Tuesday, October 31, 2006

31 OCT 06: WELL, WELL, WELL???

Something told me I needed to visit the Phenix City Walgreens Monday. I didn't really need to go there. I'd seen the coupons for chocolate in the Sunday newspaper ad - but chocolate will be half-priced all over town Wednesday, while all sorts of children grow tired of eating it.

I listened to that voice inside me, drove to the Phenix City Walgreens - and stumbled upon a touring bus called the "Walgreens Wellness Tour." Rock music was playing from it, so perhaps they hired an out-of-work D.J. from Club Roc across the highway.

The Walgreens Wellness Bus offered five free health screenings, along with all sorts of helpful pamphlets on health topics. One of the tests was for my body fat amount - so it somehow didn't make sense that the bus was sponsored by Hershey's chocolate.

I climbed about the wellness bus behind a woman whom I think said she was 80 years old. She needed help going up the six steep stairs - but she made it, so maybe all those screenings for her were beside the point.

As I waited for the screenings to begin, I waited at the back of the wellness bus. Walgreens spent plenty of money on it, putting an Aquos high definition television against the back wall. But you can't really appreciate HDTV when it keeps showing commercials for Tums and Os-Cal.

The wait was less than five minutes before I was invited to a nook of the wellness bus for the first screening. I'd call it a "cavity" of the bus, but they weren't checking people's teeth....

The first test of the day required a stick in my right middle finger, to draw blood for a cholesterol check. I wouldn't be told the number until the end of the screenings - so the bandage around my finger served the same purpose as an old-fashioned string.

"I understand it's a really nice TV," the attendant at the next screening area told me. Her job was to check my blood pressure, so she doesn't really have time to look at that HDTV on the back wall. And she probably goes shopping on Sundays, while the men involved with the wellness bus hold the fanciest tailgaring party in town.

For the second time in recent months, my blood pressure measured on the high side - 132 over 78. That's right at the border line for "prehypertension." So maybe it's time to buy caller ID, to screen the annoying telemarketers.

The attendant quickly rattled off several possible reasons for my high blood pressure score. "You may be on medication, you could have just eaten lunch, you're a little bit nervous...." The right answer appeared to be the second one -- only I call a few chocolate chip cookies a snack, thank you.

Then the screenings became personal, as the wellness tour team checked my body fat. Years ago, this was done by pinching your side slightly above the waist. The older I get, the more I wish nurses and attendants still checked this way....

But no: nowadays, your body fat somehow is figured by holding the "Omron Body Fat Analyzer." It's like holding a video game player far in front of you - only there are no buttons for shooting at space aliens.

The Omron Body Fat Analyzer somehow determined 28 percent of my body is body fat. I can almost see a doctor taking that device to a Halloween party tonight - and either being the talk of the room, or tossed out for ruining everybody else's fun.

Based on this analysis, I have a very high BMI for my age of 28.9 percent. That stands for Body Mass Index - not someone else trying to compete with the Burkard Bulk Mail Index of spam.

The attendant suggested I can lower the body mass index with "more exercise." OK, I did it - running 3.5 miles non-stop Monday night, for the second outing in a row. Now if Walgreens will offer discounts on fat-free potato chips, as well as the regular kind....

The last stop inside the wellness bus was a bone density screening. All I had to do for this is take off my right shoe and sock, and place my foot in a white ultrasound device. If it was so brilliant, I should have asked it to name my shoe size.

The good news is that I have "desirable" bone density, according to the ultrasound test. My "T-Score" was a positive 1.8. A negative T-score would be bad - so this must work the exact opposite way of golf.

I climbed off the wellness bus, but there was still unfinished business. The wellness team handed me an envelope with my cholesterol score. Part of me wondered if I'd won a Walgreens gift card, for being their millionth customer....

Inside the envelope was a pleasant surprise. My cholesterol level was 176, which is considered desirable. Considering my body fat (and I've known for years I'm overweight), I expected the cholesterol score to be much higher -- something closer to Andrew Jones's batting average.

For going through these screenings, the wellness bus team presented me with a Walgreens bag full of stuff. In fact, it was two bags combined in one - so I have twice the coupons for nicotine patches and gum, which I should give to the next people who hit me up for cigarettes.

The Walgreens bag also contained coupons for Beano, booklets on reducing your risk of heart attack - and between the combined bags, I took him three small tubes of toothpaste. Either the wellness team had heard the same voice about me showing up, or the team realized it was in Alabama.

BLOG UPDATE: Advance voting for the general election began across Georgia Monday. So if you think you're going to die before next Tuesday, hurry to the polls and vote....

An early problem developed at the Columbus advance voting locations. The state's computerized database of voters apparently was out of service for about an hour. It's at times like this that Secretary of State Cathy Cox may actually be glad she ran for Governor, and not reelection.

GPB Radio reported Governor Sonny Perdue was an advance voter Monday. In fact, he mailed an absentee ballot from the Governor's mansion. At least he had the brains to avoid mailing it from the land he owns in central Florida.

But here's the strange thing: wife Mary Perdue plans to vote the old-fashioned way - by going to a polling place on Election Day. So if the Governor shows up with her for TV cameras, won't that prove he's NOT an absentee? Or is he going to be breaking ground on two new factories, even while the polls are open?

And while we're asking questions: what was Governor Sonny Perdue thinking, by accusing Mark Taylor of having a history of illegal drugs? The Republican has avoided personal attacks in all the public appearances and commercials I've seen -- so he didn't have to take the "high road" like this.

Governor Sonny Perdue answered a question about illegal drugs in Georgia during a Sunday debate, by saying Mark Taylor used alcohol and illegal drugs in front of his children. Maybe the incumbent has seen the polls showing he has a big lead - and this is his idea of compassion, to let his opponent back into the race.

Sonny Perdue told reporters outside the debate room that Mark Taylor admitted drinking beer while driving a car with his children, about 20 years ago. Yeow - even the Kenneth Walker case has a four-year statute of limitations.

The alleged "low blow," as WDAK radio called it Monday, overshadowed a new and potentially clinching campaign commercial for Sonny Perdue. It actually shows former Governor Zell Miller endorsing the incumbent Republican. Mark Taylor hasn't even given us an ad with a comment from his wife - much less Cathy Cox.

As for other campaign races, did you hear Rep. Lynn Westmoreland's opponent on the evening news Monday? Democrat Mike McGraw said when it comes to the voters, "They can think I'm Tim McGraw; they can think I'm Dr. Phil McGraw...." But if the National Rifle Association doesn't endorse him, he must not be Quick Draw McGraw.

You're probably overdosing on campaign commercials anyway, so we'll stop there and check other news from the last couple of days:

+ A public hearing was held on future plans for the Army Reserve building on Macon Road. Some nearby residents are concerned that it might be turned into a homeless shelter. Others were stunned when Assistant City Manager David Arrington listed seven interested parties in the land - and none of them was named Wal-Mart.

+ A new national survey ranked Macon among the ten most dangerous small cities in the U.S., and the 20th most dangerous metropolitan area overall. Columbus was NOT on any "most dangerous" list - so if Jim Wetherington loses the mayor's race, maybe the officers backing him should move to Macon and help restore order.

(The survey found the most dangerous city in the country is St. Louis. I'm not surprised by this -- because a group of Tigers went into that city last week, and failed to get out alive.)

+ Columbus State received a number-four seed in the NCAA women's soccer tournament. But WRBL reported Armstrong Atlantic State received a number-three seed, even though C.S.U. defeated A.A.S.U. in Sunday's conference finals. So you see, Coach Tuberville?! Playoffs don't always get it right, either....

+ Former Georgia running back Terrell Davis was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I think he deserves to go in - if only so his mother can serve Chunky Soup to everyone at the induction ceremony.

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Monday, October 30, 2006


There's nothing quite like receiving blog fan mail. Take this message which came the other day:

I have recently become acquainted with your blog. I have to tell you, it really brightens my day! I had an excellent laugh over your coverage of the Liberty Theatre Political Forum [25 Oct]. The comment on Richard Hyatt left me in a fit of giggles!

Lisa Parrish

Thank you very much, Lisa - and I'm really glad Richard Hyatt did NOT keel over on the floor that night. It's been a couple of years since I had CPR training.

But we're not through with that forum at the Liberty Theatre. As promised, today we consider the four candidates for Muscogee County School Board who were present last week. Well, check that - Naomi Buckner didn't arrive until the school board presentations were almost over. Does she get an excused absence for that?

Advance voting opens across Georgia today, with two open races on the Muscogee County School Board. Naomi Buckner is in a District 4 rematch with Linda Parker. Each has beaten the other once - so I say this time, "loser leaves town" rules should be in effect.

Once Naomi Buckner arrived at the forum, she was allowed to give a three-minute presentation. "I began the change," she said about Muscogee County Schools. So how many textbooks did she lose?

