Kenny Smith | blog

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our early tee time was pushed back just a bit. Probably this was my fault. For some reason I did not want to get up this morning. They've given me the world's most comfortable pullout sofa which isn't a bed fit for a king, but you feel it and think "No way this is a hide-a-bed." They must have sawed that always offensive middle bar out of the frame. So the bed isn't bad. The temperature is already warm, I'm in the wrong part of the sleep cycle and late last night I discovered they like to keep their home warm in all seasons.

In this way I'm a thermostat wimp, and I don't mind saying it. It is a point of pride to see the condensation on my windows at home. Though actually I've been very good this year, keeping the thermostat between 75 and 78. Here it feels much, much warmer. I haven't looked at the indoor temperature yet, but you can tell. The air conditioner turns on for just the briefest of moments and by the time you're used to the rumble of an unfamiliar compressor it shuts itself down again. Under extreme conditions such as these ceiling fans can only do so much.

That's the excuse I'll use for why I can't seem to get myself going anyway. I enjoy warm weather, don't mind being outside or working in it, but inside I'd like to be a little on the cool side and my body doesn't know how to reconcile the issue. Instead it just wants a nap.

It is as good a theory as any. On the golf course I feel fine, and we're certainly closer to the sun on the back nine than in Tampa yesterday. A lizard walked by at the clubhouse, stood up on its two back legs and said "You've got to be kidding me." He didn't have that cute disarming English accent like the Gieko gecko, think more burly Bronx union worker.

I'll spare you all the golf details. I can never remember them all anyway. My game was about as it always is. I hit some things well, I struggled with others. I wasn't wholly consistent with anything. That's not true, I two putted my way around every green. If they call him Down the Middle Henry they'll call me Two Putt Kenny. I also hit the five iron exceedingly well. Usually that's a good club for me, but this particular one was almost embarassing. On the ninth hole -- we only played nine -- I decided I would from now on play more aggressive with woods. On that hole I was just a few feet from being on the green in two. I did make the green of a par three in one. There is supposedly an alligator in that hazard and I didn't want to mess around with him. I almost made par on another hole. Truly, it was the microcosm of my entire golf game.

So, anyway, you should meet Henry and Dee.

Here's Henry demonstrating his fine skill. Guy just looks like a golfer, doesn't he? His wife is right there with him. She just tunes him out I think. He's full of advice on the golf course, whether you want it or not. I try to listen because I need the help, but Dee knocked it on the green from there, she's doing fine without his input on her technique.

Again, they're 85, started playing golf when they retired at 55 and play several times a week and this is their home course. They've been playing as long as I've been alive. I haven't seen more than a driving range in three years. They play a much better game than I do and I don't mind saying it.

The Yankee, who's just now getting started with her golf obsession, has already figured out the game, she's playing from the shade of picturesque

And now here's the octagenarians that make all of us young whipper snappers look bad: Henry and Dee. We should all be so lucky.

After golf we slathered on more sunblock and hit the beach. I retreated under the shade of the lifeguard tower because of an unending paranoia of skin cancer and a distaste for bright red skin. The sandy wasn't as bright and pretty and as fine as we're accustomed to on the Alabama coast or even in parts of the Florida panhandle, it feels more like crushed shells than anything, but it serves the kids here well. The Gulf waters were nice and warm. Salty as ever. We saw no sharks, but the kids were playing a delightful game of "Shark!" which concerned some of the more adult beachgoers, but once you figure out they were saying "Shark! Haha LOL!" instead of "OMG, Sharkzers!" you were OK with it.

And now, my favorite classic beach photographs. First, the walkover from Elsewhere to Beach. They say it is to protect the dunes, but you and I know that it is really a magical portal transporting you to a place where your only work is SPF 45. After that, the always well regarded sea oats snapshot. Take away the tide and the water altogether, give me the dunes and the sea oats and it would still be a beach to me.

It would seem I'm a high end optimist. It takes the top tier of the glass is half-full individuals to see the desert as the beach. And that's what it would be without water: a desert. I wouldn't mind, just bring the sea oats along.

Some horticulturist will now write in pointing out that this isn't a true sea oat. Possibly not, I don't pretend to know all of the coastal botany nomenclature. I'm guessing it is a member of the Poaceae family and that is close enough for the beach.

After leaving the beach I saw this guy. I only post him here because the reflection was cool.

Dinner at Shogun, where we heckled the waitress into seeing it our way. We were the early birds, even if you did sit us down in the final minute. The argument would mean the difference in a 60something dollar tab and about an 80something dollar tab. Polite persistence made her see it our way, which is good, because I had a withering and impolite persistence all lined up. The charm of Henry, a regular at the early bird game, won the day however.

Shogun, as you probably know, is one of the teppanyaki style restaurants. As you may also know, the cooks there are at their best when there are children dining at your table.

This little girl was at ours. And while the fire frightened her initially each time the cook snuck out his lighter, she showed off a fledgling pyromaniac tendency as the flames continued.

She's from the Phillipines, and she showed off a dance from a Philipino game show, Wowowee, which apparently takes the best of the American game shows, fuses them together and then has a lot of dancing thrown in. She was adorable, and did the dance for us twice by request and without reservation. It falls neatly into my digital camera kids theory, which we'll get into at a later date, but will be hinted at once again later today.

After dinner was sunset on the fishing pier, which means it is time for another gratuitous stack of photos, you're welcome.

Here's Henry and Dee. The Yankee says "Henry is in mid-story. Dee is silent ... and usually either rolling her eyes, or with her head in her hand in mock disgust."

Here's all three of them.

We saw two dolphins off the pier and everyone enjoyed the view.

Apropos of nothing, here's another example of the digital camera kids theory that will be discussed later. Notice how the kid is just posing away. I just missed the raised leg kick, but you get the idea.

Meanwhile, I'm told the sun tasted delicious, if a bit spicy.

Here's the sunset.

More stories after that, which has brought us late into the night on a long, hot, satisfying and perfect day.

Friday, June 29, 2007

So up and at 'em this morning. Get out of the hotel, grab an overdue doughnut and a just ripe banana from the continental breakfast -- if ever there was a misnamed item in our lifestyle it is this one; what continent is this from, really? -- and then back on the hotel's shuttle -- another misnamed item this van; the entire hotel industry is built on lies! -- and to the airport for the purposes of acquiring a rental car.

Why pay for it when I arrive to watch it sit, sad and lonely in some overly tungstenized parking lot at the hotel was the logic. On the way back to the airport the van passed Legends Field, where the Yankees spend each spring in training. They do not always spend it preparing for a season in which they lose eight of 10 as they are presently doing, but these things will happen. Just across the road is Raymond James Stadium, where Carnell Williams and the Buccaneers play.

And then the airport, which is a two stage process. Get in, acquiring the relative location of the rental place, fill out the paperwork and they point you out the door, around a corner and up the elevator to another booth where a guy is sitting with the keys to your new car. They tried putting the keys at that first desk, but it was too much for the attendants. Drunk with power they were. So it fell to a guy in another part of the airport to hold your keys. He is kind of down in the dumps you know, he has all these keys, but no paperwork, without which the cars can't go. Also his booth is floating in its own condensation. It is 86 degrees and 84 percent humidity at 9 a.m. which equals mindbogglingly warm. Nothing in that previous sentence is hyperbole.

Tampa, as you may know, is 48 miles from the sun. This rental car is taking us due south. It will be a warm weekend. It is already warm. It isn't hot yet, but your body is in revolt because somehow the neurons in your conscious mind have been tipped off by the nerves elsewhere, working in conjunction with the subconscious mind, to inform you that, later, you're going to suffer.

So down the west coast of Florida we go without incident. The rental car, the air conditioner too, is working flawlessly. We arrive at our destination, Henry and Dee's house with no problem.

We go to the driving range with Henry and Dee. Henry and Dee are big golfers. Love the game. They fit neatly into that category of Nicest People You Could Ever Meet. They'd hold the meetings of that club in their home. No one would go home a stranger and everyone would go home with an anecdote. Henry, if he were Southern, would be called a raconteur. (Does anyone outside of the South use that term anymore? Henry would love it. It would be a fine compliment to him. And he'd know what it meant because he speaks French, too.) They love stories and jokes and laughter and making faces and picking on one another. They are a hoot. They are also 85, though you'd guess they were much, much younger. And I bet if you crossed him Henry could still put a hurting on you.

We go to the driving range, so Henry and Dee can be assured we wouldn't embarass them on the golf course tomorrow. They took up golf, they tell me when they retired at 55. An ideal age for retirement, Henry says.

You soon learn that Henry has an opinion on everything and he is always right. Even when he's wrong you don't dare correct him, because he's right. Henry-logic they call it. From anyone else it would be obnoxious, but he's just so darned charming.

So they've been golfing for 30 years, Henry watching golf on television faithfully, always trying to pick up a tip or a hint from the play of the pros. And he's eager to pass it along to anyone who will listen. They call him Down the Middle Henry, he says, with no small sense of pride. He gets the biggest joy out of the smallest things. He has the eyes of a child and the wisdom of a man who's live two full lifetimes. You can soak them both up for hours, and they will surround and fill you up completely.

As for the golf, I'm not sure what I'd expected. He hits the ball well, but he is 85. He gets a nice little drive down the range and he wins a lot, he says, so he must have tricks up his sleeve. We'll see tomorrow. Right now I know he has nice clubs. I didn't bring mine, so I borrowed his and promptly crushed a ball with his driver out to the 250 yard sign. I don't do that with my driver. I'm hitting all of his irons the same distance, which could be troubling tomorrow, but we'll deal with that when we get there.

For now I'm hitting golf balls in the peak of the sun with a black polo on. My cap develops sweat stains. I try not to ever let this happen, as it is a bit uncouth, but when you're trying to hit a little white ball around a solar flare one must give a bit on vanity.

The Yankee is getting instruction on her golf swing as well. Henry and Dee have been after her for years to take up the game and now her she is. Dee is trying to give her advice but Henry is so darned excited to share his wealth of information she gets drowned out. She explains the backswing like a waltz "1,2,3. 1,2,3." It makes sense and she gets some good shots. They're all driving about the same, the two octagenarians and the brand new beginner. I'm just flat out bruising range balls, which won't mean anything tomorrow, but looks awfully impressive today.

After the range we head to the pool because it is hot. Note to self: If you ever get to retire, consider somewhere other than Florida, unless you're one of those elderly people who is always cold all the time. In the pool it is also hot. For a moment the water is refreshing and then your senses regulate and you realize you're sitting in a lukewarm bath. Dinner then.

We headed for an Italian restaurant, which was a good idea. Light breakfast, light lunch equals a hungry tummy. We go at about 6 p.m., which is fine with me because I'm hungry and hot and I've never really gotten a full head of steam into the day. Something that involves sitting seems a good idea. The parking lot is full which always concerns the senior citizens and always makes me laugh. About three tables inside were full.

The Yankee studies the dessert case and points out all the things she'd eat. She would not eat this one, whatever it is. I take the picture. An employee gives me a curious look and asks if I'm on vacation. I'm not sure if it was the camera, the bag or the absence of the press pass in the bill of my fedora that made him come to that conclusion, but it was the right conclusion. My answer was acceptable, but just barely. He would be watching me. He would have someone do a thing for him later in my meal.

"That thing, yeah I did that thing that you talked about boss."

It is an Italian joint, a local shop. They are family owned and operated. These things could happen. The Corleones sold olive oil, remember.

It is hard to imagine, though, that some other Italian restaurant in town is enlisting spies to examine Valenti's highly coveted desserts.

I hear the veal and the eggplant were delicious. The vegetable lasagna was delightful and filling. No dessert was had. The guy cast long glances at me throughout the meal.

After dinner we went to the jetty to watch the sunset. I took dozens of pictures throughout the day and many of them are sunset related. You may now enjoy them.

This guy was fishing. Just off of the rocks a manatee was swimming. He had with him a smaller manatee and what we all believed was his womanatee. In the distance a few kids spotted a dolphin. I watched the birds.

And the clouds.

I crawled out onto the supporting rocks of the jetty with my long lens in tow to bring you this picture of the birds.

It seems I took several nice pictures of them.

For that one I almost drowned and lost my camera. Some of those rocks were very slippery, bathed with the saltwater from the wake of boats passing in and out of the water. I got very lucky on how I landed when leaping from one particular rock to another. My life didn't pass before my eyes but how I would have to explain broken bones, scratched skin and waterlogged camera gear did come up. My feet landed just so, however, and I avoided the offending rock as I reached back for safer footing.

Watched the sun go down, at which point the rain appeared. It had held off just long enough and could wait no more, hurling itself at dozens of people running for cover. There is no cover on a jetty. After a short jog the safety of the car was regained, and then the skies really opened up. We're supposed to go golfing in the morning, but if the course is getting this much rain that plan may be in jeopardy.

In the meantime, Henry and Dee were going strong with stories, nostalgia and golf tips until after 11 p.m. We have a plan for an early tee time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hurry, hurry, hurry.

That has been the day. I'm in a strange place of hurrying for appointments that aren't exactly rushing up to meet me. There's a plane to catch, you see, and there are a few things to do before I run out onto the tarmac and catch said plane barehanded. Only there is time to do those things. So why hurry? Why feel rushed? Why must the cramp in my shoulder set in?

These are questions that science has yet to answer, but here we all are anyway, waiting on the plane that's waiting on us.

After leaving work at the traditionally appointed time I made a necessary stop to my local Retail Block Giant to buy the small containers of liquids and gels that the government says I can take on a plane and polite society insists upon. Thank you federal government: this eight-ounce tube of toothpaste was a bit intimidating, but the three-ouncer with sharp, pointy corners is A-OK!

There were two rather large women on the Trial/Travel aisle at the store. I don't mean to be mean, but rather large is being polite. Once you account for personal space -- which varies for everyone of course -- they took up the whole aisle. After intruding upon their personal space -- there's only so many choices as the big corporations are still trying to cram their product in small rubber and plastic containers to cash in on the illusion of air safety -- I finally made my choices all while hearing the clock ticking in my head.

The cashier was exaspperated, at what I do not know. I was the only person in line, but perhaps her feet hurt. I would have asked, but I was running not-late and I was at the Retail Block Giant, where no good conversation can be had. Give it a try sometime. You'll be amazed at how correct I am in this. The last good conversation I had there was with a nice older lady who showed me all about the store in the attempt to find some silly little thing I thought I needed. And she was deaf. Sweet woman and the best conversationalist in the joint. True story.

So, home then with all of my new found toiletries. A quick shower, pack a quick bag, a quick dinner -- this seemed improbably, but actually happened at Cracker Barrel; I'm still amazed -- and then to the airport.

Where, after passing through the metal detector the line for the rock 'n' roll concert was already forming. I'm flying Southwest, you see, and they don't give the assigned seats, instead letting you board based on firsties. There are corrals and you go when the giant letter on your ticket is called. If you have a good letter you condescend against those poor slobs with a lower letter. If you are one of the unfortunates you hold your nose and act as if you don't belong.

The lines get ridiculous even before the plane on which you are to fly even lands, which is the funniest thing ever in a sad "locked out of Graceland" way. This line formed before the previous plane using that gate departed, which is pathetic to the careful observer, but normal to the casual passerby. Why the rush? We'll all land together, at the same time.

And besides, if you really wanted to get there first you'd sit on the back of the plane since those wheel mark the jet's touch down at your destination.

This is what we think of all those poor unfortunate souls holding B cards. Now, if you'll pardon me, I must go laugh at the expense of people holding those C cards.

Later. The Tampa International Airport has the tackiest carpet in America. Or any of the western latin nations. It could be either given the signage and the conversations overheard on the way off the plane, through the little tram and down to the pick up place. At the pick up place there is a big crab in the carpet. It looks like a kid's room design gone horribly, horribly wrong. If, somewhere in America, young adults were in therapy and years of research pointed to a casual link between their emotional concerns and the carpet in their former elementary school you should not be alarmed.

