Kenny Smith | blog

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ahh, Hallow's Eve. That day of sudden commercial importance. The one for which we've seen advertisements since the back to school sales ended.

Remember when this was about costumes and candy? It seems there's less of that anymore, as if this is geared toward the whimsy of adults. There are less kids in neighborhood, which is fine, most are getting to a questionable age for costumes and means less threat of trickery.

Of course trickery and outgrowing the costumes is probably directly related, so it is probably for the best to turn the ninjas and the gators out on the grounds this evening.

I've seen two common monsters, a very elaborate pimp, a spooky minor, the grim reaper, Beach Claus and several adorable princesses. Twix and Reese's Cups and the emergency hard candy paid my tribute and ensured my protection.

Beautiful evening for it. The temperature slipped quickly with the sun's absence, but it didn't dive far. Everyone had the opportunity for a comfortable night in their bulky costumes, make up and rubber masks.

Some parts of the state "allowed" trick or treating last night so as not to interfere with high school football. The concept of it being allowed struck me as the most odd part of that -- so accustomed are we to the unifying fabric of football that part didn't seem suspect at all. That local governments come together consider this, perhaps pander and posture and then "allow" it is another significant sign that the adults are peering too much into the kids' games.

Remember when you were little? Your parents visible job on Halloween consisted of three parts: making sure your costume was a go, keeping you from getting run over in your sugary zeal and making sure half of the candy disappeared, unseen and forgotten, overnight.

Two years from now we'll have the Halloween pagan-holiday-on-a-Sunday conversation. Many of us don't recall the pagan teachings with which we were indoctrinated while wearing our pumpkin, C3PO and pirate outfits of youth. Apparently there's been some sort of pagan awareness campaign instituted in the last few years that terrifies the grown ups.

Maybe there was this conversation when we were children. Remember when this was the day of focus and hope from Memorial Day on in? Halloween got you through October, and then you had to hold out until Thanksgiving -- a grim concept made easier only with the balmy of carefully rationed fun sized candies. Maybe our parents fretted over Friday and Sunday trick or treating too, but we were the ones truly focused: Give us the candy, or we'll soap your windows.

The silliest thing about this day, to me, has always been how it flaunted the rules. Don't accept candy from strangers! Unless you're dressed up nicely and they compliment you. Or unless you go to their door and they try to take photographs of you. Or unless they try to scare you because it struck them as impulsive and funny to bring a six-year-old to tears. If it meets any of those conditions, you are able to take the candy from the strangers. But only on this day. Circle it on your calendar and stare at it.

The newest aberration is the Fair Trade trick or treat. Get any of these this year? An interesting idea in theory at least, if not in practice. Children are being organized to give you some candy as part of a fair trade, globalization campaign:
In partnership with ten other nonprofit organizations and three fair trade chocolate companies, Global Exchange, a San Francisco–based human rights organization, has distributed reverse trick-or-treat kits across the United States and Canada. In addition to getting a little chocolate of their own, participating children will hand out samples of fair trade chocolate and a card describing the poverty, child labor, and environmental problems associated with the mainstream chocolate industry.
"Gee, mister, thanks for the chocolate. Did you know that people were starving and working in sweat shops making a candy bar just like the one you've given me? Thanks for perpetuating a cyclical economy dooming a generation of the world's youth to a life of abject misery and tons of chocolate they can't eat, because it has to go in a fun size wrapper..."

Let me know how this message sticks for children with a bag full of fresh goods from their neighbors.

And, if you have any extras, bring me a popcorn ball. That's the treat I really miss.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The best part of my day was when a student asked me to give her resume a quick look. She "could take it downstairs to the career services people, but ... "

I'm happy to do it. The career services folks are no doubt very good at what they do, but we've all realized by now that the resume stuff, aside from a small handful of rules, is largely subjective.

So I copy edited it. I gave her lots of tips about customization, brevity, empirical data and so on. All of this is usable if you like, I said, or ignorable just as easily. Take from it what suits you. It is an extremely subjective industry, this resume business.

This was the best part of my day because she's an awesome student. She's involved with everything, an athlete, very smart, very well intentioned, works extremely hard and has the most amazing energy level. Seriously, you'd be exhausted reading that resume.

It put me in mind though, he said settling in for a long personal tale that doesn't really go very far or illustrate much of anything, of every time I've asked someone to give my resume a critique. The first professional resume I wrote, which is to say a piece of paper that actually reflected some professional experience, was edited by one of my journalism professors.

He taught me the value of bullet points in a resume. The next mentor coached me on brevity. Still another wise individual -- who coached people in their careers professionally, but happened to be a friend -- told me all about incorporating numerical data points whenever possible.

Most recently, earlier this year, a friend of The Yankee's gave me input on the resume and cover letter, which is where I learned the tedious joy of crafting the document to the needs of the moment. I'm fortunate in this respect because my career has a bit of everything, so I can lean on any medium to demonstrate experience or successes. That's the part, and an extensive rewrite of my cover letter, that got me noticed at Samford.

And, no, I don't pad my resume. The day you do will be the day you're confronted on it by an otherwise interested employer. If I couldn't get the job on my own merits then it would have obviously been a bad fit for all parties involved.

The best part of the resume reading this afternoon was the little tidbit of advice I picked up somewhere along the way about how you, as the job seeker, are the solution to the employer's problem. They aren't there to serve you, you're there to help them.

I've given this little spiel in a few classroom settings and the eyes really light up. It is one of those basic little truths that few of us are lucky enough to realize on our own, but it makes perfect sense.

The student today, I hope I gave her good advice. The chance to do that alone was worth the morning drive. When I interviewed for this job I waxed poetic about how nice it would be to have an indirect influence and so on and so forth. One of the committee members nodded his head, "Greatest job in the world." I'm so proud that we shared that opinion.

The scenery is nice too. Here's a tree determined not to fade away into winter. Better to burn out. Just down the hill is Divinity Hall and Hodges Chapel bathed in a orange sunset.

A different view of the same building is on the front page of my site right now. It has been up for a while, comparatively speaking. Just can't remove it; it looks too pretty. I'm just waiting for the proper opportunity to replace it with something equally gorgeous. I have an idea, but timing is most of everything when it happens occasionally, some of the time at least.

At home I'm playing television catch up, watching last week's Life on Mars online, before they pull the episode in favor of tonight's offering. I missed last week's because of the Auburn-West Virginia game, but that gave me the chance to see it online.

Imagine that, a 1973 television show airing on the internet. They even made jokes about a paperless society and two-way communication. Also, Harvey Keitel wore white loafers. If that's worth seeing, and enduring the butterfly colors, nothing is.

Keitel is perfect for this role. In the pilot, I learned today, the top cop with an official shoulder chip was played by Colm Meaney, who's awesome, but in no way deserves this role. Meaney should get all the brusque work that Sean Connery got before he became perpetual James Bond in the moviegoer's mind.

Harvey Keitel, meanwhile, should be this guy, unafraid to wear purple and white together, emote a seriously held moralistic belief on issues and willing to beat his point of view into you. If/when I tire of this show I'll watch another episode or two out of respect to Winston Wolf, so that he doesn't show up at my door eager to solve problems.

He'll always be The Wolf to me.

I'll leave you with two questions, one necessarily political, but not to worry, it comes with its own answer.

What is the irrefutable evidence that this campaign has gone on too painfully long? Every other media outlet, analyst, pundit and Joe the Reporter has gotten their shot at these two guys. Chris "eight percent codeine" Berman takes his turn Monday night.

I guess we don't care so much about NASCAR moms, but NFL dads this cycle. On the other hand I suppose we'll have lively free trade talks Monday night during the game.

And finally, in two weeks Dr. Mark Green makes his triumphant return to ER after many seasons of being dead. How, exactly, does ER expect me to accept the return of the late Dr. Green? Or do they care, aside from the fact that I MUST TUNE IN.

For now, time to tune out.

Come back tomorrow and I'll give you some Halloween candy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If you have not tried it before I thoroughly recommend playing Joe Cocker at a high volume as you get ready for your day. It makes great accompaniment for your ironing chores.

If my slacks have two creases we'll blame a particularly good chorus from a live concert.

On my way to campus this morning I had a conversation with my financial adviser. I only mention this to sound mature and progressive. We're moving some investments around, going to get out front of everything. I told him my goal was to be among the nouveau riche when the economy turned. I had to repeat myself, which always gives one pause from your financial guy.

I know I said it correctly too. I once had an economics class with from Senegal who corrected the professor on his pronunciation of laissez faire economics. They had a polite disagreement about it before someone pointed out that French was the fourth or fifth language that Mamadou N'diaye spoke. Thereafter the professor deferred on all French utterances, and as he was a basketball player of talent and considerable size many asked him for the pronunciation of nouveau riche.

He played for five seasons in the NBA, and a few more in Europe. Hopefully he's done very well for himself, financially speaking.

This week's paper is out. You can find all the stories on this archival page, including the news, sports and a few good opinions. Among them are point and counterpoints on the presidential candidates.

They are solid columns, cast well in the talking points and conventional wisdom of a campaign cycle that's been running at pace for two years. If they don't have a lot of original thoughts to close observers there is at least the conviction that they've been thorough in their own reasoning.

Of course this is a conservative campus, by and large, but Sen. McCain has underperformed here in the very unscientific samplings that I've heard about in classroom and cafeteria settings. Underperforming meaning that he's cinched less than 85 percent of the vote. Jimmy Carter was probably the last Democrat to do that well here.

One of my favorite features in the paper -- and I wish they ran this weekly -- appears again, with a review of good and bad movies, themed for your holiday purposes, of course. Two writers have dissected Tod Browning's Dracula and The Blair Witch Project in Hit or Miss.

Such has been my last 20 hours when it comes to car repair. When I left campus last night there was an extra light glowing in a nice neon yellow from the instrument panel. It is funny how the eye and brain establish norms and accept that information without a thought until a variation is brought into play.

At first there's the obvious question about the light's meaning. Soon there's the forgivable question about how long it has been burning before you noticed it. This particular light looks like a parenthesis with an exclamation in it. In the international symbology of car maintenance this means nothing, no matter how many generations of manly men have been driving the car.

So next you make that sneaky little move while hoping that no one notices: you consult the manual. Let's see then. Odometer. Warnings. Parenthesis and exclamation point.

Oh. Well that's just brake fluid. Not a problem. I can top that off in the morning.

You drive home, late into the evening, ever vigilant of the lowered levels of the critical stop juice. You're in tune with the car to such a degree that you can feel the vehicle's hesitant to slow at your demand. You make mental notes to adjust your stopping calculus accordingly.

Arriving home without incident you finish the day's routine, retire for the evening and think nothing of it.

Until the next morning, when the bright yellow light is burning anew. A shame, really, because somehow eight hours of doing nothing should fix every problem, wouldn't you agree?

You check the brake fluid as best you can, muttering something about foreign cars and how these things used to be made so that you could work on them yourself. You laugh at the notion of you working on your own car, part of a proud generation trained to take the thing to the mechanic when even the smallest things go astray.

The brake fluid seems fine. But perhaps you're doing it wrong. It is a foreign car, after all. At the local auto parts place you decide to consult the manual one more time. You realize that you must have been a little more tired last night than you realized because you got the symbols mixed up.

The parenthesis with an exclamation point in it with a solid line underneath is for the magical stopping juice. The parenthesis with an exclamation point inside and a jagged line is for tire pressure.

You chuckle at yourself, glad no one was around to catch you in such an obvious mistake.

You have an option of three gas stations within striking range of a 7-iron. One of them has a pay-for-air compressor. The one across the street is a free-air compressor. It has been mangled and is out of service. No doubt by the competition across the street who really wants your $.75.

Well they aren't getting it, bub. Vandals that you are. I've got another gas station choice and it ... has a pay-for-air compressor as well. Look, the stuff is free, I'm not going to pay you for it. What's more, I have my own compressor at home. I'll just fill up the tire there.

You have found the offending tire, the front left one, and naturally realized that this is why the brakes seemed sluggish. You've now also noticed that it seems that the car is underhandling. No doubt this is a performance issue brought on by the tire's air pressure.

At the end of the day you stop by the nearby truck stop, thinking they sell things in bulk, surely they've found a way to afford free air. And their compressor will be faster than your miniaturized version.

They do have free air. The end of the hose has been chopped off and wrapped in duct tape. You could spend the rest of your days figuring this out, but the wisdom of the people at the truck stop is beyond your scrutiny, so it is best not to hurt your head.

At home you fill the offending front left tire. You turn on the car to note the light is still on.

The front right tire. You're superior driving technique thought it detected a little hedge on that side of the car during a curve earlier today. It must need air too.

The light remains on.

The back tires might need a little air, but your expert glance doesn't show a big problem.

You top both tires off, turn on the ignition.

The light remains on.

You examine the manual for a third time in 18 hours, fully exhausting your car instruction quotient for the year, so versed are you at handling this marvel of engineering. The tire pressure alert does, in fact, have the parenthesis, the exclamation point and the jagged line.

