Friday, November 30, 2007


"It's time to trade in your briefcase for a suitcase," the outside of the envelope told me Thursday. These people obviously don't know how I pack for a vacation. You've got to have something to hold your important papers, hide your traveler's checks - and, once in a great while, even carry a map.

BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: Today is the final day of a month-long experiment we began here 1 November. A survey company asked me to collect all the credit card offers I received in the mail, and pass them along. So to explain our title - well, I received five offers. This single guy is simply dreaming with the "stud" part.

After a slow start, two more offers have landed in the mailbox this week. Let's start with the one which came Thursday. Capital One promises me a business card with bonus miles to "fly on any airline with no blackout dates." As you may know, using reward points on some airlines is a bit like playing blackout bingo....

But can Capital One really live up to this promise? Delta Air Lines is changing its rules this weekend, to make some flights completely off-limits for reward points. This proves President Bush is a lame-duck -- because he changed the rules for Thanksgiving to make travel easier.

Capital One's offer gives me a choice of six different credit card designs. The "Harvest" design shows a combine on a farm, which would appeal to a Midwesterner like me. The "World of Business" design shows a globe with dollar signs on it - for business owners who are really greedy.

Earlier in the week, I had a credit card offer "double play" - as two offers arrived on the same day. Bank of America tempted me on its envelope by asking: "Want your credit card balances at zero, while possibly saving money every month?" I thought the two went hand-in-hand - with a thing called interest.

But a closer look shows Bank of America really was NOT offering me a credit card. Instead, it proposed combining my credit card debts into "an unsecured loan of up to $30,000 at competitive non-variable rates." Writing one check a month instead of three sounds a bit more secure, actually....

Yet the fine print of this loan offer reveals the "non-variable rates" actually seem to vary. My initial annual percentage rate would range from nine to 22 percent - but: "if you fail to pay any minimum monthly payment by the Payment Due Date, we may increase your APR up to a Default APR of 27.99%." So if you violate the non-variable, you'll vary much wish you hadn't.

The second envelope had a more traditional credit card offer inside. It promises on the back: "CHASE FREEDOM." Oh please - Kansas lost to Missouri in college football last weekend because quarterback Chase Daniel had too much freedom.

This Chase "rewards card" dares to promise me "$100 cash back after your first purchase." One six-inch Subway sandwich would mean a payoff of more than 16 to one....

This deal sounds too good to be true -- and sure enough, there's a footnote on that sentence about $100 cash back from Chase. Yet on the back, the fine print assures me I would receive "$100 in bonus rebates, which can be redeemed for a $100 check." Forget the sandwich - do they accept credit cards at casinos?

But alas, the fine print also includes this sentence: "The bonus offer is valid only for first-time cardmembers with new accounts." I have two credit cards through Chase already, so I doubt I'd qualify for that 100-dollar special. Especially since my name actually was spelled correctly on the letter....

I should note the letter from a Chase Card Services Executive Vice President includes a box, telling me how to stop receiving "prescreened" credit card offers. The terms and conditions page explains I received this one because I met "certain criteria." That probably means I'm a living, breathing adult.

So assuming no more credit card mailings come Friday, our one-month experiment will conclude with five offers in 30 days. That computes to 61 in a year - enough to decorate all of them into a deck of playing cards, with a few jokers left over.

P.S. If you thought today's title referred to our Thursday "poker night," you might want to know I came in third at Lil Kim's Cove this week. I've had a top-five finish in four of my last six sessions -- so I'm almost ready to call my alma mater, and see if they want to start a Kansas Jayhawk poker team.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our Thursday Instant Message apparently confused one reader -- but then again, it may not have been directed at that reader:

I don't see the "Babe of the Day" listed anywhere on the WDAK website, thought "Babe of the Day" is available through the "cc-common" (Clear Channel Common Folder) to any and all radio station websites:

H**k, even WSHE has it on their website, because of cc-common:

The "babe-a-rama" apparently is well hidden on those other station web sites. It would have to be hidden at AM-1270 WSHE - not because the station plays Southern gospel music, but because Jim Foster might faint at the sight of all those bikinis.

But go to the home page of WDAK Radio, and the "babe-o-link" is in plain sight. It's right below the link to Fox News coverage of "You Decide 2008." I think we know what most guys visiting the web site decided to click on first....

Another reader has an unusual request for us:

One of the debate teachers at the total magnet school tells the class that it is not in his job description to "care"....Can you check on that????

Thinking back to my high school debate teacher, he cared about my well-being at times. But during the main season, he cared more about winning records and tournaments -- which put him on a plane with the boys' basketball coach.

We're not sure which debate teacher this is -- but we went to the Muscogee County Schools' list of job openings Thursday night. There isn't really much there, in the way of job descriptions. But if "care" isn't in the qualifications section for day tutors, why should it be there for quick-thinking and fast-talking young debaters?

One more e-mail to the blog is being held, pending a phone call. So in the meantime, let's check the Thursday news headlines:

+ A grand opening ceremony was held for the "Ma Rainey Blues Museum" on Fifth Avenue. But wait a minute - didn't they have another grand opening ceremony for this museum 15 months ago? [1 Sep 06] Is it going to have an "opening day" every year? This is a museum, not a baseball team....

(WLTZ noted Ma Rainey only lived in the museum house for the last four years of her life. If the attendance there in the last year is any indication, we won't need to start a Rainey Tour of Homes.)

+ A boiler blew up at G&S Metals in Manchester, injuring seven people. The tremor from the explosion could be felt for miles - and a few people probably thought the new BRAC soldiers had arrived, to start training at Fort Benning.

+ A WRBL special report looked at the unsolved murder of Muscogee County Superintendent James Burns 15 years ago. Newcomers to Columbus simply can't believe the "Who Killed Mr. Burns?" plot line on "The Simpsons" was based on a true story....

(One long-time Columbus resident has told me police bungled the investigation of the James Burns killing in 1992. That person didn't tell me what detectives did wrong - but at least they haven't tried to link it to Carlton Gary.)

+ The annual "Night of Lights" ceremony was held at the Phenix City Amphitheater, ending with a fireworks show. As I heard the explosions several blocks from my home, I figured out a reason why they don't shoot them at "God Bless Fort Benning." It's spelled P-T-S-D.

+ The web site "Sports 360" station reported Tommy Tuberville will leave Auburn University, to become Arkansas's head football coach. Say WHAT?!?! If Tuberville moves to the Hogs, that might be enough to make half of Alabama finally switch to barbecued beef.

(Auburn's Athletic Director said no one from Arkansas has asked for permission to talk with Tuberville. Someone needs to tell this man that head coaches have agents these days, too.)

+ The Georgia High School Association announced new sports classifications for 2008-09. Spencer High School is dropping from AAA to AA - proving Carver and Shaw are scared to death by that 5-5 football season.

(But seriously: Spencer is dropping one division in high school sports based on its enrollment. The deployment of Fort Benning's Third Brigade to Iraq may have affected this - or maybe all the potential dropouts have been moved out of Baker Village.)

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: At least one strike in New York is over - as Broadway shows reopened Thursday night, thanks to a tentative contract agreement with stage hands. And at least the stage hands were carrying picket signs, so they stayed in practice....

+ Tabloid TV shows aired video of Julia Roberts forcing a member of the paparazzi to the side of a road. Roberts went to the driver's window, and gave him a lecture about being near a school. So?! Most schools only teach photography skills to the high school newspaper or yearbook staffs.

+ A British schoolteacher was ordered jailed in Sudan for 15 days, then deported. The teacher was found guilty of allowing second-grade children to name a stuffed bear after the prophet Muhammad. I'm never seen such protection of Teddy Roosevelt's good name in my life....

+ Scotland unveiled a new tourism slogan, after six months of research which cost $250,000. The new slogan is "Welcome to Scotland." [True/] Suddenly the Columbus Chamber of Commerce feels a lot better about "What progress has preserved."

+ The Atlantic hurricane season ends today, with only six tropical storms becoming named hurricanes. The final estimate from forecasters in Colorado was for nine - so if happen to run into these weather experts, make a wager with them on pro football games.

+ A Food and Drug Administration report warned 150,000 people die in the U.S. each year from eating too much salt. It recommends restaurants reduce the amount of sodium in their diets - but millions of people were pleased to see it stopped short of suggesting a ban on margaritas.

+ A branch of the World Health Organization announced it will add work on overnight shifts to the list of potential cancer-causing agents. This doesn't surprise me - because I've learned from experience an all-night shift produces drowsiness and blurred vision.

+ A Massachusetts man may be disqualified from winning one million dollars in the state lottery. The reason: he's on probation for bank robbery. How dare this man show up the lottery -- which steals money from low-income people on a regular basis.

+ A publicist revealed actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is engaged to actor Ross McCall. In related news, the number of males watching "Ghost Whisperer" tonight is projected to drop by 75 percent.