But this wooden frame representation of a manatee's skeleton hanging from the rafters in the airport should send folks into a tizzy such that exhaustive research shouldn't be necessary. Clearly no PETA folks have walked through this airport.

There is a really handsome sea water aquarium, however. And the exhaust fumes where the cabbies and the hotel shuttles wait may single handedly be the cause of Al Gore's hairspray concerns. It is oppressive, pulling them under roofs will do that I guess. And, improbably, as I'm waiting for the shuttle to show up, some women walks out there and ... lights a cigarette. The absurdism could run deep here, but I escape back inside where at least I can't smell the air.

And, there, I find something you don't see a lot of anymore. Need to use a payphone? I love those lights, one for each booth, which do have dividers there, not that you can see them in the photograph. But there was a special partical wood board developed in the early 1970s that effectively dampened out the sound of others on the phone so that their conversation about some film noir subject didn't interfere with your hot topic. And for my next trip I'll make the phones disappear.

So the shuttle finally arrives and the driver announces he needs to make one more stuff before the hotel. There were some people to pick up at a church function. I'm not sure what I expected, some elderly folks perhaps given that it was a Thursday night, but instead two nice young ladies got in the van for the ride to the hotel. They'd been at a dance camp. I didn't catch the name of it, but we'll call it Dancing for Jesus. The women, from Missouri, talked about the many dances and the fun things and the difficult things they'd been doing over the course of the week. Sounded like an interesting camp.

We reached the hotel without further incident or interesting people. The hotel initially played up the warm end of the spectrum. Has anyone every figured this out? Why can rooms only be sauna-like or a walk-in cooler? Someone should call Congress and demand an investigation.

The room was warm enough to send me on a search for drinks. There were vending machines and they were unusual in that they didn't have outlandish hotel prices. There's nothing in there for the non-soda drinker in me. So off on a walk I go.

I discover, having not paid attention on the drive in while talking with dancers, that this hotel exists in a land of car dealerships. There is one convenience store, but it is closed. There's a police equipment and firearms store. A locally renowned restaurant, an ... ahem ... adult novelty store which was doing brisk business apparently and finally the neighboring hotel which had some drinks.

That was an hour of walking. Never go walking in flip flops in an usual setting in the middle of the hot, humid, sweaty Florida night. It can only lead to sore feet.

So that's today, with big days to come. More then.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Got a new computer at work today. Not sure why, but a nice guy came down from the computer offices, assumed command of the dissemination of expensive electronics and deemed my machine "too slow."

Also Photoshop hadn't worked in some time.

So he gave me a new machine yesterday afternoon. I had no knowledge of this, no warning, and stood surprised this morning by the tiny keyboard. At 6 in the morning seeing a minimalist QWERTY could be mistaken for being the victim of a particularly malicious -- but careful -- form of acid that only dissolves the bits of plastic no one really needs. And at first that is what I thought happened. And then I glanced at the desktop and realized that the PC had undergone a miraculous diet overnight slimming down in such a way as to make us mere organic beings jealous.

Then I realized I've been graced with new gear.

Same monitor though. That will soon be replaced, I'm told. Same speakers -- and they don't really seem to work on this computer either, but I'm not being picky -- and my good old trusty thumb mouse.

So most of the morning was spent juggling the morning work and the extra chore of new computer trauma. You know that thing where you realize just how set in your ways you are when every icon doesn't look just right, when familiar programs are in unusual subdirectories or when you get a new aesthetic look altogether. Nothing. Seems. Right.

A key piece of software now has the menu on the left rather than the right. I have the cartoony Windows interface rather than the less cartoony classic version. This Photoshop works but it is, no kidding, something like five full generations beyond what I'm accustomed to at home.

And also this machine does move faster. So thank you corporate office guy.

Now could we please fix the search box in Firefox? I think I can correct to my liking or cope with everything else, but that thing is broker than the guy that sleeps behind our building and less useful at this point.

So that was the fun of the working day, along with wondering whether my eyes were fading in and out as the computer and monitor fought over who could be more righter for the guy having to read information off the screen. Aside from the sometimes slightly fuzzy, and the search engine thing, this is a fantastic machine. I didn't even ask for it, but I'll accept it. I'm receptive to positive change after all.

Elsewhere it was straight home and straight to work on the computer. I skipped the built in hour of reading I try to give myself in lieu of staying current with the many side projects. One week I'll time my time into the stuff I do for the site and elsewhere, I'd say I spend about 10 or 15 hours a week, but it seems far more time intensive. Perhaps I shouldn't time it. Probably I don't want to really know.

Got a great Email this morning:
I googled the word McLellan's and came across your blog from last summer. McLellan stores were once a part of the McCrory chain of five-and-dime stores that once thrived across the nation. McCrory finally fell into bankruptcy and closed all its remaining stores in 2002.

The reason I mention this is that from a personal history perspective, McCrory Stores, and in particular the McLellan component, are very important to me. My mother was 44 in 1967 when she discovered she was pregnant with me. She and my father had a difficult time coming up with a name, but they both liked McLellan... which became my middle name. It was a treat to come across your photo of the Bessemer storefront.
Here's the photo in question. I think next week I'll have to stop by and take a few more for the guy. Meanwhile, if store history is your thing, here's a bit more on McCrory. And -- in one of those things that can only be seen as cosmically unusual to people who don't remember them -- one of the big competitors listed there is S.H. Kress which closed in 1981, but is still a landmark building downtown. Passed it just yesterday.

Some thing or individual can come along and have a profound impact for a short time and then flicker away, left only to the brightest of memories. But others are remembered more, if only for the architecture. The place was a five and dime store, but here we are, calling it a quarter century old landmark.

Speaking of history, there are new Glomerata photographs to peruse. Start here if you're just starting out or, if you've been keeping up, check out the beauties of 1953.

The 1953 edition of the Glom is in fairly poor shape. I hope I can make it through the snapshots and the ads before the rest of the spine breaks, but don't be surprised if it gets retired suddenly in the upcoming weeks. I don't want to ruin the thing completely in getting these scans, and already you must be very delicate with the thing. It is a half century old after all.

And now, more 24 to end the night, but first ...

Photographs. I wonder what any one man would need with this many watermelons? He was heading out of town, and I wouldn't have thought anything of it were it not for the overly excited packaging label. We can all get excited about a fresh watermelon, but this one might be pushing the boundaries of fruit pride.

You've now seen it all. Those are spinners on an 18-wheeler. And, yes, they were spinning. He had a closed trailer, so there's no clue what he was hauling. I wonder if the police give him a hard time for how he rolls? We passed each other twice as I lined up the perfect shot. Ridiculously pointless and extravagant as it is, spinners on an 18-wheeler may be the only place those things are appropriate. It did look pretty tough.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I had to look up the definition of Vertigo today. I was dizzy you see.

Something has seemed off all day, but fortunately I rallied after the early morning. Now I'm just tired.

It could be one of those inconsequential days of curious non-productivity. Curious in that I do less with the afternoon than normal.

There are just a few things here for the day, and for that I must apologize. So we'll deal with these in a chronological order: I went to Jim Reed's for lunch today and looked at the old books. It was during this portion of the day that I took photographs for the blog. You'll see those below. He's hidden all of his old magazines, which I love to paw through. Now, he says, they are cataloged. He'll pull any by dates that I like, but that lessens the joy because you can't make random and accidental discoveries. Nevertheless, there are a few things I'll need to get from him soon.

After work I came home in the rain. It fell pretty hard for the first seven or eight minutes of the drive, sprinkled for a few after that and was dry by the time I got home. Fairly typical summer afternoon shower. These don't help us much. What we really need, just to reach statistical averages, would be a tropical depression or two. But that would just help the numbers and the hydrologic drought. The damage, in an agricultural sense, is done and we're not far from considering how this might impact things in the seasons to come. As for the averages, the most recent numbers from the National Weather Service, have us down by more than 16 inches.

Sure we have droughts routinely, and we'll rebound eventually, but in every sense this is as severe as it can get (non-desert categories).

So thanks rain, but where have you been every day for the last, oh, 150 days or so?

Watched the final episode of Enterprise today. Meh. So great is my disappointment that I won't even offer links. And I link here to everything. (Except the National Weather Service it seems.)

So they have the conclusive story of the prequel that launched four other series, almost a dozen movies and an embarrassing amount of paperback fiction and what do you do? Tell it from a place two centuries distant? Why are Riker and Troi in this episode? And they show up from an episode that happened somewhere in the middle of the TNG run and Jonathan Frakes is aging. Marina Sirtis, happily, is still beautiful, but that's not a saving grace here.

You wonder what they did to keep the cast from forcing a rewrite just to keep them all from walking out in protest. At least the story was fairly OK, but even still it is told as a holodeck recreation in the 24th Century. I wonder if they just couldn't come up with the extra 15 minutes of story. Captain Archer and his crew deserved better. The final montage is the only thing of any real redeeming value here. And that played better for me the first time I saw this episode than it does the second time, honestly.

I watched the few beginning scenes of the first episode immediately thereafter, just to see what historic thing Archer would say as the ship finally began their mission. It was underwhelming as well.

Did a little computer work after that, read a long chapter of A Civil War which has turned out to be nice bedtime reading. So after this I'm turning in. (It is very early.) And, no, not the real Civil War, but one of the many annual events that sometime have the name of a bloody conflict attached to it. Army versus Navy, doesn't get much finer.

I have an Alabama/Auburn book that also evokes the Civil War in the title, and I'm no more pleased about that usage (it is a great book though, as is John Feinstein's Army-Navy effort).

Anyway, new newspapers. Start here if that adventure is new to you, or keep up with the cool kids by going here.

Which is pretty much the end of the day.

Photographs. I mentioned Reed's bookstore above. He's in his new place now, but still hasn't finished moving out of his old place. No matter what he says, the new joint seems smaller. Maybe because it is more like walking through a store rather than walking through someone's very cluttered home. He's still moving stuff over, though. He has so many things that he opened downtown in March and is still ferrying boxes back and forth. Hopefully that means this orderly scene will give away to the authentic look Reed is going for, the "Help! Buy some of these things I've accumulated over the years!" look. Yes, that's clean for his store.

He was telling me about some doors and things he bought about 15 years ago from the Temple Beth-El. Someone told the rabbi that he had to come look. Reed came across the doors because the congregation was literally giving them away. It seems that the previous rabbi kept everything, where the new rabbi threw everything out. Rabbi Glusman apparently didn't crack a smile, but he wasn't, as Reed suspected, the rabbi who gave all these things away.

In addition to most of the magazines not being on display, a lot of the ridiculous epherma that Reed owns is not presently on display. There are a few things here and there, old mailboxes, mannequins, a Richard Nixon Halloween mask and a preacher's pulpit chair, but there's countless items you can't see just now. Hopefully he'll get all that up soon. You can see, from his front window, a huge Piggly Wiggly head. He could probably use some skin cleanser on that cheek though. At first I thought it was a statue and briefly considered where I would house it if I bought it. (I consider many things that I have no intention to purchase, or even own, in this way.) Then I realized that it was the costume character's head. I've had enough of that, thanks.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blue Monday, ahh Blue Monday.

Got to love that Fats Domino song. Good thing, too, since it has been stuck in my head all day.

I just found a link that was apparently a Gregorian Chant rendition of Blue Monday. Makes you feel better: even the monks have something against Mondays. I suppose they are saying something slightly scandalous about Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Today I took no pictures, but I cleaned my camera. I used my camera, but did not use it. It is a paradox in a postmodern philosophical sense. I could never get behind the post moderns, being, you know, practical. I tried. Someone once held a lecture on the postmodern aspects of The Matrix, but since we all viewed it as cool special effects and a failed effor to win the "When will Keanu say 'Whoa.' betting pool" the overall lecture was lost on me. Best if we just leave this one alone.

Chicken for lunch, chicken for dinner. There was also a chicken feature involved with breakfast. I hope it isn't true, what they say, about being what you eat. That'd become inconvenient.

It is amazing that I never get tired of the stuff. It is all how you coat it, one supposes. For lunch it came with a pasta, this evening it was smothered in a light cheese, almonds and had a dollop of rice. Tomorrow: lunch of chicken, dinner of chicken. Wednesday night it will be pork. Lunch for Wednesday is undetermined, but it could be chicken.

So you're five -- and now six -- paragraphs in and you can see where today is going. My apologies, we'll try to pick up on it later. Mostly I'm too wrapped up in 24, of which a few more episodes were watched this evening. I'd watch straight through, but you have to sleep sometime. "It is the least you can do for Jack Bauer, who is only being asked to save the nation on no sleep. Don't you like America? Snore for your country, the greatest country in the world!"

So I will oblige. Whenever the inner-voice gets indignant and makes calls to action you should always listen.

Shockingly, Jack is seen eating in one of the episodes. There he is, in a holding cell, but at least he's munching and it looks like he's scarfing down ... a Lean Cuisine? The man saved a senator's life and the best they can do is fire up the microwave. No, wait, let me guess: They didn't have time!

Must be it. Anyway, the cliffhanger going into the next episode is that Senator Palmer wants to meet with Jack. From there, no doubt, they'll become lifelong friends and golfing buddies.

Also watched the last episode of Enterprise tonight. OK, it isn't the truly last episode, but the one that follows it is universally loathed, so this one should be it. And considering how unmistakenly bored everyone is here it is a shame. Isolationist bad guys beaten, Earth saved, crew reunited, something heroic there and then a baby lost here, and a giant tip of the cap to Spock fans in that story arc, but most importantly the foundation to the federation moves forward.

There's some slight emoting, but everyone is distant from the action, the directors forgot to ask them to emote in the languishing end scenes. Surely someone knew what they were about to do in the last episode which wants to be universally forgotten, making this the unfortunate bookend of a four-year run. Doesn't play that way, though, and that was probably one of the many problems with the last efforts as seen by the serious Trek fans.

Tomorrow I'm going to watch the last episode, which I have seen once before, but now I can see it through the contemporary lens, which I'm sure will just make the thing all that more painful.

And that, thin as it is, is pretty much the day.

Photographs. Since I didn't take any today -- not the first one -- I'll give you some I was holding for just such an occasion.

And I must say, I love dust motes flying through the air almost as much as I hate dusting. Sorta works out for me, no? This was at Pie Day last week, as the last of the evening sun cut through the window and across the room into my face. It would be almost impossible to capture the movement of those little chaotic bits of detrius of life. Thought I'd give it a shot and, while I still think it is almost impossible to capture them in a lively way, I'm pleased with this one. I'm just impressed you can see them, really. And I also fell in love with the lines here. Between the horizontal movement of the blinds and the aimless circle of that lampshade, well it just makes you want to order pie.

A church left this on my front porch this weekend. It is interesting marketing. And, it worked of course, because here we are, but it seems misplaced. Even as I'm staring down at it, wondering if it was rigged to blow up or wondering when the neighbor teens would swoop in try and prank me I found myself pondering the target audience here. Obviously they're going after the local folks, but we're in the white collar rural suburbs here -- did I just invent a new demographic without making up any cheesy new words? -- perhaps this would work better in a less fortunate neighborhood. All the same, I'm sure this neighborhood is thankful for the thought and the effort. And, of course, here we are talking about it. And I'm sure that I'll remember this over the next few glasses of water I enjoy. Oh, and the link, if you're interested.

So remember, stay hydrated, look after those that need looking after, and be thankful for what's been given to you and what you may give to others.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The beautiful thing about Sunday is how the weekend continues through them. The body wakes up by force of habit, "But a-ha!" you say. "I don't have to get up this early, for it is still the weekend and now I've cheated time, stolen extra hours of sleep and extended the time of my weekend reveries."

Unless, of course, you have to wake up on Sunday at the same time you do during the week.

You poor stiff.

My body decides it is 5something, so up and at 'em. Once the reluctant body and the confused mind work together and realize, indeed, it is a few hours before the true wake up you are blissfully contented to laugh at the day. If nothing else you've won this, and some days extra sleep is an important enough victory.