Reading further, the sensor that does this, given a cool acronym like TPMS to make it sound sophisticated and naval, does not turn off when the tires are properly inflated. You must now drive the car at a minimum of 16 miles per hour.

There's brilliance there, but I can't understand it: it is a foreign car.

You drive down your street, barely long enough to hit 16 miles per hour. Hang a right and hit the stop sign, again, with barely time to reach 16 miles per hour. Doing the can-I-or-can't-I lurch at the stop sign the TPMS alert shuts down.

Your car handles beautifully on the rest of your tour. Breaks and tires and curves and bumps all respond as they normally should.

Celebrate your deft handling of the car crisis with a mental high five.

This will be an early night for me. I'm tired like I've done something. Adjusting the air pressure in tires does not count. But, there is this one last little note that was too cute to not share.

Reading a small town weekly newspaper this evening -- one of those where they just scan the pages as a PDF, upload them and call it a day -- they had the essence of community journalism, no matter the generation.

The newspaper staff, yesterday, wrote a letter to the editor to recognize the mayor-elect. She brought them a sweet potato pie on Tuesday and it was "a yummy treat!"

There was no concern of impropriety there. No worry about whether the paper might be biased over this "kind thoughtfulness." It just was what it was, two neighbors being congenial.

Those always make me smile.

I hope you've smiled plenty today. Hopefully you found one or two here. Tomorrow we'll find plenty more to smile at, so be sure to stop back by for all of the Halloween eve frivolity and 74 percent less car maintenance anecdotes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sadly, there are no local connections to last night's episode of Boston Legal. Texas and Louisiana, sure, but that's it.

This week Denny Crane and Alan Shore went on vacation to a dude ranch. Oddball antics ensued. They got in trouble, arch-nemesis Melvin Palmer rides to the rescue in his best appearance on the show.

Meanwhile back in Boston Betty White reprised her role of the sweet old lady who kills people and commits various other violent crimes. It is funny, you see, because it is Betty White. Other characters were engaged in Halloween antics, but there were no curious coincidences of geography involved in this episode, unless the glowing neon hats were made in Adger.

I did discover that several of the production crew from that show are also working on the upcoming Star Trek movie.

That has to irk William Shatner just a bit, knowing he was so close to stealing a scene, but being uninvited -- as he says -- or disproving of the idea he was offered -- as the movie's people say.

He could probably use the irking. Besides, this is the best thing for him. He can go around to all the conventions now and play the irascible old guy and point out where they went wrong, based on this particular line from episode 42. Wouldn't that be fitting? He could write further volumes of books about how Kirk is brought back to life by some sort of Hope Beam of the Technological Future to raise havoc and cause his former friends much grief as they grapple with the undead sitting in the captain's chair.

Had dinner on campus this evening. The Caf has circular tables and long rows of tables and, on the outside, small tables for two chairs under the windows. I usually try and grab one of those when I'm there for a quick bite and a brief read and a nice view.

And this evening's was beautiful. I chose a seat that gave me a sliver of Shades Crest Mountain across Lakeshore just as the sun was slicing through the valley on its way to the horizon. The mountain's trees are still mostly green, but the changing light tricked the eyes and gave me autumn in 20 minutes.

All of the colors and none of the leaf fall. When the last golden red rays were done and the mountain fell into silhouette there was nothing left to do but go back upstairs and finish the night.

Later. The students have hopefully put the paper to bed by now. They were making good progress when I left just after 10 p.m. There was a spirited conversation ongoing about athletics versus academics. Two guys in the room, one of them was silent on the issue, one of them was taking the academic angle. He was outnumbered in the debate.

They really are a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to reading the paper tomorrow, it sounds like they have a good issue. I get to work with bright, talented, ambitious, hardworking students who are motivated to do good work; I have the best job in the world.

Had a long talk with one of the staff members tonight who has bought what I'm selling -- as football coaches say -- about where the paper is going. Like him, most of these students are juniors. They're all also very bright and the idea that they'll be back next fall for another run is pretty exciting.

I say this even though we're just a third of the way through this year's publication. Going over the things we've done so far, and the things they're so close to doing in the near future shows a really nice progression.

By and large the paper looks great. The layout is usually pretty strong and they're doing it on software none of them knew two months ago. The photography is improving, the writing is starting to grow a bit tighter. Leads are where they should be. There's some strong copy editing going on. They've shown some growth on the web site and we'll soon concentrate more energy there.

All of this has earned a nice response from the journalism faculty and the administration. The students are doing good work and deserve a lot of credit.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to create a syllabus for my first regular class. I've guest lectured in other classes before, but next semester I'll have my own group for two hours a week. This is exciting, but anyone want to help me figure out what to do with them?

I have ideas. Right now I'm trying to find the right balance. Am I overpreparing to find out that I have 150 minutes of material when I really have 110 minutes of time? Am I putting ideas together only to find out that they only fill an hour? The latter is probably the more accurate.

Is this too much of a course load? It doesn't seem like too much to me, so naturally it will crush the backs of intrepid students.

All these answers will come together, of course. I've only just begun trying to figure out the schedule and circumstance. Studying the efforts of others will go a long way too. I can hardly wait, that class could be a lot of fun.

It will be an exciting spring, no matter what. Summer was great. Fall is going along just fine. Winter would be good, too, except for the cold. Now about this low of 33 tonight ...

Of course tomorrow will be a bit colder still. I could do without it.

Tomorrow: the paper comes out, there will be tales of a warning light in the car and more.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It is hard to believe that this is the last week of October. But it always is difficult to believe such truths of temporal mechanics. We're either always in disbelief that something has taken too long to pass, or in disbelief that the standard time has rushed by so quickly.

No one ever says April. That was just right.

Time is ephemeral this way, always flowing quickly or slowly and always just right, whether we realize it or not. It is not infernal, as the cold weather has made it's first visit of the season.

Tomorrow's low (32) will be the second coldest October temperature in this part of the world in a generation. On October 22, 1987 the mercury dipped to 28. Forty years ago it fell to 29 on the 26th day of the month.

This is winter's scouting party, testing our strengths and weaknesses. Some are in denial, a few enjoy it, but the earth has betrayed us yet again, tilting its axis just so and moving us a tad bit farther away from the sun.

Or the sun has moved away in its orbit around the earth, if you prefer.

Spatial mechanics can get the better of us as well.

Worth mentioning -- and making fun of -- was the Sunday night movie. Tonight's epic film, Invincible:
Mark Wahlberg and Disney. What could go wrong? An almost accurate recreation.
This is another one of those films where my suspension of disbelief is contorted to unusual positions based on historical accuracy and film making goals.

That they dressed up another stadium to be Veteran's Stadium doesn't bother me. That the Eagles marched out of the Cowboy's locker room before their game at Texas Stadium gives me no pause -- unlike some of the people at IMDB.

That Greg Kinnear is not Dick Vermeil is a bit troubling. That he's really just Greg Kinnear -- no matter how many awesomely wide white belts he wears -- doesn't bother me. That they only showed a long shot of Tom Landry made me laugh.

That Vince Papale was actually from suburban Philadelphia rather than south Philly is understandable. But, if they're going to change that for purposes of the story, couldn't that have at least shown a guy running in sweats, or hitting a makeshift heavy bag, or shaking down people for movie like Rocky in his early days?

Wahlberg does a running montage in the film, maybe they could have had him pass by Sly going the other direction. There's enough CGI in this film that they could have added an extra frame or two for grins.

They could have told us that Papale played in the World Football League before joining the Eagles, but that probably ruins the dramatic football sequences on which we waited for an hour or so.

According to many seconds of research on Wikipedia, Papale might now be one of the most enduring stars of the World Football League, which count Larry Csonka and Ken Stabler among its luminaries.

And now I, your humble correspondent, will amaze you, the friendly reader who's breath being taken away within the next paragraph, by bringing the movie Invincible into Birmingham-themed trivia.

Papale played for the Philadelphia Bell, who were in the same division as the World Football League's champion Birmingham Americans team. (The day after they won the trophy deputies seized team uniforms and equipment because of the organization's debt.)

No matter, in the next year the "new" World Football League, another Birmingham team was built. The Vulcans went 9-3 and were awarded the league championship when they ran out of stationery. And also money.

The Memphis team and the Birmingham club both tried to work their way into the NFL, but neither were successful, of course. That's as close as Birmingham has been to the league, and yet there's still no movie about the scrappy, hard luck city trying to do right by itself. Thanks Disney.

And now that you're amazed and mystified, I'll take this moment and make another movie and Alabama connection.

We have an ad for House the upcoming horror movie du saison. The movie is set in "rural Alabama." It was shot in ... Poland. Lodz, Poland, to be exact. That's the nation's 3rd largest city -- home of rich history and fine architecture according to Wikipedia. They have three major universities and 753,000 people.

While I'm not a horror movie buff I am curious how they overact the accents and pass off the scenery. Red clay and Poland? Hmmm.

From the trailer, yes, I'm sad to say I've just watched it, the scenery won't be too overwhelming. Most of the movie takes place in the house naturally. And while Alabama is a large enough place, featuring several distinctive accents, none of the people in this movie have them.

This movie will be no My Cousin Vinny, which took place in a fictional Alabama setting. It was shot in Georgia.

And now I will wrap up the day's fascinating geographic movie trivia with these notes from that classic Joe Pesci film. Fred Gwynne, you might recall, was the judge in the movie and seemed to be the most southern of the bunch. He was actually from Maryland.

One other actor, the ever capable Bruce McGill is from Texas, the second ute is from Virginia.

You might remember the cook in the iconic grits scene from the movie. Lou Walker was born not far from here. He played a few other bit parts over his many years and was elected a county commissioner in Georgia in 2000. He died in a car crash in Atlanta in 2004.

After all of that I'm going to call it a night and watch Boston Legal which, as far as I know, has no real local ties. I'll let you know tomorrow, though.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This was yesterday. Making this video -- learning new software, crashing new software, starting over with new software -- was enough to call it today as well.

On the one hand the crash and subsequent restart means I have a good handle on iMovie. On the other hand by the time I recorded the voiceover -- for the second time -- I was ready to upload the thing.

This was shot on the new Canon FS10s we bought for the paper. I walked around shooting B-roll and teaching myself about the camera's many buttons. Production values are expected to improve with more experience using the new toys.

Samford Homecoming 2008 in the pop up version. And, of course, more videos on the A/V page.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Up early today and back to campus for a morning of meetings. The journalism and mass communication department took advantage of homecoming weekend to create an advisory council, so we had that big meeting this morning.

Some two dozen people are on the council, including distinguished alumni, academics, and local media professionals. After you read the bios you have to agree it is an impressive group.

They asked a lot of good questions in the morning session and had nice suggestions too. After that we received a history lesson about journalism at Samford from Dr. Julie Williams, one of the professors. I had lunch with her just yesterday and had decided that she was a quiet lady, but she's very enthusiastic when she's lecturing. I liked her immediately.

Samford has an impressive past in journalism instruction. It is one of the oldest in the country, certainly the oldest in the Deep South and boasts a widely respected crop of reporters, including Emmy winners, Murrow winners and a Pulitzer winner.

Talking with Dr. Williams as the council was breaking up into committees I tried to reconcile the two halves of my research interests. I'm one of the technology guys, but I love the old papers too. We had a nice little chat and will probably run into each other in the library looking through old copy or ads one day.

Since I am one of the technology guys I was invited to take part in that particular committee meeting. We showed off a computer lab, the room that doubles as storage and production studio and the television studio.

Somewhere along the way the television guy that was in our group mentioned the Flip video camera. I had two on me at the time so I displayed them to the delight of the group. I also showed off the new Canon FS10s that the paper just purchased. I carried three video cameras and my SLR (and two lenses) around all day.

That's just a bit excessive, but I'll have a video up in the next day or so.

After the touring, and conclusion of the advisory council meeting, we were given tickets to barbecue on the quad. The Yankee came up for lunch, we had a bite and then stood out in the shade of towering water oak trees and talked with my boss. He's got a fine vision for the department and I'm excited to be a small part of it.

And so having enjoyed all the journalism conversations you can muster on a beautiful Saturday morning we walked across the gently rolling campus to the A. Hamilton Reid Chapel.

I took that photograph at the beginning of the month -- has it only been three weeks? -- and have admired the building since soon after starting at Samford. I'd never been inside the doors, though, and figured homecoming would be as good a time as any.

It does not disappoint. Samford, across the way, has a larger and much more ornate chapel, but this one is quiet and humble. Even the large pipe organ seems a modest, but beautiful instrument. There is plenty of stained glass, but nothing ostentatious.

That's from the balcony, where I climbed while other visitors were playing the organ.

The Yankee liked it too.

When the quiet returned the acoustics of the place became a marvel, even little whispers have a hallowed echo in the chapel. You could hum from one end of the room to the other, I'd imagine. When no one else was around I blurted out a tune, something from the hymnal of course. Even a bad note sounds divine if you're standing in the right place.

The chimes outside suggested we walk back across campus to the football stadium. We made it inside and to a seat just in time for the national anthem and stayed through most of the third quarter. I captured the last scoring drive on tape for the upcoming video.

