Monday, August 17, 2009

17 AUG 09: Hubbub Bugs

So how was your weekend? Was it nice and quiet? The word "quiet" came to my mind around 12:00 noon Saturday - as someone mowed the lawn outside one window of my apartment, while a neighbor fired up his old Volkswagen near a second window.

Am I the only one who's noticed a loud noise in Columbus on several recent mornings? I heard it while walking downtown last Monday morning. Then I heard it while driving on Victory Drive Sunday morning. And no, I'm NOT talking about run-ins with opponents of health care reform....

The loud noise is a rattling of sorts, like bugs normally make at sunset. Except I heard it at 11:30 a.m. last Monday on Second Avenue, in shady spots outside First Baptist Church. Of course, that IS across the street from the federal courthouse - so maybe Columbus is a test ground for the latest thing in domestic intelligence-gathering.

But that wouldn't explain the similar sound I heard around 11:15 a.m. Sunday, while driving past Riverdale Cemetery. Again it sounded like noisy bugs. But I suppose it could be part of the new strategy at Port Columbus, to market itself as a museum filled with ghosts.

This noisiness seemed familiar, so Sunday evening I searched online for details on the "17-year cicada." They're insects which some people believe emerge from hiding every 17 years, in a cycle of nature -- a little bit like Sonny Coulter running for mayor of Phenix City.

It happens that my oldest niece marked her 17th wedding anniversary in May. One reception on the lawn outside my older brother's house in the Kansas City area in 1992 had so many noisy cicadas, we barely could hold conversations. And my brother didn't hire a DJ with one of those "Mr. Microphone" sets....

Yes, I know -- Columbus is more than 900 miles from Kansas City, and this is August instead of May. But the timing of this natural noise is enough to make me believe the story of the "17-year cicadas." And if you want to argue about it, you'll obviously need to speak up.

Yet my online search on the 17-year cicada surprised me, as a gardening web site declared "there is no major infestation expected in 2009." Did these experts also scale back their predictions on tropical storms a week or two ago?

A college in Ohio reports some of the "17-year cicadas" have come out early along the Eastern seaboard, four years sooner than expected. A mapping project shows insect sightings from Connecticut to North Carolina, but NOT in Columbus. I'm a bit surprised you have to "sight" them - and hearing them isn't enough.

But Georgia gardening expert Walter Reeves has a different view on this. He suggests I'm hearing a different group of insect he calls "dog-day cicadas," because they come out around this time every year. Reeves claims Georgia actually has 13-year cicadas, which are expected to come back in 2011. Now that's strange - creatures in the rural South which are faster than Northern ones.

By the way, my search informed me 17-year cicadas make so much noise because they're mating -- and the male insects are the ones who make the noise. This should prove once and for all humans did NOT descend from insects, especially when it comes to finding a mate.

One gardening web site says cicadas tend to stay away from humans and animals - but they love to lay eggs in trees. Large numbers of the insects can damage young fruit trees and bushes. They can divide twigs and branches almost as fast as some couples in Hollywood do it.

If there's any good news from all this noise, University of Georgia experts say adult cicadas will lay their eggs and die by September. The unusual racket will disappear - to be replaced by the much more common noise of humans rooting on football teams.

-> It's been an inspiring and dramatic last several days for us at the poker table. Read all about it at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: We thought he wanted privacy - but instead he's sent us details about a public new online project:

I am now blogging in Tide Corner for The site reaches a million unique visitors a month so I am fired up. No it doesn't pay, but I am looking forward to writing again and look forward to your support and comments. You Auburn, LSU and Georgia fans fell free to light me up. I love to hear intelligent feedback, but in this case even a boog or a corndog comment will suffice (just kidding guys). For those that are wondering about my internet fast, I will only be accessing sites to help me with this project. I have prayed about it and know God has released me to do this. I am still going to keep fasting from facebook. Anyway, look forward to hearing from everyone.

Craig Howard

This is the same Craig Howard who used to appear on a Cable TV of East Alabama talk show - and brought up the issue of city councilors receiving big raises [11 May]. With this new blog assignment, the only raise question will involve the pay of football coach Nick Saban.

Craig Howard's first entry for Tide Corner was posted over the weekend, and admitted he's more an Alabama football fan than a reporter. It also notes his father was "a high school football coach." I didn't realize until the other day the Glenwood High School field is named after Sammy Howard. Is that for being a coach, a former mayor, a big donor - or all of the above?

About that fast: Craig Howard's Facebook page says his church challenged him to "fast from something" for 40 days. He decided to take a break from the Internet. But now not only is Howard part of Tide Corner, he has a personal blog which he says he's updating by e-mail. Apparently Blackberry devices and iPhones aren't cheating - and are simply too app-ealing.

Before YOU take a break from the web, let's review some weekend news items:

+ Spurts of rain fell on Columbus, thanks to the outer edges of Tropical Storm Claudette. Weather experts like to call them "feeder bands" - as opposed to many high schools, where the bands feed other people to raise money.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported the U.S. Commerce Department has rejected Columbus's request for federal stimulus money, to pay for the new NCR plant. This apparently means city reserve money will be used - so if you see ATM's appearing at the Government Center this fall, please withdraw some money and pay a fee to help the cause.

+ The web site of WBOJ-FM "103.7 The Truth" confirmed morning host Lee McCard is no longer on the air, and was replaced by Heath Jackson. My online check didn't make clear what happened to McCard. Perhaps a fundamentalist preacher complained about "McCard playing" at a Christian radio station.

+ Controversial Colorado minister Ted Haggard appeared at "MyChurch" in Columbus. The former pastor who confessed to homosexual sins told WTVM he's going around the country this year on an "I'm Sorry" tour. Maybe Haggard can work out an arrangement with Michael Vick....

+ A semi-annual gun show concluded at the Columbus Trade Center. Gun sales jumped last fall, after Barack Obama was elected President. Now there could be a second wave - to stop big bad government doctors, who come to your door holding hypodermic needles.

+ Instant Message to Dr. Timothy Mescon: I don't get it. Why were you finally inaugurated as Columbus State University President Sunday - 13 months after taking the job? Were you under pressure to pull out a detailed birth certificate, too?

The number of unique visitors to our blog in the first half of 2009 was up 11.1 percent! To advertise to them, offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation 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: 361 (- 30, 7.7%, record low)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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