This afternoon meant a visit to one of the many high quality libraries in the area. This one opens for exactly 45 minutes on Sunday afternoon. So I visited the bookstore instead. The coffee grinders disliked me plenty, for I sat in their little corner of the store and bought nothing while I read. I am a maverick.

At lunch The Yankee discovered that at Jason's removing one type of cheese and choosing another type of cheese will run you $.59. Who owns this place, the bank?

"What's that, you'd like me to tap in a few keystrokes to move some of your money from one of your accounts into another account? Or perhaps you'd like a cashier's check? That'll be six dollars. Cheddar instead of swiss? Throw me some quarters. And please accept this kick in the pants from Mr. The Man. Complilmentary of course. For now at least."

At this point you've got a few options. You can go back up to the salad bar and just pile the food on, recouping your $.59 or you can drink you're way back into the black with many refills. I choose the second ice cream cone. Tasty and it even fills sinful, so you're surely getting away with something, even if you're only reprioritizing your investment.

You could also learn to like swiss, but who needs that?

Went to the dollar theater late in the afternoon to see Blades of Glory:
I laughed until I cried. The movie is impossible, but impossibly funny.
Will Ferrell is pretty much playing this one character everywhere now, but it is still funny. Jon Heder actually redeems himself for Napoleon Dynamite here and the whole thing is just silly beyond expectations. Perhaps the perfect dollar theater movie.

It must be a Will Ferrell weekend, because on Friday I picked up Talladega Nights to add to the collection. There was a good deal at Blockbuster, so a few DVDs were added to the inventory which is threatening to officially growing out of control.

More Jack Bauer from the first season this evening. There's a narrative montage at the beginning, "... this is the longest day of my life."

No, Jack. The day now known as the sixth season was the longest day of all of our lives.

But this one is good, good. By the end of the day I've seen the first half of the season and would be hardpressed to think of anything to critical to say. Though that doesn't keep the more sarcastic fans among us from playing Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but watching the first season completely redeems the last season. Even if Jack points out himself "I've killed two people since midnight."

By comparison that seems a low body count, but the guy that heard that become victim number three and business is picking up.

Dinner at Carino's because I had a coupon. Nothing a little 12-layer lasagna can't handle. The waitress seemed like a dark-headed friend who, oddly enough, called during dinner. It is a sign! Of some kind. I couldn't tell. The sign was in Italian.

So, to sum up, Italian chili, lasagna: good. Dining at an Italian chain joint at 8 p.m. on a Sunday evening: the place was dead.

After that was more Jack Bauer, which I mentioned in passing above. It is now noon in Jack's world, and that means it is time for pain. Or soap opera-like expository, depending on which season you're watching.

Photographs. On the way out to dinner I saw this oddly contradictory scene. This is looking south, I promise, but nothing about the elements in the photograph would make sense if you thought about that too long, so don't. I snapped off a few shots until a neighbor drove by. And now I look like a tourist standing on my own front lawn.

After dinner I walked by the bar in the restaurant. It was empty, but I love low-lit bar shots. There's something personal and distant about them all at once. In a good bar the wood and the glass can create a spectacular setting. But here I was thinking about those arches, the wine bottles and those two chairs in the foreground. They're just sitting there, as if they're waiting for someone to return. As if two ghosts were having a friendly chat over Barolo. I wonder what they're talking about.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

About those baby birds ... they're dead.

Coming home last night I spied one of the neighborhood cats lurking about. No big deal I figured, that tree is more bush than anything and the cat can't really get up to them.

This morning some of the small little branches were pulled down, the nest is resting at a 45 degree angle and there are no chicks to be found. The circle of life continues. Somewhere, however, I hope the momma bird is secretly plotting her revenge on the cat.

And that concludes the shortest feature ever on the website -- I was going to take pictures of this every day -- but that cat ruined it for all of us. There's one animal that won't be getting treats on my porch for a while.

Went to the hospital this afternoon. A relative has been admitted for some various difficulties on which the doctors are currently running tests. They're still trying to find the cause to determine the right treatment, but everyone feels better now than they did yesterday from what I understand.

Left there to meet up with friends for dinner.

A table full of law students.

They were actually a fun group. Stephen and Brooke had extended the invitation, so that's why I was out of my league. There was talk of law -- I always ask made up legal questions, just so they feel like they're not wasting mental energy during the summer. This evening I stumped them on the first question out, about jury surveys. Hah! Non-lawyerly type: 1, Law students: 0. Justice has been served.

We also talked about football and top movies and westerns specifically. Somehow the meal went very fast.

After that was a visit to the beautiful Alabama Theatre for The Godfather. Everyone at the ticket booth wanted to make the attendant an offer he couldn't refuse. Repeating lines from the old cult classics, the theatre staff never tires of that one.

We were waiting for concessions and two more lawyerly types when we bumped into my high school friend Melissa. Introductions all around and then they scampered away for a good seat.

After concessions we sat down as well -- that was perhaps the most ridiculously overeducated row of movie seats in the history of cinema, I didn't do a formal survey, but there were almost 20 degrees sitting there; our brains are worth millions.

They played the Mighty Wurlitzer so we sang along. The host told us about the new system they were trying out. This was truly an historic night. For the first time in its 80 year history The Alabama would show a movie in the digital format. They're trying out three different systems we were told, and when they settle on one they'll install it upstairs.

He sat back down to play the big organ in a dirge that belonged to Phantom of the Opera, but morphed into the Godfather theme and then the beautiful old machine disappeared below the stage. That's just triumphant every time you see it, and no 14 cineplex will ever top that experience.

So then there was the Godfather, and you could tell the people who'd seen the movie many times before because we laughed at the things that have become comedy while the noobs squirmed through some of the more uncomfortable scenes. They ran no intermission, so we were all squirming by the end of the movie.

I spoke with the guy cranking out the tunes, and asked him about the digital system. He got into the details, which were very interesting, even the parts that I don't understand. We talked about how The Godfather is a dark movie to start an experiment on, there are loads of blacks and shadows, but, he said, when they showed Ice Age to the kids that afternoon "They peed on the floor" because it is so white and so bright.

Hope they didn't do that on the row where we were.

I'm going to visit The Alabama later in the year to highlight the theatre as they prepare to celebrate their 80th anniversary. This will be nothing more than an excuse to go hear and record great stories and take gobs of beautiful pictures and get paid for it. I have a good job, but some days you just have to love more than others and that will be one of those days.

Anyway we stood around talking for a few minutes before being told it was time to go, and then we left.

The Yankee took great pictures, but I'd left my camera at home as I headed out to the hospital (in December I'll have plenty to show you). So she has lots of nice shots of the lamps and the chandelier and the arches in that beautiful old place. I did borrow her camera for the pictures of the day however. And so ...

Photographs. This was the joint where we all met for dinner. Confused service and generally average Mexican all at Mountain Brook prices. (You must say "Mountain Brook" through a clenched jaw. Allow Thurston J. Howell III to be your guide here.) You must admit, though, they have a great sign.

It rather pales in comparison to the Alabama Theatre sign however. There's no shame in that. Perhaps every sign in the city comes up short compared to this one. Longtime readers will recall a daylight shot of the sign, taken from almost the exact same spot, served as a background for this blog once upon a happy time. Traffic doesn't exist at this time of night on this side of town, so I'm standing in the middle of the road here, and just as I took a few of these they turned off the lights for the night.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Woohoo for Fridays!

He said after a particularly average four day week.

Somewhere around noon it hit me, and that warm realization washed over the shoulders: Ahhh, the weekend is upon you.

That's what makes noon on Friday such a beautiful creation. Sure, on the seventh day He rested, but that's because He spent the previous day-and-a-half admiring Friday, noon. And it is good.

As I was preparing to leave the office the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down in California. Watched it streaming over the internet as we came one more mission closer to the end of the shuttle era. Hopefully we'll get to talk with someone at NASA about that next week.

Otherwise, another spiffy day, bright and sunny and as pleasantly uneventful as you can ask for. President Bush had been in the state the day before, so various people had been in various forms of gaga. There has been a lot of presidential talk the last two days. I met him, briefly, in his first term.

People get wide-eyed and speaking in very flowing terms about presidents they like. While I appreciate the imagery, I've never been keen on that. I've met two, been in proximity to a third and I'm happy to think they're just as normal as you or I.

Except they are constantly being watched. Few people, I would suspect, are good at holding up under that. And I believe that we're at the dawn of a new age of public figure in that same respect. Since you're now the paparazzi and since you people are, well, everywhere, you always have to be on their game. Even Reagan, the actor president, would have seen the challenge in that. Of course he thought of things as performances and would have likely strode forward and taken charge of the occasion. Clinton was a master at it. Amid all of the things he is, there is a charming, affable personality and an incredible memory for people. That's what made him a winner; everyone is pretty much agreed on how he squandered his opportunities to be superlative.

Nice guy in passing, President Bush. He was sure of himself then when we met, I wonder if he is sure of himself now.

You'd like to think so. You'd like them to all be self-assured. Confident. Brazen when need be and humble the rest of the time. You'd like to be inspired by them all. But only in our historical mythologies do some of them, the lucky ones, get that sort of treatment.

And even less so now, thanks to you, you paparrazi youtubers.

For example, here's Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi getting down with the military veterans. The Canadian ones. Little gaffes like these get remembered for a while, but history will barely remember Pelosi as these things go, and that's probably more frustrating than the PR goofs.

Picked up some music at the library today. A girl searching through the music gave me the 20 questions routine. It was all very interesting in the "I can't remember how this started since it went 23 directions simultaneously" way. There's nothing at all frustrating about not being able to answer one question because another one is rolling down the hill.

So that went on for a while, and then I found a particularly odd CD.

Why did this guy make a solo record?

"I don't know who that is," she said.

That's the lead singer from Creed.

"Oh, I like Creed," she replied.

It's been nice getting to know you.

So after the library closed -- at 6 p.m., because librarians are party animals -- it was time for Pie Day.

Saw Ward tonight, and he saw us and was glad. We haven't enjoyed his company for a while, but it never seems to matter. Or so I thought. We got stuck in a corner, not his doing. And then the potato didn't have the kosher salt, which I miss. And then Ward charged us for everything.

He hasn't done that in forever. Clearly he's lost his training, and we'll have to get that corrected ASAP.

We didn't even get a free To Go tea.

I bet any of the other servers we're on a first name basis with would still give us free teas.

I had the bright idea to rent some of the discs for the first season of 24.

I'm woefully behind, having only started watching in the fifth season.

The TiVo has been recording the first season and, when the time came to play them something was amiss. The first season started at midnight, and the EvIl eye started recording at 5 a.m.

I'm glad for renting, because the first four hours have been really good this evening. And now I'm hooked, so this is about it for here, for now.

Photographs. When I came home this afternoon I noticed a feeble little chirping nearby. I stood on the porch and cocked my head and stretched my neck in every possible way, convinced there was a bird stuck, or just hatched perhaps, up in the gutters. So I was almost ready to grab the ladder when I watched a bird fly away from the sweetbush tree near the front door, but the chirping continued ...

(As an immediate aside, my computer just decided to shut down and I was slightly miffed. The people I thought to myself will just get the bare bones summation of today's powerful events. Blogger has a save draft function and it apparently works. History is served.)

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled photographic tale.)

And I saw this.

After Momma finished feeding them I came back out a few minutes later to check on them when I saw this. I do believe that one is smiling.

I'll keep you updated on their development.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Warm today. Hot even. June in Alabama, etc.

Visited the library this afternoon. Everyone should go to the library in the afternoon. It somehow seem more active than the evening and you can still learn a lot.

Near the house there is some light industry that has quietly sprung up over the last few years. There's a new road, a traffic light and more cars around shift change, but otherwise you wouldn't know any of those warehouses and buildings are back there, hidden as they are by the woods. Twice a year or so I sneak back there to see what I can see. I went this afternoon and found an Office Max distribution nod, Gestamp (an automotive supplier) and a few buildings with less proud signage. There's an "Executive Center" which looks like a really nice house and just behind that is a barn that faces the main road.

This new road gives you options to go left and right. Going straight you run into closed road signs. They're slowly working on joining this road with the next one over as a cut-off, but just now you can only dream. Turning right you get all of those buildings above. Turning right you get one of the quieter, more secretive buildings (there's really no secret, I just didn't catch a sign.) and a big wide cul-de-sac. More will go in there one day, we're all sure. Right now there's just trees and weeds, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I saw two rabbits bounding through there this afternoon at that moment where the sun turns from "Ridiculous" to "Yellow," but you probably won't see that much when the rest of these lots are filled up with business and industry. The rural exurbs have become rural suburbs and they are threatening to become regular old suburbs. The downsides? A bit more traffic -- what do you mean I have to wait to turn onto the highway? -- and you don't have to drive 20 minutes to the grocery store. It's a trade-off, one supposes.

Nothing else doing today. I'm at something of a loss to explain the rest of the afternoon. I spent a while out on that quiet little road staring at the rabbits and the woods, but that didn't take the whole day.

During the evening I've had leftovers, pudding and watched a movie. This, as they say, is the life.

The movie was rated a four star selection by whomever has the TiVo synopsis contract. I have a four star policy which states, if TiVo says it is, I at least have to watch 15 minutes and decide if it is worth seeing. The EvIl eye thoughtfully recorded this one for me, so here we are. The movie was Twelve O'Clock High:
A masterful old plodding World War II movie. Gregory Peck? You bet.
The movie is about the first American daylight bombers in Europe. It isn't historically accurate, but the veterans have all agreed that it is as representative a bomber movie as you'll find. And Gregory Peck is also a tough talking general.

For example, I offer the best manhood-robbing lecture the silver screen has ever seen. General Peck - as he shall now be known -- didn't need to be profane, he didn't need to get loud, he just told it like it is, right down to the lack of a returned salute. He then banished the pilot to a new plane, "Leper Colony" where every deadbeat in the outfit would be doomed to fly. And then he brought the man's daddy into the conversation. Just brutal. We should all learn this speech so we can repeat it to those who offend.

And that's pretty much it for the day.

Photographs. Here's a dandelion clock. I'm sure you've seen hundreds or thousands, so there's nothing special about it. I saw a really nice high-speed shot of a girl blowing the seeds recently, and I tried to recreate that myself using the camera remote and a tripod. I was not successful.

Second, here's the combination lock at work. We have magnetized doors that open by keycards and now some of the more strategic doors have numeric combinations. Previously a combination lock secured the mail and the vending machines, but now you can't get upstairs without a code. Not sure why this amuses me so, but each morning I'm punching in numbers, pretending it makes me some sort of super spy, but it does not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The President is coming! The President is coming!

And, also, I live in an echo chamber.

It is an understandable human failing, but when you read, write and study on a subject for a few days you just take it for reality that everyone knows something has happened, or will soon happen. President Bush will be making a few stops in Alabama tomorrow and while everyone ought to know this, you can be certain there are folks who won't know about it well after the fact. It is a big world, and there's a lot on your table at home, where the President happens to visit less, as it turns out, so you'd naturally be unaware of it.

Though I imagine you really ought to know these things. Such is my amusement at catching up others on the news of the day. "Yeah, there's this fireworks restriction because of the drought" or "Yeah, Natalee Holloway is back in the news today" and so on always give me a chuckle. How do you not know these things? Oh yes, you don't read approximately 482 news and information outlets a day like I do.

So it is with no sense of irony that I read a story about Pat Sullivan today. There's no new news in the story, but there is the quiet confidence of a good and decent man, and that makes for a refreshing read:
"You never know what's going to happen, but I am personally content and happy.

"And I know what is real, and what's real is right here."


"For me to be able to do what I enjoy doing, which is coach kids and be around the people that I want to be around and do it in the place where I want to live," he said. "I mean, what else do I need?"
He's always had a rise above persona, even when cancer loomed as his biggest opponent. You can't be around the guy, or around people talking about him, without understanding how pleasant an individual he is, or the contentment he carries.

You knew all that about him before the story, but it is always nice to read again.

(I sound like I'm angling for a job with the man, don't I?)