We saw Riley Hawkins collect 171 total yards of offense. Chris Evans continued his dominance, running for 174 yards and two scores. Freshman quarterback Dustin Taliaferro passed for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Bryce Smith led Samford with 10 tackles, including this one for a two-yard loss. On the day The Citadel gained 249 yards, but only two on the ground.

Samford won 28-10, improving to 4-3 on the season.

Scoring updates from televised games called me away. Georgia was dominating LSU. Florida State and Virginia Tech were in an ACC deathmatch. Alabama was getting set to take on Tennessee in an underwhelming SEC affair. Ohio State was ready to host, and lose, to Penn State.

It was a good day for football, a great day on campus and, all correspondents agree, a perfect day in the Southland.

As always, more pictures are in the photo gallery.

And come back tomorrow to look for the video of today!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday, that day of finality. Except for when it doesn't have finality, at which point it is a day of tepid acceptance to the continuation of a thing that your conscious mind says should now be over.

"We're working for the weekend! It was in a song and everything!"

Not me. My brain is hardwired in such a way that, even if I had to work through it, Friday is still the recognized official day of all things unofficial.

This week it was also the continuation of poor weather. An overcast Thursday yielded to a drizzling Friday. The forecast for the weekend calls for a 100 percent chance of perfect, but after a few days of dour skies that seems hard to imagine just now.

This Friday was also unusual in that the student's put their paper out today, rather than Wednesday. The fall break changes their schedule, which is a happy coincidence allowing them to publish a homecoming edition just as the festivities get underway.

Here are all of The Samford Crimson's stories from this issue. They include a feature on Miss Alabama, who is a Samford student, a story on the hammock people, catching up with Samford's professional athletes and a feature on a 6-foot-3 goalkeeper on the women's soccer team.

There are also a handful of great opinion pieces as well. The Crimson's Jonathan Coley leads off our return to the weekly student columnist feature:
The new motto from Samford seems to be athletics over academics, sports over scholarship. Is this really the university to which I applied?

If you like these new changes, of course, you can proudly "vote for Samford" by donating money to Samford on Oct. 31.

I have a better idea. At the end of this month, let's stuff those ballot boxes with letters asking Samford to renew its commitment to academics, reinstate the free newspaper program and bring back the university we all thought we knew and loved.

Who knows - if students don't speak out now, we may have more surprises waiting for us next semester.
Down at Auburn we have a glimpse at Sen. John McCain's diary from Griffin Limerick:
7:00 a.m. I wake up and walk into the bathroom for a quick shower.

No time for a sponge bath this morning.

7:45 a.m. I walk into the kitchen. Cindy is cooking scrambled eggs. I call her "my friend."

She scrapes my eggs into the trash can.

"My friend" count: 1

8:15 a.m. Cindy and I board the Straight Talk Express.

I call shotgun.
The whole thing is a good read. Elsewhere, The Florala's Danny Harrell laments Halloween:
For the past few years on Halloween night, I drive through the neighborhoods where I used to enjoy the holiday, and there are only a handful of kids walking the streets.

And another thing, what ever happened to saving up your lunch money for weeks and stock-piling your garage with toilet paper and cartons of eggs in hopes of not getting caught when you go out for a night of vandalism. I can't even begin to tell you how many eggs I've thrown and pumpkins I've smashed on Halloween night.

When I was in high school, it seemed like my front yard would be covered in toilet paper at least two times during the month of October, but I haven't seen a single sheet of toilet paper decorating the trees in my yard in at least three years.

It seems like all of the best Halloween traditions are dying.
What is the statute of limitations on a good egging anyway?

At Pie Day with a smaller table and less food -- no appetite? What is wrong with me? -- I enjoyed the chicken and the conversation and, course, Ward the Super Waiter. And the pie, always delicious.

People come and go from the place, restaurant turnover being what it is, but I still knew four of the people working tonight. There was a time when we knew them all. Even still, I met another new person this evening so the cycle begins anew.

Outside the restaurant Ward taught me a new martial arts defense. Yes, psychic ward, bringer of pie and refills and a martial artist. They aim to please at this place.

Ward's onto a new discipline, flitting around as he does learning one new thing from another and another. Who knows what the inside of his head looks like, or what would happen if he ever tried to apply all of these differing techniques. Anyway, this is similar to what he was doing tonight. I actually like this one a bit better, it seems easier. His new technique required a mean pivot, but leaves him in a powerful position of control.

And so if you were out at the barbecue joint tonight and saw two characters under the pine trees behaving suspiciously, don't worry. It was just me trying to make sure my wrist and shoulder stayed in their respective sockets.

You know how YouTube takes over your computer and becomes an incredible time sink? I've been in that for the last 20 minutes, trying to find this defense. I'm finding everything else, and it is all fascinating.

But tomorrow is an early morning. A Saturday that is a Saturday, with a tiny bit of work and heaping helping of fun mixed in. It is homecoming at Samford, on a chamber of commerce day and there will be plenty of festivities to enjoy.

Hope you're having a great weekend too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I hate paying bills. Just the simple act of it. Spending the money for a product or service doesn't bother me. The writing the check part just feels tedious: all those lines to fill out, spelling out the dollars in words, drawing that line of mistrust, thinking of something clever for the "For" line and signing your name just so ...

I don't do it much, two per month and one quarterly. Everything else is paid in other ways.

The only thing more fun than the check writing process, though, is the envelope process. So for the quarterly check I pay in person. It is car insurance and it helps that there's an office two miles from home. It used to be five miles from home, but they thought to make themselves more convenient for me.

So today was car insurance check-writing day. Stopped by this morning -- because it is better than an envelope and saves on stamps. I had a few minutes to visit with the lady who's been working on my policy since I started driving. Every time I see her she asks about my mother, I ask about her grandchildren.

It was from this office, then some seven miles from my home, that I received my college scholarship. I might have mentioned that before, but considering they funded my education it seems only fitting that I stop in and visit. Best not to think of how many other kids' scholarships I've contributed to given all the checks I've written over the years.

The insurance office is in a shopping center that's about three years old and sits next to the interstate. On the other side of the freeway is a brand new and much more ambitious shopping center. We've grown into quite the urbane area, out here in the exurbs.

Sadly, though, because of competition or other external factors, we have our first casualty in the "old" shopping center. It was the mom and pop ice cream shop. They called themselves an internet cafe, but they only had one computer. They made a little bit of everything: bagels, pretzels, hot dogs and coffee. The ice cream was certainly good, so it is a shame to see them go.

It was right across the street from the high school and had a very communal feel. All the kids that worked there tried to get to know everyone. When the boss wasn't looking they'd give you an extra scoop ... Maybe that's why they're out of business, come to think of it.

The local ice cream shop is giving way to a Nestle's Toll House Cafe. Yes, the mom and pop shop folds and The Man is moving to town. I suspect no one will complain; their mouths will be too full of delicious cookies.

I left campus a bit later than usual today. The students were busy putting together their Homecoming edition of the paper tonight so I stuck around for a while in case anything came up. Just after 6 p.m. I left. There'd been no sun all day so it seemed far too late in the day for any light in the sky. It was a bit eery, and we're not even to the end of daylight savings yet.

Made it home in time for the Auburn game. They visited West Virginia tonight. Both teams have been struggling and no one really knew what to expect out of this game, but we've all been fearing the worst. I made it home in time to see Auburn cast, for the second time this year, as the big bad bully SEC team. Pretty funny given the team's troubles this season.

West Virginia marched down the field, exploiting one of Auburn's few defensive weaknesses. Then they turned the ball over. This game was another Auburn roller coaster. It was a happy first half as the Tigers remembered their power roots and marched down short fields to easy points. The second half was somewhere between less-than-pleasant and downright abysmal.

The two bright spots being the West Virginia band playing Phantom of the Opera and the Bo Jackson Chick-fil-A commercials.

Tommy Tuberville, meanwhile, is wearing a jacket that's an orange that's a bit too burnt. Is he going to Texas? Let the rumors commence.

Later we learned that he turned the heaters off the team. Some draconian silliness about toughening up the team. Meanwhile the man's wearing a parka and gloves in this, the coldest weather that Auburn has played in since 2001. Let him go to Texas or wherever else he wants to go.

Yes, we can get into the big circular argument about a coach's relative worth, buyouts and replacements. I get it and agree. And I will only offer these two counterpoints: for $3 million-plus a year we've now seen Tuberville and his staff outcoached for the sixth time this season.

For $3 million a year you'd think Auburn could buy some in-game adjustments. The failure to do so no longer surprises anyone. You might also think it could afford a two-minute drill when you're down by 10 or 17 points late in the game, but apparently that's a bit more costly.

At the end of the day the vastly overwhelmed West Virginia's Bill Stewart, who is as classy as they come, outcoached Auburn. I hate that for the players, who all work so very hard and deserve better. The fans do too, given the high prices we pay in contribution to that heft salary. Hopefully the players bounce back quickly. If they do they'll display a better resilience than most of the fans.

But the game, a 34-17 result for a numb fan base, is over. Time for happier things.

I have cameras. We bought three Canon FS10s and they arrived today. We'll press them into service this weekend during homecoming.

The festivities start tomorrow. Come by for another visit to keep up to date on the adventures.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to it today. The students have returned after their fall break and it seems they've brought autumn with them. There isn't a chill in the air, but all the signals are there.

I spent a bit of today working on stuff for a weekend meeting. I tracked packages making their way into my possession. I discussed news and sports. I exchanged Emails about video and started the mental build of a syllabus for next semester.

It was a reasonably productive and swift moving day. I have no complaints. Lunch arrives early, suddenly it is 2 p.m. and by the time campus shuts down I've managed to find myself in a stopping place. Progress can be measured by accomplishments or units of time. I'm an accomplishment type, and that sometimes requires learning the units of time measuring stick.

For example, shouldn't those cameras be here by now? I did order them last night after all.

They'll be here by lunch tomorrow, but I'm ready to have them pressed into service. That will come this weekend and would, to my way of thinking, be an accomplishment.

Had a nice chat with my mother this evening. She was pleased to hear of some recent news about my possible return to school. I will never hear the end of it, but the next few weeks will have some free time devoted to the possible beginning of my doctoral studies.

Mostly there's paperwork, a few letters, some studying and the fearsome GRE. Anyone want to take the math portion for me? I was generally pretty decent with everything right up to the non-Euclidean geometry, but after that my math skills taper off in hyperbolic fashion.

(I promise to never make another math joke here again.)

The concern, though, is that I haven't had a math class since freshman year which was ... a few years ago. I must revisit some of this stuff before I pay good money for the GRE. If I seem apprehensive at any point in the next few weeks, this is why. I plan on starting all of this over the coming weekend. Should be a blast.

Others have done it; I can too. Doesn't mean I'll enjoy the crash calculus course.

In more important news I spent an hour or so tonight watching and wondering why the world never had the opportunity to enjoy a Beetlejuice sequel. The end of the movie gives the practical answer: sandworms from Saturn ate him.

A problem like this has never slowed down movie studios before. Sure, there were toys and cartoons and probably a cereal on which to capitalize, but not tying down that cast to another commitment was a big oversight.

When he finally showed up I thought to myself Michael Keaton really carries this movie from here on in. And then, reading IMDB I learned he was in 17 whole minutes of the movie. Certainly he's done well, but how he wasn't the largest star of the era remains a mystery to me.

News of the day ... well, our paper is coming out Friday this week because of the fall break and Homecoming weekend. While I can provide no new links for that until Friday, I can offer some of the more empyreal items of the day.

William Shatner is mad at George Takei:
Actor William Shatner theorizes that former Star Trek bridge mate George Takei is suffering from some kind of psychosis, as evidenced by a recent high-profile snub.

Takei, who played Sulu in the original Trek series four decades ago, famously did not invite Shatner to his recent wedding ceremony.
"Yeah, we worked on a little project 40 years ago. We made a handful of movies 20 years ago. We've been to the same conventions. You were at my televised roast. But you can't invite me to the wedding? You're psychotic!"

Takei, for his part, says he invited him. And if you got the real answer he'll never be Shatner's best friend -- Shatner has something of an unpleasant reputation. All of this is pretty sad, though, in that they both still need one another in that sad aspect of celebrity where controversy and discord equals facetime.

Who knows? Maybe it was a small wedding.

In one of the suburbs life is pretty great. Oh, you might find this story disturbing, or unworthy of airtime in a local newscast, but you must consider the location. And then you must read between the lines to the part which says, "Yeah, this is a great place to have only such pesky problems."
What's got a couple dozen Ballantrae homeowners so steamed is a little known covenant that bans flags, banners and signs from neighborhood homes.

Earl Nichols was threatened with fines --or worse-- if he didn't take down his Alabama flag, and his wife's Auburn flag.

"$25 a day for every day I left it up, and if I didn't pay my fine on time, they would add a lien to my house," Nichols said.
The story continues with a great quote from one of the neighbors.

"Pretty soon, people are not going to want to live out here when they find out these rules are so strict and ridiculous. They’re not going to want to live here," Jones said.