Naomi Buckner contends Muscogee County schools were failing until a new wave of board members took office in recent years. Yet here's the strange thing - they have awards for the top teacher and school superintendent in Georgia, but never the most outstanding board member.

District 4 in Muscogee County Schools includes Kendrick High School. Naomi Buckner says while she's been on the school board, the construction there has been completed - AND the school now has clean water. I didn't realize Kendrick was made an environmental magnet school.

Opponent Linda Parker told the forum she's concerned about the classified employees in Muscogee County schools. She says some of them have worked for 40 years, earning only 500 dollars a month. Yeow - why didn't anyone tell Columbus Police recruiters about these people before?

When it comes to recruiting new teachers to Muscogee County, Linda Parker told the forum: "It's about money, money, money." So her school board and the Russell County School Board have something in common....

Linda Parker agrees with Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue that graduation coaches are needed in middle schools. She called them "completion counselors" - which some parents might confuse with football quarterback coaches.

Linda Parker also wants grade schools to offer physical education classes, to fight student obesity. If that's not possible, I can think of an alternative. Have all the children race outside once a week, in mock terror drills.

One Muscogee County School Board race is citywide - the at-large seat Mary Sue Polleys is leaving. Cathy Vaughn Williams challenged her four years ago, and is running for the seat again. But she's added the "Williams" to her name since 2002, perhaps thinking three names is the key to victory.

Cathy Vaughn Williams says she's not convinced the at-large school board seat has served all of Muscogee County. South Columbus schools are a personal concern, because she graduated from Spencer High -- and have you noticed that football team hasn't won a game since the last election?

Her opponent for the at-large school board seat is Rickey L. Jones. I didn't have the nerve to ask if the L. stands for "Lee," and if he sings songs about Chuckie being in love....

Rickey Jones says he's shown his concern for children by feeding hungry youngsters in his home. In fact, he mentioned twice at the forum that he's cut children's hair. I didn't realize head lice was a big issue in this campaign.

The candidates for the at-large school board race are different in many ways. One is Euro-American, one is African-American. One is male, one is female. One is busy with homebuilding, while the other has three degrees in education - perhaps busy building a resume.

The Liberty Theatre forum included an interesting question about improving race relations inside Muscogee County schools. Cathy Vaughn Williams said it starts by treating all schools with equality. This could make things fun - a dispersal draft of Columbus High School baseball players.

Rickey Jones said the key to improving school race relations is within each person. He says we need to start by addressing our own prejudices. It almost makes you wonder if Jones's wife is having second thoughts about voting for him.

In closing statements at the Liberty Theatre forum, Rickey Jones said he should be elected to the Muscogee County School Board because he's as "fresh as an empty glass." Uhhhh - has he ever washed dishes at a restaurant on a busy Sunday afternoon?

Cathy Vaughn Williams closed her presentation by saying she's the choice of change - and added: "I work in Columbus." Rickey Jones's campaign flyer has Randolph-Clay High School at the top of his work experience. So a vote for him could mean a school year starting in late July.

BLOG UPDATE: As if the Northern Little League All-Stars didn't have enough publicity, BellSouth confirmed Sunday it's put the world champions on the cover of the new Columbus phone book. This may disappoint some local schools - because next year, recycling money will drop to an all-time low.

A BellSouth statement said the Little League champions were "the perfect cover models" for the new phone book. It must be a difficult search in Columbus - because the phone company couldn't do any better for the current book than a bald eagle.

The cover choice actually makes the new Columbus phone book a double collector's item. Not only are the Little League champions on the cover, but it probably will be the last phone book with a BellSouth name. The merger with AT&T is coming -- and you may find the closest "Southern Bell" to Columbus is at the Eufaula Pilgrimage.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Did we mention there's nothing quite like blog fan mail? Oh yeah, we did. Well, anyway....

Richard..I love your blog...gives me a chance to vent and be entertained at the same time...you should replace "sound off'

Now, now - the "Sound Off" column in the Ledger-Enquirer is getting better, as people realize they can be creative with it. Take the recent column, where a person said he refuses to shop at any business with a Spanish name. That's one less person in the line at Taco Bell.

Thanks for all your comments - and a different sort of e-mail begins our review of Sunday news:

+ Our BBMI, the Burkard Bulk Mail Index of spam e-mail, dropped below the 5,000 mark for the first time in as long as I can remember. Maybe those people with red-hot tips about penny stocks are actually taking time to invest money in them.

+ The annual "Christmas Made in the South" exhibition finished at the Columbus Trade Center. I didn't go to this event - so how Southern WAS it, really? Did someone stroll around, playing carols on a banjo?

+ Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier appeared at a special Columbus State University event at the RiverCenter. The event was "invitation only" -- so hopefully Bert Coker will tell us what he said sometime today....

(I understand Sidney Poitier did NOT want to comment to journalists, during his trip to Columbus. Maybe he didn't want to be annoyed by young reporters mispronouncing his last name.)

+ The Columbus State women's soccer team won the Peach Belt Conference title, beating Armstrong Atlantic State in a penalty kick shootout. C.S.U. hopes a 19-3 record will pit the Lady Cougars in the NCAA tournament. It certainly would keep them from traveling to Boise, Idaho for a bowl game.

+ Tony Stewart won the NASCAR race in suburban Atlanta - but what surprised me was that a few bleacher seats were empty at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Maybe it was because the race ended after sunset, and fans were worried they might be late for work in the morning from being stuck in traffic.

+ Florida moved ahead of Auburn in the new Bowl Championship Series rankings. The Gators are fourth. The Tigers are sixth. And since it's the Southeastern Conference, Arkansas probably will win the conference title game anyway.

+ Instant Message to Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson: Atlanta DOS-NUEVE, your Bengals 27....

(If you missed it, Chad Johnson asked reporters at the Falcons-Bengals game to call him "Ocho Cinco," referring to his number 85. Not only is that incorrect Spanish, Johnson doesn't realize Hispanic Heritage Month ended October 15.)

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Sunday, October 29, 2006


The caller had a question about a campaign commercial on Columbus television. I've seen many of them this year - enough that I'm ready to tell someone that Mark Taylor is the candidate who's "the big guy."

But this caller the other night was asking about an ad for the Georgia Attorney General. He said Thurbert Baker's first TV commercial shows law officers of several ethnic communities -- but the citizens Baker supposedly has helped are all white. I should have asked the caller if he could recall Baker's tag line - or if that question was as "tough as nails."

I hadn't paid that much attention to every little detail in Thurbert Baker's commercial. I was interested in content and facts. This caller was more interested in images and visuals. Come to think of it, doesn't that make him more like a man and me more like a woman?

What struck me more about Thurbert Baker's TV commercials is how little you actually see the Georgia Attorney General. One shows his suit and his shoes while an announcer mentions his record -- but you never see his face until the last few seconds. It's as if most Georgians can't believe an African-American man could be so tough on crime.

But anyway: can you believe in 2006, someone would be counting the people in TV commercials by skin color? Aren't we at 40 years and more after Selma? Aren't we approaching 50 years since Little Rock Central? Aren't we.... oh, I forgot. We're at two weeks without mixed co-hosts on WRCG's "TalkLine."

It gives me no pleasure to admit my late father did the same sort of thing in the 1960's. While watching Sunday afternoon basketball games on TV, he'd lead me in a game of.... well, unlike the caller the other night, he wasn't counting white players....

But in the game of politics, sometimes appearances in a TV ad are carefully designed to make a point. Take the Mike Hubbard "attack ad" that Alabama House candidate Carolyn Ellis is running right now. It shows smoke around Hubbard's picture, apparently to depict a "smoke-filled room" - because the ad never says where he stands on smoking bans.

So at this caller's urging, I watched Thurbert Baker's initial campaign commercial - and sure enough: the four "ordinary citizens" helped by the Georgia Attorney General are all white. The African-American caller seemed insulted by this. Are only white Georgians supposed to feel safe from crime?, he suggested to me. Well, maybe those are the only people Baker is helping....

Somebody has to ask it -- does the Kenneth Walker family plan to endorse Thurbert Baker's opponent, in the Georgia Attorney General race? After all, Baker has refused to intervene and order a second grand jury review of the case. Or would that endorsement actually bring Baker more voters - because it would imply the opponent wants weak, wimpy sheriffs?

Your blog called the Thurbert Baker campaign office in Atlanta Friday afternoon, to ask about why all the ordinary citizens in the commercial are white. But as of Saturday night, the Attorney General's press people had NOT returned our message. Maybe it's because someone figured out the real message - or maybe they can't believe someone looked that closely for subliminal messages.

Meanwhile, the Thurbert Baker campaign issued a new TV ad - this one including retired Taylor County Sheriff Nick Giles. This raises an obvious question: where's the CURRENT Taylor County Sheriff? Is he too busy keeping high school students separated, to prevent racial turmoil?

