Monday, November 30, 2009

30 NOV 09: Web 10.0

Thanksgiving weekend marked a milestone for me. I've now been connected to the Internet at home for ten years. In a way, that's a troubling thought. Have I eaten more cookies in the past ten years than my computers have collected?

I wasn't really an Internet rookie in November 1999. A workplace in Atlanta introduced me to the web in 1995, and I've had my main e-mail address about that long. But outside of work, my only web access came at libraries - and in the mid-nineties, Georgia colleges actually could afford cutting-edge Internet computers.

(It was the Clayton County library which introduced me to Apple McIntosh computers. But they worked so slowly and had such limited memory that it's no wonder the "P.C." in those commercials seems so pompous and superior.)

My computer of choice throughout the Internet era has been an eMachines. Well, it was somewhat by choice. I chose to stay within a budget, and not empty my bank account....

My April 1999 eMachines met a BellSouth Internet start-up disc on Thanksgiving Friday, ten years ago. For several years I settled for what the commercials called "slooooow dial-up." With every call costing me money on my local phone bill, it was a sure way to avoid Internet addiction -- but I probably missed hundreds of annoying telemarketing calls.

One of the first things I did once the Internet connection was installed was set up a Microsoft Outlook e-mail account. These days, I never use it - because when I've been forced to change e-mail addresses by my I.S.P. or due to computer repairs, my saved Outlook messages would disappear. How else am I supposed to double-check which romantic appeals didn't work?

The scariest lesson I learned in my first hours of home Internet service involved proper web addresses. When I left one letter out of "," a web site appeared with pop-up pages and a cartoon of someone dressed like a Nazi. "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" was installed in library computers back then for good reason....

By and large, things settled down from there. The first online radio station I called up was a Christian station from Chicago. But without any Internet security software installed, demon programs crept onto my computer. When one of them turns your home page into a message of insults AND automatically opens your CD tray, it's time to do something.

Ten years later, my Internet arrangement is substantially better. I'm on only my second eMachines computer, which has run almost flawlessly for three-and-a-half years. The old eMachines would have needed two sticks of RAM and a couple of new cooling fans for the hard drive in that time.

And for about two years, I've been connected to the Internet through broadband. Yes, I now have security software to keep hackers away -- but if I don't turn up the security level when I play online poker, something occasionally can slip through and cause a disruption. Why would I want to take a consumer survey, in the middle of winning thousands of chips?

But in the last ten years, my Internet habits have changed in one significant way. In the mid-nineties, I made sure my e-mail InBox was kept as empty as possible. Now my account has items dating as far back as December 1999 - and since Yahoo has unlimited InBox space now, it's comforting to know I'm not the only computer user with a clutter problem.

Let's complete the round-trip from '99 to '09, and catch up on some Sunday news items:

+ WXTX "News at Ten" reported Groome Transportation is seeing more business this year than last year. At least the drivers are nice enough NOT to honk their horns and wave, when they drive past the Columbus Airport.

+ WTVM noted one of Billy Graham's sons will conduct a "Celebration Revival" in late March at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn. I think many people will be celebrating the basketball teams' final home games there....

+ The Auburn Football Review showed Coach Gene Chizik's locker room comments moments after the Iron Bowl. Chizik assured his players, "Down the road, people are going to be nervous." Such as the Bowl Championship Series executives, who almost saw the real possibility of a title game between Texas and Cincinnati.

+ The Atlanta Falcons came from behind for a critical 20-17 win over Tampa Bay. Chris Redman threw the winning touchdown pass in the final 30 seconds - despite the fact that his team wore black uniforms.

(Redman had to relieve quarterback Matt Ryan, who left the game with some kind of toe injury. The way Jason Elam has been missing field goals, I hope he's not infecting the entire team.)

+ Former Auburn kicker Damon Duval won the Canadian Football League Grey Cup for Montreal, by making a last-second field goal. Duval actually missed a kick from 43 yards, but received a second chance when Saskatchewan had too many men on the field -- which seems impossible, since the Canadian league lets you have 12 in the first place.

+ Instant Message to Chef Lee's II on Bradley Park Drive: Your food was wonderful the other night. The atmosphere is among the most elegant in Columbus. But why do you have a little cooler near the front door, with bottles of soda and water? Do that many people feel they need to wash MSG out of their systems?

To make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers, 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: 354 (- 29, 7.6%)

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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Sunday, November 29, 2009

29 NOV 09: That Upsetting Feeling

"All right, Alabama fan!" my next-door neighbor said in a loud voice several mornings ago. "I've got 100 on Auburn!" Yes sir - the Iron Bowl is a great economic stimulus, even in Columbus.

The next-door neighbor was challenging someone at the business next door to make a bet on the Alabama-Auburn game. Did the worker take him on? The answer came Friday, as the Iron Bowl was in progress. "He backed out on me," the neighbor said. Maybe the worker had second thoughts, when he realized he'd be gambling on company property.

My next-door neighbor became a sportscaster during the Iron Bowl. He opened the door and announced the first two Auburn touchdowns to people standing in the courtyard. When Alabama scored, the door for some reason remained closed. So I took it upon myself to announce the first two Tide touchdowns -- sort of like the old debate show "Crossfire."

(Trouble was, there was no one standing in the courtyard when I announced the Alabama scores. How can we have "fair and balanced" sports coverage when the viewers don't stick around for all of it?)

The score was Auburn 21, Alabama 20 with about ten minutes to play when I turned off the television set Friday evening. No, I did NOT watch the Iron Bowl all the way to the end. Long-time blog readers know I put something above football on my priority list. And no, this Kansas grad does NOT mean college basketball....

Since all was quiet as I ate dinner, I presumed Alabama found a way to beat Auburn. After all, my next-door neighbor would have stepped outside and hollered if the Tigers had won.

It turns out my next-door neighbor escaped a 100-dollar loss, as Alabama edged Auburn 26-21. The winning touchdown came on a pass to Roy Upchurch - which probably left some Auburn fans wanting to (ahem) up-chuck.

I actually drove to Lee County Friday morning, to take advantage of a gasoline discount and buy groceries at Kroger. From U.S. 280 at Summerville Road to Exit 57 at Interstate 85, I counted 13 vehicles with some kind of Auburn logos. Alabama logos were on eight vehicles - and I presumed the cars with Georgia logos were simply heading on road trips.

(You could see cars flying Alabama, Auburn and Georgia flags as early as Wednesday - leaving me to wonder if I was the only one to put out the U.S. flag Thursday. Thanksgiving is a national holiday, you know....)

CBS Sports showed part of Auburn head coach Gene Chizik's pre-game pep talk. He told the Tigers: "We're gonna win the game today.... it's a street fight for 60 minutes...." The second statement may have been true, but Chizik has a great future on the panel of football pickers at the Ledger-Enquirer.

Gene Chizik reached deep into the bag of tricks to get an edge over Alabama. After taking a 7-0 lead, he called a ten-yard kick which Auburn recovered. I'm convinced Chizik ordered his kicker to put the opening kickoff out of bounds for a penalty, to set this trap....

(No, I'm NOT calling that move an "onside kick" - since technically, any kickoff going more than ten yards is onside. Radio networks ought to have Sonic sponsor the "Strawberry Short-Kicks" when they happen.)

In fact, both kickers in the Iron Bowl may have been nervous. Alabama and Auburn each were penalized twice for putting kickoffs out of bounds. It was almost like the Tigers feared Alabama's Javier Arenas had the H-1-N-1 flu.

"What do we have here?" Auburn radio announcer Rod Bramblett asked after the Tigers took an early lead. By the end of the game, someone should have shown up in the press box to remind him - what it was, was football.

While Auburn failed to pull off the upset, Georgia did Saturday night. The Bulldogs surprised highly-ranked Georgia Tech 30-24 - and the most amazing thing was that Georgia didn't have to put on strange uniforms to do it.

Georgia never trailed in the rivalry game at Grant Field. When the Bulldogs scored first, Georgia Tech radio announcer Wes Durham said "Touchdown Georgia" like it was no big deal. My next-door neighbor could have given him a lesson in enthusiasm.

Grant Field was filled with enthusiasm well before kickoff. The Georgia and Georgia Tech players gathered on opposite sides of center field, jumping up and down and jawing at each other. The officials and a few coaches thankfully stood between them, to prevent another big health care debate from breaking out.

(ABC sideline reporter Holly Rowe claimed to see a couple of Georgia and Georgia Tech players hugging each other before the game. Maybe this explains why the Bulldogs barely finished with a winning record - Coach Mark Richt is preaching too much love, after those mission trips.)

Some unusual tactics took place in the Georgia-Georgia Tech game as well. The Yella Fellas Yellow Jackets called time out with three seconds left in the first half - after a few Bulldog players already had run into the locker room. It's one thing to have your team run wind sprints, but forcing the other team to do it during a game seems unfair.