But every so often I arrive at a story three days late and that makes me chuckle too. How do I not know these things? As Clavenistic Know it alls go, we're setting the bar high.

Information pollution Jakob Nielsen calls it. He summarizes all of his posts, and this one thusly:
Excessive word count and worthless details are making it harder for people to extract useful information. The more you say, the more people tune out your message.
Nothing new there. And clearly not the concern of this blog -- this blog has many other important concerns. He's right, though, and others are following along., for example is now putting story highlights at the top of each story. Just in case you can't read the whole thing, here's four bullets; astound your colleagues.

Perhaps I should summarize things around here. How about: The author blathers on about his day. Done. I feel better. Now come get overloaded on the inane details of a quiet afternoon in the suburbs.

I'm happy to oblige, of course. First I headed to the bank, where you can't ask too many questions at once, or else they're liable to fingerprint you. I got ID'ed for a deposit. While I appreciate the "security" anyone that wishes to deposit money in my name is free to do so. There is a three pronged test -- and you will fail -- if you attempt a withdrawal. Stopped at Ye Big Box Store for a few cards -- one get well and one anniversary card -- and a few other things which I promptly forgot.

Came home, filled out the cards -- an uncle is having a surgery and one of those many families that adopt you along your way through life will soon be celebrating a 50th anniversary. In each card I narrowly avoided misspellings or grammatical errors. I overthought the process too much, realizing I didn't want to go back out and find another card, and i was writing in ink, I psyched myself out in the card writing process. Fortunately there were no problems; the cards were addressed and readied for delivery.

Wrote a nice letter, worked on some audio for a new project I'm considering and that's pretty much the afternoon.

After dinner -- a delicious shrimp and orzo salad dish -- and a second season episode of Boston Legal I returned to the computer to deliver the latest addition to the Glomerata series. If you haven't seen that yet, give it a try, it is a fun and interesting flashback to 1950s Auburn. The 1952 yearbook has been completed and we're about halfway through the 1953 volume after tonight. If you've been following along -- and bless you -- you can join the latest here. This week skims the student publications -- I pay tribute to the Glom staff and the newspaper -- and have a quick glance at 1953 athletics. I've found I have to be very sensitive with this particular book, it is delicately held together at this point. Not bad, though, for something more than half a century old.

Photographs. This is the side of the Liberty National building on Birmingham's southside. Pretty bland and impatient as buildings go. This angle, staring up as you drive by, is one of the more impressive views (not counting the side with the signage).

From here the building is arching up forever, and looks futuristic. You'd think this might have been built in the late 1960s or late '70s based on those windows. It looks like a bad science fiction set with the oddly spartan grid and the slightly rounded corners of the windows. The place was constructed in the 1920s however, some architect was a visionary of movie set construction I suppose.

Aside from retaining its name all these years -- and buildings earn high marks from me for that -- the other trivia of note is that this was the former home of the Statue of Liberty. Not THE statue, but rather the 1/5 replica that is still on display in nearby Vestavia. Our liberty's torch actually burns, however. A bit more on the building here. Brush up on the Statue of Liberty here.

I drive by this window a lot. It is one of the prominent features of the South Highland Presbyterian Church, more than a century old and still growing strong in the heart of the southside.

Your eyes are always drawn up to the center of that circle, everything beneath it directs you that way, but you're missing some beautiful work between that circle and the hedges below. I especially enjoy those small circles between the arches. They could fit into any home I could dream up. There's a lot of beautiful craftmanship in these panes. The church sits at a traffic light and I'm always a little disappointed when I catch the green because I can't discover new things inside the design. Enjoy a red light? It only took stained glass to make that happen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Since today is my Monday, and it is Tuesday that also makes this my Tuesday, but it feels like Wednesday.

Never mind. I suppose that was only clever the one time I tried it.

A largely uneventful day today. Very slow news wise -- one of the big stories was a tortured kitten -- it seems all the newsmakers are cowering from the heat. But it rained today. Great big goblets of rain fell out of the sky for a little under an hour this morning, and then briefly in places again this afternoon. All told, the National Weather Service says we received about .35 inches of rain. Which should only put us down about, oh, I dunno, let's call it two feet behind where we should be. Officially, NWS says we're now 15.5 inches below average for the calendar year.

Which brings to mind the podcast I did on the drought last week, but I never linked to it here. I spoke with an Extension specialist on livestock management and she told us just how severe things were getting for cattle owners. You can hear it here.

Anyway, being a slow day today (I am plugging things I forgot to previously mention) I took the opportunity to catch up on the Email and the reading I missed yesterday. The timing of it all wrapped up the day neatly and completely. And by the end of the afternoon I decided to put off until tomorrow -- or Thursday! -- the errands that I could run today. It isn't procrastination, but rather the strategic allocation of specific and indeterminate time futures.

Life, it seems, is a commodity.

So today I watched some television. Nothing unusual there. I feel guilty about it in a way, spending so much time in front of the tube just now. But then I remember: I'm basically watching television two days a week. The other five days I'm finding slightly more constructive ways to spend portions of my free time. And with that in mind I had to make it through the last of the week's Enterprise episodes.

In the first evil alternate-universe Captain Archer gets a starship from the future and plans on destroying the rebels and taking over the empire. He's a bad man, you see, talking in loud whispers, violating people's personal space and generally acting like he has some full-body tic of some sort. Also he hears voices, specifically his own, but the good-universe him. It is all very confusing, never explained and pointless.

So he crushes the rebels in one quick battle and then sets course for Earth where he will take over! Except that he is double crossed and his former consort poisons him before taking over herself. Look! Over there! A commercial!

None of these evil alternate-universe characters will ever be heard from again. Sometimes wearing different period uniforms and travelling through time and the multiverse is just silly.

In the second episode we're back to the good fun loving our universe crew. Best not to think about the temporal nature or casuality of those other cads. It'll only get in the way of the adventure we can offer you in this two-part tale.

So they're back on Earth, we're watching the prelude to the Federation and that is taken away from us because "They're going to kill her!" says the widely deranged woman who looks something like Judith Light. She's been shot, you see, and she has a hair follicle! Adventures ensue. Actually it is a fairly decent story, but I'd really like to stick with the Federation storyline. Instead we go to the moon, where the baby of two of the ship's crew is being held. Only they haven't, you know, had this baby. So it is all very mysterious. And then the moon station unclamps from the moon and zips over to Mars real quick. That's no moon, that's a planet man! This change of scenery is important because a weapons array can apparently hold the whole solar system hostage. The terms are all the aliens should leave, or else.

And the cliffhanger is that the two non-parents of the very real child, have also been essentially kidnapped in this move. But when you're holding a system hostage who's going to quibble over two more guests?

And that's the episode basically. (I fell asleep though, so I might have groggily missed something in the middle.) Not bad, but there's some historical antecedent which could have been really cool to see. Instead we get the cliffhanger and the final run up to the largely unsatisfying ending to a series that really mystified a lot of longtime fans.

Honestly I'm ready for next week to be here so I can get this over with and get my Mondays back. Whatever will I do with myself? We'll find out in only two short weeks!

The last few days I've also been watching The Last Mission on The History Channel. This is one of those programs that is intended for the classroom, which means no commercials, some fairly interesting, if repetitive narrative, good interviews and high-quality dramatic reenactments. The docudrama is about the last flight of B-29s in the Pacific before the Japanese capitulated, and the simultaneous attempted coup at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Basically, historians speculate that the history of the second half of the 20th Century -- up until today -- could have been radically different, except for a black out.

The B-29s were flying to north Japan to take out their last oil refinery, effectively breaking the back of their war machine. To get there they had to flew over Tokyo, which prompted officials to use the standard precaution to douse the city's lights making bombing targets more difficult. But the bombers didn't care about Tokyo this night. The Japanese army, meanwhile, had a minor revolt among the elements for whom surrender was unthinkable. They took over the palace and began searching for the Emperor's pre-recorded surreder message that was to air the next day. Their plane was to destroy the recording and continue on with the business of war as usual.

But the black out hampered their search, they could not find the recordings and the coup ultimately failed.

This is where the historical speculation begins. Russia was ready to sweep in from the north. The U.S. forces would have also had to wage a bloody siege on the Japanese mainland -- this was after the nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- to end the war and no one liked the appeal of that. Had the forces behind the coup won the day the death toll could have been significantly higher for all sides. Tokyo might have ultimately ended up divided like Berlin and the entire nation could have ultimately turned to a communist regime.

For the want of some light bulbs.

The all-important records with the Emperor's message were hid in a closet safe under some magazines and newspapers.

So that, the site and the nap of an undeterminate length of time, were pretty much my afternoon and evening.

Without further ado, then ...

Site stuff: There are new newspapers up. If you'd like to start from the beginning to discover some of the historical front pages in Birmingham's history you're invited to begin your browsing here. If you've been following along you'll be able to join us in progress with the latest from 1927.

Which brings us to the pictures. Tonight I had a leftover barbeque chicken from the grill, so it seemed appropriate to share with you a skin-warming photograph of the coals. The soft colors are very inviting, but the potential of singed hair says "Stay away!" I took several pictures of this -- anyone that sees someone taking photographs of a grill is probably staring too long -- and decided on the shot with the vertical grill over a few where the coals looked slightly more angry, but the grill moved at a 45 degree angle. This was, perhaps, my biggest agony of the day, further proof I have a very fortunate life.

There's also this picture of the skyline, for which I think I got honked at. Usually I take this picture in the afternoon, from a little more to the north. But in the morning you can catch a brillant orange sun bouncing off the Regions building. I missed that today, of course. Usually I do; it lasts all of 45 seconds and the mornings I catch it I never have a camera ready. In the foreground you can see the almost completed Hope VI project. Not without its detractors, but all would agree the new buildings look far more attractive than the old projects they replaced. Hopefully they'll age well.

Speaking of aging, it may be time for a little rest. Probably the one doesn't have that much to do with the other, but it is late and I'm out of metaphors.

Where do I always put those things anyway?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Today was my off day. Having worked Sunday this was my Sunday, which just brings us a bit closer to next Friday, which stays the same, but my Tuesday, tomorrow, is in fact, my Monday.

Got all of that?

So I slept in. A bit later than I'd intended, but there it was, waking with a start at about 10 a.m. Well then, today offered the same sort of heat as you've come to expect, so the plan was to get out early and mow the lawn before the really ridiculous temperatures set in. The 80s are great and the 90s are something of a small and cruel joke. If you find yourself breaking the century mark you've found something to write home about. Once I played golf when it was 112 degrees. We didn't notice. The body stops paying attention to a lot of physical sensation past 107.

So I pull out the lawn mower and chop down the grass. Not much has grown. The yard has retained a green, but dry quality, opting for life rather than attaining vertical height. I have no problem with this generally, no one needs overly ambitious grass, but I'd begun to feel guilty. I'd previously only cut the grass twice all year. Just hasn't been the need. But there were two spots in the front that needed it, and one section in the back that needed to be put in its place.

After that I spent a bit straightening up outside. The true heat of the day hadn't set in yet, but you could tell it was coming. I found myself wondering about the awesome difference between 89 and overcast (but no humidity) and the upcoming 93 and sunny. What can you say? The mind wanders when you're trimming back vines and spreading pine mulch.

Some 12 cubic feet of pine mulch later one of the shrub beds has a nice brown hue at the bottom. The old mulch was becoming a bit ragged. Sometime soon I'll have to add some more to the other bed. For now, though, the yard has been brought under control, some overly excitable vines have been disposed of and mulch has been, well, mulched.

And it suddenly got hot.

So inside for a shower and some lunch and then a relatively uneventful grocery store trip.

After that a long afternoon of enjoying the day off. We should all have more days like this. I say that, but after the third day I'd be bored senseless.

Later I caught the first two episodes of Enterprise. The first one is a fairly senseless throwaway episode given the light in the tunnel that is the end of the series. Perhaps they were waiting to use it elsewhere and had it in the can, I don't know. We did learn an interesting tidbit about the Orions, but there's an interesting tidbit for a species that is tertiary to the Star Trek universe as a whole. Though there is something intriguing about green skin.

The second episode brought the Tholians back into the party, but more importantly satisified Star Trek contract requirements in delivering an alternate universe episode.

There's an evil captain, no one has morals, everyone is dastardly and out for ol' number one. And something very unfortunate had happened to all of the women's uniforms.

All this is predicated by some fundamental shift in Earth history. The episode starts where Vulcans meet the humans and, instead of partying to Roy Orbison in a bar in Bozeman, MT, the Vulcan takes a shotgun to the gut. Somehow this spacefaring, warp drive race becomes subservient to the struggling humans. You have to presume that the backstory all works out the same, that that moment in Montana is where things shift, because otherwise you're getting into some truly Harry Turtledove territory.

The coolest thing was the introduction, which they reworked for this episode. It is at once more dramatic, more martial, militaristic and the clips are far more violent, reflecting this alternate universe in opposition to the familiar theme. Familiar in the sense that you watched the show, which most didn't, thanks to the show's original Friday night slot. But I digress. I didn't realize there was such an angst to that theme, but it works for the period setting. Perhaps they should have tweaked it as Archer grew into a more complex character. Someone there's a mixing genius who has considered putting those two songs together in a warped way that could have becomes the show's ultimate foreshadowing.

The downside being they'd have to come up with another imperialistic march for the two mirror universe episodes I'm presently watching, but there's no mistaking that the show evolved and the characters grew a little darker for a time. Admit it, the first time you heard that you'd think something weird happened to your television. And then you'd begin to talk about it with friends, but they heard it too. And the next week you're listening for it. In the episodes to come the grimness grows more pronounced. It'd be a nice dramatic flourish.

Of course the idea sets itself up for disaster because when those grim season three episodes are over life pretty much returns to normal, so the theme would then be outdated. Maybe that's the singular problem with the genius of the Star Trek universe. Life generally goes on unaltered. There was never much need to serialize the original series, old story arcs would show up in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine had some serial action, but the one over-arching theme was Sisko as a prophet and no one bought that. No one simply watched Voyager. I've caught a few episodes in syndication and remember why.

My, I've lost all my "I have a life!" points now, haven't I?

OK, Robot Chicken's Star Wars special then. Watched it tonight. It had its moments, but it had some lulls. I guess stop-motion entertainment is always hit or miss.

Two episodes of The Closer then. The redeeming part of this show are the two old guys and their little playful feud. The forensics are done better in other shows elsewhere. The storytelling is pretty good, but the lead is odd for the sake of being odd, as far as I can tell. And she has the worst faux Southern accent you've ever heard. Yep, New York and southern California. Thought so.

Pictures. We'll wrap up rural suburban weekend here with a thoughtful examination of a wooden fence. You could take in the whole fence, the pasture it surrounds or the tree in the background, but sometimes you just need to take a longish glance at the woodgrain.

And there was a very enthusiastic flower on a wild vine. I half-expected those purple tendrils to move and sway, reaching out for something to latch onto for dinner. And those yellow pods? I'm certain my cellphone coverage improved while I was near this flower. That or secret operatives were listening in. I'm no botanist, but this might be from another planet. It is actually a passionfruit. All those blended fruit drinks you enjoy? This is where the fruit and seeds come from.

One final note: I got second place in OTB's caption contest. I point you there because the rest of the suggestions are brilliant. Not sure how I got included in this round. But that's always the case; my best ones never place and the more bland ones do well. Sometimes you have to aim down the middle.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

City Stages is going on. That's the big news of the day around here. Bonnaroo, the huge-ish festival in Tennessee is also running this weekend. There is a lot of music news, and that's what I spent the work day on, more or less.

Running things on a skeleton crew involves about five or six hours of fast work, depending on the workload and who the other part of the skeleton is. One of the sports guys was in, so that took care of a large section of things. I'm pro sports guys, frankly. They do a lot and I like not having to. Today I was both news people, and slightly the entertainment guy. He'd already done a good deal of it, some of it was automated and I made sure it worked. The plan, as they say, came together nicely, much to the relief of all.

