A good deed, an ending, a beginning

I caught an escaping dog this morning while out pounding the pavement. There was a collar on the pooch, so we called, wonder who was named Colby. Turned out that was the dog. A big white pekapoo, or some such, out free and intent on telling the other dogs within sniffing range about it.

When Colby’s owner caught up to us she said the dog was more trouble than her kids. He’d figured out a way to get through the bushes in the yard. Maybe the children haven’t mastered that technique yet, but the dog is escaping every time if the deterrent is shrubbery.

Anyway. That was the beginning of the day. Good deed done. The day’s going to end with a bite of frozen yogurt, so it has rounded itself out nicely.

In between there was reading and a little more reading. There was also a delicious steak dinner, my balloon post from yesterday got picked up by The War Eagle Reader. Also I had a little chat with a member of the governor’s office that is leaving Montgomery today.

Bob Riley returns home — or to his lake house, his home is getting water damage repairs, apparently — after eight years in the governor’s mansion. I was a cub reporter when he was first elected to Congress. Interviewed him on election night. He was a very nice man, who could have been self-important, but was willing to entertain questions from a kid who didn’t really yet know what he was doing.

He’s not without his critics, of course, but there’s no denying the mark he’s had on the state in two terms. And, if half of the things for which executives get credit or blame are really directly related to his efforts, it has been a good administration.

The economy has slowed everywhere, of course, but there are several vital aspects of the state now leading the way in a way that wouldn’t have been possible a decade or two ago. There are car manufacturers everywhere. Mobile is poised to become a boomtown with new naval contracts and airline deals and shipping growth. Birmingham has completed the transition from being a steel town to being a medical center and a biomedical hotbed. Huntsville will grow as more military comes that way. Education, which has never been a strong area for bragging in Alabama, got some good news just today:

The report, dubbed by Education Week as the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education, ranked Alabama 25th among all states and the District of Columbia for overall grades and scores on the report card. This is the first time Alabama has ever ranked ahead of the national average in the overall education quality.


(T)oday Alabama students are outpacing the rest of the nation in improvements in Reading, Math and Science scores and Alabama ranked 4th nationally in gains in the graduation rate between 2002 and 2008.

Not a bad bit of news to hear on your way out the door. Also, a few huge and ancient lawsuits against the state were resolved during Riley’s eight years. He also pushed some useful ethics reform bills late in his second term.

There are criticisms, to be sure, but if inauguration day is about hope and promise, the day you leave office should be something of a victory lap. Riley — and every member of his cabinet whom I had occasion to interview, come to think of it — was always considerate to me professionally. I tried to follow along on his re-election campaign for my master’s thesis, but that didn’t work out. Even so, his people were cordial.


This evening we went out to the gymnastics meet. This was the first home meet of the year for Auburn, and the first meet in the new Auburn Arena. Pictures and blurbs below:


The answer to a trivia question no one will ever ask: Who had the first routine for the gymnastics team in Auburn Arena? Allyson Sandusky. She also won the beam routine in the Arena opener.


Kendall Swartz scored a 9.750 on bars, putting her at fourth in the meet.


Lauren Brzostowski’s 9.800 was good for second on the beam, behind her teammate Allyson Sandusky.


Laura Lane’s 9.750 was good for third overall on the floor, an event the Tigers swept.


Rachel Inniss scored 9.900 to win the floor routine. Something about this pose seems familiar. Feels like I’ve seen that three times before, around here.


The Auburn gymnastics team got their first win of the season against No. 25 LSU, 194.775-194.475. The gymnasts performed for a crowd of 4,190 on hand to see the Tigers’ first meet at the Auburn Arena and the first victory for new head coach Jeff Graba. Auburn and LSU were tied after one event, but the Bengal Tigers took a lead halfway through the meet. Auburn, which began the season ranked 15th, pulled away in their final two rotations on the beam and floor. Petria Yokay won the all-around with 38.750.

It is really nice to be at a gymnastics meet and hear “War Eagle” after events.

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