A key moment in the game occurred when Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius "Beh-Beh" Thomas dropped a fourth-down pass late in the game. Thomas caught a 76-yard touchdown pass early in the second half - which I assume was sponsored on radio as a "Beh-Beh and T-D."

Georgia had a live bulldog on the sideline Saturday night, temporarily replacing the late Uga VII. I think its name was pronounced "Russ" - but the way the game turned out, it might have been "Rush."

Did you see former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford on the sidelines? He was wearing a Detroit Tigers baseball cap. When he's too ashamed to wear a hat for his football Lions, you know it's a bad season.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Georgia radio sideline reporter Loren "Whatta-ya-got?" Smith declared he was especially happy for Willie Martinez. Some Bulldog fans suspect the defensive coordinator will be fired. But at least he could be first in line for upcoming openings at Notre Dame.

Georgia radio broadcaster Scott Howard reported the 30-24 score was "wiped off the scoreboard" at Grant Field as soon as the game ended. Of all the times for Georgia Tech's stadium crew to start conserving energy....

(A few Bulldog players even were spotted digging up pieces of the Grant Field turf. When you're not even guaranteed a ring from a bowl game in Shreveport, you have to take any souvenir you can find.)

In the high school football playoffs, Carver lost a close quarterfinal game to Flowery Branch 35-33. Yet after another strong season, I'm wondering when Coach Dell McGee will start getting offers to join college staffs. In this day and age, coaches at Hardaway and Shaw might be e-mailing resumes in McGee's behalf.

If you're not a football fan, here are a few weekend leftovers to Crimson tide you over....

+ I woke up Friday morning to find my atomic clock showing Saturday, 5 December. If "Flash Forward" happened in real life, I'm concerned - because I slept right through it.

+ The Columbus Airport reported a Saturday morning low of 32 degrees F. That's the official first freeze of the season - and it seems awfully late, considering how many times the Civic Center already has been open for public ice skating.

+ A Saturday afternoon drive past Peachtree Mall found a surprisingly large number of empty parking spaces, especially near the old Parisian store. Were that many people worn out from "Black Friday" specials?

+ Columbus Police reported someone stole a large statue of Ronald McDonald from the McDonald's restaurant on Manchester Expressway. This is what happens when the Ham-Burglar is allowed to keep running around free on bond....

+ Instant Message to whomever posted the "FOUND PIG" sign along Warm Springs Road at 17th Avenue: Have you called the barbecue restaurants, to see if they lost one?

Our deep thanks to a Columbus business owner, who became a "blog patron" by donating to us! To make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers, 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: 383 (+ 14, 3.8%)

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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Saturday, November 28, 2009

28 NOV 09: Elder-Care

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath. We'll save the football review for Sunday.)

Thanksgiving dinner normally isn't a time for me to do celebrity-watching. But this year was an exception, without my even trying. I sat down in a restaurant next to one of Phenix City's best-known ministers. No, I did NOT ask him if fireworks should have been set off before high school football games.

"Pastor Cochran?!" I said as a man with his back to me stood to attend to older people at the table. Sure enough - it was Raymond Cochran of Franchise Missionary Baptist Church. Would I harm his reputation, if I mentioned this restaurant was in Columbus?

"How are you doing?" Raymond Cochran said in response.

"I'm thankful," I answered on Thanksgiving afternoon. I admitted to the Pastor I had seen his worship service Sunday nights on WYBU TV-16. But for some reason, my new high-powered high-definition TV doesn't want to pick up low-power stations.

An older couple was with Raymond Cochran and his wife. I guessed they might be parents - but no, they were an uncle of Mrs. Cochran and his wife. "They wanted to go out for Thanksgiving," the Pastor said.

"Your wife must like that - not having to cook."

"Good Lord....!" I wouldn't have been offended if he said amen, but his smile of agreement was enough.

Raymond Cochran and his wife have taken the older relatives into their home, because they're not in the best of health. Considering Cochran pastors a large church, that can't be easy to do. Any day his wife doesn't have to cook must feel like Mother's Day.

I recalled a man who once was my pastor in Atlanta. His home included not only his mother-in-law, but a daughter who died of sickle cell anemia before turning 25. But he ministered for church congregations in south Florida after Hurricane Andrew struck - so his threshold for pain may have increased with the wind speed.

Sometimes church ministers can seem superhuman, as they preach congregations toward a more perfect way of living. But Raymond Cochran reminds me many pastors face the same trials of life as their members. That's really nothing new, as the apostle Paul describes in II Corinthians 11 facing everything from stoning to shipwrecks. And that was long before those scenic "Bible cruises" to Alaska....

October was the official "Pastor Appreciation Month," but it's never a bad time to give your minister an encouraging word or gift. It could help him through a difficult situation you might not know about. And it beats taking YOUR family to dinner after a worship service, to feast on "roast preacher."

To make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers, 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: 369 (- 50, 11.9%)

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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Friday, November 27, 2009

27 NOV 09: Iron Bowls, Iron Dogs

If you're reading this at around 4:00 a.m., I can understand the reason why. You're up long before sunrise, hoping to beat the big crowd for the much-publicized event of the day. And here's hoping you get a tailgate spot within two blocks of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

For the first time in decades, the "Iron Bowl" football game between Alabama and Auburn is being played on Thanksgiving Friday. So a large number of fans showed up in Lee County early. I'm not sure exactly how many did - but there were no reports Thursday night of supporters throwing pecan pies at each other.

WXTX "News at Ten" estimated thousands of Tiger fans attended a Thursday night pep rally in downtown Auburn. One Columbus family admitted it landed a spot for tailgating at 6:00 a.m., as soon as reservations opened. How big a turkey can you roast over a portable grill, anyway?

Auburn city officials tried hard to take advantage of the football game's change in timing. It set up a web site promoting an "Iron Bowl Thanksgiving." Downtown businesses even opened their doors Thursday afternoon to make money from special sales. People who bought items in stores today probably will NOT be looking for scalpers tomorrow.

(One Iron Bowl deal offered free Auburn men's basketball tickets for people staying in hotels. But from the clips I saw of Wednesday night's win over High Point, visitors apparently considered Bill O'Reilly on motel TV sets more entertaining.)

Auburn Police expect 30,000 people to tailgate outside the stadium, before the Iron Bowl begins. And that could be in addition to the 90,000 or so with tickets to the game. The new basketball arena ought to be nicknamed the "Overflow Room."

It's actually a football doubleheader day in Auburn. The Iron Bowl in the afternoon will be followed by a high school playoff game in the evening. So Auburn Police plan to have about 300 officers on duty - perhaps holding as many "tickets" as the fans.

(The Prattville-Auburn high school quarterfinal game will be played at Duck Sanford Stadium. Someone needs to explain to me why Aflac doesn't pay for special team uniforms.)

Oh yes, about the Iron Bowl itself - Alabama heads to Auburn with an undefeated record. The Tigers have seven wins, and are "bowl eligible." That phrase sounds to me like a league bowling team looking for one last player.

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik promised to reporters this week that "someone will go down in history" at this year's Iron Bowl. Oh no - please don't tell me that couple which crashed the White House state dinner plans to sing the national anthem.

Auburn graduates who live in Columbus may be thrilled about something I saw Thursday. Momma Goldberg's Deli plans to open a new location on Manchester Expressway, near Armour Road. So how did Warner Robins wind up with a restaurant before Columbus did? Have they been flying sandwiches to the air force base for years?

Georgia's version of a big in-state football rivalry takes place Saturday night in Atlanta. But what does it say about the quality of the Georgia-Georgia Tech game when the big issue of the week isn't pigskin, but mechanical dogs?

The front page of Thursday's Ledger-Enquirer included a story about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals proposing a change in the Georgia football mascot. PETA wants the late "Uga VII" replaced by a robotic bulldog. Aw, c'mon - doesn't this group realize Georgia Tech geeks would have to build such a thing?

PETA's protest apparently stems from "interbreeding" of purebred bulldogs - claiming it can lead to "breathing difficulties" and "heart disorders." So? The Georgia cheerleaders probably bring the same reaction from male students, but there's no talk of banning them.

While you may scoff at the PETA "robo-dawg" idea, today's Athens Banner-Herald has an editorial leaning in favor of the group. The newspaper suggests finding Uga VIII at an animal shelter - but it stops short of giving that dog the name Ugly I.

(There's someone lost in all of this discussion. If I was the person wearing the "Hairy Dawg" costume at Georgia games, I'd start checking it for dangerous sharp objects.)

How far does PETA plan to go with this campaign? Will the group go after the "War Eagle" which flies around the Auburn football field next? Flying a remote-controlled airplane with a miniature Aubie in the cockpit simply wouldn't be the same.

