Friday, May 30, 2003



Now I'm REALLY confused. Muscogee County started having commencement exercises this afternoon - while I was at a Kroger store in Auburn, looking at a display promoting raisins as "great for BACK to school." Finally this "early-season" marketing stuff has gone too far!

It's graduation weekend in Muscogee County public schools. Our best wishes to all the high school seniors - and remember: the driver's license photos will NEVER look as good as your senior picture.

There's a big switch this commencement weekend in town. The Friday night graduation exercises are at the Civic Center - but the Saturday ceremonies had to be moved, because the Columbus Wardogs reserved the building for arena football first! Since the Wardogs are 2-and-5, we know which group has the better success rate....

The Wardogs tried to play nice, to settle the controversy over moving some graduation ceremonies out of the Civic Center. All high school seniors were promised a free ticket to an arena football game. Given the team's record right now, maybe it should sign some bulky seniors to contracts instead.

(I think I've figured out what put the Wardogs out of sorts, after a two-game winning streak to start the year. Radio announcer Justin Cazana had to miss the third game -- and they've never recovered since.)

For some reason, there was no mention in the media this year of the "quiet commencement" policy - where people making noise or clapping hands during the reading of seniors' names risk getting kicked out of the arena. Maybe the school district now has a "quietly-do-away-with-it" policy.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



Here's hoping you've had a nice Memorial Day. I can't tell you how many times I've heard it called "the unofficial start of summer." Some of us thought that had moved up to early May, when the first big blockbuster movie comes out.

To dial around Columbus radio, you might be confused about what season we're in. WDAK ran ads declaring "summer's here" a couple of weeks ago. Yet when NASCAR races are on, WMLF runs ads telling me to "get the jump on the cold weather" with my car.

My TV station isn't helping things much right now. It's running announcements telling how "amazing things happened in May." The list of events starts with the Tour de Georgia - which as I recall came through Columbus on APRIL 24th. [24 Apr]

For years, it was easy for me to figure out the start of summer. It was when the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Finals ended. The amazing thing is, this year that benchmark might be accurate for a change - the first week of June.

Some school districts in our area let students out for summer vacation in the middle of last week. Muscogee County's year ends this Friday. So plan your trips to the mall appropriately, to dodge the crowds.

I'm pleased to report I made it to Memorial Day without turning on my window air conditioner, in the kitchen. [11 May] That's an unofficial family tradition - but of course, my family was and is in Kansas City. If they had lived in Columbus, we might have had air conditioning on the first time the temperature hit 85.

BLOG UPDATE - I'm down to two bowling coupons left, after a Sunday doubleheader in which I visited both Peach Bowl and Bama Lanes. I scored a mere 62 at each of them! With scores that low, maybe I should take up golf and head for Green Island next May.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia



"Do you want this?" a little boy asked me as I walked past an apartment in my complex last evening. The boy was offering me some folded money, with a five-dollar bill on the outside. Talk about desperation - people are trying to pay off journalists on their day off.

It was surprising to see this boy with an expanded "Afro" hairdo, looking no older than ten, offering me a wad of money. I wasn't quite sure how to respond. After all, what if his dad was inside - and it was his drug money?

It was the Sabbath day for me, so I tried to do the right thing. "It isn't MINE," I said of the money packet -- then walked on my way. Other people probably need that money more than I do. And that little boy didn't need the spanking his parents probably would have given him.

All of this leads me to ask some questions about money-related offers I've seen lately on TV:

+ Has anyone ever sat through all 30 minutes of the "Chip Ellis The Bank" info-mercial? How many times do you need to hear him say, "I'm the real deal," before you get the point?

+ Who is this new guy doing ads for Budget Car Sales -- the one acting like he's having autistic fits about "all these CAR-AR-AR-ARS" ? Can't some prescription sedative be given to him? Or are they hiring West Central Hospital patients for commercials these days?

+ Did WTVM ever get enough donations to pay for "Operation Thanks?" Or will we see twice as many commercials during newscasts in June?

BLOG UPDATE - The Pastor of the church I attend made another surprising offer this weekend. He's now asking people to raise their hands, if he makes a misstatement during the service. (27 Apr) He'd better hope a group of Southern Baptists doesn't show up someday.

