Tuesday, January 28, 2003


I slept in until about 2:30 p.m. today. But before you send me e-mail - no, I have NOT found the money-making secret of the Internet, that allows you to be your own boss and kiss the "nine-to-five" goodbye.

I slept during the day because I worked an overnight shift at the TV station for the second night in a row. Both nights were unexpected. I was at work about 5:30 p.m. Sunday when the 6:00 a.m. news producer called in sick. I wound up producing newscasts for both late Sunday night AND Monday morning. This must make up for my being a good student in college, and not pulling any all-nighters.

(It made for a busy night, to be sure. When can I get a special screening of the Super Bowl commercials?)

But last night's overnight shift was the most fascinating of all. No one in The Management told me they needed me to fill in until a 9:00 p.m. phone call - and at 9:00 p.m., I was at a sports bar watching college basketball! Sometimes it can pay NOT to have a cell phone....

I'd debated for days whether to go to The Sports Page to watch my alma mater Kansas play Texas. K.U. had lost two games in a row, to Colorado and Arizona. But then I considered the alternative - and a $32 ticket to see a chorale sing at the RiverCenter didn't seem quite as thrilling.

Texas took charge of the basketball game early, but Kansas made things close at halftime. Then at 10:05 p.m., during the halftime break, a strange thing happened. The sports bar staff shut off all the TV sets, to close for the night! We Northerners simply get no respect here in the South at all!

(At least the waitperson took the drinks OFF my tab, before closing time. All those diet colas I had with dinner must have cost them big profits.)

I drove home from the sports bar, puzzled by what had happened. Do these people close the bar on Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. during football season, too? And how far has pro wrestling fallen when "Monday Night Raw" isn't on a single screen anymore?

When I arrived home around 10:30 p.m., there was the 9:00 p.m. message on my answering machine. They needed me to work - and at 10:30 p.m. I was already a bit late. It was an amazing chain of events. And as I told people later at work, it proved the existence and intervention of "That Being we can't talk about at work, because some people might be offended."

True confession: I did NOT dress up for work, after confirming the phone call. I changed into dress shoes, but put a sweatshirt on over my Kansas T-shirt instead of taking a tie. I felt almost like a regular member of the staff.

(Through it all, I wound up wearing the same pair of socks for three days - socks which are "Texas Longhorn orange." Somehow that seems fitting, too.)

I write this now on Tuesday evening, wondering again if the phone will ring. This time, though, I'm at home for the evening -- and feeling a bit like a high school senior, during Prom Week.

Sunday, January 26, 2003


The temperature in Columbus may have topped 40 F. yesterday. Early Friday, we fell to 13 with a wind chill index around zero! OK, who was the smart aleck asking for nice ice hockey weather?

I haven't checked back at that house on Broadway where the riding mower was out two weeks ago. (9 Jan) You don't think she was clearing room for a skating rink, do you!?!?

This is the coldest the weather has been since I moved to Columbus in 1997. So to be safe, I let most of the faucets drip overnight - except for the bathtub. It's been dripping continuously for several years.

The last time I told my landlord about the bathtub, a crew came out and wrestled with it. Then one man said he'd have to come back "after the first of the year" and fix it. That was December 2001 - so do you think I've been patient enough?

It's been SO COLD that I've cycled through my collection of sweaters in the closet. But I have NOT yet brought out the thermal underwear. At some former apartments I would have - but this one DOES have working heat.

My older brother introduced me to thermal underwear 20 years ago, as our Mom was buried on an even colder December 30th in Kansas City, Kansas. That day was SO COLD that I seem to recall the graveside minister having mercy on us, and reading the "Reader's Digest Condensed" version of the Scriptures.

That reminds me: I had the strangest dream about my older brother Friday night. I invited him to my church's basketball weekend - and he showed up with crutches, two "peg legs" and no feet. If his bosses are working him THAT hard, he ought to speak up about it....

That reminds me II: My current supervisor at work has something at her desk I've never seen in a TV newsroom before. It's a paperback copy of the book, "1000 Dreams Explained." Is this how she plans to analyze the promises of politicians?

To bring this topic back around: during my CNN Headline News years, I shared a cold-weather quote from the Associated Press with a good friend. Someone in the east said about a cold wave, "It's colder than a boss's heart!" She shared it with her staff on the computer - then was afraid she'd made a big mistake.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003


One secret to successful blogging is to do it on a regular basis. This assumes, of course, you have time to do this. My work schedule lately has been SO BUSY that I barely have time to saw logs - much less see blogs.

Already this week I've produced the 11:00 p.m. TV news Saturday night, the 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Sunday night, the 5:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. news Monday - then returned late Monday night to produce the 6:00 a.m. news today! If this keeps up, I may apply for an easier job. Like firefighting.

