Oct 14

LSU at Auburn

The Yankee, playing cornhole at the tailgate. I don’t think she’s ever played before. Of course she won.


What follows are just fan pictures. Scroll through and enjoy. It will only take a second:


This first batch are all at the tailgate, of course:





Some people just drink too much …


The hostess of the best tailgate in town:


Her shirt stands for “What Would Bo Jackson Do?” Behind her, he was receiving the Walter Gilbert Award, sort of a lifetime achievement honor. All of this was awesome:


We’d said something to her like “We have guests here and we have to show off. You’re going to be loud, right?” She took this as a personal challenge.

This is what happens when you use one shaker for 11 seasons:


This jacket, you know you want it:









Sep 14

It must be Tuesday

A passing thought this morning, as I walked from here to there: I am not sure if I’ve ever been on the Samford campus when the power went out. All of the lines here are buried and the service has always been excellent. The things we take for granted, no?

So late this afternoon the power blinked. And it blinked again and then once more. After a few minutes, wherein students in the newsroom were confessing their fears of the dark and people and clowns and four-leaf clovers and who knows what else, the power blinked one more time.

We noticed the hardwired connection first.


The wireless was down as well. There’s a router right outside the window. Turns out that continual green ring of light means something. You never notice it until it is a pale red, which means you don’t have an Internet connection, so you have the opportunity to notice the telltales on routers:


Telnet was beginning the march.

All of our phones and Internet are tied together in a VOIP, so they didn’t work. Some of the locks on campus are tied into that network, so those doors didn’t work.

I raided my emergency peanut butter stash.

Also, the printer died, because today was a Tuesday:


I’ve renamed that machine the Lazarus. It keeps coming back, though we’ve been worried about it for almost four years now.

Somehow, the cash registers in the cafeteria and food court were online. So the crisis was merely humanitarian rather than truly dire. And the IT people here know their stuff. In perhaps an hour or two — who can tell the passage of time without the web? — things began returning to normal.

But all of that let me hear this:

Student 1: “What did we do before the Internet?”

Student 2: “We were prepared for it.”

For a group of people who grew up with the Internet always at their beck and call, this is an interesting point. There’s a story in this. I wonder if anyone will write it.

Things to read … because people went to the trouble to write it.

Mike Lutzenkirchen is an incredibly brave man, Philip Lutzenkirchen’s father uses son’s life — and death — to motivate high school players:

Mike Lutzenkirchen, standing before the James Clemens High School football team in its weight room Tuesday afternoon, called out Logan Stenberg, the Jets’ offensive tackle, and had him leave the room so that Lutzenkirchen could illustrate a point.

After Stenberg obliged, Lutzenkirchen said, “He just stood right there in the flesh. Now he’s not here. A teammate. That’s how quickly it can happen. That’s how quickly you can lose somebody.”

His son, the former Auburn star Philip Lutzenkirchen, one of the Tigers’ most popular players in recent seasons, was killed in a car wreck in Troup County, near LaGrange, Ga. He was 23 years old.

Mike Lutzenkirchen, who also spoke to the Huntsville High football team Tuesday evening, shared an array of statistics about his son’s sensational career. There was one stat he saved until the last, the one that is most staggering and devastating.

“Listen to this closely: Point three seven seven,” Lutzenkirchen said. “That was Philip’s blood alcohol content.”

Hard to imagine what he must be going through.

And now, for something a bit lighter:

Journalism and tech links:

VR journalism! Harvest of Change: Iowa farm families confront a nation in transition

A Wearable Drone That Launches Off Your Wrist To Take Your Selfie

The (surprisingly profitable) rise of podcast networks

Staying connected with college graduates: Social media and alumni

Magazines Get a Way to Measure Their Reach Across Media Platforms

Things you don’t want to hear from your doctor, American Family Care alerts customers of stolen laptops containing patient information.

I’m having my students read this story this week, Dispatcher reflects a week after Birmingham UPS shooting: ‘I asked God to lead my words’:

“The officers, they did a great job,” said Davis, otherwise known as Operator 8061. “They did a good job in responding and getting me notified so that I could make my notifications.”

Davis, an 18-year BPD dispatch veteran, said she was just one of many dispatchers who sprang into action when the first call from the UPS customer center on Inglenook Lane came into the radio room at 9:21 a.m.

“Had it not been for my coworkers helping me, it would not have gone as smooth as it did,” she said. “It wasn’t just me. It was a team effort. I was proud to be a Birmingham Police Department dispatcher that day.”