My Pastor's latest correction involved a comment last weekend on celebrity current events. He claimed Brad Pitt was caught with pistols in his car - "after he went to Iraq calling for peace." It turns out Sean Penn did those things, not Brad Pitt. After all, if Pitt went to Iraq, he'd have to wear a shawl to hide his highlighted hair.

After the church service, someone pointed out to a Local Elder he was drinking "spring water." (He always brings a bottle of Dasani with him.) To which I stumped the Elder by asking, "But what are you going to do when it's summer?"

Are you a reader of this blog? If you are, please e-mail me. It gets lonely doing this by myself.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



I had several errands to run in Phenix City this afternoon. It was a bit surprising to see no signs at the Alabama line, bragging about being the home state of "American Idol" Rubin Studdard.

(So let me be sure I understand this. The "205" Rubin wears on his shirt is the area code for Birmingham - and NOT his weight goal?!?)

After six years in this area, I still don't understand why some Columbus residents loathe to go to Phenix City. It's not like all the businesses there are in double-wide mobile homes or something....

Stop One on the trip: a small Christian bookstore on Crawford Road, called "The Covenant." A man asked if I needed help as soon as I walked in the door. As we all know, a female employee would have let me have at least ten seconds to check items on the front table.

Several people in the church group I attend have requests for songs for me to sing. Trouble is, I can't find accompaniment tracks for any of them at stores such as "The Covenant." I'm starting to wonder if should pull a Bobby McFerrin or Billy Joel stunt, and simply record myself humming in the background.

The Covenant is located in a small shopping center - and I was surprised to see a Blimpie sandwich shop in that center has closed, only a few months after it opened. Maybe for the Phenix City crowd, they need a barbecue pork sub.

(Or, in light of American Idol, maybe a "Rubin" sandwich?!)

Stop Two: Bama Lanes near the 280 Bypass, and my second free bowling coupon. This bowling center is well hidden from the highway -- the better to keep those truck drivers from stopping there, and blocking the parking lot.

In some ways, Bama Lanes is a step above Peach Bowl in Columbus. The shoe rental costs 50 cents less. The video screens above the lanes have 3-D style effects. And if all else fails, you can sing along to the oldies music on the P-A system.

My free game started well, with a spare in the first. I was at a modest 49-for-5, when the young man behind the counter came down to offer me some advice. I moved to the left like he said - and promptly threw my second gutter ball in a row. Come to think of it, the Bible recommends a "MULTITUDE of counsel," not just one guy.

The adjustments didn't help much, and I wound up with a mere score of 72. Was it the music? Did I pick the wrong ball? Or was it the two guys two lanes over from me, smoking and walking around like they might take my sneakers?

(Only a 72 in my second bowling game in three days? That settles it - Annika Sorenstam can't play with ME, either.)

Stop Three: A few groceries at Winn-Dixie - but first on the way, I spotted a cute sign outside the Bonanza steakhouse: "Dear Lord, if you can't make me thin, please make my friends fat."

Winn-Dixie's become one of these "discount card" supermarkets - where if you don't take your card, you don't get dozens of lower prices throughout the store. All they need to do is program this into our foreheads, and the "mark of the beast" will have arrived.

The young woman at the checkout circled my receipt, to show "I've saved $1.85 so far with my discount card." She didn't bother to mention my spaghetti sauce, gallon of milk and bag of tortilla chips today saved me absolutely NOTHING.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia



This afternoon, for the first time in five years, I went bowling. Pick up and drop down a heavy object enough times, and it might qualify as weight training.

I piled up a stack of coupons for free bowling games, by eating Banquet frozen dinners -- but they're only good during the day, Monday through Friday. Since I'm still working an overnight shift and sleeping during the day, I should get doughnuts before or after the game. Then I'd REALLY live the life of Homer Simpson.

I pulled in to Peach Bowl Lanes a bit after 5:00 p.m. - and out of 54 available lanes, only TWO were in use. So it was a perfect time to try my first bowling in years. Hardly anyone was around to stare at me and laugh -- and even better, nobody was smoking.