No. That time has already passed. I could never live in a place with homeowners association rules. Poorly directed authority and I don't mix very well. It seems I enjoy just the tiniest shade of individuality and have no need for a random assemblage to tell me what color the shudders should be or what can be 16 feet beyond the line of shade on the eastern face of my house on Tuesday mornings at 9:30.

But, as they say, if the most horrible thing in your neighborhood is a college flag controversy, then you must have a dynamite neighborhood watch program.

Anything else we ring out of this day will be in the time honored babble format -- as opposed to most of the 1,000 words above -- so I'll stop for now. Tomorrow the students will produce their paper, our cameras will arrive, Auburn will play in a football game of undecided outcome and there will be plenty more babbling here. Join us, won't you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The second day of fall break was just as quiet as the first. I had lunch with the boss in a quiet little corner of the coffee shop that was not a corner and is rarely quiet.

There were four other people in the room, which also doubles as an intimate performance hall. Everyone spoke quietly, stunned by the sound of silence, and the absence of Simon and Garfunkel. The walls are a nice cement and the floor is a solid tile and all of it bounces sound around in an acoustical nightmare. Whispering gets the job done. We whispered of football and basketball.

Later in the afternoon we talked, in normal voices, about classes and ideas and plans. We discussed the class I'll teach in the spring, and how it is evolving. We discussed the now very likely possibility of my own return to school. We chatted about my plans for the newspaper and what was coming in the fall. It was a constructive conversation, facilitated by a quiet day and lesser demands of one's attention.

My memo of much celebration has now been pushed up another level and was reportedly received with glowing praise. Another signature or two and the idea can become an announced reality. That's the benefit of using high quality, premium memo polish juice, available at fine retailers everywhere. Ask for it by name or order memo polish juice online.

Tonight I spent a lot of money. I bought three video cameras for the newspaper. My challenge for the students for the rest of the year will be to identify and make use of The Samford Crimson as a full multimedia platform. Too often it is thought of as a paper first, but we'll soon have a chat about social currency of the web.

Part of that means we'll very soon be showing off a lot more video on the site. A few of the students are very excited about this, more of them will soon come on board and help them build a nice convergent newsroom.

But more on all of that later. For now, I've just spent a fair amount of money on cameras and lapel microphones. Someone hold me.

I then paid up a few debts on E-bay -- this was an exciting evening at Stoic Oaks.

I also hastily put together two more campaign buttons for your approval. So go check out Sen. John Kerry and Gen. Wesley Clark, forgotten as they've been since 2004.

Doesn't that seem a lifetime ago?

For the rest of the buttons go here. I don't have any more to scan at the moment, so while I try to replenish the stock -- and continue vainly searching for the actual older buttons which have escaped my grasp -- I'll try to wrestle that directory into a better structure. I'm tedious like that.

Tomorrow the students return. I'll start looking for cameras -- shouldn't they be here already? -- and we'll begin the fun and carefree feelings of Homecoming Week. Not a bad Wednesday. Hope yours is just as promising.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is the first day of fall break on the Samford University campus. Fall break, that two day off period dating back traditionally to ... well, I'm going to guess 2003, but I'm likely wrong.

All I know of fall break is this: We did not have at Auburn during undergrad, but we were on the quarter system there and perhaps that is why. Also it did not register as an important memory from my time in graduate school. Perhaps that is because I was the traditional non-traditional type of student who had to work anyway, regardless of the arbitrarily fixed dates that give a reprieve from the curriculum's mental challenges.

I'm not upset by any of this. Fall break is a nice and novel concept and one that I, apparently could have participated in. No one is here. There were 13 people in a cafeteria designed for 1,100 at lunch. I asked the nice old lady at the cash register if these were her favorite days of the year, since it was so much more quiet and slow. She agreed, but with an accusatory look that asked why I was there making her work. Can't win them all with charm I guess.

I spent the morning writing biographies for a big meeting later in the week. I spent the afternoon putting a second coat of memo polishing juice on a document I started last Friday. Both were submitted and received this evening and we'll progress on them throughout the week.

Late in the afternoon -- since I was on campus and it seemed a good idea to walk the perimeter since no one else was around -- I did a quick loop of the northwestern section of the campus. It needed to be explored.

Here are the bells over the library. I mention them in Twitter a lot. I often hear them as I'm walking from one place to the next. Sometimes they sound in tune, sometimes they seem an out-of-tune rabble of a middle school band, mixed with an ambient song coming from somewhere else and competing against a cell phone for your ear's attention. Sometimes the song is recognizable. Occasionally I have to stop and listen for a long while to decide if I know the hymn or if it is something that's not in my book.

The maple trees have decided that they will wait no more, for no one or no other flora. When the maples give their notice it is a quick descent through fall around here. Best not to dwell on it.

Autumn is the season that refuses to be captured in a photograph. You can impart the cold of winter or snow or rain or the bright, sunny days of summer or the promise of spring in one snapshot, but fall plays it a bit more coy. You need the sounds and the smells and the feelings of autumn. I suspect it plays a bit differently in each part of the world, the rest of us are left to guess, by virtue of a few leaf photographs. Hardly seems fair.

In a few days, though, I'll come back this way and shoot the steeple of the A. Hamilton Reid Chapel again. I found the perfect spot for when the green of Shades Mountain flares to its crescendo. If I catch it at the right time this will be a triumph. But it will also mean I can't return there until the spring. There are an awful lot of empty trees and sticks on that mountain through the winter. Best not to dwell on it or stare at it too much.

At home the evening continued at approximately the same pace of the work day. I watched a bit of football, a newly syndicated first season episode of Boston Legal and, finally, the new episode from the fifth and final season.

They return to the political this week, featuring a case where the grieving brother of a dead G.I. tries to sue the military over the medical malpractice that killed the soldier. There are rules against such suits, which they viscerally swat away here.

The subplot was a side bet that Alan Shore and Denny Crane made. The judge threatened to have Shore disbarred after learning about it. I wonder if this is the story arc that he'll carry through the last six episodes of the show. Denny Crane, meanwhile, is only proving he's crazy like a fox. John Larroquette's character had him pegged, he's just using insanity as an excuse.

The secondary story was uncomfortable and that's why they wrote it. Also Jerry had to have something to do.

Larroquette's character is now the lasting regret on the show. He could do so much, but is asked to do so little. But, now, we're down to the last six episodes of the series and small things like these are forgivable if they making a great run at closing the show, which looks a bit more plausible this week than last.

For a lot of good talk on this episode of Boston Legal you can check out this great forum where, apparently, insightful people are writing while watching.

And I thought I had it bad. Step away from the internet.

There's an idea. Tomorrow is the other half of fall break, another day of constantly trying to convince the two halves of the brain that it is, in fact, a work day.

Tomorrow I'll also have a few more buttons for you to look at and I'm going to spend far too much money on gadgets and other fun things. But you'll have to come back for those details.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

For the past several days on Twitter we've all been happily updating one another on the price of gas in our suburban communities of choice. It seems that my area is a stalwart holdout pocket of high prices and, had I known this would be the case in 2008 I would have shared qualms about it when moving in circa 1987.

At least the prices are starting to dip. This on the heft of a growing interstate exit shopping mecca, a truck stop within reach of a driver and a 5-iron and two more truck stops within walking distance.

So today we've hit $2.93 at some of the friendly neighborhood commercial fronts for oil cartels. I refuse to be excited about this until we've trimmed another 30 percent off the price.

Went to Kohl's today, doing my patriotic duty to pump money into the mindless maw that is the American economy. Also I needed jeans. And a new pair of brown shoes.

And such are exactly what I found, two pairs of jeans at a price so ridiculous that the poor third-world textile merchants are making an even more pitifully small amount. And then I found a pair of shoes that look like something from the middle of the 20th Century but, I hope, 21st Century comfort inside. We'll find out tomorrow.

It is hard having size 13 feet. Especially so when you're looking for shoes that aren't standard black dress, or utility tennis shoes. When you start looking for something in particular, say something in brown that can be both casual and dress-casual, you're in trouble. The local DSW, which is the size of a small airport hangar, can not help me. Other shoe stores are equally useful.

The Kohl's, for some reason, will carry a few options. And so it was today, when I found four pair of shoes that were both in the color and approximate style for which I aspired.

Apparently there are a disproportionate amount of large-feeted men on the other side of town and they always beat me to the store. On this side of town the gentlemen possess a more dainty foot, and prefer their shoes in a different hue. No matter. It has only taken me four months to find a new pair of shoes to fill this particular role in my wardrobe, thereby replacing the old weary pair purchased several years ago at a Target.

I also bought shoelaces for my hiking boots, a long overdue purchase. But waiting was good, as Kohl's was offering a 60 percent markdown, so the laces only cost $.70. Happily the hiking boots purchased some five years ago at a sporting goods store are still in good working order.

Dinner at Mellow Mushroom, which has turned into the 280 location of Chuck E. Cheese.

On the last visit the place was overrun by a clutch of pee wee cheerleaders running loose through the place throwing things at one another, making a mess and playing shoot-em-up games with the ol' finger and thumb gun. A manager stopped by to sheepishly apologize that day because our table seemed to be at the epicenter of the pre-teen revelry. I'd simply shrugged and said "Hey, you're the one that has to clean this place up when they leave."

He resigned on the spot.

If he had any sense about him he would have.

But that was a few months back. Today it was the shrieking, searing ear drum piercing home of a four-year-old birthday party. Because if there's a place that all those four-year-old hippies love it is Mellow Mushroom. The party sounded fun. And loud. A good time was clearly had. They all left with tie die party favors.

I couldn't help but notice that the place is springing up more Jerry Garcia and John Lennon art work. It is as if the mushrooms have finally kicked in. Widespread Panic fans, however, will be dismayed to know that the homage to their favorite band was in the restroom. Specifically over the urinal, which offered a poster offering a CD release party.

Whether the fans were angry no one can say. Everyone was relaxed when they got back to their tables to have a bite of the delicious pretzel. Everyone, except the four-year-olds, screaming like this was the drum solo at the show for which they'd been camping and waiting for a week.

But I have leftovers, and that's always a nice thing at Mellow Mushroom.

Watched Superman Returns again tonight. Aside from the fine Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor casting I'm only left with this: Sometimes when Brandon Routh speaks he sounds like Christopher Reeve. It is unsettling.

I have the previously viewed movie house version, meaning no extras. I bet, for those that have the deluxe DVD the special features are, indeed, super.

As was my weekend. Hope yours was the same. Starting tomorrow it is fall break on the Samford campus, come back as I try to convince myself of the unholiday.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alabama is the luckiest football team that has ever played football. They were on their heels -- heels I say! -- against a vastly inferior team with a crazed coach and one of their key defensive players out with a knee injury. Alabama allowed 17 unanswered points and got pushed around a fair amount late.

Despite all of this Ole Miss came up just short and Alabama, despite having the slouched posture of a beaten team, managed to hang on to a victory.

So they'll remain the second-ranked team in the nation, but those fingernails have to be getting bloody.

Oh, yes, all of the Alabama fans want their team to be number one, of course. The argument was rendered ridiculous later in the night as the best team in the land pummeled the number 10 team in a scary fashion as a matter of course.

Texas Tech abused Texas A&M, running a naked bootleg on the game's final play to extend their lead to 18. Mike Leach truly is a pirate. Oklahoma redeemed themselves after last week's heartbreaking loss to Texas. Ohio State put up a workmanlike victory over Michigan State. Penn State trailed far too deeply into the game, but ultimately won out over a depleted Michigan.

And despite the choice of friends, South Carolina fell to LSU in Columbia.

Back to that crazed coach comment above. The difference between crazed Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and crazed LSU coach Les Miles occurred to me today. The difference is talent. Otherwise they might be separated at birth.

Miles is the one that was the kinda fun kid when he wasn't being braggadocios, but Nutt was the one that was braggadocios in an attempt to be kinda fun. When you boil down the rest, though, the LSU talent is all that separates them. Either one of them will call any frighteningly ridiculous play from anywhere. LSU has the talent to more often than not pull off that play and reveal the coach as a genius. When that move fails for Ole Miss it shows a coach that doesn't know his limitations.

All this, and more, was seen from the center cushion of the sofa today. The television from the chambers was brought into the den and set alongside the big screen so that two games could be viewed at once. The left brain was happy to enjoy the SEC action. The right brain was left to wonder why it was being punished with other conferences.

Occasionally something quirky would happen, like shots of a referee announcing a penalty on both screens, or an injured player from two games kneeling down in an identical pose. Mostly it was just a good day of football. Brian came over. The Yankee watched games and worked on her latest research. Taylor played with and ate my grapes -- we must teach her how to share her grapes with me, the guy that bought them.

We made hamburgers and fries and watched football over potato salad and fruit cups. It was a fine day of football, even if my week's picks of the winners was thrashed in a convincing fashion.

Best of all, Auburn had time to rest, as they did not play. They'll be the Thursday night game from chilly Morgantown. I'll fear it a bit, but not until Thursday. And I'll only watch it on one television. The better that my right brain can be distracted if it doesn't go well.