To be fair: this caller is not alone in thinking in counting skin colors in this campaign season. The latest issue of "The Courier" lists contributions to mayoral candidates from "black leaders." For some reason, the "Eco Latino" side of the tabloid doesn't list the donations from Hispanic leaders - and beyond Mimi Woodson, there must be someone.

(The tabloid noted Rep. Sanford Bishop gave $1,000 to BOTH the Bob Poydasheff and Jim Wetherington campaigns - so at least someone around here understands that "One Columbus" stuff.)

A full-page ad in the latest issue of "The Courier" lists people who support Bob Poydasheff for a second term as Mayor. It's noteworthy that all three African-American members of Columbus Council are on that list. So is Muscogee County School Board member Pat Hugley Green - but that could be because the incumbent gave her relative a nice promotion.

Not even a trip to church this weekend could give me a break from all this talk about skin color. The Pastor where I attend told us about an upcoming movie called "Color of the Cross," which he says will be released only in "black neighborhoods." Thanks to Carmike Cinema, I guess we'll never see it in Columbus....

The Pastor said "Color of the Cross" portrays Jesus as African-American, and not Jewish. "That's rather sad," he declared - adding the Biblical evidence indicates Jesus was white. But doesn't all this miss a point? The next time people see Jesus, it'll be like Western movies - the way we'll know this spirit being is a good guy will be by the white robes others around Him are wearing.

If you saw the ABC News report on newborn twins in London the other night, you may remember the genetic statistics it had. Only ten genes out of the tens of thousands in the human body determine skin color. So we've feuded in this country (and others) for decades over all of TEN genes. We were micro-managing before anyone even came up with the word.

And if all this wasn't enough, the caller who alerted me to the Thurbert Baker commercial called me again Saturday. This time, he noted the red and black sky in one of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's campaign commercials matched the colors of the brush fire in southern California. Hmmm -- should more money for fire departments be on the "Sonny-Do" list?

So what's going on here - with so many people suddenly making such a big deal about colors? After thinking it over, the answer became obvious. People are looking at the changing fall leaves....

Now before someone else e-mails us about the changing colors of this blog, here's a look at news items from the weekend:

+ People across Georgia and Alabama reset their clocks back one hour for standard time. Or as I've come to call it - my one night a year on Central Time.

+ Georgia gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor came to Columbus, to talk with "special needs children" affected by cuts in Medicaid funding. WRBL's Heather Jensen said this was "not campaigning." If Taylor's in Columbus NOT campaigning ten days before the election, either that station is awfully naive -- or Taylor's having a big fling with campaign travel money while he can.

+ The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau held an open house, to mark "Columbus on My Mind Day. " For some reason, Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari brought a python to display - as if it's also "Get Pine Mountain off your Mind Day."

+ The Stylistics and The Manhattans headlined a "70's Soul Jam" concert at the RiverCenter. The Dramatics also appeared - although during football season I suppose they show up at the last minute.

+ Shooters from several countries competed at Fort Benning, in an "International Sniper Competition." Why do I somehow have the feeling entries from Iraq and Afghanistan were turned down?!

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths lost their first road game of the season, 8-3 at Fayetteville. It's good to hear Cottonmouths games on WEAM "1580 The Zone" this season. After two years of broadcasts on a small FM station in West Point, I was starting to think the Kia land might double as a hockey arena.

+ Instant Message to "Cascabel the Professional Pirate": I don't care if you were at the big Port Columbus pirates' weekend. I simply don't believe you're a professional pirate. After all, you didn't wear a Pittsburgh baseball uniform.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: What we thought of the candidates for Muscogee County School Board....

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Friday, October 27, 2006


An "informational picket" was set up outside the main Columbus Post Office Thursday. Sadly, it was arranged by the postal workers - not ordinary people who think if gas prices can come down, so can the price of stamps.

The American Postal Workers Union arranged informational pickets from coast to coast, because it claims there's a "secret plan" to shut down more than 100 mail distribution centers. One place on the list is the Columbus center on Milgen Road -- perhaps because it's too close to Peachtree Mall, and too far from Columbus Park Crossing.

Postal workers on the picket line claim if the Columbus mail processing center is shut down, all local mail will be handled in Macon -- even if it's a letter going from one side of town to the other. And we all know you can't trust those people in Macon. Why, they named a hockey team the "Whoopie" - not once, but twice.

Columbus postal workers warn if the processing center on Milgen Road is closed, your mail could be delayed by as much as a week. So?! Some people would have extra time to make sure their bill payments don't bounce.

But here's the strange thing - the U.S. Postal Service denies there are any plans to close processing centers. So this "secret plan" the Postal Workers Union is talking about is so secret, even top executives in Washington don't seem to know about it.

It's fairly easy to see why the American Postal Workers Union sets up these picket lines. It's concerned about losing jobs, if the Postal Service consolidates. I'm tempted to say employees would be "out on the street" - except people who deliver the mail every day already are.

The Postal Service promises NO jobs would be lost, if any consolidation occurred. Postal workers simply would be "reassigned." Even though the mail might be delayed three days, more letter carriers would mean you'd finally get that letter earlier in the morning.

If no job cuts would occur at the Postal Service during a consolidation, what would be the point of it? In most businesses, consolidation is done to save money -- and it costs less money to buy green cubicle walls than roomy separate offices.

(Besides, wouldn't the movement of mail processing from Columbus to Macon wind up costing the Postal Service extra money? All the conspiracy theorists expect fuel prices to jump back up after the election.)

Yet when I heard about the postal pickets, I thought about the alternatives to the Postal Service. Don't package delivery services such as Federal Express already do the very thing postal workers fear? So many FedEx planes go in and out of the Memphis airport that staff members have their own sports arena to visit during layovers.

BIG PREDICTION: When Florida International plays football at Alabama Saturday, at least 2,000 fans in Tuscaloosa will go home disappointed if a bench-clearing brawl doesn't break out.

Please don't stomp on anyone, as we check other Thursday news headlines:

+ A large crowd attended a public hearing on plans for new Columbus recreational facilities. Some people want a new swimming pool. Others want a new ice rink. And the Fraternal Order of Police may have been there, demanding everything be underfunded.

+ An evening jog found two Columbus police cars outside Bludau's restaurant at Fourth and Broadway. There must have been a crime going on - because the officers would tell you they can't possibly afford to eat dinner there.

+ The new owner of Parisian stores confirmed the Peachtree Mall location will close, instead of changing to a Belk store. It's just as well, I suppose - because countless veterans probably have been boycotting a store which sounds like it's connected with France.

(The last time Peachtree Mall lost a major store, it was Montgomery Wards - and Rich's/Macy's eventually was found to fill the gap. So what big department stores are out there, waiting to replace Parisian? I can think of one - but Neiman-Marcus would sell the same clothing for twice the price.)

+ The Columbus Museum announced its schedule of exhibits for next year. Executives say there will be a focus on the Civil War and World War II. Those of you who prefer to focus on peace can drive down the hill, and hang out with Columbus State University art students downtown.

+ Carver High School lost a big football showdown at LaGrange 13-6. Tiger Coach Dell McGee said Carver had too many turnovers. Next time, they should eat brownies for dessert at lunch instead.

+ WRBL's "special campaign coverage" found Creshon Saunders introducing interviews with the candidates for Georgia Lieutenant Governor - only then we saw an older woman with pigtails talking about beer in Auburn and Opelika. I didn't know Thursday's Chamber of Commerce breakfast had an Oktoberfest theme....

(It was either that, or the Prohibition Party somehow put candidates on the Georgia state ballot.)

+ Instant Message to Richard Hyatt of the Ledger-Enquirer: Were you kidding with Thursday's column? If the donation from the Foxy Lady Lounge owner to Jim Wetherington's campaign "isn't news," why has your paper printed lists of campaign donors for years? Is the paper stopping that, to make room for more large front-page pictures of bartenders?

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: Is a candidate's TV commercial playing a subtle "race card?" We plan to ask....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Major League Baseball's post-season continues tonight, with the rain-delayed fourth game of the World Series. I think the Columbus baseball post-season is still underway as well. The Northern Little League All-Stars had their own "off day" Wednesday, from public appearances.

But at Golden Park, Wednesday was day 51 of the off-season. And Columbus city workers are finally getting down to business on some needed repairs. Normally you'd think about rebuilding the baseball TEAM - not the stadium....

Since I live on the other side of the highway from Golden Park, I can watch developments there - and Wednesday afternoon marked the first time I'd noticed city crews busy there. Apparently they waited for the fair to end, as well as last weekend's "Help the Hooch" celebration there. Great fence repairs must require absolute silence.

But our check of Golden Park found the rebuilding work is NOT beginning with the storm-damaged center field fence. A large area of the outfield warning track has been ripped up, along with a bit of center field. If you didn't know better, you'd think they're going to tear down more of the wall -- and move in the fence to have more home runs.