(The last time I bowled was in Toronto in 1998, at a small center in the basement of a strip mall. I was all alone that afternoon - and it DID feel like the operators needed a TV to watch or something.)

While the game of bowling was free with the coupon, I still had to rent shoes. I'm thrilled to report my size-eights were red on one side, blue on the other and white in back. Those shoes weren't circus-clown looking - in this day and age, they were downright patriotic.

Picking a bowl from the rack behind lane 22, I started throwing with no warm-up at all. If you see me leaning to the left for the next day or two, that's why....

But seriously: I wound up with one strike, two spares -- and only TWO gutter balls, on second shots. Remember when the announcers on "Bowling for Dollars" called it the "channel," because gutter sounded too low-class?

After I bowled a strike in the fifth, a strange thing happened. My shots in the sixth never registered on the computer scoring system. Either bowling centers now have a "free frame" policy I didn't know about, or the computer was absolutely shocked.

My final score was a record high for me in ten-pin bowling - a 106. I could have finished in the 130's, but I missed the six-pin twice and the ten-pin once for easy spares. They set those pins simply TOO close to the gutters.

As I left the lanes feeling satisfied, I saw someone walking up with a bowling bag unlike any I'd ever seen - on wheels. Since when did a bowling center start looking like the airport?

So why is a bowling center so empty on a weekday after school? Even without a coupon, a line of bowling and shoe rental only costs about five dollars. But it seems the only balls many young people want to roll these days are trac-balls, on video games.

I read statistics some years ago showing the Columbus and Montgomery areas have the smallest concentration of bowling lanes in the country. Maybe around here, the only targets people want to aim at are the moving ones they can shoot with guns.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



Only minutes after my afternoon jog today, a man knocked on my door. He said he needed to make a phone call. I was stunned by this - partly because I thought I was the last person in Columbus without a cell phone.

All the man said he wanted to do was call the Booker T. Washington housing complex. Yet I stood on my side of the screen door, for seconds which seemed like a half-hour. Should I let in this total stranger? Should I ask for an ID card, and call police first?

(And after reflecting on it, shouldn't I prepare better for things like this -- and buy a cordless phone, that people can use on the porch?)

It was a moment of true mental anguish as I pondered what to do. The Christian side of me said, "Let him in." The TV journalist side of me said, "Didn't you watch those special reports on home invasions?" And the historical side of me wished BellSouth hadn't taken down all its pay phones.

Finally I decided to let the man inside to make a local call - AFTER he emptied all his pockets first. That way, I knew the man didn't have a hidden weapon. As he pulled out several dollar bills, it also showed me he didn't need to ask for dinner as well.

The man didn't have an easy time emptying his pockets, because he carried a lit half-cigarette in one hand. This guy could have "burned a hole in his wallet" in two different ways....

The man had to reach WAY down to empty his pockets - because his walking shorts were about five inches below his waist, and his boxers were quite noticeable. Yet he also had a wide brown belt tied around his shorts! To be honest, I do the same sort of thing -- except my slacks are so TIGHT around my waist, I only wear a belt so it looks right.

I seized the control of the situation at this point. "Pull your shorts up," I told the man, "and you'll need to put out your cigarette. This is a smoke-free house." It's amazing how much more powerful I feel, when Judge Joe Brown is telling off people on the TV nearby.

The guest left his cigarette stub on a front window sill outside and came in. "How'ya doing?" he asked.

"The phone's over here," I answered to hurry things along. The fewer things in the apartment he could examine, the more
challenging it would be if he tried to steal stuff later.

But wouldn't you know it - the man had trouble dialing with my phone. It's a "touch-tone," only I have it set for pulse dialing. Georgia law still makes you pay more for touch-tone service - apparently a last-ditch way of promoting the slow, "Old South" way of doing things.

The second time the man dialed the 321 number, he got through - but the line was busy. With that, he thanked me and went on his way. Given my recent history, I'm surprised the man didn't invite me to join him at B.T.W. for a beer bash.