So, the downside is that I had to get up in the dark on the weekend. The only time you should get up in the dark on the weekend is when there is something very fun at the other end of that journey. And even then you should be very judicious on whether you commit yourself to such an act.

Somehow doing it in the week feels more acceptable. You can't explain it, you just know the body grumbles a bit more when it knows -- it knows -- that this is not the day for this.

The upside is that I get a day back for it later. Flex time is a good thing.

So this afternoon I built a tent, just like you did as a kid, stretching a blanket over things and experimented with blocking out most of the daylight.

Sat on the porch, listening to the leaves and breeze dance together and then decided to go to the driving range. Where I commenced to put a hurting on the golf balls.

If you aren't too picky about where it lands I'll drive the ball out 200 plus yards for you. So great is my ability that, at the height of my driving power today I was hitting them out of eyesight. Tiger Woods, meanwhile, was trailing in the U.S. Open.

I've refrained from calling him out to an open challenge because, well, he'd win and I don't want to bore the guy. Besides, what is laughable just now are the irons. All of them. They all seemed to be of similar distance for me today, the only variable being the height of the ball in flight. Of course I'm such a superior ball striker I was skulling the ball 100 yards downrange.

Ordered the big bucket, and then a guy came along, conceeding the day to the heat -- it was about 93, but cooling off -- and donated some more balls to the cause. I needed that at that point. By then I'm tired, red-faced and sweaty. You should always end with a good one of course, which The Yankee did, having perfected the 7-iron and one of the Woods. I got down to the last few golfballs and went back to the driver, and then promptly topped it 110 yards.

Home for a shower and then out for Mexican. The mariachi were in fine form, but I had no cash to tip them. He tried to sell me on a song. I'd like to think he recognizes my face. But the gringo didn't have any cash, and as soon as I got to that part of the story they split before I could finish apologizing.

They did play a nice version of Under The Boardwalk, Margaritaville (which must be a standard in there) and a laugh-out-loud version of Achy Breaky Heart.

It is now my goal to think up the worst possible songs for them to play, just for the entertainment value. For a brief moment they made Billy Ray Cyrus entertaining, they did an all-percussion refrain of the chorus -- so I'd like to see what else they can do.


This is a pastoral themed day, as we find a nearby bale of hay sitting sad and lonely under a clump of trees. Everything about this photograph is perfect, except for timing it so that no cars were cruising through that road in the background. The gentleman that owns this land once had two horses that he rescued from abandonment. He nursed them back to health and before long they were able to carry riders. He loved those horses and they loved him. There's now a sign not to far away from here memorializing one of the animals.

Not far from all of that is this quiet little drive. You never see a lot happening on this little road. They, too, had horses, but there hasn't been anything in the front pasture (to the left) that I've noticed for some time. These are older folks that live back there now, but I imagine that, before retirement, this was a nice drive to take as you returned home from work. The best three tenths of a mile of your day. It is said that the lady buys a huge bowl worth of candy for Halloween, only no one ever thinks to go back there. If you time it just right you can ring the bell and, relieved, she pours the whole bowl worth in your bag. Something to remember.

OK, Robot Chicken's Star Wars special is on the TiVo. Have to go watch that now.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Today was another day of laziness. We all think I deserve it, if only because it took a lot of effort to say.

Yes, that was one of the more productive high points of the day.

Lunch at Jason's, where even the help now acknowledges they get you on that fruit side and drink upsell. They had ice cream cones this week, so all was not lost. The guy that brought out the food was also a SCUBA diver, so we exchanged notes on places to go and things to see.

After that was a lazy walk through part of the neighborhood on a hot photographic expedition. And hot can have many meanings here because it was a bit peel-the-eyelids-off-your-face steamy. The thermometer said "Are you kidding? You expect me to keep up with the mercury around here? Let's say 91."

If the thermometer would talk it would have the Mel Brooks doing the Jewish caricature voice. Probably the accent would change, given the meteorological condition, but today there might have been an oy vey.

And that's pretty much the day. There was a bit of television, barbeque chicken on the grill, and a little more television. Tonight is an early night, since I'll have to head in to the office in the morning.

Pictures, then.

First there's this adorable little girl. She was very flirtatious and it wasn't long before she starting showing off. She'd stick out her tongue and make the requisite noise. This is cute in children this small, but somewhere along the way it loses the appeal. She kept me entertained all through lunch, though. I like the way the sun is barging into the room from the right. It seemed like a metaphor at first, but we'll just call it happy backlighting.

She's so cute though, with that thin little red hair and happy blue eyes. There was a baby behind her, that actually made it into the background of this picture, that looks almost like a newborn, but with a huge mop of hair. There has to be some follicle kharma in there somewhere, I thought. Shortly thereafter the dad of the child with all the hair came back to the table and suddenly there it was: Dad's hair was thinning rapidly.

Second there's something we all want from time to time. Hmmm, suckers.

Bedtime has snuck up on me. We'll talk again tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Only a partial day at the office today, because today we visited the amusement park -- combo theme park, water park and fair -- 'Lectric Leapin' Larry Land.

Naysayers can't get enough of pointing out that the place isn't yet a decade old, has already been in bankruptcy and is on owner number two. Others counter with the lighter crowds, short lines and not having to drive two hours from Atlanta at midnight after a day in the scorching sun and rancid water.

We all agree the prices are a bit steep, however.

So this is our company get away day, which is nice enough of them to put on for us. I'd vote for one a month, or per quarter at least, but I've never had another job with get away days, so I'm pleased. We left the office at midmorning, which was half a day for me, but there's still something psychological about it that convinces the less attentive parts of your mind that you've only been in the office for a few minutes.

Made it to the park and found myself pleased with the benevolence of parking vouchers, saving eight bucks right at the start. If you're going in to both the ride and the water side of the park that's a combo ticket for about $32 dollars per person for the day. So, please, donate eight more for the cause. Someone must pay these young men standing on the scorching blacktop waving at ... well, nothing really. It was 11 a.m. and they were already sapped from the heat and exhausted. I waved at one guy and he shot me a mean look. "Great, now I've got to raise my hand again." Felt bad about that for the rest of the day and waved at no more parking lot attendants who's job is to, you know, indicate how to park.

Made it through the gate thanks to a nice Ukrainian girl who ripped everyone's tickets. The next two workers we saw were speaking Spanish. We're insourcing.

Rode the swings, which aren't exciting of course, but about as peaceful as you can get in an amusement park. I could ride these for hours and hours.

Road the Pirate, which is the big plastic ship that is suppopsed to make me think of Blackbeard, but not Johnny Depp. Usually this ride makes me think of forceful explusion of ingested materials. I love rides, I'm a thrillseeker (when things are safe) and have a joy for speed and turns and curvy things, but this back and forth nonsense doesn't sit well with my inner ear. I give it a shot, and it isn't too bad. New theory: this ride must only be approached when it it mostly empty.

Found our way to the pavilion for lunch. Had a nice hamburger, hot dog, chips, beans and a frozen corn on the cob. Ice was on the corn. The boss notes that this is why he did not get any, "Of course it might be the best corn ever ... " as I take a bite.

No. This is not the best corn ever.

Otherwise lunch went great, right down to the ice cream sandwich.

Bumper cars. Brian and The Yankee faced off while Taylor and I cheered them on. The ride operator was also Ukrainian.

After that it was time to hit the waterpark for our daily dose of Post-Lunch Swimmin' and Stomach Cramps!

They have lockers, which you can rent for your valuables and your dry things. The lockers cost $10. In central Alabama I'm paying Manhattan prices. And by "I" I mean we, because I didn't bring this much cash. Brian and I joined forces, stuffing four people's worth of dry belongings into a locker that was quickly pregnant with towels, shoes and sunglasses. On the upside, we did get five dollars of the locker money back from the deposit. The two locker renting attendants were Ukrainian. There are no teens in Ukraine just now.

The next great indignity was the realization that one must now buy rafts. I remember the heady days of the 20th Century, back when this place was losing money hand over fist, to a time when you just waited until an unclaimed float drifted along and you snagged it.

We did not pay, being sufficiently tapped, but after one walking trip through the lazy river -- not so lazy when you have to provide your own walking, naturally -- we lucked up into finding three floats in a row. Guile, cunning, straight guilt-tripping and some daring-do made this happen. No little kids were made to cry, however.

Went up to the slides. There are many slides in this park. Six for adults, I believe, and a few pieces of inclined plastic for toddlers. First we attacked the curvy, turny, you go really fast now slides. They are black, hooded and you can't see anything in them after the guy shoves you down the pipe until a little bluish glow comes along to suggest there's some water in your near future. There are little drill holes in the big turns that let in natural light. Smaller than a penny, four of them in succession is a hint that you're about to enjoy a big turn.

I love these slides. Though this time the raft was going fast enough that the thing zipped across the landing pool some 15 yards long, turned sideways and crashed into the handrail hip-first.

Oh the pain. But that was quickly forgotten. For now there are two newer slides to ride. One being of the straight down variety. I watched from above as three of the four previous rides almost got sideways in the narrow tube as flattened out to meet the earth.

How do you keep from doing that? I asked the surfer dude at the top.

"Nahh, brah, won't happen! Keep your legs crossed, or this could get gnarly!"

And he shoved and down I slid. Or fell. The first foot or two I was in the air. Finally my body regained contact with the slide, which has to be on about an 80 degree incline. My legs come uncrossed. I regain the proper position. I'm at the curved portion of the slide and my legs come uncrossed again. I cross them again. There are seams in this slide. And they hurt. I slide past the exit point. I've now done it and, being allergic to pain, never wish to do it again.

There is another slide grouped with that one, you go down the tunnel around a curve or three and then empty into a big bowl which you circle before falling into the pool below. This slide has a name, but it is called The Toilet Bowl. This looks fun and relaxing. Slides are great and everyone seems to enjoy the round and round part. At my turn I slide down, my back notes the even larger seams and I can't wait for this to be over. The bowl, surely, will be better, I figure. Quick rationalizations are often wrong. The bowl is the worst part of it when it comes to the seams. I do what feels like a full circle and then break form -- this time with hands crossed behind your head -- in the hope that I'll fall to the hole and the pool below. It does. I do. The pool is very cold and feels deep from what I can tell. I'd check it out, but there are people waiting on me to get out of the way -- and a lifeguard staring dumbly and blankly -- so that others can get their backs ripped up. I've now done it and, being allergic to pain, never wish to do it again.

The wave pool then, where I find another loose float, drift out to where the waves come from and we all just relax. Sometimes the waves are on, sometimes the waves are off. There's a reason, I'm sure. The waves were off more than they were on, but it isn't bad when the turbines are moving. These aren't surfing waves, but more along the lines of a Gulf Coast, behind two layers of breakers waves. Very nice.

Somewhere around the four foot depth marker you're required to wear either a life jacket or be in the company of a float. I fear for the future if insurance companies continue to take over.

So now we dry off, return to the rides, where the ferris wheel closes for thunder. The Yankee and I catch some sort of circular scrambling thing that you'd take in at the County Fair. We try for the similar ride right next to it, but then the rain really starts coming down. And it rains for, oh, about an hour. No one really minds. Even kids weren't too upset with this, such is the drought we're in. We apparently only saw eight-tenths of an inch, but it sure seemed like a lot more at the time. Given the choice, I'll sit under the awning and watch the rain all afternoon while the rides are shut down.

The rains slacked off and the two ride operators -- one from Colombia and the other from elsewhere in South America -- put us all on for a few spins. The temperature dropped 10 degrees in the hour of rain, so now we're soaked, dizzy, windblown and that makes 71 degrees almost chilly.

Caught the ferris wheel finally. Walked back up to the wooden roller coaster. When it was built it was said to be the fastest all-wooden coaster in the country. I care not for the implied speed in that sentence, but rather the noun, which means there is jostling and pain up ahead. I understand purists' love of the wooden coaster, but there's a nice metal ride with my name on it.

And the beautiful merry-go-round. Which looked abandoned by this time, it was after 7 p.m., but a nice old man who looked and sounded like he had a coming of age story ready to tell anyone who asked appeared out of nowhere to give us a ride. The horses, they do go up and down as an old classic tune is pumped out of hidden speakers. They need to replace some lightbulbs in it, but I love this carousel.

And in those last two paragraphs you've been witness to the instantaneous aging of a young man into a doddering old man.

That was a nice wrap to the amusement park adventures, where I escaped with no sunburn and felt rain for the first time in ages. It was time to leave because it was time to get cleaned up for Pie Day.

Pie Day for two as it turns out. Brian and Taylor bailed, understandably so. Taylor'd had a big day. Ward had been cut for the night, the hostess shot me a mean look as I looked over her server charter. I've decoded the mystery and the power of the hostess stand! She punished us by choosing the noisest table in the joint, right by where the dishes are washed. The Yankee and I were both pretty wiped out from the day. Too much sun, fun and jostling against kids for positioning in the water.

So with no Ward we had a new guy, who did fine. Not great enough to pick on, but well enough for me to look at his name on the receipt. On reflection he actually did everything very well, but the bar is set awfully high, particularly in Ward's own store.

After they hastily covered a new pie for dessert I left with leftovers -- I'm very proud of this, a day at the pool, so I'm famished, but I don't eat like it.

Pictures, quickly then.

None of the park, because I'm not that crazy. I'll have to entertain you with something later in the day, and fresh off the camera's processing sensor.

First, there's the bar at the restaurant. The place was about 15 minutes short of closing when we left, and most everyone had filed out. Everyone looks exhausted in this photograph, but I didn't see any of them at the park today. Great scene though, the glass holder on the bar -- a plea for no one to sit over there -- the manager with his head bowed, counting receipts, baseball on the screen. I love those lamps. Actually I love pretty much everything in this shot, and in the store. I'd change the bar top though. I had dinner there once and couldn't get over the pine. Something richer, please.

I can't talk, but someone needs to clean their windows.

And now a long summer's nap.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today was Heap Big Meeting day, where we all gather together in a darkened room. stare in awe at the display on the wall, ooh at the numbers and chuckle at the jokes. Usually this ends at just under two hours and features a catered lunch. Today it ended at two hours and no lunch. We're being treated tomorrow, though, so it all works out eventually.

So out to lunch today. And then to the Starbucks with a co-worker. For him, not for me of course. Never touch the stuff. I always wonder about Starbucks in a place like this, particularly in the suburb in a place like this. No one walks to that particular Starbucks, sits for an hour and pretends to be either overtly preppy or desperately bohemian. You have to drive to the place. And there's a drive thru. And Paul McCartney is everywhere. He's shilling the new CD through there. And the promotional photo is of a very pursed-lipped Wings frontman. "Oy. That's bad coffee there," it seems to suggest.

Perhaps they could have gotten better art, that's all.

After that the bank with a co-worker. Not my bank, but his. Though one of my banks just gobbled up his bank, so now I suppose we're all on the same team, working hard to help prop up those poor financial banking institutions! Won't you lend them a hand? Won't you?

I was reading the merger notices in his bank wondering about this. Why are we so intent on selling our friends and colleagues on our guy. Need a real estate agent? You oughta go with so-and-so, she was great to me. Mechanic? My guy is the best! Bank? You betcha.

It isn't like we're getting kickbacks for this, but we do it anyway. It is all very curious. And what happens if your real estate agent really doesn't serve your friend well? Have you failed your friend?

I didn't use the mechanic example there because my mechanic wouldn't mess things up. Not my guy.

After work The Yankee and I went to visit a friend newly moved into a rehab center that orbits the University Hospital. In our time there I grew very proficient at driving a wheelchair. The doctors don't even scold for that there, but one did look sternly. Sadly it had two extra wheels designed to prevent tipping and wheelies.

Of course by the time I've got maneuvering in close quarters figured out it was time to go. Which meant it was time to go home. Which meant rush hour traffic, something I never have to deal with on my off-hours schedule. Must have caught it on a good day, because it wasn't that bad.

And then home for an early cereal dinner. Some goofing off of an unproductive nature and now this.

At least I have photographs today!