The warning track work apparently is being done to fix outfield drainage problems at Golden Park. This problem has occurred on and off for years -- leading me to wonder why baseball teams don't put a lookalike of the AFLAC duck out there on rainy days.

Between the left-center field wall at Golden Park and Fourth Street, there's a big pile of "warning track." It's a pile of crushed red rocks, ready to be spread once the outfield work is finished -- or ready to be shipped to Detroit, if Kenny Rogers needs it on his hands to pitch.

Once the outfield drainage is repaired, there's the center field fence to fix - the section ripped down by rough weather in August. No bricks have been brought to Golden Park yet for the rebuilding. Maybe the crew is saving city money, and waiting for leftovers from the Columbus State construction downtown.

It's not clear how much time there is, for repairs to be made at Golden Park High school baseball teams won't use the field again until March. But pro players like to use the field for winter workouts. And Tim Hudson could help the city budget, by renting the bullpen for daily throwing between now and spring training.

A different sort of post-season arrives at the other end of South Commons today. The Georgia state high school softball championships begin -- and the teenage guys who feel overwhelmed at the cheerleading championship really should give these young ladies a try.

(But mind your manners, gentlemen. Some of these softball players can swing a bat very well -- and the rest can throw a fastball right down your middle, if you know what I mean.)

But wouldn't you know it? The forecast for opening day of the Georgia high school softball championship calls for rain. It's nice to see traditions carry over from the Leadoff Classic in February, but this is something else....

BLOG UPDATE: The Phenix City Council was going to vote Wednesday on revoking the liquor license of Club Roc -- but the owner of the business decided to withdraw her original application. If at first your customers get arrested, try, try again....

The attorney for the owner of Club Roc said the club will close, while she applies a second time for a liquor license. Thomas Worthy explained Misha Simmons wants to "start all over." OK, how about in Hurtsboro?

Phenix City Police Chief Brian McGarr says several alcohol and weapon arrests were made, after Club Roc was opened several weeks ago. But attorney Thomas Worthy told WRBL the police watch there has been a bit too strong. Why, they didn't even wait for videotapes to surface of street fights - the way they do it on Broadway.

Phenix City Mayor Jeff Hardin isn't thrilled about the Club Roc application process starting all over again. He says he'll vote against a liquor license, the next time it comes up. Maybe the mayor is afraid rooftop signs will pop up across East Alabama - saying "See Roc City."

Now for other things which rolled past us, on an October Wednesday which felt more like late December:

+ Georgia state officials announced funding has been found to keep West Central Georgia Regional Hospital open. To which some of the mental patients said, "I told you they were conspiring against us...."

(So how many e-mails pleading for West Central Georgia Regional Hospital were sent to Governor Sonny Perdue? This somehow reached the top of his "Sonny-Do list" even ahead of tax changes.)

+ The Columbus Airport Commission discussed selling or leasing some property near the airport. One option is building a "business hotel." Business?! Does that mean no shuttle bus service down the street to Sam's Club?

+ The Columbus Chamber of Commerce held a "mortgage-burning" ceremony, on its office at the old Sixth Avenue Train Depot. In a way, this disappointed me - because I figured they'd get a driver from The Waggoners to run over the mortgage with a truck instead.

+ Chattahoochee County Police Chief Ken Suddeth told WRBL five squad cars he'd bought were vandalized, just before shipment. The vandalism occurred in North Carolina. Why, I never knew the county sheriff had relatives there....

+ Remember the big fish we mentioned here last Sunday - what appeared to be an eight-pound bream, caught at an area pond? Fish and game experts determined it's really a pacu fish. And the family which caught it may have dumped it in the pond a year ago! This is one strange way to teach about the cycle of life.

(My apologies for spelling it originally as a "brim," and not a bream. I don't claim to be an expert in fishing. For years, I thought a "ten-pound test" was a weightlifting exercise.)

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue attended a Veteran's Day ceremony at the state capitol. Huh?! Is he trying to outdo the late Lonnie Jackson, and celebrate holidays earlier than anyone else?

+ Instant Message to University of Georgia President Michael Adams: I have a better idea for this weekend's game against Florida. Have Libby's sponsor it - and declare it the "world's largest outdoor FRUIT cocktail party."

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Since an e-mailer invited me (and by extension you) to attend the political forum at the Liberty Theatre Tuesday night, I rearranged my schedule to go. After all, anything could happen at one of these events. A few years ago, a Chambers County candidate accused his opponent of being a wife-killer. Before you laugh - that opponent now is behind bars on murder charges.

All sorts of possible topics were on my mind, as I drove to the Liberty Theatre on Eighth Avenue. But the first big one jumped out at me ON Eighth Avenue. In fact, it WAS Eighth Avenue - where the street is caving in so badly, I don't think the Carver High School football team should stand on it.

But believe it or not, public works issues never came during the forum with mayoral candidates. And neither did the big campaign issue of the last 48 hours. No one showed up wearing anything close to an "exotic dancer" outfit.

Tuesday night could have been Jim Wetherington's moment to publicly answer the fuss about that campaign donation from the owner of the Foxy Lady Lounge. But he didn't - because Wetherington was a no-show. A campaign co-chair told the audience he'd already scheduled an event with the Better Business Bureau. It makes you wonder how many nightclubs are dues-paying members....

Yet the mayoral forum provided an opportunity for Bert Coker to comment. The write-in candidate told your blog as long as a business making a donation has a license, he sees no problem. But Coker declined to speculate on the "moral" aspect of the Foxy Lady Lounge donation -- whether Jim Wetherington knew about it or not. A former police chief would know better than to leave fingerprints on that check.

Bert Coker told me he's actually received some donations to his write-in campaign - but admitted they amount to around "300, 400 dollars." When the grand total isn't even ONE grand, that's a small-time campaign.

I hadn't talked to Bert Coker since the day he called WRCG radio's "TalkLine" when I was a guest [14 Aug]. And Tuesday night was my first opportunity to see him campaign before an audience - well, before an audience which actually could see his face.

With Jim Wetherington represented by a campaign co-chairman, the Liberty Theatre forum had a Bert Coker vs. Bob Poydasheff focus. The contrast could not be greater. The incumbent wore a suit and tie, and sounded professional and polished. The write-in walked in with a cowboy hat, his shirt not tucked in - and a speaking style which made H. Ross Perot sound like a politician.

People in the audience giggled several times at the way Bert Coker presented his points. And from what I could tell, he was NOT trying to be funny. Hmmmm - come to think of it, maybe I should have invited him to write for this blog while I was on vacation....

With his cowboy hat on the table in front of him, Bert Coker addressed the big issues in the Columbus Mayor's race:

+ The city's partnership with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce "doesn't bring any jobs." So how did Road America's call center wind up here? Did a Waggoners truck carrying executives break down on Victory Drive?

+ The city's tight budget situation can be solved by collecting all revenue - and Columbus "does not need any more SPLOST's." That's good news, since I get tired of explaining to newcomers what that abbreviation means.

+ The barriers to "One Columbus" are mostly inside people's heads. "There's no dividing line.... it's only there because you put it there." Based on the forum's attendance, many white people drew a line around the Liberty District.

+ He admitted the impact of BRAC on Columbus and Fort Benning will be huge - but he struggled for several seconds to remember what the letters in BRAC mean.

+ The way to reduce the number of teenage mothers is to take girls, "teach them how to be pregnant, and then teach them to NOT be pregnant until they are married." After the first part of that quote, I thought Richard Hyatt of the Ledger-Enquirer sitting near me was going to keel over on the floor.

Bert Coker actually admitted in response to a question on teenage motherhood, "I have it in my family." Now this is full disclosure - and in person, not through a prepared statement released after TV station phone calls.

Bert Coker used most of his one-minute closing statement at the Liberty Theatre to explain how to cast a write-in vote for himself. And yes, he spelled out his first name so no one would get it wrong. But from the way the audience reacted, I think they're more likely to write in "Diet."

Bert Coker told me the powers in Columbus are scared of him becoming mayor. But while he presents himself as the candidate of change, he also presents himself as someone SO outside the mainstream that - well, have you seen that recent movie where Robin Williams becomes the President?

(By the way, I did NOT ask Bert Coker about how he somehow obtained a ticket to last week's invitation-only televised debate at the RiverCenter. I've been a journalist long enough to know you don't get nosy about someone's sources.)

Bob Poydasheff could have had a political field day, following Bert Coker's comments. But he again chose to avoid anything which might be considered a personal attack. He began by telling the forum he did "not need a prepared statement." Of course not -- after giving the statement dozens of times in recent weeks, he's memorized it.

But at times, the incumbent seemed almost too much in command of his subjects for his audience. Bob Poydasheff told the forum about "OSD plans" for growth at Fort Benning. I think he meant the Office of the Secretary of Defense - but people who don't follow the news closely might think he was discussing the Ohio State defense.