+ Jennie Garth told "Entertainment Tonight" fellow "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Helio Castroneves actually broke off his engagement months ago. The news only came out Wednesday, after he won - so his next reality show appearance probably will be on "Celebrity Poker Showdown."

+ The Family Television Award for best actor was given to "High School Musical" star Zac Efron. Co-star Vanessa Hudgens was locked in a close battle for the actress who most needs to keep her clothes on.

+ Dallas beat Green Bay in a big Thursday night football game, 34-27. Packer quarterback Brett Favre revealed after the game he had a separated shoulder - and it could be separated as far as Green Bay is from the Super Bowl in Phoenix.

+ Basketball's Boston Celtics embarrassed the New York Knicks 104-59. This game was SO embarrassing that Boston fans started their own chant about the Knicks coach, aimed toward the ownership - "Keep Isaiah."

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007


Today's title is borrowed from a greeting card a friend gave me years ago. Well, it goes deeper than that. It came from a woman I once dated, but didn't feel ready to marry. She was happy that I simply showed up at a church dinner-dance - and probably that I didn't cause a scene, by begging her to come back.

But the two chairs today are not for me. They're for Elonda Floyd - the Columbus woman who had a motorized wheelchair stolen from her driveway Monday morning. That wheelchair was found late Wednesday, hours after a local woman donated her another one. I've heard of a two-car garage, but a two-chair living room?!

You may recall Elonda Floyd was injured by a hit-and-run driver last January in St. Petersburg, Florida. She was chaperoning a group of Carver High School students at a parade. She wound up losing a leg, and developed infections at a hospital. So to see Floyd in her living room wearing an "I'm Blessed" T-shirt is more than a little shocking....

Elonda Floyd rolled her wheelchair down a specially-built ramp outside her home Monday morning, and left it in the driveway while she drove her children to school. While she was away, the chair disappeared -- taken by someone who may have misunderstood the commercials, and wanted some holiday chair.

Neighbors reported someone had been spying Elonda Floyd's chair for days, before it was taken. What did those joyriders at The Ralston start, several years ago?

Elonda Floyd called police about the theft, then called local newsrooms asking them to make an appeal for the wheelchair. "Anyone who knows my story would know I need that," she said. But that's the paradox. If Floyd put her story out in the front yard, the wheelchair might stay - but people would think she's on an ego trip.

One of the people who saw Elonda Floyd's story on television was a woman named Mrs. Lowrey. She says she became disabled herself, when she was mugged outside her home late last year. This is the strangest case of "misery loves company" I've seen in a long time....

But anyway: Mrs. Lowrey had a motorized wheelchair to spare, so she donated it to Elonda Floyd Wednesday. She even rode it into Floyd's living room, moving the recipient to tears. But TV cameras never showed whether Floyd kicked the wheelchair's tires, to make sure they were good.

Elonda Floyd not only gained a new wheelchair Wednesday - she gained a new friend in Mrs. Lowrey. They plan to keep in touch with each other. And who knows -- they might inspire the start of a "wheelchair patrol" to guard against crime. If they do, Uptown Columbus probably will be watching it closely....

Columbus Police found Elonda Floyd's stolen wheelchair at a pawn shop. Many people probably wish the thief would get his own chair - an electric one, at the state prison in Jackson.

Police officers plan to return Elonda Floyd's stolen wheelchair to her shortly. I assume detectives are processing it for evidence first. Fingerprint checks are standard in a case like this - but since it's a wheelchair, suspects might be brought in for a possible (ahem) derriere match. Please, Chief Boren, don't post those pictures on the police web site....

Now let's stand and deliver some other Wednesday news:

+ A member of the United Nations Committee Against Torture spoke at Fort Benning's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. This apparently means the fence at the Fort Benning Road entrance is down for another year.

(Dr. Claudio Grossman told WRBL his United Nations committee has never been asked to investigate whether WHINSEC is involved with torture. This apparently proves something else - the people who run SOA Watch are part-time amateurs, compared to Amnesty International.)

+ WLTZ reported traffic delays are occurring on J.R. Allen Parkway, because of construction on the new Gateway Drive Wal-Mart. That's the way to get customers ready to use the store's auto repair center....

+ WFXE-FM "Foxie 105" presented a "girl power" rally at East Columbus Magnet Academy - shortly before the evening news reported on a decline in the number of African-American men going to college. So they basically held a rally to tell young women what many of them already know?!

+ Two employees of an Athens, Alabama Hardee's restaurant were arrested, on charges of stealing $6,000 worth of meat. In Hardee's math, this translates to enough meat to make 1,500 "Six-Dollar Burgers."

+ Georgia Southwestern State surprised Columbus State in men's college basketball 82-81. C.S.U. thought it had made a game-winning shot at the buzzer, but the officials ruled it came too late. The first report of "referee blindness" came unusually early this season.

+ Instant Message to WDAK radio: Why didn't you tell me this before? You're probably the only "Newsradio" station in the country to post a "Babe of the Day" on your web site. I mean, Fox News Channel hasn't even gone that far -- and between Megan Kelly and Jane Skinner, it could.

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: The Republican Presidential candidates had one of those "YouTube" debates Wednesday night. We don't know if the talking snowman submitted a question this time -- but since the debate was in Florida, CNN was more likely to get a question from a giant dancing tangerine.

(Thousands of people submitted video questions for the debate - including actor Kirk Douglas. He apparently has to take this route, because a "Debating with the Stars" night on the E channel could be lost to a long writers' strike.)

+ Before the debate, Republican candidate Mike Huckabee was endorsed by the son of the late Jerry Falwell. Huckabee told reporters about his rise in Iowa polls: "When people pray, things happen." It sounds like Rudolph Giuliani supporter Pat Robertson has been too busy to get on his knees.

+ Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf officially gave up command of the armed forces, in a full-scale ceremony. He called his military uniform his "second skin." So this whole state of emergency declaration was Pakistan's version of a "Skins Game"?!

+ O.J. Simpson pleaded NOT guilty in Las Vegas to all 12 counts against him. But he stopped short of the 1994 declaration that he was "100 percent not guilty" - so the prosecutors must have something here.

+ RJR announced it will stop all print ads for cigarettes next year. About all that's left for Joe Camel will be to make personal appearances at convenience stores and bars.

+ A legislative hearing was held on Massachusetts, on a proposal to ban spanking. Isn't it amazing how times have changed? This state once put witches on trial - and now they're talking about doing the same thing to Puritans.

+ New "Dancing with the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves confirmed his engagement is off, because his bride-to-be dumped him. I don't think it was because he was paired with a gorgeous dancer for months. It's because Castroneves is an IndyCar champion, who refuses to switch to NASCAR.

+ Motorcycle legend Evel Knievel announced he's settled a federal lawsuit against Kanye West. Knievel filed suit after West imitated him in a music video last year. He should be thankful West remembered him in the first place....

+ A LaCrosse, Wisconsin doctor delivered four sets of twins in a 24-hour period. If anyone deserves to appear in a "double meat" Dominos Pizza commercial, it's this man.

+ The agent for Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams announced he's out for the season with a torn chest muscle. His big comeback lasted a total of six plays - and to make matters worse, a chest injury means he can't inhale marijuana very deeply during his recovery.

+ New University of Mississippi football coach Houston Nutt addressed supporters, and brought loud applause when he said: "The way you spell fun is W-I-N." This will NOT help Mississippi's reputation for low test scores....

(I don't want to say the Mississippi football fans are slow - but Houston Nutt was presented a team jersey at a media event. He's going to coach, not play.)

E-MAIL UPDATE: Tuesday's "Blog of America" noted how the 1992 version of Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" looked a lot like WLTZ's Miller Robson. That led to this....


Your comment made me laugh. I may have his chin, but I'd rather have his money!!!!!

Take care.


I'd be satisfied these days with one of Leno's classic cars. It probably would have more horsepower than my aging Honda - not to mention a fully-working radio.

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1835 (+ 42, 2.3%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It's a bit early for our year-end "things I didn't know" list, but a good candidate came up Tuesday at Columbus Council. Columbus has three city ponds - numbered one, two and three. Why they haven't been named Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, I'm really not sure....

The focus at a Columbus Council work session was on Pond #2, located behind the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center. The staff calls it "Beaver Pond," because a beaver family lives nearby. In fact, that's what all the fuss is about - Oxbow Meadows wants to leave it to beavers.

But Columbus city officials want to use Beaver Pond for something else - the disposal of inert natural waste, such as tree limbs. The city owns the pond, so it has every right to do that. But Columbus State University runs Oxbow Meadows, and officials there are opposed. We're now waiting for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to speak for the beavers, and break this tie.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley told WRBL Beaver Pond is vital to city waste disposal. That's because Pond #1 will be full of natural waste in about seven years. I'm not sure where Pond #1 is - but between tree limbs and drought, are we sure it even exists anymore?