Don't worry, Columbus sports fans - I didn't forget this city's big football game. Carver High School hosts Flowery Branch in the quarterfinals tonight. But a Thanksgiving Carver seemed more appropriate to me....

I've asked it before, yet I must ask it again -- why is there STILL no sign at the Columbus city limits noting Carver's state football championship? It's now been nearly two years. Are city officials waiting for Jarvis Jones to pay for signs, from his big pro football contract?

Somebody's gotta say it - if someone other than Isaiah Hugley was City Manager, civil rights leaders would be publicly fuming over the lack of signs for the 2007 Carver football team. Yet they apparently didn't even persuade Mayor Wetherington that those positive signs could prevent crime.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Check "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Not that we're complaining, but we had no Thanksgiving break from reader comments. Take this question....

Hey Richard,

Enjoy your blog each day. Long time reader.

Question. What will happen to 103.7 once THE TRUTH moves to 88.5 FM? Any plans for a different format.


Jimmy Hubbard

That question has me puzzled, too -- and the station managers haven't tipped their hand yet. I'm hearing the WRCG simulcast will stay where it is, at 106.9 FM. As we all know, listeners to conservative talk shows become suspicious when there are too many changes.

The web site for WBOJ-FM "The Truth" has not been updated, and doesn't even mention next week's move down the dial to WTMQ-FM. But the station announcers mentioned in passing this week that the two stations might be simulcasting. I don't think that will increase sales of stereo boom-boxes....

Speaking of broadcasting, we also heard from a former TV news reporter:


Kari Tornabene here :) Hope you are doing well! It's been a long time. Since you are the man who knows just about everything going on in this city...

I thought you had written something on your blog recently about a "black" Friday type even for Kelly Clarkson tickets. Do you know if this is in fact true? I can't find it on your blog anymore. I also heard something about it on the radio but can't find details anywhere. Hoping you would know something :)

Take Care!

Kari Finley

Sorry -- the Columbus Civic Center offered that $14.99 discount price last weekend. So if you want tickets now, you'll have to pay at least $39.50 - and at that price, Clarkson's hair had better look like it does in the promotional ads. She looked during the American Music Awards like she's looking for a retired stockbroker to marry.

We thank all of you who write us - and let's stick with the broadcasting theme, as we get caught up on news from the last couple of days:

+ WRBL canceled its Thursday 11:00 p.m. news, and tried to show a special on severe weather safety. But for some reason, it didn't appear until 11:09 -- and I really don't think Bob Jeswald was illustrating what happens when lightning strikes the station tower.

(For nine minutes WRBL viewers saw the last part of a Georgia Lottery drawing, a test pattern for The Late Show with David Letterman - and I actually was thrilled when about 30 seconds of the WSB-TV news from Atlanta came on.)

+ The Georgia Lottery's Fantasy Five drawing suddenly stopped when the fifth ball never came out of the machine. You could hear people in the background afterward yelling, "What happened?" After all, you're not supposed to have cardiac arrest until all five numbers match.

+ New state statistics showed Columbus unemployment rate went up slightly in October, to 9.6 percent. But thankfully, Columbus Council is trying to change that -- by voting this week to add one new job in crime prevention.

(Mayor Jim Wetherington says he's looking for a Crime Prevention Director who has "good people skills." That seems logical to me - since bad people skills seem more likely to result in bad people.)

+ A CQ Press report ranked Columbus the 55th worst U.S. city in terms of crime. Believe it or not, Columbus rates worse than New York and Los Angeles - so maybe the Convention and Visitors Bureau can offer our city as the setting for a new TV crime drama.

+ WTVM reported the Aaron Cohn Youth Development Center is under investigation. Two young inmates were found with pornographic pictures in their rooms - pictures apparently printed from Y.D.C. staff computers. This is what happens when state computers don't come with Photoshop software.

+ Several local businesses and agencies provided Thanksgiving dinners for needy people. The manager of The Market on First Avenue told THE Noon News he prepared 200 pounds of ham and 200 pounds of sweet potatoes. No one ever told me you're supposed to eat all the menu items in equal amounts.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths pounded Pensacola 8-1 -- but no Columbus radio station aired the game. If the hockey team can play on a holiday, why can't a sports talk station.... oh wait, I forgot. WRBL couldn't even show a late-night newscast.

Our deep thanks to a Columbus business owner, who became a "blog patron" this week by donating to us! To make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers, 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: 419 (+ 9, 2.2%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

26 NOV 09: Extra Conditioner?

So what are you drinking for Thanksgiving Day? I didn't ask what you were eating - but drinking. Sports talk host Dan Patrick mentioned Wednesday some holiday visitors love to hit the bottle - and let's say he was NOT describing the Pepto-Bismol after dinner.

The topic of alcohol has been on many minds in Columbus lately, in light of the "Mimosa Madame" case. One reader reported by e-mail the matter extends far beyond Formal Elegance....

Richard, I don't understand the arrest and conviction of the Columbus bridal shop owner for serving drinks containing alcohol to her customers when it has been common knowledge in Columbus that many of the local more expensive hair salons in Columbus have been serving wine and champagne to their clients for years. Is this a case of selective enforcement? Wouldn't it have been better for the city to put out a public notice to all businesses in the city that it was prohibited and only make arrests after they were all informed. But to let other businesses do this for years and then arrest one business owner seems suspect.

And by the way some of the city senior centers have been serving non-alcoholic beer at some of their special events for years. In case you didn't know, the beer advertised as non-alcoholic does contain alcohol. Just thought you'd like to know.

Let's take these complaints one at a time. First of all, I thought the "alcohol" used by stylists only was used to make your hair smell nice after it's cut.

It's one thing to make a general statement about hair salons, but we wanted some specific examples. After all, it's not fair to comb all salons with a wide brush....

So we asked, and the reader responded:

Richard, Williams' Hair Salon at Cross Country has been doing this (serving wine and champagne to their customers) for many, many years (at least 15-20). According to my daughter and many of my friends other salons in Columbus do the same.

Ooh boy - this would be an unusual assignment. A single guy would stand outside a hair salon, and approach women as they leave to ask probing questions. This makes snappy one-liners at nightclubs seem downright tame.

But to get to the split end of this accusation, we went to William's Salon Wednesday. A young woman walked in with a boy, then walked out a couple of minutes later. When we stopped her, she didn't seem to be 21 -- and her blonde hair didn't seem to have changed color at all.

It turned out the young woman's mother was inside William's Salon. But when it came to the beverage question? "They have a Coke machine.... they buy it for you...." Hmmmm - I once received a miniature bottle of wine on a trans-Atlantic flight, but that was only about six ounces big. That doesn't even qualify as a "fun size" can of soda.

I also stopped an older woman who went to the salon for a perm. Edith Battiato said she's had the same stylist for "11 or 12 years," and that person now owns William's Salon. Battiato assured me she's never seen alcohol served inside the business -- but she seemed like the type who would rather drink sweet tea.

An employee of William's Salon happened to step outside the door, to chat with a man. The woman named Christie flatly said, "No, we do not," when we asked the alcohol question. So at this point, anyone with evidence to the contrary will have to smuggle a bottle out in one of those giant purses.

Now to the second part of this e-mail. Are city senior centers serving saucy substances? And could anyone older than 65 say that last sentence clearly, if it's happening?

We again asked for specifics about where this is happening - and this response came:

The South Columbus Sr. Center (aka Frank Chester Sr. Center) has been serving non-alcoholic beer (0.5 % alcohol) at their annual Octoberfests for years.

This was confirmed to your blog Wednesday by staff member Brenda Coyle. She said the center manager purchased the beer. But the manager was out when we called, and Coyle didn't seem to know about the small amount of alcoholic content. Clearly this shows the need for an A&W root beer stand south of Manchester Expressway.

But is that small amount of alcohol in a "non-alcoholic beer" really an issue? People at the Government Center suggested we check Georgia state rules on such things. Drivers of commercial vehicles cannot carry non-alcoholic beer in their cabs at all -- but we're talking about an Oktoberfest party, not truck drivers hauling beer-battered shrimp to Red Lobster.

The web site of Barber's Driving School includes the section of Georgia law on what defines an "alcoholic beverage." The threshold for beer and wine is 0.5 percent of alcohol by volume. But Anheuser-Busch claims its well-known O'Doul's brand has less than that. So again, the burden of proof is on our accuser - and we're not paying for the laboratory tests.

When it comes to the bottom-line point of our e-mailer: perhaps Formal Elegance and its "Mimosa Madame" received Columbus Police attention because someone complained to officers. If alcohol also is served at salons, perhaps everyone at those places likes it - and you know how stylists and their customers love to keep their little secrets.

Instead of our usual news summary, we'll close on this Thanksgiving Day with our response to a challenge. A woman suggested online two weeks ago we note one thing per day for which we're thankful. It was a great idea, and I came up with this partial list:

+ For (ahem) Someone bigger than I to guide me each day. Hopefully you DO know the "thanksgiving" today is for more than the cooks.