As it happened, another couple of special guests were in downtown Columbus today. They were scouting out the RiverCenter for a possible Presidential debate next year. Peter Bowden of the Convention and Visitors Bureau says he's trying to use ALL of downtown as a selling point. Well, the reporters will need all those Broadway bars to drink when it's over.

Wayne Bennett said during the 5:30 p.m. news if the RiverCenter "was good enough for Willie Nelson, it should be good enough for a Presidential debate." Given that reasoning, one of the debates next year should take place on a Luckenbach, Texas farm.

A Presidential debate at the RiverCenter truly would be prestigious for Columbus. It also would be historic. From listening to talk radio stations in town, it would mark one of the few times a Democrat could state his opinion publicly without being interrupted.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia



I got mentioned during a church service this weekend, without my even trying. It was all because of one line in last Monday's
6:00 a.m. newscast which I produced. No, I did NOT mention that woman who turned my good deed into a speed-date.... (12 May)

Last Monday's morning news included an ABC report on a tornado-damaged church in Jackson, Tennessee. In the "tag" after the report, I wrote: "We heard one local pastor say over the weekend the tornadoes were a Satanic response to a big conference of elders in Cincinnati." Which local pastor said it? MINE. You never knew all the weather of North America revolved around a denomination of about 10,000 people, did you?

Someone in the congregation heard that tag-line, told the Pastor about it - so the Pastor came to me just before the service to
ask about it. Yes, I admitted, I included that line. "You're preaching the gospel!" he said encouragingly with a smile. Oh really?!?! I'm still trying to find the word "tornado" in the New Testament.

What my Pastor and that woman in the congregation apparently do NOT know is that I submitted that comment about the
tornadoes and Cincinnati to a religion web site - one that's openly skeptical of such hype from ministers. After all, what caused this weekend's new storm damage in Alabama? That conference of elders ended more than a week ago.

The Pastor concluded I wrote that tag-line to promote the denomination - when I really added it to contrast two churches. The tornado-damaged group in Tennessee used a disaster to pitch in and come together. My Pastor uses a disaster to suggest our group indirectly is to blame for it.

It's interesting to note the denomination I attend has been emphasizing modesty the last few weeks. The leaders mean dress for church services. Maybe they should apply it to their words as well?!

I've been doing my part to promote modesty, by intentionally saying little at the church service. A few people have sought me out at the audio table to say hello, but not many. Two men who came by this weekend got into a discussion opposing interracial marriage, supporting racial separation, and - no, only ONE of the men was from Taylor County. [True!]

But I digress. This whole incident about the twisters proves several things. For one, people in my congregation aren't very
web-savvy. If they did a Google hunt for my name, they might be surprised by what else I've posted challenging what the Pastor says -- and may might start a move to kick me out.

For another thing, the Pastor who thought I was "preaching the gospel" and misunderstood my intent isn't a very good mind-reader. But then again, he preaches against psychics....

BLOG UPDATES - on this and that:

+ I posted a link to this blog at a few message boards, to share the story of the speed-date. To those who followed the link and came here, welcome. So far one man's posted this interesting response: "All I can say to you, Richard, is HO HO HO!"

(Hey, wait a minute - this happened on Mother's Day, not Christmas.)

+ The Columbus Wardogs were so motivated by the death of former broadcaster Jim Fyffe (15 May) that not only did they LOSE to Florida, they didn't score a point for the first 59 minutes of the game. Maybe they were trying to prove his 2001 comment was true?!?!

+ Our Blog has learned there's ANOTHER broadcaster in the Auburn region interested in Jim Fyffe's job - someone who's doing NEWS these days, not sports. I'd drop this person's name, but I fear he might get dropped from his current job.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



It was stunning and sad to learn today of the death of Auburn University sportscaster Jim Fyffe. College football is a four-down game, but he truly added a "Fyffe dimension."

Reporters were quick to note Fyffe's famous phrase during A.U. games - when he'd shout, "TOUCHDOWN!!!! AUBURN!!!!!" I'll never know why he refused to be that enthusiastic when the Columbus Wardogs scored.

(I listen to college football games on headphones when I go running on Saturday nights in the fall. It was so fun to shout, "Touchdown Auburn!" as Jim Fyffe did it, to see how many people's heads would turn.)