The City Manager says without the use of Beaver Pond for natural waste, the Columbus city landfill will reach capacity much sooner than planned. So try to avoid paying those landfill fees, while there's still time....

But the people who run Oxbow Meadows are against the city using Beaver Pond behind their center for a landfill. I don't quite understand why. Wouldn't all those tree limbs give the beavers endless hours of fun things to do?

Columbus State University scientists even say the presence of a natural-waste landfill would make it reluctant for them to keep operating Oxbow Meadows. Maybe if the city painted the front end loaders in camouflage colors....

The city of Columbus is offering to sell Beaver Pond to Columbus Stare University, but C.S.U. officials said Tuesday they can't afford that. That statement must have made people smile at Columbus South Inc. -- because property values in that part of town must be skyrocketing.

(Then again, maybe there's another reason why Beaver Pond is so expensive - Columbus water rates are about to jump.)

University officials hint a compromise could be worked out for Beaver Pond - with the city keeping control, but Oxbow Meadows leasing it long-term. That didn't impress Councilor Mimi Woodson, who said Columbus State University has taken plenty of land off city tax rolls already. At least C.S.U. could allow hot dog carts on the RiverArts campus.

I've lived in Columbus long enough that I can almost predict how this pond dispute will be resolved. Some anonymous donor will provide money for Oxbow Meadows to buy Beaver Pond. But the way this year has gone, the Education Park Coalition might go to court arguing the pond isn't green enough.

I've driven by Oxbow Meadows a couple of times, but admittedly have never stopped there for a visit. It's known as a refuge for exotic birds, snakes, fish - and even a well-hidden alligator. Maybe the answer is a merger with Wild Animal Safari, and a "giraffe loaner" program.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Uh-oh - the title of this message is, "The 'Yahoo from Texas":

Let's go into definitions for starters! My dictionary defines officious as:arrogant, and nincompoop as a blockhead! Mr. Perry is all bluster - remind yourself - That he "threatened" you at one time. What happened to all that bravado - when you walked through his door?

As for Yeehaw from Texas [25 Nov], I guess that his monicker is a derivitave of Yahoo which means clown. I don't have a bit of trouble reading or understanding your BLOG, maybe you ought to write with more of a Texas drawl!! If that "Dude" from Texas doesn't like what he reads on your BLOG maybe he can find one closer to home! I wonder why all of your correspondents use aliases? anything written without a signature is just so much Charmin! Anyway - you are reaching out - all the way to Texas!!

Be assured Sir Richard - you are widely read in "Hurt'sboro" it's just the same old story - folks just don't want to stand out in the open.

As to the beggers, the one you met in "Hurt'sboro caught my attention - it was ironic - that you were accosted by R----- B---y. He could have given you an earful!!

Finally. Don't let ol' Yeehaw discourage you; he probably thinks irony is something you get done at a Chinese laundry!

Constable R.J. Schweiger

This Constable has been taking on the status quo in Hurtsboro for a long time, but he's really asking for it now. He's daring to mess with Texas -- and he doesn't live anywhere near Oklahoma.

I had an e-mail account with Yahoo years before I started writing jokes. So if I guess this "clown" made a good online choice. Now if I had only been foolish enough to invest money in Yahoo stock....

Write with a Texas drawl?! Would most people understand that? It took me a few seconds years ago to figure out a bumper sticker I saw for one Texas city: "Foat Wuth, Ah Luv Yew." [True!]

If you don't appreciate our writers using aliases, keep something in mind - several East Alabama bloggers seem to do the same thing. They simply don't want to be offered guest appearances on TV, or their own weekly column in "Time" magazine.

(Hmmmm - come to think of it, west Texas has a city named Amarillo. Amarillo is a Spanish word for "yellow." And yellow can be a slang word for.... naaah, that's too big a coincidence....)

Now let's head back down Interstate 40 from Amarillo toward our part of the country, and check other news items from Tuesday:

+ Downtown Columbus business owners admitted military police from Fort Benning patrol Broadway late at night on weekends. If this news gets around, we might get a visit from the President - of Pakistan.

+ Demolition work began on the old Sears store along Macon Road. The city eventually plans to demolish the vacant Firestone store down the street - so that sign outside about being "temporarily closed" is about as believable as a mechanic's estimates for an engine overhaul.

+ WRBL reported someone stole gutters from Shearith Israel synagogue before Monday's rain, causing water damage to the building. That's what happens when Gutter Guard goes out of business....

+ Congressman Lynn Westmoreland toured Atlanta's airport, and said something needs to be done to reduce the long security lines. There's an easy answer to this, Congressman - but you forgot to tell the Jet Blue staff to begin daily flights from Columbus.

+ The Oprah Winfrey Show focused on her recent "Favorite Things"trip to Macon. At the Nu-Way hot dog shop, a deputy sheriff handed Winfrey a badge - so Harpo Productions can expect a phone call today from the Muscogee County Marshal, trying to get it back.

+ Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville reportedly was offered a seven-year extension on his contract. He'll probably have to beat Alabama a seventh time again next November to get it extended to eight.

+ Meanwhile, Auburn University officials promised to discuss possible security changes at next season's home football games. This follows an Opelika police dog biting an Auburn player on the hand, during Saturday's Iron Bowl. Why do they even allow a reminder of "Dawgs" during the Alabama-Auburn game in the first place?

+ Instant Message to the Opelika City Schools: What's all this talk about "credit recovery" for lagging high school students? Maybe if you took their credit cards away, they'd quit shopping and start studying more.... or is that what you mean?

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: There may be a crack in the Writers' Guild strike, which has inspired the "virtual monologues" here. Carson Daly reportedly will tape new episodes of his "Later" talk show - which will be great news to the 50 or so people who stay up to watch.

+ Meanwhile, the Food Network has canceled "Emeril Live" featuring chef Emeril Lagasse. Asked how the executive's door sounded after the final meeting, Lagasse shouted, "SLAM!!!!"

+ Dr. Robert Cade died in Florida - the man who invented Gatorade. An autopsy is planned to determine once and for all: was it in him?

+ The main U.S. factory for Harley-Davidson motorcycles is shut down this week, due to slow sales. In related news, sales of leather jackets are projected to drop about two percent.

+ The Persian Gulf state of Abu Dhabi committed more than seven billion dollars, to become the second-biggest investor in CitiBank. If Muslims can't conquer New York City one way, they'll try another.

+ USA Today reported the Army is adjusting one million uniforms, because pants are ripping open in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military description of the difficulty is a "crotch durability problem." This never seems to bother Paris Hilton....

+ Barbara Streisand endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for President. Can't you see her now on Inauguration Day 2009 - standing next to Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, and singing about "misty water-colored memories of The Way We Were"?

+ Former first daughter Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg turned 50. She has to be a bit disappointed - because no one in Miami has tried to reenact the Bay of Pigs invasion in her family's honor.

+ Several crashes occurred on a Virginia highway, after a truck spilled chicken fat for 20 miles. Thankfully, a team of workers from Popeye's came along to clean up the mess....

+ A minister in the small town of Whitewood, South Dakota proposed changing the name of Hooker Street. The pastor says the street name offends some people. Does this preacher also avoid quoting from the gospel of John?

(But then, perhaps these residents were inspired to protest from another part of the Bible - the Old Testament book of Judges.)

+ The University of Mississippi hired Houston Nutt as head football coach, less than 24 hours after he resigned at Arkansas. He won't have to move very far - but he'll still have to pack some Nutt cases.

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1793 (+ 75, 4.4%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The Monday night run on the downtown Riverwalk posed a couple of challenges for me - one expected, one unexpected. I expected puddles in some places, and didn't mind them at all. But I didn't plan for leaves to cover the course in spots - as those outdoor prison cleanup crews work bankers' hours.

The puddles and slick leaves resulted from Columbus's biggest day of rain in more than a year. The airport measured two-and-a-half inches of.... no, I refuse to borrow the TV cliche and call it "the wet stuff." Milk and beer can be wet as well, you know.

The big storm was quite a change after months of drought. Enough rain fell to fill some drainage channels - channels which only had water when people illegally turned on sprayers in their yards.

(In fact, it rained so much that I noticed something strange while running along the Chattahoochee River. The river actually seemed to be full of water, from side to side.)

While many people welcomed the rainy day, a few people in downtown Columbus did not. The manager of the 12th Street Deli admitted he relies a lot on walk-in business. He could hire homeless people on rainy days to make delivery runs - but too many office security guards might respond by running background checks.

WRBL spotted pumps operating during the rainstorm at the Columbus State University RiverArts campus. The renovated buildings along Front Avenue had leaks during earlier storms - but you'd think the arts students could have molded some clay to plug in those holes.

The rain fell during morning rush hour, and may have played a factor in a four-car crash on the J.R. Allen Parkway at River Road. I'm told it led to a backup of traffic stretching well into Phenix City - and countless drivers' dreams of kicking up water in another person's windshield were left for another day.