(After considering my two trips to work Monday morning and Monday night, I realized I went beyond the standard for Martin Luther King Day. I had TWO days on, and not a day off.)

It doesn't help that in the midst of all this work, I developed my first cold of the season. It's only by a miracle of God that I sang a solo over the weekend (8 Jan) without my voice cracking. Sometimes I think the ministers should switch from anointing oil for healing to Mentholatum ointment.

(I'm also relieved to report I sang "As the Deer" without any hunters in the congregation rushing outside for their rifles.)

As they say in radio traffic reports, my cold is in the "final clearing stages" this evening. In a hopeful sign, I was able to go running outside without spitting grunge out even once.

So let's see - what have I missed in the last few days?

+ At the intersection of Tenth Street and First Avenue, at the crossroads of the Government Center, Springer Opera House and RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, there's a new landmark - a port-a-john! Is this something to make the non-cultured people feel comfortable?

+ Bob Riley took the oath of office as Governor of our cross-river state of Alabama. During the inaugural events, he promised at one point to "end racial tension" in Alabama. For starters, every Republican who voted for the Governor should leave the state immediately.

+ Our local school district announced five high schools will have to move their commencement exercises out of the downtown Civic Center, because the arena football team reserved the Saturday of graduation weekend first. How nice of our school officials to set an example for students, about planning for your future.

+ Isn't it interesting how times have changed in the U.S.? Hardly anyone considers Bill Gates an international pariah anymore.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia

15 JAN 03: FOLLOW THE BOUNCING.... uhh....

I'm still rejoicing over the 1-Day Sale Rich's had at The Mall today. I bought a nice dressy shirt and a new pair of socks for only about 12 bucks! Why, you can barely buy a pair of Tommy Hilfiger socks for 12 dollars these days.

Last night I did something I had not done in decades. I went to a high school basketball game in town. It wasn't a work assignment - just a change of pace, for fun. How amazing to rediscover a competitive sports event you actually can enter for four dollars.

For that four-dollar ticket, you get TWO games. But much to my surprise, the boys' game was first - BEFORE the girls. The way the boys from Columbus High played in the first quarter, I could understand why. They trailed Shaw 22-3 - and wound up losing by more than 20.

Even more amazingly, that four-dollar ticket lets you sit in the third or fourth row of the bleachers at Columbus High's gym. I was close enough to the floor that I could have pretended to be Terrell Owens, and danced with the cheerleaders.

It wasn't the cheerleaders that distracted me from the game, though. It was the woman sitting at one corner of the floor -- the coach of the Columbus High girls' team. With all due respect meant, Ashley Powell is the dictionary definition of a "hottie." It's a good thing the gym wasn't full, or the heat might have been too much for me....

(Before you ask the obvious questions: no, I didn't introduce myself to her - and I DID notice a ring on her left hand. Sometimes it pays to be the shy type.)

Methinks most reasonable people who've seen her would agree with me -- Ashley Powell is drop-dead gorgeous. She has flowing long blonde hair, and does NOT pin it up or tie it back when she coaches. No wonder she can get the referees' attention so easily, to lobby for her team....

(I'm wondering if this woman missed her calling. If Ashley Powell had been a journalism major, she could be anchoring for CNN now.)

Remember when high schools had concession stands outside the gym? Columbus High doesn't. Oh, no. It's called the "Hoops Café." Nice try, gang - but if you want a REAL café, you're missing two important things. Tables and chairs for seating, and flavored cappuccino.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


We have our first letter about this Blog! It comes from an online friend of ours in Tennessee, who also was puzzled by a recent truck commercial (8 Jan):

Wondered the same thing about the Dodge commercials, and the hemi (sic) and asked
a good ole'-Dukes of Hazzard-watchin'-southern boy what it meant. He said it was an air flow thing that made the car a bad boy, and with a combination giggle-hair-flip of the blonde locks, I asked if it was "like that humpy thing sticking out of the hood that went with
the Hearst shifter." Eyes wide, he confirmed this fact and then asked me to the Golden Jukebox for some foot stompin' fun this weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Wow - watch TV commercials carefully, and you might start a romance! This sounds like a Fox "reality show" simply waiting to happen.

(OK, now who will explain what a "Hearst shifter" is? Wasn't his team eliminated from the N.F.L. playoffs on Sunday by Tampa Bay?)

Monday, January 13, 2003


Today is a historic day in Georgia, as Sonny Perdue becomes Governor - the first Republican Governor this state has had in 130 years. Our town's newspaper had a truly classic headline on the morning after his election in November: "SONNY ENDS THE REIGN."