Bob Poydasheff used another acronym during the forum, saying we don't need to elect "a novice" as mayor who needs "OJT." He explained that one: "on the job training" - as opposed to some mixed drink containing orange juice.

Isaiah and Carolyn Hugley were together at the Liberty Theatre forum, and Mayor Poydasheff declared the City Manager is doing "a magnificent job." In fact, I saw the two officials chatting a bit before the forum started. So when is the news conference, announcing the endorsement?

The Columbus Urban League office put on the political forum, in conjunction with the "Tri-City Young Professionals." But the moderators admitted they were nervous, and showed it at times. For instance, you don't ask someone to open an event with the benediction....

On the other hand, school board candidate Linda Parker should have been thinking before she stood up to speak at the forum. She openly said into the microphone, "Let me take gum out." At least a teacher wasn't there, scolding Parker for it.

But the biggest faux pas of the forum may have been that of Linda Parker's school board opponent. Naomi Buckner somehow thought the event began at 7:00 p.m., not 6:00 p.m. - and she showed up a half-hour late, only after her stand-in sister phoned from the Liberty Theatre. Amazingly, the organizers did not make Buckner stay for an hour after the forum ended.

We'll review what the school board candidates said in another post, before Election Day. But now that your campaign cup is overflowing, let's check other things which made news Tuesday:

+ Columbus Council heard details of a plan to revitalize the Baker Village neighborhood. It would cost the city $3.5 million - which I think is more than the combined annual income of the current residents.

+ Columbus Council also heard a presentation from the local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. From what little I saw on TV, it appeared to include a quiz on how someone is defined as mentally ill. If you change your Mega Millions lottery numbers every week, that's a clue....

+ A U.S. Senate committee held a hearing at the RiverCenter on Chattahoochee River water usage. Senator Saxby Chambliss praised Columbus for only using two-thirds of its daily water allotment. That's the last thing the sellers of Callaway Blue water wanted to hear.

+ The organizers of "God Bless Fort Benning" announced this year's event on November 18 will have events on six different stages. Take that, all of you who doubt BRAC is making Columbus grow....

(So do you think one of the six stages at "God Bless Fort Benning" will be set aside for the S.O.A. Watch demonstrators? You know, to make things fair and balanced?)

+ The Northern Little League All-Stars were honored again for winning the world title, this time at AFLAC headquarters. It's a wonder the insurance company hasn't bought the team a tour bus, and sponsored every trip they make....

(The Northern All-Stars presented AFLAC executive Dan Amos with an autographed team ball. So what did he do to deserve this? I didn't see a single "AFLAC Trivia Question" on TV during the Little League World Series.)

+ Instant Message to WRBL: What do you mean, candidates in your special election programming are barred from bashing their opponents? I thought you were the station of "freespeech," on the CBS Evening News -- but you're making candidates spend money on attack ads.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


And here we were starting to think we could reach Election Day without something juicy in the Columbus Mayor's race. That thinking changed Monday. Who could have guessed something bizarre about Jim Wetherington's campaign would be lurking in the office of the police chief's wife?

WRCG's "TalkLine" was first to check campaign expense reports, and find Jim Wetherington received a donation from the owner of the Foxy Lady Lounge. You'd think he'd be more likely to get a contribution from Foxie-105 FM....

A "Mrs. Adams" who owns the Foxy Lady gave $400 to the Jim Wetherington campaign. Admittedly, that doesn't sound like a lot of money in 2006. Some dancers at the lounge could make that much money from Fort Benning soldiers on a good weekend.

But there's an image problem here - and here's where "the spin" begins. The Foxy Lady is one of those Victory Drive clubs which have given Victory Drive a sordid reputation. Which reminds me: when does Bishop Ann Hardman plan to drive down the street, and start preaching to some of the customers?

The Jim Wetherington campaign could have handled this $400 discovery in several ways. For instance, it could have claimed Mrs. Adams and the Foxy Lady Lounge are obviously concerned about crime on Victory Drive. Maybe not necessarily vice, but crime....

Or Jim Wetherington could have announced plans to toughen the Columbus Police "vice squad," if he's elected mayor. That way, he could show he cannot be bought - so people standing on Victory Drive corners late at night shouldn't presume THEY can be, either.

Jim Wetherington even could have decided to return the $400 donation, or give a matching amount to a charity. That's what Republicans such as Alabama Governor Bob Riley have done, with campaign donations from Mark Foley. It's one time when it's seemingly OK for lawmakers to pass the bucks.

But in response to this discovery, Jim Wetherington made NO personal comment to the evening news. Instead, the campaign released a written statement noting the $400 donation from the Foxy Lady Lounge's owner was "legally made." Of course it was. So is buying prime real estate in another state, when you're the Georgia Governor....

The Jim Wetherington campaign statement also declared Columbus voters are more concerned about one million dollars in missing city landfill fees, than a $400 campaign donation from a steamy nightclub. In other words: my money problem is smaller than your money problem, so I win.

(If Jim Wetherington supporters follow this monetary logic, sales of Mega Millions tickets should soar today - and the Cash 3 drawing might as well be shut down.)

Supporters of Bob Poydasheff could spin all this the other way, of course. For one thing, Jim Wetherington has made public safety a big campaign issue -- although it's not as if the "exotic dancers" at the Foxy Lady are dancing outside, and distracting drivers.

Then there's another argument, which I didn't hear anyone bring up Monday. Wasn't Jim Wetherington once the headmaster of Calvary CHRISTIAN School? And then he takes campaign money from a nightclub owner?! Not even the Foxy Lady's dancers could make a turn like this -- even on a pole.

But when asked about the $400 donation from the Foxy Lady's owner, Mayor Bob Poydasheff chose NOT to comment at all to the evening news. You'll recall he promised to run for reelection on his own record. And besides, Fort Benning never put that club on its "off-limits" list for soldiers.

But if Bob Poydasheff isn't making a fuss out of the donation from the Foxy Lady's owner to his opponent, should anyone else? Keep in mind two summers ago, we came upon a "Bobby Peters for Judge" campaign poster stuck on the outside of the old Boom Boom Room - and look where he is today.

The timing of this disclosure was dreadful for Jim Wetherington, because he rolled out a new series of campaign commercials Monday. In one of them, he suggests the University of Georgia pay study and the thousands of dollars spent for a city slogan show a lack of "common sense." It's nice to know accepting money from a steamy Victory Drive dance club is sensible.

The Monday mumbling was not all good about Bob Poydasheff, either. Your blog heard a complaint that the mayor attended a funeral visitation recently - and while there, he spent some time on his cell phone campaigning. But it could have been worse. The incumbent could have asked if he was mentioned in the will of the deceased.

Then there are the Bob Poydasheff backers who may be too enthusiastic. I found a sticker for the incumbent on South Lumpkin Road - stuck on top of a sign backing Rickey Jones for the Muscogee County School Board. Then again, it's Jim Wetherington who talks about improving city-school relations....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Tonight's political forum at the Liberty Theater is still on - but the person who submitted that to us for Monday's entry wants to make a correction:

I'm sorry, my fingers got the best of me and man is my face red. The correct spelling is Mayoral. This is why we must proof read BEFORE we send e-mail out.

Yes, I agree with you - so maybe I shouldn't mention that your message misspelled "conjunction" as well.

Here at the blog, most of the time we post 'em the way we get 'em. So if you have a beef about local schools and you can't spell correctly in your complaint, you're adding to our daily joke count whether you realize it or not.

But to be fair - do you notice how many people mispronounce the word "mayoral?" They often add an extra "ee," to make it a four-syllable word. Maybe they're trying to avoid sounding like they're endorsing B. Merrill's restaurant.

Now what sort of news would others like to spread? Let's see....

Word in the gossip world has it that the radio air waves will be changing after the Nov. elections.

Could that be right? is there a revolt waiting in the wind...

Are we headed for 2 radio talk shows for the morning people?

Do we have that many people around the community that has that much time on their hands...(Uhmm hold on a minute - I'm on hold to speak on this station, you will have to wait until i get back on the other radio program).......

if this happens - callers need to be handed something like a credit card with a Time limit on it..when you call in - you have give your card number- when you reach you limit on either station - off the air you go until next months allotment..

I can see it now,,,an argument starts on one station, callers call the other station and give an update from the first one, then commnets air on the second station and then callers call back the first one and add fuel to it and then back to the second one -the emails are going so fast back and forth that the servers slowwaaay down ,,,wait,,wait,,wait,,

life in paradise goes on

I guess I'm not living in the "gossip world," because I hadn't heard this rumor. I'm still trying to figure out if Jennifer Aniston is available for a date.

First off to all of you in the gossip world -- are you aware there already ARE two morning radio talk shows in Columbus? Or did WSHE-AM kick "Duke and the Doctor" off the air?