While all the rain was needed and welcomed, Columbus still is about ten inches below normal in rainfall for the year. It's not too late to ask relatives in Texas to ship a sealed bucket of rainwater, as a holiday gift. Maybe you could swap them some leftover pecans....

And while Columbus received more than two inches of rain, Atlanta had less than one inch. But at least for one day, Columbus was able to provide the water for all those poor Florida mussels.

But back to my evening run: even a small rainstorm can leave puddles along the Riverwalk downtown from Tenth to 12th Street. I've learned the best way to protect my running shoes is to take some strides behind park benches, in a mix of sand and mud. The footing actually is better - as long as no dog-walkers have been there before me.

And whether it rains or not, leaves on a running course can be a problem at this time of year. I prefer to have a little traction, instead of possible slickness - so I thank everyone in my neighborhood who rakes or blows the leaves off the sidewalk. The liability lawsuit you save could be your own.

E-MAIL UPDATE: We get all sorts of questions, but we don't guarantee answers....

What do you know about the Box Springs Junk Yard shooting ?

X BOC member shoots copper thief !

I passed on this question to someone who's a local news professional - and I was told Talbot County authorities knew nothing about a shooting in Box Springs either Saturday or Sunday. But maybe this shooting happened in mid-October, and the news is spreading only now.

A check on the web site of Talbot County's "Concerned Citizens for Responsible Government" also offered no information about a shooting in Box Springs. In fact, the "Community Forum" message board which used to be there apparently is gone. And when Geneva Day is being promoted six months after the fact, you almost wonder if the citizens' group is gone as well.

I assume "X BOC" refers to a former member of the Talbot County Board of Commissioners. Either that, or Box Springs has a video game club I never knew about before....

Now for some news we could confirm from Monday:

+ Ten months after losing a leg to a hit-and-run driver in Florida, Columbus resident Elonda Floyd said someone stole a motorized wheelchair from her driveway. C'mon folks - if you want to start a racing league against the residents at The Ralston, go buy your own chairs.

(The good news is that between two TV stations, Elonda Floyd now has FOUR offers of donated replacement wheelchairs. Now if someone will kindly donate chains for tying them to a fence....)

+ The national touring company of "Cats" opened two nights of performances at the RiverCenter. Smart local gamblers should have sensed a sign here -- and bet on the Carver High School Tigers, Auburn Tigers, Clemson Tigers and Missouri Tigers to win their football games last weekend.

+ Georgia Tech head football coach Chan Gailey was fired. Only a year ago, Gailey had the Yellowjackets within one game of the Bowl Championship Series. Of course, this year he came one game short again - the Georgia game.

(Georgia Tech probably will go to its sixth bowl game in a row, and it never had a losing record under Coach Chan Gailey. But WRBL noted he never had more than eight wins in a season - so I guess away from a casino, you CAN roll seven too often.)

+ Texas A&M hired Mike Sherman as its new head football coach. So what's the next rumor about Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville? Are we going to try to send him back to Mississippi?

+ Instant Message to Lux Day Spa on Summerville Road in Phenix City: Wow - am I ever surprised! You actually outlasted the liquor store, which used to be next door in the shopping center. But I'm also surprised your pampered customers didn't buy enough food to keep Blimpie in business.

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: Contract talks resumed Monday to end the Writers' Guild strike. The writers have good reason to end this quickly. Not because they're short on money - but because the Presidential campaign talk is becoming too interesting to avoid joking about.

NBC is getting so desperate that Monday night's "Tonight Show" was a rerun from 1992. It was quite a contrast to the 2007 edition - back when Jay Leno was light, and the band music was heavy.

(At least I think that was Jay Leno. He looked so much like WLTZ's Miller Robson that NBC-38 may be trying something new, to follow their late news.)

+ The Barack Obama Presidential campaign announced Oprah Winfrey will begin making campaign appearances next week - prompting countless Democrats to ask, "Why couldn't he be HER running mate?"

(Come to think of it, I don't recall Oprah naming Barack Obama one of her "favorite things" last week....)

+ Democratic opponent John Edwards was shown on the evening news, saying at a campaign stop: "H**l yes, I'm confrontational." That's funny - I thought he wanted U.S. soldiers brought home from Iraq.

+ Another Democratic candidate commented on John Edwards's new tone. Christopher Dodd said he's "surprised at how angry John has become...." Imagine if the Dodd campaign actually had a lot of supporters.

+ This year's Nobel prize winners visited the White House - and Peace Prize recipient Al Gore had a short private meeting with President Bush. Or as White House aides called it privately: "An Inconvenient Photo-Op."

+ Doctors diagnosed Vice President Cheney as having an irregular heartbeat. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised - because it now matches his irregular appearances in public.

+ Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi announced he'll resign from Congress by the end of the year. Yeah, right. We'll believe that the day Senator Larry Craig helps load his moving van.

+ Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was jailed in Russia, for publicly opposing Vladimir Putin's government. Other government opponents were arrested as well - so Kasparov is surrounded by plenty of checked mates.

+ An evangelist from the Philippines unveiled the world's largest flag. It's an Israeli national flag, more than 700 yards long and weighing more than five tons. This flag may be too big for even the entire staff of Fox News Channel to wave.

+ Several colleges changed football coaches, including the firing of Duke's Ted Roof. Duke was 1-11 this season - and things were SO BAD that this team couldn't even beat Notre Dame.

(Later in the day, Houston Nutt resigned as head coach at Arkansas. This should be an interesting listing in the classifieds - "Wanted: Replacement for a real Nutt job.")

+ Police confirmed the winner of the Miss Puerto Rico beauty pageant had an evening gown covered with pepper spray. So which contestant listed her talent as "Tasering?"

+ A British tabloid published a picture of Paul McCartney with Rosanna Arquette. If she is McCartney's new love, he faces a big problem - because Toto had a hit song about "Rosanna" more than ten years ago.

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1718 (+ 42, 2.5%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Monday, November 26, 2007


The Columbus summer crime wave seems to be long gone, but "Operation Safe Streets" goes on. The latest police statistics counted more than 900 arrests since late July. And then SOA Watch makes a big deal about 11 in one weekend....

Have you wanted to check on what Columbus police are doing - without arousing suspicion in the process? Someone on my job has shown me a web site which broadcasts local police and fire calls. Why, it's probably already bookmarked at law offices across the city.

The "ScanMuscogee" web site repeats the discussions on Columbus police and fire scanners, on your choice of five different players. It apparently is NOT live, but on a delay of about ten seconds. I would hope public safety employees don't need that delay to bleep out dirty words....

(The "Web Player" option worked best for me when I gave this web site a try. Windows Media Player 10 refused to play the police calls. Once again, those folks at Microsoft must be up to kind of conspiracy.)

ScanMuscogee is part of a network of police scanner web sites. There are more than 30 across Georgia, including one for Troup County. But there are none listed for Alabama - so which part of the area do you think has the most speed traps?

The ScanMuscogee web site even includes a page with police codes, so you can follow along with what's happening on the radio. These days, the most suspicious call might be a 9150 - for a car wash. [True!]

I tuned in ScanMuscogee for about 30 minutes Sunday night - but from what I could tell, the police action on the radios was NOT that thrilling and dramatic:

+ A driver was out of gas in front of a credit union. Looking for low prices on the north side of town is simply too risky....

+ An alarm went off at "La Nacional Two" on Veterans Parkway. The dispatchers still are not trained well enough in Spanish, to call this store "dos."

+ A license tag was checked at Cusseta Road and Old Cusseta Road. Please, Georgia Tech fans - you don't have to deface your vanity tags, in the wake of Saturday's football game.

+ Officers were asked to check "four black males hanging around a dumpster." I suppose they could be criminals, involved in some kind of identity theft. But if the dumpster was outside a restaurant, it could simply have been a search for a cheap dinner.

+ Women named Chante and Cheyenne wanted someone to call Texas, to report their "Dad was treating them badly." These women apparently have no access to their MySpace pages.

If that's not enough, ScanMuscogee even offers a "Feed Archive" for listening to recorded police audio. I suppose it's the closest we'll get in Columbus to watching high-speed car chases on live television....

Some people are real "scanner-heads," and will get a kick out of listening to this police radio web site on a regular basis. But I'm not really one of those people. I don't really need to know where squad cars and fire trucks are going around the clock - unless my home caught fire, and then I'd be too busy unplugging my computer to tune in anyway.

BLOG SPECIAL EVENT: In our one-month collection of credit card offers, a third mailing has reached our old-fashioned mailbox. This one came from Bank of America to the business which failed almost 15 months ago. Maybe next time, we should e-mail our news releases to the Wall Street Journal.

To make things even stranger, my last name was spelled correctly on the credit card offer - but the first name was not. It was sent to "Chard," without the first two letters. C'mon now - do I look like I live near Malibu?

The experiment ends Friday, so we'll give you a final score after that. Now let's wrap up scattered news from the holiday weekend:

+ Columbus Airport had its last flight of the day canceled, because of a backup in Atlanta. A 25-percent cut in air service sounds bad, even if you only have four trips a day.

