The day the sirens went off

My friend the great Ike Pigott came to speak to my class today.


Ike works at Alabama Power and he is a great idea man. His time at Red Cross and, before, that, ABC 33/40 make him a terrific pitch man. He talked to the class about public relations and social media and crisis communications.

He talked about the last series of tornadoes that passed through the state. It occurred to me that every pro we’ve talked to in that class this semester has told tornado war stories. I’m sure every student who is from some other place is wondering why they live here now.

With about a half-hour left in the class the fire alarm went off. Everyone in the room looked at me.

I’m supposed to know this answer.

Fortunately I remembered what we are supposed to do in a fire alarm. (It isn’t like this happens all the time.) So we got our things, felt the door to make sure it wasn’t hot, walked down the hall and exited the building to our exterior gathering space. Class continued as the fire truck pulled up:


It was cold and damp and we couldn’t see any smoke anywhere. Firefighters walked inside and, a few minutes later, walked back out. I walked over to them and said “I have a class full of journalism students wondering what is going on.”

Turns out someone in the kitchen in the cafeteria, which is in another wing of the same building, started cooking something without exhaust fans and that built up smoke for the sensors and so there we were, talking about crisis communication with a firetruck in the background.

That’s a Wednesday.

We went back inside and, at the end of the class, the fire alarm went off again. Turns out that we had gone long on our class, but the students were so caught up in what Ike was talking about that they didn’t mind. He’s just that good.

Also today was the first meeting with the incoming editor of the Crimson. I was up late last night putting together information for him. Want the job? Here are 27 pages of easy reading. Mark, set, go.

He’s been around the paper for the last two years as a section editor and is a smart guy, so I’m sure he’ll do well.

This year’s staff has done a fine job and I’m proud of a lot of things they’ve done. I always like that first new meeting though. It is one of my favorite parts of the year.

Usually it is warmer, mid-April and all. Tonight parts of the state are enjoying temperatures 30 degrees below their seasonal averages. Spring will arrive on a more permanent basis, eventually. Right?

Or maybe we’ll just go directly into summer.

Things to read: The War Eagle Reader was kind enough to reprint the thing I wrote the other day. It let me give it another edit and convinced me I still didn’t adequately make my point. There’s always next time.

Philip Lutzenkirchen wrote an open letter that’s worth reading:

Most importantly I need to thank the entire Auburn Family. You all are truly the best fans in the country. You’ve been on our side through thick and thin and that is appreciated way more than you think. I’ll never truly understand why you all love that goofy, embarrassing, silly, little dance that I did against ‘Bama but I appreciate the love that you have always showed me.

State senators have to be separated:

Alabama state senators and a Senate official stepped in between two of their colleagues during a shouting match between the two men that occurred after a controversial ruling by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday night.

And this, the sweetest thing you’ll read all day:

Plastic wrappers and other pieces of litter rustled like tumbleweed across the empty space under the bridge yesterday afternoon.

Two hours later, enough chairs were set up to seat several hundred of Nashville’s homeless, enough chicken and baked beans cooked to feed them all.

And a few minutes later, while some were still finishing up their rainbow cake dessert, a cloth was rolled down the aisle and my friend Amanda walked through a crowd of her homeless friends to meet her fiancé at the altar under the overpass.

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