Then there's the WDAK talk show "Viewpoint," which Mike Gaymon from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce hosts. But he only does that on Tuesdays. Imagine how many "Eye-Opener Breakfasts" he'd have to miss, serving as host five days a week.

So where might another Columbus radio talk show pop up? I'll join the guessing game -- how about former TalkLine co-host Antonio Carter going to WOKS? People who tune to that station to hear the blues could express some personally.

But if you're waiting for a two-channel debate between Columbus radio stations -- well, dream on. The Fox News Channel talkers only point fingers at CNN. They don't really borrow that channel's topics.

By the way, I like the idea about putting talk show callers on a time limit. Some radio hosts in other places did that years ago - before they started acting like Neal Boortz, and cutting off callers who made too much sense.

Now let's see if we can make sense of other Monday news:

+ Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama visited the new Summit Hospital in Phenix City. In an amazing election year development, a wing was NOT named in his honor.

+ Chemistry students at Glenwood School marked "National Mole Day." My brother is the family chemistry major, so I'm not sure exactly what this means -- but it's sure hard to beat the one on Cindy Crawford.

+ Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville spoke at the Columbus Quarterback Club. The weekly meeting was moved to 12:00 noon to accommodate him - which makes this club look a lot like the University of Buffalo.

+ Auburn University began a two-day conference on alternative energy sources. You may recall Auburn is a leading researcher of "switchgrass" - which sounds like it should describe the music career of Alison Krauss.

+ Outgoing Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox was named a spring semester lecturer, at the University of Georgia Law School. So if Mark Taylor becomes Governor, she'll still be a 90-minute drive away from him.

+ Two men pleaded guilty in Atlanta federal court to stealing trade secrets from Coca-Cola headquarters. It's too bad the secrets never came out - because we still don't know the difference between Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero.

+ Instant Message to the Ledger-Enquirer: Did you REALLY mean to do that? Did you mean to mark "Red Ribbon Week" by putting a half-page large picture on page one, of a woman standing in front of bottles of alcohol? I thought for a second you were bought out by The Edge Magazine.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $1.99 a gallon at Petro, Brown Avenue and Cusseta Road.... milk for $2.50 a gallon at Walgreens.... and on this "White Cane Day," I recommend a stylish one from Disco Fashions downtown....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Monday, October 23, 2006


With apologies to Tim Chitwood, it's a day for e-mailers to take our spotlight - beginning with one we've been meaning to address for a few days:

Hey..Glad you are back..did you get rejuvenated,reactivated and repatriated?

Why yes, in fact I.... hey, wait a minute! Repatriated?! I never once drove within 40 miles of Florida.

Jekyll Island is a very relaxing place, in part because there isn't much to do there. You can rent bicycles for only five dollars an hour, to ride on the island's extensive bike paths - and then you wonder why the professional-looking cyclists with helmets and tight-fitting uniforms are on the street, not using it.

Jekyll Island is about a 20-minute drive from St. Simons Island, and I joined a tour group which went there. We saw all kinds of historic places, stopping at the lighthouse near the Atlantic Ocean and Fort Frederica from the Revolutionary War. But the tour bus only drove by the expensive "starter home" of golfer Davis Love III.

(For you longtime blog readers - no, I did NOT ask around at St. Simons Island, to find the place where AFLAC's Dan Amos was married last year. I was on vacation, after all....)

The main reason for my trip to Jekyll Island was to attend a church convention. We heard ten sermons over an eight-day and eight-night span. You knew one minister was looking for something different, when he went through the Yellow Pages - and said the coming Kingdom of God will have no insurance agents. [True!]

The music coordinator at the convention selected me to sing several weeks in advance, at one of the services. So I worked on a song from my CD, and followed the sound crew's guidance by submitting my accompaniment track a day ahead of time. That way, the track could be tested for any problems - and I'd be forced to practice in my motel room in advance.

Then came performance day. I arrived 90 minutes before the service, as the sound crew requested - only to find the accompaniment track had disappeared. A hunt all around the edge of the sound tables found no sign of it. Did someone see it, consider my song doctrinally wrong and take it away to be burned?

"I'm never going to do sound work again," the man in charge of the sound table told me. He was frustrated by a variety of little glitches at this conference - such as the children's choir music earlier in the week. At least the children started singing the first song, when it was played by mistake a second time.

It turned out he was more concerned about the situation than I was. "I can sing without accompaniment," I told him. I've done this at worship services a few times - which is cost-efficient, when the main pianist in the congregation lives about 45 minutes away.

I went to the microphone on the platform and sang my song "a capella," as they say in the music business. I refuse to stoop to the cliched joke, and call it Acapulco....

There weren't many people in the hall for this sound check - but a woman who was there came up to the edge of the stage and told me I should sing it that way, with no accompaniment at all. "You were awesome," she told me. I was too occupied with the music to consider her a groupie.

Having passed the sound test, I walked across the street from the Jekyll Island convention center. The island's one official strip mall has an IGA grocery store, a modest seafood restaurant - and my stop, a Flash Foods convenience store. At about 9:00 a.m., I wanted milk to drink. A soda would NOT have settled down my stomach - and it probably would have made me burp during the song.

(I say "official" strip mall because the state of Georgia owns Jekyll Island, and leases all the land. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing any campaign signs on the island anywhere....)

With milk in hand, I walked back to my car - and someone suddenly approached me with my accompaniment track. A member of the sound team apparently tucked it away in a briefcase, and put it under a Bible. This sort of gave the phrase "hidden manna" a whole new meaning.

Armed with my CD track, I went back inside the convention center and went to the sound table. We practiced the song with the background track, and all went well. The only thing left was the service itself -- and the center's green room was empty, so all the musicians would have to be humble and rough it.

When the big moment came, I was introduced to sing "special music." I walked out from backstage to the microphone -- and the sound team began playing the wrong background track. I was using cut 13, on a CD with about 25 tracks. They started at cut 1. No, I was not prepared to give a full concert.

I simply shook my head no to the sound team, and some worshipers giggled. Another wrong cut played. I shook my head no again. Some people told ne later I was making faces -- but I actually was trying to keep smiling, and not say a word. Some people at my home congregation say I comment too much as a worship leader, anyway. And they don't even know I blog....

At last cut 13 began to play, and I nodded yes. But then the music stopped. I learned later there was confusion over remote controls for the CD player -- whether to press a "play" button, or an "enter" button. This is why I always learn how to personally touch electronic devices.

After about 30 seconds of waiting, I finally spoke. "Shall we go to Plan B?" The audience giggled again, hardly anyone knowing what would happen next. "Let's go to Plan B," I said quietly - then sang the song a capella, just as I'd done earlier in the morning. The first mistake of the day had worked to my advantage. But this does NOT mean you should forget to set your alarm clock.

The brochure for the church convention had strict rules of etiquette for the congregation, including NO applause for music. Yet when I finished, the audience at Jekyll Island applauded me anyway. They probably could not believe what I had done - singing the song, BEFORE walking off the stage. Hey, I was just following Kiri Te Kanawa's example....

"I'm glad he went to Plan B," the minister who gave the sermon said later - and everyone who came up to me afterward agreed. Some said it was God's will all along that I sing without an accompaniment. Perhaps God's will also was behind the hymn from the congregation which followed my song -- "Forgive and You Shall Be Forgiven." [True!]

E-MAIL UPDATE: We also have a follow-up to Sunday's message about PSAT exams in Muscogee County schools. The person who sent us that e-mail did some digging, and contacted us twice on Sunday:

DId the state dept of ed.help pay for the 9th graders to take the test?..don't think so...How can a test be valid when the material in question has not been offered? The state dept.treats the individual districts like they are wealthy...The person from the state that suggested that every 9th grader take the PSAT should have their head examinated or their pocket book...Wonder how many text books this money would buy....

I just checked the state of GA.dept of ed.site...The state pays for the PSAT..so multipy $16 by every 9th grader in the state...wow..a fortune... THe site also suggests that the test be given to 9th or 10th graders...So,why did MCSD pick the 9th grade when the test would not actually be valid as they have not had the material? What does taking the test on the 9th grade level prove?...When the state site says it will pay for the PSAT I wonder at what grade level and how many times for the same student in their high school career?

It's tempting to think the early PSAT work is due to the pressure of "No Child Left Behind" standards. But Georgia's students face exams well before ninth grade. Who knows, someday we may have a Pre-K-SAT.

At least we now know Muscogee County Schools apparently aren't paying for the PSAT exams. But remember, someone has to pay for all those pep rallies and pizza parties to get students psyched up for the tests....

At 15 days until Election Day, we also have this campaign note:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 6:00 pm.at the Liberty Theater, The Tri-City Young Professionals in Conjuction with The Urban League of Greater Columbus Inc. will host an open forum that will allow the community to ask questions of the Mayorial, City Council and School Board candidates.