+ Free places to exercise in Columbus, such as the Riverwalk. But at this time of year, I wish the city would ask for federal stimulus money to line the path with heaters.

+ Strength to exercise on the Riverwalk. Now if some prison inmates please will pressure-wash the mud away, so I don't slip and fall....

+ The place where I worked for 12 years. The nice "official" sport shirts and ballcaps still fit.

+ Golden Donuts, which threw in an extra apple fritter at no charge the other day when the one I requested fell apart in the cashier's hand. I'd never heard of a "broken fritter" before.

+ Life in a country with an abundance of food overall. Perhaps Second Baptist Church will share some food from its FREE Thanksgiving dinner today, to refill the Valley Rescue Mission.

+ A car which still runs well after 15-and-a-half years. The highway gas mileage remains strong - and one of these days I'll get the semi-functional odometer fixed, to know exactly what that mileage is.

+ Places in Columbus where you can win money in free poker tournaments. But I sometimes wish they'd change the rules, so the top 30 players get paid instead of the top two.

+ Cash on hand, in the bank and other places. I've almost recovered everything I lost in last fall's economic meltdown - although I fear it's due to investments in China.

+ And for all of you who visit this blog, whether it's every day or once in a while. Several even have sent donations this year, which is especially welcome. Rest assured not one penny will be given to someone scalping Iron Bowl tickets.

Our main topics the last three days were the result of blog readers' tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 410 (+ 11, 5.6%)

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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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 NOV 09: I Before E?

Long ago and a few generations of movie stars away, presenters at Hollywood awards shows carried nothing on stage. Someone had to ask, "May I have the envelope, please?" We felt like asking that Tuesday afternoon, after chatting with a Phenix City Councilor - but no, they're not handing out awards there for the King of All Liars.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE PART 2: Phenix City Councilor Jimmy Wetzel confirmed Tuesday he wrote the 5 November letter to Superintendent Larry DiChiara that we initially thought was a parody - the one where the first name is misspelled "Larrie" twice. Wetzel phoned me instead of writing a letter. That's OK - people have had trouble spelling Burkard for a long time.

The Councilor explained the Superintendent really started the "-ie" fuss. "He misspelled my name in his letter," Jimmy Wetzel said. That led me to scan Larry DiChiara's 4 November letter - which never names Wetzel at all. It doesn't even claim a City Council member is all wet.

"It was on the envelope," Jimmy Wetzel then added. He says the Superintendent had Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter personally pick up the 4 November letters, then hand-deliver them to the Council members. Wow -- are Phenix City schools so tight for funds that they're scrimping on postage stamps?

(You'd think Jimmy Wetzel would be happy with Sonny Coulter doing postal duty. That means the mayor probably was in his office at least once.)

"Jimmie Wetzel" is how the Councilor says his envelope was addressed. So he responded in kind, by writing to "Larrie DiChiara." Wetzel says the Superintendent should have known better, because "he's known me for years." I should have asked Wetzel if he made some of those late-night "angry parent" calls.

The hand delivery of the Superintendent's letter by "Mayor Sylvester" Coulter (as Jimmy Wetzel's reply calls him) may explain why Wetzel thinks there's a two-headed conspiracy against Phenix City Manager Wallace Hunter. Then again, Larry DiChiara seems certain there's a three-headed conspiracy against the Phenix City School Board - also known as a council majority.

We asked Jimmy Wetzel about several of his accusations against Larry DiChiara. Did the Superintendent use profane language in front of staff members, when he worked for the Lee County Schools? "I'll let that stand for itself," was all Wetzel would say. Translation: someone will have to e-mail us the secret recordings.

When it came to the contention that Superintendent Larry DiChiara wants segregated schools, Jimmy Wetzel was more detailed. He says it stems from a proposed school reorganization plan [6 Dec 05], which would have built a new grade school on the north side of Phenix City but NOT on the south side. Wetzel's argument could be summed up as "South Seale or No Deal."

Jimmy Wetzel notes the Phenix City School Board rejected the Superintendent's reorganization plan. But Board President Eddie Lowe later said a proposed primary school near Lakewood Elementary was designed "to attract white students from Lee County." Wow - bring segregation to Smith Station at the same time?!

Jimmy Wetzel added Phenix City is "growing all over," and developers of new southside subdivisions have requested annexation into the city. That's strange - a letter to this blog during the summer suggested Councilor Arthur Sumbry was recruiting homeowners outside town against their will [9 Jul]. And to be honest, Russell County HAS been more successful at baseball lately.

Councilor Jimmy Wetzel also is unimpressed by the new Phenix City Freshman Academy. He says the gymnasium alone cost at least four million dollars. But at least that gym is being used for big events, such as a high school wrestling meet last weekend. Now if Great Championship Wrestling please will reserve it once a month, so the costs can be repaid....

So is Jimmy Wetzel plotting what might be called an "Extreme Makeover, School Board Edition?" He left that question open, but said: "The citizens of Phenix City voted for change last year." The city council may get around to proposing its own health care reform plan in 2010.

Yet while Jimmy Wetzel told me about changes on several Phenix City boards in the last year, he noted the City Council voted unanimously to grant School Board member Florence Bellamy another term. Isn't this amazing?! I mean, the Phenix City Council being unanimous on something....

So now we have both sides of the latest "Phenix City Story." Councilor Jimmy Wetzel admitted to me he's poles apart on issues with Superintendent Larry DiChiara. Here's hoping both men learn the basic spelling lesson of our title today - and not put the "I" of self before the "E" of educating children.

BLOG UPDATE: Months of debate about public safety ended Tuesday night, when Columbus Council approved a new Office of Crime Prevention. But can't the name of this be adjusted a little? Make it something like the Crime Office for Prevention - so it spells COP.

The vote was 7-3 in favor of an O.C.P. in Columbus, with a Director and seven-person board. Councilor Gary Allen voted for it, after being absent last month. And Glenn Davis switched his vote from nay to yea - which shouldn't be surprising, since baseball players prefer people saying "yea" from the stands.

Mayor Jim Wetherington apparently gave Glenn Davis what he wanted, by announcing the Crime Prevention Director would have a lower city pay grade. The salary reduction is in the range of $10,000 to $14,000 - which could require the director to live in a lower-class neighborhood which needs crime prevention most.

Columbus Council also approved a seven-person Crime Prevention Board. The mayor will appoint four members. The council will appoint three members. And one of their first assignments could be to check all bridal shops for stashes of champagne.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Check "On the Flop!" <--

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION stemming from Columbus's big corruption trial closed Tuesday evening - and seven out of 11 voters said the acquittal of Mark Shelnutt should make a difference in the next round of voting for judge and district attorney. This should inspire Shelnutt to offer himself as a spokesman in campaign commercials.

The comments in our weeklong pathetically non-scientific poll reflected both sides in the Mark Shelnutt case. One supporter of the attorney called for an investigation of local law enforcement and prosecutors. But an opponent wrote the federal trial was filled with "so many improper things" - although Judge Clay Land drew a line at reporters sending Twitter messages.

One critic of Mark Shelnutt bluntly wrote: "Even his appearance is creepy." Aw, c'mon - Andy Griffith wore plenty of bright-colored sportcoats on "Matlock," yet he still won almost all his cases.

(That comment also described Shelnutt's supporters as a "cult-like following." I've never heard United Methodists compared to a cult before - but then again, maybe a hard-core Baptist wrote that.)

Another commenter brought up the fact that Judge Clay Land attends the same United Methodist church as Mark Shelnutt. "Why didn't the federal prosecutors object?" the writer wondered. The St. Luke schedule may offer an answer to that. Shelnutt plays in the 9:00 a.m. contemporary service, not the 10:55 formal one.

To answer a question from that writer: Judge Clay Land was appointed by President George W. Bush earlier in this decade, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. So a longtime Republican sat over the trial of a Democrat attorney, and threw out four of the 40 counts during trial. Combine that with the Orly Taitz tussle, and Land could wind up on a short list for President Obama.

Mark Shelnutt gave his first in-depth interview since the federal trial Tuesday. He told WTVM the thought of him accepting "big bags of money" at his office are absurd. He's right, of course - as I've seen enough movies and TV spy dramas to know briefcases are more commonplace.

Mark Shelnutt expressed concern that federal prosecutors played selected short clips of secret recordings to Torrance Hill, to get the admitted drug dealer to turn against his longtime lawyer. Those prosecutors may be preparing for future work as producers for cable news channels....

Mark Shelnutt added he plans to write his book about his experiences of recent months. This could turn out to be the most unusual item ever sold on "Songwriters' Night" at The Loft.

