Oct 14

A day in the sun, night under the lights

Just a perfectly lovely day. I spent some time in a lawn chair with the sun peering through this tree. My head tilted back, aviators on and my eyes closed. Everyone thought I was sleeping. I could have been. I’m tired enough. But I was just enjoying the barest of breezes and that tinkling dance of the sun through the thinning shade.


A perfectly lovely day.

Two private school kids, separated by 800 miles, telling the same private school jokes to one another. We public schoolers can only pretend to know:


Penguin mascots make little sense anywhere, but certainly not in October in Alabama.


Spent the afternoon with friends. Football was played this evening and we watched it. Late into the night we enjoyed the company of friends and made it home in time for pizza at around 11 p.m. and more football.

No wonder I’m still tired. Tired, but pleased.

A perfectly lovely day.

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.