First, there's a macro of the get well soon flowers. They were all very beautiful and smelled nice and were purple. I hope she likes purple! The card was blue, and featured a dragonfly. So we've captured the essence of perfectly vanilla and non-outlandish get well wishes. Maybe I should have went with the singing monkey card.

Second, this is decoration on a parking deck. Useless use of raw materials, but this is at least suggestive of laundry or curtains in the wind, and not a blank wall. We can be thankful for that. Otherwise UAB has some rather odd to outlandishly bad art just lying around both the academic and medical campuses. In the first room of the rehab center was something that had come straight from a welding shop and seemed to suggest buzz saw bladesbelonging in a Wes Craven movie full of disfigurements. Brilliant piece of work to put in a rehab center. Very nice choice guys.

And now, to read myself to sleep.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This will be short.

I came home on an otherwise uneventful day and fell asleep pretty quickly. Probably this was because I never managed to wake up properly this morning. Woke up after 8 p.m. and later watched the last few minutes of a documentary the TiVo was voluntarily recording. It was on the Six Day War.

Something about the very straightforward narration -- one of the last nods to the newsreel style perhaps -- was very interesting. So I stopped it as the credits rolled, intending to watch it later, but the machine ate the thing. The TiVo giveth and the TiVo maketh you do without. Truly, it is the Evil eye today.

Late pizza dinner. Some mental tossing and turning since then. Not much to write about really. So with nothing else worth mentioning, we'll move on to the day's website offerings.

Photographs: Since I slept all afternoon these pictures are a few days old. The ultimate point of the exercise is to work up to shooting the more mundane aspects of daily life in an interesting way. I needed the sleep, so you're getting the B-roll of pictures. My apologies, but it happens from time to time.

So, first, there's a picture of my step-father, Rick from last weekend. Here, I believe, he was "supervising" the construction of an entertainment center.

Second, there's the sun through the ivy.

I'm listening to America's Greatest Hits as I put this together, and this makes me think of them. I know, I know. They were about California and sunshine and the beach and all that. And the desert, yeah, that too. And a horse with no name. That poor horse. But I've spent all of an afternoon in California, so I don't have a good basis of comparison. I've heard America all my life though, and this is how I think of them: head back, sun gently filtering down, eyes open, eyes closed, eyes open and Sister Golden Hair.

Elsewhere the Glomerata is up. This is a short addition -- partly because of the sleeping, but also because it is a short section. So if you're just joining us in the Glomerata project start here. If you're all caught up so far, join us here for a look at the 1953 R.O.T.C programs. There are tanks! Planes! Guns! And jokes!

That's all for today. Sorry for the brevity. Or you're welcome for it, depending on how you feel. Tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I had a great piece of wordplay to use here, but the mind is currently drawing a blank on the setup. We'll see if, when we reach the now mysterious appropriate event of the day if I can bring the whole thing back together. Of course, now, it won't be nearly as funny, but it made me snicker when it came to mind. And that pretty much cemented its unfunniness: when I laugh, you don't, when it is a throwaway line you sent me titters, giggles and grins. My sense of humor must be horribly out of whack.

Yesterday we discussed the absence of humidity. This afternoon it was even drier, hitting 21 percent. I mention this because at one point the breeze moved through the backyard and you could feel the distinctive wisp of wind off of a lizard in the Nevada desert on your cheek. There might have been a few grains of sand pelting the skin. I'm fairly sure the indigenous clay wouldn't separate and float on the breeze like that, but who knows at this point?

Incidentally, Las Vegas, Nev. had the same humidity early this morning that we had late this afternoon.

I spent the better part of a week in Vegas while I was in college. I was visiting my girlfriend's family and each night began to grow worried that I was getting sick. Here you are, on vacation and your throat is getting sore and scratchy and you're coming down with something. No worse feeling than that.

When the plane landed in Atlanta and I walked out to the parking deck I realized what was wrong. You get used to having a glass of water every time you step outside, whether you want one or not. And when it is gone, when you're in the desert -- or in Alabama right now -- your body notices it first.

Up in Birmingham they noticed. The mayor knee-jerked and crafted a No Water Use, Ever rule, but backed down later in the day. One of my pictures of the day has a background of a burned up yard. There's just not much green to talk about. Saves on the lawn mowing, but that's a big stretch to find an upside.

Still at a loss on that good pun. It'll just have to get filed away for later, I guess.

Caught three episodes of Enterprise tonight. In one we get the gloss coat of learning about a sub-species of a secondary group. It is a tidy little thing that wraps up the previous two episodes. Romulans were the anonymous, faceless bad guys here and they had a devastating ship that would, of course, never be seen again. After that the writers decided to tackle that pesky issue of why Klingons look different in the original series than they do everywhere else in the Star Trek universe.

In addition to the pun it seems like I also had a bad Klingon metaphor, but we'll let that slide.

Seems they stole and tried to put modified human DNA to use to become smarter, stronger and faster. But, this being science fiction, the plan backfired, so they kidnapped the Enterprise's doctor. Science ensues. Meanwhile -- Warning: Subplot! -- one of Captain Archer's crew is working at right angles to the overall team mission. Say what you will, but Scott Bakula developed a nice character in the third and fourth season.

In the last episode of the week Archer goes to face off with the Klingons to get his doctor back.

Ordinarily I dislike the Klingon episodes, something about character development, but these were done quite well; there is chagrin and optimism and reality laid out for a race, by a race in the scope of two hours. And it wasn't drilled into your head with the sledgehammer of plot much like the characters would later become. Character actor John Schuck, he played the sympathetic Klingon doctor, deserves all the credit.

Of course, he should know how to do this. He appeared in two Trek movies and three series, portraying a Klingon three times. And, no, I didn't know that before I looked him up on IMDB. Because of his performance you have to come away impressed with how this storyline plays out. The one problem I have was imagining James Avery (the guy who played Will Smith's uncle in Fresh Prince) as the Heavy.

Only six more episodes and two weeks to go! On one hand I'll be sad, but on the other hand I'll be happy to get my Mondays (and sometimes Tuesdays) back.

Salad for dinner a late visit to Wal-Mart for a get well card and some household necessities. Laundry and various other chores after that.

I won't bore you with details on that. (Oh, look how Tide has changed the look on their "with bleach" box! Clothes. Once you wash some to get them out of the pile the thing just grows bigger. What's up with that? Where do all these dishes come from anyway?)

Instead we'll look at today's pictures.

First: A squirrel and the aforementioned burned up grass. No one's cutting that stuff. No one has to.

Second: Lines, lines, everywhere there's lines. Especially when you shoot a mimosa tree. These aren't actually mimosas. (And thank you, internet, for correcting me. Again.) Their correct name would be Persian Silk Tree or Nemu tree. Scientifically, you should call it Albizia julibrissin, which is what all the cool kids in your neighborhood will be saying next week anyway, so get out in front of that one. They are ornamental legumes and are quite beautiful, unless you don't want them. They are invasive to this part of the world, grow incredibly fast and are almost impossible to eradicate. And they'll prosper in a drought.

And finally, there's today's newspapers for you to check out. These front page editions both hail from 1926, when the news was news! Unless a movie star died. Start here if you're new to the newspaper feature or, if you're all caught up, see the latest here.

Tomorrow? Well, we never really know that much about tomorrow, do we? Surf in and find out what's in store for the near future.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another day, another dollar, another experience in the desert that is central Alabama, etc.

It seems like there was once a joke, something about how it wasn't the heat, but rather the humidity. I believe we've all told that joke to make fun of Yankees and Southwesterners. I'm trying to remember what that was like.

This morning it was nice and warm. Calm, quiet, peaceful and still. Very pleasant, but far too warm for 6 a.m. It was also humid. Or humidish, I'm not sure. It should have been more so, but I didn't realize it at the time. The back of the mind was trying to tell the front of the mind that something was amiss, but the front of the mind never listens all that well, does it?

We apparently don't keep humidity records, but perhaps we should start. While the day started out at an almost respectable figure, by the afternoon it was down to 26 percent. At the same time in Phoenix, Ariz. it was 17 percent, so yeah, we're at near-desert like conditions just now.

Back to the reunion for a minute. I ran across a special newspaper clipping during the Spring Cleaning Of Sorts '07. I've been intending to brag about this for a week or so, but the family reunion made for good timing. So, here, read about UNA's oldest graduate, courtesy of the Dec. 21, 1996 edition of the Times Daily (Florence, Ala.).

That's my great-grandmother.

The math doesn't work out in that story, which could have been typo, poor reporting or the confusion of an elderly woman. I'm going with poor reporting since the story was about the oldest graduate ever but neglected to mention how old she was. Being 91 should be worth a mention.

For her graduation we got the governor to issue a proclamation declaring it her day. She was so proud of that. On and on she would brag about that plaque. It sat just inside her front door. When you walked from the sitting room into the kitchen it was at eye level. How it amused her that the governor would know about her and think to do such a kind thing.

She told me after she graduated -- she kept her classroom activities a secret from everyone until it was time to graduate -- that she left school way back when just seven hours short of her degree. "It was time" she said, "to raise a family."

About this time I developed a new and deep respect for her. She talked once about how she got married, developed tuberculosis and lived through the Great Depression in one year in poor and rural northwest Alabama. That's a tough, determined lady.

She died at 99 years, 11 months and two days. For just a brief moment, on an otherwise brilliant October afternoon it rained as we lowered her casket into the ground. I'll never forget that. It was as uplifting as it was sorrowful and affirming.

Somewhere in my many boxes of books or stacks of things to go through are her memoirs. The more I think about it the more I want to dig through all of those things to find out more.

It is her sister-in-law that is the centenarian we saw this weekend. That's 100 years and 99 in one generation on both sides of the family. Maybe that'll bode well for the rest of us.

Just one episode of Enterprise tonight. We're still on the slow burn toward the creation of the Federation. Slow burn is apt here. Took me several tries to make it through the episode. Life and chores kept getting in the way, which is fine, that just gives me three to watch tomorrow.

Clean the grill, watch the fire, eat some fish, and so on. All very pleasant little things. In the interim there were two episodes of the second season of Boston Legal. Good stuff. Denny Crane was hitting his stride, there was a Star Trek reference, Alan Shore was both leering and a gentleman. I'm sure they're discussed at length somewhere on the site.

Two photos. I've noticed a tendency to not pick up the camera during the week, so I'm going to try and change that. So here's a deliberate effort to make an excuse to shoot something. These will likely prosaic subjects, but perhaps it will make me develop the ability to make even the ordinary stand out.

Here's one of the few blooms I have in the yard just now. I walked out back to play with the fading sunlight of the afternoon and noticed this about three minutes too late. See that gentle little light on the stem? I'll have to try and catch that dancing a little higher up on flower.

Speaking of dancing: she does not.

That is all. More tomorrow.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Jason's Deli ran out of cones. Horrible thing to do at lunch time. We were all aghast.

How could you do such a thing! Why if Jason were here ... better yet, get him on the phone!

Is it just me, or does sending an employee to the nearest grocery store with $20 bucks and the order to grab as many ice cream cones as possible seem like a good idea? Why don't restaurants ever have this in mind?

Bed, Bath and Beyond after that. Picked up a foam eggshell crate thing for the bed. I needed nothing from the bath department and steered clear of the Beyond. Infinity doesn't fit in my car.

Sam's Club after that, where the nice lady was entertained with high quality membership photos. She probably just can't buy entertainment like that. Nevertheless, I'm almost crosseyed and have my tongue sticking out. It looks, for all the world, like my head sprouted horns just in time for the picture too. Not sure how that happened.

This is the brave new world, a snap, a quick print of a low-res webcam picture on a laserjet printer. I noted this the last time I got the Sam's Club membership that this would be how they asked the cashiers and door monitors to identify me. A solemn vow was made: Until they can make me look as unattractive as the DMV photo, I will make faces at their webcam.

Mostly it makes me never even want to walk by their computer department. Tires, drugs, fish, oh sure. But stay away from the gadgets.

Groceries after that. Publix, where shopping is a pleasure. Stocked up for the week, factoring in that fruit wouldn't be a required purchase because of the generosity of others, thanks Mom! The cashier was holding forth on Elvis, mayonnaise and ridiculous literature. I responded in kind. The young man was impressed with my opening salvo of Don Quixote, the nice lady waiting patiently behind me was not. The conversation deteriorated from there, but(Crumudgeon warning!) it was nice to see a guy so young actually reads.

Home for some a few leisurely hours in the library. I'm reorganizing the Glomerata bookshelf. I need a new bookshelf. At the end of last week I received a 1934 edition. Beautiful art on the inside. I have two more ancient ones coming soon, but I'm at critical mass with the bookshelf.

And there's great stuff in every one of these, but I can't scan them all on a flatbed. I'm leary of hurting their spines with too much stress. Already the 1953 edition -- which we are presently examining on the site -- is a tad too loose for comfort. I'd love to show them off, but the upright scanner option is prohibitively expensive and would become extremely labor intensive.

I might, however, scan the cover of each of them and upload them for your perusal. Many of them are exquisitely ornate. Most are all very handsome.

Except for a few from the '80s, but that was the '80s.

And so that brings us, roughly, to dinner. Where Pie Day was convened in Gardendale with Brian's family and his parents. A bug, as big as your fork, told us it was time to leave. In some places that's grounds for free dinner (with the promise you won't tell any customers waiting for seats) but that's not the case here.

After that we all went swimming in the pool at the hotel where Brian's parents are staying. Lovely summer evening. The water was warm, the chlorine was overly rich, the other guests were good to avoid us, the bugs tried their hardest too. It was a nice, calm and pleasant way to end an abbreviated -- but still very long and eventful -- weekend.

Only now, post-swim, I'm very hungry.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Today is the family reunion. This is centered around lunch of the covered-dish variety. I cooked a delicious bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The event was held in a very small town that we'll laughingly call a suburb of a similarly small town that is just outside an actual city of small size. To give you an idea of the size of the small town's suburb, the facility is a combination fire department/senior center. As these things go it is a beautiful place. The exterior appears to be a mustard yellow siding. The interior is wood panelling walls and wood parquet flooring.

The tables are an industrial plastic. Sturdy, but the handful of running kids won't hurt themselves. The chairs were of similar design and provides the solution to one of the truly perplexing mysteries of modern man: How can we make a chair that is functional, forgettable and inoffensive. This chair did the trick. I can't recall the details because there were no complaints of sore this and aching that from an uncomfortable chair. Give these guy a grant and let them go national. They can't be a big company, or you would actually be aware of forgetting that chair at the DMV or in the hospital waiting room because, as you left, you realized that the posterior did not ache.

There's at least an industrial recognition for this right? A certificate or something?

We have this aunt in our family -- I suppose to others she is a great-grandmother or third-cousin, but to us she is an aunt -- who is a centenarian. Playfully she will not tell anyone her secret. Her hearing is bad and her eyes are beginning to fail her, but she still has her wit and you and I should be so lucky to look this good at 100-plus. The reunion was more about her than anyone else.

For my part I could call eight people in the room by name when I arrived. I've never lived close to the family, so some of these nice folks I meet at church or the odd family function from time to time, but I could run into them at the store and we wouldn't recognize one another out of context. In many ways, for me, the reunion was much like going to a restaurant with my family and one of them knowing someone also dining there at the time.

I decided there should be a contest. We take the central figure and find out who is the most removed from any relationship with that person. I think I figured out the winner, but it would have required surveying the whole room and there wasn't time for that. There was a dessert table to contend with.

Here's Aunt Clara and my mother. Pretty ladies, both.

After lunch -- err, the reunion -- we went back to more work on the lake house. Rick and I hung a cabinet and a picture frame and built a nice swing. Again, this seemed like more when I was doing it.

Late in the evening it was time to head back to Birmingham, and I'm getting the traditional offerings of fruit and cookies to take home -- every woman in my family is blessed with this need to give you things as you walk out the door, it is a beautiful thing -- when I stumble across an interesting find.

On the top of the refrigerator there's an old Saltine's tin. A little scraped on the sides, the paint long vanished from the top, but otherwise in good shape. My mother says this was her grandmother's and that she's had it for about 12 years or so, but I don't recognize it. She likes old tins, has two of these, but choses to use this one that is more distressed.