+ The Bayonet reported the Chattahoochee River at Fort Benning is so low that pontoon boats can't be rented from Uchee Creek Marina. At least we know where the water is -- deep in the lawns of Benning residents.

+ The new Bowl Championship Series rankings put Georgia at #4. If the top two teams lose next weekend, the Bulldogs might wind up in the B.C.S. title game without even playing in the Southeastern Conference title game. So all Georgia fans hereby have my permission to root for Oklahoma, against Missouri.

+ Instant Message to Eco Latino: Well, that's a bit better. I mean, you actually had an article this year on the SOA Watch protest of alleged abuses in Latin America. Maybe next year you'll actually have a reporter there, instead of relying on the Associated Press.

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: Bono of "U-2" made a surprise appearance over the weekend in London, as a warm-up act at a concert. He was probably practicing doing the same thing in a couple of weeks -- as a surprise performer before Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize speech.

+ This could be a very interesting day for President Bush. He's welcoming this year's Nobel prize recipients to the White House - including Peace Prize honoree Al Gore. It makes you wonder if the fireplaces will have extra logs burning.

+ Bush administration officials also begin talks in Annapolis, Maryland today, on bringing peace to the Middle East. Syria even agreed to send a delegation - perhaps only to spy on what the Israeli delegation is talking about.

+ Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf still has yet to resign as head of the army. Maybe he's somehow hoping the Bush administration will offer him a reenlistment bonus.

+ Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed opponent Rudolph Giuliani left office as New York Mayor with a three-billion dollar city deficit. Imagine if Romney wins the election next November. The outgoing President will want to cover his ears on inauguration day.

+ Online reports indicated the wife of pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan has filed for divorce. It couldn't have been easy, being Hogan's "main squeeze" - especially since he was used to squeezing opponents hard enough to crack their ribs.

+ The Sunday night N.F.L. game was surprisingly close, with New England edging Philadelphia 31-28. NBC Sports claimed so many times that this game would be a blowout, I actually turned off the TV set and wrote today's entry a lot faster.

(Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb was injured, so the Eagles' quarterback was A.J. Feeley. His only real claim to fame is being the boyfriend of U.S. women's soccer star/hottie Heather Mitts - who could make any man a little, uh, feel-ey.)

+ Hawaii (boo-hoo) is now the only undefeated team in major college football. It's easy to understand why. Athletes from Hawaii are known for playing with poi's.

(Some would argue the Hawaii football team has an unfair advantage - with the marching band members distracting opponents with their loud flowered shirts.)

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1676 (- 79, 4.5%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007


Uhhhhh -- how about Auburn?! They won the Iron Bowl again. Uhhhhh - didn't Georgia look good? They might play in January. Uhhhhh - can I take a couple of days off from blogging, because I have symptoms of depression?

Well, no. Most of you probably didn't watch the Kansas-Missouri game, so you're counting on this Kansas grad for a review. I can sum up Saturday night's showdown in several ways:

+ Kansas won the fourth quarter, when it counts most. Trouble is, they counted the first three quarters as well.

+ Kansas still has a better record than any team in the Southeastern Conference. And unlike Alabama and Auburn, the Jayhawks beat their non-conference pushovers.

+ Kansas still could make the Bowl Championship Series title game - if Missouri, West Virginia, Southern California and Hawaii all lose next weekend, while Ohio State is found to have a grade scandal.

+ Kansas still has an unbeaten team, ranked in the top ten - and that men's basketball squad hosts Arizona tonight.

OK, I'll confess it - Missouri beat Kansas 36-28. The Tigers led 28-7 at the start of the fourth quarter - and that's sadly when the Jayhawks defense made it through the Kansas City traffic jam and showed up to play.

It was not a good sign that when Missouri scored to take a 21-0 lead, I turned on the radio to check on Alabama-Auburn. But I went back to the TV to hear ABC's Brent Musberger declare: "They don't have much for that four million yet, do they?"

The Auburn radio announcers showed little respect for Alabama. I heard Stan White refer to the Tide quarterback a couple of times as "John Wilson" - as if he's not allowed to have a middle name, or Bic was the official pen supplier to Auburn sports instead of Parker.

Auburn outlasted Alabama 17-10, and now has won six Iron Bowls in a row. Countless East Alabama football fans will celebrate today, by downing a six-pack....

Not only did Alabama lose its sixth Iron Bowl in a row, it dropped to 6-6 on the year. That sort of "triple six" may verify what some sports talk show hosts said back in January - that Nick Saban is like a snake.

Earlier in the day, Georgia got by Georgia Tech 31-17. The Bulldogs now have beaten the Yellowjackets seven years in a row - so don't be surprised if coach Mark Richt starts doing commercials for Seven-Up.

Some people are speculating the loss to Georgia might cost Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey his job. But didn't Gailey put Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game last year? Somebody had to look strange in the record book, by losing to Wake Forest....

Larry Munson went "on the road" to Atlanta, to broadcast the Georgia-Georgia Tech game on radio. In the final minute, Loren Smith encouraged Munson to return for another season. If he doesn't, I have a suggestion. Bring on Skip Carey, who can sound almost as worried when big mistakes happen.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Perhaps it's no surprise that someone in Hurtsboro responded to our trip there for Thanksgiving:

Sir Richard::

A journey such as yours - to "Hurt'sboro", - takes a bit of planning! I sorry that you didn't contact me before you made such an effort; but I suppose you just relied on the words of Greeley - "Go west young man.' Go west!'

If you will allow me, I will fill in some of the blanks in your trip report. First of all, Highway #26 is being resurfaced in its entirety; from Rte.#431 to its junction with Rte. #51 in "Hurt'sboro. At one time all roads led to Rome! Now it seems, you can go by way of "Hurt'sboro!

You are an excellent photographer - and you captured the beauty of our architecture in detail. The City Hall once doubled as a fire station and ambulance barn. Now, the Magistrate sits behind the overhead door. That is - when he isn't doubling as City Clerk.

The Black & White police car is inoperable. It was dumped in its present location, months ago because a towing/storage bill went unpaid. Our city workers haven't got around to pushing it back out of the way - they just stumble around it!

When you were across the street at the Jet Center; you were within a few feet of the new "Park" I'm surprised that you didn't notice it - perhaps you can come back again when its finished, and the locals have had opportunity to "trash" it!

I'm glad you had the occasion to visit with "Rick" Perry. Most of the information he offered was skewed but true. It goes much deeper than that! Mr. Perry is frustrated because I wont speak to him. His message - through you - is just a childish attempt to communicate. Oh well. I will respond - through you - in my opinion; Mr. Perry is an officious nincompoop! With that said let's move on to other things.

The beggar you encountered is R----- B----. He is a carpenter and brick mason and has some satisfactory work for me. He WILL work, but stays whacked out on drugs most of the time. I f he isn't in "Hurt'sboro" he's in the Russell County Jail. The reason he wanted you to "look after him," was because he had been tossed out of The City Grill by the voiceless man on many occasions! He probably was given the "Heave-Ho" the moment you left!

Your comments about the murals were well taken - they and the library are the only vestige of culture that remain in "Hurt'tsboro" I hope you will make a return visit - but next time, engage a tour guide!

One more bit of sarcasm - the penny you found at City Hall was all the town could afford for your "two cent's worth!"

Constable R.J. Schweiger

There's a two-word reason why I didn't tell the Constable I was heading for Hurtsboro - no spin.

Will all roads really lead to Hurtsboro someday? If the local leaders have to fight with Tuskegee for an exit along Interstate 14, I think I know which city will win -- and Tuskegee already has an exit on I-85.

This message explains why Hurtsboro has different-looking police cars. For all I knew, one might have been used for training -- or maybe as a historic marker.

There was open "green space" behind the Jet Center - and if the beggar hadn't left me lacking for cash, I might have crossed Main Street again and examined it. But I didn't want to take a chance of getting stopped by police, and learning they also didn't accept credit cards.

It's nice to be like the Carter Center, and mediate a tense situation in Hurtsboro. But my computer SpellCheck shows "officious" can mean both "nosy" and "magisterial." Last time I checked, the Constable was the one who had an office somewhat like a magistrate....

So the beggar I met at the Hurtsboro Post Office has the same initials I do?! Maybe that explains how he found me -- or then again, maybe he was waiting for a truck driver to arrive with mail from Montgomery.

Our lengthy "Thanksgiving entree" may have inspired another e-mail, which we mentioned above:

Dear Richard,

Your posts would be easier to read and more enjoyable if you:

1. Made them shorter.

2. Stopped talking about Hurtsburo and the one reader you have there.

3. Let go of Blogger Beggars. Really not that interesting.

4. Re-read some of your jokes to make sure they're actually funny.

Okay, that sounds pretty critical but I think that your blog will be of better service to your readers (except the constable dude) if you took these suggestions into consideration. Please keep up the good work you do.