I hope that you can make it.

I can't guarantee I'll be able to attend - but at least I'm invited, and I assume the public is as well. At least one debate in this campaign has been an "invitation and ticket only" affair. So I could understand a bit how Bert Coker felt.

Now let's check some news items from a spectacular Sunday:

+ The Columbus Museum opened a new exhibit, showing how wedding dresses have changed over the last century. People in Beverly Hills may have to wait a few years for a display like this -- presuming it's in Elizabeth Taylor's will.

+ A 50-mile, three-day walk against women's cancer ended at Atlanta's Piedmont Park. Once again, Columbus is left looking minor league - because we do well to have one 24-hour health walk a year, on a running track.

+ The new indoor football Columbus Lions held open tryouts at McClung Memorial Stadium. Now let me get this straight - the indoor football team had tryouts at an outdoor stadium, while the "outdoor football" Atlanta Falcons played inside in a domed stadium. And you wonder why people in other countries can't understand America....

+ Inside that domed stadium, Atlanta won a wild overtime game over Pittsburgh 41-38. The Falcons had the winning team, but the Steelers had the smarter coach. Calling a last-second timeout before a 56-yard field goal kick: genius. Changing kickers to someone who can't reach the goal post from 51 yards: not quite genius.

+ The new Bowl Championship Series rankings found West Virginia moving above Auburn, into fourth place. OK, West Virginia is unbeaten while Auburn is not. But how much was Auburn supposed to score against Tulane, 60 points?

+ Instant message to Jim Bowen of Premier Realtors: I saw your picture in the coupon mailing - but c'mon now. Do you REALLY expect me to think you're trying to sell the Government Center behind you?

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


Before we get to our topic, an apology is in order. Our Friday "Coming Soon" item was what we thought would be a blog exclusive - the story of a Troup County woman who endured last Sunday's Hawaiian earthquake. But it turns out the woman took an overnight flight from Honolulu to the mainland Saturday night, and learned about the quake at home watching CNN. Her sense of vision and timing must be better than mine....

Timing truly can be everything. I found that out Saturday night, along the Riverwalk. My thanks to whomever left a plastic McDonald's Monopoly cup along the Riverwalk, down the hill from Memorial Stadium. Not only did I run 3.25 miles non-stop - you paid me off for it, with free medium fries.

Somehow that big plastic cup was missed during Saturday's cleanup of the Chattahoochee River. It was "Help the Hooch" Day, with dozens of volunteers
picking up trash in and along the river. How nice of them to give the prison inmates a day off....

Would you believe last year, the Help the Hooch weekend collected 145,000 pounds of trash? Why, this weight almost matches that of the population in Pittsview - but you'd have to determine how many of those people are trashy.

Trash collectors say they found all sorts of strange things in the Chattahoochee River this year:

+ The inside of a washing machine. Look hard enough, and someone might have found a matching gerbil.

+ A printer. Throwing it in the river is NO way to reactivate the dried-out ink in your cartridges.

+ Several computers. You wondered what police did with the machines seized from child pornography suspects....

The people involved in "Help the Hooch" later went to Golden Park for lunch. From what I could tell, no one volunteered to clean up THAT place -- because the temporary fence is still up in center field.

Down the parking lot, the Columbus Civic Center also was involved in improving the environment. It was "Hazardous Household Waste Day," with people dropping off all sorts of dangerous chemicals. So how many quitters left cigarettes and cigars?

It only occurs to me as I write this that Help the Hooch weekend occurs exactly six months before Earth Day. I'm not sure why the two events aren't put together. Maybe Riverfest has needed all the giant trash cans in recent years.

Speaking of the water, did you see the fish a child caught in Columbus Saturday? Brandon Fortson says he reeled in a brim weighing eight pounds, three ounces! That's a brim full, and running over....

Brandon Fortson and his dad think they've set a world record, for the biggest brim. That's in terms of weight, of course. I've seen romantic Mexican singers with VERY big brims, on their sombreros.

E-MAIL UPDATE: This message is testy, in a couple of ways....

MCSD just wasted $16 per test for the PSAT to be administered to every freshman in the district..I was there on the day it was given in one local high school..9th graders are much to young and have not been exposed to the material covered by the test..They were marking patterns on the bubble sheet, because they had never had the subjects tested..Who had this bright idea?...multiply every 9th grader by $16 comes to over $300,000..The cost is probably more than the number of freshmen I guessed for MCSD...

I believe I was a high school junior when I took the PSAT exam years ago - and it was voluntary. So maybe Muscogee County Schools gave it early, to sort out the geniuses from the potential art majors.

But at post time, I checked the Georgia Department of Education web site -- and it actually encourages ninth-graders to take the PSAT "for practice." So, Mr. or Ms. Complainer, the state officials probably would say "psat on you."

Put down your pencils now, for a quick review of news from the last couple of days:

+ Columbus candidates gathered for another "forum," this time at Greater Peace Baptist Church. The Pastor refused to declare which candidate for mayor would best live up to the church's name.

+ The reward increased to $6,000, in the search for whomever cut the brake line on Alabama House candidate Cindy Irvin's SUV. Opponent Lesley Vance even is offering a reward - since it doesn't matter if his funeral home sees Irvin's family sooner or later.

+ A Russell County convenience store was robbed, and Sheriff's Lieutenant Heath Taylor told WRBL: "The suspect did not draw his weapon; he brandished the weapon." After checking a dictionary, I'm not really sure of the difference. Did the suspect simply walk in waving a gun -- like he was desperate to sell it at a pawn shop?

+ Ground finally was broken for the Kia factory in West Point. The sign on stage at the ceremony had the Kia slogan: "The power to surprise." I guess this is how they're explaining the arrests of executives in South Korea, on corruption charges.

(One of the people who sold land for the Kia factory told a reporter, "It's always good to be part of history." May that man never say that to a survivor of a Nazi death camp....)

+ The Northern Little League All-Stars visited the pediatrics section of Columbus Regional, in an act of "community service." Huh?! I hope these baseball players aren't already acting like major leaguers, and getting arrested.

(I was about to ask if it was time to take down the congratulation signs for the Northern All-Stars. It's been nearly two months since they won the Little League World Series. But with Saturday's appearance and more on the way, those signs might not come down until the new season starts in April.)

+ Atlanta pitcher Chuck James returned to Chattahoochee Valley Community College. James revealed to WRBL he's still working in an off-season job, installing windows and doors in the Atlanta area. You'd think a pitcher would be moving the fences back at Turner Field....

+ Carver handled Harris County 35-13 in high school football, to advance to 7-0 on the season. When the Carver Tigers have a better record than the Auburn University Tigers AND Auburn has only one loss, it may be time for a Georgia High School Association investigation.

+ Instant Message to Piggly Wiggly: Aw c'mon - "SANTA-palooza?!" In mid-October?!?! The pumpkin crop this year must be even worse than I've heard it is....

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Friday, October 20, 2006


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

You'd think the Presiding Elder at the church I attend would know better. Several times he's noticed something helpful I've done at a service and said, "You're a good man, Richard."

"No, I'm not," I politely tell him back. After three or four rounds of this, it starts to sink in - sort of like slowly learning the best ways around traffic jams during rush hour.

On the other hand, I really don't expect my co-workers to know better. One came to me a few weeks ago and said, "You're a good man."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not."

I think this co-worker was about to become exasperated - but I didn't dare turn away from my computer and toward him. He might have waited until we were face-to-face to tell me what he really thinks.

But at that moment of verbal standoff, something apparently clicked in the head of another co-worker sitting next to me. This person openly admits not knowing much about religion and the Bible - but she said, "I think the good has a capital G." That was very close. But it was a good try - with a small g.

Why do I deny I'm a good man, when people tell me that? I know people mean it as a compliment, but I know myself better than that. I've come to learn it the hard way - for example, when the compliments come only from men and not single women.

I came to realize I'm NOT a good man after reading something Jesus said to a stranger. The young man called Jesus a "Good Master" in the King James Bible - but Jesus answered, "There is none good but one, that is, God...." None?! Yeow, not even the candidates running for mayor?

Some people today might read these verses, and declare Jesus has serious self-esteem problems. But He merely was giving credit to Someone better, while talking to the young man. Compared with God, we're all pretty small and pretty bad. For instance, He can make a human in six days while most couples take nine months.

But here's the thing: the Bible indicates Jesus WAS God - even when he told this young man there's none good but God. Maybe He was testing the young man, to see if he knew who was making this comment. Or maybe He was showing a "good" amount of humility - something ordinary humans all too often forget to do. Or even Terrell Owens....

Looking back at the day when I surprised that co-worker by denying I was good -- it turns out I upset him about an hour later, over a very different matter. So the entire day should have proved my point to him. But claiming my thinking about NOT being good IS really good would have only caused confusion.