As if these items didn't make Tuesday busy enough, there was other news as well:

+ The announcers with WBOJ-FM "103.7 The Truth" revealed the move down the dial to 88.5 FM (which we broke here two weeks ago) officially will happen next Tuesday. Afternoon host Brian Hite said going noncommercial "will give us a lot more freedom." Well, until a foul-up leads to a drought in donations....

(For those of you adjusting to the "New Truth," be sure you turn the FM dial all the way to 88.5. If you stop too soon, you'll wind up at a station whose founder practically says modern Christian music is a tool of the devil. Adding a drumbeat to "Amazing Grace" could turn you into a mindless zombie.)

+ Defeated Georgia House candidate Jerry Luquire was named the new President of the Georgia Christian Coalition. So Luquire will go to Atlanta after all - and as a former talk show host, he won't need any advance training in lobbying lawmakers.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer revealed RiverCenter Executive Director Enoch Morris is resigning. How ironic that his Twitter page is now out of service - the one with the shorthand name, "EX Dir Morris."

+ WTVM interviewed Billy Brescia, who's still selling homes in Columbus at age 92. When he tells you a home is historic, you'd better believe it....

+ East Alabama Medical Center announced smoking will be banned throughout its entire complex next year. I smell an economic opportunity here - with someone opening a "cigar bar" nearby for new fathers.

+ GPB News reported Kellogg's is laying off employees at its bakery in Augusta. Uh-oh - does that mean a cutback in Columbus is coming next? The thought of Keebler elves standing in line at the Career Center is almost too hard to comprehend.

+ Columbus State lost to Alabama State in men's college basketball 64-58. This game was unusual, because NCAA Division II Columbus State usually doesn't step up to play Division I opponents. But then, maybe the C.S.U. athletic staff was told only about the A.S.U. football program....

Our main topic the last two days was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 399 (+ 21, 5.6%)

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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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

24 NOV 09: Hello, "Larrie"

Sometimes I wonder if this blog missed the real target all along. Maybe it ought to be The Blog of Phenix City. The political fighting there nowadays puts our "Hurtsboro Mondays" of old to shame. And in Phenix City, there's more than one official doing all the grumbling.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara says it's time to "fight fire with fire," in a dispute with the City Manager and a Councilor. DiChiara told me Monday he was blasted with profane language by Wallace Hunter, then falsely accused by Jimmy Wetzel. Imagine if Central High School's football game had missed the playoffs....

Dr. Larry DiChiara says the feud actually goes back to the Phenix Friday Football Fireworks Flap. We mentioned in passing three weeks ago [3 Nov] about Central High players signing a petition in support of the fireworks. One of the players happened to be City Manager Wallace Hunter's son -- and that made Hunter upset. If they all had been signing national letters of intent, that might have been different.

Your blog has obtained a letter the superintendent sent to the Phenix City Council 4 November. Larry DiChiara says City Manager Wallace Hunter called his home a week earlier about the fireworks petition, and chewed him out for 15 minutes with a series of four-letter words. And those words apparently did NOT include "boom" or "bang."

The Phenix City Superintendent says he never knew about the fireworks petition, and it was initiated by Central High School coaches at the request of players. Yet Larry DiChiara says the City Manager let him have it, with language he'd never heard before from any other public official - proving DiChiara never served on President Nixon's White House staff.

Wallace Hunter explained his concern, during a 2 November Phenix City Council work session we attended. The City Manager said his high school sophomore son is not allowed to sign anything without his permission, but the son felt "peer pressure" from fellow players and feared the Central coaches might not let him play. The "True Love Waits" promoters might want to walk carefully....

But Superintendent Larry DiChiara says in his letter the City Manager is "a professional," who failed to act like one on the phone. I'm against profanity, and don't use it at all. But if the Superintendent thinks "professionals" never use such language, he needs to spend some time in a professional sports locker room.

The letter to the Phenix City Council doesn't stop with that one phone call. Larry DiChiara says several months ago, Wallace Hunter publicly called him "a crook" to a school board member. Of all places, that reportedly happened at a barber shop - where you'd think cutting remarks are commonplace.

If that phone call to the Phenix City Superintendent seems strange, a reply to his letter may be even stranger. Larry DiChiara says Councilor Jimmy Wetzel sent an answer the next day - and intentionally misspelled his first name "Larrie" twice. We've also received a copy of that letter, which shows sometimes even tipsters can be fair and balanced.

To be honest, I thought the reply with Jimmy Wetzel's signature on it was a satirical parody. But Larry DiChiara assured me Monday the Councilor wrote it, and "he's very proud that he wrote it." If you're proud of your spelling errors in a letter to a school superintendent, you might be a redneck....

On top of the spelling "errors," Larry DiChiara notes Jimmy Wetzel addressed him as "Mr." instead of his title "Dr." The Superintendent also described that as "unprofessional." Yet I've heard some ministers say once you get a college degree, you should immediately "get over it."

We tried to reach Jimmy Wetzel for a comment Monday, but received no response to our messages. But the Councilor's reply letter defends City Manager Wallace Hunter, saying he phoned the Superintendent as "an angry parent." Wow - is that what parents do after 9:30 p.m. in Phenix City? It's clearly not your grandfather's "Sin Town" anymore....

Jimmy Wetzel contends the Phenix City Central "coaches, teaches and mentors illegally and unethically pressure[d] a 15-year-old student to sign a petition against his father and the city he works for...." This shows how times have changed in Alabama football. Bear Bryant probably couldn't motivate players at halftime today, the way he did one Saturday -- simply by calling them girls.

(You'll recall City Manager Wallace Hunter decided three football games with fireworks displays were enough. Who could have guessed a petition drive would bring another explosion - from him?)

Jimmy Wetzel's reply goes on to make several accusations against the Phenix City Superintendent. Larry DiChiara denied Monday he ever used "curse words" in front of employees at his last job, with the Lee County schools. Of course, that could have been so long ago that four-letter words beginning with D were still considered profane.

The most stunning accusation by Councilor Jimmy Wetzel is that Superintendent Larry DiChiara is "trying to return the Phenix City School System to segregation." The letter doesn't explain that any further - but I have a hard time imagining a school superintendent spraying "KKK" on people's cars overnight.

But wait, there's more! Jimmy Wetzel speculates in his reply the Superintendent is trying to discredit City Manager "Mr. Hunter" in a "conspiracy" with "your new found little protégé, Mayor Sylvester." How shocking is this?! I mean, for the Councilor to use a fancy French word complete with accent marks....

The man Jimmy Wetzel calls "Mayor Sylvester" is known to most Phenix City residents as Sonny Coulter. But the Councilor's letter declares the mayor "the King of All Liars." Come to think of it, when Coulter cited health reasons for giving up the mayor's job last time, no one checked the medical records.

The end of Councilor Jimmy Wetzel's reply hints at upcoming political fireworks. Superintendent Larry DiChiara told me Wetzel wants the Phenix City Council to make wholesale changes on the appointed city school board -- starting with board President Eddie Lowe next spring. Does this mean Woodrow Lowe is out of the running to coach the Central football team?

(Wetzel's letter accuses DiChiara of spending a large cash reserve "recklessly." DiChiara contends Phenix City Schools are low on funds largely due to state-ordered proration. So which side will make the first move, to put the Superintendent's name on the new Freshman Academy?)

Larry DiChiara admitted he's "very concerned" about Jimmy Wetzel and his Phenix City Council allies attempting to overhaul the school board - a board the Superintendent pointed out to me is "unpaid." But of course, 2009 has proven it only takes one bill in the state legislature to solve that problem.

Education issues dominated the Monday news headlines as well....

+ The Muscogee County School Board examined a shift of students for next school year, while a new Carver High School is built. Carver students would move to Baker Middle School. Baker students would combine with Marshall Middle School students. And the old Baker High School still would stand neglected - not even worth a fix-up project by Jordan High students.

+ Former Muscogee County School Athletic Director Charles Flowers told WRBL he'll retire from high school football coaching. Flowers won state baseball and football titles at Shaw. He's currently coach at Dougherty High of Albany. And if there's any justice, his next job will be connected with Flowers Foods of Thomasville.

+ The Sumter County Superintendent denied online reports that high school football coach Mark Wilson has given up the job. For one thing, Notre Dame's Charlie Weis still has one more regular-season game to coach....

+ The first-ever Columbus "Gingerbread Jubilee" concluded. Businesses and celebrities built gingerbread houses, to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. I'm waiting for something a little better than this. Will some Columbus charity please hold a chocolate chip cookie-eating contest?

+ Georgia cooking queen Paula Deen helped unload food for a Thanksgiving charity dinner in Atlanta - but wound up slightly injured, when someone threw a ham at her face. Deen surprised the workers, by not preparing a batch of blood sausage on the spot.

(Former WRBL reporter Chris Sweigart beat me to the best line about this incident - Paula Deen being stunned by the "swine flew.")