Howdy and Yeehaw from Texas!

Thursday's post admittedly turned out to be longer than usual. But I justified it by noting the Ledger-Enquirer probably had its fattest issue of the year on Thanksgiving - and my blog has none of those annoying ads.

The only reason Hurtsboro keeps coming up is because the Constable keeps bringing it up. And Robert Schweiger writing the blog is a bit like Bert Coker and Paul Olson appearing every Tuesday before Columbus Council. They consider it the only available outlet for venting.

The beggar we met in Hurtsboro actually was the first one to pass our way since early September. The neighbor who needed cigarette money after his roommate entered hospice care never has returned to his apartment, and I've been told secondhand that roommate died. Maybe he's looking for someone else in need - because he needs the disability check.

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: Author J.K. Rowling has been named the "Entertainer of the Year" by Entertainment Weekly magazine. How this could be denied to showboating football players like Chad Johnson is a mystery to me....

+ The producer of "Girls Gone Wild" videos claims he was abused by guards, while he was jailed in Oklahoma. The only way we'll believe this is when a DVD comes out called "Guards Go Wilder."

+ Paris Hilton visited Shanghai, on her Asian tour. But she didn't help her reputation, when she called it the perfect source for buying fine china....

+ Despite a slumping U.S. dollar, National Public Radio reports tourist visits to this country are down by 17 percent. It doesn't help that farmers are waiting at the airport, trying to hire tourists to pick their crops.

+ Remember "Bill Nye the Science Guy?" He's gone to court for a restraining order against his former wife, claiming she tried to poison his vegetable garden. This woman obviously has gone off the deep end - because science guys can spot poison.

+ The University of Nebraska fired head football coach Bill Callahan, after a 65-51 loss to Colorado. With a score like that, you'd think Callahan would have been shifted to head basketball coach....

SCHEDULED THIS WEEK: How to check on local police from the privacy of your home....

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1755 (- 218, 11.0%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, November 23, 2007


In case you're reading this at 4:00 a.m. before going to sales, the Indianapolis Colts raced back from behind Thursday night and beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-13. It was the first Thanksgiving home game for the Falcons in team history - and it looked for a while like the team recommended the Colts have dinner at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

But for area football fans, the more important games of the weekend will occur Saturday. Alabama plays at Auburn, in the "Iron Bowl." Georgia goes to Georgia Tech for the.... well, what nickname should go on this game? The Drought-Dirty-Car Bowl?

The center of Auburn University's campus will reopen for traffic this morning, in time for the Iron Bowl. It was closed Tuesday evening for a police sweep -- which prevented Alabama pranksters from stealing any "War Eagle" statues.

Both Alabama and Auburn enter the Iron Bowl on a low note. Auburn lost to Georgia two weeks ago. Alabama has lost three games in a row, the last loss coming to Louisiana-Monroe. No wonder Troy University has to travel to Georgia and Florida for non-conference competition....

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has raised some eyebrows, with his comments about last weekend's game. He compared the loss to Louisiana-Monroe with national setbacks such as Pearl Harbor Day and the September 11 attacks. It's surprising Saban didn't declare his comments the "Monroe Doctrine."

People such as WLTZ sportscaster Jeremy Moss think Nick Saban went over the verbal edge, by comparing the ULM-barassment to September 11, 2001. But then again, Moss is presenting the sports from Iowa - and diehard Alabama fans would tell you with the Auburn game approaching, Saban was probably right.

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville has tried to push away rumors about possible other jobs. Some claim Texas A&M wants him. Others claim Louisiana State might want him. And for some odd reason, nobody's mentioned working at Notre Dame yet.

This year's Iron Bowl is a week later than it's been in recent years. The Southeastern Conference now requires all teams to play a game, on the weekend before the conference championship. When you consider that Vanderbilt had to add a game against Wake Forest, the rule can seem a little silly.

The Iron Bowl is considered SO BIG that several wagers have been placed on the outcome of the game. In fact, I'm surprised Alabama Governor Bob Riley hasn't stepped in to warn everyone about the evils of gambling.

One of the Iron Bowl bets has the mayors of Auburn and Tuscaloosa betting plates of barbecued ribs. I'm sorry, but this makes no sense to me. The Auburn Mayor's name is Bill Ham, Junior - and he's wagering ribs?!

There's even an unusual bet in Columbus involving the Iron Bowl. Brad and Mike made it during last weekend's Rivertown Ford infomercial - as the loser will have his head shaved on television. So the dancing turkey soon will be paired with a bald eagle....

Before Alabama and Auburn take the field, Georgia will go against Georgia Tech. This year they meet at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta - also known as the stadium which seems to get renovated every five years to justify a building fund.

Georgia is seeking its seventh win in a row over Georgia Tech -- which I believe means the last Tech win came when George O'Leary was head coach. Has anyone checked his resume lately, to see if he claims the Yellowjackets won twice that season?

Even though Columbus is in Georgia, the Georgia-Georgia Tech game simply doesn't get as much attention here as the Alabama-Auburn game. Perhaps that's because the Auburn campus is so close. Perhaps it's because Georgia Tech games haven't been on local radio much in recent years. Or perhaps it's because the "Tech" most local graduates attend is Columbus Technical College.

While this two in-state battles dominate the headlines, I'm preparing for a different Saturday rivalry. I'll be focusing this weekend on the Kansas-Missouri game - joining perhaps about 12 other people in the Columbus area. But hey, we'll be a Big 12....

Regular blog readers know I went to college at Kansas - and this year has been an amazing dream season. The Jayhawks are 11-0 for the first time ever! For decades, they did well merely to play 11 games in a season - as in ten regular-season games plus a bowl.

Kansas wasn't even ranked when the college football season began. But higher and higher the Jayhawks have climbed - and if Alabama's John Parker Wilson had held onto the ball against Louisiana State, the polls might actually make sense and put an undefeated team at number-one.

The Kansas-Missouri game Saturday night actually will be the top game on the college schedule. That's because unbeaten Kansas is ranked second in the country. Missouri with its 10-1 record is ranked fourth. The winner could wind up in the Bowl Championship Series title game. The loser might have to wait 50 years for another opportunity like this.

Kansas-Missouri happens to be the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River. But this year's game is the biggest in the series in my lifetime. The days of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri being called the "devil's triangle" of football seem to be far in the past.

There have been rumblings since my college days of moving the Kansas-Missouri clash off the college campuses, and playing it in Kansas City. This year it's finally happening - and look at what's happened as a result. These teams are so giddy, their coaches might actually accept calling the game an "outdoor cocktail party."

I've been telling people this is Kansas's biggest college football game in the last 40 years. That goes back to 1969, and a 15-14 Orange Bowl loss to national champion Penn State - a game the Jayhawks would have won, except for a penalty for having 12 players on the field. That game simply was a prophetic sign of the current Big 12 Conference.

My older brother was in college when that Orange Bowl game was played, and he flew from Kansas City to Miami to see it. That trip marked the first visit of my young life to an airport. It says something about Kansas football that my first actual airline flight came four years after graduating college -- for a job interview.

I discovered Thursday night that my older brother and his wife will be at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium for this big game as well. It's a Kansas "home game," included in their season ticket package. Hopefully they'll remember to put this blog's Internet address on the sign they'll hope for the ABC cameras.

It's likely to be cold Saturday night for the Kansas-Missouri game, but my brother plans to be there nonetheless. I advised him to save the (ahem) victory beverages until he gets home. But I'll be watching on my home TV, and probably blogging about here Sunday -- so if every other word seems to be misspelled, I hope you'll understand what happened.

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: Several Columbus supermarkets were open Thursday - and at one of them, a man needed help with Thanksgiving dinner.

"Turkey juice. Where do you have that?"

"Turkey juice?"

(Next part inaudible.)

"Gravy - I think in aisle two."

We don't make those "overheard" comments up - but we do make up some Instant Messages....

+ To Cheddars Restaurant on Veterans Parkway: OK, you were closed for Thanksgiving Day. But did you have to leave the waterfall running out front - violating Georgia water rules for perhaps the 50th day in a row?

+ To the Burger King across from Peachtree Mall: You're not opening until 5:00 a.m.?! Isn't that a bit late? Shoppers will want to drink coffee before the big department stores open.

+ To Ruby Tuesday inside Peachtree Mall: It's one thing NOT to add a traditional turkey dinner to your Thanksgiving menu. But showing poker and college basketball on your TV screens, instead of the Green Bay-Detroit pro football game?! Are your managers from Mexico or something?

+ To R. Kelly: Yes, I'm messaging you again. Now Ne-Yo is saying you demanded all seven dressing rooms at the Civic Center last week, and made him and his dancers dress on a tour bus. First of all - does the Civic Center really have that many dressing rooms?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $2.91 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... milk for $3.89 a gallon at Walgreens.... and parking spaces near the department store doors being nearly impossible to find by 7:00 a.m....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Our writers' strike-inspired Blog of America is off today, due to a dearth of interesting national news on the holiday.)

