the bulk of a mile. If I could just get the time under that arbitrary distinction it will feel all the more impressive.

No one was watching. In all of the gym there were two other people. Even the on-duty attendant left, bored with her quiet roll. So I ran the mile-and-a-quarter, walked a bit and then realized I really need new shoes, because these are now hurting my feet.

Did some crunches, leg presses, hips, back and something that was derivative of the Spanish Inquisition. The room that was, moments ago, almost chilly, was now oppressive to the suddenly sweaty.

In other news it is August. And hot. Stagnant moist air, that's what we have to look forward to. I've grown to dislike September even more, because it is the same. The calendar changes, but little else.

So this evening I mowed the lawn around 6 p.m. because the sun finally turned away its face. After working out for an hour and then mowing a dusty lawn for an hour you really would like a shower, and now please.

How dry is it just now? On the way out to retrieve the lawnmower from the storage shed I ran across a red velvet ant. I had no idea what it was at the time. But I had an entomology class in college and, having stared at the ground here for two decades, I have a strict kill-the-unfamiliar policy.

So I turned the Google machines onto them. "Cow killers" they're called. They aren't ants, but rather wingless wasps. And their sting is many orders of magnitude more painful. It was bright red, which is why it caught my notice. When you antagnoize them they scream. Another reason to kill it.

Anyway, these things live in the desert, but suddenly they are in the deciduous southeast.

Storms blew in after that, so the steak cooked up nicely in the oven rather than the grill, which is of course the desired practice. Now's the time to simply settle in for another day at the office. Nice work if you can get it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August began like this ...

The phone rang at 2:56, which was important enough to make a note of it. Potentially good news was on the other end of the line. You can't let that call ring through because it'll fill up your voicemail.

So I answered it, and was presented with good news. More will be shared at a later date.

Then I spoke with a friend in North Carolina, until we got disconnected. As her return call said she was in a store at the moment and couldn't just dash out because that would have been shoplifting which, apparently, is not a good thing in North Carolina either.

After that I dropped off a few things, met with some folks, took a tour and generally had a beautiful beginning to August. In related news, it is very hot out.

Then I spoke with family, and some more family, and finally Jeremy Henderson, an Auburn blogger friend.

At which point I offered him the gravest insult, plagiarizing him to his face. I borrow one of his excellent lines at which we both laughed, and then realized, simultaneously, what I had done.

All was forgiven.

All of these phone calls kept me from the gym, which is just as well since my feet hurt. So I'll go tomorrow, when they'll hurt less, and the balance of the world will be righted.

They led up nicely to Pie Day, where five of us gathered in the pursuit of barbeque and lemon ice box pie, which was good unto us, verily so.

In the background was a television broadcasting the X-Games, which is the perfect concept for a package of highlights. There are only so many flipping BMX bikes one needs, but show me the really good one and the uncomfortable looking crash. I trust that you'll give us the good one, dear ESPN producer who hasn't seen the sun in 18 months, just show me the good stuff, and put on some baseball. It'll be fine, really.

Tonight is an early night because tomorrow is an early morning because I'll be working. My whole sense of the week is already off and it'll only get worse. But that's the worst of life, and so I have it made, because even that will get better. A promising beginning to the month indeed.

Meanwhile, hope your weekend is a great one! Come back tomorrow for more tales of work and the Saturday that sorta is.