There is no candy to mark the season

We discussed press conferences in class today. The students will take part in a faux-press conference on Monday. The director of Public Safety will brief them on an on-campus issue. It all stems from a training exercise the emergency folks on campus and in the surrounding communities do every year.

I don’t miss police media conferences. Police officers and fire department folks and the various hardworking people who are involved in those types of stories don’t give very good quotes. They have plenty of good reasons to be careful with what they say — they don’t know everything yet, they have to protect the investigation and they don’t want to be the biggest part of a story among other things — but that doesn’t help the people working on stories very much.

I found, if you interact with the same public information officers enough you can almost produce the story without them there. You learn their quotes and phrases and know where this answer goes and on and on.

Of course you must ask questions, even the ones where you already know the answer: I can’t discuss the ongoing investigation, the officer patiently answers for the hundred time this year.

Press conferences with lawyers aren’t much more entertaining. The things aren’t meant to be entertaining, of course, but still everyone wants to be amused once in a while. So I told stories today about some of the three-ring circus press conferences of which I’ve taken part. That will not be what you have in class Monday, I said.

Big department meeting at the end of the day. I take minutes. I think I wrote five pages of minutes. The first year I did that I typed seven minutes thinking “Haha! I won’t be asked to do this anymore! MUHAHA!”

And I’ve done it every time since.

They are flying the Union Jack in Sherman Circle on campus. This is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the university’s international studies program in London.


It might be a bit difficult to tell in that light, but this particular flag has silver in it. Wikipedia explains:

The first rule of heraldic design is the rule of tincture: metal should not be put on metal, nor colour on colour (Humphrey Llwyd, 1568). This means that Or and argent (gold and silver, which are represented by yellow and white) may not be placed on each other; nor may any of the colours (i.e. azure, gules, sable, vert and purpure) be placed on another colour.

I’d always thought the white part had symbolism, but it is a design rule. I learned something after 5 p.m. today!

Sherman Circle, in the main entrance to campus, is named in honor of Samuel S. Sherman, Howard College’s first president, who served from 1842 until 1853. He is perhaps still most locally famous for putting “feet to his prayers.” He rolled a wheelbarrow around Marion, the first location of the university about 81 miles away by car, collecting books for the first library.

(Yes, there is also an American flag flying.)

Up from Sherman Circle is the Centennial Walk. In the middle ground is the popular statue of Mr. Ralph Waldo Beeson, an insurance man who gave Samford millions of dollars over the years. That’s a 1990 newspaper article talking about his posthumous donations and his legendary frugality. He made his money building up Liberty Insurance, a regional fixture, which was founded by Frank Samford, Sr., the university’s namesake.

Anyway, behind the Beeson statue is the Davis Library, and on either side of the quad you’re surrounded by white tents put up ahead of tomorrow’s homecoming festivities:


This is just showing off:


Stopped at the grocery store for soup. Our neighborhood is famous among the gimme-candy set. I can’t imagine why:


I got in around 7:30. We missed the young kids, who are the best part of the Halloween order around here. Right about that time is when the older kids come out. Some of them were lingering in the neighbor’s yard when I got home. I generally want to tell them to go get jobs, buy the candy they want and boo-humbug. Our lights were already out. The candy was gone. The night was done. I’ll be asleep by 10 p.m. for a change.

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