Overlooked in some of the obituaries is the fact that Jim Fyffe called Columbus Wardogs games the last two seasons. Some may remember he dared to tell a Montgomery newspaper in 2001 the 0-16 'Dogs were the "worst football team he's ever seen." Amazingly, Fyffe came back the next year - leading me to think the team managers agreed with him.

There's another Jim Fyffe phrase I'll remember - about football players being all over each other "like a duck on a junebug." Perhaps the most lasting tribute Fyffe could receive is for the AFLAC duck to actually eat one in a commercial.

Jim Fyffe was NOT calling Wardogs games on radio this season. The role was passed to a friend of mine, Justin Cazana. I wrote a little tune about him years ago, to the famous Billy Graham altar-call hymn, "Just As I Am:"

Justin Cazana has the sports.

He'll bring you all the late reports,

About baseball, football, guys in shorts.

The sportscast it will come - will come.

(So I'll dare to ask the question: is Cazana in line to become the new voice of the Tigers? Or should we call Jesse Jackson, to see if he has someone in mind for that job as well?)

Tuesday, May 13, 2003



The Chattahoochee River was back to normal levels, so I went running on the Riverwalk yesterday afternoon - only a few minutes after WTVM's Jo Giles announced the walk was closed for at least two weeks. I guess that makes me a rebellious journalist. And these days, it probably disqualifies me from working at The New York Times.

(I've lived in Georgia more than 18 years now - so I confess, the "Southern rebel" nature is starting to overtake me. I actually paid a little attention yesterday to a radio ad for pickup trucks.)

Barricades may be up above the Riverwalk at 10th Street, but nothing was set up to stop pedestrians from entering at Golden Park. A red ribbon across the top flight of stairs was gone -- perhaps removed by the South Georgia Waves, because the old
RedStixx are coming back to town.

The only thing stopping me at the bottom of the Golden Park stairs was a long two-by-four, propped up on one side. I found several of these on my short jog - so if you want to avoid the lines at Home Depot, hurry.

Once you're ON the Riverwalk, the first thing you notice is the smell. The Chattahoochee has a natural stench to it, only it was turned up about threefold in spots. If it wasn't for a nice north wind, the wave of people wearing breathing masks could be expanding here.

My short jog from Golden Park to the Trade Center construction site showed me all kinds of unusual sights:

+ A flipped-over tree, with standing water in the hole. So THAT'S why we're supposed to stay away - the risk of West Nile Virus.

+ Dirt and mud covering the walkway in sections -- reminding me of some rural roads in Russell County.

+ A little sealed bag of "Wholesome Bear" graham crackers. Did the Red Cross drop something, helping people along the river in West Point?

+ Large white rocks along the embankment from Golden Park to the Riverwalk. People picking up stones from the railroad tracks didn't throw them as far as they thought.

Meanwhile, today I listened to WTVM's 5:00 p.m. news on the radio - and heard Wayne Bennett say he MIGHT sue Dee Armstrong! Was he joking when he said this? Shouldn't Cheryl Morgan be the one suing, to get equal time in her chair?

Monday, May 12, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia


I searched on the Internet, and found no one keeping a blog about events in Columbus, Georgia. (Well, other than a 15-year-old high school student, and who knows how much he pays attention to the news?) So being the hip web-savvy guy that I am, I decided to start a blog of my own - chronicling happenings in the town I've called home for almost six years, as well as my experiences in it.

But be warned.... I used to have a humor service called, so my views may be a bit amusing. And the views are my own -- no one has paid me to present theirs. Not yet.



All I wanted to do was drive to Publix for milk, soda and stamps. But as I went to the car Sunday afternoon, a woman walked by saying or asking for something. She seemed to have food in her mouth, so it took about five times to understand her. Lesson 1: if a beggar can't speak clearly, his or her mind may be just as fuzzy.

Finally I determined the woman wanted a ride to 744 Broadway. Yet strangely, she walked SOUTH on First Avenue to talk with me about it - when 744 Broadway is NORTH of my apartment. Then again, this IS Columbus - named for a man who went west to reach the "Far East."