Until then, though there are memories of a happy Saturday of football, food and friends. And if yours was half as enjoyable as mine you likely don't know what to do with yourself.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall break is coming and the students started peeling away last night. Not that I see a great deal of them on Friday anyway. One or two of the journalism majors I know will usually stop by, but the rest of the students I see are at lunch or roaming the halls.

The Yankee came up for lunch today after running errands in town. I get $2 Friday lunches. Sometimes the very nice lady at the register rings up your guest at two bucks. Sometimes the very nice lady at the register rings up your guest at the regular price. Can't go wrong either way: We both ate for $9.

Spent today writing memos that needed to be written and polishing a memo that needed some polishing. It will get a further polish on Monday, when it will be coated to an impenetrable sheen of logic and glow with a power to diffuse all concern.

In a way it reminds me of something I once wrote in college -- or occasionally write on the site when my mind goes numb. During undergrad I was given an assignment in an economics class to build a complete marketing, financial and product proposal for a special high-oil corn seed. I'm not sure why, but I invested a great deal of time in the assignment, made a nice stationery, typed it all up, retyped it, wiped it down with the unassailable rag of truth and invincibility and finally, bone weary and eye tired I handed in the project.

The professor, when he returned it, threatened to kill me if I ever wrote anything like that again. I'd merely patterned my product pitch against every conceivable weakness the high-oil corn seed product had. There were no stray bullets puncturing the argument. No knives were getting shoved in between overlapping pieces of armor. It was rock solid. And painful to read.

I made the professor mad enough to threaten me aloud in front of a room full of witnesses. And yet I still received a B. And then he gave us the opportunity to correct our mistakes to improve our grade, an easy task since we'd all saved the documents onto floppy disks -- yes children, let me tell you of a time before thumb drives. None of my corrections had to do with the dense style of writing.

And the writing style had become a recurring issue in my classes. All of my professors would note that my papers were written in the style of a journalist. They meant it as a constructive criticism. By then I was taken it as a point of pride.

The same will be with my memo, six heavy paragraphs that fill a page, describing an occurrence, pitching an idea, arguing why it is a good idea and justifying why it is something we should do.

I've now used my second jar of memo polish juice, but I'm only on the second coat.

And in my new life everything must be this way, as it is written for a bunch of journalism professors and a dean of arts and sciences. A surly bunch of copy editors will seize upon your shortcomings and make you question your own motives. That's why I'm constantly surfing e-bay for more memo polish juice.

Part of the afternoon was spent at discussing an upcoming project that shall not yet be announced here. We talked of highly technical things that always overwhelm me and more practical journalist and marketing things which are aimed more at my level.

Seems like I spend as much time there now that I don't work there than I did when they employed me. I've visited twice in the two months since I've been gone. Today I even sat, for a moment, in my old chair.

It is familiar, and fine enough, but not as nice as my new chair at Samford. Which is actually an older chair, as has been previously discussed here. Saw the old boss, the boss' boss, the marketing boss and Brian, who I'll soon put to work in the newly developing project.

Ninety minutes of strategy, catching up and the regular great tossing around of ideas sailed by quickly.

Pie Day with the gang of five again tonight. We sat by the door, which hasn't become a seasonal inconvenience yet, though the mere thought of the coming milder temperatures already has me longing for spring.

We told bad jokes, big, soaring ribald things that require the distraction of a child before they might be shared. Many people are taking to leaning in on the humor. We're fine with that.

At the end of the night there were boxes stacked four high on the table, pie was enjoyed and I brought home a few extra ribs.

Finished the Alumnus project. Click that link if you missed this last week. I'm only scanning the old pages of 1918 and retyping the most interesting parts. As much as anything it is an excuse to get them out of the scan pile, but it is interesting to see what our great-grandfathers' older brothers were up to at a time of war.

If you're up to speed on all of that and just need the last few installments you can follow this link which will take you from the seventh page to the 12th page.

The Alumnus project will be a brief one, as I only have a few of these to read through. In a week or two we'll take a look at another key year, 1939.

And that's pretty much all for tonight. Tomorrow is another big football day. I'll be sitting on the sofa taking it all in, so if you need me on Saturday, get in touch on Sunday. Much of the rest of the season will be enjoyed in this fashion. I'm totally fine with that.

Hope you've got a nice weekend plan lined up as well!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This day got away from me. And I'm not sure how. The only person that will suffer is you, but friends understand these things. Even if I don't. I'm looking back at the day's efforts and achievements and not sure how it all evaporated so quickly.

Most of the day was spent forearms deep in an upcoming project. This is The Project That Shall Not Be Spoken Of, Until It May Be Spoken Aloud. It is a work project, and in that nebulous place where everyone is in agreement with it, but now we must get everyone in real agreement so that the project can be implemented.

Give me a week or two and I'll share more about it. It will be something of a big deal. All the particulars will get hammered out tomorrow, the official approvals will start coming in next week. When the signatures and initials are delivered we'll put the wheels in motion and have a nifty development to show off.

I'm also about to buy a very small handful of video cameras for The Samford Crimson. Anyone that'd like to help bankroll a campus newspaper and be a positive influence in the future of journalism can send me an Email to the usual place. I'll make sure you get nice advertising in our student's video productions.

Oh, this is where part of the day went: Joe the Plumber facts. There are a lot of creative people out there.

The many hairs on my head (Now with more silver!) received a serious trauma this evening. I stopped by the hair cutting establishment to establish that my hair was too long and should be cut.

For some time I've been receiving the clipper cut to the sides and back, but have lately realized that it takes the person longer to cut hair if you do the conventional scissors route. Also it doesn't look so drastic. Most importantly, though, it takes more than four minutes and the perception of getting my money's worth is very important.

Especially when you listen to the people in the room talk. One woman was bad-mouthing her high school crush who'd just been in the place. Oh he was a nice guy, everyone would agree, and he does well for himself now professionally, but look how he turned out.

Says the slightly more than paunchy woman of orange skin tone and yellow hair pigmentation (now with more bleach).

Another woman spoke freely of her recent divorce, and her husband's infidelity. And how she did not mention that in court. "You don't need to air all your dirty laundry," said the lady that was the other half of this conversation, a complete stranger.

And then police were poor-mouthed. It was a very informative 20 minutes.

Tonight was Life on Mars on ABC. A cop gets hit by a car and is somehow flung back 35 years to 1973 New York where, he surmises, he must solve crimes in an attempt to get back home. At least he watched Quantum Leap like the rest of us.

I want to dislike the show, because it was good with Quantum Leap (and somehow more believable). Mostly I'm afraid of the show as a part of my 1970s aversion, but they're using good music and the setting hasn't gotten too much in the way yet.

Harvey Keitel is great, and he'll be worth an episode or two on his own merits, but so far it isn't bad. Last week he stopped a kidnapping/murder. This week he foiled an organized crime ring. He does all of this in the middle of weird flashbacks to 2008 and hallucinating a robot -- the Mars rover as it turns out, because they're rather fond of the old David Bowie tune.

And they're also offering a bit of light-hearted comedy. Watching Keitel do that is worth seeing alone. I just don't see how the show has much in the way of longevity, but for now it works and I'll keep watching. Until they wear me out on the 1970s.

That's pretty much been the day. See? It just got away from me. Tomorrow will be better. And it'll be a Friday! Hope you're ready for a big weekend. I'm going with a small weekend, and I like the sound of that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The paper came out as scheduled this morning. As expected it is another fine issue. You can see all the stories here. One of the students put together a video on Family Weekend.

We even had a story from last night of a campus happening, complete with a photo gallery. They're working hard.

Unrelated to the campus paper, entirely, this is my favorite story of the day
:The mother of a Jess Lanier High School student was arrested Wednesday afternoon after bringing a loaded gun to the campus and threatening to "do some shooting."
Or this one on Jefferson County's impending bankruptcy, which does a decent job of explaining a 12-year-running story on the Supersewer, bad loans and political corruption:
In the beginning, the people of Jefferson County weren't asking for anything special, just a working sewer system - one that didn't overflow whenever it rained, spilling raw sewage into the creeks that drain the Jones Valley basin where Birmingham lies. Lawsuits by environmentalists forced the issue, and in December 1996, Jefferson County signed a consent decree, agreeing to clean things up within ten years. Early estimates of how much it might cost ranged all the way from $250 million to $1.2 billion. In other words, no one had a clue.

As it happened, even the highest estimates were wildly low. Year by year the project expanded and the budget ballooned. Consider the case of the multimillion-dollar tunneling machine. In the late 1990s, Jefferson County began drilling a sewer tunnel beneath the scenic Cahaba River. But a citizen uproar ensued, and the tunnel was halted halfway through. In the end, county officials had to pay nearly $20 million to extract the machine from the hole and return it to the contractors.

Former Birmingham city employee Larry Lavender, now Republican staff director for the House Financial Services Committee, told that story at a conference on the Jefferson County budget crisis in Washington this fall. "It's hard to steal as much as you can waste," he concluded. Perhaps, although there was lots of stealing too.


When all was said and done, Jefferson County had its sewer system. But the commission found itself staring down $3.2 billion in debt - or roughly 100 times the sewer department's annual capital budget. County officials knew they couldn't lay that whole burden on the system's 146,000 customers, many of whom live in Birmingham's blighted western neighborhoods. So they decided to delay the payments.
I've covered and followed this story, off and on, for eight years. It is fascinating, frustrating and fatiguing, but this is a good read.

And, to Fortune's credit, it took them 12 'graphs to recall the Civil Rights era in a Birmingham muni money story. Most people can't wait that long.

No, this is the day's best story. Grab a tissue:
The title of homecoming queen is typically reserved for the head cheerleader or student class president, but not so at one Texas high school where this year's queen saw hundreds of onlookers moved to tears as she was crowned.

"There wasn't a dry eye to be seen," said Carolyn Pass, the mother of newly crowned queen Kristin Pass, who was born with Down syndrome 18 years ago.
Which takes us to dinner, where The Yankee and I were the third table for a waiter who got triple-sat. Just prior to that he'd been given four tables in a row. Somehow he handled it all. The sweet potato wasn't that good, but the man can't be blamed for a terrible tuber.

Despite the restaurant rush I got home in time to see enough of the debate to realize I hadn't missed much in the early going. We've discovered in the last two debates the value of Twitter for instantaneous feedback. Since Twitter doesn't archive these things, and since we need one more snarky opinion on a vanilla series of debates ...
Obama's "yeah, but you won't catch me at it" grin is ridiculous but otherwise looks settled. McCain appears uneasy. I vote for Schieffer.

Who gave McCain that tie?

One senator making fun of parsing the words of another senator never gets old. Or less insulting.

Obama said he wants to "enforce unfair trade agreements." Unfortunate slip of tongue?

I love presidential pixie dust. Especially the eliminate bureaucracy kind.

Obama's playing a drinking game! Ha!

"Senator Government." Awesome.

I bet McCain might be a better debater if he were ahead in the polls. His fingerpointing gets counterproductive.

What you really want in a Supreme Court justice: someone who rules on constitutionality rather than emotion or anecdotes.

I don't believe you Obama, release your state senate records. We're waiting.

Obama is the most awesome sipper of drinks ever.

Obama wants both of everything doesn't he?

The Yankee asks if vouchers is a word on the drinking game. If it is you can't answer because you are now unconscious.

McCain is good at this when he doesn't have to point fingers. Obama's finger is a little closer to the pulse though.
Follow me on Twitter. And come back tomorrow, which will have 85 percent less blockquote filler. Thursday's are always good for that you know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Late night at the paper, but I'm scaling these back pretty soon. The paper's doing fine. They didn't even ask me any questions tonight before I left. In six weeks the staff has gone from a can-do-but-how group led by a driven editor to a this-is-getting-done group led by a calm, cool editor who acts like she's been doing this for a nice long while.

We added three new bloggers tonight. When they start writing we'll have sports, opinion and photography. Can't wait to see what they come up with.

That's a new design to the blog page, incidentally. Last year when the College Publisher folks set up the blog they gave it the very inventive URL name and painted us in a corner for any future expansion of the blog staff. Now that the list seems to be growing a bit we had to get creative, turn that page into an aggregate and branch off of it.

The site's web editor, who is very good, has been tinkering with it among all his many other duties and we're finally unleashing it on the world this evening. Now I just hope the new writers will contribute. That's always a part of it with blogs.

If years of experience taught us anything at it was that words speak louder than "I wannas" when it comes to blogging. People that wanna have to write the words.

Met with the chief of Campus Safety today. That's probably not his title -- they're going through a restructuring that means all the stationary and business cards are being redone anyway -- but we'll call him that here.

He sent me an Email this morning, I replied. We exchange voicemail messages. He wanted to meet with the editor and finally he and his second-in-command stopped by the newsroom for a very nice chat.

Campus police, or security or whatever you have always enjoy an uneasy relationship with the students. The kids think The Man is keeping them down, so you can imagine the wary wary relationship between student media and those in uniform. This year's Samford Crimson staff is very even keeled and conscientious and the payoff for that is today's chat, which ended with open door access for the reporters.