This blog has thousands of visitors each month, from people 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 1973 (+ 62, 3.2%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-07 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007


Over the river and through the woods? If my grandmother was still alive, that travel plan probably wouldn't work. She lived her last years in southeast Colorado -- so my family would have to drive over the entire state of Kansas, and through a lot of wheat fields.

But the traditional line about Thanksgiving travel works perfectly, if you went where I went on Thanksgiving Eve. I crossed the Chattahoochee River Wednesday, went through a wooded area west of Seale, and visited the Russell County town of Hurtsboro. You know -- the town some say progress has forgotten, with some residents that critics would rather forget.

We've come to know Hurtsboro quite well on this blog in 2007 - perhaps a little too well. It's largely due to a series of e-mails from the local Constable. His last one appeared here Sunday - and what we wrote then brought a follow-up message:

Sir Richard:

Now, now. I know you don't really believe that Bob Corwin has a special place in his heart for "Hurt'sboro." $15 G's will make for a very merry xmas. All he had to do was get one spoonful of dirt turned over - and the commission was his. And the obligation was "Hurt'sboro's."

You are just wastin' time talking to anyone at the Jet Center - they are all loyal or afraid of the "Mare." You might get some information at (334).... but I doubt it.

The Jet Center is a corporation; and as such, it is obligated by law to file a public disclosure. This hasn't been done for some time. A while ago, I joined the Jet Center for the express purpose of seeing their records. Of course it was denied - but I have a tape of a very distraught Sandra Tarver telling me "NO", and saying that she didn't have to comply because; "NOBODY'S OVER ME"! She must have been mistaken - she WAS fired by the board of directors a few days ago. They must have had the "muscle' to do so!!

Constable R.J. Schweiger

We aren't posting the entire phone number the Constable sent us - mainly because he was right. The woman we called there Wednesday night said she knew nothing about the Jet Adult Care Center at all. Either that was a false lead, or she might need the center's services.

But is Robert Schweiger right, about Hurtsboro having nothing good to write about? Your blog decided it was time to drive there and find out. And what better time than Thanksgiving - when people are likely to be in a good mind, and not throw me out of their homes and businesses for asking nosy questions?

The first positive sign actually occurred seven miles east of town. Alabama Highway 26 is being repaved, between Hatchechubbee and Hurtsboro. It soon should be nice and smooth for people who want to move to town - or for moving trucks carrying business owners toward Eufaula.

Yet this paving was panned by one man I met in Hurtsboro Wednesday. "They've been working on that for three months," he told me - adding work crews in Columbus can pave roads faster. Well, a bigger city DOES have a faster pace to it....

The city limits sign in Hurtsboro indicated the town has been a "Tree City U.S.A." for five years. And yes, I saw several trees growing there. The lumberyard down the road in Hatchechubbee hasn't chopped them all down in desperation yet.

The street signs in Hurtsboro are small and wooden, but it was easy to figure out where Main Street and downtown are. This gives the town one big advantage over Columbus, where.... well, check that. Main Street Village has wound up locating in the more hectic business part of town.

My first stop was the Hurtsboro City Hall - which is conveniently located next door to the police station. Two police cars were parked outside the headquarters. And thankfully, no one came out to accuse me of a national security violation for taking pictures of them.

The City Hall in Hurtsboro looks like it was converted from something else. I'm not sure exactly what - and I couldn't learn the answer, because it was closed for lunch while I was there. But based on that fact, I was also tempted to ask if it was renovated with union labor.

I found a penny on the asphalt, next to where I parked at the Hurtsboro City Hall. Remember, it's always good to pay your blogger if you like what he does for you....

What should I find right across Main Street but the Jet Adult Care Center! It was a quiet place, both inside and out. And there was no sign of any campaign for Mayor Sandra Tarver-Yoe to regain her job -- not even any yard signs.

Last Sunday we mentioned our phone call to the Jet Center, about the departure of Hurtsboro's Mayor from the staff. We were told only center board members could talk about what happened. We asked a woman in an office about that, and she told me the board members had decided NOT to say anything. Leaving things to the rumor mill works SO well in sports, you know....

"She didn't.... quit," another Hurtsboro resident said with caution when we asked him about Mayor Sandra Tarver-Yoe. He admittedly wasn't sure how much he could say for the record about the Jet Adult Care Center.

We decided to walk up Main Street, and see what was there. A little rain tried to fall as we did -- so Hurtsboro received moisture before Columbus did. Isn't that a good thing? Or should I have been disturbed, by a lack of fallout shelter signs?

Some of the business names in Hurtsboro were familiar, from Robert Schweiger's e-mails. The City Grill restaurant was open for lunch. Less than a block away, the "After 5 Club" had a sign claiming to be open for lunch - but it was locked shut. Perhaps the city council decided the business name cannot apply to 5:00 a.m.

The most daring moment came when I walked into Perry Hardware on Main Street. Pat Perry knew about our blog, and remembered a phone call I made to him about the Constable ten months ago [22 Jan]. "I blessed you out," Perry told me - so a statement that he'd "come after me" was a blessing?! Maybe he had a payoff, for buying my silence.

"I came to find out you were more objective," Pat Perry told me. "I thought you were a Schweigerite." To borrow a comment Larry King made Wednesday about his interview with that plastic surgeon: he didn't apologize - he explained.

Pat Perry doesn't recall Constable Robert Schweiger ever running for office in Hurtsboro. But he wanted to make sure I quoted him as saying: "We'd like him to run for the town limits."

Pat Perry's conflict with the Constable stems from a traffic collision some time back. "He hit ME, and then sued me for assault." If that seems outlandish, you haven't seen much football this fall - with defensive backs denying they commit pass interference.

Partially as a result of that, Pat Perry admits: "When Bob Schweiger and I see eye-to-eye on something, I have to step back and see if I'm looking at things the right way." He owns a hardware store, remember - not an optical shop.

Pat Perry's wife used to work part-time as the Hurtsboro City Clerk. He's glad she doesn't anymore - especially to get away from "that mayor." Perry doesn't think much of Sandra Tarver-Yoe, either. So he seems to stand in the middle, while the Mayor and Constable lob volleys back and forth over his head.

You can pay your Hurtsboro water bill at Perry Hardware, but Pat Perry's wife no longer works part-time with the Hurtsboro Water Board. He says it separated from the city when she quit that job last year. In a time of drought, I can't help wondering if the Water Board now is more powerful.

Before I left the hardware store, Pat Perry recommended the City Grill for lunch. "It's Wednesday, and on Wednesday and Saturday they have fried chicken," he smiled. "That kind of chicken the doctors say you shouldn't eat." The only medical clinic I spotted in town was for a veterinarian.

On down Main Street we walked, and found the old Farmers & Merchants Bank. It's now the Hurtsboro town library, open on Tuesdays and Thursdays - but a sign on the door notes Tuesdays are for boys and Thursdays are for girls. Columbus has rules against special "Ladies Nights" like this....

One nice thing Robert Schweiger never has mentioned about Hurtsboro is the outdoor art work. Several building walls have murals painted on them. And unlike Uptown Columbus, they don't have to be exchanged for new rentals every year.

A Hurtsboro resident told us months ago that this blog was posted on the bulletin board at the Hurtsboro Post Office. So we simply had to go there - but a blog printout couldn't be found. Then again, a wanted poster with Constable Schweiger's picture wasn't there either.

Hardly anyone was out and about in Hurtsboro, on Thanksgiving Eve. But a person we found at the Post Office was not exactly a local ambassador. Not when his first words are, "Can I have two dollars?"

BLOGGER BEGGAR #12 was, of all places, in the lobby of the Hurtsboro Post Office. I'm not sure which is better - for Mayberry to have a town drunk, or Hurtsboro to have a town beggar.

The beggar said he needed two dollars to get something to eat. So much for the "lucky penny" theory from down the street.

"I'm going to the City Grill. I'll buy you lunch there," I told the man - and we left the Post Office to walk back down Main Street.

"Will you look out for me?" the beggar asked. I wasn't sure what he meant by that - but then again, didn't Lumpkin have a problem with armed thugs awhile back?

The beggar apparently wanted reassurance that I'd go in with him to buy lunch. I told him I would. "I hope they take credit cards, because I don't have that much money on me." The man said City Grill did - and in a small town like Hurtsboro, they are only so many places for beggars to get free food.

The beggar told me he works as a carpenter and a brick mason - yet he was broke. "I get my check on the first of the month. I'm on disability." Yet he was able to walk with me down Main Street - and he must not be so mentally disabled that he can't handle saws and heavy bricks.

We entered the City Grill and found most of the tables occupied. Many of them were taken by men wearing hunting clothes. Don't any grocery stores in Hurtsboro sell Thanksgiving turkeys?