The challenge of that day isn’t unusual. Dispatchers and officers deal with a crisis of some sort almost each and every day, though not usually to that extent.

About 10 calls came in to the radio room almost simultaneously after the shots erupted in the UPS warehouse. Those nearly dozen calls accounted for one dispatch, one of 11,663 dispatches handled by BPD last week alone.

And then there’s this stupid story, New York artist creates ‘art’ that is invisible and collectors are paying millions.

If the empty art studio burns down, how much does the insurance company pay out?

You can only figure that out with an Internet connection.

Sep 14

A game was played, we allegedly watched it

We had friends over to watch the game this evening. So it all felt like this:

I’m not sure I watched much more of the game than that, which is odd.

But, I’d wanted to see people last weekend and we managed to see almost no one, so having a house full of company for the first time in a long time was a nice thing. The conversations were pleasant. We brought in office chairs and camping chairs and had quite a few smart people — an Emmy winner, an art historian, a lawyer, an architect, a tech wizard and more — sitting around trying to not talk about work.

We had finger foods. And the parts of the game that we saw were often underwhelming.

Hey, no matter, the team you wanted to win went on the road and played a team of strong reputation and managed a win. My impression of the game was that it was a good game from which to be distracted. Looking at the stats was somehow more intriguing than watching snippets of the game without continuity.

I’m probably a terrible host. I’m too casual and we’re so very laid back about everything in general. We get by on our good humor and the forgiving nature of friends, I suppose. You may have a snack. You will laugh at my joke or at my expense. You’ll forget that you had to fight the cat away from the food, but you’ll remember I offered you your choice of ice.

Football was played and new friends were made and plans were laid to see them again, so a good evening all around.

Thursday night football is a strange thing, but it is a fine excuse to see people during the week. Sometimes you need the excuse, I suppose. Sometimes you need only the snippets of a game to go with it.

Sep 14

On the sofa

I thought an early morning bike ride would have some romance: sleepy, empty roads, mystic lighting. So I set an alarm and almost got up right away. The Yankee was asleep. The town was asleep. I was asleep. I, like the roads, was also empty.

It was just a bit over an hour in the saddle, and I worked through five timed segments, doing neither particularly well or particularly poorly on any of it. I worked my way through downtown and into the western outskirts. The sun turned from yellow to bright — and there is a difference if you’re awake early enough.

Early enough being a relative term, granted.

Later in the morning, at home, The Yankee read me this story:

After working with a fraternity brother to design her engagement ring, Clayton turned to another friend, an Alabama grad, to brainstorm the perfect proposal.

In the end, only one place in the world made sense for Clayton to ask the most important question of his life.

Nick Saban’s office.

He hid in the bathroom. His fiancee, a hostess, was sent in to polish up bling for some visitors. He comes out with a ring of his own, from the bathroom, where there are apparently snacks and he had some and … people do curious things, don’t they?

She read me the story and showed me the video — of course there is video — and I am chagrined I didn’t think to use Gene Chizik’s office. Of course, he’d only been on the job for just a few days when we got engaged, though, so Chizik’s bathroom snack basket might not have been stocked up yet.

“So I sprang out of the john and said ‘Would you — ‘ and she interrupted and said ‘Does Coach use Lysol or Clorox toilet bowl cleaner?’”

People do curious things.

Football! Auburn was off, and the slate looked uninspiring, but there was a day in front of televisions and, like all of the days that include college football, it turned into something thrilling.

And punting!

And still more punting!

Those two plays happened within moments of one another in the same game. How could you not love college football?

There was a weather day of the Georgia at South Carolina game. So CBS re-played part of the Iron Bowl. Some of the more casual fans found themselves wondering why Alabama and Auburn were playing so early in the year and why it was night in the middle of the day. Everyone else had a nice laugh.

The last item in that list is from someone familiar …

Things to read … because if you read enough anything can become familiar.

Tax credits are a marvelous thing … Alabama named one of the top states for doing business.

Digital First Media’s York Daily Record shuts off power mid-afternoon to save money

Terrible all the way around … James Foley’s Parents Warned Of Prosecution For Ransom Fundraising

And now back to late-night football.

Sep 14

A day full of things to read

I have been accumulating a wealth of links these last few days. They are all wonderful in one way or another. I will share them here now.