Anytime that happens on campus you call it a success. I call it "after lunch."

Otherwise the day has moved smoothly. The newsroom hummed with busy editing, which is occasionally punctuated by silent editing. This is what is taking the biggest adjustment for me since I've started at Samford: it is often the quietest newsroom (of any kind) I've ever seen.

But I've made it home in time for bed, rather than long after the fact. That's what I call a success.

There are a few new political buttons for you to check out. This week's offerings include a Dukakis, a Mondale and a Shapp '76, which makes me think that the really good buttons stopped after the bicentennial.

They got a little fancier after that, and then pictures were all the rage. Next week I have buttons with URLs on them which just seems to belittle the button's larger point somehow. The highpoint for campaign pinbacks was definitely in the early and mid-20th Century.

That's pretty much it for the day -- I went to the gym this morning, but of course no one wants to hear about that. People do have an interest in buttons, I guess, and that's why I scan them and share them. Someone asked why I do that. The answer isn't in the demand, they are one of the least viewed portions of the site -- and shame on you for that. Mostly I enjoy collecting them, and scanning them for upload justifies the pennies I spend on them.

That, and if ever I need to give someone a good dose of tetanus I'll be well armed.

But I digress.

Tomorrow the paper comes out of course. I have a vague idea of what will be in it, but nothing more. That's as it should be in my role as adviser. I'll read through it, find out what the rest of the journalism faculty think about the edition and then give it a brief critique. The students are earning far more compliments than criticisms, a credit to their effort and dedication.

I hope that's how tomorrow goes. And I hope that's how your day goes as well. Stop back by, we'll find something to chat about. If you don't I might stick someone with a rusty old button.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Today then. What to say of it. It is overcast and untold years of genetic programming alert the shoulders to hunch each time you look at the sky. The same reliable sensation comes along each time you walk outside.

Then you feel a bit foolish for walking around in 70 degree temperatures with hunched shoulders. Granted my campus office is on the third floor of the building, but I should hardly look like a Quasimodo.

And yet. Here I am, ready to stuff hands in pockets and vainly curse Jack Frost for being so blatantly frosty. Only to find that it is still a late summer, early fall type of day. Sure it is mid-October, but the first and second week are very similar in Alabama, climatologically speaking. It won't be until the first week of November that you detect a real difference. Sometimes even the first week of December.

That's what so lovely about the place: a deep need of short sleeve shirts late into the year.

That it is about 58 degrees in my office has no bearing on the rest of my weather perceptions. It is just cold there.

I'd contemplated a mug of hot chocolate at lunch, but I strolled to the library. It is only two buildings away, but I was warm again by the time I walked inside. Checked out I stopped at the bookstore, strolled around and finally made my way upstairs to the cafeteria and found that hot chocolate was, in fact, not needed.

I'm thinking of burning old newsprint as kindling in the office however.

So it's a dreary day -- The sun was punched in the gut "Just got the wind knocked out of me. I'll be back tomorrow; it's only October." -- but still warm enough. Except for indoors, proving once again that I have precious little in life to really complain about.

The first oak is beginning to turn on campus, I noticed with a sad sign. The first of the Stoic Oaks is letting go as well. I'll celebrate the rest of the foliage turn, but oaks are the insult to nice weather. It is serious and real when the oaks let go.

It does give us plenty of opportunities to take pictures and, each year, wonder why you can never capture "autumn" in a photograph. But that's an essay for a later day.

This evening I took a trip to the local Sam's Club where I noted that the strength of the economy is strong. How else could I buy 410 chicken breasts, 45 salmon fillets and a box of biscuits for such a low, low price.

The entire savings of the place is not in bulk purchases, but rather in the absence of bags for your groceries. Sometimes the trade off is worth it, other times you'd really like a bag. Or a bit of interest out of the cashier, but she's seen so many people come through today, flush with their patriotic experience to help this economy, that there is little more she can say.

Maybe I was there at an off time, but no one seemed to be looking through items in the durable goods. We were all there for food. Stocking up, perhaps, for those big presidential debate parties everyone is going to have Wednesday night.

On Boston Legal tonight Denny Crane's ... blood flow ... problems continue. I dislike this line of jokes. James Spader's Alan Shore character led the way, but I think the only person that appreciates any depth in that character any more is the actor. The writers don't seem to. William Shatner's Crane did not have mad cow this week, and he's a more interesting fellow when that's the case.

Otherwise the rest of the cast took a back seat, both the interesting ones and the tiresome ones. An allusion to a guest star's character sends shivers. The case was compelling and interesting but otherwise the show seems lacking. Rene Auberjonois and Mark Valley's continued absence hurts the program.

But I'll continue to watch it. The world might become unbalanced in some critical way. It still has its moments, but the show is missing the punch it once held.

This is the last season, which is good. And there are only 13 episodes, apparently. Which is where I'll get cynical. The sole purpose is to get over the 100 episode mark to make it a syndication property. Who cares for the art, point us to the money, please. The next few shows will probably be phoned in.

Hopefully the end will stand with the first three seasons in quality.

Which pretty much wraps another quality day on this end. Hope yours has been superlative in every way as well. Tomorrow I'll spend the morning at the gym and causing trouble at home since I'm spending much of the evening on campus, which is always fun. There will be new campaign buttons and probably some other reason for you to stop by, so don't be a stranger.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I had many plans for today. They were all small things that would look insignificant in the singular and probably look that way in the aggregate. But, if that's the case, it felt like enough for an overcast Sunday. On warm and cloudy weekends it is OK to operate by feel. It'd be a good general rule for an dreary looking day.

The pictures from yesterday's game are now in the October photo gallery. Examine them once and move on. Best not to dwell on it any further.

On the football fan side of life these can be tough times -- or glorious days -- depending on your chosen colors. I try, and am hopefully successful, in letting the celebration or sadness last no longer than the trip from the stadium to the car. It would be silly to let a game get you down; some do. I feel for the players -- the coaching continues to boggle the mind -- but life's otherwise too good to worry about a game. Unfortunately it is sometimes a long walk to the car.

But people always ask later how happy you are if your team won or how you're holding up if your team lost. It is a pet in this part of the world, sure, but it is only a game. I paid a few bucks for a ticket. Those guys work hard all year and come so close but, ultimately, have a frustrating year.

Someone asked at the beginning of the season about the football fervor. My usual essay answer has been distilled to an effective sentence: Because almost every human emotion can be found within 100 yards. Not all the time do you want to know of each of those emotions, but you can find them there.

It was a long walk to the car last night.

But, then, I'm really only padding out my day here. I've been up-and-at-'em and productive today. I did the photographs. In the afternoon I worked through a laundry basket of clothes, putting everything away before I really knew what hit me.

I washed two more loads of clothes. Then I went downstairs to have a bite to eat but ended up doing dishes and cleaning up a bit first. I was half a step from cleaning the refrigerator -- cleaning comas are curious things, you get the momentum and you can't stop -- when I realized that what I was about to throw away was still edible. Or it might be.

So I had that for lunch. Turns out it was fine. Now there are a few less containers in the fridge, the dishes have been accounted for and the laundry project has largely been accomplished.

At the grocery store this afternoon I picked up a few things. This was not the big purchase, but just a few things for the night. You'd almost rather make the bigger shopping effort, if only to have the cart instead of the basket. There seem to be more cross-store trips when you're subsistence shopping as opposed to stocking shelves.

The one such purchase was for dishwashing soap. Bought two at the reasonable price of $1.29 after having discovered that the store brand cleans just as effectively -- after a full bottle's use there's been no food poisoning from residual products! -- so you may as well buy two. Just in case there's a run on liquid soap in the next six months.

The very nice cashier lady rang up the groceries, bagged them all and saved the bottles of soap as her last items. Then she insured that the top to each bottle was sufficiently tight for transport. I hope she noticed that my word of thanks was especially earnest. It was a nice touch on her part, even if the odds of a soapy escape are pretty small on the two mile trip home. It is one of those little things that keeps you returning to Publix.

Noted with interest the new things that have opened in the new shopping center. Ross seems to be the newest addition. Just as interesting are the things that haven't opened yet. McAllister's Deli, Logan's Steakhouse, Chick-fil-A, a Nestles store of uncertain goods and an AT&T cell store. Some of those were secondary additions, but a few of them feel overdue. You wonder if the economy is pinching new developments.

I suppose it is my patriotic duty, then, to shop there. I'm expecting that announcement from Washington just any day now.

Nice night at home, movies, football and now I can't sleep, but otherwise a fine, fine day. Tomorrow will start another grand week. Hope yours is shaping up as a nice one as well!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

If a moment found itself frozen in time we'd never learn the outcome. We'd never know elation or sorrow. We'd never understand joy or sadness. We would not conceive of frustration. We would have no apprecation of celebration.

Some times that would be OK.


Friday, October 10, 2008

The last few days have been overcast and imposing during the morning. By noon the sun has burned off the clouds and left us with glorious afternoons and evenings. Not bad for October, I'll take that.

Some of the trees are beginning to let go for the season. My parking spot on campus is under a stand of balding elms. The lot will soon be ankle deep in tiny little leaves. Last night I spied a Japanese maple that was still a deep dark green, but flashing brilliant helicopter seed pods. Many of the ivy species are starting to turn. The dogwoods are teasing a fantastic deep red. The poplars are shifting yellow. Soon the oaks will flame out and the grandeur of the season will race past.

It is too early to begin counting the days until spring, particularly since the temperate seasonal autumn is just now getting underway, but I can't help myself. Four months of looking at bare tree branches seems especially unfortunate just now.

Even still, we had Pie Day on the patio tonight. Shorts and sandals were the wardrobe, so you can't be upset about that.

Met some nice people at the next table over who were visiting from Florida. One of them had a son in a track meet nearby. We told them the good things on the menu: all of them. We got a discount on our table for being good salespeople. I paid it right back in a tip to the Super Waiter.

It has been a nice day. I finished up my video camera research for work -- we're about to buy a few, but doing the comparison shopping is no fun -- and had a nice stroll over to the library to return a book. I'll stroll back over on Monday to check it out again. I chatted with the sales manager about her strategy for the rest of the semester. I escaped the parking lot, covered with more elm evidence since the morning, just as they were closing them down for the evening so tailgating could begin.

I had an elm leaf on the car's windshield that stuck there for about 15 minutes before it finally gave up and settled on the side of the road somewhere, lost and far from home. By itself it is just a leaf, of course, but with that sort of determination that carefully planted stand of trees could spread an influence across the mountainside.

Here's the leaf in action. It isn't high art, but so few two-minute things on the Internet can make that claim.

Also, as I have a backlog of things to digitize, I'll begin the process today and show you the hastily built Alumnus section. This is from the Auburn alumni organization, and this particular issue is from 1918. There are only 12 pages and I'm showing you six tonight, and will share the remainder next week.

I have very few of these. The section will obviously never be complete, but the ones I have are from key moments in the university's history. This one, of course, being during the Great War. Another being from 1939, when the university was beginning a big building campaign.

I'm just scanning these -- or in today's case scanning twice because the power went out, killing 20 minutes of effort -- and uploading them. They're entertaining to read, so I'm putting them online should anyone want a glimpse at our great-grandfathers' older brother's experience. The whole page is readable as scanned, but I'm retyping the parts that I find interesting.

There are six people in the world that might find it worth seeing, but here you are nonetheless.

Like I said, I'm just trying to move stuff from the Needs to be Scanned stack to the Scanned stack. And that's a fine Friday night in my world. How's yours?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quiet day on campus. The place is beginning to come together for Family Weekend, that mid-fall opportunity for parents to see their children who don't call or write. It is followed quickly by homecoming, that mid-fall opportunity for parents to realize they like this newfound independence the kid has.

Except for the laundry. They're always bringing laundry home.

So I'm working on a few projects and watching the different departments move around and organize signs and barriers and activities for the weekend. There's a big football game, and promising nice weather. A big crowd is expected for the weekend's festivities.

I'll be in Auburn, of course, but I'll hear about it next week, I'm sure.

Tonight was boys night out for football. Clemson and Wake Forest were playing. UAB visited Houston. The Dodgers and the Phillies were determining postseason fates. We were at one of those sports themed restaurants with 9,738 televisions and nine items on the menu.

From my seat, though, I could see all of those games and a highlight show without moving my head.

The conversation was more entertaining than the games. There were six people at the table. I knew one of them. He had another guy there that he'd known forever. Three of them went to church together. Three of them to college together and the other three also to college together. We told great stories and talked a lot of football.

UAB was dominating Houston in shocking fashion. We decided to withhold judgment until the second half since this was UAB and that was Houston.

I suppose I should claim the Blazers a bit more in my educational heritage. Couldn't hurt, they struggle as much as Auburn does at the moment when it comes to football. And so it was a bit ironic that I could stand in the restroom and watch the UAB game from a television mounted into the wall above the plumbing.

The cheeseburger was passable, but the place would be nothing without all those televisions. The company was the best part of the evening. I sat with a doctor, a lawyer, an industrial engineer, a whipsmart salesman and another guy, who's career I never caught. We'll call him a forest ranger. The point being conversation wasn't hard to come by.