It's only a five-block drive from my apartment to 744 Broadway, so I agreed to let her get in. That's when the fast-talking started.

"I see you drink beer."

"I have...."

"Do you...." She interrupted to change the topic before I could explain the empty flattened can of Budweiser on the floor of the passenger seat was there because I picked it up Saturday night to keep from running over it with my tires. That's what women want, you know - a deep, detailed conversation.

"Will you let me finish, please?" I said to the woman - then said she had ADHD. She didn't know what that was, but she was
acting like a co-worker who admits he has adult Attention Deficit Disorder. If that man ever met this woman, the fragmented sentences would be an English teacher's nightmare.

The woman in the car probably didn't have ADHD after all. As she explained, "I've had a couple of beers, it's Mother's Day...." Oh really?!?! What until Miller High Life hears about this - because those catfighting commercials might need some children added to them.

As we started the five-block drive to 744 Broadway, the woman asked more questions:

"Are you police?"


"Do you date?"

"Not in a long time." Questions like this make me wish I had a little more 20 years ago, though.

The woman then stated her name, which I admit I didn't catch. "I'm 37 years old, and I give good...." Weellllll, let's just say she didn't offer me her HEART. (Ahem)

I sat quietly and kept driving during this unusual introduction - so then the woman reached for my right leg, and my shorts. "What are you DOING?" I exclaimed. What episode of "Sex and the City" did she get this first-date idea from?

At this point we were on Broadway - and I hurried as quickly as I could. If ever there was a time the brick streets of the historic district needed paving over, it was now....

"Don't you want a date?" she asked, a bit surprised.

"No, I'm doing what you said you wanted. A ride to 744 Broadway." Lesson 2, which I should have realized long ago: a beggar seldom wants the first thing he or she requests. She wanted a ride - but apparently NOT in a car. (Ahem)

At this point we were in the 600 block of Broadway, and the woman started demanding I drop her off. I refused, noting 744 Broadway was very close. "That's not what I want," she argued. Why is it if men pull this stunt, they're guilty of a lack of commitment

At last I slowed down the car at 744 Broadway, and she cursed me as she got out of the car. The whole incident lasted about two minutes -- and it showed why I'd probably fail at those "speed-dating" club nights.

(Come to think of it, this encounter was appropriate for Mother's Day. So many times I did what my late Mom asked me to do - only to be criticized for only doing it because she told me to do it.)

I finally drove on to Publix at Cross-Country Plaza - and found one pick-up truck driving BACKWARDS in a parking lot lane, and another running a stop sign in front of the entryway. That's why I'm glad I went ahead and bought the milk and stamps -- to prove I didn't have a wild nightmare.

On a different topic: today was Clear Channel's turn to drop the hammer on AM radio stations. The "Southern gospel" music of WPNX suddenly moved to WMLF, and it's sharing time during the day with ESPN Radio. So the "Sports Monster" isn't dead - it's apparently just found religion.

WPNX apparently will no longer exist - as a woman at Clear Channel tells me it's "Hallelujah 1460," WHAL-AM. If the preaching isn't Bible-based, before long Christians will call it "shallow Hal."

(WPNX was familiar set of call letters in Columbus-Phenix City for decades. But apparently radio people no longer are "hooked on Phenix.")

The new WHAL is playing what a Clear Channel calls "urban gospel music." For those of you in Taylor County, that's called BLACK.

The obvious question here is whether Columbus really needs another, uh, "urban gospel" station. WOKS has been on the air for decades. WEAM just acquired a new slot at 100.7 FM. And those of us who like contemporary Christian music keep having to take road trips to Atlanta to hear it.

The new format of WMLF has sports-talk on 15 hours a day, Southern gospel music seven hours a day - and still "Duke and the Doctor" from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. When you still can hear this couple on the radio but you can't hear Clark Howard, is this REALLY a good sign?

The big loser in this exchange seems be the Southern gospel music fans. WPNX has had higher ratings than WMLF for years - and now its music is not only moved down the dial, it's on only seven hours a day. But then again, maybe the real goal is to convert Tony Kornheiser away from Judaism.