I sat down with the beggar at a table - only to be asked for help by a woman standing behind several trays of food. I'm old enough to remember when small towns actually had waitpersons taking orders.

I turned to see the line of food, then asked for confirmation: "Do you take credit cards?" No, they didn't. A sign at the cash register even made that clear. So yet another beggar didn't quite have his facts straight - which may explain why you don't see them entering journalism schools.

"All I have is five dollars," I told the beggar, "so I'll have to buy for you." We stood up and went to the line of food - but the full lunch cost six dollars. It was time for some haggling, even before Black Friday.

"Can I have another vegetable?" the beggar asked as a vegetable and what looked like a ground sirloin steak was put on a plate.

"If I give you that, it'll cost six dollars," a female server said. The man made no move to pull out any money - or even offer to trade the plastic bottle he carried with some kind of liquid inside.

The beggar tried again, asking to exchange tea for another vegetable. That was rejected as well - but he was permitted to have two cornbread rolls with his meat and single vegetable. Imagine if this man was trying to buy a car....

The beggar finally accepted the plate he was offered, and the server asked what I wanted. "All I have is five dollars," I said - noting I was buying for him, not for me. And I'd really blown it, because I never told the man about Pat Perry's favorite fried chicken.

The lunch tab wound up as exactly five dollars - with no added sales tax. Wait until Constable Schweiger reports the managers to the Hurtsboro City Council about that one.

"He does that every day," a man with a nearly inaudible voice told me from behind the cash register.

"He told me he's a carpenter and a brick mason."

"That's true," the man answered. "But he doesn't want to do any work."

With lunch paid for and Hurtsboro's economy helped by tourism, I decided not to create a further scene. "Have a happy Thanksgiving," I told the beggar at the table - and went on out the door. I'm not sure what the beggar or the restaurant managers thought of this. But thinking back on it, I really didn't "look out" for the beggar - as in making sure he didn't take the food back for a refund.

With no more money in the wallet and plenty of things to post here, I walked back to my car and drove home from Hurtsboro. The visit only lasted about 40 minutes. I never found the Mayor or the Constable. But I found several people who told me they're thankful to be with their families this Thanksgiving - and perhaps a few praying for the small town to be a few residents smaller.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Also in our Thanksgiving grocery bag, we find a follow-up to the Richard Davis murder case....

Thought you might want an update:

I've been trying to find out information about the book Murder In Baker Company by Cilla McCain. It is advertised at Richard Davises website. I did find her email address and she actually wrote me back! I thought the book was coming out in December but she said that wasn't correct and she can only guess that it will be out sometime next year along with a documentary she's working on with Paul Haggis called "Already Dead. the murder of Richard Davis and the death of truth." I also asked her if she ever came to Columbus and if she was going to do a book signing in Columbus when the time comes. She said she was just here last week and she does hope to do a book signing.

Please post information about this book when it's published. A lot of us soldiers want to read it.



Thanks for alerting me to this book, because I was not aware of how it was progressing. How interesting that a killing involving soldiers in "Baker Company" didn't happen anywhere near Baker Village.

Paul Haggis already directed a fictionalized movie, based on the Richard Davis killing. National Public Radio reported Wednesday "In the Valley of Elah" has made only about six million dollars at the box office - which translates roughly into one million tickets sold. Maybe if Haggis had replaced Tommy Lee Jones with a talking green monster....

And it simply wouldn't be Thanksgiving Day without some football:

I attended several city sponsored youth league football games this year..I was dismayed at the quality of the officiating..The bad calls did not favor just one team on the field ,but both teams. LIttle kids usually don't know the difference of bad calls,but the idea of group activities is to teach fair play..Example: ...A kid is running with the ball and is clearly tackled by only one and that around the knees and the official calls face mask..The ball is then moved down the field..The coach calls a time out to talk to the official and he calls an infraction of the rules on the coach. Later parents from both sides are at a loss for words to describe the lack of knowledge of the rules by the officials. I have not been to a high school sporting event in several years. I wonder if the officiating is as bad there..

I haven't seen any local games in person - but maybe this will comfort you. These officials will advance in years to come, and the booth reviews will make college football games expand from four hours long to five.

We thank all of you for writing -- and on this holiday, we give special thanks to everyone who thinks enough of this blog to check it on a regular basis. We'd like to think we have dozens of loyal fans. It's either that, or plenty of lawyers are still looking for grounds to take us to court....

Now for some news headlines from Thanksgiving Eve:

+ The Courier published all the names of Muscogee County School District plant employees enrolled in the state Teacher Retirement System. There were 18 workers enrolled there as of 1998, while 27 workers reportedly were NOT offered membership. So now the "haves" know which "have-nots" to take out to lunch next week.

+ The RiverCenter announced Jerry Seinfeld will appear March 7. Ticket prices start at $46.50 - so this show clearly is NOT about nothing.

+ Fort Benning opened its new Post Exchange. It will be closed for Thanksgiving Day, then open for a weekend-long sale at 12:01 a.m. Friday -- making the 4:00 a.m. workers at Kohl's look like lazy slackers.

(The new PX is billed as the third-largest in the Army. Only the third?! It looks like Fort Benning didn't gain as much from base realignment as we thought....)

+ WLTZ reported the Cannon Brew Pub expected a big pre-Thanksgiving crowd, with people taking holiday guests downtown. I assume everyone prepared for dinner, by drinking only light beer.

+ The Valley Rescue Mission reported it has all the donated food it needs for Thanksgiving, while the House of Mercy reported it still needs 15 turkeys and 15 hams. So does the Valley Rescue staff secretly do high-fives inside offices, and count themselves as the winners?

+ Instant Message to Lily Gordon of the Ledger-Enquirer and WLTZ: You win the prize for the best local tongue twister of the year. I was impressed by your story on the Columbus Ballet preparing for "The Nutcracker" - and how easily you said: "Sue Simoncini sews."

(It turns out Sue Simoncini was sewing 20 tu-tus for the ballet dancers. Hopefully no one mixed this up - and they have to deal this weekend with two 20-20's.)

THE BLOG OF AMERICA: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone - especially to the Writers' Guild members who remain on strike, for whom we're filling in. It's probably better that all the prayers of blessing over dinner be ad-libbed, anyway....

+ A recent report from a weight loss company estimated the typical Thanksgiving dinner contains 7,100 calories. It's enough to make some of us feel guilty, and go eat lunch on Friday at McDonald's.

+ National talk show host Michael Baesden declared on the air: "If I hear of one more black person in America eating thousand island dressing, I'm gonna scream." [True/WKZJ-FM] Perhaps he knows something his African-American audience doesn't - that the "thousand islands" where this dressing was created are NOT in the Caribbean.

+ The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 211 points in pre-holiday trading. So you'll understand if some investors developed Thanksgiving indigestion unusually early....

+ The early presidential schedule seemed to finally be settled. Iowa will have its caucuses January 3. New Hampshire will have its primary January 8. And the sniping between the two likely nominees is projected to begin January 31.

+ An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Republican Mike Huckabee has surged in Iowa since July, and is practically tied for the lead with Mitt Romney. Perhaps it's because Huckabee reminds many Republicans of Fred Thompson - only Huckabee doesn't seem to be acting.

+ Pakistan's government released 5,000 detained lawyers and activists. Their combined class-action lawsuit against President Pervez Musharraf should be ready for filing by Sunday.

+ Authorities in Aruba announced three suspects have been arrested in the Natalee Holloway case. There's reportedly new evidence that the three young men were involved in manslaughter. So who sent an e-mail tip to Greta Van Susteren and Nancy Grace now?

+ ABC News reported about 1,000 Iraqi natives are returning to their homeland every day. The Minuteman Project plans to send a thank-you note to the Baghdad government - for giving it a target number to match.

+ Men's Health magazine declared Denver is the most "Dangerously Drunk City" in the U.S. Things are SO BAD in Denver that residents actually think the Colorado Rockies played in the World Series.

+ A new movie called "August Rush" premiered in theatres - one day before a "sneak preview" season premiere of the TV drama "October Road." This must be Hollywood's strange way of atoning for Christmas movies coming out before Halloween.

+ Miley Cyrus of "Hannah Montana" fame told Oprah Winfrey she's allowed to go on dates, but her father Billy Ray watches her very closely. If any guys say the phrase "rehab clinic," forget it....

+ A Port St. Lucie, Florida sold a pancake on eBay - for 29 dollars. It supposedly has an image of Jesus and His mother Mary on it. [True/] So who plans to add a few drops of maple syrup, to make them cry?

BUT SERIOUSLY: We're sad to break this local news story, but we're told a Beulah High School football player is fighting for his life in a Birmingham hospital. Steven Lynn was wounded in a hunting mishap last Saturday. Our prayers are with Lynn and his family - and may a full recovery truly give everyone reason to be thankful.

COMING FRIDAY: The weekend's three important showdowns.... and you know which one matters most, don't you?....

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