Someone quoted the Email epic, ESPN hates you, but most of the jokes were original.

Turns out waiting on the UAB game was a good idea. Because we're apparently now all old guys with responsibilities and Fridays to account for the night was over just before 9 p.m. What we did not see was a huge sprinkler system malfunction at the UAB game that hosed down the entire team. We also missed Houston storming back in embarrassing fashion to win the game. Turned out to be more interesting than the Wake Forest victory snooze over Clemson.

The company was the best part of the night though. We'll have to do that again soon.

Site notes: After a long sabbatical the Glomerata section gets an update. This installment covers sports from the 1995-96 year. If you have no idea what the Glomerata section is about start here. If you've been eagerly waiting for me to return to this project then you can pick up with the new stuff.

There are also some new pictures in this month's photo gallery, bringing you up-to-date on most everything.

Tomorrow is Pie Day! And we'll see the debut of a new, rather hastily conceived section to the site. Should be fun, so make sure you stop by on your way to a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Slept in an extra hour this morning. Tried to wait out the rain, but it was rather persistent. And unapologetically chilly. It was the vanguard of a milder season, this rain. And no one minds. We need the rain and even the southernmost of the southerners doesn't mind an October day when we're not looking down on 90 degrees.

We peaked at 75 today. We'll have more beautiful 80-degree days later in the week though.

Cleaned out the car this morning. Cleaned out the old car, which is finally going away. This is a complete removal of personal items from the car.

I won't get too wrapped up in it here, but I'm a sentimental guy. I'd driven the car more than 120,000 miles and had a lot of great adventures with it. You can be nostalgic and sad and silly all at once about something with that many fine memories. So, in a way, I was glad the rain was coming down harder because it kept me from standing there too long, feeling foolish and saying goodbye to metal, rubber and plastic.

But it was a great car. Always took care of me, never left me in a tight spot. It always had the decency to have its problems when I was near home, near the mechanic or when people were around to help.

I've owned it for seven years, and it served me well. Now it can do the same for others; I donated it to the National Autism Association. I hope they can get a lot of money out of it. I hope the eventual owner can get a lot of use and joy out of the car.

So if you and I are ever together and I get lost at the site of a green Intrepid, give me a moment before you shake me from my reverie. I'm just remembering covering the southeast in a fine automobile.

On campus today I met the Samford director of athletics, who's a very nice, engaging man. We chatted for about 20 minutes this afternoon, and I hope I get to visit with him again soon.

Reviewing the paper I'm more than pleased once again. The layouts look good, there were a few printing press issues, but sometimes those happen despite everyone's best efforts. We managed to mangle two small lines of text, but otherwise everything looks good.

You can see it online of course. It is mostly campus-directed, of course, so your mileage may vary.

I've completely returned the lifestyle, I realized today because one of my favorite features is the intramural sports report. This, from a few weeks ago, is a feature I hope the staff revives are DVD reviews. They most recently reviewed a good and bad movie from the 1990s, Benny and Joon, and then Kazaam. That's an entertaining read.

But I digress.

In a few days, I'll be showing off the new blog look.

In other news Auburn fired their embattled offensive coordinator. In the middle of a season. On a Wednesday. Minutes before practice and days before a game. I question the timing.

I was on the air with an Arkansas radio station -- Auburn plays Arkansas this weekend, so they have an interest -- and in reading everything that is available so far I'm only equipped to say that the real story, when it outs, will be an interesting read.

They gave the guy four whole weeks. And when you put it all together there seem few ways that this turns out to be a good thing for the program in the long run. I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I'm ready to be proven right.

Oh there are lots of things to say about this and there will be plenty of time to armchair coach the direction of the program.

But, at the end of the day, the sun set and the sky was still blue and orange.

At home the driveway is peculiarly empty. The Intrepid is gone. So that I don't dwell on it I go upstairs and sew up a pillow that has burst at the seam. Somehow a simple repetitive motion seems a good distraction.

When I'm done with my chore it is clear I should never be tasked with sewing up anything more involved than a pillow, let alone a pet or a person. But at least the thread blends with the fabric. No one will notice. Until they read this and start looking through the pillows that is.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On campus late into the night once again. The writers are crafting their staff editorial and putting the rest of the paper to bed. Because it is a Tuesday we are all here.

Because we are all here we missed the debate. One of the staffers, a political science major, skipped away to catch it. I followed it vicariously on Twitter, where I surmised that either all of my friends are Democrats OR that no one really one the debate.

I have many very talented and snarky friends via Twitter. They make the debate far more entertaining than it probably was to anxious television viewers.

Met with Dr. Jennings Bryant at the University of Alabama this morning. Mass communications experts are giddy at the name. He's a very kind man, and a very busy one, which is part of what makes him so kind.

He spent the better part of an hour with me this morning, talking about my work at Samford, the program at Alabama and his time, years ago, as a campus media adviser. He expressed interest in me joining the doctoral program at Alabama. My boss is also encouraging me to go back to school.

Now I just have to figure out how to make it work.

We're also trying to make our new blog template work for the newspaper site. That should be up and running any day now. We presently have a fine sports blog written by one of the hardest working students you'll find. We've lined up contributors for an opinions blog (or is that redundant?) and we'll have someone running a photography blog soon too.

And more photo galleries and video on the site this week. Three weeks in a row. According to some that's a trend.

The students work really hard, and I'm proud to see that. I'm also proud that I don't have to stay here until 3 a.m. because, while I love journalism, I love sleep too.

And one of the computers keeps giving the designers problems. I'm going to escape before the machine causes a scene.

Later, at home. Hey, there's the debate. No problem falling asleep now. Except I'm curious to see if I can spot all the things I read about earlier in the night.

Yep, there they all are. Or some of them at least. It goes on through the entire debate, of course, the critical eyes of America are watching. No longer do we view it for politics, but rather for sport. The candidates are trying to play everything so close to the vest anyway that we'll hear nothing more than the ignoring of questions from "real life 'Mericans" and more stump speeches.

That ought to put me to -- Zzzzzz.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The internet connection problem, part two, day two ...

Despite my deepest wishes, the mere act of "letting the sophisticated machines I don't really understand rest for eight hours" did not pan out. My waking up this morning did not fix the connection. It should be that simple, really, but it was not.

So, with no internet connection I called again. Last night the cable company swore it was not them, but rather the router. A seemingly dubious claim since the router was doing two of its assigned tasked. Technical support from the router's company fixed the problem, but only for one machine. Even still, that's 75 percent and that's not bad progress for a Sunday evening.

This left the desktop this morning, and another phone call. This was where I learned the obvious: following directions the cable company gave me while in the process of following the advice from the router folks will lead to a disconnected phone.

After a few moments it all made since, but I had to call back again, explain that, not only did this problem occupy three of their staffers in various phone calls last (the same disconnection issue, the battery in the phone died and, finally, they accidentally disconnected the call which was the sign to call it quits last night) and also a guy just now.

The first guy this morning was named Ahmed, and he was heavily accented, but helpful. He tried all of the standard things and after 17 minutes ascertained that my computer was plugged into the wall. The internet giving snake juice monster was plugged into the back of the humming machine and that my home did, in fact, have power.

We spent awhile assuring one another that I'd gone through the first 23 procedures last night. I assured him by offering "We did the first 23 steps last night with no progress on regaining the internet connection."

He reassured me by going through the 23 steps to find, to his surprise, that I had no progress on regaining the internet connection.

At which time he advised me to plug my desktop into the modem, bypassing the router. The cable company tech support said the modem needed to be reset when this is done. I reset it. A moment later I lost the call. Mostly because I know have a digital phone running through the modem. Which had just been reset.

So I called back. Got a new guy on the phone. He was not interested in my case number -- so carefully delivered to me in the event that I'd need to call back. He asked for my phone number, which is apparently not tied to my case number as we had to go through the "Is this seat taken? Mind if I eat my sandwich in the uncomfortable proximity of a stranger?" dialogue.

Also, he had less of an accent. And his name was Dave.


You can't trust a man unwilling to give you his real name. Even if it is meant as a cultural disarmament. Even if he was trying to smooth over the preconceived notions of international outsourcing and tech support. If he won't tell me his real name how am I to know that his badge number is authentic?

And why do these guys have badges? Are they router police? Will they cite mine for loitering?

So "Dave" had me try this, check that, ping the other, type this, refresh, click this and try again. "Dave" said he'd have it done in 15 minutes or so. The problem got fixed and, just to prove the point, "Dave" concluded the phone call by noting we'd done it all in 13 minutes and 48 seconds.

He's my favorite Dave, ever.

And that was in the morning, after which was a nice quiet day at work. Tomorrow is the busier day. Today I'm just doing research on cameras and pestering the web provider about small little details like an FTP login. How can someone run a site without FTP access?

They gave it freely, it turns out, but they aren't volunteering it to anyone. Tomorrow we'll play around with designs and themes and schemes and new web site dreams.

Tonight I've been watching Monday night football, which was a curiously odd game. Most things involving Tony Kornheiser are curiously odd, but the game itself was interesting. More so than two division championship baseball games.

But not as interesting as the new episode of Boston Legal. This is the third episode of what might possibly be the last season. They've reaffirmed it is a show about James Spader's character. I find myself caring less about him. They've made William Shatner's character more of a sideshow, making him less of an investment.

I know, to hear all of that it would sound like I dislike the show, but it still has its moments. At this point I must be a completist, but I'll still grouse at how the show has grown more coarse, and wonder at the irony of that happening on the Disney-owned network.

Incidentally, Google says there are 181 pages on the internet discussing both Kornheiser and Spader and Shatner.

Let's make that 182.

The campaign button section returns! We've all missed it so. There are three new additions, Wendell Willkie, a pinback featuring Hoover-Curtis and a Taft offering.

I love all of these buttons. The Willkie pin comes from what I know consider the high water mark of cellophane campaigns. It is bold, simple and has all the right colors. Red, white and blue forgive the fun that comes with a critical eye. "'For Willkie President'? Surely not good man."

Of course stacking the words in the proper order puts "for" in the center and that guy had never won a race. Neither had Willkie, come to think of it.

The Hoover-Curtis button is simple and director. Blue on a white background, with a curved font that tricks the eye into thinking the names are leaping from the button. That'd be a neat campaign trick. "Hey, there's a swell coat accessory. What does it -- Ack! I'm attacked by letters! Get them off! Surely if their names are so aggressive they'll be good in office."

People would come to disagree.

The Taft button is as clean as basic as possible, and therefor deserving of my affection. Which campaign boasted of such a beautiful button is a mystery that I'm afraid to definitively unravel.

The other mystery that needs to be unraveled is the link structure for that section, but that's a minor, silly little worry for another day as the hour grows late.

May all of your days have only the silliest of worries. Especially tomorrow!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Some days you must create your adventure from the prosaic. Today The Yankee and I spent a part of the afternoon spinning around in a lot of chairs.

We stopped at Staples looking for desk chairs, sitting in them all and finding fault in most. Sitting in the massage chair I realized that my shoulder was hurting. Funny how I hadn't noticed before then.

After gathering my noodlelike body from that chair we stopped by the nearby Office Depot and sat in more chairs. I knocked over some floor mats, watched a little football on the flat screen and then The Yankee found the chair she wanted.

The salesperson tried to sell her one of those floor mats. First, she said, the chair would damage the carpet. Then, she said, the carpet would damage the wheels of the chair.

Since the second argument made no sense -- and since I probably have a plastic mat in storage somewhere -- I politely said no, she shrugged and called the back for the chair.

After that we visited Best Buy. I'm eyeballing video cameras for a work project. Having seen all I could in that department I wondered around the store, dizzy from all the electronics and shiny, beeping things. And then I found the new Aerosmith version of Guitar Hero.

I first played the original game a few months ago with friends, but now I could try all new songs which were actually ... old songs. Some of them really old. A few of them I didn't know -- but I'm no Aerosmith expert. The Yankee plucked out a few, getting the hang of it before long.

I played all the We're-clean-now tunes and made Joe Perry whip his guitar. There are the random Cheap Trick tunes, an inexplicable Joan Jett song and an even more random Black Crowes track and the obligatory Ted Nugent. We played them and rocked them, guitar heroes that we are. We did it in competition with another display directly behind it where a kid could not get enough of Nirvana. The game is silly enough as it is, the ears don't need the competition.

Wielding an axe makes you hungry, so there was Mexican for dinner. Quiet night at the restaurant. The race at Talladega had just wrapped up and while there were no hotels or beer to be found within a 100 miles radius you can pretty much eat wherever you want. We were in and out quickly.

And then home to watch a little football and to find the network had died.

It just worked and then it just stopped. The internet connection comes via the cable company and they are the usual culprit. They suggested it was not their signal nor their modem, but rather the router. Getting the router tech support group on the phone -- and amazed that all these people are working on a Sunday night -- led to a bit more frustration.

The router lets the TiVos talk to one another, so half of it works. We get it fixed, only to find out that it was three-quarters of the way fixed. The router is now talking to everything except for the desktop.