I wish you a good weekend, and appreciate your good comments about topics we mention on this blog. But please don't be offended, if I stop short of declaring YOU are good. Maybe if you write a thought-provoking Bible, that might change....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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Thursday brought a day-night doubleheader in the race for Columbus Mayor. There was a mock election at a grade school, then an evening debate at the RiverCenter. Can you guess which one of the three announced candidates dared to face questions from the students?

The RiverCenter debate was the main political event, since it was billed as the only televised debate of the mayor's race. But it was NOT the main event in the building - as the larger Bill Heard Theater was booked for a "radio theater." And we hope write-in candidate Bert Coker was allowed on stage for that one, at least....

Inside the RiverCenter's little theater, Incumbent Bob Poydasheff painted the mayor's race as a clash between "the past and the future." Yet panelist Richard Hyatt pointed out Poydasheff is 76 years old, while Jim Wetherington is 69 -- and besides, is either candidate on Myspace or YouTube?

Bob Poydasheff dismissed Jim Wetherington as someone who would send Columbus "back into the past." Oh no - if we change mayors, all that annoying Streetscape work is going to be torn up.

Challenger Jim Wetherington made it sound as if his main issue has widened from public safety pay to city finances overall. He said before the debate a criminal investigation is possible, of missing fees from the city landfill. So the first police officers he hires as mayor could be detectives....

Jim Wetherington warned the missing million dollars in landfill fees could cost the city of Columbus, in terms of its bond rating. Bob Poydasheff said later the city has a AA bond rating - which means it's still a full level above the Columbus Catfish baseball team.

Bob Poydasheff replied when you consider Columbus has a $163 million city budget, one lost million in landfill fees "really.... is no problem." I hope he doesn't use that same numerical logic, when it comes to abortion in this country....

The incumbent tried to minimize the damage from missing landfill fees, by saying it amounts to "$100,000 a year over ten years." If Bob Poydasheff loses the election, he has a great future selling sweepstakes offers.

Jim Wetherington revealed during the debate he's met with City Manager Isaiah Hugley and Police Chief R.T. Boren (the nameplate on his desk). Yet he said if he's elected mayor, he'll have to "find out what shape city finances are in." Won't any city official let him look at a budget book? Doesn't he know they're in the reference section of the main public library?

The challenger declared at one point in the debate: "I'm not in favor of raising taxes, period." But Jim Wetherington said a sales tax vote might be necessary, if he discovers Columbus city finances really are in bad shape. With talk like this, maybe the tax money should go in a "hedge fund."

When it comes to the Columbus city payroll, Bob Poydasheff assured viewers he'll "continue to march to the tune of the University of Georgia." We expect the local chapter of the Auburn Alumni Association to endorse Jim Wetherington sometime today.

But even here, the mayoral candidates had different views. Jim Wetherington noted city employees currently are paid at 92 percent of the University of Georgia's pay plan recommendations. He wants to push that to 100 percent - even though he should know from his time at Calvary Christian School that a score of 92 is still an "A."

Jim Wetherington addressed what he called a "whispering campaign" around Columbus, that he wants to fire City Manager Isaiah Hugley. "I told Isaiah that he doesn't have anything to worry about," Wetherington declared. If I were Deputy City Managers David Arrington and Lisa Goodwin, I'd be a little nervous about that....

Bob Poydasheff noted he nominated Isaiah Hugley for the City Manager position, and declared: "I'm sticking with him." So who started the whispers about Mr. Hugley possibly getting fired? Is Mark Taylor's "truth squad" out of ways to find fault with Sonny Perdue?

What about Columbus public safety? Mayor Bob Poydasheff said if the city was unsafe, Fort Benning would not be expanding operations. Didn't the U.S. military debunk that sort of thinking Thursday, in terms of bringing peace to Baghdad?

Besides, the incumbent said, crime in Columbus is at the "same ratio" today as it was when Jim Wetherington was police chief. Bob Poydasheff never explained what ratio he meant -- but it probably isn't compared to the number of police officers.

But former police chief Jim Wetherington told the debate audience the last four years have brought a "dramatic rise in serious crime." And I thought my neighbor in the apartment complex had his BB gun out Thursday afternoon to shoot birds....

Jim Wetherington says he's already talked with Police Chief R.T. Boren about how to fill dozens of open public safety positions. But he did NOT say if any agreements or plans were worked out. The sooner Caribbean cruise ship rooms can be booked for new hires, the better the city probably will be.

Both candidates for mayor offered interesting quotes during the debate. For instance, Bob Poydasheff declared "Columbus South is on the march." Oh yeah - the S.O.A. Watch protest IS only a few weeks away, isn't it?

(Mayor Poydasheff cited as an example of a "marching" Columbus South the new church building Bishop Ann Hardman has near Victory Drive. As if the city is trying to recruit congregations away from Ladonia?!)

Asked what he would do about South Columbus, Jim Wetherington replied: "Our citizens are the best thing going for us...." Hmmmm - some might take that to mean a payroll tax on workers who commute from Harris County.

Jim Wetherington told the audience ever since he was police chief, his goal has been to "make sure our citizens are treated special." OK, here's the standard to match - in January 2003, Bob Poydasheff had an all-comers inaugural buffet.

The mayoral candidates suggested they have different approaches, when it comes to leadership. Jim Wetherington promised he'll "look over people's shoulders when I need to." I don't know about you, but it annoys me when people do that when I'm on a public library computer.

In response, Bob Poydasheff said he takes a "servant leader" approach to the mayor's office - letting other people do their jobs, instead of doing the jobs for them. So how is the city functioning, with those recent cuts in positions?

Richard Hyatt of the Ledger-Enquirer seemed to have the most original questions at the debate. His last one touched on something which has crossed my mind in recent days - what's being done to attract younger voters. It's almost as if the main mayoral candidates are ignoring them. Or have you noticed Bo Callaway endorsing Bob Poydasheff on TV, instead of the Northern Little League All-Stars?

Jim Wetherington had an interesting reply to that question about younger voters. He suggested the mayor's salary be increased in years to come -- after he's out of office, he quickly added. C'mon, chief, that didn't stop Isaiah Hugley awhile back....

Backers of Bert Coker were unhappy that the write-in candidate was left out of Thursday night's televised debate. But Coker gained a small victory earlier in the day, when he won a mock election of students at Martin Luther King Elementary school. Now THAT'S the way to go after younger voters - even if they're several years too young.

The staff at M.L.K. Elementary invited all the mayoral candidates to its mock election day, but only Bert Coker showed up. It's tempting to say his appearance tainted the students' vote - but then again, a write-in candidate encourages youngsters to have good penmanship.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Before Thursday's debate began, we received a message with election thoughts -- apparently in general:

Is it me .

Have people forgot how to run for a political position.

They must have, when you listen to ones that are "So called" running for a spot they basically have no clue as to what they are really suppose to be doing.

They give you a line of B. S. that makes you feel like you're a cat in a dog's world.

You asked them another question and God forbid what comes out of their mouth..

This must be the direction this country is headed because it is among many that are running this year "No common sense".

We need this- before someone can sign up to run for anything in the future that they take a test to see if they are too bright for the seat they want to run for, this will let the voters know ahead of time to use caution when approaching this candidate to ask anything for them to respond too.

and this one

cannot wait for the Nov. election to be over so that we can go back to complaining about things that we were complaining about to start with.

If the candidates aren't running for office properly, maybe we should give them some pointers. Step one: kiss the babies, and shake the hands of the grownups. Please do not get this confused....

That's an interesting idea, to have political candidates take some sort of IQ test. After all, we expect that of future candidates already. It's called "No Child Left Behind."

But if you think about it, an aptitude test for political candidates probably would be ruled unconstitutional. They barred that sort of thing across the South for voters long ago, so it's only fair....

Now let's step away slowly from the ballot box, and consider other headlines from Thursday:

+ The Russell County School Board voted 4-3 to hire Barbour County's Vivian Carter as Superintendent. Some people spoke up in protest after the vote, and law officers had to intervene to keep order. How strange -- for a change, Russell County parents might have been arrested instead of teachers.

(The 4-3 vote was along racial lines. The African-American school board members voted for Vivian Carter. The Euro-American board members voted against her. I'm not sure we have can have "One Russell County" as long as Phenix City is the county seat.)

+ Columbus Planning Director Rick Jones told WRBL plans are on the drawing board for an east-west version of the Riverwalk, from 14th Street to Psalmond Road. But that project will require several things first. Step one: build a river....

+ The Florida Seals edged the Columbus Cottonmouths 4-3 in a pre-season game. You could tell the regular season hasn't started yet at the Civic Center - because the boards had no advertising on them whatsoever. [True!]

COMING SOON: A local woman's downright shaky situation....

Thousands of visitors read this blog every month, in Columbus and around the world. To advertise to them, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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