But before all of that, here is a video featuring the parents of a fine cyclist and, wouldn’t you know it, Davis and Connie Phinney were world class cyclists themselves. They have an incredible story of success and heartache and recovery and peace and satisfaction. It is worth 15 minutes for the archival footage alone:

And now for some interesting news from near and far:

Al Qaeda Wasn’t ‘on the Run’:

In all, the U.S. government would have access to more than a million documents detailing al Qaeda’s funding, training, personnel, and future plans. The raid promised to be a turning point in America’s war on terror, not only because it eliminated al Qaeda’s leader, but also because the materials taken from his compound had great intelligence value. Analysts and policymakers would no longer need to depend on the inherently incomplete picture that had emerged from the piecing together of disparate threads of intelligence—collected via methods with varying records of success and from sources of uneven reliability. The bin Laden documents were primary source material, providing unmediated access to the thinking of al Qaeda leaders expressed in their own words.

A comprehensive and systematic examination of those documents could give U.S. intelligence officials—and eventually the American public—a better understanding of al Qaeda’s leadership, its affiliates, its recruitment efforts, its methods of communication; a better understanding, that is, of the enemy America has fought for over a decade now, at a cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.

Incredibly, such a comprehensive study—a thorough “document exploitation,” in the parlance of the intelligence community—never took place. The Weekly Standard has spoken to more than two dozen individuals with knowledge of the U.S. government’s handling of the bin Laden documents. And on that, there is widespread agreement.

From the Office of There’s a Special Circle for This Guy … Woman beheaded ‘with machete’ in north London garden:

One line of inquiry for detectives is understood to be that the man was inspired by recent footage of terrorists beheading two American journalists in Syria.

Some residents claimed last night that the suspect was a local man who had converted to Islam last year, but those claims could not be verified. Detectives said they had ruled out terrorism.

For a different kind of frustration … We Could Have Stopped This:

(T)he world largely ignored the unfolding epidemic, even as the sole major international responder, Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French acronym, MSF), pleaded for help and warned repeatedly that the virus was spreading out of control. The WHO was all but AWOL, its miniscule epidemic-response department slashed to smithereens by three years of budget cuts, monitoring the epidemic’s relentless growth but taking little real action.

Even as the leading physicians in charge of Liberia and Sierra Leone’s Ebola responses succumbed to the virus, global action remained elusive. The neglectful status of the WHO was, horribly, by design.

Meanwhile, closer to home … Stop and seize:

After the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the government called on police to become the eyes and ears of homeland security on America’s highways.

Local officers, county deputies and state troopers were encouraged to act more aggressively in searching for suspicious people, drugs and other contraband. The departments of Homeland Security and Justice spent millions on police training.

The effort succeeded, but it had an impact that has been largely hidden from public view: the spread of an aggressive brand of policing that has spurred the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from motorists and others not charged with crimes, a Washington Post investigation found. Thousands of people have been forced to fight legal battles that can last more than a year to get their money back.

More than 100 teens swarm Memphis plaza, ‘knocking out’ shoppers

Seldom do most people wish to be a teenager again, but there are some people who would like the chance after reading this … Teen with autism victimized in disgusting ALS ice challenge prank:

Although their son is doing well and bravely returned to school, the parents have a message for the teens that humiliated him:

“I hope you will be punished to the full extent of the law, which still to me would not be enough, but that’s what I wish,” said Mensen.

School officials say no disciplinary action will be taken until after police have completed their investigation.

We watched this documentary this weekend:

You should watch it. There will be sobbing. I’m not sure you can say enough about It’s Time. Not every story is as great, or terrible, as the one that brought Chucky Mullins and Brad Gaines together, but it is a tremendous look at what football, the region and story telling can be. You’d be hard pressed to make a much better sports documentary.

You can tell a lot about the world around you by the business news:

Alabama’s economy in slow recovery

August Jobs Report Disappoints

Fed: Under Obama, only the richest 10 percent saw incomes rise

The 3% Surcharge Catches On: The Lucques Group Introduces Healthcare For Employees

On the other hand, there is apparently a market for this … Pampered Babies Kick Back and Relax at the Floating Baby Spa

And, finally, some good economic news, locally speaking …

Reliance Worldwide Corp. plans $50M expansion in Cullman

YP affiliate to add 165 jobs in Shelby County

If you can end a post with good economic news, and on a Monday, no less, you’ve really done something, I think, so we’ll call it a day. Hope yours was a great one!