On the other hand the router says the dishes are done and the clothes in the dryer are ready to be put away.

Tomorrow then, because it is too late in the evening to be frustrated by such a simple problem. That's what fresh starts on Monday are for!

So my weekend was great, except for the router, and especially the football. When these are your disappointments it is time to count your blessings.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I fielded two calls tonight from people who didn't know what to say. Two phone calls, in random succession, each beginning with "I don't know what to say about that."

The calls ended quickly because no one could make sense of it.

And that's what losing to Vanderbilt will do to otherwise intelligent and verbose people. If a lawyer is quite you've done something. And since you can only go so far in physically restraining a lawyer's voice stupifying one with poor football is, apparently, the way to go.

Such is life when you drop a game to Vanderbilt, 14-13.

Such is life when your team becomes the first victory for a ranked Vanderbilt squad since 1956. Such is life when your team loses its first game to Vandy since 1955. Such is life when your team contributes to Vanderbilt's first 5-0 start since the Roosevelt administration. Such is life when your team's defeat has the 'Dores on a 3-0 conference streak since 1982.

Vanderbilt looked pretty good. They deserve credit for the performance on the field and a great deal of credit for a superior coaching effort. Auburn -- frustrated, confused, imploding, frozen in fear -- could do nothing right after the first quarter. Vandy exposed the Auburn coaching staff's inability to adjust -- a story that is told at least once a season -- and sent Tigers fans lining up to see heads roll.

The sports shows and message boards are flooding already. The bleeding might not stop for a while.

I don't know what to say about that. Except this: That's as miserable as an Auburn team has looked since 1998 and 1999 and the early, early 1980s before that.

Mint chocolate chip ice cream helped, but only a bit.

Elsewhere Alabama played down to visiting Kentucky, dodged two huge bullets late and won. Samford beat West Carolina 21-6 to gain their first victory in the Southern Conference. The rest of the day's games went about as you'd expect.

That makes the dual television setup in the den helpful, but not nearly as useful as it would be on a day of mass upsets. Two televisions would get a lot of action for upset specials, but with everything going as expected there was the game of local importance and the otherwise interesting-at-the-moment game sitting just to the left. As it was mine was the only team on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

I feel for those guys on the Auburn squad. So much talent and potential (both previously demonstrated and as yet unrealized) and it just looks like it is being squandered by poor coaching.

It won't make for easy reading next week. And, as the poor performances mount even some of the middling teams on the upcoming schedule now seem daunting.


Friday, October 3, 2008

There's nothing quite so ironically humorous and satisfying as the meta feeling of being called out on your Twittering, mid-twit, and then writing to Twitter about it.

At the National Press Club's local panel this morning on the future of journalism I moved from the middle of the room to the front row after a clip of the Club's historical documentary. I moved so I could set up a video camera.

On the panel were Tom Scarritt, the editor of The Birmingham News, James Finch, the news director of the local Fox affiliate, Ken Booth, the editor-in-chief of and Dr. Matt Bunker, a First Amendment scholar from the University of Alabama.

If you're interested here's an edited version of the future of journalism forum. It ran almost two hours including the Q&A session, and I've edited it down to half an hour. Because of the length and the topic I don't expect this to be the most popular video I've ever offered, but if you're a journalist, a journalism student or interested in the business you'll find it interesting.

Incidentally, the version of Movie Maker I used to edit the video doesn't allow for graphic insertions, so the names above go left-to-right at the table in the video. Ken Booth, of course, is my former boss and as is generally the case he was on top of his game. He was the one that pointed out my Twittering.

His colleagues were also good, Scarritt is passionate guy and maintains the importance of the fundamentals of good reporting, no matter what the future holds for the business. Like most people in his position he has a keen eye for observation and makes lots of good points. Finch works at a television station that has just been sold (always a deal changer in the business) and they're trying new things to augment their traditional coverage. Dr. Bunker is one of the top First Amendment scholars around, and might have seemed out of place considering the panel, but he made quality points.

Since I mentioned it, here are some of my tweets from the panel:
Scarritt: newspaper journalism in Birmingham is healthy. Our mission is the same.

Finch: we need to meet the audience where they are. He's talking mobile. Booth: a successful online business w/ a growing market share

Booth plugs twitter about the veep debates.

Bunker notes less horse race coverage in this campaign.

Booth predicts 3.0 mobility. Rest of the panel makes mental notes.

Bunker asks about due diligence in a 24/7 cycle. All say they have procedures in place.

Looking forward Scarritt says conveying content, no matter the platform, remains key.

Fox is losing 87.7 next year, Finch says.

Ken Booth just outed my twittering. (he didn’t say I'm using a 7-year-old phone.)

Booth: readers, citizen journalists, are filtering news v noise.

Bunker says the future sacrifice may be depth for breadth.

On news vs noise and rumors and opinion Scarritt says the transparency and discipline of verification is key.

Booth says this is the golden age of news availability.

Timbuktu has been mentioned three times. Wasilla, Alaska, zero.

Doug Ray from The Tuscaloosa News is here too. He's asking the panel about public perception of trust.

Bunker says branding, transparency with links to source documents would help.

Scarritt says performance helps too.

On a question about news' relevance toward youth Finch says as culture goes so goes journalism. Says the audience has to demand more.
It was a good panel and the video ends with the optimistic thought, but you'll have to watch the video to find out what that is.

While my former boss was on the panel another former boss was one of the organizers of the event. We'd worked together in broadcast news several years back and chatted briefly about our new, slower-paced lives. "Real life," she called it. Amen, sister.

Had lunch with The Yankee, my two new bosses -- the journalism faculty chair and the dean -- and another journalism professor. Talk ranged from the debates to the economy to which three people you'd choose from history if you could download history and experience.

You'll dig up some good answers with that.

After work there was Pie Day with The Yankee and Brian. There hasn't been a Pie Day the last few weeks because of prior commitments and various demands, but it was just like the good ol' days. Except when it wasn't.

Ward, the Super Psychic Waiter, was stymied by sudden and inexplicable changes in taste, but recovered nicely. We might have distracted him from his other tables, but that's why he likes us.

There was football, but it was distracting. I'm only peripherally aware of it tonight, as I got all of my picks for the week in on time, but otherwise am not inspired by the evening's offerings. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I'll have at least two televisions set up in the den watching as many games as possible.

If tomorrow's entry is shorter or more thematic you can refer to the end of this post for the reason.

Hope you're having a great weekend already!

Watch the video or see more on the video page.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm getting to a place that makes me feel as if I'm caught up on things again. This can only mean a few things, as it usually happens in some combination: it is time to do laundry, I could use a bit of straightening about the house and something will distract me and make me feel behind.

I'm up to date on all of the timely reading. I'm only a few small items short of being caught up on correspondence. Bills have all been paid before their due dates. For four blessed hours the website was caught up -- ignoring the absence of the extras, which should return next week, since I got around to exactly none of them tonight.

So I guess tomorrow night I'll put away some clothes, discard junk mail and store shoes and other things that should be hidden from view.

I am a suburban rebel rouser.

So what then? We could talk about music, I've heard some fine things the last few days. We could discuss movies. Unfortunately I was flipping back and forth between Terminator 2 and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Mostly T2, as I probably haven't watched it since just after its release.

Most of the CGI isn't as breathtaking as it was. I watched the bashing of the Terminator with an I-beam by the T2000 in slow motion. That looked pretty good. Otherwise we're seeing the most annoying woman one gin away from a complete meltdown and the world's most precocious gun-toting 10-year-old.

Joe Morton is in it though, so that's great. Otherwise the Terminator movies always bring about the great philosophical question: Is it easier, or more difficult to act when one must act as if one isn't acting?

I think that answer various, depending on the player. Take tonight's debate for example. One needed to act friendly, the other needed to act like a friendly surrogate. One needed to attack, one needed to deflect. One needed to remember camera locations and the other needed to blink.

My debate thoughts, lest the Internet suffer from one too few opinions on the subject. They were dashed off quickly, and with irreverence, as recorded by Twitter:
My survey: Got a job, bills and mortgage paid. My economic barometer is fine. And unlike some companies or gov't I behave responsibly.

"The one thing we'll have to slow down..." aside from normally empty campaign promises, Biden implies.

The one thing Palin will never do, like McCain, Obama, Biden and Kerry before them: sound senatorial.

Biden like Obama before him, finds himself agreeing with his opponent. Wonder who that favors.

Palin: McCain's a prophet!

I wonder which logic Biden is using in using "Governor." Historically the nation prefers governor in the executive branch.

If Palin ignores climate change then Russia is farther away from her doorstep. Phew!

Biden talking of exporting tech to China reminds me of Clinton's Chinese scandal.

Lipstick. Lipstick. Lipstick.

Ifill didn't do her verbal exercises. She's not on her game tonight.

Dems that don't want to legislate something? The GOP is now sorta kinda OK with the civil rights for same-sex unions? What just happened?

Is foreign policy where she takes a swing?

She whiffed. Elder statesman Biden now steps in. But he'd be better just saying it. His attempts at certitude just sound like qualifiers.

Can't the GOP just hire a diction coach for nukular issues?

She'd be awesome in the role of sunny side up attack dog. Err Alaskan hockey mom. She could out Edwards John Edwards.

Did Biden just admit he got duped and is gullible? Palin: Oh you're so cute how you remind us all of John Kerry!

OK. I get it. Alaska has resources and is big.

Biden is thinking of LBJ. Palin is thinking of naming a shade of lipstick "Maverick."

Hey Joe? More than doubled my income in the last eight years.

Palin goes all Constitutional scholar, Wasillastyle.

Interesting how Biden equates power with danger re: Cheney. Makes you wonder why he's running.

Shh Palin's talking about the heartland. Someone cue the misappropriate use of John Mellencamp.

I hate that he's (still) using his family tragedy to curry favor and sympathy. Only a professional pol ...

No one that would be president or veep should know, or use, the term "shout out."

Biden might have beaten Bush in 2004. Take THAT John Kerry.

Biden went Bork? So much for the midright undecideds.

"Ya know in Alaska, if we don't get along we get cold separately." The whole “I don’t compromise, we work together” thought makes my head hurt.

It pains me, too, that Biden just copped to still learning simple life lessons after arriving in DC.

Certitude in neighborhoods? The kids across the street tonight were fine. Also more kids in college than ever. What's the problem Joe?

Twittering a debate is more fun than just watching.

Talking heads begin to bore within 23 seconds.

The NY Times proves the value of Twitter and the low value of debates by releasing their debate coverage during the event.
If you can't have a party during a vice presidential debate there's something wrong there. And, in fact, I did not have that party. I sat on the sofa, ignoring the nonverbals as I pecked away at my phone to try to amuse the Twitterati with my debate observations. I did hear Biden sigh, I'm reading that he grimaced a bit and rolled his eyes. Be careful senator! Al Gore will heat up your neighborhood for stealing his move!

And that's the night. The football has passed us by. We missed a nail biter and a come from behind victory to hear from the candidates. Nothing was solved, the economy is still tottering on ruination and no clear favorites emerged.

I should have watched the Utah game. Yes, the Utah game.

And now I'm behind again. That's what tomorrow is for, right?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

If this is October we'd all order them by the gross. Who needs September when you can have this?

The weather's just beautiful. The sky is a deep, rich blue. The high temperature climbed to 76, it was in the mid 50s this morning. We had the slightest breeze in the early afternoon.

This might last us through the month, or maybe even into November, but the weather will betray us. It is a transient thing and the clues are already there. The elm trees are beginning to frost their tips. The poplars are yellowing at the temple.

The days are glorious, and so we'll take them with no complaint. But we'll know what's coming. We'd just like to pretend ignorance, or figure out climate-control satellites in the next five weeks or so.

The paper looked good. There were three significant problems and a few typos, pretty much as I'd expected. By and large it was another good week, they're making us proud.

You can see it online. You can also the site's second ever photo gallery. The first was last week. The plan, of course, is to make them a very regular part of the site. Video too. One day soon we'll get there.

Something else cool: I had lunch today with one of the guys in the video department who's now putting the finishing touches on a video written and directed by Samford students. He's showing it at Cannes soon. Apparently Samford's the only place around where students would have an opportunity to do something like that. I'll have to go up to his studio and watch that sometime.

Couple of meetings today, chatting with the boss, sales strategies and so on.

The staff held their budget meeting in the early evening and, before that, I took a quick walk around part of the campus. Here's the library and Centennial Walk. There's another view of the beautiful Reid Chapel. You'll find a few more pictures in the newly created October photo gallery.

Finally there was the first budget meeting for next week's paper. There I delivered a critique of this edition. They're doing a good job, though, writing a critique is getting challenging.

There are always things to work on, but they're doing a nice job right now. At the end of the day journalism is an art and there will always be something to consider, prod, poke, rework and vainly try to be perfect. As Vince Lombardi said "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

Lombardi quotes? That's a sure sign it is the end of the day. I got home in time for a bite to eat and am ready to fall into bed. Tomorrow's the vice presidential debate, and hopefully there'll be something extra to add to the site as well.