+ Instant Message to the Columbus Quarterback Club: How nice of you to invite the Southeastern Conference Director of Officiating to Monday night's meeting. So did he rule the main course was chicken or beef -- and was he right?

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 378 (+ 11, 3.0%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

23 NOV 09: SOA-What?

It was a chilly, cloudy and rainy Sunday - perfect for staying indoors and watching football games. The people who ventured outside again showed a north-south Columbus divide. People who live here in the South went to "Fantasy in Lights" at Callaway Gardens. People from up north went to the Fort Benning gates for a protest.

The web site of SOA Watch played things close to the vest Sunday night - reporting only that "thousands" of protesters showed up outside the Fort Benning main gate. In prior years, we would have seen a more precise number. Does that mean the turnout was down this year? Or do organizers realize they don't have to compete with God Bless Fort Benning anymore?

In prior years, SOA Watch regularly updated its web site as the big protest unfolded. But that apparently didn't happen Sunday -- and its unofficial Twitter feed has been updated only once since early September. It doesn't help your reputation as "lazy liberals" when you can't type a 140-character message once in a while.

SOA Watch reports four protesters crossed the Army's line, and were arrested for illegally entering Fort Benning. On Friday and Saturday, they could have gone to the headquarters of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation without any penalty. That'll teach them to get absorbed with that double-overtime Notre Dame football game.

(The four accused line-crossers are scheduled to appear in federal court today. I don't want to tell these suspects what to do - but they might to stop by St. Luke United Methodist Church first, to find some character witnesses.)

Columbus Police Captain J.D. Hawk told WXTX "News at Ten" there also were a few tense moments Saturday, where officers had to warn protesters to stay in line. You may have brought the giant puppets, but police still know how to pull some strings.

The WHINSEC staff went ahead with its annual open house, answering questions from the protesters. That frankly surprised me, considering what happened at Fort Hood and last week's discovery of a threatening note in a Fort Benning box. Did guards at the gates check the wooden crosses, to make sure the ends weren't sharpened?

One member of the WHINSEC question panel was a graduate from the old School of the Americas. Linda Gould said some SOA Watch protesters are simply college students "getting extra credit for a sociology course...." This makes you wonder why the organizers of God Bless Fort Benning didn't offer extra credit to ROTC units.

(SOA Watch refuses to change its name, even though the School of the Americas is history. I think it's because the protesters are having trouble developing a protest phrase for WHINSEC -- such as "Western Hemisphere Institute for Shootings, Executions and Choking.")

While downtown Columbus's troop-loving event was moved away from SOA Watch weekend this year, a group based in Pennsylvania made up for it. That group bused in people to hold a demonstration on Broadway Friday afternoon. I'm not sure what they did after that. Perhaps the bus moved on to casinos in Biloxi.

There's speculation the big crowd of protesters for SOA Watch weekend might diminish, as related seminars on social causes are moved out of Columbus. But that would hurt the local economy, as busloads of protesters no longer stay in motels. And this was about the only weekend of the year when Ruth Ann's Restaurant was open for Saturday night dinner.

As the SOA Watch protesters leave town, have you ever wondered what happens to the wooden crosses with names on them - the ones left on the Fort Benning fence? Someone told me a couple of years ago they're simply thrown away. At least the Army has enough sense not to burn crosses in public in the South.

By the way, the SOA Watch web site reports the organization has been nominated for next year's Nobel Peace Prize. Aw, c'mon! The day that happens is the day Taylor Swift is named "Artist of the Year" over Michael Jackson, and that day will never.... oh wait....

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Check "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: With unemployment in Georgia and Alabama reaching record highs, we were tipped off Sunday to this....

I just heard from a friend on Long Island that there are help wanted signs in half the stores there..She said people there can't understand why people don't want to work

The explanation may lie in the fact that "stores" are seeking workers. Retail stores increasingly want someone with sales experience -- and applicants often have to pass lengthy questionnaires, to see if they're right for the job. Choose the "pass the problem on to a manager" option too often, and the manager may pass on you.

Maybe this reader's tip explains our top item from the other weekend news:

+ WTVM reporter Greg Funderburg announced online that he will leave the station in mid-December. He did NOT disclose where he's going. But for some reason, his last day is a Friday - and not a "Get Movin' Monday."

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington told the Ledger-Enquirer he expects Columbus Council to approve funding for the Office of Crime Prevention at Tuesday night's meeting. Maybe Frank Myers's lawsuit against The Courier was a warning shot for some people....

+ GPB News reported the Georgia Pre-Kindergarten program wants to begin teaching all four-year-olds mandarin Chinese. If you weren't concerned about China holding all that U.S. Treasury debt before....

+ The Atlanta Falcons fell in overtime to the New York Jersey Giants 34-31. The Falcons' record has dropped to 5-5, and the Fox telecast reminded viewers that Atlanta never has had back-to-back winning seasons. So? There's no better way to keep a team from becoming overconfident.

+ Instant Message to the driver of a four-by-four in downtown Columbus with the license plate "LEVEL80": I thought the Masonic Lodge was more secretive than that....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: The jokes for today have concluded, but you're welcome to read on for personal reflections on another local news item.)

BUT SERIOUSLY: It was stunning to learn Sunday of the death of Dr. Joseph Roberson. He was killed Saturday in a car crash in South Georgia -- only days after returning to Columbus, to testify in behalf of fellow United Methodist Mark Shelnutt. Hopefully local newspapers will avoid doing what a New York tabloid did the other day, and declare some kind of "Shelnutt curse."

Joseph Roberson gained a radio following as Pastor of South Columbus United Methodist Church, with the program "Getting on Top of Life." Then he went one step farther in 2004, and won a seat on the Muscogee County School Board. I attended a Sunday worship service Roberson pastored during the campaign [21 Jun 04] -- yet he never called me back to answer questions.

While Joseph Roberson was a church pastor, he was surprisingly skeptical of the efforts to offer "Bible Literature" classes in Muscogee County high schools. He wanted a panel of citizens to watch over the classes [19 Sep 06] - apparently to make sure teachers wouldn't turn into preachers. Roberson might have to spend time on Sunday correcting what students were taught Friday.

Joseph Roberson was satisfied with one term on the school board. He left last year, perhaps sensing a ministerial transfer was coming. He became a District Superintendent in south Georgia. May Roberson's family, friends and former congregation find comfort in the Scriptures, during a time of sudden loss.

COMING SOON: A reader challenges me to call a senior center....

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 367 (- 19, 4.9%)

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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Sunday, November 22, 2009

22 NOV 09: March in November

First there was the Fountain City Classic parade. Then came the Veterans Day parade. And in a way, Columbus had a parade this weekend for the third Saturday in a row - proving some people are NOT ready for a parade rest.

This time the marchers were in midtown, not downtown. And surprisingly, they had nothing to do with SOA Watch. They picketed along Macon Road, outside the Publix supermarket - as if they want Cross Country Plaza to become famous for nothing more than Chuck E. Cheese.

The Publix picket line was set up by Florida farm workers, who say their pay for picking tomatoes has remained unchanged for 30 years. You can understand why they're upset by this - since bad stand-up comics who have tomatoes thrown at them are paid much more these days.

The "Coalition of Immolakee Workers" told WTVM it is paid 45 cents to pick 30 pounds of tomatoes. Hmmmm - that comes to 1.5 cents per pound. So why is Publix's current price for "tomatoes on the vine" $1.99 per pound? Does keeping the vine add that much weight to the delivery truck?

The Coalition of Immolakee Workers compares its situation to slave labor of the 19th century. But who told these workers they had to pick tomatoes? Admittedly the unemployment rate is high, but at least they can apply for other jobs. I've seen one company beg for workers at the Columbus Career Center often - as if people simply can't get enough life insurance.

It also doesn't help their cause that tomatoes seem to be in abundant supply worldwide. People throw them around in Spain every summer - and I wish a local food bank would fly there and steal some crates, so all that fruit is put to better use.

The Columbus march was part of a Publix protest tour across the Southeast. The supermarket chain responded to a march in Tallahassee by claiming it's a matter between farm workers and tomato growers. If they need someone to officiate this dispute, call the Southeastern Conference - where the football officials get it right about two-thirds of the time.

Yet that excuse by Publix hasn't worked for other supermarket chains in recent weeks. Kroger and Wal-Mart cut their connections with a blueberry grower in October, after an undercover investigation found the grower used child labor in the fields. Do Publix executives really want Brian Ross standing outside the main office, waiting to badger them with questions?

(That case in Michigan proves one thing - while you might have "Strawberry Fields Forever," blueberry fields need to be carefully reviewed.)

If I wanted to stage a protest outside Publix, I'd complain about the fact that the supermarket chain tends to have higher prices than anybody else. Publix admittedly has a classier reputation than Piggly Wiggly. And Publix sells fancy-sounding items like "water bread" - as if bread usually is made from ginger ale or something.