One of Sonny Perdue's big campaign promises was to put the recent change in Georgia's state flag to a vote of the people. Yet the strange thing is, the OLD state flag with the Confederate battle emblem was BANNED from the inaugural! Come to think of it, the new Governor never said how HE'D vote in that referendum....

So much about Sonny Perdue seems to reflect the Old South. He has an accent. He's from the middle of Georgia. He's practically bald. In short, he's the sort of candidate who's not supposed to win in this television era -- and some of us still are trying to figure out how he did.

But it's not "Sunny" and warm here in Columbus -- so instead of running outside, I went to The Mall for a speed-walk. Years ago my Pastor (the one I mention below) declared in a message people are FOOLS to jog outside when it's cold. Yet he never said what temperature "cold" is . I set a boundary of 50 degrees F. - so SLAM! I'm guilty of religious legalism, and he's off the hook.

I've posted elsewhere a strange thing about The Mall (we have only one in town). Last year a Rich's (Federated) Department Store opened at the west end. It joins three other anchor stores, including a J.C. Penney's store at the east end. So you can enter one side of The Mall with Rich's, and leave the other side with Penney's. Coincidence?!?!?

The holiday crowds finally have left The Mall, so my walking time was good -- two full laps indoors in 23:52.74. Even at a quick pace, you can still make all sorts of observations:

+ Our Mall has a Disney Store and a Victoria's Secret shop. One has scantily-clad women displayed on the front windows, while one does not. One is boycotted by the Southern Baptists, while the other is not. So how much did Victoria's Secret pay off the Baptists?

+ In a true sign of changing times, I spotted a man walking through The Mall wearing a Los Angeles CLIPPERS jacket. No Lakers outfits were in sight.

+ The calendar stand seemed to have everything marked down 50 percent. The seems like an act of desperation - since the year's not even five-percent over.

Sunday, January 12, 2003


A sea change took place today at the church congregation I attend. It didn't happen during the service - but afterwards, in a back room. The Pastor told me (and the other song leaders, I suppose) he does not want to be introduced as "Mister" anymore. Before you ask - no, he is not getting a sex change operation.

You have to understand the denomination I attend has a history of being very formal. We don't call Pastors "Reverend," because the Bible doesn't have anyone with that title. But then again, we never call anybody "Bishop" either, and that's in the Bible....

A tradition has developed of calling Pastors and Elders "Mister," to be polite and proper. But today, my Pastor said he now wants to be introduced simply by his name. After all these years, this will be a tough change for me - especially now that I'm finally at an age where most people are calling me Mister.

The Pastor explained he doesn't want to have any layers that might hinder the members from communicating with the minister - such as feeling forced to call him "Mister." So when does he plan to stop wearing suits to

I recalled a Bible Study this Pastor gave about 15 years ago in Atlanta, where he stated in no uncertain terms The Mass Media should refer to leaders as "Mister ____." So I started calling the people above me at CNN Headline News "Mister" and "Ms." It made them very uncomfortable - and they were even more surprised to learn I was not an "Army brat."

(For one Producer above me, it was the last straw when I wrote a script calling Iran's leader "Mister Khomeini.")

So after 20 years of "Mister" and "Mrs.," what will I call people at church next weekend? I could do the religious-sounding thing which one or two members do now, and say "Brother." Or do I stoop all the way down to the level of this "present evil world," and actually call people by first names? I never dreamed I'd have to pray about this sort of thing....

Oh yes, by the way.... I hereby declare war on North Korea.

I am taking all their warnings about possible declarations of war as an actual declaration of war. I figure my declaration will hold about as much weight. Now how much U.S. military aid do I get?

Thursday, January 09, 2003


Today's high temperature in Columbus: 71 degrees F.! When
will the rumors come true, about Disney building a theme park up
the road at Callaway Gardens?

My TV station went to a golf course, and found guys out practicing
their drives in the 70-degree sunshine. One of them was the
Columbus State University golf coach - who has a distinctive British
accent. Boy, Southern "sweet tea" must have come as a shock to

I went for a sunset run, on a course taking me across the river into
Phenix City, AL. I used to call this my "bi-city challenge" - but not
anymore. I suddenly realized the other day it's much more
impressive to call it a bi-STATE run. Ooooh, you worked much

On the way home, I passed a house on Broadway where a mom (I
suppose) was outside with several children - aboard a riding lawn
mower! I think the youngsters heard me say as I jogged by: "It
MUST be spring! The lawn mowers are out."

(I think Mom really was blowing leaves off the lawn. But that
riding mower was so big that I think the leaves turned into mulch on
the spot.)