And the tin is an adventure of its own. On the back panel there are instructions for opening the bags. Reading the instructions you'll find that either you've been doing this wrong for years, or there was even a need to explain the obvious even way back when. I'd like to believe that the directions imply that the tin must be old enough that the bags were a new feature.

Even way back then Nabisco had an eye to the future. Were they the first of the big companies to make their packaging multi-lingual?

Here is, hands down, the coolest part of this tin: they are still useful. Over all these years Nabisco hasn't found the need to tamper with the inner-packaging. The size you pull out of the box at home today is the same size your great-grandmother retrieved from a tin like this. A sleeve of crackers will sustain you as long in this decade or that, no matter if it is mid-20th Century porridge or 21st Century tomato soup. Sustainable design perfection.

I headed home with cookies, grapes, half of a canteloupe and a watermelon. I'll be eating healthy the first part of the week, it seems.

Cruised through the backroads that are just off to the side of the backroads for the first quarter of the trip. After a lifetime of this journey you have to take variety wherever you may find it. So I went through a little place called Elgin (Motto: No longer a crossroads!) which has watched the family restaurant turn into a flourescent yellow Mexican joint sit near what is perhaps the least succesful Radio Shack in North America. From Elgin the road meanders through a countryside full of pastureland and the occasional honky tonk before finding a place called Town Creek (population: 1,216) with beautiful old run down buildings, a railroad track and modern police cars.

That's the funny thing about little places like that. You'd expect these tiny little burghs-in-training to have a larger city's castoff cars from the 1970s, but their gear is top notch, thank you. I only noticed this because I saw a truck stopped this evening as I rolled through town. In each little place where the Now Entering and Now Leaving signs share the same post I always marvel at their ability to generate funds for the latest in police cruisers. Each time it dashes my hopes to see the police force from the Dukes of Hazard there.

After that the road got familiar again. Moulton, a place where everyone remembers a devastating 1974 tornado that killed 14. Until recently there was a sign on the main street memorializing the tragedy, but I haven't noticed it the last few trips. Later there was Cullman and the gas station which has forever symbolized halfway in this trip. I considered standing there and waxing philosophic about the place, but then the ambulance showed up. Someone had taken a spill, but seemed OK. Still, best not to be in the way.

So the interstate then. Got home in time to eat a bite and now turn in. At which point I might be wide awake.

Friday, June 8, 2007

It rained today. In a related story, the stuff is still wet. Meteorologists had been saying as much for weeks -- seems like months -- but we all just snickered at the guy, and not because of the bad rug he was wearing. Rain? Wet? Ha! Madness! You've been staring at those high pressure fronts for far too long.

Elsewhere, people drove rather crazily in and after the rain.

It was during the shower that I decided to make a trip to the library to drop off some CDs and pick up a few more. The post-rain drive involved heading north for part of the weekend.

The meteorologists say we got .39 inches of rain, putting us down 15 inches when compared to the year-to-date average. Consequently the governor has declared a drought emergency which should help trigger some funds and aid for those deeply impacted. This week the local voluntary restrictions went mandatory, with 200 percent surcharges if you use to much water. This is, we're told, the worst drought in the country right now, with a severity that has approximately a one to two percent chance of occuring. Pretty scary stuff, really. We're used to dry summers and droughts, but we're going into a dry summer following a dry spring and a dry winter. The trend is disturbing.

So consumption is a big concern. The state forester, the fire marshal and the governor are also mindful of wildfire potential. Fireworks and fires of any sort are forbidden in 33 counties until further notice. The only exceptions are fireworks over water, commercial fireworks displays (with approval) and operating a grill with a top to catch embers. Local police will be enforcing the rule. If your car catches on fire expect a citation.

Pretty dry at my grandparents too, which is where my Friday night is taking place.

Had dinner with the grandparents, dry ribs and the various other staples of summer, and then went to Sonic with the folks, aunt and uncle for banana splits. At this Sonic the kids still skate. And they skate in the classic shoes rather than inlines. How they do this while avoiding snapped ankles and lawsuits continues to mystify me.

Spent the evening working on my mother's lake house. Moved some furniture for area rug purposes, cut some matting, sat with the folks and watched an episode of 24. It really seemed like more work when I did it, somehow ...

Anyway, this was an episode from the second season. They've been renting the discs, I suppose based on my silly little running commentary, and are now hooked. Only I haven't seen the first seasons. I jumped on for the fifth and sixth, and am now in the early evening of the second season. This is the one where Jack has captured the terrorist of undetermined Middle Eastern origin and is torturing him to find out where the nuclear bomb is going to go off in Los Angeles. Wait. This sounds familiar.

Anyway, this was before kinder and gentler Jack, so his one liners were great, and he basically broke the guy's hand in a fit of rage, before then setting up a satellite feed so the man could watch his family get killed since he wouldn't talk. Meanwhile Kim was running around being Kim and there didn't seem to be any inner-office overtly blooming, but going nowhere romances at the moment. And the White House, ably manned by Dennis Haysbert, was kept at a minimum. That was the hour.

At which point it was time for bed. I found myself occupying an odd sort of futon, bunkbed combination bed. So I'm sleeping on the bunkbed part, where the ceiling fan is approximately 17 inches from my toes. That should be fun.

Took some pictures of my mother's spoiled little girl tonight too, just goofing off with reflective flash. This is my favorite. She's a great little model. Very patient with the photographer because she knows that, ultimately, it is attention -- even if she doesn't understand it. She's been anthropomorphized to the point that sometimes you'd swear she did know what was going on.

Oh yes. Something happened with Paris today, but I haven't been able to figure out the latest from France. CNN won't stop talking about this crying little blonde out west long enough to get the international news on. Pity, that.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I intended to mow the lawn today. I really did. Then I got home, realized the grass was a pleasing shade of yellow brown and there is only one spot where anything is standing with any pride. Then I realized it was 94 degrees and decided that one patch, so ebullient in its defiance of a bitter drought, should stand tall.

And so it will.

Until this weekend, when I will chop it down. Perhaps I could sell it for hay. No one has any around here, so even a mouthful of the golden stuff would make a buck or two. This drought is officially the pits. Actually the geographical depressions that usually hold water are quickly becoming the pits, for there is no rain in them. There is no joy in Mudville and no rain here. Perhaps there's been rain in Mudville, which would be important so the town could keep its carefully crafted brand image. Maybe we can work out a free trade/interstate commerce deal. Some of your rain for some of our unrelenting joy. Deal? Deal.

The government would probably tax the whole thing out of being and then subsidize the mud. The joy would be left to the free market. Somewhere this would make sense, but we'd still be in a drought.

I nodded off on the sofa this afternoon. Come on, I'd already worked a full day, hauled things upstairs and down, stocked a bookshelf and emptied the dishwasher. I was due a nap! Actually I was lying no the sofa watching something of poor quality on the teevee and then made the mistake of moving from my back to my side. In the crocodile world that's your standard death roll, but in my world it means there's nothing of substance happening for two hours or so.

So two hours later I'm awake and adding the new picture to the blog here and doing other computer type things. All of my so-called "friends" are taunting me with the Paris Hilton stuff and I'm considering whether I should lose a little respect for any of them caught up in the hysteria. Probably not, but I'm a little concerned that this ridiculousness has created a Twilight Zone-like atmosphere where I find myself agreeing with Al Sharpton. Clearly this situation should be remedied soon because too many people are going to agree with the guy, he'll mistake it for a bully pulpit and run for president again. The only people that want that is Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Speaking of politics, we'll now wrap up the international story arc of the conversations between Bush and Putin. Each trying to understand the other's doubletalk and hidden missives. They'll solve this over cocktails and figure out a way for everyone to win. That's what happens at the G8.

That and the protests. They're so cute and peaceful, aren't they? Look! This one is blowing bubbles! Choose your images carefully, these guys are roughing up the police in between their displays. These are riot cops, by the way. The highly trained, armed and protected riot cops. Of the German variety. It seems that you'd have to work hard at hurting a handful of them. Very peaceful, these protestors.

Nobody but the protestors care, though. Well, the protestors and the media. When they can tear themselves away from breathless Paris Hilton coverage that is.

Putin, meanwhile, suggests the missiles go somewhere else, namely a former Soviet state, Nebraska or Nowhere. We'll heavily consider it, says Bush, which, international politics means "We won't even consider it, now make me a sandwich Boris."

But I do ramble on. The new picture is of the Birmingham skyline. That's on the flyover from the Red Mountain Expressway onto 59/20. the road dives down in between the buildings and, a mile later, let's you go through the downtown junction. From this spot you can be heading to the Gulf, Chicago or Mississippi and beyond.

Shouldn't that be their motto? "Thank God for ... oh wait, we're them. Hmmm. Well then. Mississippi and beyond!" A little wordy for a license plate, but you can punch it up. There are tie-ins for Toy Story and everything. Who wouldn't want Buzz Lightyear on their car tag? Some Ole Miss physicist (say that three times) can extrapolate how Mississippi is actually greater than infinity, on account of all the S's and I's. Faulkner's staid Rowan Oak and Jim Henson's humble beginnings would take a backseat to giant inflatable Pixar characters.

OK, I've been stalling, as you can tell. I must now put heavy things in my car.

Later. Those things were very heavy. And it is still very warm outside. But it is no longer a dry heat. This feels more normal. Now only if it would rain.

Time for sleep now. Thanks for checking in. More soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Told ya. The voter turnout was 9.6 percent and President Bush softened, but not where you might have expected. "Russia is not an enemy. There needs to be no military response because we're not at war with Russia. Russia is not a threat."

Bush was critical of rights and the general police state that is apparently returning to Russia. Vladimir Putin is up in arms over missiles the U.S. is looking to put in Europe, ostensibly as a deterrent from rogue nation and terrorist threats. The two will talk soon, where the smoothing over will continue and neither will come away extremely happy. This will become a process, since the two parties are actually at odds over two separate things and the reporters are trying to lump it together. The nations leaders aren't, so we shouldn't either. There's a reason this is called soft pedaling.

Great story out of Mississippi today on the anniversary of D-Day. This man didn't storm the beaches, but he was serving in a support role. Later his contributions would become critically important to the war in northern Europe:
American gun manufacturers did not take into the account the extreme cold of Northern Europe, where temperatures can often dip 20 degrees below zero.

"The cold and the shock of the 105 mm (howitzers) firing tore the things up," he said.

One day, Balser said his group was presented with a small pile of 105 mm parts and an artillery officer asking if they could fix the parts.

"I could do drafting," Balser said. So, he took out his pencil and paper and designed a tap that would withstand the cold and allow the 105s to fire.

A couple days after he came up with the solution, he was told by an artillery sergeant to listen. He told the sergeant that he heard the sound of 105s firing in the background.

"Without that tap, he told me, those guns would have never fired," Balser said.
They are so matter-of-fact: I could, so I did.

No trumpeting about what that lead to. He's almost as proud that he could do a little drafting as he is about the fact that he helped the artillery return fire. Sure, it was just a few lines on paper and then he and his machinist colleagues made the little thing he just designed. Sure, there were probably plenty of other GIs in the army who could have done that. But it was him, so he did.

Lileks in his new job is talking about D-Day today as well. He's also offering you 11 minutes of the CBS news reports from that day 63 years ago. Here's the New York Times from D-Day.

Not at the expense of any other great feat of daring and courage, but you can't overstate the importance of some things. This is in the history books, and is slipping away from us more and more, but it is important to realize that these weren't mythical, magical men, but our collective memories. They are a conversation or a letter or a souvenir removed from reality. These men were our grandfathers and great-gradfathers, flinging themselves against a wall of terror and a hail of death, climbing up cliff faces and overrunning embedded positions, dropping from the night sky and fighting with no support.

So hug a rugged, old, weary veteran. Make him proud.

On the way out of the office this afternoon I passed this wreck The trailer was hauling old rusted out, crushed cars. Gas was leaked onto the roadway, the driver was slightly hurt. A HAZMAT crew rolled out to the accident. It delayed traffic for miles, fortunately in the opposite direction. This was just after 3 p.m.

Stopped by the library, sent those photos to the office in case they wanted to use them -- they did not -- and skimmed through the CDs. Then I went to the dollar theater for 300:
Beautifully shot, if a bit heavy on the digital. Very, very violent.
Don't see this one by mistake. It has more decapitations, impalements and severed limbs per frame than your average epic war movie. And they shot this at a high frame rate just to give the competition a shot.

Everyone is incredibly handsome and muscular, except for the carnival freak types, who were also very muscular. It was enough to give your average guy an inferiority complex the next time he heads to the gym.

So the movie is based on the comic, which is based on reality. Because, apparently, truth isn't compelling enough. What's more, the comic isn't compelling enough, as the IMDB notes that they embellished on the freakish characters for benefit of the movie. I could have done with less, thanks, but to each his own.

On the upside, I found a quarter in the theater, so I saw an action packed movie for $.75.

The rest of the day, though, you yell for no real reason you can identify. No one would really want to be a Spartan.

Met The Yankee for Thai downtown. Finished the prologue of Kearns-Goodwin's LBJ book before the movie and while waiting for dinner. After that, and trying to explain this wierd movie, I head home. To find the interstate no closed down because of that earlier wreck. It was 8 p.m. Anytime a truck flips go ahead and block out the next six hours, minimum, for that stretch of road. The local authorities are now experts at this and it still takes six hours. Moral: Don't flip your rig.

Site news: The new Glomerata installment is up. We're now two weeks in to the 1953 addition. Start here if you are behind. If you've been keeping up, you can continue qith 1953 from here.

I won two new (but old, from the 1930s) Gloms tonight. Someone cheers for Sparta!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Today I voted. Bet you didn't realize there was a vote in Alabama today. You weren't alone. There were two statewide amendments, one to expand bonds and loan capability, $400 million for industrial recruitment and another to strengthen the spending power -- and subsequently the voting block -- of teachers and state employees.

I voted at 3:45 and my polling place had seen about 400 people. No one else was in the room when I was there. People in the newsroom were heard saying "There's a vote today?"

It is disheartening that this wasn't discussed a bit more beforehand. As for that bond issue, the state finance director said that even if the vote failed there were ways to make the plan work, but he wouldn't expound on that. It was all very curious in a semi-mysterious way.

Overwhelmingly, the vote passed. That's to be expected. When the turnout is low the crowd with the vested interest will be the ones to show up. If turnout broke 10 percent I'll be impressed.

Did you see President Bush taking Russia to task? He did that in the very room where the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. There are messages inside messages there: dial it down or we'll dial it down for you. Missiles, Europe and international cooperation are at stake too, your move Vlad.

The President will be the one that blinks, though. He's arguing about human rights and the Russians are pointing out American arsenals, which will get more international tut tuts than anything.

This isn't the reopening of the Cold War; a lot of things have shifted in the past two decades, there's simply too much on the line. Consequently Bush will have to rephrase something. They worked on that speech for days or weeks, and the retread was probably already being fleshed out as well, but the damage will be done. What needed to be heard will have been said. Everyone will act a little icy for a while and then turn home and talk tough.

In another two decades this could be seen as the beginning of something, or it could be an historical footnote of little consequence. And in the long view, the interesting thing to observe is how the two sides are discussing the issue. Two generations ago it was treaties and troop movements and mystery before invasion. One generation ago it was military might and mobility that were the chess pieces each side used. Today they talk directly to one another through the media, and will sit in a conference room in Germany on Thursday with bad coffee and exhausted assistants and Putin and Bush will tell jocular stories in front of the camera.

I doubt Bush trots out that "I looked the man in the eye ... I was able to get a sense of his soul" line from early in his administration. But that was in a pre-9/11 world and that, the Bush administration argues, changed even international relations with (sometimes uneasy) allies. That and Russia is crushing democracy and looking more and more like the comrades of old.

Ultimately each will protect his own and the real winners will be Czech Republic and Poland, where these American missiles are being installed. Think of the influx of tourism dollars!

