Friday, October 22, 2010

22 OCT 10: Why Me? Why Now?

The weather forecast at 12:00 noon Thursday was calm and peaceful - what I've heard someone this week call a "nice fall-like day." Except we've been IN the season of fall for a month....

But then WTVM's Bruce Lee had to spoil things for me. A new tropical storm had formed in the Caribbean, which is likely to become a hurricane -- and he seemed to emphasize its name: "RICHARD." Broadcasting simply isn't supposed to single me out like this.

If that wasn't enough, Bruce Lee warned Tropical Storm Richard could build into a hurricane this weekend. Now hold on here! I've never even drunk a Hurricane, so how could I be declared one?

I'd forgotten Richard was on the list of Atlantic tropical storm names for this year. And besides, R is so far down in the alphabet that the odds are against the formation of Tropical Storm Richard. It also works against getting calls from the single women who list male friends on their Blackberries.

Admittedly there have been moments in my life when I've acted a bit like a hurricane. Take the day I stormed into a Kansas City news conference and slammed a microphone on the speaker's stand, scattering several others. I don't remember why I was enraged or what the news conference was about - but 30 years later, I hereby finally apologize to all the reporters I upset that day.

(Considering the times I whined when my older brother beat me at Monopoly, he'd probably say I'm more like a storm siren than an actual storm.)

But I seldom drive as fast as a hurricane-force wind, which is 74 miles per hour. If it happens, it's either because I'm not paying close attention on the highway - or the speedometer on my 16-year-old car is back on "intermittent."

In any case, it's too late for me to file an appeal with the National Weather Service to change the name of this tropical storm. I'll simply have to deal with this storm named Richard, and the side effects it will have on me - such as plenty of hot air from friends making fun of my name.

A few factors are working in my favor with this storm. While it's forecast to build into Hurricane Richard, it appears on track to hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula first. If all the Mexicans would please "Spanish-ize" this storm and call it Ricardo, it won't sting quite as much.

The long-range forecast also calls for the storm to weaken over Mexico, and diminish to a tropical depression by Tuesday evening. Tropical depressions officially do NOT have names - which is weird, because I'd be more depressed if a storm named Richard stayed strong and caused a lot of damage.

But it's too early for forecasters to, uh, forecast what will happen if this storm system reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Since part of Columbus is in a moderate drought right now, rain from a tropical system would be welcome. So I hope Richard remains on the modest side - well, both the storm and myself.

By the way, I double-checked the hurricane prediction by those "experts" in Colorado Thursday night. Their latest update called for 18 named Atlantic storms this season - and Richard is number 17. They predicted ten hurricanes, and Richard would be number ten. It's almost as if the scientists paid someone to fly over the Caribbean and dump growth hormones on clouds.

-> Thursday night marked a milestone for us, when it comes to Columbus poker. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: We focused Thursday on the Georgia ballot questions. But a reader in metro Atlanta indicates we came up with a wrong answer to one of them....

Good morning,

I hope you are well. I work for Taxpayers for Energy Efficiency, a group running the educational campaign on Amendment 4.

Amendment 4 works differently than Amendment 3--which is a pay as you go structure. Amendment 4 places the financial burden on the energy companies doing the retrofitting, and they are only paid out of direct savings on the state's utility bills. There is no additional cost to the taxpayer--and we can't dip into the state budget for more funds. If the work performs well--the contract gets paid, hence performance contracting.

We would love the opportunity to work with you on a story on Amendment 4. I've attached today's press release on this Amendment and an op-ed that appeared in the AJC by Clark Howard.

Thanks so much and have a great day!


Rebecca DeHart

Steel Cut Strategies, LLC

The financial burden may be on energy companies, with vendors guaranteeing payments. But the ballot summary prepared by state officials says Amendment Three "authorizes.... state governmental entities to incur debt" in energy efficiency contracts. Will alternative energy companies stay in business long-term? Or will they evaporate, the way solar panel makers did 30 years ago?

Meanwhile, WTVM made Amendment Two a top story Thursday night. Reporter Curtis McCloud was live outside St. Francis Hospital, calling it a "trauma center" -- except it's really only an emergency room, while The Medical Center is a state-designated trauma center. The next "trauma" may come when Columbus Regional calls the newsroom to point that out.

We'll take a break from the local election activities today, and check other Thursday items....

+ The Columbus Black and Minority Chamber of Commerce announced new officers, including two Caucasian subcommittee chairs. Does this confirm Columbus has no "majority race" nowadays? Or is someone going to accuse the mayor of using the new police officers to shut down African-American business owners?

+ Columbus Police reported a man bit a police officer on the arm three times, during a traffic stop on Cusseta Road. This should prove once and for all how much Cusseta Road needs restaurants.

+ Richard Hyatt's website spotted former Georgia House member Charles Thomas at the Columbus driver's license office -- only Thomas was working there, as part of a prison sentence. Alabama legislators should pay attention to this. Take too much money from gambling lobbyists, and you could trade playing cards for identification cards.

+ Phenix City officials held a public forum on plans to repave and stripe Summerville Road. I think a few extra stripes should be painted on that winding road - to create lanes for "X Games" events such as downhill skateboard racing.

+ Troup County trounced Shaw 26-7 in high school football, as Charles Flowers beat the team he used to coach. Flowers told WRBL his team knew about the connection, and trained extra-hard this week. Of course, all Flowers had to do was show off a state championship ring....

+ Carver remained unbeaten by crushing Kendrick 47-0. The game indicated Carver Coach Dell McGee may have learned something from his early-season critics -- as star running back Isaiah Crowell never played a down.

+ Instant Message to all Columbus gas stations which increased prices ten cents a gallon this week: Really now - you cannot convince me your gasoline is refined in France.

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