The course finished at home - and as I prepared to go to dinner
from there, I saw a long line of cars outside my window on the
Oglethorpe Bridge leading to the Columbus Civic Center. Tonight is
the "Bill Gaither Homecoming" concert, which always draws a big
crowd. And if anything ever happens to him, they can simply change
the sign to "Home-going concert."

I went to a Krystal's for dinner (6 cheese ones now cost more than
four bucks?!) - and as I drove home, I passed two police cars which
had pulled someone over near downtown. I couldn't help wondering
if one of the Gaither fans was stopped for being "filled with the
spirit." (Small s.)

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


The morning was filled with errands today -- errands I'd planned to do yesterday, but had to postpone. I'm a freelance "Producer on-call" at a TV station, and the call came at 3:00 in the morning to fill in for a sickly overnight Producer. Somehow other staff members never seem to hear their phones....

But I digress. The tires I bought from Wal-Mart last June needed their first rotation -- and I bought the maintenance plan where the store does it for free. Is it just me, or does that fact make the shop work go twice
as fast?

But this was no ordinary Wal-Mart. I went to a SUPER-Center across the river -- which meant while I waited on my tires, I dropped off rolls of film to develop and picked up breakfast from the bakery section
(three big cinnamon swirl "biscuits" for ONE dollar!). It almost seemed like a mall -- but no one stopped me
to do annoying surveys.

These Super-Centers have hair salons, bank branches -- but wait a minute. Where's the Internet café, to check my e-mail and send scam offers to unsuspecting Nigerians? This place is SO last millennium....

After the tire work was finished, I found my car driver's seat pushed ALL the way back - and folded back a bit, not forward. Well, pro football players have to do something during their off-seasons.

My next item on the list was song shopping. I've been asked to sing "As the Deer" at church weekend after next, to illustrate a sermonette. I hope he sets this up well -- because several people in the church I attend go
hunting during the winter, and might misunderstand.

Columbus has two big Christian stores, but I was surprised to find neither one had a "music track" for the song I wanted. I even checked the shelf with wedding music -- and then realized the words, "As the deer
panteth for the water/So my soul longs after thee" could apply to an engaged man in a very different direction.

I finally found the song at a small Christian shop a bit out of the way. You could tell it was NOT one of the big chains - because the saleswoman actually said "God bless you" as I left.

Scattered thoughts came to mind as I made my trek around the area:

+ It's called the "Hamilton Square Shopping Center" - but it's not shaped like a square, and Hamilton, Georgia is 15 miles away. Discuss.

+ Why is President Bush re-nominating Charles Pickering for the federal courts, after the Senate turned him down last year? Is the new standard, "No means no, unless there's an election" ?!?!

+ After seeing a recent Dodge truck ad on TV, I can't help seeing a pickup now without asking under my breath: "Does that thing have a hemi?" (Maybe someday, a driver will explain to me exactly what a hemi is.)


Our town inaugurated a new Mayor today. Bob Poydasheff had noted on the radio the ceremony occurred on "the 12th day of Christmas." If day one was December 25, this is not a good sign - since I counted 13 days. Is this man going to be over city budgets?

The local Chamber of Commerce put on a reception for the new Mayor and Council in the late afternoon. It was "open to the public," and offered to serve refreshments -- so of course, I went. I'm a single guy. It's free food. You do the math.

The reception may have open to all -- but in the second hour when I was there, I couldn't find the candidates the new Mayor beat.

It was a well-dressed crowd at the reception, with most men wearing coats and ties. As much as our new Mayor tries to be a "man of the people," hardly anyone stood out to me as a mill worker.

The inauguration of a new Mayor meant our two-term Mayor had to give up his job. He bounced in and out of the reception - and showed his usual great sense of humor. He was the only man in the room with a big X on his name tag. [True!]

Several things made the reception for the new mayor memorable. For one thing, Bill Heard Chevrolet had its own table - well, at least there was a license tag-sized sign on a table. I didn't dare sit there - and risk having someone order me to show my car keys, then run me off for having a Honda.

There was music at the Mayoral reception, played well by a Dixieland jazz band. Apparently all the African-American blues singers which made Columbus famous were either out of town, or dead.

Another thing didn't seem right about the reception. Columbus, Georgia is the "Center of the Sunbelt South" - yet the beverage we were served was lemonade. NOT sweet tea?!?!?

The food was nice at the reception, though. Meatballs, chicken tenders, spicy cheeses, cute mini-carrot cakes - in short, if you never received an invitation to a holiday party, this was the party for you.

Thanks to a reporter friend with time to kill before the 6:00 p.m. news, my picture was taken with the new Mayor. Obviously Mayor Poydasheff was tired from the activities of the day - because he had no way of knowing if I might have a criminal record, and might sell the photo to the other political parties.

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© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.