About then I filled in the second bubble on my two-question ballot and that's enough politics for one day.

Just missed the post office. They've got good union hours around here. On Saturday they're open for exactly 59 minutes and you're wasting your breath if you argue for more. Today, though, they closed at four and I, again, was wasting my breath. So later this week. I have a delivery, and the suspense for it will just have to build.

Tonight I finished the week's episodes of Enterprise. First there was an episode where aliens were studying the humans to learn how they'd handle disease. This is a great plot, even if every series has already given it a spin. It is crafted well here, but you already know this is ultimately going to end at the end of the hour and you'll never hear from them again. Actually the aliens, while inhabiting some of the humans, discuss how they'd better hurry: they'll be negotiating with humanity in 5,000 years or so. Feel the excitement!

After that was an episode that laid the foundation for an alliance between Tellarite and Andorian. This was fun, important to the overall canon of the series and -- just as importantly -- anything that gets a blue skinned woman in skimpy clothes has to appeal to the target demographic.

Picked up a book on Lyndon B. Johnson. Not a memoir, not a tell-all, nor a biography. It is a biomemall. Doris Kearns Goodwin was one of LBJ's assistants in the White House and later became a confidante and through several years of candid and embellished conversation at the end of his life she has written this book to try and get a glimpse of the man. He is, as most of the presidents are, a fascinating study, and just from the prologue she has a curiousity, admiration and distance with the man. It should be interesting to see where this goes.

Meanwhile, you have some newspapers to read. If you've been following along in the series you may start here. If you're new to these glances back at the front pages of our history, go here. We're up to 1926 now, and local stories are really started to come into play on the front page. We'll say that's post war success. There's still a big sweep of Europe every so often, but the old paper has grown more regional and even the northeastern stuff is having to fight for placement. So, in today's installment you can discover successes and, everybody's favorite: political controversy.

Tomorrow: we'll know about today's turnout and see if my earlier prediction comes true. I'm going to the movies, you'll have the Glomerata and whatever else comes up.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Made it home in time today to trim the hedges. One extension cord died in the effort, another heroically threw itself between the rotating blades of the trimmer as it swung first this way and then that. The final count was nine bushes and two cords.

So it goes. Less orange stuff to wrap up that way.

Cooled off just enough to take the modem to the Brighthouse retail center, where they told me they'd neglected to tell me on the phone to bring the power supply. With no way to make it back before they'll close I softened my glowing position on their technical support. Should have probably thought of that myself, but they could have been thorough and mentioned it, no? They have account notes, surely mine could say "Be tedious with the guy. He'll respect you for it."

Guess I'll be taking the modem back at a later date, then. But the thing is working just now, so I'm stumped as to what the problem is. Presently the theory involves whether it is leaning or upright and working. When that's the last of the symptoms you can point out you're usually way off base, I'd bet. My tech friends will now write in, laughing, and tell me how right I am about how wrong I am. Online and offline, right and wrong, ones and zeroes.

If you send me that Email in binary I'll be very upset, so please don't.

Stopped by the Mart where they sell the Wals. I needed bug spray for winged insect. In trimming the bushes I discovered a nest in the embryonic stages of forming. Fortunately I discovered this from a distance. I also discovered the bug spray for ants and other crawling insects don't intimidate them at all. "Ha. See these wings? Deal with it." They laughed. Or buzzed. There were many of them, it was hard to tell.

So I hosed them down well this evening. We'll see who buzzes last. Or laughs, for that matter.

I also shopped for, and found, a nice little cable. My friend Rush took a look at my stuff, told me what I needed and now with this cable I can connect my mixing board to my computer. So you'll soon be subjected to podcasts here. Send your compliments to me, blame Rush when you find it lacking.

Later the new connections work. I need to work on the levels, but the whole thing works. It is very simple right now, but I can expand on the technical capabilities later. I've been running tests, though, and singing karaoke, and I'm pleased with the start. Not bad for a little three dollar cable.

Thanks Rush!

So, I'm going to work on the bugs a bit and before long there'll be yet one more thing on this site to preoccupy us all.


That's the place, I predict, where a lot of people split. We'll see.

Started watching tonight's installments of Enterprise, they were interrupted for the noisiest salad ever. The Yankee and I went to Zaxby's where one of the local youth church groups were "waiting tables" and aggravating customers for donations.

It was a clever idea for a fundraiser, and the kids were trying (as I strain not to be old and crusty by complaining about how kids don't work these days). However nothing about the brusque attitude of a 10-year-old on a mission makes for relaxed dining. And then there was the disconcerting thought about these kids presumably coming very close to handling my food. And how much attention have they been paying attention to their hygiene?

I wasn't paying much attention either, depositing my trash in one of those big boxes that hide the garbage cans only to find that this one hid no garbage can. You can tell that, it turns out, by the extremely loud clatter and crash it makes. Just a helpful tidbit for you.

So, on Enterprise we're still learning about the Vulcans. As I noted last week:
These types of episodes never did that much for me. These shows were supposed to be about humanity, our humanity. Details on the Vulcans and the Klingons and the like are important for their use as foils, but anytime enough familiarity is bred into a character you have to be careful what you show.

It is tricky, really, because we all know that any other planet with life and civilization would have complex societal dynamics, just as ours does. Showing them in a uniform way in a television program becomes insulting after a while, but spreading out the characters to create a body politick, a protaganist and antagonist can be incredibly difficult. Here we are to explore our own imagined narrative and we're given someone else's story which always reverts to us out of design, accident or metaphor.
It sounds about as obvious and empty this week as it did last week, doesn't it?

So I'm ready for the Vulcan arc to go away. And tonight's first episode wraps that up. In the next episode it'll be forgotten entirely.

Yep. This one is about the inventor of the transporter. Now that could be cool, but they make him a desperate, scheming old man intent on his own noble agenda to save his son.

At this point in the series they were wrapping things up anyway. There were only about 12 episodes left and the writing was on the wall, remember. They might as well have written this for the Trekkers and just had them sit in the lounge and let the inventor tell flashback stories of his technology and development. The fans would have grocked that.

Who knows, he might have found the crucial element, under fire and at the last minute to save an important new ally. He could have done it with a three dollar cable.

I've been sitting on this for a few days out of forgetfulness. My own shortcoming aside, I'd now ask you to click through and spend a few minutes reading, remembering and truly understanding Mr. Rogers. Wonderful article on a wonderful man (with linky appreciation: Mental Floss Magazine).

That is an Esquire article on the web archive, so be patient and reload if it the browser can't find it. Read through the whole article. It is refreshing and reassuring and inspiring. And, I'm betting, over the course of the article there is a moment somewhere that will moisten your eyes. Here's mine:
You would think it would be easy by now, being Mister Rogers; you would think that one morning he would wake up and think, "Okay, all I have to do is be nice for my allotted half hour today, and then I'll just take the rest of the day off."

But no, Mister Rogers is a stubborn man, and so on the day I ask about the color of his sky, he has already gotten up at five-thirty, already prayed for those who have asked for his prayers, already read, already written, already swum, already weighed himself, already sent out cards for the birthdays he never forgets, already called any number of people who depend on him for comfort, already cried when he read the letter of a mother whose child was buried with a picture of Mister Rogers in his casket, already played for twenty minutes with an autistic boy who has come, with his father, all the way from Boise, Idaho, to meet him.

The boy had never spoken, until one day he said, "X the Owl," which is the name of one of Mister Rogers's puppets, and he had never looked his father in the eye until one day his father had said, "Let's go to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe," and now the boy is speaking and reading, and the father has come to thank Mister Rogers for saving his son's life.
From a simple, humble goodness lives are changed. We should change more.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

And now the exploits continue. They start off much as we left them, with your hero enjoying an indulgent weekend free of effort or exertion. That lasted until the middle of the afternoon.

But first there was breakfast, an early trip to Cracker Barrel found the best time to make it through the seating process. No lines, no waiting. The sun must be well in the eastern portion of the sky on Sunday morning to make that happen, but that was the case today. French toast to celebrate then. Oohed and aahed at pets after that.

There was some reading, some goofing on the internet, some grousing at the cable modem. It is still being twitchy and around these parts we demand that technology act definitively or not at all. Not at all ----> Twitchy ----> Definitively. Two of these three will get you replaced. And replacement is in the very near future for this modem. I found a very helpful technical support person -- lately phone CSRs are restoring my faith in the process, expect the consumer confidence numbers to trend upward if this continues -- who offered me a Tuesday house call. And, while the house call option is nice and the Tuesday house call is better than my Brightly Light House of Cable has previously been at visiting my neighborhood, this is still ratherly mid-term planning in our wonderful instant gratification society.

It is something of an improvement, however. When I was finishing my thesis they thought the modem was broken and they offered a pick up about a week out. That simply would not do, and I as I explained that to the Senior Person Who Pretended To Care, they discovered the problem was not in my home, but in a dispatch nod. Thousands of nanites were dowloaded to the problem intersection and the series of tubes was unclogged forthwith.

Today, though, they offered me Tuesday. Hmmm. Two days I think to myself, I could endure this sputtering, almost working for two days if I had to.

"Or" the tech support lady said "you could visit the retail center on the Superhighway and they'll exchange it for you."

Consumer confidence skips up a decimal point, thank you Brighthouse.

So that'll be tomorrow. What to do today.

Brooke and Stephen came over to visit for a few minutes. Apparently I killed the party when I broke out the political campaign buttons. These met with Stephen's approval, but shortly thereafter Brooke was ready to go. They're down at the lake just now, Stephen is clerking at a law firm in Opelika for part of the summer before taking on a federal position for the second half of his summer break. Not bad at all.

Later I've finished the library. Stacking a few books will be the last of that effort. Around 3 p.m. I just couldn't not do anything any longer. I found myself twitching for definitive action, and so I played in the new room. Removed an old upright stereo, which will bring about a new project to fill some time. Every time I go in there I have to play a record, and today was no different, so first was the always terrific Billy Paul. Go ahead and play that in the background for a few minutes. Add in your own pops and hiss and drift into 1972.

[Disc jockey talk] Now if that doesn't make you want to grab your special someone and hold them close, you don't have a thing going on. [/Disc jockey talk]

After that I put Allman Brothers on, sung along with Ramblin Man and then found Elvis' (There'll be) Peace in the Valley (For Me). Listened to that twice thinking that, the next time that is called in church I'll be in trouble. I read music fairly well, but tend to sing by ear and Elvis does the job here. The next lightning bolt could be because I've been warbling through a bad impersonation during a hymn.

At the end of the song I pulled the need straight up, flipped the vinyl off the turntable and closed the plastic lid. The lift, theplastic flip and the heavy clack-clack have this sense of finality. You've just taken part in something exact and profound and it is beyond description, comparison or any efforts to reproduce the emotion. That's what a record feels like to me. Discs and mp3s simply come up short.

So now I'm thinking, I'm putting this stereo in storage, and boxing away the vinvyl in a dry, safe place. There's some groaners in this stack I've inherited, but there's some outstanding music in here. Hence the new project. Looking at the back of the stereo I note the record player can go directly into my mp3 recorder. All I need is one little adapter and then I can digitize the good stuff to play through the house. Because you never know when you need to bust out old Steely Dan, John Denver or classic Willie Nelson.

I wondered if there was a point, I could just download a digital version, but this old stuff has been in this cabinet all my life and that'll make you feel a bit nostalgic. Audiophiles would suggest that going from record to computer is an abomination, that I should be beaten soundly with an RCA to 1/8" cable for even suggesting such a thing. "Think of the sound man!" they would say. "Nothing beats vinyl."

And, of course, they are right. But I think the hisses and pops should make the transfer. The needle, the record change and the lid I could add later if I really wanted to faux my authenticism. While the warm of the record could be lost, I could put my computer speakers in a cabinet, or wrap them in some cloth to reproduce some of the sound. It won't be quite as good, but it would do in a pinch. The records are packed up, the stereo is broken down, the speakers and the console are stored, but the main component will stay loose for a few more days to see if I can make this work. So, if I start talking about old records all of a sudden one day soon, you'll know why.

So the library is now in place, except for the arrangement of several books. By this time, though, dinner had become the order of the evening, followed quickly by the Ow! Ow! Owww! of some as yet still anonymous and amorphous individual driving a steel bar through the top of my head and poking it out the top of the orbital socket. That was a doozy of a headache. Advil and much water finally did the trick and there was great relief when I sat up to discover Ahh, I don't hurt again.

If that's not the best feeling in the world don't share it with me. Clearly I couldn't cope with anything better.

Oh, and here is today's sunset, which occurred precisely in the middle of that massive one hour headache. Even when I'm in pain, dear friends, I think of you.

It was altogether a beautiful end to a wonderful weekend -- headache notwithstanding. Tomorrow promises to be even better with Mr. Rogers, yard work adventures, shopping and more. Come back and share in it, won't you?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Slept in today. Oh, but did I sleep in. Enjoyed it too. Right up until the time that I started getting sore. My back hurt from all of the heavy duty sleeping. Somewhere around hour eight various things in the lower back area start aching. Someone should look into that.

This is as good a reason as any to wake up though. Maybe this is why, during the week, I sleep about five hours a night. So it would follow that I needed the overly decadent nine hours of sleep I had this morning.

This was followed for the duration of the day by doing nothing. Even dinner was a leftover and that was both acceptable and appropriate. Today has been the day of reward for many days in a row of doing things roughly approaching work.

I've done enough that I don't feel the least bit quilty about taking the day off from doing anything. And if I can do nothing absence the guilt then that, my friends, is worth writing home about.

Besides, the shrubs and the yard will wait until Monday.

Found this great show today. The TiVo left the television on the Style network for some reason. I, as a guy, have no need for the channel, but there it was. Turned on the tube and these people are having this total meltdown. The show, Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? is about wedding coordinators of the passive aggressive type who'd rather complain more about the job than, you know, actually doing it. But the brides and the families are fantastic.

One was doing a wedding on a budget: $10,000. Yeah, no thanks. Another man had spent that much on his daughter's wedding dress, and it had pollen stains on it and the shop was none to eager to fix the situation. That guy had spent, get this, $125,000 on a wedding.

Turned out that Style was airing a marathon of the show, but I refuse to watch more than an hour of the thing. As reality shows go this one was somewhat entertaining in the "you've got more money than sense" vein of Mystery Science Theater 300. I'll probably never catch it again, but when I talked to my mother on the phone this evening she laughed at the story, so I figured my many female readers would like to know about it. Comedy gold, this show.

Later. OK, I fibbed. I have done one thing today. The May photos are up on the picture page. Enjoy.

The upcoming week will no doubt be far more productive. Today was more reward, tomorrow will be more about resting up for the coming week's efforts. Basically, lazy weekends aren't long enough. Someone should look into that.

Friday, June 1, 2007

There were just a few people in the office today, making for a quiet and slow day. By noon, it felt, the day should have been over, but we were just earning our way into the reflective part of the week. By 2 p.m. -- my 4 p.m. -- it was a full-fledged Friday with no-responsibility weekend moving in overheard.

Nothing quite like that feeling.

Sat around this afternoon not doing much, as this has been designated as the weekend in which no real world thing of any importance will be accomplished. That makes the upcoming few days sparse around here, but I deserve it and you do to. This is a reprieve for all of us. Coming up next week, will be more of the prosaic usual and rejoicing along this series of tubes. All is right with the world, they shall sing, Kenny is clogging the internet.


But, today, not so much.

For dinner we met the McAlisters and the McAlisters and annoyed a waitress in Gardendale. Brian's parents were in town, so we all had to show out in front of the coolest people in the room.

After dinner we stopped by their hotel so Taylor could swim. While she was outside freezing we sat around talking about this, that and the other thing. We left before his parents could get to the really good and embarrassing stories on Brian, who was outside watching his daughter. Maybe we missed a terrific opportunity, but we'll fix that error next time.

Somewhere right in there I hit a wall of exhaustion, so hence the barebones description of an otherwise perfect day. We'll try and fix that next time too.