What do ladders, Olympics and football have in common?

I have older memories. I remember a few things that happened in the place where we lived when I was four. That’s about where it starts for me. And it is increasingly foggy up until about … I dunno … 15 minutes ago.

Sometimes I wonder about the false memories. The oldest memory I have, as I have described it, didn’t actually exist. We never lived in a place with a yard like that, I’m told. Did I see Empire Strikes Back in the theater? Or was it a re-release of the original Star Wars? Do I remember the I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke campaign? It started long before I was born, but did it run long enough for me to eventually notice? Or was that some reproduction?

Picking out what is right and what is wrong on the conveyor belt of your brain is like pulling getting that one bad grape. Squishy and bitter. And it puts you ill at ease about the next grape, too. Ancient memory is a tricky thing, but for as long as I can recall I’ve wanted bookshelves with a ladder attached to them:


I have a lot of books. We turned a room in our home into a library. It has a fireplace. This is serious. We have bookshelves in other rooms because there isn’t enough room in the library. And yet we still don’t have enough books for the bookshelf ladders. You can’t have one. You need at least two. That’s the mark of a good library.

I saw that one in a bookstore today. We hit two today, after a late breakfast. I found the book I wanted at the second bookstore. It wasn’t on the shelf at the first place, but I did see an employee playing checkers on his computer. It was slow. Bookstores here will pick up in the next few days, though, when the college kids come back to town.

You know who doesn’t come back? Anything to Olympic venues. Surf around and you’ll find plenty of complaints about facilities rusting away in Beijing or going to seed in Greece. Apparently they aren’t even showing up to begin with in London:

After a week of unusually quiet streets, idling cabs and easily navigated shops, fears of the Gridlock Games have transformed into complaints about the Ghost Town Olympics.

Experts say tens of thousands of foreign tourists without tickets to the Olympic Games appear to have decided to skip London, bowing to official warnings of stifling overcrowding — a forecast that ignored the lessons of other Olympic host cities that have emptied out during the Games over the past 20 years. In even larger numbers, these experts say, Britons themselves, including tens of thousands who normally commute to work in London, have heeded official appeals and stayed home.

Aside from that timeless crutch of the lazy journalist, “experts say” there are plenty of lessons here. The biggest two are maybe it is a good thing Chicago didn’t get the Games. Maybe bids should be limited to cities with the venues already in place or cities … elsewhere. Boondoogle: not in my backyard.

By the way. I wrote last week about Auburn’s first Olympians. Here is a picture of the first one, Snitz Snyder, taken from the 1928 Glomerata.


He ran in the 400 meter race in 1928. If he had the race of his life — the race he qualified with was a national record, 48 seconds — he might have made the medal stand. For comparison: the world record in 1928 was 47 seconds and the U.S. record today is 43.18.

Snyder came home and became a legendary coach in Bessemer, Ala. He has a football stadium named after him today. The gentleman standing next to him is the great track coach Wilbur Hutsell. The Auburn track and field facilities are named in his honor.

I did a bit of hasty counting today. At one point this afternoon Auburn athletes, as a nation, would have ranked 44th on the all time Olympic medal list. The Tigers are coming after YOU, Kazakhstan. This list doesn’t, of course, count the Jimmy Carter 1980 Games. There were a few guys on that U.S. Olympic roster projected to compete for medals in Moscow. Impressive stuff for a university.

One other Olympic note of limited use, the most retweeted thing I wrote on Twitter today: NASA is landing something on a DIFFERENT PLANET and airing it live. Your move, NBC.

You start noticing third party effects when people you’ve never heard of start retweeting you. When you see it more than a few times you start to wonder about it. I ran that Tweet through a tracker and found it reached something like 28,000 accounts. Of course not all of those people were online at the time, but that’s still a nice statistic for a piece of sarcasm. The conclusion, we’re all happy to complain about NBC.

I began following this Smithsonian blog on Tumblr last week. (Follow my Tumblr, too!) They are quick hits, and mostly pictures. I traded out a few other sites for this one. (I’m trying to cut back.) But this one is worth seeing, and this post today proved it. The person that uploaded it asked “What’d be going through your mind in this photo moment?”

I’d be thinking This is the GREATEST thing that has EVER happened to me!

There aren’t enough explanation points in that air tank. I’d suck it down to 200 pounds in no time.

Speaking of photo essays, the best one of the week is from a Birmingham toddler.

It rained today. Hard. Almost like this:

When the real serious rains blow through now we think about the 2009 West Virginia game. I wrote about that and have some nice pictures to memorialize the day. (Rain was in the forecast and I wisely left my big camera at home that night.) We sat in that over-crowded concourse for an awfully long time and I wondering: How many places could you be crushed like this for … almost an hour now and watch all of these people maintain their good spirits? Not many, I’d bet.

Is it football season yet? We’re only about four weeks away …


  1. Noah asked me to pass on a thanks to the shout-out on his post. He appreciates your appreciation for his art with words.