Some of the seasonal specials at Publix almost sound like the chain wants protests. Take the current weekly ad, which offers a "Small Decadent Dessert Platter." Devout Southern Baptists simply will not settle for this - because it's a step down the slippery-slope to large decadence, and the movie "New Moon" already has enough of that.

In a way, Saturday's Publix produce protest (say that five times fast) was refreshing. It allowed me to postpone writing the annual run-of-the-mill SOA Watch jokes. We can combine all of those for Monday - and if those protesters want to make it a two-march weekend, that will almost cover Columbus until the Christmas parade in December.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Check "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Friday's review of Columbus stimulus projects sparked a reader's thinking....

Hi Richard:

Funny thing about that Rails to Trails funding is that we supoosedly collected the funds to pay for the trail from the Columbus Taxpayer during the last SPLOST. What happened to our tax dollars if they are not going to construction of the trail?

Just wondering since I am still walking or driving to the mall instead of taking the promised trail trolley.

We found a city Planning Department newsletter which says local sales tax provided the "initial funding" of $11 million for the east-west trail. The federal stimulus grant of more than one million dollars may reduce that cost. Or it may be used for nice extras -- and a few overhead lights might encourage more people to ride bikes on it after dark.

We're holding one other e-mail, while we wait for more information about it. So let's move on to other weekend news....

+ The Knology headquarters in Columbus had its second paper shredding drive of the year, called "Shred It and Forget It." So did any federal prosecutors show up, with records relating to Mark Shelnutt?

+ The Port Columbus museum received six old U.S. Navy cannons. They'll be displayed on the grounds, as soon as the staff concocts new stories about ghosts supposedly dwelling inside them.

+ The Centers for Disease Control released a county-by-county breakdown on national obesity. Our check of the maps found 30.5 percent of Muscogee County adults are obese, compared with 34.7 percent of Russell County adults -- which will reinforce the complaints about Phenix City having political "fat cats."

+ The U.S. Senate voted 60-39 to begin debate on health care reform. Alabama's Richard Shelby hurried back to Washington to vote no, after speaking to a conference of attorneys in Montgomery. Shelby may have told WSFA-TV the U.S. health care system is the best in the world, but the lawyers don't want to lose their right to sue for malpractice.

+ Kentucky kicked Georgia 34-27 in college football, to drop the Bulldogs to 6-5 on the season. Suddenly next week's showdown with Georgia Tech means a lot more - as coach Mark Richt might lose not only a winning season, but appearances in Ford F-150 commercials.

+ Alabama remained undefeated by chewing up Chattanooga 45-0. No one ever will mistake Bryant-Denny Stadium for a Chat-room.

(I read at least one complaint online about WXTX showing Mississippi State-Arkansas at first, instead of Alabama. Why watch a competitive football game, when you can see the equivalent of Jimmie Johnson racing someone on a motorcycle?)

+ Instant Message to the man on South Lumpkin Road who claimed the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic is leaving Columbus, because Tuskegee University is upset: Tuskegee's Sports Information Director laughed at me when I told him that. If you really heard that on two TV stations, it's time you started using closed captioning.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 386 (+ 12, 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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

21 NOV 09: Bend Those Knees

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

Before I could get out of bed, the trash-talking was underway. "I know you were nervous," my next-door neighbor yelled to employees of a next-door business. And this comment came weeks before a soldier claimed he assaulted less than one block from my house....

It was the Monday morning after Alabama's narrow escape over Tennessee in college football. My next-door neighbor likes to wear Georgia clothing, so he let the Alabama fans next door know he was unimpressed. If those workers reminded my neighbor of Tennessee's big win over Georgia two weeks before, I couldn't hear it.

But then my next-door neighbor declared: "Your knees had to hurt - you were praying so hard." That one admittedly made me laugh in my bed. I wanted to open the window and tell my neighbor, "Good line, bad timing."

A funny one-liner? Yes, it was -- but hold on a minute. What's wrong with getting on your knees and praying? I did it a short time later, to officially begin my day. Admittedly, I never pray about the outcome of football games - but then, I also don't bet money on the outcomes.

With Thanksgiving Day approaching, we ought to be focusing on more than a big dinner. We even should focus on something bigger than family members who might come to visit. There's no better time to get on your knees and thank God for the blessings you have. For a dinner, for your family -- and OK, maybe a TV set to watch football instead of the final score.

Luke 18 in the Bible begins with a parable of Jesus - a parable with a purpose: "....that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Admittedly, I've mixed these two from time to time. I didn't mean to do it, really. But kneel by your bed for a last prayer of the evening, and you might wind up asleep with no circulation in your legs.

If praying is new to you, the middle of Matthew 6 has a "prayer guide" spoken personally by Jesus. But don't overlook the verse before it warning: "....use not vain repetitions." I've heard emotional radio preachers insert "praise the Lord" all over their messages - even after they mention people robbing each other in big cities.

If you feel a need to make a "thank-you" list before praying to God, that's OK. It's a good idea to stop and count your blessings. It beats ad-libbing your thanks at the Thanksgiving table, while holding a large carving knife in your hand. Unless you're offering a sacrifice to God, that simply doesn't look right.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 374 (- 50, 11.8%)

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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Friday, November 20, 2009

20 NOV 09: Stimulate Your Thinking

As of today, the Barack Obama presidency reaches the ten-month mark. Democrats in general still seem to like him. Republicans in general still seem to loathe him. And China's Communist leaders seem to side with the Republicans - because they were concerned about the President indoctrinating people on television.

Have you been following the news reports about errors on the federal "Recovery" web site? The site details where stimulus money is going, yet it's listed congressional districts which don't exist. Wow - maybe Republicans are right, and the Obama administration is trying to rig next year's census.

I wondered if the Columbus area's stimulus projects are listed accurately -- especially after White House officials announced this week most of the errors on the web site had been corrected. But as of Thursday night, several obvious mistakes remained. Clearly White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs hasn't brought his Auburn background into this department.

It's a bit hard to pinpoint Columbus on the Recovery.Gov map of Georgia. So many dots are bunched together that it's difficult to determine exactly how many stimulus projects the area has. At first we found 32, then 31, then 37 - as if visitors to Wikipedia were put in charge of it.

So what errors did we find in the stimulus breakdown? Here's our list....

+ Five separate aid recipients are listed as the "County of Columbus." Close, but not quite. Maybe Rep. Sanford Bishop's children should head to Recovery.Gov for their next jobs, to fix this.

+ Money is allocated to "Boys and Girls Club of the Arkansas River Valley." Arkansas?! That sounds more like Wichita than Columbus - and the folks in Washington probably mispronounce it like the state, too.

+ The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education allocates work study payroll money to Columbus, to create or save 2.10 jobs. Does this mean someone at Columbus Technical College only works four hours a week? Or is that one-tenth worker a midget?

+ A dot in eastern Russell County reveals the Alabama Department of Transportation has an even smaller stimulus project. It creates or saves 0.04 jobs - which sounds like the money is paying for a highway flag-waver's lunch breaks.

The most visible stimulus project in Columbus is the "rails to trails" path under construction across the city. A couple of large buildings are being built along the trail. They look like rest stops - but I suppose they could double as rally sites for Democratic candidates.

But one project listed for Columbus has the sort of strange wording you've come to expect from the federal government. More than six million dollars is allocated for "redesigned polygons," which also could be created brand-new or redrawn. They're apparently connected with base realignment - although I'm not sure Fort Benning needs a small-scale Pentagon.

I need to recover a bit after a busy week, so we'll end the web review there and move to some Thursday headlines:

+ The Courier disclosed attorney Frank Myers is suing the weekly paper on grounds of libel and defamation. It stems from a March column by Brother Love which linked Myers to Mayor Jim Wetherington, and declared the mayor a "Godfather" over the city. If the mayor really was a godfather, wouldn't a couple of Councilors objecting to the Office of Crime Prevention be dead by now?

(A response posted at The Courier's web site claims Brother Love's column was simply his opinion, using "rhetorical hyperbole." And publisher Wane Hailes could have gone farther - by putting mug shots of Mayor Wetherington and Frank Myers in "The Joint.")

+ Heath Taylor officially launched his campaign for Russell County Sheriff. WTVM reported more than 500 people attended a rally, including outgoing Sheriff Tommy Boswell -- far too many people for Ralph Johnson to consider moving to Phenix City.

+ General David Petraeus of the Central Command visited Fort Benning, to honor one particular graduate of the Officer Candidate School. Lt. Peter Sprenger has been allowed to continue serving in the Army, even though he has only one eye. Send that superhero to Afghanistan, and we should find Usama bin-Laden once and for all.

+ WTVM showed a Columbus home that's on sale for $1.35 million. The house has five bedrooms and a "saltwater pool." No wonder it's worth more than a million dollars - someone has to truck in a new tank of water from Panama City Beach every week.