Speaking of a life of charity, here's a leftover from the weekend: for the third time in four years, I left cans of food by my mailbox Saturday for the Letter Carriers' hunger drive - only the postal person didn't pick them up! Does he think our apartment complex is so poor that we NEED the cans, instead?

Are you a reader of this blog? If you are, please e-mail me. It gets lonely doing this by myself.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Burkard's Blog of Columbus, Georgia



So many strange things have happened in Columbus in the last two weeks. A small earthquake struck at 5:00 a.m. The
Chattahoochee River has been above flood stage for days. My computer crashed. We MUST be cursed....

I was delayed in blogging for several days because my computer needed a new "motherboard." Of all the strange ways to remind me about Mother's Day....

I started developing motherboard problems in March - and the team at Computer Discounters told me I might need a new monitor. The computer would keep running even when nothing else was plugged in, and the monitor showed nothing. To that extent, it was like some Georgia drivers on the highway.

I bought a new monitor last Sunday at the Peachtree Mall Radio Shack to solve the problem. Well, it was a demo model on the floor for 50 dollars - without even a box. It's a good thing I parked near the Rich's entrance, so security guards didn't stop me.

I brought the monitor home - and it only had full color on the bottom half of the screen. Looking back, I now realize that model probably was reserved for someone from Taylor County High School.

To make matters worse, the same "blackout" problem with the monitor returned Monday night - but if I took the computer to work and plugged it into a monitor there, the trouble would stop. The mainframe would slowly whir to a stop - sort of like what would happen if you hook up jumper cables to a 1981 Pinto.

Only when I took the computer back to Computer Discounters did they confirm I needed a new motherboard. And to think only a few years ago, a "mother board" referred to a group of Church School teachers.

The new motherboard so far has worked fine - and even more amazingly, my new monitor has full color now. So I'm stuck with an old 15-inch monitor that probably works well, but I don't need. Well, it IS on the floor next to my free weights, so I COULD have more variety in my exercise program....

Meanwhile, the Riverwalk in downtown Columbus remained covered with water last night - even though the Chattahoochee finally dropped below flood stage. As I went for an evening jog, for some reason the song "Wade in the Water" kept bouncing in my head.

Did you see WRBL's Saturday night newscast - where the reporter and meteorologist REPLAYED their jumps off a Riverwalk ledge away from floodwater on Thursday? They dared to ask each other and the public whether they "jumped like a girl." I e-mailed them that Southeastern Conference women's basketball players actually jump much BETTER than that.

(By the way, the flooding in East Alabama was SO BAD that our Local Elder at church said he went squirrel-hunting - and shot an eight-pound bass.)

The Chattahoochee River crested at close to 40 feet in Columbus - or two-and-a-half flights of stairs up from the Riverwalk at Golden Park. Another flight-and-a-half and I would have been concerned, because a little voice in the back of my head keeps saying, "Flood insurance...."

So let's see, what else have I missed in recent days....

+ The temperature climbed above 90 degrees F. for the first time this season - weeks ahead of schedule. Having grown up
in the Midwest, I'm resisting turning on the air conditioner until Memorial Day Weekend. But boy, my hands are sticking to the pages when I read books.

+ WTVM apologized during a newscast for airing a story "based on a rumor that was false." I don't know what the rumor was - but for some reason, "Entertainment Tonight" is still on the air.

+ Someone who attends church with me sent a tough letter to the Ledger-Enquirer, complaining about the compromise on the Georgia state flag. I didn't talk with him about it at church this weekend - but I happened to carry a church newspaper with a headline, "Principle or Politics." Simply leaving that open should have sent the message.

+ I went for an evening stroll around Golden Park, and was stopped by a man wearing an L.S.U. T-shirt.

"Is there supposed to be a game here tonight?"

"No, the next game on the board is for Monday."

"I thought they were playing Macon tonight."

"That's arena football, at the Civic Center."

"Arena Football?!?!?"

" the Civic Center."

Sure enough, the Macon Knights beat the Columbus Wardogs. And who knows which player that man was in town to scout.

(Apparently he's still among those people who think "arena football" refers to a game in a domed stadium, like the Superdome.)