+ At the other extreme, members of a Columbus State University fraternity slept outside overnight. It was a fundraiser for the Homeless Resource Network -- but if no one drank Thunderbird around the sleeping bags, it wasn't quite realistic.

+ The University of Georgia football mascot "Uga VII" died in Savannah. It's weird enough when the death of a bulldog tops the evening sportscast. But when Coach Mark Richt issues a statement of sympathy about the dog's death.... well, is Richt overconfident about beating Kentucky this weekend?

(The keepers of Uga VII say the bulldog had a sudden heart attack. But there's one lingering question on my mind about this death. Was Uga VII wearing a black sweater, or a red one?)

+ An NCAA report showed 49 percent of Georgia Tech's football players get diplomas within six years of starting college. This low percentage probably shouldn't be surprising - since the players want the "Modern Languages" degree to translate Payton Manning's quarterback signals.

+ Instant Message to whomever posted an "attack cow" warning sign on their property in Chambers County: You're kidding, right? I mean, why would anyone really "beware of Lulu?" Unless it was Lulu Roman from the old "Hee Haw" series, running toward me at full-speed....

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 424 (+ 6 , 1.4%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

19 NOV 09 (final): Mark's-A-Lot

I drove by the Columbus federal courthouse around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, and quickly concluded the Mark Shelnutt jury was still at work. For one thing, a bit WLTZ van was parked outside the door. For another thing, there was no confetti on the sidewalk celebrating an acquittal.

The confetti may have been thrown about two hours later - after a federal jury acquitted attorney Mark Shelnutt on all 36 remaining counts against him. So where did Shelnutt's victory tour begin? At the St. Luke United Methodist Church Wednesday night supper -- or at the Muscogee County District Attorney's office?

Reporters in the courtroom say Mark Shelnutt's relatives cried as the 36 NOT guilty verdicts were read. Shelnutt then broke down in tears, while answering questions outside. Before long, he may have others crying with him - as Shelnutt is a songwriter, and this is a country ballad simply waiting to happen.

While I didn't attend the Mark Shelnutt trial, the news media reports last week led me to guess he would go free. After all, when a prosecutor admits in open court he lied to Shelnutt to get information from him.... well, some people in Columbus actually want their public officials to be honest.

Then there was the evidence indicating "star witness" drug dealer Torrance Hill didn't want to turn against his attorney in the first place. It's easy to understand why. Prison inmates don't have access to that many lawyers - and Gary Bruce didn't become the "good guy" by representing known bad guys.

WRBL was first to interview a member of Mark Shelnutt's jury. Patricia Jackson said she does NOT consider Shelnutt completely innocent - but the federal indictment was poorly worded, compared to the language of federal law. For instance, how do you "corruptly" offer free Georgia football tickets to someone? Especially if they're not wrapped inside an Auburn T-shirt?

The prosecutors had little to say to reporters after the verdict was announced. Carlton Bourne said he accepted the jury's decision - and that was about it. He'll now be in hiding in Macon, until President Obama appoints a replacement.

Mark Shelnutt's attorneys suggested the federal case had political motives -- and they very well could be right. Remember the envelope left at our front door last December, with a DVD and court transcripts? [9 Dec 08] Now that the verdict is in, I feel comfortable revealing clues about its origin. Especially since I was NOT called as a witness during the trial....

After closely checking the DVD from last December, I've found evidence indicating it was prepared in part on a Columbus city computer. And it was done by an assistant to former District Attorney Gray Conger -- someone who is NOT working under Julia Slater now. I'd go even further, but I might have to hire Mark Shelnutt to defend me in a lawsuit if I did.

This detail could matter, because Gray Conger has been rumored as a candidate for federal Magistrate Judge. But I have to note Conger seemed as surprised by the December DVD at the doorstep as I was. He called me to ask if we knew who delivered it. I had a guess then, which is more educated now -- and FedEx will be disappointed to learn it has nothing to do with this.

But back to the trial: former Columbus Mayor Frank Martin told WTVM Mark Shelnutt still faces a difficult future. He has to regain his law firm's reputation, and might have to charge lower fees. That's OK by me -- the fewer trips to Schomberg Road with boxes of money, tbe better.

Attorney Frank Martin said truth be told, most lawyers probably have accepted "drug money" at some point. And we're not talking about Ken Nugent suing the makers of Vytorin....

But Frank Martin added many hospitals probably also take "drug money," when pushers and abusers go in for medical treatment. Why does almost every topic these days come back around to health care reform?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION we posted Wednesday night was offered to us during Mark Shelnutt's trial -- but we decided to hold it until the verdict was announced, then adjust it a bit. Should the verdict make a difference in two local upcoming elections? Will it matter to District Attorney Julia Slater? Should any local judges be nervous? And for a side issue, should Shelnutt now release a music CD?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Reaction reached us quickly about the Mark Shelnutt verdict. And of all places, it came from a north Georgia author....

As some of you know one of my greatest supporters during the research for MIBC, Attorney Mark Shelnutt, has been in the fight of his life with the Federal Govt. and has had a 40 count indictment of the most ludicrous criminal charges imaginable hanging over his head.

However, today he was found Not Guilty on all those counts and I want to publicly congratulate him for holding his own and rising up from a situation that must have felt like the depths of hell for the whole Shelnutt family.

Breathe easy dear friend, the sky is the limit!

Cilla McCain

McCain's abbreviation is for her upcoming book "Murder in Baker Company," about the killing of Fort Benning soldier Richard Davis. I hope Shelnutt didn't store any of Davis's personal belongings in his bedroom kitty box.

Another e-mail reached us early Wednesday, hours before the verdict was announced:

don't know Mark Shellnut and the only info I have on his case is from the media..However,do you think there is a motive for his recent marriage?..Remember, a wife does not have to testify against a husband..

Late Tue afternoon I was watching WTVM news..THe weather came on and the reporter said, "Today (Tue) was a beautiful day"..I thought something is wrong here because at my house it was raining..At the top of the screen was the banner that said,Monday...They were evidently using a tape of the wrong day...

Hmmmm -- a motive for marriage?! I would never think of comparing Mark Shelnutt with Anna Nicole Smith.

But here's the thing: when ex-wife Chris Shelnutt took the witness stand, she testified for the defense. So come to think of it, the government "witch hunt" even had some limits to it....

I didn't see the weather forecast mentioned in this e-mail. Maybe the reporter who declared Tuesday beautiful has a second job selling rain collection buckets.

BLOG UPDATE: Don't worry, legal eagles -- we may already have the next hot Columbus court case. WLTZ's web site has dubbed Judy Wilkinson the "Mimosa Madame." People who live on Mimosa Street in Midtown should send their angry e-mails to Julie Bercik.

A Recorder's Court judge found Judy Wilkinson guilty Wednesday of serving alcohol without a license at her Formal Elegance bridal shop. Wedding planners should learn a lesson from this -- and save the "champagne kisses" for the reception.

The Recorder's Court judge sentenced Judy Wilkinson to 30 days of probation - but she's appealing the conviction to state court anyway. Wilkinson explained she's received plenty of support from the business community. How ARE they opening eyes at the Chamber of Commerce eye-opener breakfasts, anyway?

Judy Wilkinson admitted she's not sure how this case will affect her position on the West Point City Council. If other Councilors send her wine baskets as Thanksgiving gifts, I guess we'll have the answer.

A few things happened Wednesday, away from the courthouses....

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington declared it "Charlie Daniels Day" in Columbus, as the singer performed a benefit concert at the RiverCenter. Directors of Camp Laughing Child admitted last week on WBOJ-FM the ticket price might make it "a sacrifice to attend...." For some of us from the North, a Southern rock concert would take some sacrifice at any price.

+ The Columbus Civic Center held a one-day "fire sale" of Kelly Clarkson tickets for $14.99. Uh-oh -- is this concert in trouble, as Darius Rucker's reportedly was? Does Clarkson need to appear with some WWE wrestlers?

+ WRBL reported the new Kia plant in West Point soon will have its own bank. If the tellers demand gold instead of dollars, be afraid -- be very afraid.

+ Ron Nelson confirmed he will NOT return as Phenix City Central football coach next season. Instead, he's hoping to be the honorary launcher of the fireworks at Thunder on the Hooch.

+ Columbus State University's basketball teams had "Cougar Madness" night, to promote the new season. Most major colleges do this at midnight on the opening night of practice. But the C.S.U. coaches realize they could only get a crowd at midnight by setting up baskets outside Victory Drive clubs.

+ Kellogg's announced the Atlanta-area flooding of last September will mean a stoppage in frozen waffle production, perhaps until next summer. Yes, we could have a nationwide Eggo shortage -- and the cries to "leg-go my Eggo" potentially could turn violent.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, 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: 418 (+ 14 , 3.5%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

UPDATE 2....

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